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Supporting Veteran Owned Small Businesses

This video shares examples of a few veteran owned small businesses. Feel free to comment and share your own examples with website link belo...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Free Self Assessment For Small Business

The free on-line Business Self Assessment developed by ROCK SOLID Business Coaching provides a comprehensive analysis. It covers 28 dimensions of successful small businesses and only takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete.

An owner can have their answers scored anonymously or choose to enter their name and email address to receive an informative free Recommendations Report. TIP - Use the Promo Code = linkedin.

The Recommendations Reports contain practical advice that can be easily implemented to achieve business results.

There is also lots of great business development information on the ROCK SOLID website under the Programs tab where the metaphor/acronym is explained by clicking on each of the letters in ROCK SOLID.

The Business Self Assessment and ROCK SOLID Business Development Program are components of the dynamic AR²T of Business Process.

Everything is designed to lead to TRaction which is Towards Results action.

Why spin your wheels when there is a clear understandable process available that delivers the TRaction you want?

For more information go to .....

Business Self Assessment

ROCK SOLID Business Development Programs

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Number 1 Marketing Tools Every Small Business Owner Needs

My friend James Watt of The Launch Connection has a knack for making your marketing anxieties disappear .... and simplifying what you may think is complicated. Now that's a talent!

James has some simple advice on what tools a small business really needs to boost their marketing performance.

So according to James, the two number one marketing tools that every small business owner needs are ......

1. An auto-responder. Building a customer database and having an easy way to follow up is obviously critical. Do you know how much dentist offices raise business just by sending out an "it's time for your yearly checkup" postcard? Direct mail costs too much money to do regularly, and a good relationship with an email list can convert just as well if not better.

The most important parts of doing this right are going to revolve around choosing the offer you want to give people to sign up ("free newsletter" is not going to cut it, conversions are going to be in the tenth of a percent) ..... and there's also going to have to be a plan for having a good followup sequence.

Testimonials and case studies woven in with content is a good choice. This also provides an easy way to monetize paid traffic within a few days, either by encouraging a phone call or some kind of purchase. Don't forget to track! (Google Analytics will be my bonus third tool I'm recommending. It's free, and anyone can figure it out in an afternoon).

So, how do you build an email list? Aweber. It's simple, it's cheap, and it does more than you'd ever need it to do. Businesses with an email list can often start cutting down advertising budgets due to a much more steady flow of business from old clients.

2. The second tool every business needs is Wordpress, hands down. Are you tired of asking your webmaster to change every little thing on the website? How long does it take him to make the changes when you ask? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to go in and just do it yourself without having to learn all that technical nonsense? Enter Wordpress. If you can use Microsoft Word, now you can manage your own website. The best part? It's free, and it's not any more expensive to get a Wordpress style website done than it is to get a "normal" site.

If you know what Wordpress is (a blogging platform) you might be wondering whether or not your site will end up looking like a blog. That wouldn't work for most businesses of course, so I thought I'd post an example to put your mind at ease:

Woopra

..... would you have guessed this was a Wordpress site?

Best of all, it lets you regularly add good content to help bring in new people and build relationships with old customers. Nothing works better in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) than regular content ...... and with Wordpress you can even set it up so that you can just email your posts, it'll add them to the site automatically. Or if that sounds too complicated and fancy, train the intern to post it and email them your posts instead.

Moral of the story?

Use Wordpress, I cringe anytime I see a business that isn't. Then when you're website's up, use it to start building an email list and a permanent relationship with your customers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Can Small Businesses Afford Section 413 Of The Jobs Bill Before Congress (HR4213)?

Can Small Businesses Afford Section 413 of The Jobs Bill before Congress (HR4213)?
Section 413 of the amendments to HR4213, the Jobs Bill, is currently making its way through Congress. Section 413 of the amendments Section 413 of the amendments appears to cripple anyone who can't find a job from going into business for him/her self by removing CRITICAL TAX ADVANTAGES for starting small businesses.

Section 413 of this bill, buried on pages 282 through 287 of the amendments (link below) are provisions that will have an almost immediate and detrimental effect on service-based businesses currently structured as "S" corporations, and could provide the catalyst for Congress to attack all other enterprises (retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, construction) operating under the tax code's Subchapter "S."

The proposal's sponsors want to treat all ordinary, non-compensation income derived by owners of service-based "S" corporations with three or fewer employees as being subject to self-employment taxes, EVEN PROFITS RETAINED BY THE BUSINESS TO PROVIDE WORKING CAPITAL, TO PAY DOWN DEBT, TO EXPAND CAPACITY, & TO GROW THE BUSINESS. In today's economic climate, such retained profits (if there are any profits at all) could be the saving grace that prevents small businesses from going under!

Many businesses I know of WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED had ALL RETAINED EARNINGS for future capacity of the business been subject to self employment taxes as this bill proposes to do. This proposal specifically discriminates against small, start-up firms and gives larger, established businesses an unfair competitive advantage. If passed, this will affect several professional service sectors including health care providers, lawyers, accountants, consultants, engineers, realtors, and even self-employed actors, artists, and artisans!

Here is a link to the bill's amendments (Section 413 begins on page 282, line 11):

Amendments To Congress Jobs Bill

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Micro Grant Program from Investing In Women

Below is from my friend Gazelle Simmons …. Dedicated to all the lady entrepreneurs out there:

The Micro Grant Program from Investing In Women was started to encourage more women to become financially independent.

Why is this important? Studies have shown that empowering women can decrease poverty, increase education, and promote equality. All of these create a society of happy healthy people! When women are in control of their finances they make smart decisions and spend more time focusing on family and fun.

It’s easy to empower women, just by talking about it with friends and acquaintances. We are asking that you take action by spreading the word.

Send an email, share this on your Facebook page, add it to a Linked In discussion, or include it in your next blog post. Tell people why YOU feel it is important to support women in business. You can share this message ….. or use your own words. Just make sure you share the website link too!

Investing In Women

Want to do more? Each grant is for $500, so we only need 100 people to donate $5 each. That’s the price of one latte at your favorite coffee shop.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Animation for Interactive Media and Corporate Videos/Presentation

Artifex Animation Studios is a "boutique" service house that creates animation for interactive medias (Web, E-Learning, etc.) and corporate presentations. Established in 2006, the studio has done work for brands such as Alltel, Cox Cable, D-Link, Ford, Gatorade, PBS, Samsung, and many more. The studio's specialty is 3D computer modeling and animation, but they also provide services in character/object design, storyboarding, animatics, 2D animation, particle effects, compositing, and color correction. The company is based in Montreal but has clients worldwide.

Animation can be used to add to an existing Web site, or to make a presentation or corporate video more compelling. It can also be used to showcase something that doesn't exist yet, such as a new product, a floorplan, or an interior decoration. Showing the future work is much better than just telling a client about it!

Photorealistic animation is a great way to showcase an existing physical product. The camera can be placed wherever wanted, the product can spin, turn, explode in its component parts -- even the insides may be shown. A product animation is also easier to update than a filmed or classically animated presentation: cameras can be moved, motions changed, colors adjusted. Animation frees the marketer to present a product in the best light available.

Some may think that animation is too expensive, and it used to be true. Ten years ago, a $30K workstation was needed, as well as a trained technician. Today, getting a 3D animation done isn't much more expensive than hiring a professional graphic designer. Armed with modern tools, a single animator can do between 3 to 6 seconds of finished animation per day. Building the 3D model can be done in hours (if using a readily available model like a car or teapot) or days (if a complex product has to be reproduced within the computer).

Please visit Artifex Animation Studios' Web site to learn more about its services and to see samples of their work.

Artifex Animation Studios

Contact producer Marc A. Vezina at [mavezina@aastudios.ca] for more information or to request a free quote.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

SEO Tips For Small Business

In the current business environment small business (retail based or online only) MUST have a digital mindset whether they are offering products for sale online, or simply looking to help drive traffic to their store-front locations via searches on the web (Google, Bing/Yahoo, or Facebook, etc.).

Being New is An Advantage: Small business websites that are brand new (less than 18 months old), seem to be provided with a unique opportunity in Google search rankings, where the sites pop up in competitive keyword search results lists for a very brief period (1-6 weeks). It is therefore vital to effectively maximize the use of on-site website meta fields (url names, page titles, on-page descriptions, keyword and header tags). These fundamental user-controlled website page fields are the primary source (aside from on-page content) for search engines to initially understand/classify what a business is all about. Business owners who ignore these fields, or set it aside to do later, often miss this key opportunity that can be instrumental in delivering the first few critical sales that keep the company afloat during launch stages.

Back-links: Generating inbound links to a small business website is probably the most challenging part of website promotion and aside from the quantity of links that must lead to a site for it to be competitive in website search lists, the quality of web-links are also vitally important. Small businesses can start building their inbound link volume with a few simple strategies including: 1) Post a business service ad in the 'services' section of Craigslist once a week; 2) Participate in discussions on LinkedIn; 3) Set up a Twitter page; 4) Create and drive discussions in a new community on Ning; 4) Create a group on Facebook, and link to it from your personal profile (if you have one).

Google is extremely sensitive to the relevance and volume of sites linking to a small business site when determining search page results, and getting inbound links from partners, colleagues and other websites are essential to showing up in search results lists. Ask customers, friends and business partners to review your company on Yelp, Viewpoints and other social networks. See if these trusted individuals will also provide you with a permanent web-link to your site from their business websites, and offer a link back to their site in return.

Keep in mind links coming from .edu and .gov websites are much higher in authority, so if you have any friends/contacts in schools, colleges that can post a link for you from their website, these connections are much more influential than are .com, .biz or .net links.

Stay Dedicated: Keep in mind as you keep connecting your small business website to other sites on the web that SEO efforts lag behind SEO results by about 6-months. So do not become discouraged about working hard now, and not seeing any immediate results. Install Google Analytics as a means to understand where your traffic is coming from, and use Google web-master tools to help improve the flow, and value of your site.

My friend Clint Garwood offers top notch services to help small business with SEO, search marketing, and social networking. You can learn more here: GarwoodPR

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tips For A New Real Estate Agent

What follows is from my LinkedIn friend Lynn Drake ……

“As a commercial realtor my suggestion is to start the business operating out of your house for as long as possible. If you need a professional address find an executive suite. They will answer your phones, collect your mail and provide you with an office on an hourly basis if you need it. Once the business is profitable you can find professional offices. I find a lot of people think they need to rent an office before they are up and operating. In the past 5 years I’ve only had about 1 or 2 people ask to come to my offices. I usually prefer to meet in the prospects office anyway.

If you need to get out of the house look for small buildings that will lease a single office. Most buildings cannot accommodate small users. Sometimes a landlord will lease you space but once a larger tenant needs the space you would have to move. That will cost you a lot of money and time.

When you are ready to find an office space find a tenant representative who will do all the leg work and look out for your best interests. Never ever use the brokers whose name is on the for lease sign. Their job is to get you to pay the highest rate possible.”

On another tip ….. in an effort to stay on top in the competitive Real Estate Market, top producing Real Estate Professionals have turned to technology to find the latest and greatest tools to provide them with the competitive edge they need.

Many Industries have used Toll-Free Info lines to provide 24/7 information to prospects for years now. Developed in 1992 by COA Network and enhanced ever since, iTeleCenter has a proven track record of providing such services for many years.

iTeleCenter Real Estate Pro is a Toll-Free Real Estate hotline and lead capture system utilized by top producing agents and brokers across the world.

TeleCenter Real Estate Pro is a Presentation Hotline, Voicemail System, Answering Service, Auto-Attendant and a Fax Line all in one. TeleCenter Real Estate Pro provides the competitive edge you need by providing you:

• One phone number to connect you and your clients no matter where you are

• The ability to present your listing details to clients 24/7

• To capture buyer and seller leads without violating Do Not Call list requirements

• And so much more

Featured in Broker Agent News …. You can learn more about iTelecenter here: iTelecenter Real Estate Pro

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How To Write A Winning Government Contract Proposal

This may upset the consultants and the writers of books on proposal writing ….. but the fact is that all you need to know about writing proposals is included in a simple phrase we learned in school: RTP. Read The Problem.

If you have a good sense of how your company can deliver a good solution and if you just answer the questions in the RFP (preferably in the same order as the RFP lists them), within the page limit allowed, then your proposals will be in the top 10% anyway. If your experience and solutions are pretty relevant to the content that the RFP asked for, then you'll probably be on the short list already. If you have to pay a consultant to explain your own experience to you, you're in the wrong business.

What’s just as important is to know when it is worth even bothering to write a proposal, instead of being an unexpected bonus for the selection official who can now show that there were competing offers to the one they selected. I would encourage people to spend their consultant money on help figuring out how to market the company's services so you know about it before the RFP comes out, and foreseeing the right kind of services before the market gets hot. If you can do those things, your proposal writing will be a breeze (assuming that you can write at all).

Should you want more information to understand how to write a government contract proposal OK …. here’s a few I can suggest:

- Shipley Associate's Proposal Guide for Business & Technical Professionals, 3rd Ed.

- How to Win Business from the Government - A Tactical Guide to Understanding the US Federal Information Technology Marketplace

- Proposal Writer

- NP Guides

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How To Build A Travel And/Or Vacation Rental Website

Two of the highest performing small business niches are travel and vacation rental .... but to increase your prospects for success you need to know how to reach your market.

The easy answer would be just to say "get online". But how can you do that in the most cost efficient and effective manner?

Easy answer to that one .... use the SBI tools to create a website for your business that's guaranteed to perform!

Here are some short testimonials from real SBI users whose lives and businesses have been changed by Site Build It! ......

* "Having the opportunity to share Vieques and Puerto Rico with so many people around the world is a great satisfaction. As a bonus, I get to go on a tax-deductible vacation every year. I can visit my beautiful island, ride my jeep, take lots of photos, meet great new people, and write travel guides about places I love. I felt that money would just be the icing on the top. Of course, I did not realize how much icing my cake would have."

~ Luisa Cupeles
viequestravelguide.com

* "What can I say? Life has never been better. Freedom is something that can't be paid for. It's not that I work less, I probably work more than I ever did, but I do it on my own terms. It doesn't feel like work at all.I am confident that I will never have to work for others again unless I want to!"

~ B. Bradtke
outback-australia-travel-secrets.com

* "The process is just so logical... Content - Traffic - PREsell - MONETIZE. Starting with content (after all, that's what people search for, so that's where we begin, too). Right from the start, SBI showed us how to brainstorm our idea to find out if it was valid. It helped us choose and register our site name. Then it supplied the tools to create a content rich themed site, which the search engines love."

~ Fiona McCardle/Jim Andrew
Rent a Villa in Tuscany

* "The site has made our working life flexible, enjoyable and profitable. We've changed our lives, thanks to SBI! sure it's hard work, but it's worth it to have the quality of life we want, living in sunny Tuscany."

~ Fiona McCardle/Jim Andrew
Rent a Villa in Tuscany

* "I now have a business that I can grow over the years. A business that is fun. I'll never do a 9 to 5. I'll always own my own life. That, more than money, more than learning about the Web, more than anguilla-beaches, more than learning how to write well, that is the most important thing I've learned from SBI!. Own your own life. If you don't, what's the point?"

~ Nori Evoy
Anguilla-Beaches.com

Now that you've read what the SBI experience has done for your fellow travel and vacation rental business owners .... would like to enjoy the same OR BETTER success yourself?

You can..... just see for your self right here:

How To Build A Successful Travel And/Or Vacation Rental Website