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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...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Women Owned Small Business Start-Ups ... Free Government Grants Money

This video shares tips and resources on free government grants for women owned small business start-ups.

What’s The One Thing Your Business Can't Live Without??

What's the one thing your business can't do without? It's obvious really ... CUSTOMERS.

Whether you are a brick-and-mortar, or you're an infopreneur or blogger... you need customers to survive and thrive as a business.

But to attract customers, you have to provide the right information, information that your target audience is interested in.

Discovering that, well… that's the real challenge, isn’t it?

Introducing SBI! for WP! {WP stands for Word Press}

WordPress is the most widely used content management system; and now SBI! is part of that success.

You can learn more about that here: SBI! For WP

SBI! for WP is how YOU are going to:

•Focus your business on areas that will get results
•Discover the topics your visitors and customers crave
•Uncover competition or partnership opportunities instantly

This powerful tool is uniquely positioned to help you do that, and MORE.

SBI!

Building your online business efforts is achievable for just about anyone these days, especially if you have the guidance and tools that come with SBI! and now, with SBI! for WP. For those who have taken the time to slog through the mountains of business building advice and tools that are out there, it all ends up being too much. Most folks don't want to or have the time to figure everything out and execute the right steps in an optimal way.

This is as true now as it was 15 years ago when we developed SBI!. People need a program or system that works and stays up to date for them, freeing them up to focus and work on building their business, rather than trying to keep up with everything.

WordPress, as most everyone knows, is enormously popular. And, while it's fantastic at what it does, it's missing a doable start-to-finish BUSINESS process. Sure, you can research and piece together everything and become successful. But how many people actually do that?

Lucky for you, that opens up a HUGE opportunity to get ahead of your competition with SBI! for WP.

With the launch of SBI! for WP, we have essentially ported SBI! over to WordPress (including showing folks how to get the most out of WP and its huge ecosystem of plugins). We've modified Brainstorm It! for WP users and integrated its powerful results directly into the WordPress dashboard.

Watch this video to see more....

SBI! for WP is so easy and it's the smart thing to do. You do want to work smarter not harder, right?

You can even get started with a no obligation FREE TRIAL....simply click on this link and away you go:

SBI! For WP

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Growing Woman Owned Businesses - The Balancing Act

Women-owned businesses are a driving force in our economy - they are growing at a rate 1 and 1/2 times the national average. They are also an impressive contributor to job creation. Today there is a community of over 13,000 women who have become certifed through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. This non-profit organization offers certification, opportunity, resources, and engagement for women-owned or controlled businesses nationwide. Join guests Pamela Prince-Eason, President & CEO, and Pat Birmingham, Vice President, with ideas on how every woman-owned business, big or small, can become a success.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Businesses Women Should Start

All over the world, businesses are sprouting left to right. People are now realizing that corporate jobs will get you only so far. Being employed is great, but employing other people is so much more rewarding both emotionally and financially. One more surprising fact is that these days, women are opening just as many businesses as men. This is because women now have tons of tools at their disposal and there is lesser discrimination against women CEOs these days. If you are a woman and are keen on starting your own business, here are some you can try:

Tutoring

Whether you plan on doing it yourself or managing it, a tutoring business is great in the hands of women. Tutoring requires patience and a solid desire to impart knowledge and these are things women excel at. Tutoring is such a robust business especially with the help of the internet. People can now run businesses from their own homes and tutor via Skype and other media platforms. Some even resort to publishing videos and selling them on subscription bases.

Graphics Design

Freelancing or outsourcing, in general, has been around for years and is aiding a lot of people in gaining employment without even stepping outside their comfort zones. Women, in particular, do great in this venue especially in the world of graphic design. The artistic side simply comes out naturally with women. Likewise, women are also known to communicate all their concerns well and ask all needed questions prior to starting projects.

Journalism

Journalism is a seemingly biased occupation with just 36% of newsroom staff being women. By starting a business like this, women can reach out and help their fellow women improve this statistic. Women reports, analysts and editors are better than men because they are able to write with more passion and provide deeper insight into the things that matter. Also, women are also known to be more gifted in telling stories overall.

Event Planning

Be it a wedding, a party, an anniversary, women know how to make it successful. That's why most event planning businesses are run by women. The sheer number of tasks that need to be coordinated plus the intricate detail of every single thing is something that may thwart the most prepared of men. For women, however, it's a piece of cake. That' why in weddings, for example, they always say that you should always try to get everything right lest you stress out the bride. Simply put, women have vested interests in events going successfully, more so if it's their own. That's why they make the best event planners.

Ladies, you can learn a lot more about purpose and passion by reading my book.

By Lakeisha B McKnight

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Faced With Negative Online Reviews and What to Do About Them

It's a business fact that every now and then something goes awry and a customer ends up being upset.

And when a customer feels your product or service didn't live up to their expectations, sometimes they want to tell the world.

Loudly.

And it's not fun to be on the receiving end. Ego's get bruised, tempers flare and the knee-jerk reaction is to immediately go on the defensive.

However, there's a better way to respond to these situations that will not only save your business reputation but even potentially win back that unhappy customer.

After reading the rest of this article, you'll be better equipped to monitor and manage your brand reputation from negative comments made on social media, forums, review sites and the like. Have you experienced any? Leave a comment below and share your story.

With the age of the Internet, it's so easy for a hot-headed customer to take their grievance online by writing bad reviews. Whether they turn to Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment on review sites like Yelp, Google Places or Yahoo! Local, how you handle this situation makes all the difference to your business reputation.

When a customer doesn't feel their situation is resolved or they have not been listened to, word of mouth can spread like wildfire. I'm sure you've witnessed this many times yourself when a company has seemingly wronged an irate customer and suddenly everyone is adding their story to the mix. It can get ugly very fast.

That's why it's important to handle bad reviews quickly and sensibly to maintain your reputation.

First, let's find out what not to do.

Here are the biggest mistakes business owners make when responding to negative reviews online:

1) They take the review personally, get defensive, and turn it into a shouting match with the customer.

2) They have friends post fake reviews on their behalf.

3) They escalate the situation by denying there was a problem to begin with. Or they make the customer the one to blame, which in turn makes them even more angry resulting in even more of a negative impact.

4) They become downright rude, hurtful, or make snide comments about the customer.

5) They point their fingers and blame something or someone else.

6) They don't monitor their reviews at all and have the attitude, "What I don't know can't hurt me."

So what's the right way to handle bad online reviews?

Here are some tips to monitor and manage your brand reputation:

• Monitor your Online Reputation. Set up Google Alerts for your company name so whenever a new mention of your business appears online, you'll be notified. Hootsuite is another tool that can help you see when customers comment on social media and allows you to respond to comments and complaints in a timely manner.

• Keep Cool. Realize that customer feedback can reveal ways to improve your products and services; try to see the review as an opportunity for improvement. Don't respond if you are feeling angry, hurt, or defensive; wait till you have calmed down and can respond in a professional, courteous, and respectful manner.

• Be grateful and polite. Thank the customer for their loyalty and feedback. Acknowledge the problem, get the facts and show them you have heard their complaint. Explain that it's important to you to resolve their situation and share what you plan to do to make it right.

• Respond publicly. When other customers see how you will go out of your way to make a bad situation right, it keeps their trust. Earning back customer trust after your reputation has been bruised is important, so people want to continue doing business with you.

• Take ownership of the complaint. It's easy to blame someone else on your staff for the blunder or point fingers at failed technology or whatever the case may be. But as a business owner, taking responsibility for the issue and dealing with it in a calm, professional manner will help enhance your brand reputation and convert an unhappy customer into a happy one because they have felt heard.

So the next time you're faced with an unhappy comment online, be thankful for feedback and use it as a learning opportunity.

The right response to a bad review can turn a potential disaster into a real triumph.

When you welcome customer complaints and use it to improve your products and services, it leads to better client satisfaction.

Understanding client's needs with a quick response can help you retain them as a customer. Plus it helps you identify ways to enhance your offerings.

Have you encountered negative reviews about your business yet? How did you handle them?

Susan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a, "all in one" full service boutique web development and digital marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in creating professional brand presences for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

CLICK HERE http://evisionmedia.ca/ultimate-website-guide/ and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

By Susan Friesen

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Top Marketing Strategies For Busy Small Business Owners

Marketing strategies for busy small business owners do not have to be time consuming, but you do need to prepare so you can market your product or services effectively and efficiently. Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of marketing when your time is limited.

Identify your target market so you do not waste money and time reaching people who have no interest in your product or service. Then think about your customer. Will they go to the ballpark? Will they read a particular type of magazine? What do they do in their leisure time or for work? Perhaps, your market could even be people who practice a particular religion. Once you have identified the specifics about your targeted customers who read, you can then spend your money marketing in the right place. Specialized magazines, journals, professional organizations, and directories may all reach a particular type of client. Focus on marketing where your targeted audience is most likely to learn about your product or services.

Talk about your business because people who know you are likely to make referrals. In the course of your day, mention your business to people you interact with on a regular basis and carry business cards with you. Reach out to a larger audience by donating services to a fundraiser or event. If you are donating products or services, make sure you have appropriate signage or business cards so potential clients know what you are doing. In addition, offer existing clients a small discount for referring clients.

Consider including a voucher with your advertisement, particularly if you are attracting a client that will provide repeat business, it makes sense to offer a slight discount to obtain initial business. You can also exchange business cards or marketing material with a business that complements your own. Referring each other clients or giving each other space to market can be beneficial to both businesses and requires little more than mailing each other material and placing it in your business where clients can see it. Additionally, create an online presence by creating a website.

You will be able to reach people world-wide with minimal effort and provide information on your website that will give potential clients a broader overview of your products or services that an advertisement cannot accomplish. These simple marketing strategies for busy small business owners should help maximize your marketing with minimal time.

Looking To Learn How To Strengthen Your Brand?

Click here for a FREE promotional usb request to start promoting your business now!

By Lisa Winfield

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Starting Up a Business - Keeping Professional Costs Under Control

In a start-up situation, where money is often tight, and there are many demands on what money is available, it is tempting to avoid spending money on legal, accounting and other professional advice. Often the thinking is to delay spending money on these professionals until the business is turning a decent profit. While this sort of cost saving is tempting, it is also a mistake. Proper professional advice is an investment in the future of any business venture. The costs of not getting the right advice could be substantially more than the fees paid for that advice.

However, there are ways to reduce those costs. First, talk to them up-front and find out what they charge for their services. If you talk to a few you can get a sense of relative costs as between professionals. And be up front about your cost concerns. Sometimes professionals will offer an initial free meeting, or may allow payment over time or waive part of the retainer.

Second, see if you can get a "flat fee" quote (as opposed to being billed based on time taken). Professionals will often offer flat-fee services for common matters. This can be to your advantage as your bill will not go up even if the task takes more time than anticipated. And often these services are priced competitively.

Third, ask about their policy for billing expenses. Find out what expenses you can expect to see on your bill. You should be billed for fees incurred on your behalf (such as government incorporation fees) and will likely be billed for couriers and long-distance calls. Some professionals will bill you for everything - phone calls; photocopies; stamps etc. - and those small costs can really add up over time.

Fourth, make sure the professional has relevant experience. This can be very important with respect to law for example, where lawyers tend to focus on only one or two areas of practice. Dealing with a lawyer who practices in corporate and commercial law will be a lot easier than one who does not (and may have to research issues that a specialist would know about - research you may end up having to pay for).

Finally - self-educate! You do not have to be an expert, but doing some basic research before you talk to professionals is important. For example, before seeking legal advice about incorporation, look into the basics about setting up a company including some of the common questions to be addressed and what the alternatives are. That will help focus your questions and provide clearer instructions, making the lawyer's job easier and quicker. Make use of the internet as both government and private websites can provide inexpensive education tools that can save you time later when you are dealing with your lawyer.

I practiced law in Ontario for almost 16 years, with a focus on helping small businesses. Being in sole practice also meant I was running a small business. I have written a series of legal education guides aimed at the new small business person for Whitespire Venture Capital Network. The guides can be found online at http://venture-capital-network.com/

By John C M Sayers

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Number 1 Reason You May Be Struggling With Certain Things in Your Business

If you follow me on social media, you know that DH (Darling Hubby) and I adopted two 7-month-old shepherd puppies just before Christmas. They turned a year-old yesterday.

They're "little monsters" in my opinion; DH describes them as "spirited". Regardless of the words we use, they needed training.

In comes John Broome. Dog trainer extraordinaire. He's trained over 11,000 dogs, including my mother's shepherd 23 years ago.

He began the first training by sitting DH and I down and training us. Some of his first words were "You Get What You Accept".

If you "make it okay" for the dog to chew shoes, they'll do more of it.

Reprimanding the dog isn't enough. You must lead. If you never show them what's right, they'll stumble about confused, trying to please you and never knowing what to do.

I thought about this a bit. It's the same as in business.

* Virtual Assistant who keeps messing up? If you "let it go", it'll never be done properly and if you don't show them what the right thing to do is, they'll never know.
* Vendor who misses a deadline? Do you reward her with more business or let her know why it can't happen again or else you'll find someone else.
* Team member who isn't practicing Extreme Client Care™ with each and every client? Either she's got to go or get on board... and quickly.
* Client who doesn't pay on time or who sucks your energy dry? Educate, then terminate. Sounds harsh I know, but at the same time, if you don't do it, you'll be letting her know that such behavior is completely acceptable. If it's a matter of finances, first ask yourself if the hassle/your sanity are worth it and, if the answer is "yes" or "has to be right now", then focus as much time as possible on replacing that revenue with a client who loves and treasures all you bring to the table.

If you want to succeed in business, you need to have a handle on what you'll accept in your business - and from everyone who comes in contact with it.

How you run your business, how you nurture your clients should be authentic to you and your branding. {Tweet this.}

Starting with you and found in every corner of your business, this attitude, these practices become your business and what you're known for.

It doesn't matter how big or small your business is. If you don't actually care about your clients and customers, as people, they'll leave and find someone/a business that makes them feel valued and appreciated.

You may love your clients, but how do you show them? How do they know? Perception is everything.

As an inspiring and in-demand mentor, trainer and speaker, Sandy has helped hundreds of small business owners across the globe create sustainable businesses which make a positive impact. Sandy is also the founder of Escalator Marketing™, creating client engagement and raving fans by design. Sandy's Done 4 You services, programs, products and presentations on Escalator Marketing™ and creating lifetime clients through Extreme Client Care™ have made her an in-demand and innovative expert. http://www.TheMartiniWay.com

By Sandra Martini

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Small Business Owner's Personal Touch Helps To Compete With the Big Guys

Small Business is the backbone of this country. I shudder to think what our economy would be like without small businesses providing jobs and tax revenue in every city and town in the U.S.

Many years ago, I worked with a woman who grew up near Louisville, Kentucky. One day, over lunch, we were reminiscing about our teenage summer jobs. Hers was working at her grandmother's pizzeria.

"Does your grandmother still make pizza?" I asked.

She shook her head. A Papa John's opened directly across the street. Grandma couldn't compete with its lower prices and broader delivery area. Once Papa started taking orders online, it was all over. Grandma shut her doors and retired.

Don't Let the Big Guys Sneak Up on Your Business

Don't get me wrong. I don't dislike Papa John's pizza; it certainly tastes better than some of the other national chain pizza. But it was sad to hear how my colleague's grandma was quashed by a growing chain.

Do you worry this could happen to you? Are you challenged by the proximity of a national chain with more money to innovate and undercut you? Do you feel like the playing field is tilting away at greater angles?

Don't despair. Fight back with what makes you unique to your customers and reminding them about it-your understanding of their unique needs, and the fact that they are people, not accounts. Stress the importance of supporting local business, and practice what you're preaching!

  • Every year, American Express sponsors a Small Business Saturday that usually follows Black Friday. If this or a similar campaign is in your community, join it.
  • Shop at local stores as often as possible. Resist big box stores except for items that really aren't available anywhere else. When you shop at local places, you learn more about the local business community and who knows, you may gain new customers directly or by referral.
  • Redouble your customer service efforts.

The last bullet is very important. The big chains do emphasize customer service but you can stand out because you and your employees actually know your customers, assuming your turnover is lighter than the average Wal-Mart's.

Sometimes you have to say this a little forcefully, particularly when the competition is much cheaper or even free. Ask your friends to stop Liking free website building services, for example; while they may be free, the sites are rarely attractive or particularly useful. Legitimate businesses don't sell a one-size-fits-all approach. But like you, they take the time to create customized solutions.

Always remember this, "People do business with people, not businesses." Probably the greatest advantage the small business owner has over the "Big Guys" is the business owner himself or herself. Take the time to come out from your office and meet your customers. Show some personality in your social media posts. People tend to know the name of the small business owners they frequently do business with. Anyone know the name of the CEO of Home Depot? If so, let me know in the comments below.

Look for Small Business Resources

If money is a growing issue, I can understand. It's been difficult for small businesses and entrepreneurs to get loans. Banks continue to sit on piles of money and have given many of us the cold shoulder.

More options are surfacing for small businesses that need to upgrade equipment, move to better locations, or simply need access to credit in order to respond to unexpected events. Here are few trends I've noticed:

  • Crowdfunding is set to take off even if the SEC is slow to release rules about who qualifies for equity funding. Colorado and Arizona recently passed legislation allowing non-accredited investors to buy SMB stock or invest in them ($5000 in Colorado and $10,000 in Arizona).
  • Online loans from companies like Kabbage, Accion, IOU Central, OnDeck and Can Capital often talk about determining small business' loan worthiness. These companies may be great sources of capital, but you want to look closely at the actual cost of the loan. Be sure you understand the interest rate and the loan origination fees, if any.
  • Mobile providers are abandoning long-term contracts after T-Mobile ended them in 2013. Many are setting up small business centers to cater to this previously overlooked segment.

Use tools developed for small business to help with your marketing and streamline your efforts to grow. Companies like Constant Contact and HubSpot really have the small business owner's back.

Of course, there's always Shark Tank. Many businesses that don't get an offer still benefit from the free publicity!

Do you have anything to add to this story? If so, leave it in the Comments below.

Brad Friedman is president of The Friedman Group, LLC. We work with professionals and business owners to develop strategies and implement Inbound and Social Media marketing to enhance your brand and generate leads and revenue. Contact The Friedman Group here.

By Brad Friedman