Wednesday, February 27, 2013

We love Small Businesses.

Behind every small business, there's a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores - these didn't come out of nowhere.


- Paul Ryan









Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Caring About Your Employees.

When starting a small business, your main objective was probably to make money and turn your investment into profit. But employers often forget that without employees their businesses will not be able to survive. Because of this, it is very important to care and provide for your employees, both in a personal and professional way.

Here are some ways you can keep your employees happy and make them feel like they’re an important part of the business.

• Have an open communication structure. Make them feel comfortable enough to come into your office with any request, feedback, or just for a friendly conversation.

• Try to spend some quality time with them. Organizing off-site meetings or special events for your employees brings them together as a team and creates loyalty, leading to better productivity and motivation back at the workplace. Just by doing a little something extra for your employees tells them that you care about them. When this happens, they’ll care about you and your business too.

• Be sure to spend some time listening to what your employees have to say, whether it is a business or personal matter. When employees know they can rely on their boss for anything, it increases employee engagement and employee retention. And you may get the bonus of having them give you a great new idea, too!

• It gets expensive to train new employees. Take care of the ones you have so they become loyal to you and help you succeed as a company. Value your employees as if they were your customers.

• And finally, treat them the way you want them to treat your clients when you’re not around. Having happy employees is just as important as having happy customers!






SC Organic Growing Conference - March 2nd!!

If you are involved in any area of organic agriculture or production of natural products, you may want to consider attending the upcoming SC Organic Growing Conference in Columbia on March 2nd.  Read below for more information.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Have you thought of having an app for your business?

As we all know, today’s business environment is becoming more and more digital every year. We can’t live or do business without a smart phone, computer, lap top nor a tablet.


Our customers are also constantly looking for new products and services on their phones, lap tops and tablets, too; so creating a way for your business to be easily found is important.

You want your customers to be able to type your name in online and find you in less than 10 seconds; or even better, have you on their phone 24/7 with an app. What many businesses are doing today is creating an app for their customers to be able to find them and interact with them 24/7 right at their hands.

The following article will help you answer the question on whether you need to create an app for your small business or not.

http://www.inc.com/guides/201107/deciding-whether-your-business-needs-a-mobile-app.html?nav=pop

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Community & educational development

PRESS RELEASE
 
The American Grants and Loans Catalog is now available. Our new and revised
2013 edition contains more than 2800 financial programs, subsidies, scholarships,
grants and loans offered by the US federal government.
 
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NEW: You will also have access to our live Database that is updated on a daily
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The Database is also available with IP recognition. This allows you to login
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Businesses, students, researchers, scientists, teachers, doctors, private individuals,
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agencies, nonprofits, foundations and associations will find a wealth of information
that will help them with their new ventures or existing projects.
 
The document is a fully searchable PDF file for easy access to your particular
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It is the perfect tool for libraries and educational institutions to use as a
reference guide for students who require funds to pursue their education.
 

Contents of the Directory:
 
-Web link to program announcement page
-Web link to Federal agency or foundation administering the program
-Authorization upon which a program is based
-Objectives and goals of the program
-Types of financial assistance offered under a program
-Uses and restrictions placed upon a program
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-Information contacts at the headquarters, regional, and local offices
-Programs that are related based upon program objectives and uses
 

Programs in the Catalog provide a wide range of benefits and services
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Please do not reply to the sender's email address as this address is only for outgoing mail.
 
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This is a CANSPAM ACT compliant advertising broadcast sent by:
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Always dream big, but don't forget to keep your feet on the ground.



Nonprofits - What are they?

Lately many people are talking about starting nonprofit organizations. But many times people don’t really understand what this means or how this type of organization/business really works.


First, and most importantly, before you can call yourself a non-profit, you must have a tax designation as a 502©3 through the federal government. There is a charge to file for that designation, and forms to be completed.



You must also have an active Board of Directors that will meet at designated times throughout the year and make decisions as needed. You may wish to be the Executive Director of the non-profit, but know that in that capacity you actually serve at the pleasure of your Board members. If they find you are not sticking to the organization’s mission and vision, or that you are negligent with the necessary paperwork, your Board members can vote to fire you.

Learn what the laws and regulations require you to do, and know that you will be expected to keep very accurate financial records as well as records showing the numbers and demographics of people you serve. Keep in mind that non-profits must be very accountable for all monies received – you cannot make arbitrary decisions about how money is spent or given out. You must work within the stated framework of your Mission Statement.

The money that the company earns is used to achieve the organization’s goals and reinvest it into the organization instead of distributing it as profits or dividends to its shareholders. While there can be paid employees, most non-profits depend heavily on volunteers to get their work done. There are many steps to take when starting a nonprofit organization including researching the industry and determining if there are other nonprofit organization in the area that do the same as you do.

Granting foundations and organizations today are strongly suggesting that instead of starting new non-profits that mirror services provided by others in your area, you find a way to work together.

Go to the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Application-for-Recognition-of-Exemption to apply for a 501©3 designation, once you have determined if this is the way to go for you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Theories on how to motivate your employees.

Since the dawn of management, managers everywhere have been faced with the same problem: How to maximize job performance and keep employees happy at the same time. The following three theories have stood the test of time and are considered by many to be expert. As a business manager or owner, this information may help you improve your own management style.

Maslow's Theory

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow theorized that some needs must be met before others. For instance: A person in danger will seek to get out of the immediate danger before worrying about avoiding dangers in the future. As a manager, it pays to understand which needs your employees must have met before they can reach the highest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy (which happens to also provide the highest level of job performance).

Herzberg Theory

Herzberg’s Two Factor: Herzberg believe that job satisfaction (high job satisfaction has been show to lead to high job performance) could be broken down into two parts, job dissatisfaction and job satisfaction. Job dissatisfaction deals with is determined by “Hygiene” factors. Hygiene factors relate to the environment of the work place. A clean, safe, and comfortable work place leads to no job dissatisfaction. Job satisfaction relates to “Motivators”. Motivators relate to the specific person. If a manager praises an employee’s performance in front of other employees, the praised employee will feel good about his work and will strive to work harder in the future. Herzburg placed a higher value on meeting Hygiene factors before Motivator factors.

Equity Theory

Equity Theory: Adam felt that employees’ rewards (pay, bonuses, etc.) should be based on employees “Inputs” to the company. If two employees’ Inputs are (relatively) the same, they deserve to receive (relatively) the same outcomes. If the rewards or outcomes are different, the lower compensated employee will become dissatisfied with the situation and adjust his effort (input) downward until he feels that his inputs equal his outcomes. According to Adam, managers must keep the balance for all employees to avoid mass job dissatisfaction.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Good Credit Score for Your Small Business

Paul Shread posted an article on the Time Magazine online edition a few days ago.  It was very informative and could be beneficial in helping you build good credit for your small business. In today’s environment, it is so important to have good credit  … actually, you don’t have another choice...you MUST have good credit to start a business or to get any extra financing you may need for your existing business.
Note the following quotes from Mr. Shread, which he adapted from 5 Tips for Building Good Business Credit by Pedro Hernandez at Small Business Computing.
“At some point you may need to borrow money to fund your growth. When that day comes, you’ll want to make sure that your business has a good credit rating.To shore up your business credit rating, start by separating your personal and business finances. Stop putting business expenses on your personal credit card, and stop paying for equipment and supplies out of your personal accounts. If you must put more money into your business, make it an official loan with legal paperwork.”
The article also suggests that you register your business as a separate legal entity, as banks typically require a tax or employer identification number from the IRS before allowing you to open any type of business account or line of credit. 
“Next, apply and get approved for a small business credit card or loan, and start small if you can. A history of modest debts paid off on time is an ideal start toward a bigger loan at a favorable rate.”  Following this advice and doing business with suppliers who can report your payment history to business credit-rating agencies will help you establish the good credit score you need for the future of your company.
“Finally, be sure to monitor your business credit score. A business credit monitoring service like Experian or Equifax will tell you if you’re on the right track.”

Monday, February 18, 2013

Business Logo

Before you start printing business cards, creating a website, designing flyers or advertising your company, you must first create your logo. Your company’s logo is what will represent you in the future, creating your “brand.”

A logo is what people will look for when looking for your company, and recognize as representing your company as you become better known.
You need to make sure it stands out in a good way.

Here are some examples of outstanding logos.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

How Do You Search Online?

As you make your way around the web researching information to improve your business operation, or start a new venture perhaps, how do you find it?  How do you search for what you want?  Do you usually find it the first time, or do you have to do multiple inquiries to find what you need?

Depending on the complexity of your questions, the answer may vary.  It has been my experience however, that some of the best answers to my search questions are often not in the top search results, and frequently take two or three searches to locate, or be 2-3 pages back in the results.  Why? 

SEO is why.  Search Engine Optimization.

In our "Getting Your Business Online" workshops, we stress the need to optimize your website for search engines based on the those products or services in which you specialize, and on location as well, if reaching local customers is one of your goals.   You can have a beautiful, well-designed and very functional website, and still not be getting the desired results from it for your business.  We liken this to (the politically incorrect and somewhat offensive) empty-headed beautiful blonde.   Beautiful to look at, but no substance.   A website must have substance to attract the attention of search engines, because search engines don't see beauty ..... they only collect relevant words, terms, frequency of verbiage, tie-in-links, etc., that all go into making up what we call "great content."

I myself have frequently searched for articles that are relevant to a specific subject, and had top results returned for articles that are several years old.  Does that mean that no one else is writing anything on that subject today?  Not at all.  It just means they haven't taken the time to insure that their content is not only important to the human reader, but also to search engines.  Developing content that will please both human readers and computers is the way to being found, building your customer base, and displaying your products/services to the greatest numbers of your target market.  If you want your website to be found, it's OK to make it beautiful ..... but it's more important to make it intelligent with great content that will stay around and be there to send new customers your way for years to come.

Here are some ideas from the national office of the SBDC for simplifying the process of creating great content for your website.

http://asbdcbizblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/6-simple-tips-for-great-content.html

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shop Local. Shop Small Businesses.

Profits before Products? Think again!

John Sculley, an Apple executive for several years, had come over from Pepsi, where he was a marketing and sales executive for the company. Because of his position he was mainly focused on profit maximization rather than on product design.  , which caused sales for Apple to slowly decline. 

But why did this happen? Many times companies focus more on profits than they do on the actual product. They focus on how to sell the product, where to sell it, who to sell it to and most importantly, how are they going to make a profit? Yes, this is actually something all companies need to think of, but sometimes focusing on the product itself first will make a difference. Steve Jobs said: “My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary.

Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation”. In Sculley’s case, instead of focusing on creating better products and innovating, his main priority was to make money. 

What can other business owners learn from this?  Remember the saying, “Money isn’t everything.”  If that’s your only motivation, you may do well for a while, but it catches up with you.   Quality first … profit second.  That’s the way to grow a business!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Do Not Track (DNT) - what is this?

In a recent report, the Federal Trade Commission recommended that Apple, Google and other advertising networks should start allowing users the option of Do Not Track (DNT).  DNTs are programs designed to stop 3rd parties from tracking which sites you visit, how often, when you visit them, etc. 

While some feel that these tracker sites are a violation of privacy, marketing companies believe that the tracker programs are necessary for getting the right advertisements to the right people.  In response, the FTC stated that the DNT should be a privacy option. 

If DNTs were a privacy option they reasoned, people would be able to evaluate their options on an individual level and decide which is better for them. The FTC also recommended that app developers make sure they understand the ad networks fully before allowing them access to advertising in their apps. 

A link to the full report is given below. 

http://www.scribd.com/doc/123386205/FTC-Mobile-Privacy-Report

Friday, February 1, 2013