Small Business Owners Entrepreneurs

January 10, 2011

Small Business Grants Are Very Attainable    Author: Admin

Posted in Small Business | |

There was a time when the concept of free money was a very American notion. But, as the economy has tightened and budgets decreased, there are very few avenues towards capital to start up a new business that do not involve loans and interest. This makes the path towards financial independence all but impossible for many working Americans. However, the small business grant is still available (even in these very lean times!) as a potential source of funding for you dream of self-employment.

A small business grant is part of a program funded by the federal government which provides capital for start up businesses. Sometimes a small business grant will simply give the money to a recipient with no requirement of repayment. Other business grants will require you to repay them with a minimal amount of interest over a period of years. Whether or not a small business grant requires repayment will depend on the nature of the grant itself.

Obtaining a small business grant is certainly no simple matter. In truth, over a million applications are received every year with only hundreds being awarded. However, the fact that only a few hundred are awarded does not necessarily mean that the others were turned down for lack of funding. Quite the opposite, it is very common for a small business grant to be turned down due to filing mistakes as opposed to lack of funds. In fact, it is a common occurrence for funds to be returned at the end of the year because not enough people qualified for the grants available.

But, the government is not the only potential source of a small business grant. Businesses will frequently form a private foundation which is responsible for disbursing funds set aside for grants and other useful community needs. The incentive for a company to use a private foundation is simple: tax savings. A company will pay less in corporate taxes when it gives away a small business grant than if it merely reported the income. Therefore, the private business community is an excellent grant source and is expected to be so in the future unless the tax code is significantly altered.

The best way to ensure that your small business grant is approved is to be organized and very thorough in filling out the application. A winning small business grant will generally include a business plan that includes a detailed explanation of what funds are needed and why. But the most important thing to remember is to fill out the application thoroughly and exactly as directed. Attention to detail is what will separate the winners of a small business grant from the losers.

Small Business Networking to Get More Clients and Market Professional    Author: Admin

Posted in Small Business | |

Small Business Networking to Get More Clients and Market Professional Services

Small Business Networking to Get More Clients and Market Professional Services

Its possible thatlike the thought of marketing and salesthe thought of networking may make you cringe. When most service professionals hear the word networking, they think of the old school business mentality of promotional networking at meet-and-greet events where everyone is there to schmooze and manipulate one another in an attempt to gain some advantage for themselves or their business.

Who wouldnt cringe at the thought of spending an hour or two exchanging banalities and sales pitches with a phony smile plastered on your face to hide your discomfort? If it feels uncomfortable, self-serving, and deceptive, chances are all those business cards you collected will end up in a drawer of your desk never to be seen again because youll so dread following up that youll procrastinate until theyre forgotten.

Take heart! There is good news! It doesnt have to be that way! The Book Yourself Solid Small Business Networking Strategy operates from an entirely different perspective; its all about connecting and sharing with others. All thats necessary is to shift your perspective from one of scarcity and fear to one of abundance and love. With the Book Yourself Solid Networking Strategy, the focus is on sincerely and freely giving and sharing, and by doing so, building and deepening mutually beneficial relationships with others. Its all about making lasting connections.

Networking Events for Small Business OwnersWhat To DoIf You Want More Clients

Do arrive on timeThis is not the time to stage a grand entrance by being fashionably late or to tell any stories about why youre late. Nobody cares. If youre late and its noticed, apologize and leave it at that.

Do relax and be yourselfContrary to conventional wisdom, you dont have to fit in. It may sound trite, but be yourself, unless when youre being yourself you end the evening with your tie wrapped around your head doing a nose dive into the shrimp salad. But seriously, people want to meet the person who is out in front, who is writing the rules and taking the lead, not the one who is following the pack. So dont be afraid to be fully self-expressed. If you are youll be more memorable.

Do smile and be friendlyBoth men and women may worry that smiling too big will be construed as some sort of a come-on or that theyre desperate for attention. This fear of being misunderstood will hold you back. Let it go! Better to err on the side of a big, friendly smile than to be considered unfriendly or standoffish.

Do focus on givingIf your focus is on giving of yourself, youre going to get returns in spades. If you focus on what you can get, you will be much less successful.

Do prepare for the eventLearn the names of the organizers and some of the key players. Identify what and how you can share with others at the function: who you know (without being a name dropper), what you know (without being a know-it-all), and what you can share from your heart (without making assumptions) with the people who will be at this particular event. You never know what might change someones life.

Do introduce yourself to the person hosting the eventThis person may be a very valuable addition to your network. Never forget to say, Thank you.

Do introduce yourself to the big-wigIf theres someone you want to meet at a big seminar or event, someone famous in your industry, do you go up to them and say, Heres what I do and heres my business card? No! You start by offering praise. You say, I just want to tell you your work had a great effect on me, or Your work inspired me to do this or that. Then the next time you are at the same event you might say, I would just love to hold your coffee cup. Meaning, I would love to assist you in some way that would add value to your life or work. She may say, I dont think so, but what have you got to lose? Then again, she may respond by saying, Yeah, you seem like a really genuine and considerate person. Ive got some stuff you can do. Dont forget that successful and busy people always have more on their plate than they can reasonably handle. Theyre always looking for talented people to help make their life easier. If you can help reduce someones stress level, youve made a friend for life.

Do offer something when first meeting someone, whenever possibleOffer praise (as in the above example), compassion, or a connection. When you can say, I know someone youve got to meet, or Theres a great book I think may offer the solution to your problem, they are going to see you very differently than the person who shoved a business card in their face and said, Lets stay in touch, dude. If you can leave them feeling even better, more uplifted, and energized after their interaction with you, theyre going to remember you.

Do start conversations by asking questionsThis is a great approach, especially if youre nervous. It takes the spotlight off of you and allows the other person to shine. It allows you to learn something new at the same time.

Do identify two or three things youd like to learn from the people at the functionPeople are drawn to others who are curious and interested.

Do make eye contactIt expresses respect and interest in the person youre speaking with. And stay focused on the person youre speaking with. If youre speaking with me, but youre eyes are constantly scanning the room for someone more important or relevant to you, dont you think it might make me feel unappreciated?

Do wear comfortable clothingIf youre constantly fidgeting or worrying about how you look in clothes that arent comfortable or dont fit properly, youll be self-conscious and others will sense it.

Do take the initiativeGo up to people and make friends. People love to be asked about themselves, their hobbies, or their family. This is the time to get to know a few personal tidbits that will give you the opportunity to find a common interest that makes connecting easier and more natural.

Do offer a firm handshakeHold your drink in your left hand. This eliminates the need to wipe your damp hand on your slacks before shaking hands. And, guys, dont think you need to shake hands differently with a woman than you do with a man. A firm handshake (not a death grip) is always appropriate.

Do be inclusiveAsk others to join your conversations; this is very important. Dont monopolize people, especially those who are in high demand, like the speaker from the event. It makes the speaker uncomfortable. Remember, theyre there to meet lots of people too. It also annoys others who want to meet the person youre trying to keep to yourself. Tip: if you want to help, ask the speaker if there is anybody you can introduce her to, or simply be sure to keep including people in your conversations with her. This way, youll be seen as a very generous and open person by the others at the event, and the speaker will remember you as someone who helped them easily network and navigate the event.

Do ask for a business card and then keep in touchIts your responsibility to ask for a card if you want one, and its your responsibility to follow up. Quality not quantity counts when making genuine personal connections. If you race through an event passing out and collecting business cards from anyone and everyone as though there were a prize for the most cards gained at the end of the event, youll do yourself a huge disservice. And remember, just because someone gives you their business card does not mean you have permission to add them to your mailing list or e-zine list. You do not. You can certainly send a personal email as a follow up, and you should, but you should not and cannot add them to your list. You dont have permission to do so. This is a pet peeve of mine. I feel that 25 percent of the time Im asked for my business card at a conference, I end up on another newsletter list. Not cool.

Do have a pen with you alwaysWhen you receive a business card, write a little note about any commitment to follow up, what you talked about, any personal bits or unusual things that will help you to remember the person and to personalize future contact, and be sure to include the date and name of the function where you met.

Networking Events for Small Business OwnersWhat Not To DoIf You Want More Clients

Dont try to be coolAnd dont over compensate for your nervousness by bragging about your success; this is a major turn-off.

Dont let What do you do? be the first question you askLet it come up naturally in conversation.

Dont sit with people you know for the majority of the eventWhile it may be more comfortable to sit with the people you know, it becomes too easy to stay with them, and if you do, youll defeat the purpose of being there. Step out of your comfort zone and get to know new people.

Dont juggle multiple itemsTravel light to eliminate the necessity of juggling your coat, purse, briefcase, drink, or buffet plate. Keep that right hand free for handshakes and for jotting down quick notes on any business cards.

Dont complain about networking or the event youre attendingDont complain about anythingperiod. The cycle of complaining is easy to get drawn into, especially at events where almost everyone is a bit uncomfortable. While complaining is an ice breaker, its not an attractive one. Change the subjectfor example, Have you tried the shrimp? or take the opportunity to recommend this great book, Book Yourself Solid, and how its transformed the way you think about networking events.

Dont take yourself too seriouslyRemember to relax and have fun. Were all just people.

You Are Always Networking and Marketing Your Small Business and Professional Services

Your profits will come from connections with people who can send you business. Whether thats by way of a satisfied client who refers others to you; or another professional who has the ability to book you for speaking engagements, write about you, or partner with you; or the manager at the video store who appreciates your big, friendly smile each weekend and the recommendation for a great baby-sitter you made when he desperately needed one.

With the Book Yourself Solid Small Business Networking Strategy, the prospect of creating a phenomenal network of connections doesnt have to be overwhelming or intimidating. We all network constantly, with everyone, every day. Now we just need to do it consciously, with greater awareness, until doing so becomes a natural and comfortable part of our daily lives.

Then follow-up. Keep in touch. It is imperative that you get every one of your connections into your database and act on each connection. If the contact isnt in your database or you dont take the action necessary to keep in touch, your networking is pointless. Have some form of this database with you at all timesPDA, planner, personal address bookso you can instantly connect others rather than having to get back to them.

January 3, 2011

Mom Entrepreneur Mentors: The Things I Wish I Would Have    Author: Admin

Posted in Entrepreneur | |

Mom Entrepreneur Mentors: The Things I Wish I Would Have Known While Working My Business and Raising My Family”

Moms are busy people. Raising a family makes you busy, but when you throw in the added responsibilities of running a business, you may feel like a professional juggler trying your hardest every day not to drop the ball. Todays Mom Entrepreneurs are so busy juggling their family and business, some days it may be difficult to find time to breathe. The Business Mom believes the benefit and good advice of Moms who have already raised their families is priceless and will help you to set our priorities. A special thank you goes to the following Moms from NAFEs For You Network for taking the time to share their thoughts and stories.

Reminder #1: Children grow up quickly
Meli Van Nattas son was seven years old and her daughter was four when she got into the real estate business. Meli of Prudential California Realty says, I learned that children grow up quickly and you can never recapture the time that you miss. If she had it to do over again, she would have arranged her schedule to spend more time with them even if it affected her business. Now that she is older (and wiser), Meli realizes that she could have delegated some tasks, maybe taken on a partner, and she didnt have to attend all the social events that went along with the business. But, she was young, having fun, and feeling very powerful and successful with all the money she was making.

Melis kids dont seem to feel that she neglected them. After all, they had time to go to Disneyland, the Zoo, and other places during the week when all the other mothers were at work. So, they didnt mind too much if she worked weekends because of her schedule. They often helped her by stuffing envelopes, going with her to knock on doors, and sitting with her at Open Houses when she couldnt get a sitter.

Both of Melis children are now happily married, well-adjusted adults with kids of their own. Her daughter has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom and is expecting her third child. Her son is the entrepreneur in the family. After a brief foray into the real estate business himself, he is now the proud owner of two successful businesses.

Melis Top Tips:
Learn when to turn off the phone and learn the difference between merely important and urgent. Take those vacations and make your days off sacrosanct. It may take you a little longer to reach your business goals, but youll be happier for it!

Reminder #2: Mom entrepreneurs can take advantage of their flexible schedule to share great times with their children

Robbie Motter of Contacts Unlimited was a single parent who raised her three children (who are now grown). Robbie loves being an entrepreneur. Robbie says, If I had known then what I know now, I would have left the corporate world earlier so I could have had the quality time with my older children that I had with my younger daughter. Robbie took a break from work each day when her daughter came home from school for about an hour and a half so that they could spend time together before returning to work and while her daughter completed her homework.

Robbie recalls that it was she had some hard challenges when she first became an entrepreneur. It took awhile for things to start to move forward and times were tough. Her two older children were not too supportive at first, as they were use to the big corporate paycheck. Many times they told her to go get a regular job, but she was determined to make it work. Before long it did, and they truly loved having her work from her home office. They shared great times together.

Robbie used to have her children help in the business. They stuffed envelopes or jobs like that, and they loved it. As they got older, Robbie let them answer the phone so they could learn the right way to do that.

Robbies son is an entrepreneur. He and a partner have owned a company for 18 years. Her two girls are not entrepreneurs–they like having a big paycheck, the perks, and all the benefits that a corporate job provides. Today all of her children are very successful, own beautiful homes, and make a fantastic salary with lots of benefits. They do not take their work home with them; they leave it at the office and come home to be totally with the family.

Robbies Top Tips:
When you run your business, and if you work from home, make your children feel a part of it. When it is family time, stop worrying about business and give your children quality time.

Small Business Advice, Get Online!    Author: Admin

Posted in Small Business | |

The best advice for small business owners today is to establish an online presence. It doesnt matter if your company consists of fifty people or just two, having a website is valuable to companies of all sizes. As ecommerce becomes a more important part of company sales, businesses that do not have a website will be losing out on both customers and revenue. Fortunately it is not too difficult to design a company website for your products and services. Unlike in the past, today there are many valuable web builder tools that allow users of all skill levels to design their own site. Many companies offering these products will often let customers test drive their web builder tools before actually committing to a purchase. This gives you the chance to become comfortable with the tools and see how they can help you in designing your site. You then have the option of signing up for a paid subscription of your choice.

A website is a good idea even for companies that are doing well without the help of online sales. In todays highly technical world, companies that do not have a website may be viewed as outdated or unprofessional. This is especially true when you consider the age group of your potential customers. Younger adults who have grown up using computers are much more likely to order from a company that offers their products online. There arent too many companies today that would tell you they couldnt benefit from additional sales. Web builder tools allow small business owners the opportunity to make their company products available to customers of all ages across the globe.

If your business frequently deals with customers from other countries, you know what a hassle it can be making contact because of the different time zones. A website allows you to make sales from anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even while you are not at work, your business can be earning sales via your website. Once your business develops an online presence, you may find the majority of sales are made online. Using web builder tools to design your site just makes good sense. Its both fast and efficient and can increase your sales earnings in just a short time.

Web builder tools not only save you time and money designing your site but can also save time and effort when dealing with customers. Think about all the calls you or your employees answer regarding products, services, or payment plans accepted. With a website, you can offer all of this information to customers at the ease of their fingertips. Theres no need for them to contact you when all of the information is provided online. This not only is convenient for both you and the customer but it also increases your chances of making a sale. Many times customers may not want to bother emailing or phoning for more information. If they cannot find what they are looking for, they may go else where to another company that offers the product or service they are looking for. Web builder tools allow you to effectively design a site that contains information about all of your products, company background, and payment methods accepted. This can be a valuable resource in gaining additional customers.

Even if your company sells a variety of different products, there are web builder packages available to meet your needs. You can choose from a variety of different products and package sizes, many of which include web hosting, domain name, blog design tools, photo image editing tools, shopping carts, email accounts, and various design templates. Options can also be upgraded or added when needed. With all of the flexibility offered, web builder tools can benefit all types of businesses in designing their website.

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