Tag Archive: small

Ensure A Rewarding Experience When Hiring Others

Ensure A Rewarding Experience When Hiring Others
Hiring an employee can be a big step for many small business owners. It means the end of doing EVERYTHING yourself and passing off some of the work!

In order to make the experience rewarding for both you and your employees there are a few things that every boss and leader should do…

1) Reward people for a job well done.  Its frustrating working for someone who enjoys all the financial rewards of the efforts put forth by the entire team, especially if they don’t recognize what everyone has accomplished and contributed.

It doesn’t take much to acknowledge the effort of your staff. It makes a HUGE difference in the working atmosphere when you take a few moments to acknowledge your team. People like to know that they’ve done a good job.

2) Always provide a balance between positive and negative comments. Your job as a leader is to recognize the talents of those around you and feed them with the motivation and positive energy to take YOUR ideas to entirely new levels. Help them serve you better by building up their confidence… not tearing it down.

3) Step up and accept responsibility for your projects. At the end of the day if things don’t go according to plan, in my opinion, the responsibility falls onto the leader’s shoulders. Stand up and accept the responsibility should anything ever go wrong.

If your staff always bear the burden of projects gone bad, it will drag people down and destroy your working environment. Start contributing to the emotional bank account of those around you.

If you acknowledge the behavior you want to see more of, you’ll start seeing more of it. Be positive and accept some responsibility when things don’t go according to plan.

4) When you have good people it’s your responsibility as a leader to hold on to them. People with talent will take your company to entirely new levels but if they keep leaving, the growth of your company will be stinted.

People with skills know that they have options. Hanging the carrot of a potential big pay day will only work for a certain period of time. After a while it wears off and they start looking elsewhere. The last thing you want is for them to end up with your competition.

So the moral of the story is find good people, train them, treat them well, and your business will take off.

6-Step Plan For Setting Up Press Releases

6-Step Plan For Setting Up Press Releases
There’s a clear way around press release failure and it’s called the pitch. A lot like it sounds a pitch is a fast throw at busy editors about a possible story. If they want to find out more, then you send the press release.

That leads me to a huge pet peeve: Sending out press releases via e-mail to a list of editors. From my experience it’s never – ever – worked. I no longer try it and suggest you don’t either. It’s a waste of your time and all of the editors. Instead:

1. Focus on a handful of your “dream publications.” For me, I’d like to get into Fortune Small Business, Entrepreneur magazine and the Wall Street Journal. When picking your publications, think of your target audience. What do they read and why do they read it?

2. Pick the section you’d like to appear in. You never know, but chances are you won’t appear on the cover of the publication in your first attempt at placement, instead, focus on sidebars, resource listings and short news sections. Almost all print pubs have them. Look at it as the waiting room for bigger and better stories on the unique products and/or services you offer.

3. Find out who the editor is. Once you have your section, find out who’s in charge of it. You’ll need the person’s name, e-mail address and the most important element of successfully getting placed in the publication . . .

4. Learn what the editor needs. The number one thing you’ll need to know about the editors you’re targeting is the kind of information they want to publish in their sections. There are two ways to do that: You could ask, but then that could open up a can of worms if the editor doesn’t want to get calls – and most don’t. Or, you could compare a few back issues of the publication to find out what they’ve published in the past.

5. Create the pitch. You’ll want to start your pitch by stating your understanding of the editor’s needs. Then list – in clear bullet points – how your news fits his or her requirements. Note: Always leave your phone number in the text of the pitch e-mail to give the editor easy access to you – and your story.

6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 until you get a response. Sound tedious? Maybe. But at least the time you spend on this will reap much better results than sending one release out to thousands of editors – right along with other business people hungry for coverage.

Bottom line: It’s about building relationships with editors. And the only way to build a relationship is to find the need and fill it – consistently and considerately.

4 Tips in Rewarding Experience When You Hire

4 Tips in Rewarding Experience When You Hire
Hiring an employee can be a big step for many small business owners. It means the end of doing EVERYTHING yourself and passing off some of the work!

In order to make the experience rewarding for both you and your employees there are a few things that every boss and leader should do…

1) Reward people for a job well done. Its frustrating working for someone who enjoys all the financial rewards of the efforts put forth by the entire team, especially if they don’t recognize what everyone has accomplished and contributed.

It doesn’t take much to acknowledge the effort of your staff. It makes a HUGE difference in the working atmosphere when you take a few moments to acknowledge your team. People like to know that they’ve done a good job.

2) Always provide a balance between positive and negative comments. Your job as a leader is to recognize the talents of those around you and feed them with the motivation and positive energy to take YOUR ideas to entirely new levels. Help them serve you better by building up their confidence… not tearing it down.

3) Step up and accept responsibility for your projects. At the end of the day if things don’t go according to plan, in my opinion, the responsibility falls onto the leader’s shoulders. Stand up and accept the responsibility should anything ever go wrong.

If your staff always bear the burden of projects gone bad, it will drag people down and destroy your working environment. Start contributing to the emotional bank account of those around you.

If you acknowledge the behavior you want to see more of, you’ll start seeing more of it. Be positive and accept some responsibility when things don’t go according to plan.

4) When you have good people it’s your responsibility as a leader to hold on to them. People with talent will take your company to entirely new levels but if they keep leaving, the growth of your company will be stinted.

People with skills know that they have options. Hanging the carrot of a potential big pay day will only work for a certain period of time. After a while it wears off and they start looking elsewhere. The last thing you want is for them to end up with your competition.

So the moral of the story is find good people, train them, treat them well, and your business will take off.

 

Start-up A Retail Business

Start-up A Retail Business
Starting a business is always easier when you have some funding, and far too many business advisors will tell you to wait until you have a substantial amount of capital before launching. But what if you just can’t raise the money? Then it’s time to ignore the advice of those advisors and jump into the fray. Start-up A Retail Business

Obviously, if there’s no funding, and you want to bankroll your new retail business out of your own poorly-funded back pocket, you will have to seriously re-evaluate your concept. Notice, we’re saying “re-evaluate,” not “abandon.” In fact, it’s still possible to start a retail business without having to shell out big money for retail space, inventory and advertising.

It’s not an easy thing to get funding for a retail shop, especially one that is brand new. Expansion capital is a little easier to come by, if you already have a shop that is making money, but if you’ve got your eyes on running a brand new boutique, those funding dollars will be scarce. About the only way you’ll be able to convince a finance company or bank to give you money to start a new retail shop is if you are willing to put up the equity in your home as collateral against the loan. Start-up A Retail Business

And yes, if you have equity, you should expect to have to do this. But—what about the rest of us poor folks who don’t have any assets, no savings to speak of, and can’t get a signature loan? Are we doomed to a life of wage slavery? No. We just have to start out small, so small that our new business wouldn’t even show up in the radar of what most people call a small business. What we’re talking about here is a “micro business”—one that can be started with very little or no up-front capital.

Traditional business wisdom calls for a business plan that details your spending for the first year, and where that money will come from. Your original goal may have been to open up a small shop in the mall—but rents in most malls even for a small shop often go for thousands of dollars a month. A “bootstrap” retail business is one that is starting with either no, or very little funding, so that space in the mall is out of the question. Start-up A Retail Business

Obviously, your first concern is inventory, and without funding, you won’t be able to carry very much of it. Consider what you envision selling, and reduce those items to include only those that have the highest margin and the quickest potential turnaround. Starting off specializing in a dozen or so items that sell briskly will prime the pump so you can add more inventory later. Start-up A Retail Business

As for retail space, even though the mall is out, take a look at other areas that may offer cheaper rent, even if the space is a lot smaller than what you had in mind. There may be an existing business that would be complementary to yours, with some space to spare—there’s a possibility there of making a deal. And barring that, start out without any permanent retail space at all. Many successful retail shops started out selling exclusively at local festivals, farmers’ markets, flea markets and specialty shows, where you rent space by the day or week. While you’re selling at these venues, collect a customer mailing list so you can send your best customers a card when you are able to finally move into a permanent retail space. Start-up A Retail Business

Most importantly—don’t assume that you can’t go into business just because you don’t have a lot of money. Start-up A Retail Business

 

How To A Choosing a Company Name

How To A Choosing a Company Name

When forming a limited company the name of the company can be an important decision. Some people may choose the first name that they think of and others may select a ready made company for speed or because they like a particular name. However, many businesses may prefer to select a company name that either clearly distinguishes itself from its competitors or contains something unique or personal. Company names can be chosen for different reasons. How To A Choosing a Company Name

One of the most common ways of selecting a company name is to use something personal. A quick look through your local newspaper will probably introduce you to many personalized business names. Johnson Consulting Limited, T Smith & Son Limited, Stephens & Barley Limited are some fictional examples of what may be found. This may instantly make a company recognizable locally, it can be deemed as more personal by its customers, and often works well within geographical areas. However, it does little to tell new customers what your company does. How To A Choosing a Company Name

A popular choice for a small business is to choose a name that is ‘descriptive’. This tells prospective clients exactly what your company does. Examples of this may be to call your business The Window Company Limited, City IT Consultants Limited or The Advertising Agency Limited. Whilst this does serve to reinforce your primary business it offers little differentiation and may easily be adapted by competitors. How To A Choosing a Company Name

A less personal option is to use a company name that is ‘associative’. This type of company name helps to create an image or connection to your business activity. It is less direct than using a descriptive name but helps to position your company’s name within the market through peoples understanding of what words mean. For example a flick through the Yellow Pages will offer plenty of examples of this. A hairdresser called Classic Cuts or a printer called Select-a-print Limited are examples of what may be found. These names offer some differentiation but may not ultimately set your company aside from its competitors. How To A Choosing a Company Name

An alternative is to choose a company name that is ‘freestanding’. These names are completely abstract and not related to the companies business activities. A fictional example may be to call your catering company Zedoc Limited. There are many popular brand names that illustrate this point. Consider, Kodak, Gillette, or Mars, these names will probably be instantly recognizable to you and conjure up a particular product or business. This is a good way of setting your company aside from the competition but it is important to consider the market that you operate in. Will your prospective clients know what your business is offering? How To A Choosing a Company Name

Choosing a company name may be a simple process, but it is not uncommon for people to deliberate over names for quite some time. Whilst company names can, and often are, changed during the life of the company most people like to choose a name that they like from the outset. Therefore consider your market, how much you want to differentiate from your competitors and what your company name should say about your organisation. Once the decision is made focus on the important business of making your company a success. How To A Choosing a Company Name

 

HCC Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative

HCC Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Initiative is provided at no cost and is designed for small business owners who have a business poised for growth. Our goal is to help small businesses create jobs and economic growth by providing practical business education, increased access to capital, and business support services.

 

Participant receive:  

90 hours of practical interactive business training developed by Babson University and delivered in a schedule designed to minimize impact to business owners.

 

Access to a business adviser who will help you develop and implement a growth plan tailored for your business.

Networking connections with the best entrepreneurial resources in Houston.

  

Invaluable relationships with a peer group of business owners all positioning for material growth.

Increased access to capital.


Alumni Program – offering Networking opportunities, access to CEO Roundtables & Continuing educational opportunities. 

 

To Qualify:

Participants must be the primary owner or co-owner of a business

Have a business with four full-time employees including yourself (part-time and contract employees also count)

The business must be in operation for at least two years

Demonstrate business revenues of at least $150,000 in the most recent fiscal year

The deadline to submit your application is

July 15th.

Please click here to visit our website and learn more about this amazing opportunity! 

Negotiation Tactics for Small
Business Owners
Tuesday, April 9, 2013 – 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

1010 W. Sam Houston Parkway N., Houston Tx

Main Building – Eagle Room

 

Negotiating is not simply about getting the price you want!

Successful negotiations create long-term relationships that

result in a win-win for both parties.

 

Distinguished Speaker Liz Lara-Carreno will provide insights on how personality impacts negotiations and provide tips for how small business owners can find value beyond the sales price and develop long-term relationships that will grow their business!

 

 Register Today!

 

Connecting with Asian-American Consumers through Marketing and Social Media
Thursday, April 11, 2013 – 11:15 AM – 1:15 PM 

Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Blvd. Houston Tx

 

Keynote speaker: Bill Imada.  Mr. Imada is the Chairman, Chief Collaboration Officer of IW Group Inc.  Mr. Imada’s firm has more than 20 years of experience working in the areas of advertising, branding, marketing, communications and training and specializes in the growing multicultural markets in the U.S.

Register Today!

Affordable Care Act – Impacts on Small Businesses 
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 – 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Urban League – 5320 Griggs Rd., Houston, TX

 

Register Today! 

 

Your Value Proposition- Next Step Internal & External Tactics
Friday, April 19, 2013 – 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

4800 Fournace Place, Bellaire, TX 77401

 

Register Today!

 

Greater Houston Business Procurement Forum
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 – 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM 

HCC – SW Campus, 5601 W Loop South, Houston Tx

 

Connect with the City of Houston, the Mayor’s Office of Business Opportunity, METRO, HISD, HCC and more to learn about procurement opportunities and how to engage.

Register Today!

7th Annual Houston Airport System Runaway to Business Opportunities Networking Fair
Thursday, May 9, 2013 – 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM 

8233 Will Clayton Parkway, Humble Tx

 

This annual event assists MW/DBE and Small Business Enterprise owners with contracting opportunities with the Houston Airport System.

Register Today!

Houston Intercontinental Chamber of Commerce Upcoming Events

 

Please call: 281.408.0866 for additional information

 www.houstonicc.org

Developing North Houston Luncheon

Thursday, April 25, 2013 – 11:30AM

 

Houston Marriott North – 255 N. Sam Houston Parkway East, Houston

 

China-US-Mexico Business Development Summit – Golf & Dinner

Sunday, May 5, 2013 – 12:00PM

 

Tour 18 Houston – 3102 FM 1960 Rd. E, Humble

Register Today!

Provided by

Houston Community College

1050 W Sam Houston Parkway North

Houston Tx 77043

For more information, please contact

Wendi Goodwin, Outreach Director
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative
713-718-2115 – wendi.goodwin@hccs.edu

STAY CONNECTED


Financing Options for Your Company

Financing Options for Your Company

Financing Options for Your Company. As new funding options emerge, small business owners have more diverse options for financing growth

Introduction: The Financing Challenge

Economic conditions, legislation, and technology have sparked a sea of change in small business owners’ options for securing funding. Traditional bank lending and venture or angel investment still figure prominently in today’s financing landscape. But today’s alternative sources of funding range from emerging online lenders to crowdfunding and do-it-yourself initiatives. Financing Options for Your Company

These changes have been developing for years. Bob Seiwert, senior vice president of the American Bankers Association, notes that during the housing boom, some business owners relied heavily on home equity lines of credit and credit cards to fund their businesses. “As values of real estate have dropped, so have those lines of credit,” he says. “There’s no substitute for equity in the business. And banks don’t make equity investments into small businesses. They make loans. We don’t get paid to take equity risks. We get paid to take loan risks.” Financing Options for Your Company

That also creates a challenge for business owners who saw their equity disappear during an extended period of losses and negative cash flow and who now need permanent working capital. “Bankers are not going to provide 100 percent financing,” says Seiwert. That leaves those business owners in need of funding alternatives, whether that means personal resources, assistance from relatives, or funding from suppliers or major customers “who are willing to make equity investments in the business because they know that business well, have confidence in it, and need that product.”

2. Capital Sources

“We’ve been in a prime-plus world lending to people who really weren’t prime-plus borrowers,” says Charles H. Green, executive director of the Small Business Finance Institute and author of The SBA Loan Book: The Complete Guide to Getting Financial Help Through the Small Business Administration.

DIYtoBank_PQ.jpgAs bank financing availability tightened for companies facing an equity crunch, new funding options emerged to fill the void. But some are high-interest options that won’t work for every small business owner. “There’s going to be a price adjustment for small business credit,” Green cautions. “These new capital sources online, and there are several of them, are charging from 16-36 percent.” That’s a dizzyingly high rate, but the terms can be viable for a company whose margins are high enough and who need the money fast, he adds. “They need to evaluate what their profitability is, and that will tell them if they can afford it. They need to ask, ‘will this be a net profit to us overall, and will it last?’”

Joining the crowd

Crowdfunding— the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their resources, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations—is another emerging alternative for business owners who need to get creative about financing their growth—but here, again, there are caveats. Kickstarter reports that of 32,311 successfully funded projects, 25,695 raised $10,000 or less—and of those, 3,800 raised less than $1,000.

That’s not to say that crowdfunding is off-limits to companies with higher funding aspirations: the total includes 326 projects that gained $100,000-999,999 in financing, and 15 projects have raised more than $1 million. Financing Options for Your Company

But the odds are daunting. Those 32,311 funded projects represent just 43.8 percent of 77,072 projects that were launched on Kickstarter. The remainder failed to gain full financing—12 percent received no financing at all—and projects that fall short of full financing get no financing, in keeping with the company’s all-or-nothing policy.

Moreover, the site reports that crowdfunding works best for companies that have already established a following among likely supporters. “In most cases, the majority of funding initially comes from the fans and friends of each project,” Kickstarter reports in its FAQ. It adds that social media and press are “big sources of traffic and pledges”—which means this approach to financing is best suited to companies that already have a strong social media platform.

The angel alternative

Angel, or venture investors aren’t likely to come from your circle of friends, but those that agree to invest in your company will expect to join your circle of advisors. That distinguishes them from the business banker who issues a loan and simply wants it repaid.

A venture investor is essentially taking a stake in the company. Susan Preston, general partner at CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund, notes the attributes she seeks in a business that’s seeking funding: “Having validation in the market that there are customers who are willing to pay for the product is certainly an excellent attribute, and it is a plus for the company. But for me it is more about: Who are the customers? What is the market potential? Can the company scale? And can it give me a return that is high margin for the money I would be putting in?” Financing Options for Your Company

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to accept loss of authority and venture capital as a package deal when working with angel investors. “With some exceptions, investors don’t come in and try to run the daily show. They’re there to help the entrepreneur grow,” Preston says. “I always advise entrepreneurs that you need three things from your investors. The third most important is the money. The first is their sage advice, because 90 percent of the time, angel investors and venture investors are prior successful entrepreneurs themselves.” Their experience leads to the number two item on the list: their connections. “They know people. They know prospective customers, experts in the field, and can bring those in to the company’s advantage.”

With that in mind, business owners should consider prospective angel investors’ personalities and professional fit, not just their ability to provide funding. Good entrepreneurs understand their limitations and recognize the value of advisors who can provide greater strength in those areas, Preston says. “It really is a lot of honesty with yourself: where do I need help, and where can I most benefit from support from my investors and advisors?” Financing Options for Your Company

Taking it to the bank

While angel investors and bankers differ in what they expect of business owners who seek funding, they share one critical trait. Success in either type of financing depends in part on personal relationships. That element is often lost on a new generation of small business entrepreneurs who are accustomed to conducting business, and particularly financial transactions, electronically and virtually.

“But there is one thing that you can’t do online, and that’s build a relationship with a banker,” says the ABA’s Seiwert. “At the end of the day, the credit decision that a banker makes is based on their knowledge of your business; it’s based on a degree of trust that that banker has built up over time with you. And that trust can only start via a personal relationship. The people who get the money or who have the best chance of getting money in an economic downturn, when times are tough, are those who have relationships with bankers.”

Relationships help business owners to understand what bankers need to make a favorable credit decision. Of even greater value, he says, is the opportunity for business owners to get feedback on how bankers view their companies. “Bankers have the benefit of seeing lots of business owners, and they have a feel for what works, what doesn’t work, what are best practices, and what are not best practices.”

Interaction with business bankers also keeps the company’s track record on their radar. “By building a relationship, you have the loan officers watching what you do,” says Mitchell Petersen, professor of finance and director of the Heizer Center for Private Equity & Venture Capital at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “They see this track record of when you’ve taken out, borrowed from suppliers, and repaid, or when you’ve borrowed a small amount from me, you’ve repaid. So there’s a paper trail that shows you are able to take out credit and repay it.” Financing Options for Your Company

3. Enlisting Bankers as Advocates

Beyond that trail of hard data are softer indicators of the company’s merits as a borrower, he adds. “If you’re a loan officer, and you saw a firm operate very well under very unfavorable conditions the last three years, you’re much more comfortable with that person. That loan officer can go up to the credit committee and say, ‘I’ve seen what happens when they’ve lost a major customer, and here’s how he responded. I’ve seen when he took money out and there was opportunity not to repay it, and here’s how he responded.’ He’s essentially vouching for you, and they’re more likely to do that if they know you well.” Financing Options for Your Company

Using Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

by J.J. McCorvey

Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II. Our second installment of advice for small businesses on using social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, and how to integrate these tools into the marketing and recruiting efforts of your company.

Social Network Promotions

Remember, it’s called a social network, not a ‘business network.’ Coming off as a pushy or shrewd salesperson peddling a product could scare away your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections. Remember to be genuine and personal. Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

Here are the things you should do when promoting your company or product through social networking sites:
1. Make it benefit-based. Make the customer feel that they need to participate in the promotion. Is the product or feature available for a limited time? Are you offering exclusively to your followers on a particular network?

2. Talk about new or uncommon features. Even if you have a relatively popular product, there may be some things consumers don’t know about it. What are some new or different ways it can be used?

3. Include some discounts and savings. Offering discounts on products is usually a shoe-in to grab customers’ attention. Krissman, of Outdoor Technology, says he posts promotional codes that users can fill out on the company’s website and get up to 30 percent off a product. Not only does it drive more buyers to your product, but it also brings more followers to your page. Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

Here are the things you shouldn’t do when promoting your company or product through social networking sites:
1. Don’t continually have sales-related messages. There are other ways to promote besides selling your product. Comment or ask questions about news or topics in your industry. ‘They will easily ignore you or unsubscribe you if you continue to push a sale,’ says Tobin.

2. Don’t set up an expectation, then cheat on it. If you announce to your followers that your purpose is to give advice, don’t turn around and start selling. ‘If you violate that expectation, people are going to get upset and they’re going to leave,’ says Tobin. Again, make the sale subtle – how can your product help them achieve the advice you’re giving?

How to Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Social Network Recruiting

Social recruiting is an effective way to utilize social networks to find the best candidate for any open positions at your company. While the past few years saw the rise of job boards like Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com, the growing prominence of social networks have transformed the way businesses build their best team. Instead of relying on the ‘come one, come all’ approach, the detailed personal information contained in profiles, such as interests and job history, allows businesses to employ social networking sites to target the specific audience or skill set they want to pull from. Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

According to an annual social recruitment survey published by Jobvite, an online service that helps businesses consolidate the resources of social media sites, 80 percent of companies used or planned to use social networking to find and attract candidates in 2009, with LinkedIn being used by 95 percent of the respondents and Facebook usage growing from 36 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2009.

‘It’s like what’s happened to the ad industry,’ says Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite and former general manager of Yahoo! HotJobs. ‘It used to be that you would buy a big ad to get the consumer’s attention, but more and more companies are relying on online advertising software that puts that ad right in front of them based on data, like the other ads they click on. Social recruiting is analogous to that.’

The Benefits of Social Network Recruiting

Here are some of the primary advantages that social recruiting affords small businesses:

1. Empowers your employees to distribute job information. These days, most, if not all of your employees probably have a profile on a social networking site. By enabling them to post information about open positions, you multiply your searching reach by the thousands.

2. Helps you put the passive job candidate in your crosshairs. Job boards are mostly used by people who are proactively looking for positions. But what about the perfect potential employee who may not be scouring Careerbuilder.com every day? Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

3. A low-cost method of finding high-quality candidates. When looking for job candidates, it takes time to sift through resumes of unqualified applicants, and many job boards charge fees to post openings. Social recruiting helps you zone in on the best candidates, for free.

Tools to Help You Socially Recruit

1. Custom searches. Searching only by name and location doesn’t cut it when looking for the perfect employee. LinkedIn has one of the most thorough searches of all the sites, allowing you to sift through profiles by company, industry, college, and even how many ‘degrees’ you are from the person.

3. Updating your status message. When you or your employees update your statuses, it pops up on your friends’ home page, and sits atop the profile until it’s changed. ‘My company is looking for … ,’ is sure to snag replies.

4. Linking to stories and external content. Both Facebook and LinkedIn enable users to post external content to their profiles. By linking to articles and blogs that contain positive news about your business, you show potential candidates that it’s not just your social network connections that adore your company.

How to Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Privacy and Legal Issues

Though social networking can certainly be a fun way to help you expand your company, there are plenty of issues surrounding privacy and legalities that you should always be aware of when searching for employees, and even after you’ve hired them. ‘The laws [regarding online privacy and or hiring online] generally apply the same [as existing state laws],’ says Megan Erickson, an associate at Des Moines, Iowa-based Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler & Hagan law firm and author of Erickson’s Blog on Social Networking and the Law. ‘But now that there are all these different kinds of social media, they combine to make it a very unique environment.’

Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind to help you steer clear of legal trouble when dealing with potential or current employees and social networking sites:

1. Don’t use fake profiles. Using a fake profile when adding employees to monitor their activity can constitute as an invasion of privacy, Erickson says. ‘That’s just asking for lots of trouble,’ she says.

2. Add a social media section to your handbook. Including language about social media in your personnel policy is paramount, especially if you plan on integrating it heavily in your company’s operations. Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

3. Beware of existing federal and state laws. It may help to prep yourself on the many federal and state laws regarding anti-discrimination and privacy, Erickson says, so that if you do come across an employee’s wayward photo or disparaging status message, you’ll be knowlegeable about how to proceed with disciplinary action.

Resources

To learn more about using social networking sites:

• The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success, by Lon Safko and David Brake, is a great guide for business owners and executives who want to use the power of social media to grow their companies. Visit the website, TheSocialMediaBible.com, to connect with other professionals looking to do the same.

• Megan Erickson’s blog, Erickson’s Blog on Social Networking and the Law, posts up-to-date news on legal issues surrounding social media sites.

• Mashable is a great resource for news, advice, and jobs concerning all things social media.

• John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing – The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide, also runs a marketing blog for small businesses called Duct Tape Marketing. Check out what he says about the 7 Truths of Social Media Marketing.

Some sites to consider joining for social networking:

• Facebook: The most popular social networking site, it allows you keep up with friends, colleagues, and classmates and features a stream-lined, easy-to-use interface.

• MySpace: Geared toward the younger crowd, this interactive site lets you connect with friends and tweak your profile with extras like themes and music playlists.

• LinkedIn: This site is strictly professional, and for good reason. You can keep up with colleagues, find employees, and network with others in your field.

• Bebo: Another primarily social site for friends that allows users to express themselves through media and interactive environments.

• FastPitch: This professional site serves as a great platform for growing companies to market themselves, allowing you to post events, press, and submit keywords to increase your profile’s SEO strength.

• Friendster: A social networking site for friends that promotes connections between international users and also boasts “Fan Profiles” similar to Facebook’s. Use Social Networking Sites to Drive Business: Part II

• I-Meet : A professional site where you can establish valuable contacts and potentially save money on event planning.

Small Business Federal Grants

Small Business Federal Grants – Is It Really True?

Contrary to what most people think, there are no small business grants offered by the federal government. What the United States government has is a Small Business Association whose responsibility is to provide assistance to small businesses.

In the midst of a great economic crisis hampering the country, small business owners are looking for ways on how to keep their business thriving. But the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers loan programs which small businesses can take advantage and get help from.

It is true that the U.S. government do offer federal grants, but grants are geared towards public services. Which is why most grant recipients have projects geared towards the improvement and development of the public’s interest and services received. Federal grant recipients are non-profit, non-government institutions and organization, local and state governments, not personal businesses.

It is clearly stated in federal grants regulations, that the grants received cannot be used for personal expenditures or cover expenses to acquire property or pay for any service like salary. But the U.S. government do reward grants in the field of research and other specific services. This could be a big benefit for small companies or industries who are trying to improve their services. Federal grants can also help those business owned by the minorities, like women and the disabled.

An example of this research funding is called Small Business Innovation Research program. This program provides financial assistance to cover the research and development, sales, marketing and other start-up costs. This program was established by Congress in 1982 and is re-authorized through 2008. It started with the goal of inviting more participation from small scale businesses.

SBIR intends provides capital to small scale business owners to develop product concepts, promoting competition and into more sales in the market. But the good thing about this program is that they do not require the grants to be paid or any position or partaking in the company.

Private grants or loans done by private institutions to small scale businesses often require the intellectual property rights (IPR) to be transferred to their names. But the SBIR does not require the IPR to be transferred to their ownership.

Currently, there are still no direct business grants provided by the federal government. But there are state agencies that offer small business grants in the their respective states. Aside from grants, they also offer other kinds of financial aids which encourage business owners to start or expand their businesses.

Another grant is the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. This only encourages small businesses to conduct more product research to improve their market shares. The different with SBIR is that under the STTR, the small business should work or collaborate with another institution, preferably with anon-profit institution like a university.

Federal grants can also provide grants for expanding or creating a child care center, creating energy efficient technology and developing campaigns that would promote tourism. There would be times that the money received from the grant to match the fund or sometimes get the matching fund from a loan.

When applying for a grant for your business:

• Write a good business plan, this would make sure that you business looks deserving for the group that would provide funding. Show how your business can benefit from the funding, so make sure to show how relevant the grant is to your business objectives.

• Always provide the correct information when filling out the grant application. Review the application to make sure that you have not missed anything and that you have provided the accurate information.

• Don’t hesitate to ask somebody to check the plan for you. You can ask for assistance from a financial consultant or a certified accountant.

• Grant approval will take time, do not lose hope and also be visible. Maintain communication with the people behind the federal grant in a very professional way.

Family-Run Businesses: Challenges and Opportunities

Most family-owned businesses tend to operate by the rule of thirds– only a third of them make it to the second generation, and only a third of the businesses in that group remain in business by the third generation, and so on.

If you are currently running a family business, considering joining your family’s business, or weighing the pros and cons of bringing your children into the fold, the following are some thoughts that you may want to consider, as you begin to think about what challenges you may encounter – and what opportunities could lay ahead.

Challenges

If you bring your children into a family business at a young age, you may have to walk a fine line between teaching them about hard work, working as a team and allowing them to pursue their own separate dreams.
Older members of the family may not understand or value concepts such as market share, database marketing or social networking.
Family members may have to play multiple roles, ranging from manual tasks like painting and repairs, to executive duties like negotiating partnerships or securing bank loans.
While new family businesses may require flexible work roles at the beginning, eventually you will need to outline every person’s responsibilities, compensation level, long-range goals and line of command.
Certain patterns of behavior or types of communication between family members, like one-upmanship or a tendency to correct someone’s grammar, may be played out in the business realm as well.

Opportunities

Cross-generational entrepreneurs tend to pass on traditional values such as perseverance, a willingness to get your hands dirty and ways to build trusting relationships with customers and self-sacrifice.
The choice of how much to grow your business is up to you. If you are in a family business because you enjoy the flexibility and camaraderie, you may want to keep your company small and local. If you’re in business for big profits, you may want to strive to take your business international or spin off subsidiaries.
Family-owned businesses foster resiliency as they center around a close-knit management team, which has a vested emotional and financial interest in the company’s survival.
Without pressure from shareholders, family-run businesses may be able to take more time to achieve profitability and take business risks without needing to justify decisions to others invested in the company.

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