Sunday, December 30, 2012

The last day of 2012

The final day of 2012 is here. Monday, December 31st of 2012. It has been a wonderful year for me and a year of self-reflection too. I had personal losses and personal gains, the same with my businesses too.

As 2013 is just a day away, I can't help but feel overjoyed at the opportunity to share my advice with the world through this blog, Twitter and the upcoming books that will be completed in the New Year!

So keep those business questions coming and remember to drive and be safe tomorrow night! I will not be posting an update tomorrow so let me wish you all a happy and healthy New Year now.

Best
Twyla,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 Business Trends - As I See Them!

Businesses of any type MUST have a social media presence. So, it only makes sense that the top trends for doing business in 2013 would revolve around social media!

My '2013 Business Trend' predictions!

#1 - The death of traditional advertising. -
Why pay thousands on a print ad when you can pay hundreds and reach a bigger audience?

#2 -E-commerce!
Social media sites are now allowing more embed codes to drive E-commerce sales. See a product topic on Twitter? You are able to view,link and buy too. Talk about impulse buying!

#3 - Online Video replaces SEO content.
You heard it here first! More videos are replacing the all-powerful SEO game. So, make those videos now and know how and when to release them in 2013.

#4- Engage customers through gaming
That's right. You are going to be able to use Farmville to promote your brand through gamification.

#5- Google search will not be as trendy as it is now.
For a second in 2012 it looked as if content writers were out of work and luck. Not so fast. In 2013 content producers will be back at work as it has been proven that user paid content makes more of an impact when it comes to brand association and loyalty!

Twyla

Friday, December 28, 2012

Is Your Business Being Scammed?

Accepting a credit card can be a great way to increase income. In fact, it is almost a needed tool to run a business. But, are you aware that there are some credit card processors that scam businesses?

According to one study at AllBusiness.com, only 21 percent of retailers said they understood their payment processors' fees. FeeFighters.org publishes the best guide we've seen on the topic; read it before you sign a deal with any processor. Another site, the Merchant Bill of Rights (merchantbillofrights.org), is also packed with great information to help you chose the right credit card processor and avoid potential problems.

There are many ways a business has to protect itself from being scammed. Business owners need to read the fine print on contracts, insurance policies, and even credit card processing terms. Don't get scammed, get smart!

Twyla

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Four Things To Know When Starting A Business

So 2013 is the year you are going to do it! You're starting a business this year and you want to know what is in store for your new venture. First, congratulations. Second, say goodbye to your personal life!

I always tell people who want to start a business to ask themselves "why?" This question will help you understand what your goals are. If your answer is "to be wealthy" then head back to the drawing board. Chances are, especially in this economy, your business will not make money the first couple of years. That's right, you may be breaking even for a while. So, put off dreams of wealth until your business is able to survive for a couple of years without a profit.

Next, write a simple business plan. You don't have to write these forty to one hundred page plans anymore. Social media has shortened the attention span of many readers, and requires a lot more attention to other resources when it comes to investors. So, keep your business plans to the point and backed up by good research and financial projections.

Start collecting customers. Just because you open a business doesn't mean people will know about it. I suggest that you create a list of 50 potential prospects that you'll go after and begin making calls one by one. Start introducing yourself to potential clients. Let them know they have an alternative provider for the services/products that you offer.

Lastly, be brave. Owning and operating a business requires courage.

I'm available for business consultations. Find me on Twitter and send a DM for more info.

Until next time,
Twyla

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Sales Down, Is Your Business?

I recently red a feed, via the Miami Herald, that Christmas sales and holiday sales are down when it comes to retail. Has this impacted your business?

I've been out to the mall and I haven't seen any ghost towns. So, it is hard for me to judge if sales are truly down or not. But, as a business owner I can say that this share has been hard. I've made it through, but the money could have been better! I guess we can all say this, right?

Based on this article, I want to know if you, a retailer, have seen a huge declined in sales, so far, compared to the last holiday season. Also, let me know your reasons as to why the sales may be down. Some business owners are blaming Hurrican Sandy and others blame the general economy.

I want to know this as I am writing a book on business failures and want to offer tips on how to muddle through though economic times. Follow me on Twitter and DM your story. Or, just comment below! I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime,
Happy Shopping!

Twyla Garrett

Saturday, December 22, 2012

“Fighting the fiscal cliff.”

As a business owner, I have great concerns about the looming fiscal cliff. Last week I was invited to The White House to discuss this specific issue with other business owners and the President’s staff. The greatest concern for me is a real fear of a double-dip recession. It seems that who I did or didn’t vote for no longer matters. Why? Well, simply put, the gridlock in congress is preventing this country, and businesses like mine, from moving forward. A week marketplace, a conflicted nation, and a failure to formulate a basic pay-as-you-go system all are contributing to this culture of “fighting the cliff” vs. “fighting each other.” Let’s put aside our differences as to what approach is “right” and make finding common ground our priority as a nation.

To be more specific, I believe the only deal that will truly bring down our national debt must include both spending cuts AND revenue. It is just common sense! Business owners know this, people who run a household (on any budget) know this, so why can’t congress understand this? Furthermore, I’m frustrated because if we, as a nation, go over this “cliff,” consumer spending is predicted to drop, impacting businesses by $200 billion less in revenue for the incoming year! And, it just ins’t a drop in revenue that will result in layoffs. The loss in revenue will force small businesses, such as mine, that support the so-called big businesses to close!

Businesses small and large are guaranteed to suffer if this country goes off the “cliff.” As of December 13th, House Speaker John Boehner met with the President in what seemed to be a half-hearted attempt, between both parties, to find common ground on raising taxes and cutting entitlement spending on programs like Medicare and Social Security. After an hour, we weren’t any closer to moving towards a deal.

Business owners have to fight the cliff. Voices have to be prominently heard in order to hurry congress along and have them really invest in a deal that would restore both confidence in our political system followed by confidence in our marketplace.

Twyla Garrett
Business Owner

Friday, December 21, 2012

Don't Be Positive, Be Proactive!

People ask my all the time about business. After all, it is what I do best. I've been invited to The White House to talk about it. I've self-funded a million dollar project. I've failed and succeeded many times over. So what is the key?

DON'T BE POSITIVE!

Did I not sugar coat the truth just then? Well, i'm not sorry. People in business tend to see failure and make excuses for it. Don't. Accept the failure and either make improvements or make an exit strategy. Don't be blind and go down with the ship. There is no honor in it. There is honor in moving on or moving up- well, they really can be the same thing.

Have a sales person who isn't pulling his/her weight? Don't feel bad, feel lucky. Catch the problem and find a better sales person. Don't make excuses and try to remain positive. If sales have been lagging then the sales person isn't the right person for that job. Being too positive can hurt you in business. Be a realist. Be productive. Be honest with yourself and your employees!

Now, go be successful!

Twyla

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SURVIVORS MUST CONTACT FEMA TO KEEP TEMPORARY HOUSING ASSISTANCE

If you received temporary housing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and continue to have a housing need, you must fill out an important form for additional short-term rental assistance.

Most people believe one application is the only application. Not true! If you are in the New Jersey area, and you are receiving housing assistance as a result of Hurricane Sandy, there are important things you need to know (and do) to continue receiving assistance.

FEMA mails all applicants who receive temporary rental assistance the “Declaration for Continuing Need for Rental Assistance” form. It reaffirms that applicants have an ongoing need for temporary housing while they search for a permanent place to live. If you have not received this form and you need it, call your local FEMA Office. Need a national number to start? Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.

Assistance may be available for up to 18 consecutive months. But, if you have received a grant and it has been 15 + days since the award then you should already have this important form.Applicants who need additional rental assistance must complete the form and mail it back to FEMA at the address printed on the form. So, if you don't have this form, or you have questions, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 immediately.

Know someone who will benefit from this information? Please share the phone numbers and this blog. Also, people are free to contact me with any questions. I don't work for FEMA but I do own a homeland security company. I can help get you pointed in the right direction.

Twyla

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Is God Involved with Your Business?

As a woman, who runs a business revolving around Homeland Security, it is important for me to be reminded of the presence of God in my daily life. With any business that I run the bottom line isn't about money, it is about helping others.

Sure, like anyone, I like to get paid. But is that enough? And how much is enough? With the money I make in any of my businesses I have always tried to give back through employment and/or community programs. And, I am convinced that giving back and involving God, or your higher power, is the key to success.

I believe God provides everyone with a special gift, mine was ambition. I came from a place of hell before arriving in a place of heaven. I know it is hard to devote 100% of yourself to your business and also be deeply involved with a gospel community. Serve God by serving others. Bring God into your business by helping others through promotion, fair wage, employment, community donations and more. You will see your business prosper and inspire others to explore their gifts too.

Happy Sunday!
Twyla

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Overview of Your Business' Legal Status

How you define your business to the government can have a lot of benefits. However, it can also lead to a lot of headaches if done incorrectly. So what type of status should you claim when starting a business? Well, let me help!

Sole Proprietorship: This type of business does not make a legal distinction between the business owner and the business itself. Although costs can be low (from taxes to licensing fees)the down-side is that you will be personally responsible for any business debt that may occurs, potential law suits, and your personal income tax reflects your entire business' profit.

A General Partnership is the same as a sole proprietorship but with several owners. Again, the set-up costs are low and there are relatively few regulatory requirements. And, again, the owners are completely liable for all the actions and debts that stem from the business.

Limited Liability Partnership(much like a LLC) is very similar to a general partnership. However, there is a separate classification of partners making each person's liability limited. The downside to this classification is it only "limits" a partner's liability, not erase it completely- which is a common myth. Also the filing and administrative requirements are complex.

C-Corporation is only a form of doing business that creates a separate legal entity from the individual owners. This legal entity can act and do business on its own just as a person would do (i.e. borrow money, enter into lawsuits and contracts, etc.).
With a C-Corporation your "owners" are now shareholders who are not personally liable for the actions and debts stemming from the company. However, if a shareholder wants to leave the business then the paperwork involved isn't easy, making a separation a long-one- which in the case of a nasty separation only makes the situation worse. Also, owners (shareholders) are taxed twice.

S-Corporation is a type of corporation but the business is taxed as if it is a sole proprietorship. Its formation is subject to certain legal criteria such as a maximum number of shareholders. The benefits, unlike a C-Corp., include owners only being taxed one time. However, the administrative costs are higher and all owners (shareholders) have to be U.S. citizens.

Many business owners either chose to set-up as an LLC or an S-Corp. Note, I will not advocate for either because you need to discuss your personal situation with a lawyer and a CPA. However, I will state that an LLC may have to pay more self-employment taxes than S-corps due to IRS regulations.

Have other business questions? Please ask as I am happy to answer them!

Twyla

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My top 5 tips for running a business.

So many people ask me for business advice on a daily basis. As my holiday present to you, I am offering up my top five tips for running a business!

# 1 -Don't just offer what you know. Expand and find out what your competitors are offering that you don't know- then learn it! Be competitive not complacent.

# 2- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Find a good mentor in your field and ask him or her to identify your weaknesses. This will offer you insight to your business' short comings.

# 3 - Never hire friends, unless you don't value the friendship. Hiring friends is worse than hiring family. Friends can become vindictive, expect favors and usually don't consider holding themselves accountable for mistakes. Hiring friends is always a bad idea.

# 4 - Try to promote from outside. If you promote from within it can cause desertion in the office and between co-workers. You may have a really good, trustworthy employee that deserves a promotion, but you also have to consider the climate of the office. Ask yourself if the person is promoted could other employees become jealous? What are the benefits and the risks?

# 5 - You are running a business. Understand this! Many people think just because they started a business that the business and the employees will run it for you. You need to be present and take the task seriously, if not- you will fail.

Twyla

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Business & Insurance Forms

Chances are if you run a business, you have seen a few insurance forms. But, what are these forms and why do you get them a week after signing up for a policy? Let me help.

All that legal print that you will not read but should, that’s the Insurance Policy Form. The insurance policy form, or policy language, outlines who is an insured, the insuring conditions, what type of loss(es) are covered, and what type of loss(es) are excluded. This is pretty important stuff for your business and employees, so why not read it?

The insurance policy form matters because it can save you some money or cost you tons of money! The types and amounts of coverage matters, but what matters more is what these forms DON'T cover! For example, an insurance policy may cover the exact same risks (or not to same extent) as a policy from another carrier- even if the name of policy the exactly the same!

So, time is valuable. I know this as I own many businesses. But your insurance coverage and knowing what you have covered and what the insurance isn't covering is more valuable. Read the forms. Ask questions. And, if you're not happy, switch insurance carriers. It will save you from worry in the event you need to file a claim.

Twyla

Monday, December 10, 2012

Buying Online Ads - 3 tips

Hi everyone, I am getting a lot of questions on how to correctly buy an online ad. Well, I am here to help. Let my business sense save you some actual cents! Tips below.

1. Buy-ins don't have to be expensive. Don't get sucked into a $1,000 (or more) contract. You can budget your ad campaign based around your monthly profit or losses. As little as $10.00 will get you started with Google or Facebook.

2. Understand what you are buying. If you don't use social media a lot then have someone who does help you with buying for an online audience. Otherwise, you may end up buying the wrong product for the wrong audience.

3. What is your call to action? An ad isn't worth a penny if you forget to include a call to action. The call to action drives the interested consumer away from the ad and to your product / services. Plus, it helps track your ROI from the online ad. So, develop your call to action before you buy any ads!

For more tips follow me on Twitter.

Twyla

Friday, December 7, 2012

Before the holiday break say these words!

The holiday season / holiday break is coming up. Do you have employees? If so, read this.

The holidays are a time for you to inspire employees who may be overworked, financially stressed, and looking to coast until January 2013. Below are three key words that you will want to use to maintain company morale during December.

1. "I trust you." This makes your employees feel responsible and take responsibility. This phrase puts accountability on the employee and reminds them there are still tasks to be accomplished before the New year!

2. "Can you help me?" This is your wild card. People don't like admitting that they can or will not help out. If you ask for help instead of ordering it, you will see amazing things start to happen at your office!

3. "What do you think I should do?" I know, I know- chances are you all ready have the answer and don't need the employee's advice. But, you can also be missing out on the meaning of this question. This question will give you deep insight as to how a specific employee thinks about internal and customer challenges. The answer in itself may help grow your company!

For more of my tips and tricks to running a successful business or failing with grace, follow me on Twitter of send me a comment!
Twyla

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What is your business marketing mistake?

Marketing mistake... the biggest one most companies make!

Did you know many businesses create their brands based on their products? Did you know this is a huge mistake? It is true!

Businesses shouldn't brand based on product. Instead, businesses should brand based on a customer's emotions. Think about Starbucks. Their coffee is expensive, yet many of us go there a few times a week- if not every morning. Why? Can we don't make our own coffee? Is their coffee really THAT good at $4.00 a cup (around $100 a month)? Or, is their something personal about your visit to Starbucks? Maybe they call your name? Maybe your order is personalized to reflect your taste? Maybe the music your listening to in line is inspiring and comforting...

Hmmm - sounds like Starbucks sells more than just coffee. The company sells an emotional experience that brings you back day in and day out!

When you brand don't ask yourself about the products/services features. Ask how you feel when using the product or receiving the services. If you can connect your products/ services to an emotion then you will have a brand!

Need more info?
Contact me!

Twyla

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Growth vs. Standing Still in Business

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. -
Chinese Proverb

I consult many business owners on their operations. The number one complaint that I hear is "not growing fast enough." I always respond with "why not?" You see, many of my clients can answer this own question. They have the strategy inside them and they usually know why they aren't gowning fast. Logistical, capital, and/or staffing issues are mainly to blame. But, growing too fast isn't always a blessing either. And, usually for the same reasons I just listed!

Any growth in business is good growth. If it is slow, don't fret. You need to be worried about lack of growth more than rate of growth. This holiday season, at the time when most business owners are prepping tax forms and writing out bonuses, ask yourself about growth. REALLY consider the rate of your company's expansion. Are you growing? If so, know that the business is alive. Then, hire a consultant (like myself) to address the rate of growth, resources, and even an exit strategy. Hey, growth is good but you have to be prepared for an exit too- even in the case of TOO much growth.

And, remember; before you commit resources and funds to growth, see what you can accomplish without making massive changes!
Twyla

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Financial Cliff?

I've been busy putting together my personal story and another business book. I'm also working on a third book for 2013. You can help and I may include your quote.

Do you have a strong opinion on the "financial cliff" that everyone is talking about? I want to hear it, especially if you are a business owner. What do you think the impact any decision (if we can come to one) will have on your day-to-day operations?

Business is tough. Women and men who own businesses don't start off looking to get rich right away. But, once the reward does come how do you sustain it? Especially with so much media attention on what may happen if the government doesn't come to an agreement and we , as a nation, go "off" that cliff?

Let's have a discussion!
Twyla

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tips for weekend productivity!

It is Friday and the weekend is less than 24 hours a way!! But what about productivity? Can you enjoy the weekend and still move business along? I say yes!

Here are my tips on staying in the business loop Friday- Sunday.
1. Make a list on Friday morning of the "to-do" housekeeping objectives for your business. Then, plan on what day during the weekend you will review and work on this list. This way you are not avoiding it or dreading the tasks.

2. Turn off your phone when at family events. It will help you focus on your business tasks / lists during the designated time and balance family or YOU time when not working on the list. You will fee like you are getting "time off."

3. Don't be tempted to work all weekend. Stick to the list and don't take on any other tasks until Monday.
Twyla

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Did Hurricane Sandy Exposed Our Political Failure?

Hurricane Sandy Exposed Our Political Failure? I think there are components that point to yes!

It is no secret that the construction, modernization, and maintenance of our infrastructure—highways, bridges, subways, rail beds, water systems, telecommunications networks, and electric grid—has not kept pace with our needs. Hurricane Sandy has proven this! But why aren't we investing in prevent disasters?

Budget cuts have put improvement projects, like helping keep New York's bridges in top-notch condition, on hold. According to the most recent American Society of Civil Engineers’ “Report Card for American Infrastructure,” some 42 percent of New York’s bridges were “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete” even before Sandy!

Political failures don't come in the way of recovery these days, but in the form of preparedness. To keep the public safe, we have to learn to invest in infrastructure and continued scenario education.

I want to hear from you. Join the discussion by contacting me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Growing your business!

There are so many challenges right now when it comes to growing a business. Why? Well, pricing is competitive and employees are available but will leave for more pay, and who can blame them? I want to hear your story. What are your challenges with growing your company in the current economy? Are you following me on Twitter? You should be. Let's talk! https://twitter.com/TwylaGarrett

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday Deaths Could've Been Prevented!

Black Friday comes every year. Thanksgiving happens every year. So why do we have tragedy after tragedy every year when it comes to the mass shopping crowds? Companies are willing to spend millions on a lawsuit but not thousands on emergency preparedness and, to me, this makes zero sense. As the owner of a company that specializes in disaster preparedness, it only makes sense that training for Black Friday 2013 should start now. Spending about $20k to implement a plan that can control crowds, discover scenarios that could prevent harm, and have a plan of action in case of an emergency shouldn't be an option, it should be mandatory. Companies loose millions of dollars everyday because they don't invest in the obvious, a crisis and emergency plan. Imagine what can change if business owners took some time, and invested a little bit of money, in learning how to improve current policies and develop new ones?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Are You A Patient Business Owner?

The faster your business grows, the faster it may fail.

Are you prepared to have your business grow? Many people are prepared for the profit but not the workload. Other businesses are just not capable for a major workload increase. Have a sound strategy on deck to plan for increases in business at a reasonable level. Don't be afraid to turn away business either. If you bite off more than you are ready to chew, your brand may be negatively impacted. Tips: 1. Develop a growth plan 2. When a large sum of business heads your way, make sure you have the resources and time to service it 3. Be patient

Friday, November 23, 2012

Entrepreneurs are proactive.

Entrepreneurs have to be proactive. Sitting around and waiting for someone else to mold their destiny isn't going to fly. That component isn't in an entrepreneurs DNA, and the lack of initiative defines a business owner from an employee.

My business advice today is to remain proactive. Seek out opportunities and you will find them. I have had failed businesses in my life. That doesn't mean I stopped trying my hand at running my own business. Be PROACTIVE. Find your opportunity before that opportunity finds someone else.

#SupportSmallBusinessSaturday

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are you creating ripples?

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa Business owners create ripples. Small changes can have a big impact in many areas of life. I want you to think about this during the Thanksgiving Holiday. Most of us are aware of what we are grateful for. But, are we self-aware of how small changes can truly change our lives and improve our business affairs. Don't just be grateful - be grateful and also start by making small changes.... Happy Pre-Thanksgiving! Twyla

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Don't write a long business plan.... the format is outdated.

I help many people write business plans. The biggest mistake I find is that my clients think business plans need to follow a format that was popular in the 1970's- one that is long, detailed, and boring. Now, more than ever, easy to read is important in every single business plan. Why? So you can get your point across quickly and easily to whoever's reading it. People will skim your plan-they'll try to read it while talking on the phone or going through their e-mail. Everyone is busy. A quick, captivating plan will catch someone's eye and make them want to know more about your business and you. They will seek a meeting if you can quickly catch his/her attention. Bu what's quick? You can probably cover everything you need to convey in 20 to 30 pages of text plus another 10 pages of monthly projections. If you've got a plan that's more than 40 pages long, you're probably not summarizing very well. Want more tips? I can help! Contact me and let's discuss your business plan.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The balance sheet doesn't drive business....

Many people think the balance sheet of a company should dictate decisions and opportunities. Not true!
People are now making more and more of a difference with companies small and large.

 If you have a great customer service rep or account manager, you may have clients for as long as those employees are with your company. Brand loyalty is built through relationships and not sales prices. The data shows this too.

Are you in need of an employee make-over? Have you been letting your balance sheet control your destiny? I can help. Send me a message and let's talk!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Buying a small business in 2013

So you want to buy a business in 2013? You have the plan and the intention but now what? I'm here to help!

Before you purchase any business consider the asset-based valuation;. This is a method in which the value of the business is determined by the total value of the company's tangible and intangible assets. It is a great way to see if you are getting as much bang for your buck as possible.

Seller financing also helps the person selling, and your potential resale, value of the business. Although financing part of the sale is not an option for every seller, buyers are willing to pay more for businesses that include some level of seller financing. Business owners who use their network and business-for-sale website listings to advertise their willingness to finance part of the deal should expect a significant uptick in the number of offers.This can also make a business purchase more competitive for you- the buyer!

Need more information and tips on how to buy a small business in 2013? I'm available for consultations and coaching.

Twyla

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Manage your company's holiday party!

The holiday season is upon us and many companies are getting ready to have their annual holiday parties. Make sure you follow these tips to ensure a safe and harassment-free holiday event!

1. Don't provide liquor. Many businesses host a holiday event and feel that the guests expect free alcohol. While this may be a part of your employees' expectations, providing liquor at a company party can put you in a position of liable for many reasons. There is NO RULE stating you have to provide or allow liquor to be served at the holiday event. Eliminate the booze. You will save money and protect yourself against various potential legal issues.

2. Send out a dress code memo for the event. Holiday parties allow employees to dress up and show off. Keep them from showing too much off by sending out a dress code memo specifically for the holiday party. Citing "no cleavage" or "ties required" is a good way to avoid a personal event from becoming tooooooo personal.

3. Encourage clean conversation. Chances are your employees are responsible and know how to talk to one another. However, there is always a chance for a bad apple. Get the crowd's conversation started on the right track by asking people to write in the company's guest book. The question in the guest book should read "What's been the most gratifying experience you've had this year?" Not only does this help you understand what aspect of working for your company is appreciated by your employees, it helps set the tone that the party is a work-related event.

Twyla

Friday, November 16, 2012

The ability to sell.... can you?

Business owners need to know how to sell their products / services. If they can't sell a product / service then how can they convince others to buy or invest?

The ability to sell is directly related to how successful an entrepreneur really is. In business you need to know how to negotiate (from buying paper in bulk to obtaining clients), to deal with "no," to build industry confidence, and to communicate effectively with a wide range of people. Relying on sales people may be needed to streamline business but YOU also need to know how to sell!

Sell and work! Selling is what makes you successful but you also have to put the time in. An eight hour sales day isn't going to cut it. True entrepreneurs work long hours and don't mind doing so.

Want to know more about selling and putting in the time to make that dime? Contact me! I am available for speaking engagements.

Twyla

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Venture Capital - Do you believe in your dream?

So often I hear people say they can't find capital for their business concepts. Why is this? Why are so many other businesses able to find funding yet some people never obtain it? Is it because their business ideas are bad? Probably not. Is it because they are not great at making a solid presentation? Possibly. But, most often people don't obtain funding because they think they can't obtain it. It is true.  If you don't believe in your business idea then no one else will.

When approaching a venture capitalist make sure you are flexible. Even though he or she (or they) may not like your entire concept, they may like one part of it. That one part could turn into your funding. Don't be a all or nothing type of person. Be flexible and have faith in your entire concept and also have faith in your ability to adapt that concept to obtain funding. You can always grown your business and change course later!

Twyla

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Business Idea.... Now What?


Many business owners go from idea to funding easily. They have it in their blood. That good old entrepreneurial  spirit is there and ready to materialize products and concepts, but what about the administrative software to get you from concept to profit? That's why I am listing the top five software products that can help you go from concept and funding to streamlining your business and growing your profit margins!

** Note, I am NOT paid by any of these companies


1. ZenDesk.com is a great tool for maintaining your online reputation through a customer service platform!


2. Google Analytics is awesome because it is FREE! With this application you can find out how long people are staying on your site  and see which pages are getting the most traction.


3. Microsoft Corporation This is great if you work from home and use Microsoft for your business, personal, and even the kid's homework needs.

4. SalesForce.com This is a great sales application and has everything you need to "grow revenue, boost productivity, and get visibility into your business."

5. AME Payroll This payroll software is great because you can use it for an unlimited number of businesses and  it has an auto-setup wizard. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Get A Government Contract!


Ever wonder how hard it is (or easy) to get a government contract?  Let me provide you with the tips to obtain (and maintain) the government's business!

First off, visit https://www.fbo.gov/ because there are usually (on average) 25,000+ contracts available at any given time. Know what is available and what you (or your company) or truly qualified to bid on.

Next, don't dismiss the 25,000+ contracts as reserved for major players. The government sets aside contracts for small businesses, women owned businesses, minor owned businesses, etc. Basically, you are set up to fairly compete with the big boys!

Consider subcontracted work. A good way to get your foot in the door is to perform subcontracted work through a provider that already has a government contract. Who has the current contracts you ask? Click here! https://www.supplier-connection.net/SupplierConnection/index.html

Lastly, understand that paperwork is the major part of the process. And, there is a lot of paperwork!  Start with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) http://www.osdbu.dot.gov/related/ccr.cfm . In order to do business with the govermennt (and start the paperwork for consideration) you must be registered with the CCR. Bonus: The CCT lets you review what companies are retaining contracts and how. It can help you become more competitive with your bids! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to fail!

It seems obvious but the number one reason businesses fail is lack of a website. It is true! Businesses need customers and customers (although some might argue social media is the source) come from surfacing the web and I'll prove it.


In the U.S. alone, the number of internet users (approximately 77 percent of the population) and e-commerce sales ($165.4 billion in 2010, according to the US Department of Commerce) continue to rise and are expected to increase with each passing year. Even if you don't sell products or services online, you still need a website. I know there are countless other variables that lead to the downfall of any business, but viability and the ability for customers to learn about your brand is crucial! 
Every website should have your logo, your number, your email, a list of your services (pricing optional), and should contain SEO content. What's SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimized content. It was stands between you and your competitors from being listed on Google or Bing first! Want to learn more about SEO content? Click here: http://webdesign.about.com/od/seo/a/seo_content.htm



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Avoid Future Legal Messes. Start Your Business Right!

I am putting together a few quick tips for avoiding legal trouble when starting a new business. Of course, you should always seek legal counsel to adjust these tips to your specific circumstances.

1. Do you give advise for a living? If your business is going to be providing recommendations and advise then you are going to want to get liability insurance. If not, you can be sued!

2. Include a collection policy in all contracts. Unfortunately,  a lot of people are using services and then walking away without paying the bill or the balance owed. It is important to note in your contracts that a failure pay will go straight to court and not collections.

3. Buy-Sell Agreement. You need this if you have partners. It helps avoids uncomfortable conversations and situations later down the line.

4.  Taking the time to get your paperwork in order ahead of time pays off big as your company grows. Before accepting your first client payment, have your  offer letters, confidentiality agreements, option agreements and, most importantly, your initial customer contracts ready to go and legally reviewed!

5. Read the fine print of any agreement. No matter how simple, how trust-worthy, or how well you know someone, the fine print must reflect your expectations. If you see holes, fix them before signing!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Women Leaders - Why we do it better!

Women may be paid less than men but we are better leaders- that's proven.

According to a recent study at MIT, "Women who achieve most are also women who define success in their own terms and integrate achieving high financial goals with creating a business that reflects their passions. Their businesses provide socially responsible products and services, offer opportunities for employees to thrive, make a positive difference in the community, and simultaneously create personal wealth for the owner."

I believe women are born leaders because we look past numbers and statistics. We care about profit and p&l statements, but we also care about building relationships with our clients and our personnel. 

The next time you, as a woman, are presented with an opportunity try to make a conscious effort to lead. Women "mother" aka LEAD. But we do this on auto-pilot.  The next time an business opportunity comes up (or maybe even a customer challenge) review the situation and your reaction. Jot down notes as to how you handled the situation and what positive lessons came out of it. You will surprise yourself! The key to great leadership is already ingrained in your DNA. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Leadership .... do you have it?

In order to lead you need to have the follow key elements: Passion, power, trust, mystique, prestige, alarm and rebellion! These elements will transform a brand into something people want to talk about or buy. So how to you use these elements to lead?

1. Take command. It is that easy. True leaders don't wait around for approvals or for opportunity  They take charge and make opportunities.  So don't wait for that investor to find you... .go out and find that investor!

2. Be emotional because it IS business. I head someone once say they can't be emotional because it is business. WRONG! If you show your passion, people will want to be a part of your brand or buy your products.  

3. Stir up curiosity and use your poker face. Have customers ready to buy? Sell them the product and invite them to read about your super, secret  upcoming product, via your VIP preferred customer marketing newsletter, when that great product is finally ready. Talk new ideas, services, and products up before they are out but don't reveal everything. Do a great business striptease! 

4. Inspire respect.  Don't just make people follow your lead, make them WANT to follow your lead. Show compassion and empathy whenever possible. 

If you start leading by implementing these four key elements then you will be on your way to success!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to Prioritize.


The best way to get things done is to make a list on how to get them done. It seems pretty basic but it is needed. If you try to keep track of things in your head, chances are you will miss something or become overwhelmed. Below are my tips for prioritizing tasks and making that all important "to-do" list.

1.Get the hard stuff out the way. If you start with the small stuff, chances are you will be stressing the whole time about the harder tasks. Clear your head, and your schedule, by starting with the larger projects first.

2. The "to do" list- Keep it reasonable. Are you scheduling  lunches, phone time, and meetings? Don't over book yourself and make sure you are booking meals- especially if you work from home or in the field.

3. Be disciplined. In order to prioritize projects and your schedule, you have to be able to stick to a schedule and accomplish the tasks on it! When you put a little discipline in your schedule, you  may find yourself putting more time into your business, with more money coming in!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Four Tips on Business Success.

1. Own your business. I mean this. Don't get into business to be rich! Money is a plus but your business reflects your intentions. If you believe in your products or services, the money will follow.  Be committed to your effort.

2. Don't forget to write a strategic Business Plan that clearly describes your business concept,  your mission and your philosophy of business. Don't hire someone to do this for you or a team of "experts." The best way to really OWN your business is to know your business. Writing the plan yourself will help you solidify what  company stands for.

3. Don't just look for talent, reward talent. Chances are there are several candidates who are qualified to help you run your company. However, what candidates want to help your company grow? Develop a reward system for good employees and clearly communicate it.

4. Review the numbers. Don't just focus on the bottom line, focus on where missed opportunities may be hiding. Run daily sales numbers or measurement reports. Where are the holes? Don't just review how much money is coming in. Review why people are not going with you or what service/product upgrades could be offered.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tips on obtaining FEMA Aid.


If you are on the east coast, I am sure you have already heard that FEMA is taking steps to help residents obtain benefits in the recovery effort for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. But, what do you need before you call (or apply online) for aid? Below are items you want to have with you when you apply for any type of FEMA assistance.

1. Your Social Security number

2. Current and pre-disaster address

3. A telephone number where you can be contacted, even if it is at a shelter

4. Insurance information (medical, dental, home/renters, auto, and other)

5.Total household annual income - ** If you were able to save (or obtain) proof of your last paycheck- this is great.

6. A routing and account number from your bank (only necessary if you want to have disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account). This saves time in getting aid to you!

7. A description of your losses that were caused by the disaster, if you have one. If you haven't been home- that is ok. Get the application in as fast as possible and do the best you can with your losses.

Upon completion of your FEMA application you will be issued a FEMA number. Don't lose this. It is very important to getting you the aid needed to recover. Need to apply for FEMA now? Click here: http://www.disasterassistance.gov/

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Disaster Giving - What is real?

It is unfortunate that during a time of a disaster scam artists seem to come crawling out of the woodwork. But, it has happened in the past and probably will continue to happen. There are a lot of great charity organizations that are responsible for helping people rebuild their lives and their homes. But, how do you know what defines a fraudulent charity? I know many people don't want to falsely accuse an organization of misdirecting funds. That is why I am publishing some red flag tips below!

1. If a charity or organization approaches you, and you have never heard of them, decline the request to donate money (especially cash) until you can research and verify the outlet. The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children are well-respected organizations and fulfill immediate needs, like clean water, medical supplies, food, shelter, etc.  You can donate to one of these organizations before researching, and deciding, on giving to the the lesser known entity in questions.

2. Sustaining commitment in the long-term to impacted communities after a tragedy or crisis is a real struggle. If you are looking to help before a disaster strikes, or are approached by an organization long after a disaster has occurred, chances are funds to sustain related programs truly are needed. Again, this is where asking questions or putting off saying "yes"comes in until further research can be done.

3. Trust your gut. If something doesn't seem right, just say "I'll think about it."  Disaster giving shouldn't make you feel unsure or uncomfortable.

Friday, November 2, 2012

What qualifies as a disaster?

Many of you know what a disaster is. But, do you really know what qualifies as an actual disaster? Disasters include everything from terrorist attacks to traffic accidents, floods to fires.  The key to navigating a disaster (with as little loss possible) is to be prepared. Being prepared means having a plan in place for your home, family, business (employment), and your pets.

I know this seems to be common sense, but in a time of crisis simple things can become overlooked.
For pets make sure you have proper identification and that the animal is actually wearing it!  Invest in good transport kennels before a disaster hits. Keep a stock pile for extra food and gallons of clean water.

If your pets take medication, keep a spare prescription in an emergency kit.  If you have a diabetic pet make sure to discuss a pre-disaster plan with your vet at the next appointment.

** Never ever evacuate a home or business and leave a pet behind. If you are told to evacuate, leave early and take the animals with you, even if you think you'll be gone just a few hours. It is a good idea to Google in a list of hotels that take animals in your area and two hours outside of your area. Jot down the phone numbers and put them in your wallet. Even if you put the numbers in your phone, keep a copy in your wallet because the disaster could interrupt cell phone service.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Your Disaster Plan IS my business!


Many businesses don't have a viable Emergency Plan. But why not? In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we have learned being prepared makes a huge difference between surviving and thriving. People who were prepared are doing a lot better than those who ignored warnings and didn't plan. But, have you thought about your business? Below are my top three tips for business preparedness during a natural disaster.

# 1 - Make copies of your important records and store them in a secure place far enough away in case a widespread disaster hits, yet close enough to have quick access to those documents when needed. Don't rely on computer back-ups like cloud files or jump drives.  Chances are if a natural disaster hits- there is no electricity!

#2 - Keep an up-to-date list of e-mail addresses, financial account numbers, and phone numbers for family members, employees, co-workers,  and insurance company contacts.  This list should be kept with the copies of important records (noted above) as well as within your wallet at all times.

#3 Put together an emergency kit that includes one gallon of water per person per day, a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio, solar-powered phone chargers, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first aid kit and a cooler to keep refrigerated food cold in case of a power outage.

Want to learn more? Subscribe to my blog! I will be discussing this issue, and more, in the coming days.

Twyla

Twitter Updates