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

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