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

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