Thursday, February 26, 2015

Facebook and Suspicious Activity #TBT

Heather Coffman of Virginia was pushing ISIS propaganda via multiple Facebook accounts. The FBI obtained a warrant to search her account after reports of pro-ISIS comments on the social media platform. This information led the FBI to numerous falsified Facebook accounts supporting her ISIS views- which included marketing the terrorist group to her sister.

After meeting with FBI agents and an informant, Coffman was arrested earlier this week and is scheduled to appear in court this up and coming Monday. CNN’s reporter offers the play-by-play of the Coffman case (thus far) online. You can read it here: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/17/justice/virginia-woman-isis-recruitment/

So, why am I covering this? Well, people like Coffman are the reason I wrote my Homeland Security book. It is hard enough for this country to fight and deal with international terrorism, but now- we are seeing men and women use social media to become domestic terrorists. After reading the CNN article, I’m not so sure that Ms. Coffman was directly related to ISIS or simply wanted to promote the group for shock value- maybe a little of both. Either way, her actions are deplorable!

This brings me to my next point – report controversial statements to Facebook or the FBI if you see them. The “see something, say something” rule banks on tips to help get people like Coffman- regardless of motive- away from inciting terrorist activity! We all spend so much time online sharing our opinions that we may fail to realize when someone is serious with their potentially harmful comments and posts. It is better to report something and be wrong then to not report it and be right.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Free Business Tips

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.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homeland Security Shut Down.... How the Government May Fail Us!

Full disclosure here... my business, IME, often works with the government. I have to say, however, that what I am watching on all the news stations right now is disgusting! In my book I talk about sustaining programs and we are in the middle of a sustainment crisis!

NBC's political blog just notated the following:
"t appears we're headed for yet another shutdown -- this time over the Department of Homeland Security. Republicans claim that Senate Democrats are the ones obstructing things, because they are filibustering a DHS funding bill that contains riders rolling back President Obama's executive actions on immigration. Yet as we learned during the last government shutdown, the side that's using government spending to demand changes to existing law or directives is going to be side that gets blamed if the government (or just part of it) shuts down. But don't take our word for it. Take the word of GOP Sen. (and likely presidential candidate) Lindsey Graham. "If we don't fund the Department of Homeland Security, we'll get blamed as a party," he said on Sunday."

Senate Majority Leader McConnell offered a POTENTIAL way out of the shutdown standoff. Per NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, McConnell has proposed a stand-alone bill that denies funding for the implementation of Obama's 2014 executive action. This bill, O'Donnell adds, is not attached to DHS spending. The glass-half-full take here is that Republicans, for the first time, are now legislatively separating the immigration rollbacks from the DHS funding, which offers a potential way out of the impasse. (Indeed, NBC's Frank Thorp reports that Dem Sen. Joe Manchin could likely support this McConnell bill if it comes AFTER a clean bill to fund DHS.) The glass-half-empty take is that we have NO IDEA if House Republicans will buy this gambit. There's another potential way out: McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner could propose language promising to prohibit any funds implementing Obama's executive actions on immigration as long as they're tied up in the courts.

I don't think toying with global security is a way to get your way. This has been the trend in congress and it isn't why we elect people. Not only is my business potentially threatened by these threats, but so is the livelihood of so many hardworking people..... Adults don't act this way!

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, February 23, 2015

Are You Mentally Strong Enough For Business?

Are you mentally strong? Much like your body has to be worked out to become strong, the brain does too. Many of the most celebrated CEOs and business leaders around the world are know for being "tough as nails", but this didn't happen overnight. In fact, most CEOs have to practice being mentally strong. Here are the top five habits of mentally strong people.

#1. They don't attend pitty parties. That's right, the mentally strong don't feel sorry for themselves when things don't happen as planned. They don't blame others or dwell on things, either. So, if you want to be great, brush off something that didn't work out and move on without holding a grudge.

#2. They refuse to be complacent, even when the money is good. Yes, complacent only means you will one day be outdated. Embrace change and learn new things daily.

#3. They refuse to please others. Mentally strong people have a job to do. Worrying about pleasing others or how others will react is a distraction that will cut off money and success. Don't worry about people, worry about the task at hand.

#4. Don't give up after a venture fails. Most of the known CEOs have had failures. But they're out there, spinning a new business and looking at other opportunities. If you let failure stop you, then you really do fail!

5. Don't rely on the world for anything, including breaks. The world owes you nothing, regardless of how tough you had it as a kid or so on. If you know the world isn't going to give you a break, then you realize you have to try harder than everyone else to be successful.

Until Tuesday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, February 20, 2015

Business Trends in 2015

I received an interesting question this past week. Someone wanted to know what business trends I've noticed for 2015 thus far. Well, I have noticed a few. I've listed them below.

#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 2015.

#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 2015 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!


Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#TBT - The Business Owner Test

Do you have what it takes to own a business? I'm not talking money or ideas. I'm talking grit and getting your hands dirty. Not sure if you have what it takes? Take my test. Answer yes or no if you agree or disagree with each statement below and see what I have to say at the end.
1. You believe you can balance work with a personal life.

2.'Fake It To You Make It' is the best advice you ever received.

3. You can't wait to be rich, which will be soon since all business owners have tons of money.

4. You can have a day job and run a business at the same time.

5. There is nothing to fear about employing other people. It is great to have people work for you.

6. You're going to be loved by everyone because you have a business and your business will take off right away.

7. You believe a mentor is important.

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you don't have what it takes to be a business owner. The above statements are all myths and some of the most popular reasons why businesses fail. Grand ideas, assuming riches will happen overnight, faking knowing how to provide a service or products, etc. are all big red flags in the business world.

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Common Business Myths

I've been receiving a lot of business legal questions as of late and via Twitter. If you have a question about a legal issue, ask an attorney or send in the topic. I would be happy to provide you with a generic answer and you can take that information further with a legal review of your specific circumstances.

#1. An LLC will always protect your assets. Forming a corporation or an LLC does provide some protection, but it’s far more limited than you realize. In most cases, if someone really wants to go after your personal assets, not only can they pierce your business entity, they will.

#2. You’re liable for damages due to injuries on your property. This couldn't be further from the truth! You’re not responsible for the negligence, clumsiness, stupidity, or criminal acts of others- period! I don't care if this happens on your property, you're not responsible for it.

#3. A contract has to be complicated. A great contract is to simply communicate the terms and intent the parties agree to. That’s what minimizes disputes and litigation after the fact. You don’t even need an attorney to negotiate and draft a legal agreement. If you note all the facts, costs and a cancellation policy- you should be good. When contracts build in loopholes, you should be concerned.

Business is complex enough. Knowing what is a myth and what is fact will help you navigate your way to success!

Until tomorrow,

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Your Business, Your Path

There are some ways to double check if you are or are not on the right path when it comes to business. Here are my top three tips to see if you are on the right path to projected success;

#1. Focus on goals, don't just have them.

I know many people who write goals down. They have a goal for every part of their life. What they're missing is a plan. You need to have a goal followed by a plan and work at it daily.

#2. Be reasonable with your time frames. Don't plan to be a millionaire at the end of two years. If only life were this easy. Make sure you have a realistic timeline to compliment your goals and your plans.

#3. Make profit your number one goal. Don't think about expansion, second offices, etc. until you actually have a solid profit coming in. You can't just think big, you have to grow a profit to get big.

I hope this week's tips and topics have helped you developed your business plans. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Increasing Social Media ROI

You blog; You Tweet; You use every social media outlet out there.... you don't see more customers coming through the door. You're frustrated.

Don't worry. Social media ROI takes a while. You need at least a year or two to start seeing real traction. I know social media is updated every second, but the ROI isn't. In fact, when was the last time you purchased something because of a Tweet? Or you read a person's entire blog based off of a Facebook post? Exactly. Unlike popular belief, it takes a long time to build a substantial and attentive social media following where simply reading the post makes a person actually click through and engage with their wallet.

So, when measuring your social media efforts over a long period of time make sure you ask yourself these five questions;

1. What are my goals?

2. Are my goals reasonable to who I am and what my brand is?

3. How much content can I put online each and every day?

4. How will I measure offer-based content vs. non offer-based content?

5. How do I turn my views into email address subscriptions?

If you have an answer for all give of these questions, you can then measure your social media growth based on your answers. Yes, it is this simple. Using the answers to gauge growth, along with Google analytics , truly helps you see how many people are engaged and buying after a year, two years, or longer!

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Your Legal Status.... Business 101

As we head into the first Thursday of February, I want to refresh you on the different status claims you can obtain for your business-- as well as what the pros and cons are. I've noticed an uptick in private security businesses starting up. I know many of you follow my lead when it comes to the business of security. So, for that reason, please read through these basics and then follow up with your legal adviser on what will actually work for your concept/ idea.

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.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why You Shouldn't Send THAT Email....

In the security business we take failure seriously. Lives are at stake and sometimes emotions can get the best of us when beta-testing processes, etc. The key to a great working relationship, in any field of government, is to ensure that we practice candor and not let our emotions get the best of us. This said, I'm providing 3 tips to avoid breaking up a business relationship when things go wrong. You can use these tips in almost any situation so be sure to share them.

1. Write the email you want to send but leave the “to” section blank. After you write it, don’t edit it. Save it to drafts and revisit the issue after a three hour cooling offer period. You will be less emotional and more point orientated after three hours and then you can edit your email properly.

2. When you do go to edit the email, figure out a way to end it on a positive note. Offer some suggestions to correct the problem or talk about how you value the other person and want to address the issue but move forward as friends or professionals. Don’t be outright nasty with no room for positive resolution.

3. Get a second opinion before you hit send. Your head is in the game and directly related to the issue at hand. However, you can be sued if you are an employer and send the wrong type of an email. Plus, it is good to have someone from the outside read the email and give it a level-headed once over.

Finally, if you don’t receive a response within 24 hours of sending the email- call the person or invite him or her to talk it over while having coffee. You don’t want to look like a jerk- even if you are right- by sending an angry email with no opportunity for recovering or without extending the olive branch.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

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