Small business owners are a practical bunch. So when it comes to digital marketing – websites, search ads, digital banners, email, mobile ads, and others – they approach it with a decidedly practical bent. “Generating leads and sales is very important to us,” says Jack Groot, owner of JP’s Coffee & Espresso Bar in Holland, MI. "Without real traffic and ultimately profit, there is little or no value for us in digital marketing.”
Daniel Kehrer, Founder & Managing Director of BizBest Media Corp., is a nationally-known, award-winning expert on small and local business, start-ups, content marketing, entrepreneurship and social media, with an MBA from UCLA/Anderson. Read more of Daniel's tips at www.BizBest.com, follow him at www.twitter.com/140Main and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/danielkehrer.
Job growth has been gaining in the private sector for 39 consecutive months. How is that growth is happening? SCORE and Zipcar have put together this infographic to explain exactly how employment and hiring have grown after the recession. Learn how and why businesses are filling new jobs. Find out where companies are looking for quality candidates. Learn the role social media is playing during the hiring process.
Download the 2013 Small Business Employment and Hiring infographic now!
Zipcar is the world's leading car sharing network with operations in urban areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria. Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day to residents and businesses looking for smart, simple and convenient solutions to their urban and campus transportation needs. Zipcar is a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, Inc. Learn more at Zipcar.com.
Published Jun. 15, 2013
The Worcester Business Resource Alliance (WBRA) is a loose network of business professionals, technical assistance providers, lenders, and community development organizations that provide services to entrepreneurs, small business owners and managers in Central Massachusetts. Each month, representatives meet to collaborate and update each other on upcoming events. Current WBRA member organizations are outlined for the convenience of prospective clients at http://wbra.wordpress.com/organizations/.
Upon her graduation from Virginia Tech, Leslie Crews decided to upgrade her lifestyle and nutritional habits through new routines and by eliminating unhealthy elements in her diet. She began brewing kombucha as a substitute to junk-food drinks of all kinds, and began taking her bottled kombucha to potlucks, socials, and other events. It was a hit and soon she found herself receiving orders! Kombuchick: A Kombucha Bar & Microbrewery Co. was not far behind.
Kombuchick is a kombucha bar and microbrewing company. Kombucha is a nonalcoholic, probiotic fermented tea that has been touted for its numerous health benefits. Kombuchick is one of a handful of kombucha microbreweries on the east coast; one of three registered Minority and Woman- owned kombucha companies in the region; and their goal is to become the Mid Atlantic region's premier female- owned kombucha microbrewery by 2015.
They have been able to spread their message and product through vending the nonalcoholic drinks at music festivals, parties and galas, trade shows, and other avenues - key pockets in the market discovered with the help of their SCORE mentor to be strategic for telling their story and selling their brew.
Buzz is certainly building around the business; it has recently been featured on BlissTree and in Veer Magazine's "Summer Beers/ Brews to Watch For" July 2012 edition. Leslie says of this feature, “This juxtaposition of a non-alcoholic, woman-owned brewing company alongside prominent, male-dominated brewing icons was monumental for us.“
How SCORE Helped
Leslie says, “Through our relationship with our local SCORE office, we have been able to successfully set reachable yet challenging growth goals and benchmarks, have been able to expand our customer and networking base, and have helped to encourage young women in our community to follow their dreams. Kombuchick, with help from SCORE, has successfully been able to discover and fill our niche market within the urban scene of coastal Virginia, which has been the first step towards becoming the premier woman- and minority- owned kombucha company in the Mid Atlantic region.”
You might wonder what an architect is doing opening a pet daycare business. For Megan Prather, it was a classic case of identifying a problem and developing a solution that worked for herself and that she knew would work for countless others with busy schedules – a pet daycare that offered flexible hours, extensive interaction and affordable prices. The journey to launching that idea into a full-fledged business venture took over 2 years and steadfast resolve. But with the tenacity of a bulldog, Megan Prather made it happen.
You may have heard that entrepreneurs are dedicated to their ventures but Megan’s commitment goes even beyond the typical. She spent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, taking no salary throughout her first year in business. That hard work has certainly paid off.
For starters, Megan developed a robust website that helped her secure 50 client commitments before even opening the doors to the business. And business has certainly been booming ever since – Dogtown quadrupled their number of full-time employees and more than doubled their number of part-time employees in just their second year in business.
Megan also took advantage of the services offered by fellow SCORE client, Bad Girl Ventures, attending an intensive 9-week business bootcamp. Future goals for the business include adding a 24-hour veterinary service.
Dogtown was named SCORE Cincinnati Client of the Month in April 2012 and SCORE Cincinnati Client of the Year in 2012. In December 2012, Dogtown was chosen as the recipient of Sam’s Club Holiday Cheer, receiving a $1000 gift card and travel expenses to Dallas to attend a high-speed Marketing workshop.
What's Great About My Mentor?
“Working with SCORE and Dennis Murphy my SCORE Mentor has provided a foundation to help my business grow,” said Megan. “He has worked with me since December of 2009 on every aspect of my business from my business plan, to financial planning, to finding a building, to HR issues, marketing, meeting with bankers with me, to negotiating my lease, introduced me to my accountant, etc.
Frank Raeon was a great help in helping me find the right building and location for my business and helping me lease/purchase agreement terms.
Greg Noe was a great help to me with my financials and working out the terms of my Lease Purchase Agreement, and he also introduced to my attorney who has been a great help to me.”
SCORE helped me refine a business plan and cash flow to determine if my ideas added up to a viable business. The helped figure out start-up costs, how to incorporate, how to surround myself with people whose skills compensated for the ones I did not have. As I hired an architect, a contractor, did a build-out and opened Bear Dance Boutique, SCORE was with me advising me every step of the way. They have continued to be an awesome business resource as my business expands.
Only in her early 30’s, Candace Klein has quite a life story to tell. She grew up as 1 of 5 children living on welfare in a trailer park and was the first in her family to attend college, earning 4 bachelor degrees from Northern Kentucky University in just 4 years, with a 4.0 GPA. She planned to go to law school in San Diego after graduation and packed up her Geo Metro to drive across the country but was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April 2003. The burden of treatment and medical bills delayed her goals but she was soon put in touch with Alice Sparks who sat on the Board of Regents at NKU. After a single lunch meeting, Alice agreed to pay $40,000 for her law school education that day. When asked how she could ever repay such an incredible gift, Alice simply replied, "find a way to invest in women." And Candace has done just that.
With a law degree in hand, Candace began serving clients with a focus on real estate and government affairs. In June of 2009, she started her own law practice serving woman-owned business clients. She saw these clients struggling financially and “became obsessed” with alternative forms of lending, trying to get money into the hands of her clients. She quickly realized that none of the options out there were enough, her clients also needed financial education. That’s when she sought out the help of SCORE. In March 2010 she launched Bad Girl Ventures and has since educated over 300 women and helped them raise over $2 million in financing.
BGV is dedicated to its mission of building and sustaining well-managed, profitable women owned businesses by providing female entrepreneurs with guidance, education, and access to capital. Perhaps most importantly, BGV provides these services in a unique woman focused environment that facilitates collaboration. BGV’s programs and projects serve three primary objectives: 1) helping female entrepreneurs access the capital needed to start their businesses; 2) providing female entrepreneurs with the education needed to manage their business successfully; and 3) surrounding female entrepreneurs with the support networks needed to sustain their business.
The work has revealed even more opportunities in the field of small business financing and Candace has since launched SoMoLend, an internet debt-based non-equity crowdfunding platform. Candace has become a leading expert on crowdfunding and has been written up locally, by Forbes Magazine and The NY Times. She was called in to testify by Congress on the Jobs Act and she is chair of a committee working with the Security Exchange Commission to establish regulations for crowdfunding.
How SCORE Helped
In addition to utilizing SCORE mentors to educate its clientele, Bad Girl Ventures also seeks the advice of its own SCORE mentor, Carlin Stamm, to guide the organization’s development and growth.
This mentor relationship has helped BGV handle the rapid growth they experienced in their first two years in operation. SCORE has assisted BGV in developing a strong business model, developing a strong funding model and implementing internal infrastructure to strengthen the organization.
Juggling a full-time career as an emergency helicopter pilot and raising 5 boys between the ages of 1 and 8 is a tall order for any family. Add buying and growing a new business venture to the mix and only the strong will survive. Sherri and Larry Hansen have done just that, growing Culinary Kids into a thriving business that truly has a positive impact on its community. From a simple childhood memory of working together in the kitchen alongside her mother and Grandma, Sherri envisioned a place where family and friends could connect over meals—a place where people of all ages and walks of life could participate in the cooking process and experience the traditional values of family and friendships amidst the face pace world we live in.
If anyone knows how to effectively engage and influence children and families, it must be a mother of 5. But, Sherri also brings professional experience as an educator and a former manager of a Boys & Girls Club to the business.
The mission of Culinary Kids is to connect children and families in the community by creating bonding and learning opportunities exploring the art and science of cooking. The programs teach life, social and academic skills while encouraging creative expression and critical thinking. The culinary school has become a local favorite for school trips, and the events it provides for children
Culinary Kids reaches out to and collaborates with many other small businesses in the area, creating partnerships and complementary programs including adult cooking classes with local chefs, fitness programs with gyms and trainers, senior programs with area hospitals and many more joint ventures with businesses that support healthy, positive lifestyles. They also dedicate their time and resources to support local non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, ACCESS, SOAR and UP21 (all dedicated to assorted special needs populations in the community) as well as local schools and many other fundraising events in the area.
Culinary Kids was chosen in December 2012 as the recipient of the Sam’s Club Holiday Cheer small business grant and training. Sherri has been recognized by Sophisticated Woman, a popular magazine in the area, as their Enterprising Woman of the Month for July.
What's Great About My Mentor?
Of mentor Mack Deloney, Sherri says, “Our mentor has taken our passion and anxious energies and given us professional focus, helping us achieve our goals. Our business is fueled by our heart, but our mentor helps us see the clear picture of success based on logical principles that allow us to be financially sustainable, thus allowing our passionate programs to grow with direction and purpose. Neither of us as owners possesses the academic or experiential knowledge needed to run a business, so our mentor has helped define our needs and has provided a wealth of support, and advice. Other specialized mentors have filled in those gaps even further, allowing us to succeed. We have increased our efficiency, defined a more clear business plan, and improved our human resources and hiring strategies. We feel supported, knowing that in those moments of excessive stress, there is someone to call who "gets it" and who will be there to coach us through the rough patches. This business would not exist in its expanding form were it not for our mentor's influence and we can't wait to one day serve others in the same capacity!
As a service-based business, providing customized programs for our community, we needed to learn which of our program ideas would succeed and which would not. Naturally, we believed all of our ideas to be fantastic; however, our mentor helped us streamline those programs by evaluating their feasibility and profitability in a very clear fashion. Doing this allowed us to increase our efficiency, save time in program development and decrease the stress placed on staff in these developmental months. We also experienced human resources and staffing issues as our target employees must meet very specific qualifications. Our mentor suggested a human resources expert (also a SCORE volunteer) to assist us in defining our staffing challenges (retention and payroll predictability) and brainstorm ideas on how to re-structure our program offerings to suit both the community AND the staff we wanted to retain. We changed the offerings, created new job descriptions and the energy of our team shifted immediately and became more stable with a clear direction.”
How SCORE Helped
Of SCORE Sherri says, “We sought SCORE support just as we opened our business, knowing that we needed assistance to make it work, but would not be able to afford a hired coach. SCORE was the answer to our challenges and we truly would not be here without this support. We are dedicated to spreading the word about what SCORE has done for us and we continue to recommend these services to other business owners in our community.”
Published May. 29, 2013
Steve Strauss, founder of www.theselfemployed.com, tells why the "reply all" option on your email may be dangerous and how to use it carefully.
After going back and forth trying to get an answer about a potential big gig from a very busy guy named James, a good friend of mine decided he needed some help. So he tried to shoot me an email, wanting my feedback as to what he should do next.
But instead of forwarding his correspondence with James to me, my friend mistakenly hit the dreaded “reply all” button:
It just seemed to kind of fall into place for Grace Madison.
By the age of 24, she had worked retail, been a fashion model, helped place advertising, worked in customer service at APAC, did promotions for a hip hop-rap record label (G-UNIT), earned a Scott Community College degree in business management with a marketing certificate, and scored with SCORE.
She learned a great deal from several people in the SCORE program, citing retired executive Dan Lyphout of Davenport, in particular.