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Electric City Coffee

Success Story: Montana

After retiring from the Air Force, Thad and Heidi Reiste returned to Great Falls and bought a local coffee shop. They purchased the recipes and equipment, relocated downtown and re-branded, then came to the Great Falls Regional SBDC for help. This is the fourth in a series of videos by the Montana SBDCs, showcasing businesses that worked with their local SBDCs to jumpstart business success!

Email Etiquette: Ask Permission First or Forgiveness Later?

By Steve Robinson
Director of National Organizations, Constant Contact

email-marketing-picRemember when you were a kid and your parents told you not to put your hand on the hot stove? Or when you mistakenly went along with the crowd and your parents said, “If all the other kids were jumping off a bridge, would you do it, too?” What if I told you that email marketing is a lot like the hot stove? And just because lots of small business owners send email to customers without their permission, it doesn’t mean you should, too.

Sure, it’s exciting to see your email list grow. It feels like your efforts are paying off and that you’re actually making some headway. But if you add customers without their permission, you might be undoing all of that hard work. Why? There are lots of reasons why it can be bad for your business, and we’ll dig into those, but let’s first consider things from the customer’s point of view.

Picture this: It’s the first thing in the morning. Your customer grabs their phone or flips open their laptop and a hundred or so emails start to download. The steady flow of messages to their inbox goes on all day and your customer’s well-trained brain can’t help but gravitate to a certain email based on interest and priority. If they’re not expecting your email, they’re likely to ignore it. Or worse, they’ll delete it, block you, or report it as spam.  (more…)

@ASBDC Our Favorite NSBW #TwitterChat Answers #SBDC #DreamSmallBiz

twitter-chat

In honor of National Small Business Week, America’s SBDC hosted it’s first ever Twitter Chat on May 4th, “10 Most Common Small Business Questions.” 

@ASBDC served as the chat “moderator and posted questions every few minutes using the hashtag, #SBDC.  Checkout our Q&A below:

Q1: Do I have what it takes to own a small business? #SBDC 

CTSBDC ‏@growCT

Maybe you do, Maybe you don’t. Start by validating your business assumptions @SBDC

Sandra Cochrane ‏@scochrane

‪@ASBDC‪ A1. You won’t know until you try! But planning is key. Don’t jump in w/o knowledge of market and finances. #SBDC 

Mohawk Valley SBDC ‏@MVSmalBizDevCtr

Ask yourself, do you have –  cash, good credit, drive, self starter, risk taker, energy, time #nysbdc (more…)

8(a) Graduate of the Year #SBDC #DreamSmallBiz

Sm-Bus-Wk-WV-SBDC-winnerCongratulations to West Virginia SBDC client Diana Lewis Jackson, President and CEO of Action Facilities Management based in Morgantown, West Virginia. Her company is the 2016 SBA 8(a) Graduate of the Year.

AFM, a company that Diana started in her Monongalia County basement 15 years ago, now employs more than 250 people in 11 states and Washington, D.C. Mostly federal agencies are clients of the site support contractor.

“We provide armed and unarmed security guard services and, for the facilities or buildings, we provide operations and maintenance services, complete janitorial services and, on the exterior, we provide grounds, maintenance and snow removal,” she explained.

“The ‘action’ part was because we wanted to be proactive and the ‘facilities management’ is because we wanted the customers to focus on what they were actually going to do for their business and we would take care of their facilities.”  (more…)

SBA Chief Urges Respect, Support for Small Businesses

By Rhonda Abrams

Rhonda-Abrams-w-SBA-Administrator-1Since 1963, the first week of May has been designated by the President of the United States as a time to celebrate entrepreneurs.

To mark the start of this year’s Small Business Week, small-business owner and USA TODAY contributor Rhonda Abrams sat down for a discussion with Maria Contreras-Sweet, the current Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Contreras-Sweet, the founder of ProAmerica Bank, talked about technology and small-business lending, and elaborated on some of the challenges — and resources — for the nation’s estimated 28 million small businesses.

SBA-Administrator-quoteShe also encouraged shoppers to spend at their local stores.

“When you shop at a small business, 64 cents of your dollar stay right in your neighborhood,” she says. In turn, she adds, those stores could become a “destination” for more consumers, leading to more job creation in the community.

“Small businesses should be respected for the role they play: Two out of three net new jobs are created by small businesses,” she says. “This is the time to celebrate small businesses.”

Here are some other thoughts from Contreras-Sweet:

Q: What’s a main message that you would like to get out there during Small Business Week?  (more…)