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A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Kaizen

Small Business Owner's Guide To Kaizen

By Eric Rosenberg

Kaizen is defined as “a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices” and personal efficiency. The word literally means “improvement,” but has taken on a more important meaning in the world of business.

Large Japanese companies like Toyota have long touted the benefits of Kaizen, and it has slowly moved into the corporate culture at companies around the world. Now even small businesses take notice and try to apply the philosophy of continuous improvement to their business. No matter what size organization you are a part of, your team can almost certainly benefit from Kaizen. Here’s how:

Identify Major Business Processes

Start your quest for Kaizen by identifying major processes in your business. While Kaizen concepts are traditionally applied to manufacturing, every business has room for improvement. By identifying processes your business uses on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you can get started thinking about how to improve.

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VT Brewing Boom Continues With Hyde Park Tasting Room

Success Story: Vermont

VT SBDC Success - Ten Bends BeerVtSBDC Specialty Services 
Key To Ten Bends Launch

Vermont is quickly becoming known as a destination for high quality brewing as breweries of various sizes continue to spring up across the landscape. One of the latest is Ten Bends Beer in Hyde Park.

Owned and operated by Michael Scarlata and Jason Powell, the 590 East Main Street brewhouse and tasting room recently started serving its craft brewed creations from its 3bbl system, but not before seeking assistance from Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtBSDC) Area Advisor and craft brewing specialist Charley Ininger.

In addition to being one of VtSBDC’s area advisors, Ininger is also part of the specialty services VtSBDC has to offer. With many years in the food and beverage business and a keen understanding of what it takes to make a brewery a success from concept to creation, Ininger has worked with many Vermont beer makers as the brewing boom continues to expand. In addition to individual advice and advising, Charley offers a class in the business of brewing, a workshop he has delivered across the country.  (more…)

6 Things You Should Do As You Start Q4

By Jennifer Lobb

Business Meeting

Despite the fact that the fourth quarter rolls around at the exact same time year after year, the realization that it’s just around the corner is always startling. In fact, every year as Labor Day bookends the far end of the summer, I find myself asking “how did we get here already?”

We are, of course, “here,”and if you’re a small business owner, it’s time to pencil in a few important tasks to help you navigate the Q4 craziness.

1. Talk to Your Staff

It’s tempting to label this as “evaluate your employees,” because that’s something you’ll want to do as well, but your efforts should exceed evaluation. Your employees are on the front lines and often offer the most candid and useful feedback when it comes to “everyday” tasks and processes. They also are likely to be the ones who have the most frequent, and therefore most insightful, feedback on client or customer relationships.

As an added bonus, this can be a great time to provide positive feedback and motivation to employees, especially if Q4 is your company’s busiest and most important quarter of the year.

Don’t have time to meet with them one-on-one? Fear that the candid feedback you want won’t be what you get when they meet with the boss? Consider offering the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback. Surveys are great options if you have specific questions you’d like answered.  (more…)

Veteran Starts Business To Do What Law Enforcement Can’t

Idaho Success Story - Off The Grid Investigations

Success Story: Idaho

Sarah Marshall, a veteran, decided to open her own private criminal and civil investigation firm as a way to use her skills and give back to her community. Sarah was referred to the SBDC for start-up assistance, with an early priority being to move out of her home office. After she leased an office in the Idaho Innovation Center, she scheduled weekly accountability meetings with an SBDC consultant where she worked on a variety of skills including time management.

Client QuoteHer greatest challenge was getting her name out. Since the majority of her clients are attorneys, she was counseled by the SBDC to personally introduce herself to area attorneys. This gave her the opportunity to demonstrate her value as a responsible and reliable investigator able to provide services law enforcement often doesn’t have the resources to provide, particularly in cold cases.

In a short amount of time, Sarah has grown Off The Grid Investigations to a large surveillance team working to help clients win court cases by presenting evidence her firm has discovered.

To learn more about Off The Grid Investigations, visit OffTheGridInvestigations.com. For more about the Idaho SBDC, visit IdahoSBDC.org.

7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Business Identity Theft

By Eric Rosenberg

Identity theft impacts more than 17 million Americans per year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and businesses are not immune. The same havoc that identity thieves cause for individuals can harm a business’s finances and credit history. And, unlike individuals, when a business is attacked it could threaten the livelihood of many employees and customers who rely on the company. If you want to avoid identity theft for your business, follow these seven steps.

1. Switch to Digital Statements

Mail theft is a simple but common entry point for bad guys looking to steal a business’s information. Bank statements, credit card bills, human resources files, and other mail can be used to attack the business or others. To end susceptibility of mail theft, turn off the mail.

While most businesses are not able to go completely paperless, switching your bank and other financial statements to paperless takes just a few minutes and closes a major vulnerability. With modern technology, digital statements are safer than paper. Updating your processes to digital accounting and statements can save money and time, and helps protect your business from identity theft.

2. Invest in a Quality Shredder

How many movies have you seen where someone pieces back together strips of paper from a shredder? End that risk with a high quality, cross cut shredder. You can get one online or at a local wholesale club for under $100, and it will protect your business from thousands of dollars in potential losses.  (more…)