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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 For more about the Idaho SBDC, visit

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…)

How Small Business Owners Can Benefit From The Next Wave Of Digital Commerce

VisaBy Michael Jabbara
Director, Global Product & Market Enablement, Visa

Last week, I had the opportunity to present at the Annual America’s SBDC Conference in Nashville about the digital trends that are changing the commerce landscape and their potential impact on small businesses. Although digital commerce is not a new trend, the ways it is continually evolving consumer behavior can present both challenges and opportunities for small business owners. From virtual reality to voice activated assistants, I presented about how digital technology isn’t just altering the way people shop but what commerce can mean. Mobile and desktop channels made the shopping journey less linear. Now, emerging platforms are poised to transform entirely the way consumers interact and transact with their merchants.

According to an IBM study on digital platforms and commerce, 80 percent of companies are implementing Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives, 70 percent are developing voice command services and 50 percent are exploring augmented or virtual reality.i These initiatives are especially appealing to millennials and affluent consumers in the U.S., two segments that quickly adopt innovative solutions that make their lives more convenient and seamless.

The SBDC members were interested in how small business owners can leverage these digital trends to better engage with their customers. Some of the examples we discussed include a neighborhood restaurant that can use messaging services and chatbots embedded in social platforms to enable customers to order via interactive texting and track their delivery in real time. In addition, local businesses are looking to offer unique and targeted loyalty programs directly to customers’ smartphones.  (more…)

Writing A Path To Success

Success Story: New Jersey

A Client’s Letter to the New Jersey SBDC at Brookdale Community College

Dear NJSBDC at Brookdale Community College:

Writing A Path To Success

I wanted to share with you my success with my writing business, Fine Works LLC. It would not have been possible without the great assistance of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center (NJSBDC) at Brookdale Community College. At Brookdale Community College, I completed The Entrepreneur Certificate in 2010 and The Digital Blueprint Certificate in 2016 as well as having many one-on-one business counseling appointments with the NJSBDC.

NJSBDC was instrumental in turning my passion, the martial arts, into a writing business. I started publishing magazine articles over a decade ago. Last year, I used my contacts from magazine publishing to get my first book published, a martial arts book titled Sumo for Mixed Martial Arts: Winning Clinches, Takedowns, and Tactics, by YMAA Publication Center. YMAA has been publishing martial arts books for over 30 years. YMAA is selling my book on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and numerous other venues in print and eBook formats. It is being sold worldwide. The NJSBDC prepared me well. For instance, YMAA plans on using my book research techniques for marketing and reviewers as their gold standard. I was informed by the Managing Editor at YMAA, “I’ve never had an author deliver better materials.”

I continue to publish martial arts articles in magazines domestically and internationally. In the past year, MMA Uncaged, a UK based magazine, published two of my articles and reviewed my book in their magazine. Black Belt Magazine, World’s Leading Martial Arts Resource, plans on publishing an article of mine in their Oct/Nov 2017 issue. All these articles are used as marketing vehicles for plugging my book.  (more…)

Top 6 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Use CRM

Radhika Devidas
Product Marketing Associate | Zoho CRM

Small businesses offer a personal touch to their services that chain stores are unable to replicate. They have more latitude to help their customers and provide an experience unlike any other. It goes without saying that behind every successful small business is a lot of hard work and many long hours. Nothing will make being a business owner “easy,” but what if there were a product that could help a small business scale quickly through a system of customer centricity, process streamlining, and acute sales focus?

Customer Relations Management (CRM) software does exactly that. It’s why 65% of businesses opt to use a CRM system within the first five years of starting up. The evidence is abundant: CRM is a must-have software for every small business.

Zoho CRM