The newest, oldest and above all most important tools for your business.

March 9, 2012

By Peter Justen –

As we set out to build our businesses we are inundated with the latest “must have” tools.  Tools to increase our productivity, to help us with our marketing, to help us find new customers and keep the old ones.  Tools to build a web site, to launch a product or even to help us track our financials.

But…those aren’t the kind of tools I am talking about.  Here’s some you might not have thought of, that are free to use, but can cost you terribly in the long run if you don’t use them.

Honesty.  Intellectual honesty.  Being honest with yourself about your products, your marketing, and your growth.  About being honest in your representations with your clients, your brand and your employees.

Loyalty.  Loyalty is such a magic quality.  It can carry you through dark days, and build a bond with your suppliers, vendors, clients and employees that can’t be broken.  Remember, you can’t demand loyalty, but it often comes back to you when you give it.  (more…)

A Quick Guide to Foreign Trade Regulations

March 7, 2012

Who is the U.S. Principle Party in Interest (USPPI)? What is a shipment and when you must file in the Automated Export System (AES)? For more information, please visit our website: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/

The Census Bureau serves as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. We honor privacy, protect confidentiality, share our expertise globally, and conduct our work openly. We are guided on this mission by our strong and capable workforce, our readiness to innovate, and our abiding commitment to our customers.

Procurement Corner: Lasting Impressions…. Are Business Cards Passé?

March 5, 2012

Thinking back over the several decades when I managed Procurement organizations on government contracts for one of the aerospace & defense giants, I recollect the vast number of times I either exchanged business cards or merely received them from businesses hoping to do business with “me” (us). Occasionally, I would share them with my purchasing staff however, and in all honesty, the majority of the time I eventually just “filed” them, usually in a (infrequently used) rolodex or bottom of a drawer. Unfortunately, this scenario is not unusual today.

So what’s the point of swapping them in the first place? In theory, the objective of “the exchange” is to share critical business and contact information. From a supplier’s perspective, create lasting impressions to receive future orders as needs arise. From a procurement perspective, having viable sources readily available to meet technical demands and achieve mandated small business procurement goals. Did you know that government buyers and contractors still have procurement small business goals today? Yes, indeed!  (more…)

Entrepreneurship and Wounded Warriors

March 2, 2012

In the current economy where unemployment rates are already elevated for people in their twenties, the rate for Veterans sits at approximately 5% higher than the population as a whole. At the same time the SBA reports that veterans are more likely to start a business than the general population. Some reasons for this include the discipline and risk-taking they might have experienced in the field- when you’ve risked your life, taking a risk to start a business is put into an easier perspective. When you’ve been trained to get back up and keep going in the field, and to work precisely and closely with others, well, those are extremely useful entrepreneurial traits.

Because of the internet, the options for creating business and services create opportunities exist that weren’t imagined by veterans of previous eras. Even severely impacted people who might have needed in the past to be supported to live, are now often likely to need support to start something.

A welter of loans and grant programs for people with disabilities can be researched through the SBA and the Defense Department. But first it helps to know what one is doing and have a sense of the desired destination.  (more…)

The Importance of Including Google+ In Your Social Media Strategy

March 1, 2012

Yes, there’s yet another social network, and this time what you post directly correlates to the search results Google returns.

In early 2012, Google expanded the focus of its search results from great content, links, keywords and site architecture to include three new areas:

1. Personal results, such as Google+ photos and posts created by or shared specifically with the search user.

2. Profiles in search, meaning Google will display relevant people based on the search term.

3. People and Pages, including people profiles and Google+ pages Google thinks match the search query.

When Google users see fun pictures, people and profiles listed above your search results, you’ll probably notice a significant decrease in hits to your website. (more…)

Is your SMB seeking greater productivity? Consider the cloud

February 29, 2012

In our strained economy, it’s essential for small business owners to be able to do more with less, while maximizing productivity as much as possible. The advent of cloud computing has ushered in a host of ways small and midsized businesses (SMBs) can maintain and even increase productivity among workers. Here are a few areas in which cloud computing can help:

Collaboration and communication – It can be challenging to build a team of employees that work seamlessly together, with trust, transparency and teamwork as the foundation. Add to that the need to invest in and maintain technologies that facilitate effective collaboration – and you’ve got an even bigger hurdle.

Fortunately, the cloud makes it easy for SMBs to provide workers with integrated, intuitive ways to collaborate and remain productive in the process. Cloud productivity solutions that combine programs employees use the most – e-mail, document creation, messaging, conferencing, etc. – deliver enterprise-class capabilities at prices smaller organizations can afford, such as Office 365, which starts at just $6 per user per month.  (more…)

Evaluating the new virtual tools for start-ups and small business management, financing and communications

February 28, 2012

Launching a new business in a 21st century digital world requires using a lot of new and innovative financial tools, not only to plan, but to be able to keep track of the growth and financial success of your business. Almost every day we are introduced yet another great tool that streamlines complicated processes and procedures that just a few years ago would have taken weeks or months to complete or achieve. Millions of U.S. small-business owners are spending a lot of time reviewing and screening the digital bazaar of these new tools.

As technology gets cheaper and easier to use, small firms and Startups take advantage of financial tools more than ever before to run and track their small businesses. And today’s proliferating selection of smartphone and Tablet app’s are providing advantages and conveniences that wouldn’t’ have been imagined only a few years ago.

This year, we’ll introduce you to some of the exciting and innovative new cloud-based financial, project management and communications tools, and offer advice on how to determine which ones would best help you get your business either up and running, or set for further growth and efficiency.  (more…)

3 Easy Fixes to Triple Your Website Leads

February 23, 2012

By Eric Spellmann –

If you’ve heard me speak before, you know that I feel strongly that a website should never be just a virtual pamphlet or online billboard. It must DO something. In more than 90% of the cases, that “do” can be defined as “generating leads.”

But how do you get a website to drive leads, or more importantly, qualified leads to your business? The key is to understand online user behavior and build your site to not only accommodate your site visitors, but prompt them to action!

I’ve noticed three big mistakes most websites make when trying to meet the goal of lead generation:

Hiding Phone Numbers
When needing a phone number, very few people pull out their phonebooks. In fact, today, the number one use of the yellow pages is to prop up computer monitors! Most people simply “google” a business to find a number.  (more…)

5 Simple Ways Your Nonprofit Can Use LinkedIn to Find More Donors

February 20, 2012

By Gina Watkins –

With all the social networking sites available today, you may wonder which is best for your nonprofit organization. More importantly, you may be wondering which site is best for your organization in terms of finding more donors. The answer may surprise you: It’s LinkedIn.

Why LinkedIn? Well, according to the site’s own statistics, LinkedIn boasts more than 120 million affluent, influential professionals from over 200 countries and territories.

In 2010, HubSpot and LinkedIn teamed up to create an infographic that showed members are highly educated (more than 70% have a bachelor’s or graduate degree), affluent (close to 50% of users have an income of more than $100,000 per year), and they hold influential positions — more than 30% are senior-level executives and managers, while 50% are decision makers in the companies/organizations.

LinkedIn’s power comes from getting connected with the right people. How do you get your nonprofit connected with these potential donors? Here are 5 simple tips to build these connections fast:   (more…)

Three Opportunities for Veterans Eager To Start, Run or Grow a Small Business

February 16, 2012

For those actively serving, returning home from duty or looking to leverage skills gained as veterans from different service eras, we’d like to thank you for your service—and help you on your tour of duty in the private sector.

You’re likely already familiar with the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a military-private sector initiative to place veterans and military personnel into full-time employment. In addition, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act offers tax credits for employers that hire unemployed and service-disabled veterans. So finding a job in corporate America is, hopefully, becoming less difficult for former military personnel.

But what if you have that insatiable itch to strike out on your own? If you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur, check out these three opportunities unique to veterans, all designed to help you start your new business or grow its operations.  (more…)