Tag Archives: business development

Small Business Week 2014 May 12 – 16 – Webinars

 

 

Smallbizweek2014

Next week, May 12 – 16, 2014, is National Small Business Week.  Watch this space for news and updates and watch our Twitter feed @DePereChamber to be part of the Twitter Storm each day during the week.  If you want to get caught up in the storm, use the hashtag #SBW2014

Throughout the week, you can also participate in our webinars and online events, including “Making It Big: Small Biz Success in a Mobile World” with Conduit Mobile on Wednesday, May 14 at 9am ET. Join to learn how you can better take advantage of the technology already at your fingertips to transform your mobile and digital experience and grow your small business’ bottom line.

And that’s just one of the great events you can anticipate! Check out other webinars happening throughout the week:

Monday, May 12

  • Growing Your Business with Direct Mail | 6-7pm ET | with the United States Postal Service
    Learn about the value direct mail offers as part of an overall marketing strategy. Gain insight on how mail can be used to acquire new customers, and establish relationships that keep them coming back.
    > Register now

Tuesday, May 13

  • Small Business: Big Benefits | 4-5pm ET | with Colonial Life
    Choosing between offering a robust benefits package or cutting back on total offerings is a challenge for many small businesses. Learn about “voluntary benefits” that can allow you to strengthen your existing benefits packages at little or no additional cost.
    >
    Register now

Wednesday, May 14

This is a big week for small businesses – keep checking back for more information to build your business and your future!

Making the Most of Your Local Chamber of Commerce

I was just out doing some research for topics for upcoming presentations and I found this article.  I know, I know it may seem self-serving but I found it really interesting … read on ….

JoAnne Berg is a trusted business advisor with over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, CFO/COO, and CPA/advisor to closely held businesses. Read her blogs at The Art of Small Business. Her newest venture is Peer Coaching Network, Inc., which provides affordable training and peer based group coaching to small business owners. Follow her on Twitter @JoAnneBerg and Facebook.

Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce? If so, are you getting your money’s worth? If not, what are you missing out on?

Chambers exist to serve their members and help them to be more successful. They are supported by membership dues, which are usually based on the size of your business. Your dues are tax deductible as a business expense.

Most businesses benefit in some way from membership, and small businesses often benefit dramatically from the power of joining together with their peers in this way. Here are some of the things that local Chambers do for the business community, along with a few suggestions for getting the most from your membership.

Government Relations

Chambers represent the viewpoints of their members in front of governments and advocate for their business interests when necessary. Your dues support the efforts that the Chamber makes on your behalf to make your community a better place to do business. This alone is a reason to become a member! If you’re interested in getting more involved, most chambers have a Governmental Affairs committee that members can join.

Be sure to attend Chamber forums and events featuring political candidates and elected officials. You’ll often have an opportunity to meet them, ask questions, and perhaps even give them your opinion about important decisions that impact your business.

Networking

For many of us, it’s important to be visible. Chambers sponsor social events and networking groups that are designed for members to meet and do business together. If your business depends on local-business generation, this is an opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. Even if your customer base is not local, the connections you make can be an invaluable source of local goods and services for your business needs.

Also, check out your Chamber’s Ambassador Committee if you’d like to have a built-in opportunity to welcome and meet new members.

Advertising

When you’re a member, you’ll be listed in the Chamber directory, but your opportunities for promoting your business don’t stop there. Chambers have websites, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and more. They sell advertising in most of these, and you have to be a member to advertise. The costs are generally modest, and if your target market includes other Chamber members, the ROI can be fantastic.

Education

Many Chambers really shine in this department. Training yourself and your staff can be expensive, but it’s important to keep up with new developments and continue improving everyone’s business skills. Chambers offer classes, workshops, and seminars, taught by member professionals, at a low cost to members. These professionals go out of their way to do a great job since their community reputation is at stake. Recent topics I’ve seen include social media training, patents and trademarks, OSHA regulations, sexual harassment training, human resource issues, tax law changes, etc.

Referrals

Businesses and residents that are new to a community frequently call the local Chamber of Commerce for referrals for the goods and services they need. Guess what? If you’re not a member, Chamber staff can’t refer you. Take the time to get to know the staff of your local Chamber, and make sure that they have the information they need to send business your way.

Committee Membership

Volunteering to serve on a Chamber committee that fits your interests or expertise creates leadership opportunities, helps you become better known in the community, and can help position you as an expert in your field. For example, I served for many years on my local Chamber’s Business Resource committee, which was a great source for business leads and ultimately led to a seat on the Chamber Board of Directors. In addition to the Governmental Affairs, Ambassador, and Business Committees, many Chambers have Education Committees, and if you’re interested in green business techniques, many Chambers are now forming Green or Sustainability Committees.

Every Chamber is different, and there may be other opportunities in yours that I haven’t mentioned here. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to find out more, and if you are a member, take another look at what your Chamber offers. You may be pleasantly surprised!

 

 

4 Marketing Resolutions to Make This Year

I’m catching up on email as the snow falls here and I wait until 2pm to close the office and head home during a storm break.  While reading my Small Business Administration newsletter, I found an article that read as if I wrote it!  Since I didn’t, I’m snerching it for today’s blog post and sharing it with all of you.

Here is the bottom line:  you must market your business.    YOU.MUST.MARKET.YOUR.BUSINESS.

This post is from Rieva Lesonsky  The “I” referenced below is she (Rieva) not me (Cheryl). Ms. Lesonsky is an expert, Ms Detrick is a learner!  She is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She’s been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades.

If there’s one area of operations most small businesses can stand to improve, it’s marketing. As a small business expert, I get more questions about marketing than any other aspect of business—and it’s been that way for the last 30 years. Since the New Year is all about improving oneself, how about making some marketing resolutions for your business? Here are four to consider.

  1. I resolve to make a marketing plan. Many small business owners market haphazardly, throwing time and money at one marketing method and then, when it doesn’t pay off immediately, switching gears to the “next big thing.” This scattershot approach does nothing but waste your resources and leave you frustrated and frazzled, convinced that marketing doesn’t pay off. Instead, resolve to sit down and set goals for your marketing this year. What exactly do you want to accomplish—more leads, more sales closed, more inquiries? Once you’ve got goals on paper, figure out the marketing methods that are most likely to get those desired results. Finally, figure out how you’ll track results from each marketing method so you can see what’s really working.
  1. I resolve to market consistently. It’s easy to fall into the trap of marketing only when you’ve got the “spare” time for it (which often means “never”). Or maybe you market wildly right before your busy season, then do nothing for months on end. As a result, your sales pipeline slows down. Keep your pipeline full by marketing consistently all year long. That doesn’t mean you need the same level of marketing year-round—for instance, a toy retailer would obviously market more before and during the holiday shopping season than in, say, July—but it does mean you need some level of marketing all year. Create a marketing calendar that sets out what you’ll do each month and breaks it down further into weekly and even daily marketing efforts. Then put someone in charge of making sure it’s all carried out.
  1. I resolve to keep learning new things. Is your marketing stuck in the past? Advertising only in the print Yellow Pages might work if your clientele is solely seniors…and even seniors are increasingly going online to find businesses instead of letting their fingers do the walking. If you want your business to grow, you’ve got to keep up with the (marketing) times. Resolve to regularly read industry blogs and publications, attend networking events and conferences, and take webinars and seminars to learn more about new marketing trends and how they’re affecting your industry. Pledge to learn something new every month, and at least try some of it. Marketing is moving fast, and if you don’t keep up you’re going to get left behind.
  1. I resolve to do market research. Many small business owners see market research as something they do once—when starting their companies—and then never do again. But what happens when your market changes? The 20-somethings you might have targeted with your extreme sports company in 1998 are now in their 40s. Even if they’re still buying extreme sports products, the way you market to them needs to be different now from what it was then. Keep tabs on the demographics of your target market so you can adjust your marketing approach to changes in their incomes, lifestyles, media consumption habits and buying behaviors. Use both secondary research from other sources and primary research—that is, simply asking your customers what they want and need.

These four simple resolutions will make a big difference in your results—I promise.

What are your marketing resolutions for 2014?

 

 

And now.. from a mentee! It isn’t so intimidating to be successful

It isn’t so intimidating to be successful

A part of the The Green Bay Packer Mentor- Protégé Program established in 2011 to pair emerging minority- and woman-owned companies (protégés) with established, knowledgeable, and committed companies (mentors) that can provide exposure, appropriate training, resources and experience not readily available to the protégé companies.

The Packers and AFF Research, LLC, administrators of the Mentor-Protégé Program, are committed to the continuing success of the program and to the community of businesses that benefit from it.

After working as a graphic designer for 10 years, which included many hours of sitting and staring at a computer screen, LeeAnn Laes of About Body realized she had very bad posture.

“The chiropractor said I had the spine of a 70-year-old woman,” said Laes. “The doctor sent me to physical therapy.”

A good friend had recently graduated from massage school and needed business cards, so the two traded services. Laes saw the benefit of massage and decided to change her career.

After that Laes attended Blue Sky School of Massage and graduated with a degree in medical massage. Laes began her company, About Body, to provide people with massage therapy. “I saw the need and went for it,” said Laes.

About Body, LLC primarily does Neuromuscular Massage Therapy. “We also do postural analysis and corrective exercise to help people correct the soft tissue or muscle deficit problems. We do cancer, pre-natal and post-mastectomy massage. We use aromatherapy as well as salves,” said Laes.

Laes applied for The Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé program because her business was in a state of growth and she hoped this program would give her the guidance she needed. “I had many different aspects of being a business owner to learn,” said Laes, “From being a one person business to having many people on staff.”

Laes mentor is Julie Musial with The Growth Coach and because of Musial’s help Laes has stayed focused on growing her business. Musial gave her new ideas and tools to use and continue to grow.

From the program, Laes hopes to continue to keep the connections she has made with other business. “I still have a lot of growing to do and can always use the guidance,” said Laes.

About Body, LLC is going into a new building and will expand into two other areas in Green Bay. Laes has gained contracts with schools to help students get internships through her business. Also, Laes is working with NMT Midwest Inc. to help students become certified in Neuromuscular Massage Therapy.

As a protégé, Laes believes The Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program is important because it gives single or small business owners an opportunity to grow their business and have experts around them at all times.

Laes has two children and three grandchildren with another grandchild on the way. She enjoys the outdoors, especially kayaking adventures around the U.S. and she enjoys the journey of being a business owner and the profession of massage.

Written by Claire Westlie, DPACC Intern 2012, St Norbert College Student 

Mentor-Protégé Program Partnerships of 2012

The Growth Coach, Green Bay, Wis. and Door County Interiors and Design, Egg Harbor, Wis.; Wiplfi, LLP, Green Bay, Wis. and IProcureDirect, Green Bay, Wis.; Wiplfi, LLP, Green Bay, Wis. and Bowman Performance Consulting, Shawano, Wis.; Score, Green Bay, Wis. and Key Elements Healing Arts Center, Green Bay, Wis.; and Strategic Management Associates, Green Bay, Wis. and Sabamba Alpaca Ranch, LLC, De Pere, Wis.

The Growth Coach is a Mentor too!

Julie Musial, a Growth Coach from The Growth Coach in Green Bay, is a mentor for the Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program. She has a simple mission: to help small business owners, sales people and managers to live their dreams and have a balanced life.

Musial has a broad range of experience in business, business coaching, advertising, sales, buying and Corporate Management. She currently owns “Media Ad Buying/How to Advertise and The Growth Coach” and recently finished writing her first book Media Ad Buying/How to Advertise in Traditional Media.

As a Growth Coach, Musial helps business owners gain clarity and focus by looking at what is and isn’t working in their businesses and lives.  The Growth Coach offers a series of one-day workshops, which are 90 days apart. With each workshop, topics of importance and interest pertaining to the group of participants are presented.
In between each workshop, The Growth Coach stays in touch with each participant and provides support and advice. This unique method helps participants improve while reaching their goals.

Musial believes The Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program is important for businesses. Not only does the program lend a hand to minor and women-owned businesses, but it also allows businesses to give back to the community through support and guidance. Giving back to the community is important to Julie Musial and The Growth Coach.  The Green Bay Packers Mentor Protégé program has allowed them the opportunity to do just that.

“The program allows minority businesses an added support system to contribute to their success,” said Musial.
“Because of what we do, The Growth Coach was perfect for this program,” said Musial, “Going into our second year in the program, The Growth Coach was able to add a lot of coaching knowledge to the overall program.”
Musial and The Growth Coach look forward to continue working with the Mentor-Protégé program.

the Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program is administered by DPACC member, AFF Research LLC

May Day … oops!

No, I didn’t take yesterday off, I just oops’d!  I thought I had a post ready to go for yesterday, and well, the day got away from me!

But!  Back with it today.  Today’s post is both a story and a lesson!  Here at the Chamber, we talk to and work with businesses of all sizes and types; many are start-ups and others are businesses that go through challenges.  While our primary organization role is to foster community & economic development, we do everything we can to give advice, support and resource lists and almost naturally become somewhat invested in their success.  It can be emotional on all of us when things don’t go according to the original plan!  Today’s guest article is written by one such member, David Rovinski.  If you are a regular reader of Chamber Notes, you may recognize David’s name from his former company, Fluidity Business Planning Group.    He has recently ended Fluidity and begun a new venture … no.  Wait.  I’ll let David tell you his story in his words with a postscript from me!

Over the past 3 years, I have taken up the challenge of starting my own business and have realized many things.

First off, when you start a business you are excited for the challenge and opportunity to make it a successful business.  You create a business plan with products and services that you feel are marketable and profitable leading to success.

Over time, you realize that your assumptions on: the market opportunity, target customers, and ability to realize sales quickly, can all be in question.  The struggles of a new business, low operating capital, and a small marketing budget can make “hanging in there” challenging.

I believe it is critical to provide a service that is marketable.  It  is necessary to look honestly and clearly at your services and make adjustments along the way.

I have recently started a new business called Business Growth Resources, LLC, that is focused on business development services that provide solutions to business growth problems.  Prior to this venture, I was focused primarily at writing business plans for new businesses seeking financing, or existing businesses looking to expand.

What I found out over time was that the need for a business plan for financing was secondary to what banks look at.  Personal financial statements, cash on hand, personal investment, and collateral are a major part of getting a loan.

Thus recognizing the demand for a business plan was limited, the need for strategic planning, new  product development, and growth strategies was in greater demand for businesses looking to grow.  This is what Business Growth Resources, LLC is now offering businesses in the area.

Looking at your new business honestly, recognizing shortfalls,  identifying market opportunities, and having the courage to make changes for long-term growth is scary but can be rewarding and on the path to future business success.

Hope you enjoy some insight on starting and growing a small business.

I “like” David’s story, not because of his challenges, but because it is so REAL.  Many, many entrepreneurs end up on the same path as David but a good percentage either don’t recognize where the path leads in time to make a course correction or recognize it but are just unable to adjust.

We’ll check in with David from time-to-time, both as interest and in thought that others can learn from his experiences.  I’d love to know what you think and what your experiences have been with business growth and patterns.

 

Business Meals & Entertainment

From our friends at Hawkins, Ash, Baptie & Co. comes this week’s tax tip on business meals & entertainment:

When you pay for business meals and entertainment, keep in mind that generally only half of otherwise allowable meal and entertainment expenses are deductible on your federal tax return. This includes 50% of all business meal and entertainment expenses, including those incurred while attending professional seminars and traveling away from home. If a hotel includes meals in its room charge, a reasonable allocation must be made to determine the portion of the expenditure subject to the 50% disallowance.

Taxes and tips related to meals or entertainment are included in the amount that is subject to the 50% limit. Also subject are expenses for cover charges to clubs, room rental for a dinner or cocktail party, and amounts paid for parking at an entertainment location. However, transportation costs incurred getting to and from the entertainment activity are not subject to the 50% disallowance. In addition, when a self-employed taxpayer uses a per diem method for travel expenses, the federal meal and incidental expense rate is treated as an expense for food and beverages and, thus, is subject to the 50% disallowance.

If an employee adequately accounts for these expenses and the employer properly reimburses the expenses under an accountable plan arrangement, the employer is also subject to the 50% limitation on its reimbursement. An ac-countable plan is a reimbursement or other expense allowance arrangement that requires employees to substantiate covered expenses and return unsubstantiated advances. The employee has nothing to report since the reimbursement offsets the expenses incurred.

Conversely, an employer gets a 100% deduction if meal expense reimbursements or allowances paid for or to an employee under a nonaccountable plan are treated as compensation to the employee. Of course, the employer must then pay FICA taxes and the income is subject to normal withholding, but this rule basically allows employers to shift the 50% disallowance to employees. Similarly, meal reimbursements and allowances that are included in the taxable income of independent contractors are also 100% deductible by the service recipient.

 

Growing & Developing Small businesses: The Power of Mentoring

Last year, DPACC member AFF Research began administering a program with the Green Bay Packers organization, in a partnership with local business development leaders, has established the Packers Mentor-Protégé Program to foster business growth, economic development and job creation in Brown County.

The program, now in its second year, matches mentor companies from the Green Bay area that can provide technical, managerial, financial or other guidance to protégés seeking to improve their competitive standing. The mentor-protégé relationship requires at least a 12-month commitment.

Initially, protégé companies were minority- or woman-owned businesses located in Brown County or on the Oneida Nation Reservation. The goal also is to reach veteran-owned and other small businesses with the opportunity to participate as the program develops.

Mentor companies must be established companies with the appropriate resources and the ability to commit to the program and the needs of the protégé. Organizations serving as mentors include Alliance Construction and Design, Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Schenck Business Solutions, Schreiber Foods, UnitedHealthcare and Wipfli.

The program is administered by AFF Research LLC (AFFR), Anna Steinfest, President/CEO, and overseen by a board of directors that includes John Hartmann, M.D., CEO of Visonex; Tammy Hawkins, Sourcing Manager, ROMO, Inc.; Lorri Kieff, CEO of Bay Area Consultants; David Martin, Business Development, H.J. Martin and Son; and Quasan Shaw, Business Development Planning Specialist, City of Green Bay. Consultants to the program include Jason Wied and Aaron Popkey, Green Bay Packers; and Greg Kuehl, Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District.

“We felt this would be a good opportunity to help establish a program that can help companies take the next step in their own business development,” said Jason Wied, Packers vice president of administration/general counsel. “We know many organizations in our area have the expertise to assist in developing the various skills needed by small businesses to grow and become more successful companies.”

AFFR assists their clients in designing and implementing comprehensive supplier diversity. They also provide guidance to entrepreneurs. AFFR has consulted in the field of supplier diversity for 10 years, and has worked on both the Lambeau Field redevelopment project and post-redevelopment projects.

Questions and requests for mentor or protégé applications should be directed to AFFR by telephone at 920-884-5006 or by e-mail aff@affresearch.com.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be profiling the first year’s participants and also doing before, during and after interviews with this year’s participants.  Stay tuned, I bet you’ll learn something useful AND be inspired.  Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to be a mentor or protege or simply pass the word.  At the very least, I think you’ll be fascinated by the journey and experience from both sides of the relationship.

Wanting to STAY in business?

A recap!  Tuesday was trends in business; Wednesday was customer service tips; yesterday tax implications of opening a small business, and today is an important topic to help you stay in business.  After all, isn’t that the point?

In my current life, I run a non-profit.  A note on non-profits.  “Non-profit” is a tax status, not a business model; or as a mentor of mine used to say, “with no margin, there is no mission.”  In other words, even non-profits have to have some!  But, most of you reading this are in business to actually MAKE a profit.  Doing so isn’t easy – not in any time frame; but you have to plan to make a profit.  The adage of “most businesses don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”  Today’s entry is about one aspect of planning, knowing your break-even point, brought to you by our friends at Fluidity Business Planning Group.

Business Environment

One of the most common remarks we hear is that business owners seem to be waiting for the economy to return to 2008 levels, the way things used to be. We hate to burst the bubble, but that is not going to happen! Our economy has changed, and those businesses that are going to survive now understand they need to adapt to the new economy or close their doors.

Many business owners found ways to reduce costs and overhead to retain employees. They wanted to demonstrate they were more concerned about their people than profits, and that was a smart move as they hoped to hold on until the economy improved and down-sizing could be stopped or reversed. Now the realization is settling in that an economic turn-around may be a long time coming. Other action needs to be considered, such as expanding product lines or adding services to meet changing demands.

Tough choices are being made every day, and if the business has trimmed to the bare bones already, it is now a matter of what moves are the wisest to make. Banks need to see business plans and roughly 20% collateral before they issue or extend loans. Gas prices and consumer prices are increasing, raising concerns about inflation. Tax scenarios are changing and incentives are becoming more stringent. Yet some businesses succeed while others fail.

Cash is ruling the economy through the first quarter of 2011. Cash flow is the major concern for accountants, bankers, and business owners. Expect more aggressive pursuit of delinquent accounts than we are already seeing in the consumer marketplace. Companies can ill afford to carry accounts past 60 days. They are getting pressure from creditors to stay current on the other side of the equation. Cash is King!

One of the best ways we have found for business owners to understand their position is to get a firm grip on their break even status. It is part of the planning process and involves knowing what your expenses are (rent, utilities, insurance, labor, inventory, interest payments, etc.) so you have an accurate picture of what goes out on a monthly basis. If you operate five days a week, you divide those costs by 20 work days a month to come up with your daily break even numbers.

This does two things: 1) it tells you what you need to generate in revenue every day to break even, and more than that means profit; and, 2) it clues you in to the potential changes you need to make if you fall short on a daily or weekly basis. It is important, too, to be honest with yourself. You are in business to make a profit, and a price increase may be in order so you can continue to serve your customers and fulfill your dreams for being in business.

If you’ve been waiting, don’t wait much longer!!

As of 4/16/10, in the Main Street District of De Pere:

Confirmed Existing Business Locations (Main Street D.): 217
Current Known Vacant or For Lease Properties (Main Street D.): 33
Current Vacancy Rate: 217/33 = 6.58%

If you want to site your business in this area of superb demographics, great traffic, wonderful neighbors and tremendous plans for the future – you’d better hurry!

Check with our Buildings & Business Inventory to find the spot for you.

Heard on the street we need: a book store for the 18+ set (no! not an adult bookstore!), sporting goods, shoes, health and personal care, jewelry, and electronics and appliances