Tag Archives: small business

5 Pillars of Small Business Success

It has been a while since I’ve found an article interesting enough to use it as a “guest article” but I get asked very, very often what the keys to a successful business are and this article nailed it!

It was featured on the SBA’s website in January of this year and I’ve been going to share it for a while.  I hope it is interesting and helpful to you!

5 Pillars of Small Businesses Success

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: January 13, 2015


What does it take for a small business to achieve success?Whether you’re already in business, or preparing to start a business, it takes hard work, tenacity and drive to achieve a high level of success. Lori Greiner, star shark of ABC’s Shark Tank says, “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.”

According to Elizabeth Wilson of Entrepreneur Magazine, while some 40 million businesses are started each year, a paltry 350,000 break out of the pack and begin growing and making money. So how can a small business owner overcome some of the common business pitfalls? Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World and star of CNBC’s prime time reality series The Profit, knows all about determining the success or failure of a business. Lemonis says, “Business success is about the three P’s: People, Process and Product.” Here are five pillars that make a small business successful.

1) People

If you want your small business to succeed, you need a fantastic team. Russell Simmons, Entrepreneur and founder or Def Jam Recordings says, “Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you.” A company can accomplish amazing things when it has leadership and a team who is inspired, hardworking and believes in the company’s mission.

2) Plan

“Quality is the best business plan, period,” says John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Pixar and Disney. Just about everyone in the business world agrees that having a plan is important. And that doesn’t mean the big formal business plan document you fear like a term paper. It starts small and may grow in time. At a start-up, implementation is everything. That means it’s essential to establish responsibilities, set goals, and track performance. You will also need to answer key questions, such as:

  • Have you identified your target customers?
  • What problems are you trying to solve for them?
  • What will be the most effective marketing and promotional strategies?

3) Process

Dr. W. Edwards Deming said, “85 percent of the reasons for failure to meet customer expectations are related to deficiencies in systems and processes…rather than the employee.” It’s crucial that you have a full and clear understanding of your company’s processes and have the right systems in place.

4) Product

Does your product solve a problem? Does it exist yet? Is there something that is out there that your product does in a different way? Is there a demand for your product? Success in business requires doing something you’re passionate about that fills a need in the marketplace. Debbi Fields, Founder of Mrs. Fields Bakeries says, “Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

5) Profit

When it comes to measuring a successful business, profitability is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Is the company making money? A critical component of running a successful business is knowing your numbers. “If you want to be successful in business, you need to become proficient at handling certain numbers. You need to be able to read and understand your financial dashboard” says Dawn Fotopulos, Associate Professor of Business at The King’s College in New York.

Starting and running a successful business can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. You as a small business owner should never stop learning, innovating, planning and growing. “Leaders spend five percent of their time on the problem and 95 percent of their time on the solution. Get over it & crush it!” says Tony Robbins.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in ‘Fox Small Business’,’American Express Small Business’, ‘Business Week’, ‘The Washington Post’, ‘The New York Times’, ‘The San Francisco Tribune’, ‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

Women’s History Month … Seminars & Info For Businesswomen

March is Women’s History Month


The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.

This week’s SBA enews is all about resources for women in business!  See below for links to seminars, webinars and great links to information!

SBA Hosts Online Events for Women Entrepreneurs During Women’s History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, SBA is hosting a series of online events that highlight women in business and we want you to join the conversation! Here’s what’s happening through the rest of March:

> Read more

InnovateHER: Weaving New Stories for Women’s Lives

The topic of this year’s Women’s History Month is Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives. Erin Andrew, assistant administrator for women’s business ownership, discusses this and InnovateHER, a business challenge in partnership with Microsoft, that is focused on innovative products and services that make women’s lives better.

> Read more

SBA Helping to Boost Women’s Small Business With New Online Learning Tool

SBA’s support to women entrepreneurs continues to grow. We recently launched a partnership with the Thunderbird School of Global Management, leveraging their DreamBuilder online learning program that is designed for women entrepreneurs who want to start or grow a small business.

> Read more

Google Hangout – Women in Small Business: A Conversation with the SBA

If you missed last week’s Google Hangout, not to worry! You can watch the Google Small Business Community’s chat with Erin Andrew, Assistant Administrator from SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership, on YouTube now!

> Watch now

Connect With A Women’s Business Center

Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) provide counseling, training and networking opportunities for women across the United States and its territories. With a network of nearly 100 educational centers, women around the country can receive tailored assistance to help them start and grow their small businesses. WBCs seek to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.

> Connect with a Women’s Business Center Today

About Women’s History Month


*Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.”  Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.”  In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.”  Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.  Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

*From the Law Library of Congress’ guide to the legislative history of Women’s History Month.

Executive and Legislative Documents

The Law Library of Congress has compiled guides to commemorative observations, including a comprehensive inventory of the Public Laws, Presidential Proclamations and congressional resolutions related to Women’s History Month.


National Veterans Small Business Week

We join the U.S. Small Business Administration in celebrating National Veterans Small Business Week!

The military trains soldiers with the skills, discipline and leadership necessary to kick start and operate a successful business.  After serving in the military, many veterans return home and choose to run a business.  As small business owners, veteran entrepreneurs are able to pursue their passion to serve our country by creating jobs and spurring economic growth.  Veterans possess the skills, discipline, and leadership necessary to kick start and operate successful businesses.  This week we honor veteran business owners with National Veterans Small Business Week.

With over 21 million veterans in America and more than 250,000 service members transitioning from the military annually, SBA is focused on ensuring that they have access to the capital, counseling, and contracting needed to start and grow successful businesses.

Veteran business owners…

  • Are responsible for nearly one out of every ten small businesses in America
  • Employ nearly six million workers
  • Generate over 1.5 trillion dollars in receipts each year
  • Are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans

National Veterans Small Business Week Events

See what National Veterans Small Business Week events are happening in your area.Download Adobe Reader to read this link content (hint .. the closest to Northeastern Wisconsin are in Milwaukee)

SBA Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs:

Social Media Engagement

For National Veterans Small Business Week, SBA has created the hashtag #MyVetBiz to encourage veteran business owners to share their stories and to encourage community members to highlight local veteran-owned businesses in their community and show their gratitude and support.  We’d love for you to join the conversation.

Small Business Week 2014 May 12 – 16 – Webinars




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!

SBA Loan Fee Reductions Help Small Business Owners Nationwide

Happy Tuesday!

In this week’s SBA e-news I found this article.  I’m all about saving money and helping businesses be successful, so I hope you will both find this of interest as well as helpful.

In order for small businesses to remain viable in a recovering economy, access to capital must remain an SBA priority.  At the same time, applying for and getting a commercial loan involves certain costs that may make borrowers think twice before making that commitment.

Often times, small businesses that need loans with smaller dollar amounts –$350,000 and under- are usually either just starting or in their early stages. Attention to the bottom line is paramount at this critical time, and a lack of adequate financial resources may become an obstacle to growth.

Mindful of this situation and consistent with our mission to help small businesses start, grow and succeed, SBA recently introduced two initiatives aimed at eliminating certain borrower fees, thus making it cheaper and easier for small businesses to obtain much needed financing.

One of the initiatives, launched at the end of fiscal year 2013, set borrower fees to zero (0) on all 7(a) loans $150,000 and under originated on or after Oct. 1, 2013. This initiative is among SBA’s latest efforts to make sure we’re reaching more business owners and entrepreneurs to help them to tackle the next challenge in their businesses.

The 7(a) Loan Program is the SBA’s primary program to help start-up and existing small businesses obtain financing when they may not be eligible for conventional business loans .  In just three months after its implementation, fee elimination on loans $150,000 and under have saved small businesses nationwide more than $5 million. A small business obtaining a $150,000 loan now saves more than $2,500 in fees, which can be used for other business expenses.

The SBA has begun a similar effort to help small business owners who are veterans. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, SBA launched the SBA Veterans Advantage initiative, which has zero borrower fees on all loans $350,000 and under made through this program.  This program is expected to yield significant savings for veterans looking to start or grow a business.  Of all SBA loans made to veterans during the last 5 years, 73 percent were below $350,000.

In the first 10 days (Jan 1 – Jan 10) this initiative saved veterans business owners almost $179,000.

While it is still too early to gauge the impact these initiatives will have on the success of small businesses, the initial numbers seem to indicate that savings will be significant.

These two initiatives are in place through the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2014.

For more information about SBA loan programs and services or to find an SBA lender, visit www.sba.gov, or the SBA District Office nearest you.

Occupational Health & Safety Week – Day 3 – Small Business Focus

90% of employers are small employers and for many small employers OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is a scary branch of the government.  My husband has been in school for the last 2 years working on getting his degree in Health and Safety Management.  If you have had a spouse go to school (or even take classes), you know that means everyone is in school then.  So, I’ve been learning a lot more than I ever knew was to learn about this topic and have learned that while, yes, small business does have to meet requirements too – the real point is to have safe and healthy employees.  Today, for Day 3 of Occupational Health & Safety Week, I want to get you some resources to meet that goal.

The OSHA website has a Compliance Assistance Quick Start guide to help you get started.

As a small business owner, providing workers with a safe and healthy workplace is critical to the wellbeing of your employees and the success of your business, whether you operate a construction business, dry cleaners, print shop, or just a regular nine-to-five office, providing workers with a safe workplace is not only critical to the health of your employees and the success of your business (recent government estimates place the business cost associated with occupational injuries at close to $170 billion in company profits) but it is also the law.  Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), employers must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to your employees.

The following workplace safety and health resources from the U.S. Department of Labor‘s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will help you understand requirements that apply to your business and how to comply.

There is even an OSHA handbook for Small Business to help.  Additionally, a division of the CDC, the The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a great website full of resources too.

I know it seems overwhelming, I was a small business owner and felt the same pressures trying to both run a business and not run afoul of laws and regulations.  But, take a small step.  Click on one of the links above and find out something you didn’t know before that can make your worksite a better, safer place for your employees.  After all, without them safely able to do their jobs, what business do you have anyway?


Farmers Turned “Business Extraordinaires” Thanks to Packer Mentor Protégé Program

Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Food is a company that has created a healthy snack based on Non-Genetically Modified Organism (non-GMO) soybeans.

The company began as organic grain farmers that had one bad year after dealing with poor weather and broken equipment.  Finally, as farmer Darren was plowing his underdeveloped soybean crop back into the ground, an idea struck him. Dry Roast these beans!  Running into the house with this new inspiration at 2AM he woke farmer Jennifer up and said “Hurry Jennifer, get up and cook these” to which farmer Jennifer said “You’re crazy, I’ll do it in the morning.”  Needless to say, after much research and development they now have a wonderful product to eat.

“As farmers we had little training in the business world and have loved the learning process and development,” said Jennifer Kornowske, CEO of Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Food.  “We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with the Packer Mentor Protégée Program, because it gave us a wonderful opportunity to better understand the finical side of a
company and how it should function at a larger level.”

When Jennifer and Darren first applied to the Green Bay Packer Protégé Mentor Program they were pumped up to participate and then felt honored that their little company was selected as a protégée.  At the first meeting the mentor’s event they were able to interview so many great mentors, but when they got Lonnie Charles table they knew they had found their mentor.

Lonnie Charles works for DPACC member  Wipfli LLP which is an accounting and business consulting firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and accounting and business is where the Kornowske’s needed the most help.

“I began to cry.  I knew we needed his help desperately and was embarrassed and fearful of how needy we were in our financial department,” said Kornowske.  “All of a sudden I was personally flooded with emotion because of how inadequate I felt in the accounting department.”

Through the next year Lonnie met with Darren and Jennifer every week, rarely missing an appointment. Lonnie’s calm and peaceful personality and his dedication helped Jennifer become comfortable and willing to get more involved in the accounting part of her company, Almost Nuts!.

“Now we are more organized, efficient, and accurate in so many areas of our company because of what Lonnie was able to teach us,” said Jennifer Kornowske. “I no longer cry in the face of paper work, tax season only took 30 minutes instead of 3 weeks, inventory is accurate, and sales are up.”

Jennifer and Darren Kornowske of Almost Nuts! Crazy Snack Foods are grateful to the help which the Green Bay Packer Protégé-Mentor Program has given them, especially the help given by their mentor Lonnie Charles.

“I believe it has been a successful tool for us and wish I could continue to participate in the Packer Mentor Protégée Program because it is a valuable tool for small companies to get information and hands on education from successful people that volunteer their service to improve Green Bay and the community one company at a time,” said Jennifer Kornowske.

“This program is so valuable and I hope it continues for a very long time.”

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.

Byline:  Claire Westlie, PR Intern DPACC

Wounded Warrior Project

About a week ago, a reader commented on a blog entry and brought the Wounded Warrior Project to our attention.  We were fascinated and Claire Westlie, our PR intern, has written today’s post about the project:

As the dog days of summer approach, people are inclined to relax, head to the great outdoors and spend time with their families. All this is great, but it’s important to remember the people who fight for us to be able to enjoy life as we do.

How can members of the De Pere and greater Green Bay area community remember and honor our United States Veterans?
One action people can take is to support The Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project began in 2003 after the first of the wounded service members began returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq and needed help to re-establishing into their communities.

Nine years later, WWP has become a complete rehabilitation effort to assist warriors through mind, body, engagement and economic engagement programs as they recover and transition back into civilian life.  The program is available to all military who have suffered injury on or after September 11, 2001.

For more information please visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ .

A local action people can take is to support the City Stadium Run for Veterans.

The City Stadium Run for Veterans is being organized as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. The 5k Run and Walk fundraiser is set for September 8th.   Organizers say the event will bring more awareness to Veterans and all proceeds will be donated to the traveling amputee softball team.

For more information please visit http://wtaq.com/news/articles/2012/apr/28/5k-fundraiser-announced-for-wounded-warrior-amputee-softball-team/ .

Finally, simply thank a veteran. Thank with them your whole heart and tell them you appreciate them.

Enjoy the dog days of summer and remember those who fight for you and your family.

Ed:  Claire is continuing to research and we hope to bring future stories about local businesses created by this project.  Please let us know if you know of any!

Heart@Work – Protege

Inspiration (in-spuh-rey-shuhn): An influence that motivates.

Diana Gustin’s inspiration was her son Drew, who has been diagnosed with Down ’s syndrome. Gustin use this as motivation to start her own company Heart@Work, to employ adults with disabilities to produce gourmet popcorn that is sold through retail locations, corporate gifts, and fundraisers. However, it doesn’t stop there, Heart@Work also provides vocational and education training for its employees. Heart@Work also is a one of the companies of that is participating in the Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program.

Administered by AFF Research LLC  of Green Bay,  the program enables established businesses with emerging businesses. Through the 12 month term, the minority- or women-owned businesses will be given specific tools, business exposure, training, materials and resources that cannot be easily attained.

Before the participants were ever chosen, Gustin approached the application process with a nothing ventured, nothing gained-attitude. She felt as the program would not be as beneficial as one would think; however, when Heart@Work was paired with Eli Swanson, Jason Hunt and Chris Hussin from Boradman and Clark Law Firm in Madison, the benefits were immediate. With the three attorneys and the Board Members believing in the mission behind the company, and having the confidence in Gustin, it was all she needed. The acceptance from her peers gave her motivation to do more with her company and remember that she is not only doing this for her son, but for mentally challenged children’s and adults across the nation and world.

During the program, the protégé is required to outline a specific goal that they hoped to accomplish during the year, along with how the company measures the success of those goals and the commitment to a monthly meeting with the mentors to follow-up on the process. This requirement was a great lesson for Gustin, as it helped her with defined and focused goal setting.  In addition, her mentors provided legal advice and support in areas that Gustin would never have though to focus on.   Most importantly, Gustin says the sincere enthusiasm and support toward  her mission and product kept her energized and moving forward.

As her company mission does for people with disabilities, she feels the Green Bay Packer Mentor-Protégé Program does for small businesses. It provides the support that enables small business to grow to its full potential. For Heart@Work and the inspiration that is behind it, it will continue to be inspired and continue to inspire others.

Excellent Customer Service

Excellent Customer Service for 2012

1.     Focus on the Customer:  It may seem obvious that we must focus more on the customer in 2012, we all are sufficiently tempted by plenty of day-to-day distractions that divert your attention away from doing the things that engage and excite consumers about our product, service or brand.

Have a much greater focus on the customer experience and do everything you can to ensure that all of your systems, processes, programs, policies, initiatives and procedures have one end in mind: to strengthen your focus on the customer experience.

Everything you decide to do in the coming year, from a strategic, operational or budgeting perspective, must revolve around this one resolution: Putting Our Customers at the Very Top of Our Priority List … and Keeping Our Customers at the Top of the List.

2.  Focus on the Customer Service Representative:  The front-line employee who interacts directly with the customer is the single-most important ambassador a company has; they should be the standard-bearers of your Company’s Vision and Brand.   The company’s very reputation and Brand Promise must be conveyed to your valued customer.

As Customer Service Leaders, resolve in 2012 to start recognizing your front-line customer service representatives.  They are your customer service soldiers in their role.  As leaders, start understanding your role is to shape the resources, systems and processes as tools the front-line customer service representatives can use to heighten and improve the customer experience.  Make sure you are providing your customer service representatives with the competencies and skills to do their job well, and then reward them in tangible and meaningful ways when they are successful.

Invite them to be the face of the company in a meaningful way … then observe in wonder as they gain the ability and the motivation to knock the customer’s socks off.

3.  Focus on Each Individual Customer Service Touchpoint:  In 2012, focus on the critical value of the singular Customer Service Touchpoint with your customers; the one interaction – the next call, e-mail or chat – the single customer service interaction that might be your one chance to carry that customer to loyalty and maximum profitability.

The power of that one customer experience touchpoint is undeniable.  You have to do everything you possibly can to transform that customer experience touchpoint into a customer loyalty experience that will have the customer buzzing about the way you answered his question, solved his problem or gave him direction.

You just never know what might come out of the singular customer service touchpoint with a customer.  It could be that as soon as the customer disconnects from the call, email or chat or he walks out of your store that he will forget about you.  However, it could also very well be that immediately after having had a great customer service experience or a horrible experience that he tweets a message, posts something on his Facebook page or shares his experience with a party of six at lunch.

Copyright 2012. Reprinted with permission from Barbara Wold’s Retail & Consumer Tips