Signage – Tips for Better Messaging

The City of Alexandria has asked the Alexandria SBDC to provide specialized assistance during the next year to our retail and restaurant small businesses to increase their opportunities for success. You will see several new workshops, videos and online information as we roll out this initiative. Recently, the City of Alexandria distributed new signage guidelines… Read more »

The post Signage – Tips for Better Messaging appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

The City of Alexandria has asked the Alexandria SBDC to provide specialized assistance during the next year to our retail and restaurant small businesses to increase their opportunities for success. You will see several new workshops, videos and online information as we roll out this initiative. Recently, the City of Alexandria distributed new signage guidelines to the retail businesses in Old Town.

To assist Alexandria’s businesses with both signage and marketing in general, the SBDC has created a new section of its website where it will curate information from subject-matter experts on open-sign-1309682_1920issues important to our Retail and Restaurant small business owners. The City’s signage brochure and the first four information pieces have been places in the repository and can be accessed at www.alexandriasbdc.org/retail-restaurant. The first four information pieces were written by Paul Williams of Idea Sandbox.  At the request of the Alexandria SBDC he also prepared a summary of Tips for Better Messaging.  Consider the following tips when developing signage for your business:

  1. Prioritize Your Messages – based on the reader’s perspective. Use headline messaging on your larger signs and smaller details on the close-up signage. Keep Signage Fresh– Replace before it gets worn, curls, lights burn out, photo colors fade, tears, or is out-of-date.
  2. Be Clear About What You Do – If your business name does not make it clear, add an icon (blow dryer, hot dog icon, diamond ring) or a second line of type (blow dry bar, gourmet hot dogs, engagement rings).
  3. Curb Appeal – Signage is only part of your presentation. Don’t neglect your window display, cleanliness of your sidewalk, front door, or building facade. Customers judge your business by its cover.
  4. Less is more! – Too many messages create confusion, not clarity. The goal of exterior signage is to bring people inside. Then, use the inside of your store and your employees to provide additional details when the customer is ready.
  5. Design Professionally – Use the right combination of colors, typefaces, lettering size, and white space for quick and clear communication.  Hire a professional –  it is an investment, not an expense.
  6. Word-of-Mouth Beats Signage– The best, most credible way to drive traffic and sales to your business is by doing the things that will make existing customers so enthusiastic they can’t resist telling others about you.
  7. Show, Don’t Tell – If you can, skip text and instead merchandise your product. A mouth-watering plated sandwich, food photography, or well-assembled outfit is worth 1,000 words.
  8. Have a Big BrandLook – You don’t need big budgets, staff, and research tools of national brands; you simply need to see what they’re doing and apply it to your business.
  9. Perceived Value – If you want customers to spend more money with you, offer a level of customer service and a store experience that makes them feel your prices are worth every dollar – and more.

The post Signage – Tips for Better Messaging appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Signage – Tips for Better Messaging

The City of Alexandria has asked the Alexandria SBDC to provide specialized assistance during the next year to our retail and restaurant small businesses to increase their opportunities for success. You will see several new workshops, videos and online information as we roll out this initiative. Recently, the City of Alexandria distributed new signage guidelines… Read more »

The post Signage – Tips for Better Messaging appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

The City of Alexandria has asked the Alexandria SBDC to provide specialized assistance during the next year to our retail and restaurant small businesses to increase their opportunities for success. You will see several new workshops, videos and online information as we roll out this initiative. Recently, the City of Alexandria distributed new signage guidelines to the retail businesses in Old Town.

To assist Alexandria’s businesses with both signage and marketing in general, the SBDC has created a new section of its website where it will curate information from subject-matter experts on open-sign-1309682_1920issues important to our Retail and Restaurant small business owners. The City’s signage brochure and the first four information pieces have been places in the repository and can be accessed at www.alexandriasbdc.org/retail-restaurant. The first four information pieces were written by Paul Williams of Idea Sandbox.  At the request of the Alexandria SBDC he also prepared a summary of Tips for Better Messaging.  Consider the following tips when developing signage for your business:

  1. Prioritize Your Messages – based on the reader’s perspective. Use headline messaging on your larger signs and smaller details on the close-up signage. Keep Signage Fresh– Replace before it gets worn, curls, lights burn out, photo colors fade, tears, or is out-of-date.
  2. Be Clear About What You Do – If your business name does not make it clear, add an icon (blow dryer, hot dog icon, diamond ring) or a second line of type (blow dry bar, gourmet hot dogs, engagement rings).
  3. Curb Appeal – Signage is only part of your presentation. Don’t neglect your window display, cleanliness of your sidewalk, front door, or building facade. Customers judge your business by its cover.
  4. Less is more! – Too many messages create confusion, not clarity. The goal of exterior signage is to bring people inside. Then, use the inside of your store and your employees to provide additional details when the customer is ready.
  5. Design Professionally – Use the right combination of colors, typefaces, lettering size, and white space for quick and clear communication.  Hire a professional –  it is an investment, not an expense.
  6. Word-of-Mouth Beats Signage– The best, most credible way to drive traffic and sales to your business is by doing the things that will make existing customers so enthusiastic they can’t resist telling others about you.
  7. Show, Don’t Tell – If you can, skip text and instead merchandise your product. A mouth-watering plated sandwich, food photography, or well-assembled outfit is worth 1,000 words.
  8. Have a Big BrandLook – You don’t need big budgets, staff, and research tools of national brands; you simply need to see what they’re doing and apply it to your business.
  9. Perceived Value – If you want customers to spend more money with you, offer a level of customer service and a store experience that makes them feel your prices are worth every dollar – and more.

The post Signage – Tips for Better Messaging appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

The Business Plan: An entrepreneur’s attitude adjustment

This post first appeared in the Alexandria Times on September 2, 2016. It is so easy to develop a negative attitude and self-doubt. All sorts of things can trigger the downward spiral: a clumsy mistake, a snide comment from a colleague, a missed goal, a perceived slight, just to name a few. When faced with… Read more »

The post The Business Plan: An entrepreneur’s attitude adjustment appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post first appeared in the Alexandria Times on September 2, 2016.

It is so easy to develop a negative attitude and self-doubt. All sorts of things can trigger the downward spiral: a clumsy mistake, a snide comment from a colleague, a missed goal, a perceived slight, just to name a few.

When faced with a succession of negative experiences, it is easy to lose our perspective and compound the insults to our ego, progressively undermining our judgement and interactions with others.

Everyone has experienced periods where the dark cloud of negative feelings envelops us to the point that friends or colleagues notice something is wrong. Inevitably, those negative thoughts disappear when we realize we hadn’t made a mistake after all, or perhaps we find that we completely misconstrued the colleague’s comment. Suddenly, everything feels so much better, but that period of negativity already had taken its toll on our time, energy and concentration.

In the corporate world, misunderstandings often can be worked out in discussions with colleagues. By contrast, small business owners may feel isolated or that they cannot share concerns with others in the business.

Too often, those owners think they are the only ones experiencing certain problems and not meeting standards, and they beat themselves up over this. It can be so reassuring when they discover those problems are common and not necessarily indicators of their own failure.workplace-1245776_1920

The sharpest entrepreneurs ask lots of questions and are constantly researching better tactics. Sometimes, the best approach is simply to get feedback from others who have been in their shoes, so they seek advice from business professionals who are knowledgeable and objective. Friends, family and colleagues are not always able to provide these perspectives.

Successful business owners seek opportunities to engage — formally or informally — with other entrepreneurs. Candidly sharing experiences can help entrepreneurs find solutions or new approaches. For these relationships to be beneficial, all parties must be willing to be open and honest about their successes and challenges.

There are many opportunities for this type of engagement, including CEO roundtables, co-working spaces, industry gatherings and targeted networking opportunities. We all have been to events that have been a waste of valuable time, energy and money, so knowing the other participants is key. Do your background research to make sure these gatherings are a good match for your goals.

Business owners may feel more comfortable approaching someone one-on-one. Good advice doesn’t have to come from someone in the same industry or area of expertise. Identify someone whose success you admire and invite them to coffee to talk about their philosophy. These informal sessions may help you see your business from a new perspective.

The Alexandria Small Business Development Center offers objective feedback and frequently helps business owners make critical connections. Whether you’re looking for objective individual guidance or opportunities to connect with other businesses, our staff has access to a large network. Contact us to find out more about what we can do for your business.

A good attitude is an investment in productivity and worthy of the entrepreneur’s effort.

The post The Business Plan: An entrepreneur’s attitude adjustment appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

What the Long Tail, Netflix, Blogging & SEO Have in Common

Netflix, you might have heard of it. It’s a billion dollar company that provides movies to your devices. The company has evolved and leveraged technology better than most in its industry. When I first heard of Netflix years ago, you could rent a DVD from their catalog of movies. They would mail you a copy of the DVD (or more depending on your subscription), you would watch it and they would mail another one to you from your list. Even then it was kind of innovative. Now, with technology, a subscriber can now stream from Smart TVs, Smartphones, Tablets, Computers and even Game Systems.

This is all well and good but what can a digital marketer learn from this company?

Well, a lot.

I recently had a meeting with a potential client. One of the first questions he asked was, how would I describe SEO and the Long Tail. To this I answered, have you heard of Netflix? 

The reason that I brought up Netflix was because it’s a perfect example of the Long Tail coined by Chris Anderson in a book back in 1999 (you will even see a review from Reed Hastings from Netflix on the book–go figure). Taken from Anderson’s website, he defined the Long Tail as:

The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.

Do you see the connection yet? If not, let me drill down…

The best comparison is Netflix versus Blockbuster. Traditionally speaking Blockbuster was a storefront that you went to more than likely Friday night to pick whatever movie (or game) that you wanted to watch over the weekend. I remember doing it as a kid. I would get in my parents car and we would go to Blockbuster typically after dinner and I would get to rent a movie.

Of course the movies (or games) that I wanted were never there because someone (or a lot of “someones”) would often get there before me and I would have to wait for them to bring the movie back. Now, from a business standpoint, Blockbuster was always limited by the size of their store. They could only keep so many movies and so many titles on hand.Growing up in Northern Virginia, we even had 2 Blockbuster stores and I would try to go to either to get the movie that I wanted if I could talk my parents into it. Still, I often couldn’t get the movie or game I wanted.

So, how did Netflix disrupt that industry? Well, in short it allowed an entire catalog that Blockbuster never could shelve because the demand was too small. In other words, if someone was looking to watch 30 vampire movies over the next month, Blockbuster would only have 5 or so of the most popular ones. There wasn’t enough demand for the others so they couldn’t justify the shelf space.

That’s where Netflix changed things. They increased the catalog of movies that people could rent. There were way more movies that they could send to you because instead of having a storefront they shipped from a huge warehouse where they were able to stock more movies and as technology increased they were able to offer more and more movies that could be streamed on demand. Not only that, I’ve noticed that TV series that people were sad to hear were canceled, were now being picked up on Netflix. This was incredibly disruptive because as people started to realize their choices weren’t limited, they were able to “search” for exactly what they wanted to find. If someone wanted to search for Zombie movies with werewolfs, they would find that. So, Netflix was basically not competing with Blockbuster on the “Blockbuster movies” but instead were focusing on developing a different way for people to rent movies (subscription) and a larger catalog they could access. This would eventually (along with Redbox)sink Blockbuster.

This is where your blog and SEO are so important. 

There are so many niche products and services that are making a “killing” largely because they are catering to these target markets. With the changing customer (the same one that is watching movies on Netflix or Amazon or tuning into YouTube series) that is now able to click a button and search specifically for what they are looking for, the long tail is an enormous opportunity.

Here’s one takeaway that you should remember–it’s not that the small long tail searches are more than what is mainstream but collectively if you add them all up it’s more. 

In other words 10 (searches) is greater than 1 (search) but it’s not greater than 1+1+1+1+1+2+4+3+5+8+1…(you get the picture).

That’s were Netflix blazed a trail that business owners and entrepreneurs can now follow. It’s where you can become top of mind not just for that one keyword that you are trying to show up for but the 1,000 other searches that are more attainable and honestly probably add up to more.

On a practical level when people are searching on Google, it’s where your blog can show up. You will quickly be out of business if you target an entire website for 1 search but you can target a blog post for a specific keyword. It’s how you build your own Netflix model.

It’s something that has not been leveraged in most industries.

So, how do you get started?

I would say after you start your blog and you get everything up and operational, do a really strong and dedicated discovery exercise and determine what people are searching for–think of everything–product names, DIY searches, product alternatives, frustrations, everything you can think of. Don’t forget to ask employees, clients, everyone.

Then, just develop a calendar and start blogging. There’s more to it of course from an SEO standpoint but this is the approach you want to take to answering your client or potential clients questions.

Another future note, don’t neglect the importance of social media as well. Some people are searching natively on these networks especially with hashtags so make sure you pay attention those changes as well.

That’s how you become the digital Netflix of your industry!

Be sure to check out and reserve your copy of our eBook–The Blue 16 Corner. It’s FREE!

Originally posted: What Does Netflix Have in Common with Blogging & SEO?

Making Good Business Etiquette Good for Business

This article is written by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting, who facilitated the August SBDC Roundtable discussion: “Good Business Etiquette Gets a Better Response”. Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities begins, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,… Read more »

The post Making Good Business Etiquette Good for Business appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This article is written by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting, who facilitated the August SBDC Roundtable discussion: “Good Business Etiquette Gets a Better Response”.

Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities begins,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it

was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it

was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,

it was the season of Light, it was the season of Dark-

ness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of de-

spair, we had everything before us, we had nothing be-

fore us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all

going direct the other way, — in short, the period was so

far like the present period, that some of its noisiest au-

thorities insisted on its being received, for good or for

evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

While the motifs presented here set the stage for the major plot of the book, it also sets a strong statement of time contrasts as so different and yet all the same. In this way, I think of how different we are from our forefathers when it comes to cultural and business mores, and yet, simultaneously, how the same we are. As Small Business owners, we have to navigate personal and business etiquette much like the polar opposites of Dickens’ famous opening to A Tale of Two Cities–understanding of the best and worst, both wisdom and folly, and all manner of personalities with whom we engage in the course of our professional lives. Alexandria SBDC hosted our monthly Business Development Roundtable with a central theme, Good Business Etiquette Gets a Better Response, on August 16, for our business owners to come together and discuss. We know that every touchpoint with a past, current or potential customer or referral source is an opportunity to appeal or repel new or repeat sales. I want to highlight some of the wisdom to use and some of the folly to avoid when engaging with contacts in-person, via digital communications, especially on Social Media, and on mobile today.

In essence, your “soft skills” matter. Wikipedia colloquially defines soft skills as “the cluster of personality traits that characterize one’s relationships with other people. These skills can include social graces, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, and leadership traits.” And, Monster.com identifies six soft skills–communication skills, teamwork and collaboration, adaptability, problem-solving, critical observation, and conflict resolution skills–as the most desirable soft skills in the professional world. Needless to say, the proliferation of the Internet, email, Social Media, and mobile communications have increased both the volume of communications and reduced our opportunities to practice in-person soft skills. So, in case you’re feeling like you need to “sharpen the saw” when it comes to etiquette, here are some key insights into how to best navigate professional interactions.

Traditional, In-Person Etiquette

First, show up on time and know what your mission is at any business event. It’s best to have crafted a personal, professional introduction that takes less than 30-45 seconds to say (sometimes called an “elevator pitch”). Make sure that you’re showing genuine interest in the person with eye contact and questions of interest about him or her, not just their professional life or title, and how you can be of benefit to them. As Dr. Ivan Misner of Business Networking International sagely coined, networking is all about “giver’s gain.”

Also, it makes a great deal of sense to bring business cards to share with new contacts. This may seem antiquated to millennials; however, this is still the predominant way that much of the workforce shares contact information and remembers the people they meet at networking and business events.

Another important tip is to make sure that you don’t lie to people when disconnecting after a conversation.  For example, if you were ending a conversation and say, “It’s been a pleasure speaking to you, I’m going to the restroom now,”  Then it’s imperative that you actually go to the bathroom! If you walk away and head over to grab a few refreshments and start up another conversation, your new contact will see that, be offended, and it will sour potentially your future relationship.

Finally, when it comes to in-person business etiquette, it’s always best to avoid taboo topics of politics, religion, and sex. Unless you happen to be at a professional event that was focused on one of these three as an industry, you’ll likely make your newfound contacts uncomfortable.

Digital Communications

When it comes to digital communications, such as commenting on websites and blogs, emailing, instant messaging,  or any number of other Web-based engagements, it’s really important to treat people with respect. The most important concept about digital communications is to consistently remind yourself of the fact that there is another human being on the other side of the computer. Since you don’t see that person it’s easy to respond with trite, curt or even downright rude response because you’re not confronting them face-to-face.

One way to combat this loss of humaneness is to consistently use a face when representing yourself and your business online. This includes Social Media profiles, using services like Gravatar that displays your face on websites and in email programs, and making sure that you or the person representing your business is shown alongside your logo online.

Remember, people do business with people they like, not with companies.

Mobile

Today, it’s so simple to rattle off a SMS text-message to a client or potential customer. The problem with this is the vast majority of people who neither text-message nor consider it as an appropriate professional communication means. Yes, some of this is generational, and some of this is technological fear. However, you should always communicate with people in the way in which they choose to be communicated, not in the most convenient way for you.

So, when it comes to mobile communications you can make it a standard question to ask new contacts how they best communicate with others and how best they receive communications from professional contacts. This sets your contacts and engagements up for success and it acknowledges that you are thinking about them, and not just about yourself. I’ve seen this time and time again, this small act of empathy from you generates a large positive impression with professional contacts.

Keeping up with all the latest business and Internet etiquette can be daunting. The times and technology are ever-changing, especially as new generations become a greater and greater part of the workforce. My hope is that notwithstanding who is engaging professionally, that we all remember that we’re all still humans communicating with humans. And, as such, we should treat one another with a standard amount of respect and dignity. This creates better business environs to work and increases revenues through better, more positive engagements with customers and referrals. So, no matter if it’s the best of times or the worst of times, we can all be civil, sensible and constructive in all our interactions online and offline in business.

The September SBDC Business Development Roundtable will take place on September 20th at noon and participants will discuss: Referrals & Leads – How to Effectively Get, Use & Give Them.

The post Making Good Business Etiquette Good for Business appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Making Good Business Etiquette Good for Business

This article is written by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting, who facilitated the August SBDC Roundtable discussion: “Good Business Etiquette Gets a Better Response”. Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities begins, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,… Read more »

The post Making Good Business Etiquette Good for Business appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This article is written by Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting, who facilitated the August SBDC Roundtable discussion: “Good Business Etiquette Gets a Better Response”.

Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities begins,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it

was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it

was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,

it was the season of Light, it was the season of Dark-

ness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of de-

spair, we had everything before us, we had nothing be-

fore us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all

going direct the other way, — in short, the period was so

far like the present period, that some of its noisiest au-

thorities insisted on its being received, for good or for

evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

While the motifs presented here set the stage for the major plot of the book, it also sets a strong statement of time contrasts as so different and yet all the same. In this way, I think of how different we are from our forefathers when it comes to cultural and business mores, and yet, simultaneously, how the same we are. As Small Business owners, we have to navigate personal and business etiquette much like the polar opposites of Dickens’ famous opening to A Tale of Two Cities–understanding of the best and worst, both wisdom and folly, and all manner of personalities with whom we engage in the course of our professional lives. Alexandria SBDC hosted our monthly Business Development Roundtable with a central theme, Good Business Etiquette Gets a Better Response, on August 16, for our business owners to come together and discuss. We know that every touchpoint with a past, current or potential customer or referral source is an opportunity to appeal or repel new or repeat sales. I want to highlight some of the wisdom to use and some of the folly to avoid when engaging with contacts in-person, via digital communications, especially on Social Media, and on mobile today.

In essence, your “soft skills” matter. Wikipedia colloquially defines soft skills as “the cluster of personality traits that characterize one’s relationships with other people. These skills can include social graces, communication abilities, language skills, personal habits, cognitive or emotional empathy, and leadership traits.” And, Monster.com identifies six soft skills–communication skills, teamwork and collaboration, adaptability, problem-solving, critical observation, and conflict resolution skills–as the most desirable soft skills in the professional world. Needless to say, the proliferation of the Internet, email, Social Media, and mobile communications have increased both the volume of communications and reduced our opportunities to practice in-person soft skills. So, in case you’re feeling like you need to “sharpen the saw” when it comes to etiquette, here are some key insights into how to best navigate professional interactions.

Traditional, In-Person Etiquette

First, show up on time and know what your mission is at any business event. It’s best to have crafted a personal, professional introduction that takes less than 30-45 seconds to say (sometimes called an “elevator pitch”). Make sure that you’re showing genuine interest in the person with eye contact and questions of interest about him or her, not just their professional life or title, and how you can be of benefit to them. As Dr. Ivan Misner of Business Networking International sagely coined, networking is all about “giver’s gain.”

Also, it makes a great deal of sense to bring business cards to share with new contacts. This may seem antiquated to millennials; however, this is still the predominant way that much of the workforce shares contact information and remembers the people they meet at networking and business events.

Another important tip is to make sure that you don’t lie to people when disconnecting after a conversation.  For example, if you were ending a conversation and say, “It’s been a pleasure speaking to you, I’m going to the restroom now,”  Then it’s imperative that you actually go to the bathroom! If you walk away and head over to grab a few refreshments and start up another conversation, your new contact will see that, be offended, and it will sour potentially your future relationship.

Finally, when it comes to in-person business etiquette, it’s always best to avoid taboo topics of politics, religion, and sex. Unless you happen to be at a professional event that was focused on one of these three as an industry, you’ll likely make your newfound contacts uncomfortable.

Digital Communications

When it comes to digital communications, such as commenting on websites and blogs, emailing, instant messaging,  or any number of other Web-based engagements, it’s really important to treat people with respect. The most important concept about digital communications is to consistently remind yourself of the fact that there is another human being on the other side of the computer. Since you don’t see that person it’s easy to respond with trite, curt or even downright rude response because you’re not confronting them face-to-face.

One way to combat this loss of humaneness is to consistently use a face when representing yourself and your business online. This includes Social Media profiles, using services like Gravatar that displays your face on websites and in email programs, and making sure that you or the person representing your business is shown alongside your logo online.

Remember, people do business with people they like, not with companies.

Mobile

Today, it’s so simple to rattle off a SMS text-message to a client or potential customer. The problem with this is the vast majority of people who neither text-message nor consider it as an appropriate professional communication means. Yes, some of this is generational, and some of this is technological fear. However, you should always communicate with people in the way in which they choose to be communicated, not in the most convenient way for you.

So, when it comes to mobile communications you can make it a standard question to ask new contacts how they best communicate with others and how best they receive communications from professional contacts. This sets your contacts and engagements up for success and it acknowledges that you are thinking about them, and not just about yourself. I’ve seen this time and time again, this small act of empathy from you generates a large positive impression with professional contacts.

Keeping up with all the latest business and Internet etiquette can be daunting. The times and technology are ever-changing, especially as new generations become a greater and greater part of the workforce. My hope is that notwithstanding who is engaging professionally, that we all remember that we’re all still humans communicating with humans. And, as such, we should treat one another with a standard amount of respect and dignity. This creates better business environs to work and increases revenues through better, more positive engagements with customers and referrals. So, no matter if it’s the best of times or the worst of times, we can all be civil, sensible and constructive in all our interactions online and offline in business.

The September SBDC Business Development Roundtable will take place on September 20th at noon and participants will discuss: Referrals & Leads – How to Effectively Get, Use & Give Them.

The post Making Good Business Etiquette Good for Business appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

It is Time to Get Organized!

The end of summer is often a time when folks recall what they had hoped to accomplish in the calendar year and panic when they realize that there are only four months left. Where has the year gone? Why haven’t I finished any of the things that I started earlier in the year? The answer… Read more »

The post It is Time to Get Organized! appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

The end of summer is often a time when folks recall what they had hoped to accomplish in the calendar year and panic when they realize that there are only four months left. Where has the year gone? Why haven’t I finished any of the things that I started earlier in the year? The answer may well lie in the need to be better organized. Participants in the July Small Business Roundtable examined the ways that they could better organize their time to be more productive. Roundtable facilitator Ray Sidney-Smith recommended a great book on the subject, Getting Things Done, by David Allen. Checklist Image

The first step is to define whether something is a “project” or a “task”. A project is generally a main event – something big that needs to get done. It may even be broken down into related mini-projects. Tasks are the steps that need to be done in order to complete the project. A task is any physical action taken that moves a project forward. Most people find that creating “task lists” really helps. When composing your task list make sure to use strong verbs – action items for you to accomplish. Keep the task list close at hand, whether on paper or digitally, and cross off items as they are accomplished. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks, divide them by theme, such as all marketing tasks together, accounting together, etc.

Time management is equally important when it comes to managing your professional projects and tasks. Use time blocking to allow a certain period of time when you only concentrate on the tasks within a theme, essentially wearing only one of your many entrepreneurial “hats” at a time. It is important to track your time, whether productive or non-productive, regardless of how you charge your time to a client. When tracking you may find that you overcharge for some tasks or projects, and undercharge for others. Either way it is good to know where you spend your time, which naturally modifies productive habits.

You may also find that there are some tasks involved in a project that you absolutely hate doing, and that you realize do not have to be done by you. It’s time to outsource them, whether to a virtual assistant, an employee, or another company. The time you save by outsourcing some of your tasks can then be put to use on those parts of the project that are best handled by you – without the other tasks weighing on your mind while you are working on the “important “ things. You may find that projects can be accomplished sooner and with less stress on your part – a win-win. Suddenly you have time to develop new business, take a mini-vacation, or just breathe. The last four months of the year may be your most productive yet!

The post It is Time to Get Organized! appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

It is Time to Get Organized!

The end of summer is often a time when folks recall what they had hoped to accomplish in the calendar year and panic when they realize that there are only four months left. Where has the year gone? Why haven’t I finished any of the things that I started earlier in the year? The answer… Read more »

The post It is Time to Get Organized! appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

The end of summer is often a time when folks recall what they had hoped to accomplish in the calendar year and panic when they realize that there are only four months left. Where has the year gone? Why haven’t I finished any of the things that I started earlier in the year? The answer may well lie in the need to be better organized. Participants in the July Small Business Roundtable examined the ways that they could better organize their time to be more productive. Roundtable facilitator Ray Sidney-Smith recommended a great book on the subject, Getting Things Done, by David Allen. Checklist Image

The first step is to define whether something is a “project” or a “task”. A project is generally a main event – something big that needs to get done. It may even be broken down into related mini-projects. Tasks are the steps that need to be done in order to complete the project. A task is any physical action taken that moves a project forward. Most people find that creating “task lists” really helps. When composing your task list make sure to use strong verbs – action items for you to accomplish. Keep the task list close at hand, whether on paper or digitally, and cross off items as they are accomplished. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks, divide them by theme, such as all marketing tasks together, accounting together, etc.

Time management is equally important when it comes to managing your professional projects and tasks. Use time blocking to allow a certain period of time when you only concentrate on the tasks within a theme, essentially wearing only one of your many entrepreneurial “hats” at a time. It is important to track your time, whether productive or non-productive, regardless of how you charge your time to a client. When tracking you may find that you overcharge for some tasks or projects, and undercharge for others. Either way it is good to know where you spend your time, which naturally modifies productive habits.

You may also find that there are some tasks involved in a project that you absolutely hate doing, and that you realize do not have to be done by you. It’s time to outsource them, whether to a virtual assistant, an employee, or another company. The time you save by outsourcing some of your tasks can then be put to use on those parts of the project that are best handled by you – without the other tasks weighing on your mind while you are working on the “important “ things. You may find that projects can be accomplished sooner and with less stress on your part – a win-win. Suddenly you have time to develop new business, take a mini-vacation, or just breathe. The last four months of the year may be your most productive yet!

The post It is Time to Get Organized! appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.