Celebrating Small Businesses

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on May 3rd, 2019. The week of May 6th is being celebrated across the country as Small Business Week, highlighting the importance of small businesses to the US economy. In Alexandria we are particularly beholden to… Read more »

The post Celebrating Small Businesses appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on May 3rd, 2019.

The week of May 6th is being celebrated across the country as Small Business Week, highlighting the importance of small businesses to the US economy. In Alexandria we are particularly beholden to small businesses because they are such an integral part of our character and economy.

They comprise almost 90% of Alexandria’s total businesses and they are ideally suited to our scale. Retail spaces on King Street and Mount Vernon Avenue are perfect for small boutiques, intimate restaurants, and specialty shops. In fact, 78% of retail stores on King Street are small, local, independent businesses.

Our commercial office market also includes attractive offerings for small businesses. Smaller office buildings and historic spaces appeal to businesses like commercial creatives and small professional service providers.

Alexandria relies on our small businesses in many ways. First, we know that our citizens love the variety of small independent shops and restaurants that give Alexandria its authentic and unique flavor.  In addition, these owners and their employees often sponsor events, serve on volunteer boards, contribute time and money to local causes, and have often provided community leadership through changing times and circumstances. Alexandria is a stronger and more adaptable city when our businesses are engaged, because they truly have their finger on the pulse of the community.

Since our economy and quality of life are so dependent on the success of small businesses, the question worth asking is whether we are doing our very best to be inviting and to help them start and grow. City government has worked very hard in recent years to streamline processes and minimize delays. While there are still frustrations, city leadership, economic development and business organizations constantly collaborate on solving challenges.

The city has a wide array of interconnected resources that encourage and promote small business. They focus on the infrastructure and business climate that preserves and enhances Alexandria’s ideal setting for small businesses. After all, the attributes that made our city and region so appealing to Amazon and Virginia Tech are also things that help small businesses thrive.

From the Alexandria city government, to the Chamber of Commerce, to Visit Alexandria, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, and neighborhood business associations, many organizations work together on behalf of small businesses across the city. The Alexandria Small Business Development Center is at the core of these efforts. It helps interconnect the initiatives of support organizations and expedites the communications flow to and from small businesses. It also helps small businesses solve problems, overcome obstacles and make worthwhile connections throughout the community and region.

Robust small businesses help to broaden the tax base and improve the mix of business products and services offered in the city. They contribute to a positive resident experience and enhance our quality of life. The reciprocal role for Alexandrians is to support small businesses through shopping local.

As we commemorate small businesses this week, our charge is to make sure Alexandria continues to be such an attractive and nurturing home for their success.

The post Celebrating Small Businesses appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Instagram Ads 101 for Small Business

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Find the original archive of the video here: Instagram Ads 101 for Small Business. Instagram Ads 101 How to Create Effective Ad Campaigns on Instagram Instagram has over one billion users on the photo social networking platform. (Facebook, which owns

For World Password Day: Why Use a Password Manager, and How

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On this hardly-known but highly-important World Password Day (https://www.passwordday.org/), let’s discuss my password manager of choice, and why you should use it (or one of its competitors), too! I know, I know…how unsexy is the password!? But, the risk is

Connecting Google Analytics to Google Search Console

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I recently gave two informal presentations about Google Analytics for WordPress Pittsburgh (of which, the introductory presentation was recorded here). In passing, I mentioned that you can (and should) connect your website property in Google Analytics (GA) to Google Search

How to Launch a Virtual Summit for Small Business

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Find the original archive of the video here: How to Launch a Virtual Summit for Small Business. How to Launch a Virtual Summit for Small Business: Strategy, Tips and Tools to Host a Web-Based Educational Event for your Business –

Strengthen Banking Ties Before the Metro Shutdown

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on March 7th, 2019. Savvy business owners are planning now for potential effects from the shutdown of all Alexandria Metro stations this summer. There are many considerations including impacts on your employees and customers, but one… Read more »

The post Strengthen Banking Ties Before the Metro Shutdown appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on March 7th, 2019.

Savvy business owners are planning now for potential effects from the shutdown of all Alexandria Metro stations this summer. There are many considerations including impacts on your employees and customers, but one of the most productive preparations you can undertake now is strengthening the relationship with your banker.

In the event that sales are impacted and cash flow becomes a problem, you want the ability to turn to your banker as a trusted partner who can work with you to manage your way through the rough patch and be part of your resilience when you come out the other side of the shutdown.

The smartest owners build solid relationships with their banks and bank staffs from the very start and maintain contact to keep them informed of their progress. In good times and bad your banker is part of your team, and the more acquainted they are with you, the easier it is for them to tailor their resources and services to your needs. Under circumstances you could be facing with the shutdown, banks might be able to help you tide the crunch with lines of credit, special credit cards or other arrangements that vary from bank to bank.

 If you haven’t developed that quality of relationship yet, it’s not too late, but the shutdown is just a few months away and this is something that is best accomplished in advance.

This is an ideal time to schedule an appointment with the Alexandria Small Business Development Center Business Analyst, Jack Parker. As a retired banker, Parker knows how bankers operate and what they expect to see from the businesses they serve. Jack will review your financials with you and help you make the best presentation of your circumstances. If your financial records are lacking, he will advise you what you need to do to bring them up to the standard that bankers expect. One of the biggest pitfalls in business banking relationships is inaccurate or inadequate recordkeeping.

Consultations with Parker are conducted in confidence and without cost to City of Alexandria businesses. These sessions resemble coaching before an interview, and are done before your discussions with your banker. Even those owners who feel they have a great rapport with their banker are well-served by candid and regular consultations with Parker.

A distinguishing characteristic of Alexandria SBDC is its banking expertise and long-term partnerships with local bankers. Those bankers often refer prospective borrowers to the center to obtain guidance and have found that center-assisted applicants are typically much better prepared and are therefore much better credit risks. That has enabled the SBDC to facilitate $80 million in capital investments over its history.

Whether a business owner needs financing, a line of credit, or other assistance, it behooves them to have a strong and confidential partnership with their bank. The center can help Alexandria business owners develop such relationships and better manage the financials of their business. We welcome your contacting the center at www.alexandriasbdc.org for such guidance.

The post Strengthen Banking Ties Before the Metro Shutdown appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Retail Design 2019 – Authentic instead of Augmented

I recently read a blog post entitled “3 Retail Design Trends To Transform 2019.” I thought the article offered a telling view of how retailers are thinking about marketing, and related store planning activities for the new year and beyond. To summarize, not necessarily in order:

Brand Ambassador for Cake Decoration.

Trend Two said basically, when it comes to store design, technology has gone incognito in favor of “connections through context;” meaning conversations with customers and links to community are created by customer interaction with tangible, tactile products.

This is a lot of words to say that if you are a shopper in a hobby and craft store with a compelling display of cake decorating tools, you may, not only pick one of these up and try it out, but also buy it as a gift for your cake decorating buddy who might then share the resource with the entire cake making class. Bingo! You have become an ambassador for the brand and it matters little if you purchased the device at an interactive kiosk, self checkout, or old fashioned POS station, implying that the sale was not made until you were able to hold the actual product in your hand.

Trend Three, still out of order, was about using the physical environment to “empower” – presumably customer – “behaviors” rather than the other way around. The example cited is really esoteric in that everything in the shop has one price: entry into the store, which will, ostensibly, buy the customer a relationship with another person or person(s) through the use of artistic expression operating by way of a convoluted “trade it forward” process. If not very practical, it is definitely thought provoking.

I tried to think of another example of how this might work and could only come up with the idea of one of those chain letters that people send around instructing their friends to “pass it on” or something terrible will happen. This idea was too creepy, even for me, so I decided to ignore it. You can read about the example store at the link.

Trend One, where we find the real substance, suggests that “bricks n mortar” retailers are, indeed, justified in advancing a real product as long as said product makes an emotional connection with the customer. It is an approach that places outcome over experience, motivation over behavior.

Still using the example of cake decoration, I went looking for a suitable visual expression of how it feels to create a valentine for a friend. The image in the photo jumped out at me because, even in the non cake making world, it is totally relatable. If I was a supplier of cake decorating implements, I would use it for a poster on a display targeting the non commercial market.

Lest one get too excited about the prospect of once more advancing a real product, it is probably important to say that accomplishing a “retail design… about creating an emotional connection” is not so easy. Detailed and specific knowledge about the customer base working together with a flexible store design is required for success.

The referenced article appears in the Insights section of the Chute Gerdeman website. Chute Gerdeman is a brand experience company located in Columbus, OH

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Marketing Planning for Small Business, 2019

Do you need a business domain name, world-class WordPress hosting or other Web services for your business? We provide affordable digital marketing strategy help along with our technical support. Check it out at https://web.w3cinc.com/.Find the original…

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Find the original archive of the video here: Marketing Planning for Small Business, 2019. Are you ready to make an impact with your marketing this year? Do you know what was hot last year? Do you want to know what