Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series
Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud
Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM EDT
The Internet has created so many benefits for Small Business…from leveling the Web marketing playing field to offering countless free software for business productivity. But one of the strongest tools to be developed yet was the idea of “Cloud” storage and its collaborative abilities.
What is the Cloud? In practical terms to Small Business, the Cloud allows you to create, co-edit, share and store almost anything on the Web, so that you and your team can access it from anywhere you have Internet access. In this Webinar, Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist and President of W3 Consulting, will take us through the in’s and out’s of using Cloud storage and their major features. We will cover the basics, but also discuss some of the more intermediate concepts in Cloud solutions.
What we will discuss in this Webinar:
What is the “Cloud?”
How is the Cloud beneficial to Small Business?
Overview of some tools to create, collaborate, share and store documents with your team from anywhere in the world connected to the Internet.
Guidelines for effectively using Cloud storage and collaboration tools.
Who should attend:
Small business owners, professionals, solopreneurs, micropreneurs and entrepreneurs
Marketing Directors and Sales Executives
Executive assistants, administrative assistants and secretaries
Professional development is critical in the growth of every size organization. If you are not actively involved in such development, you are leaving money on the proverbial table.
Whether you are planning for a new fiscal year right now or just trying to decide whether someone can attend a specific event, development activities can be a real value for your business success – or a big waste of time and money.
Tip 1. Start at the Top
Your own professional development is critical to your success. How do you keep up with the changes in your field, your market, your business? Do you learn best by reading, by talking with others, by listening, or through experiential methods?
Conferences and professional meetings are great for those who learn best by listening and talking shop or participating in a more active setting. But you still have to be sure that the way any program is laid out works with your style. And the topics covered are those you value. Map out your strategy – do you know others who will attend with whom you can deepen your connection? Are there people you know you want to meet? Companies you want to discover more about? Speakers you would like to talk to? Plan your networking – and work your plan.
Depending on your style and what you need to develop, you may find reading in depth, keeping up with professional/trade publications, working with an advisor or coach, or taking an online course or a quick seminar are your best bets. But if you do not make your development a priority, it will not happen. Your choices are also a model for your organization.
Tip 2: Plan!
Don’t waste time or money. Do tie your plan to your business plan/ goals. Think about all the options and evaluate each in relation to:
– your short and long term business goals
– what you need or want to learn
– staying visible in your field
– becoming or staying visible to potential clients
– what you can afford to invest over a full year
– which options provide the most for your money
And, remember that this same exercise applies to those you might send staff members to as well. What is in it for your company, as well as for the person?
Tip 3. Spread development around your organization
Commit to upgrading your staff’s skills. Make it part of your culture. Add it to people’s goals or your performance management process. This helps ensure you have the talent and knowledge to enhance success. It also can reduce your turn-over, a cost saving.
Help people understand the wide range of potential options. Many folks default is that development means formal training. Not true! So learn what interests them, check to see it helps the person grow, and discuss ways to achieve the learning. Consider building up your supply of internal tools, webinars, and access to online courses. Perhaps you can budget specifically for each person or certain relevant programs. And don’t forget learning from experts in the company or your/their network too. Smart learning options are tailored to what methods work for the person and what knowledge is most useful to the organization’s future.
Don’t forget to check out all the great seminars and events the Alexandria SBDC sponsors too – free but mighty!
Teaching others helps us retain new knowledge. It ensures the organization benefits from the investment. And it demonstrates the value you place on growth. So, if you send a person to a seminar or pay for them to be active in a professional association – make it clear they must pass the knowledge on. This may be as easy as a memo or a brown-bag lunch. Or it may be important enough to discuss at a staff/function meeting.
And there you are – three tips for a more successful new year!
Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.
After attending a wonderful lecture by Joyce Romanoff, President of Maya Romanoff handmade wallcoverings in March, I am now even more appreciative of their exceptional wallcovering now that I am more familiar with their process and their work ethics. I’ve been admiring this company’s products since I first saw their three dimensional Beadazzled™ wallcovering back in the late 80′s, when I attended one of the Design Houses at the Washington DC Design Center. They have since expanded this line to include Bauble, Geode, Leaf, Leaf Rain, Bijou and Marquetry. In fact, any image or photo can be “bedazzled” with hand applying glass beads over the surface. It’s quite stunning and looks like a beautiful, beaded ball gown.
Joyce mentioned that their big break came when The Limited used their wallcoverings on columns on many of their flagship stores throughout the country. This helped bring broad public awareness regarding to the unique quality of Maya Romanoff wallcovering because they worked so organically well with the interiors while still making an impact.
All of their wallcoverings are handmade in some way — by fabrication and or applying a decorative finish. We watched one of the Maya Romanoff artisans show us a step-by-step demonstration of two different treatments. Many of the Maya Romanoff workers have been with the company for generations and the business is family run. I was surprised how similar the techniques were to what I and other decorative painters use for wall treatments. The difference is everyone has their own “special” ingredients for their paint wash and the substrates may be different. In this case, the finish, not unlike a brushed-on, sponged-off treatment with highlights, was applied over a clay-coated, crumpled, vinyl wallpaper.
The final result glistens. It looks wet but dries quickly with the clay treatment. It is installed flat but the crinkles and pockets of pooled pigment give the impression of a marble-like appearance
The second finish was applied over hand applied wood veneer panels, tiled as wallcovering, which almost seemed too beautiful to retouch.
This beautiful wallpaper can also be installed as ceiling tiles and with that little extra glint of crystal. Get the super glue. Yes, Swarovski crystals can be applied.
Maya Romanoff has quite a progressive history — having been around since 1969, when Maya, the company’s founder, reproduced his tie dyes as wallcovering. He is quite a successful hippie. Since then, they have led the way for producing the largest amount of handmade wallcovering, which requires a traditional and professionally installation. They also have helped to employ and bring work to help several impoverished countries’ economies and have been given a lifetime humanitarian achievement award for their efforts.
Besides admiring their gorgeous wallcoverings and this company’s ethics, I can completely resonate with their philosophy:
They encourage creativity and risk taking while remaining true to business guiding principals.
With wall décor trends becoming more luxurious for residential and hospitality, they want their wallcoverings to have fine attention to detail without taking over a room but becoming organic with its surroundings and beautifully blend in.
They encourage their artisan creations to have the spontaneity and energy of a work of art.
They promote hand painted vinyl and realize wallcovering is not just for walls anymore and can be used on a multitude of surfaces.
Wallcoverings can be “green” with sustainable materials, longevity, and low VOC. Many of their wallcoverings will long outlive paint.
Their goal is to put the handcrafted back into value and balance handcrafted techniques with machine and technological production.
My fascination and admiration continues and even more so, after sadly learning that Maya now has advanced stage Parkinson’s Disease, so many of their charitable efforts go toward this funding. Take a look at the Maya Romanoff website; they continue to be a source of inspiration.
Although Casart Coverings does not have or could not afford to have this type of handcrafted production, we have designs that have been originally handcrafted. Our wallcovering materials, however, are not handmade and require machines and technology but the two do marry to create our final product. And of course, our wallcovering is removable and reusable and like Maya Romanoff’s can also be customized. We like this personalization part of our business. It keeps us close with our customers and helps us make an even more exceptional product to suit their needs. At present, we are really the only reusable wallcovering company offering such extensive custom services.
If you’re a Small Business owner or marketing professional in a small business, you undoubtedly find yourself at a point where you go to networking events and keep running into the same people over and over again. The monotony is not only mind-numbing but it’s also bad for sales as you’re not building new leads for your “trusted referral partner” network by seeing the same folks all the time. Well, worry no further as Meetup™ is here! Er, they’ve been here for more than a decade, but we won’t mind that little detail. So, what is Meetup and why does it matter to Small Business marketing?
MEETUP, THE MOVEMENT
September 11th changed the world; strangers helped strangers that day in remarkable ways Scott Heiferman recognized. He wanted to keep that momentum going and it became the inspiration for Meetup.com. Meetup, according to their own website, is:
Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.
Meetup’s mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.
I enjoy seeing the “Do something • Learn something • Share something • Change something” motto when you visit Meetup.com before logging in, and that’s the essence of what makes the platform so versatile. I feel like they should add “in real life!” to that message because that’s the key component to what I think Meetup does. It bridges the digital-analog divide so many of us face today with digital (email, phone and text message) and Social Media communications as our primary business contact throughout the workday (and perhaps even more so in our personal lives, trying to stay in touch with family and friends with ever-increasing work hours and workloads). All the Meetups are live, in-person group meetings coalesced around a shared interest. And, what does this have to do with your Small Business marketing efforts you ask? Read on!
SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING ON MEETUP
Whether you’re trying to build your Small Business brand, increase sales to your local boutique or retail shop, or want to learn how to build a smartphone app, there’s a community of not only your target audience on Meetup but also like-minded small business entrepreneurs getting together to help you! That’s the power of Meetup! These meetings are usually free (though I believe in the give-what-you-can model since it does cost Meetup Organizers to create a Meetup group on Meetup.com and other administrative costs, plus the value of their time), you can see who’s going, and you can ask questions, share and collaborate before and after the get-together through Meetup.com.
I know that today with the proliferation of Web marketing, it’s easy to think that focusing as much of your resources on your Web presence is important but even I (a Web and digital business strategist) think that all the Web has to offer is worth nothing if it doesn’t make our physical, real world lives better! So, sign up for a Meetup account today, type in your industry, professional, service or product (or a current challenge facing your business), and RSVP for a Meetup in your community soon! You’ll be glad you did.
Meetup.com: 10+ years organizing thousands of groups (cbsnews.com)
Many Small Business entrepreneurs interested in growing their businesses look to government contracting to sell their goods or services to state and federal agencies. Alexandria Small Business Development Center can help you in many areas of government contracting. To begin, you will need to register–think of it as the driver’s license to do government contracting–at all levels of government, and the requirements are separate and distinct for each level of government (i.e., local, state and federal). There is a great deal of information on the Alexandria SBDC website under the “Grow Your Business” heading about the registration requirements for Virginia state (eVA) and federal (CCR) registration. These registrations are generally done online, and it is necessary to have your formation documents (LLC or Corporate registrations, local business license, EFIN, and DUNS numbers) ready before you start the process.
Once you have reviewed the registration requirements, it is wise to see if there are any certifications for which you qualify that could give your business preference in the contracting process. At the Virginia state level, SWaM (Small, Woman-owned and Minority) certification is available for most small businesses. The application process is easier at the state level than at the federal level, so we generally advise small business owners to begin there. Again, there are SWaM resources on our website to that describe the process and walk you through the registration and certification.
As indicated, the federal certification process is more complicated and the requirements for preferential contracting set-asides are more onerous. Review the various programs through links on the SBDC website for the 8(a), WOSB, and other programs, described in detail on the SBAs website at www.sba.gov. The Alexandria SBDC is ready to assist you in determining which program works for your company, and we can assist in the certification process.
Finally, once you have completed all registration and certifications requirements, you will need to work on developing government business. This can be a time-consuming process, but there are certain “tricks and tips” that can assist you. The Alexandria SBDC is offering a six-part series on Federal Contracting during the winter and early spring of 2012, so visit our website events page often, connect with us however you’d prefer (email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or AlexandriaSmallBusiness.com) or contact the SBDC for more details. We also offer inpidual business development counseling for both federal and state contracting to City of Alexandria businesses.