What’s New at Google – May June July 2017

In the past few months, Google has been busy! Google added some fancy charting features to Google Sheets, Android Pay partnered with PayPal, Google NoCaptcha reCaptcha arrived, Backup and Sync from Google became available, and easy HIPAA compliance showed up

What's New at Google | Web and Beyond

In the past few months, Google has been busy! Google added some fancy charting features to Google Sheets, Android Pay partnered with PayPal, Google NoCaptcha reCaptcha arrived, Backup and Sync from Google became available, and easy HIPAA compliance showed up for G Suite (with help from partner, Virtru). I’m going to highlight the important ones in this installment of What’s New at Google (WNAG). I’m restarting these WNAG posts again, and since it’s been a while, I’m mashing together a few months’ worth of news.

Google and G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) constantly changes and some of it’s pretty important to the overall productivity of a Small Business. Other changes, not so much. This ongoing Web and Beyond blog series, What’s New at Google parses through the chaff so you know what’s going on at Alphabet and its most powerful Search Engine subsidiary, Google. These posts update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner and entrepreneur. These are the exciting and frequent enhancements that Google makes to deliver better products for you, as well as danger zones to avoid when they fall short.

Backup your Computer Files and Photos Easily with Google – What’s New at Google

It’s really important for Small Business owners to secure their business data. Laptops and mobile devices break, get lost, and are stolen. And, when (not if) these incidents happen, Small Businesses are put in catastrophic positions. Don’t let this happen!

Google has finally released its anticipated backup solution (for Windows and Mac OS X) and it’s available for G Suite too, so this is going to be really great for Small Business. It uses the data of your Google or individual G Suite user account storage space for the data you backup. It allows you to selectively choose which folders to backup in Google Drive, and which folders to backup to Google Photos.

Head over to Google’s Backup and Sync for Google Photos and for Google Drive and get your computer data securely backed up to the cloud.

What’s next for Google payment and loyalty experiences – What’s New at Google

Google’s The Keyword blog, which is the omniblog for all of Google’s products and services, wrote an article about its new payment and loyalty upgrades it’s making across the Google and Android ecosystems. This may seem technically trivial and summarily benign to you but if you’re a local Small Business, this is incredibly important.

As Google upgrades it Google Payment API and Card Linked Offers API (the services that connect Google tools to your eCommerce websites and mobile apps), the more you’ll have the ability to drive retail traffic into your business.

Here’s an example that will be possible someday very soon, and even sooner if you’re using a Clover Small Business Point of Sale solution:

Jane Shopper is searching for a yoga school to join. Up pops not just yoga studios in her area, but Google now surfaces a list of classes and the ability to “Book” a class today, right now from Google Search or Google Maps. (As a business owner, this currently works if you’re using one of several scheduling services in a supported industry, including Genbook, SalonRunner, Rosy, Yocale, and WellnessLiving. In short speed, Google will be also bring on board Booksy, Envision, MyTime, Schedulicity, Setmore, Shore, SimpleSpa, SuperSalon and TimeTrade.)

Now Jane walks into that yoga class and has a great experience. Before leaving, you, the savvy yoga studio owner, let’s call her Yogi Jill, have Jane sign-up for your loyalty program. If she comes to a few more classes, then she’ll get a discount on a monthly package going forward. Every time Jane uses Android Pay for touchless payment at the yoga studio, Yogi Jill is able to track data about Jane and push new offers to her when they’re earned. This keeps the relationship warm, Jane getting her asanas sharp, and the retail traffic continuous.

And, if you’re selling products, note that this works similarly for retail stores as well. My advice to Small Business owners right now is to make sure that you’re using the technology that connects to Google and don’t invest in any Point of Sale solution provider that isn’t going to integrate with NFC payment (i.e., Android Pay and Apple Pay), as well as connecting to your loyalty program, and Google Payment and Card Linked Offers APIs.

Google adds some fancy charting features to Google Sheets – What’s New at Google

Visualize data instantly with machine learning in Google Sheets

Image: www.blog.google

Google Sheets has introduced machine learning into its skill-set through the Explore feature. You can use natural language searches for data you have in your spreadsheet workbook and get that data visualized more easily.

Learn more in Google’s article, “Visualize data instantly with machine learning in Google Sheets.”

If you’re a Small Business trying to make better decisions, the more you can centralize your data into Google Sheets and make it visual, the easier those decisions can be. You can export data from Google Analytics, your CRM, and recent purchase information from your Point of Sale or invoicing software, then import those into one Google Sheets workbook. From there, you can use the Google Sheets Explore feature to unearth insights that will help you create stronger customer relationships.

Google NoCaptcha arrives – What’s New at Google

So, we all know the bane of Internet’s existence are spammers, hackers, and trolls. But, for the average user, the most prevalent annoyance are the images that you need to decipher and complete in order to complete forms, known as CAPTCHA/reCAPTCHA.

As Google explains it,

reCAPTCHA is a free service that protects your website from spam and abuse. reCAPTCHA uses an advanced risk analysis engine and adaptive CAPTCHAs to keep automated software from engaging in abusive activities on your site. It does this while letting your valid users pass through with ease.

reCAPTCHA offers more than just spam protection. Every time our CAPTCHAs are solved, that human effort helps digitize text, annotate images, and build machine learning datasets. This in turn helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems.

Of course, this is less than ideal, because the onus is on your fickle website visitor to have the patience to complete the reCAPTCHA puzzle in order to submit a contact or other types of forms on your website. Google is solving this with invisible NoCAPTCHA. With the new NoCAPTCHA, the common website visitor won’t see a reCAPTCHA puzzle unless they’re identified as a likely spammer. The website publishers and visitors the world over all exhale a collective sigh of relief.

As a business website publisher, all you need to do is setup Google reCAPTCHA on your website, and the rest is taken care of for you by Google.

Google brings Smart Reply to Gmail on Android and iOS so you never have to type again – What’s New at Google

The last update I wanted to cover is Google’s update to its mobile apps for Gmail. They’ve implemented Inbox by Gmail’s Smart Reply functionality into Gmail Mobile. This is great for those one word to one sentence responses that comprise of many email messages we receive on a daily basis. This is available in the consumer-side Gmail and in G Suite Gmail, so check it out and see if it’s helpful to your productivity.

More Updates – What’s New at Google

Here are some other highlights over the past few months, if you want to dig deeper:

Until next time on What’s New at Google!


G Suite ← Use this signup link to try G Suite Business with a free trial. If you want to keep it, I can give a discount on your G Suite account, covering your first year of service. See these instructions and request a redemption code.

 

Bring your toughest design problems!

will be showcasing many projects and explaining our services at the BL Business Expo on Friday June 2nd. Please Join us.

The BL Business Expo Event, in its 13 year, showcases the products and services of over 100 Northern Virginia exhibitors and sponsors. Please contact Gaddis Architect, at [email protected], 9730701-8800, for a complimentary entry voucher. Please stop by our booth to see our projects showcased and learn about how we can help solve many tough design problems and create high performing spaces. We look forward to meeting you there.

AGENDA

8:00 am : Doors open for Guests.

(The Exhibit Hall is open NON-STOP until the end – Seminars will take place in a separate Room)
8:15 am – 9:15 am:
Making LinkedIn work for Your BusinessSeminar
Jennifer Dalton, LinkedIn Specialist
9:30 am – 10:00 am:
Opening Ceremony
National Anthem, welcome address,Sponsors recognition, with Emcee:
-Angel Livas, Media Specialist
10:15 am – 11:45 am:
Protecting Your Business, An IT perspective Seminar
-Fred Haggerty, IT Specialist
12: 00 pm – 12:30 pm:
Everything that You Ever Needed To Open A Business,
But Were Afraid To Ask
Seminar
Gerald Geddes, CPA
12:45pm – 1:30 pm:
Break the Rules & Make more SalesSeminar
Nema Semnani, Sandler Training
1:45 pm – 2:00 pm:
Door Prizes & Farewell Remarks
(We have some serious door prize for you. You would want to be there to take them home.)
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.

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Seamless integration of technology is part and parcel of 2017 market trends

Playing with an interactive light display.

Marketing Trends for 2017 – There is always a flurry of activity from marketing and PR firms at this time of year. The event put on by the Alexandria Small Business Development Center is always well attended, and this year is no different. Maurisa Potts, Fouder & CEO of Spotted MP, talking about 2017 market trends, discussed the increasing importance of interactive and visual content; digital as in media being the unstated but nevertheless operative word. Commenting in Forbes on similar trends, AJ Agrawal listed seventeen trends for 2017, twelve of which were likewise to do with digital content. The impact of technology has of course been growing every year, leading me to wonder if/when it will finally peak. Not, it would appear, anytime soon as almost all of the topics in Pott’s presentation, i.e., Interactive Content, Visual Content, Influencer Marketing, Virtual Reality, Mobile Video, Live Broadcasts, Short Form Content, Mobile First, Personalization, and Native Content, presumed digital content.

Shopping in Walmart

Data Driven Marketing – That said, it may be that the saturation point is approaching, as Potts also talked about the necessity for “Data Driven Marketing” and Lee Peterson of WD Partners talking about digital integration in VMSD Forecast for 2017 pointed out that when surveyed, for 3 years in a row the digital device most wanted by customers was BOPIS, the ability to buy online and pick up in the store. If, it would seem, last year’s omnichannel marketing was about integrating the message into the larger stream, then this year is about flushing out the individual retailers best path to success. A bike shop owner might, in 2016, have been compelled to have a presence in every possible outlet, i.e, blogs, competitions, associations, civic events, publications, website, e-commerce, indeed anything having to do with bikes or bicycling. In 2017 this bike shop owner might look closely at the data accumulated from past marketing activities and then focus on what has worked, even if the answer is unexpected. For example Kathleen Jordan writing for VMSD tells us, ” Retailers must develop new ways to reach their audience and find new sources to expand their consumer base… it must be recognized that online is not always the answer.” Did you notice she called them an audience rather than customers or shoppers.

Microsoft Surface at Hard Rock Cafe, Hollywood

Integrated Shopping Experience – Considering that almost 92 percent of all retail sales are still being transacted in physical environments and further that many online retailers end up with physical stores, I am lead to inquire, what does all this say to those of us involved with the bricks and mortar part of retail, presuming of course that it is not going away? Clearly, creating a shopping experience is still important. Eric Feigenbaum subtitled his article in VMSD, “…Retail’s divining rod no longer moves at p-o-s, but rather at p-o-e – point of experience.”

Prioritize – From my perspective, after many years working in retail design, the answer must be about priorities. The seamless integration of technology is part and parcel of the all important shopping experience and it can only be accomplished by assimilating a clients carefully worked out digital marketing plan into a store design by partnering with the technical experts. The devices of digital marketing are, after all, physical elements and as such work better when addressed in “pre” as apposed to post design.

Virtual Book at “Librovision”

If there is any doubt that this is an often neglected fact, just look around at piles of wire shoved under cabinets, dangling from display cases, hap hazardously placed equipment closets, and my personal favorite, the back side of monitors at POS stations. Certainly newer wireless technologies are available but there are always performance issues to consider, many requiring additional equipment in other areas. Most clients have enough understanding of Building mechanical systems like HVAC and plumbing to expect and allow for their accommodation, but somehow the lexicon of electronic equipment has remained a mystery, not a little, I should add, because it is in a constant state of flux. Ryan Ruud, founder and CEO of Lake One, writing for “Smart Insights” identifies Random Acts Of Technology (RAT) as marketing flops resulting from the application of technology without strategy. I would argue that this applies, as well, to the physical store design whenever non integrated electronics are treated as project add ons – and okay, I liked the buzzword too!

Bring in an Expert – Finally, I would advise any retailer aiming in 2017 for “…effective in-store digital retail experiences” to introduce a suitable technology consultant into the schematic stage of a project and then keep him or her involved up through and even after store opening. Sometimes independent and small retailers assume that these services are beyond their reach. On the contrary, I have found that most electronic designers are also providers and as such their services are often included when they supply and install equipment. It is money well spent, almost – but not quite – as good as that spent on the Architect.

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.

Never Lower Your Price

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In a nutshell: If you want to make money, you must value your services or products. And, that means you should never lower your price; merely offer less for less. When your customer wants something at a lesser price, reduce your offering to match the price, and don’t lower the price for a greater-valued service or product. In doing so, your value stays consistent, you will attract the right customers (and conversely, repel the wrong customers) for you, and you will make more profit over the long-term. Never Lower Your Price - Web and Beyond Blog

“Create different levels of service. Some people only buy the most expensive item. Avoid losing sales: offer a stripped down version of your product or service.” ~Beth Silver (in “107 Ways to Leverage Your Small Business Through Marketing & Public Relations”)

Small Business owners early on in their business’ lives find themselves with a particular dilemma. When you are starting your business you consider that any new customer is good for business! So, when they negotiate you down a third of your billable rate or 40% off your retail pricing, you accept with gleeful resignation. You have hopes that business will be different once you have a steady stream of customers. Why? After you have all these customers, you’ll have the bargaining power to raise your rates and really start to turn a profit, right? Sadly, this logic doesn’t hold muster for several reasons: you eat away at your passion by not valuing your most important asset (i.e., you), you attract the wrong customers which develops bigger problems down the road, and you create more financial problems than you solve by operating unprofitably early on in the business.

Consistent Value Is Getting Paid What You’re Worth; Ergo, Never Lower Your Price

Starting a Small Business is no joke, eh? It’s long hours, stressful, energy-consuming, and it can also be genuinely rewarding when you focus on your passion and skills, or your desire to overcome a challenge. You started your business to provide for your family, build a product or service that you can sell with the business and turn a profit, give back to your community, to fill in a gap for your retirement needs, or whatever other reason you had. In order to get up every day and do this, you need to be providing value to your customers but your motivation won’t stay very high if you’re not getting paid what you’re worth. I always tell my clients to price themselves so they are motivated to do the work. Who wants to get subpar work from you because you don’t feel like doing the work for the pay you’re receiving? This does a disservice to your new customers and to you.

The Ones Who Matter Won’t Mind and Those Who Mind Aren’t Worth the Worry

There’s a trick I learned in my teens. You take your 10 closest friends and add up their salaries, then divide by 10; this usually works out to be your salary. It’s remarkable how this works within a small margin of error for most people who earnestly do it. You are similar to the company you keep. And, that means that when you bring in customers who are all discount seekers and not best-value-seeking customers, you build up referrals to other discount seekers. Over the months and years, your business’ value gets eroded as you accumulate customers willing to keep driving down your price, not valuing you, and telling their friends and colleagues that they too can get low prices out of you. This hardly sounds like the best value for your time and effort.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems…Uhm, No. Less Problems, Mo’ Money

For many years, I ran a commodity business. I was constantly pressured to lower prices and deliver the same great service. There were market and regulatory forces in play here that were beyond our control and so I grinned and beared it. Learn from my early mistakes in the business. Don’t lower your price unreasonably to save your business as it won’t actually save your business. I see this often now in coaching and consulting Small Business owners in this downward spiral, before I set them straight. Here’s what happens:
  1. You lose your passion and start cutting corners.
  2. You start to lose your best-paying customers who start to see the lower quality of your work.
  3. The decrease in good business makes you desperate to (a) bring in more underpaying and delinquent paying customers, and (b) not paying yourself and your own bills.
This cycle of lowering prices leads to lost passion, lost productivity, and lost good customers. The gains unfortunately are in greater customer service complaints, attracting worse customers, and more pressure on you to take on anything that comes your way. You’re worth every dollar you’re reasonably charging, so don’t let others tell you otherwise. You should get paid well to do your best work, and nothing less. And, you should work with good people who will refer you to good people, especially those that will pay their bills on time. Anything short of this and your business fundamentals are lacking. So, if you’re currently thinking of starting a business, or if you’re currently struggling, I hope this compels you to never lower your price.

Google Keep, Voice Search, and Voice Typing in Google Docs – What’s New at Google

Periodically, I will be writing a What’s New at Google post here to update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner. These can be warnings as well as the many frequent enhancements

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Periodically, I will be writing a What’s New at Google post here to update you about new updates to the Google ecosystem that affects you as a Small Business owner. These can be warnings as well as the many frequent enhancements

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Caring for your Equipment in the Cold

Steph & Eric_DC_023 Steph & Eric_DC_024 Steph & Eric_DC_025 Steph & Eric_DC_030 Steph & Eric_DC_031 Steph & Eric_DC_033Currently I have been sequestered to my room. I have a box of tissues, a quart of oj and have digested almost an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy. Tis the season for colds and with the change in weather also comes a change in how you should handle your camera equipment in cold conditions.

Keep Your Batteries Close If you are going to be outside for a long period of time between shoots or if you are in below freezing temperatures be sure to keep your camera batteries close to your body by placing them in an interior pocket. This will keep them from losing their charge.

Treat Your Camera Like a Baby You would not leave your baby in a car overnight but I have seen countless people put their camera or other technologies in the car overnight. Think of your camera as a living thing that is sensitive to extreme temperatures. If you leave it in the cold your battery will no doubt be dead but in extreme temperatures your screen could also crack as well.

Changing Lenses If it is snowing, avoid changing your lenses outdoors. The moisture could get inside of your lens or camera body. You also want to be careful changing your lenses indoors where it is warm when coming in from the extreme cold. I tend to leave my camera and lenses in their bag put them in the coldest part of the house until they regulate again.

Fogging Up Fog could occur on your lens if you take your camera from a warm house or car into the cold. And moisture could develop when you take it back into a warm place from the cold. To avoid this, you may wish to put the camera and lens in a sealed ziplock bag until the equipment has regulated to the new environment.

What to Wear Depending on the conditions, I would wear hiking boots with wool socks and layer, layer, layer. Try to avoid bulky coats and scarves that could catch on your equipment. Instead, tuck your scarf into your jacket or sweater and employ the use of fingerless gloves.

I will be on holiday for the next three weeks so I will look forward to writing to you all again in the new year.

 

You can reach me at:

 

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Getting Ready for Business in the New Year

Start wherever you are and start small. -Rita Baily With each past year behind us with hopefully more good memories than not, business owners around the country usually spend this time of year looking forward to how to make the best

Start wherever you are and start small. -Rita Baily

Getting Ready for Business in the New YearWith each past year behind us with hopefully more good memories than not, business owners around the country usually spend this time of year looking forward to how to make the best of the upcoming year. Like with New Year’s resolutions, most plans never come to fruition. It reminds me sadly about how many business plans are started and not finished, nor ever looked at again even if they are. Considering the renewal of the calendar year, I think it’s an appropriate time to “kick the tires” and look at some often-overlooked areas of your business as we kick off this January. So, even if you haven’t looked at that business plan sitting in your desk drawer (which I also recommend that you do!), reviewing and acting on any of these business areas will improve your 2015 outlook. This is a natural time for getting ready for business in the new year.

Leadership & Professional Development

It never hurts to think about one’s own success to start. This is especially as important when you are the leader of your organization. When I started my first administrative position in a boutique law firm, I would never have thought one day I would running companies. However, I realized early on that my skills were depended upon by everyone in the firm. I was a leader as much of myself, as of the people who followed me when I was chosen to take the lead on a case. I learned quickly that I needed leadership and other professional skills that I wasn’t taught in school, and I needed them quickly!

There are so many more resources today at your fingertips thanks to the proliferation of edtech (i.e., educational technology, primarily here on the Web and Mobile). Here are a few resources you can use to build up your leadership skills:

Corporate Philanthropy & Community Service

The next phase of any great company new or veteran is learning to invest in their values as well as making a profit. It turns out that you get when you give; it’s a natural part of community building. There’s something almost mystical about how this works, but I assure you are wired to get more when you give than when you receive and this also works on the greater, business scale. Here are three ideas on how you can build some giving and volunteer opportunities for your business:

  1. Join Google One Today, a program that has you donate just one dollar a day, every day, to a charity doing something great for the world. Encourage your entire company’s staff (perhaps you can match or pay for the donations) to join Google One Today and share your giving experiences via your business Social Media networks.
  2. Think about creating a Corporate Philanthropy program, which is easier than you would think. A small community grant can mean the difference between a local organization making a great impact in your community (of course, tied to your business’ brand), or not being able to do it at all. In-kind volunteer support programs can even build up some organizations to a point where they can then become paying clients. There are many ideas and opportunities; click on the link above and get creative.
  3. You can additionally start a Community Volunteer program at your office, and require every staffer to give a certain percentage of his working month (say, 1.5 hours per calendar month, which is about 1% of 35-hour workweek). You can find many volunteer opportunities at Volunteer Match. It’s a marketplace for finding volunteers, and as its website says, “We bring good people & good causes together. Find a cause that lights you up. Get in touch with a nonprofit that needs you.” Why not bring this volunteering under one umbrella and coordinate the efforts with your company’s name at the forefront of benefiting your community. It’s the epitome of “doing well by doing good.”

Exit Strategy Planning

In the end, you cannot lead forever. While the science of rejuvenation is likely to see monumental progress in our lifetimes, endeavoring to possibly doubling some young generations’ lifespans, you will not live indefinitely. And, so you won’t be running your company that long either. Whether it’s by death, dissolution or deal, you will leave your company’s helm someday; why not decide how?

If you haven’t lately (or ever), now is a good time while you’re healthy and in positive spirits to call your trusts, estates and tax lawyer to work out details about how you want the disposition of your assets (including intellectual property) to be handled if you were to leave this life untimely. If you don’t have a legal adviser in an estate and tax advisory capacity, it’s best to find a specialist here at The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel; these are specifically-trained individuals to help you.

Of course, some of you hope that someday you will be able to sell your business for a billion dollars like Instagram or WhatsApp. Okay, perhaps something a bit more modest, say, a million dollars so that you can retire (if a million dollars is really enough to retire on nowadays). In this case, you might want to grab a copy of William Bumstead’s E4: Evaluating, Entering, Enhancing, & Exiting Privately Owned Businesses. A recommendation from my go-to exit strategy advisor and business broker, Lou Kastelic of Jordan-Crandus, E4 provides some valuable information on preparing your business for sale at any time during the phase of the company life cycle. Before or when you are ready to sell, I highly recommend touching base with Lou and seeing what your business’ value is and how to best position yourself in the marketplace.

 

Once you’ve made the first, small step in the direction of progress in any of these areas of business, you will feel like 2015 was already worth its weight in gold. What areas of business are most often not talked about and that you would like to make progress on in 2015? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

The Value of Local Small Business Partnerships

  • “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” — Henry Ford

Alexandria is home to countless diverse, dynamic and successful small businesses. This is the story of how two of small businesses partnered up and were able to create a unique professional development opportunity for many others.

by Reggie Holmes of Enthuse Creative and Beth Lawton of Canoe Media Services

We met at an Alexandria Small Business Development Center Small Business Roundtable in April 2014. The roundtable provides a monthly, facilitated topical forum that allows small business owners and leaders to gather and discuss a range of issues related to small businesses in the Alexandria area. It provides a free networking opportunity, as well.

Neither of us had attended an ASBDC roundtable event before, and we had no idea how valuable it would be or who we would meet.

Meeting for the first time ever at that roundtable was serendipitous. It turns out we lived in close proximity to each other on Alexandria’s west end, so we met at a local Starbucks and got to know each others’ businesses. Through our talk that day, we recognized the synergy of our industries and discussed how we could work together.

A desire we both had was to be recognized as thought leaders and resources in our respective industries. One way to do this is to provide workshops and presentations that add value to clients and the community. Doing a Lunch and Learn workshop had been on both of our minds, but having a partner at the ready pushed both of us forward quickly.

Our encounter at the ASBDC provided an opportunity for our organizations to connect and we were able to follow up on that with additional meetings, capitalizing on the opportunity to do together what we could not do independently — or at least not as easily or effectively or inexpensively. We needed to leverage each others’ knowledge, relationships and skill sets to make all the moving parts of the event come together smoothly. Important business connections would continue to play a huge role in getting the workshop from idea to reality.

As solopreneurs, finding partners to motivate you, bounce ideas off of and encourage you is critical to success. By motivating and relying on each other equally and focusing on each other’s strengths, we made huge progress in a short time with finding space and time, collaborating on marketing and outreach and preparing the presentation.

We were fortunate to have Jay Thomas from Alphagraphics print up marketing postcards for us — another person we met through ASBDC — and Mark Whitaker of Intelligent Office provided us with space and additional marketing support.

In the end, that room at Intelligent Office Alexandria was nearly filled to capacity. We had 17 small business owners and professionals attend, from several different industries and backgrounds, including real estate, consultants, finance and health services.

Some new relationships started in that room, too. Those have led to new collaborations and business opportunities for both of us, and the feeling of community in that room made us feel proud to be members of such a supportive business community in Alexandria.

It was in many ways a team effort, and a testament to the collaborative spirit of small businesses in this region. The Lunch and Learn was a very rewarding experience. One of the main lessons we learned is that working collaboratively and creatively, we strengthen the economy by strengthening small businesses in Alexandria and beyond. The workload was shared among many and so too was the benefit. The acronym TEAM, “Together Everyone Achieves More” is true in this case.