EVENT: It’s a Web Browser! No, It’s an Operating System! Wait, It’s Both!? (Google Chrome and ChromeOS)

Google to Great Webinar Series: Google Chrome and Chrome OSGoogle Chromo logo

January 26, 2012

10:15 – 11:15 am

Get a fast, free web browser!  The web browser is arguably the most important piece of software on your computer.  You spend much of your time online inside a browser: When you search, chat, email, shop, bank, read the news, and watch videos online, you often do all this using a browser.   Chrome is designed to be fast in every possible way.  It’s quick to start up from your desktop, loads web pages in a snap, and runs complex web applications fast.  Chrome’s browser window is streamlined, clean and simple, with features designed for efficiency and ease of use.  It can help keep you safer and more secure on the web with built-in malware and phishing protection, auto updates to make sure the browser is up-to-date with the latest security updates, and more.  Google Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system designed by Google to work exclusively with web applications.  It’s aimed at users who spend most of their computer time on the Internet.  Reduce your IT headaches and save money on software.  What’s not to love?!

Hear W3 Consulting President, Ray Sidney-Smith extol the virtues of Chrome and Chrome OS in this free, one hour Webinar.

To register, go to: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/617061273 or call 703-778-1292 for more info.

EVENT: Every Word Matters in Business (Tues, 2/7/12)

Ever stare at a blank screen and not be able to write about your business? Do you struggle when you are under a deadline to write that business report or marketing piece? You are not alone! Many business owners know what they want to write, but they just can’t get it right!

Eliza Dolin - Ivy Quill Communications
February's Brown Bag Workshop Speaker, Eliza Dolin - Ivy Quill Communications

Come to our February Brown-Bag Lunch event and hear an upbeat, educational presentation about why good writing matters to all businesses – particularly small ones! These days, clear communication — whether in website copy, emails, memos, or newsletters — is more important than ever in achieving your business success.  Communications consultant Eliza Dolin of Ivy Quill Communications, LLC, will explain the reasons why, identify the causes of and cures for ineffective business writing, and offer tips that will help your business thrive.

Register today!

Join other small businesses at the monthly Brown-Bag lunch series of START, MANAGE, GROW your business sponsored by the Alexandria Small Business Development Center and the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership who are committed to helping small business thrive in Alexandria.

Free of charge, and held monthly in our boardroom located at 625 N. Washington Street, Suite 400 from noon until 1PM, business owners are invited to bring their lunch, network and learn nuggets of knowledge from experts.  A Q & A session will follow each presentation and we’ll get you back to your business promptly @ 1PM!

What Does the Alexandria SBDC Do – Our Services

 

Alexandria Small Business Development CenterAlexandria Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is Alexandria’s economic development program totally focused on small businesses. It’s those small businesses that comprise the largest segment of Alexandria’s economy, but we know their potential is often hindered by lack of information or expertise. When Alexandria SBDC’s services help businesses solve problem, overcome obstacles, link to resources and find new opportunities, Alexandria’s economy is strengthened. With that in mind the City of Alexandria, the U.S. Small Business Administration and a number of private sector sponsors provide funding so that all Alexandria SBDC services are provided without cost.

The services of Alexandria SBDC fall into three categories to correspond to business needs at each stage – START, MANAGE and GROW.

START

  • Instruction on steps to follow to start a business
  • Individual guidance on concept feasibility, business plan preparation and financing
  • Introduction to lenders
  • Referrals to attorneys, accountants and resources for site selection
  • Help with City and State regulatory issues

MANAGE

  • Cash flow management (every business needs to monitor!)
  • Referrals to attorneys, accountants, human resources specialists and other experts to solve problems or improve operations
  • Strategic / expansion planning
  • Tax / regulatory planning
  • Marketing / networking strategies / social media
  • Business education programs on all aspects of management, operations, human resources, marketing, branding and specialized training for retailers, restaurateurs and government contractors
  • Research resources

GROW

  • Access to loans and investors
  • Business education programs in areas of government contracting, e-commerce, international trade, and issues of fast growth
  • Introduction to key resources for expansion planning, business valuation or selling a business
  • Networking / marketing opportunities / social media
  • Research resources

With many years of experience, Alexandria SBDC staff responds quickly and can recommend solutions to problems and link businesses to the most effective resources. Savvy entrepreneurs describe Alexandria SBDC as the number they keep handy for times when they run into a problem or need an objective sounding board. They also describe the SBDC’s monthly business education programs as opportunities to pick up “nuggets of information” and continually improve their approaches.

The key message is that Alexandria SBDC offers individual and confidential assistance without cost to City of Alexandria businesses and Alexandria residents with businesses elsewhere. Get more information at www.alexandriasbdc.org or 703-778-1292.

 

What He Learned From His Small Business Entrepreneur Dad

I came across this article, Entrepreneurship – What I Learned From my Dad,” (over at the Under30CEO blog) a couple of days ago and really thought it was worth sharing and commenting on for several reasons (even with its technical flaws). My primary interests in his story are how he recognize that starting a business is a very personal, family and creative process, and his remembrance, even from his  youth, of what his father-entrepreneur sacrificed to start this small business.

While I can’t speak for all small business entrepreneurs, I remember my first business and how  as the author describes it as “similar becoming a parent for the first time.” He was able to see his father in action, even worked alongside him. I didn’t have the opportunity to have a entrepreneurial dad (as I was raised for significant portion of my life by my beloved mom) and when my mom and step-dad started their first entrepreneurial endeavor it was after I had already been in business several years. I was not ready for the journey I set out on that first venture, but somehow by grace I was able to make it successful and I learned from my mistakes, good luck and perseverance. My point is to the entrepreneurial parents out there reading this, your children will benefit from you introducing them to the why’s and how’s of starting and managing your small business.

And, speaking of the business start-up phase, for any of you who have been through it, you know how much you must pour into the company in those early days. It’s not just money; neither only time. In my mind, it’s always analogous to a railroad track unfinished with a locomotive barreling down the path. You’re the one who needs to source the track, lay the track and make sure everything’s secure before that locomotive reaches, but in essence with a small business you’re never quite done laying that track. All that said, it’s an intensely joyful process once you learn the ropes, get better with your hammer (be that sourcing your products, or getting that additional certification to woo customers to your service) and the locomotive stops to pick up passengers (i.e., vacations and those “golden goose” client sales moments).

Photo courtesy of KellyB.

Facebook, Defined for Small Business

Definition of Facebook, the social networking service (c) Dictionary.com

Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t believe it with my own eyes. I was looking for a way to give context to Facebook and a good overview to start developing a Social Media business marketing strategy with Facebook as one aspect of it. So, I used Google’s “define” search function for “Facebook” and, lo and behold, Dictionary.com had an entry, and as you can see from above, it’s pretty accurate for consumers. The external social networking service founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 generally captures the people-spying-on-people mentality that pervades much of social networks. However, there’s more to the Social Media platform than meets the eye for businesses, and I’ll be blogging regularly about the many facets of the global social networking juggernaut. First, I’d like to just give a few definitions to cover some of the regular terms that define Facebook for small business.

PROFILES
The bottom line as to whether you use a Profile or Group for your business’ Facebook presence: never. I know that some will relent and give me all the reasons that their particular reasoning for using their Profile or a Group that they’ve set up for their business is better than setting up a Page. And, some will not that Facebook themselves made Pages as a second thought for businesses. My hope is that by explaining some key features of Pages and key disadvantages of Groups and Profiles, that you’ll go ahead and take the effort to launch your business’ Facebook Page in the not-too-distant future and then try to do away with your other Facebook presence as soon as practicable.

GROUPS
Facebook Groups are wonderful tools but for small communities within Facebook, such as committees, focus groups, boards, and groups of friends. Although it may be tempting to create a Group because you’ve heard of the few “advantages” over Pages, we highly dissuade you from thinking this is true. While you can send messages directly to members of groups, member engagement is higher in groups thanks to generally smaller size, and the discussion thread feature set, Groups are missing the core extensibility of Pages–Applications, analytics and Web coding functionality. Over time, Facebook engagement will be completely about the functionality of your Pages as much as they are about the content you offer.

PAGES
Facebook Pages are the de facto home for businesses and brands on Facebook. Every business should stake their claim to their Facebook Page (especially if you have a retail location). Facebook Ads and ad networks allow you to direct traffic to Facebook Pages, you can have unlimited fans following your Page, and users associate Pages with companies they like and trust. Every business’ marketing needs are different on Facebook, so research your target market well in a variety of Social Media before leaping in headfirst.

Facebook, no matter how you define it, is a commitment to Social Media that warrants close and careful contemplation. There’s no question that your target market is there; with 600 million users and counting, everyone’s target market in the United States is likely there. But, will they pay attention to your brand message while engaging on the platform? That’s the question you have to ask.

Still have questions? Ask them in the comments and I’ll be happy to post video responses to my Vimeo account and post them here in the Comments for you.

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Alexandria SBDC — 15 Years of Serving Small Businesses

Alexandria SBDC StaffOn December 17, 2011, Alexandria Small Business Development Center (SBDC) celebrated its 15th anniversary as the primary economic development program in the City of Alexandria that is totally focused on small businesses. The SBDC stimulates the local economy and job growth by providing Alexandria’s small businesses, which represent 91% of total businesses in the City, with individual guidance, information,  and an array of educational, research and management resources.

 

The following is a sampling of the SBDC’s impact over the past 15 years:

  • Over 3,000 businesses helped
  • 19,000 hours of assistance provided
  • $57 million in new loans facilitated
  • Over 5,000 jobs created or retained
  • Approximately 150 businesses averted failures as a result of SBDC guidance –

· Over 80 regained stability after 9/11 and Hurricane Isabel
· 70 were strengthened during the economic downturn of 2007 – 2009

Not quantified in the statistics above is the SBDC’s influence on fewer business failures, less costly mistakes by inexperienced entrepreneurs, more efficient business starts, easier navigation through regulatory processes and the commerce stimulated through SBDC referring businesses to attorneys, accountants, bankers, business organizations and other businesses for teaming or supplier relationships.

The SBDC, originally affiliated with The George Washington University and then with the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce from 1999-2010, is now hosted by the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP). It is co-located with AEDP and the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association in their new Partners for Economic Growth suite at 625 North Washington Street.

The dedicated staff of 3 full-time and several part-time specialized consultants offers individual guidance in such areas as startup ventures, financial management, loan proposal assistance, business and expansion planning, tax/regulatory planning, business best practices, government contracting, and enhanced retailing.

While the Board of Directors and staff of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center celebrated 15 years of accomplishment, their focus is on the future and reaching more of the City’s small businesses. Refer any Alexandria small businesses that could benefit from business feedback and guidance to Alexandria SBDC.

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Have You Resolved to Blog in 2012? Small Business Bloggers Unite in Alexandria, Virginia.

Blogging is for everyone, even small businesses.So, you’ve created a Facebook Page, updated your LinkedIn profile, and you have a Twitter profile, yet you’re not swimming in “Likes” and “Followers” in any social network. While you hear about new Social Media sites launching every month, you feel it’s a waste of time to invest in every tech start-up that hangs their shingle out. And, I agree. Well, it’s a new year and as good a time as any for a strategic marketing plan, that should include a small business blog to help plan, motivate and drive site traffic. In the meantime, I’m going to tell you what I tell every audience I talk to about the foundation of Social Media: blog. Yup, that’s it–a plain and simple strategy to jump-start your Social Media campaign in 2012. Stay tuned for a series of articles here that will cover blogging for Small Business!

If you don’t know how, and you live or run a small business in Alexandria, Virginia, you can get some great assistance by joining the Small Business Bloggers in the Alexandria Small Business .COMmunity here at AlexandriaSmallBusiness.com. It’s not only a community blog about the great things that Small Business is doing in Alexandria, but the products and services they provide, and advice to start, manage and grow your Small Business in general from the folks over at the Alexandria Small Business Development Center in Alexandria, Virginia.

 

Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress