The Best Marketing for Your Handmade Business | Google and Beyond Webinar Series Archive

Find the original archive of the video here: The Best Marketing for Your Handmade Business | Google and Beyond Webinar Series Archive. The Best Marketing for Your Handmade Business: Taking Your Craft Business to the Web Here’s the handout fo…

Find the original archive of the video here: The Best Marketing for Your Handmade Business | Google and Beyond Webinar Series Archive. The Best Marketing for Your Handmade Business: Taking Your Craft Business to the Web Here’s the handout for

I’m Not Cattle, Why do I Need to Brand Myself?

Red apple that stands out from the gray ones
Figuring out what makes you and your business unique can make a big difference.

If you’ve been in business for even just a month or two, you have probably run across marketing workshops or articles that talk about building your brand. And if you rolled your eyes at any of this, I get it. It sounds superficial, doesn’t it? Or for folks like me, it feels like a box you put yourself into that restricts who you are as a person or what you offer as a business.

In reality, it doesn’t have to be fake or limiting, especially if you go about creating it in a thoughtful way. After attending a workshop by DC-based leadership coach and speaker Christa Davis (hosted by  40Plus of Greater Washington), my perception began to shift.

One way to think of a brand is as a dish made off three ingredients: who, what and how. The Who, Davis explained, is comprised of your:

• values,
• passions, and
• strengths

While you want to project a positive brand, consider your weaknesses as well as your strengths to keep it real. After we made a list of each of the three Who items, Davis asked us to choose one word that reflected who we were. Not an easy exercise but not painful either. It definitely made me think and I liked the words I came up with (such as connector, as in connecting with audiences and connecting data points to see trends). I don’t consider any runner-up words to be lost or wasted as I will incorporate some of them into website copy and other marketing materials.

What’s next? The What, of course. What are you doing to develop your brand? For example, if integrity is what you want to be known for, is it clearly reflected in the experience and accomplishments you mention in your marketing? Are you volunteering or engaging in other daily activities that allow you to showcase your integrity? When was the last time you wrote a blog or social media post on the subject?

Moving on to How, as in how are you delivering your brand, Christa challenged us with these questions: (1) What impact does your presence make before you say a word? and (2) How are you presenting your value?
Again, not easy.

Personally, I find it hard to gauge what impact my presence makes but I’m willing to start asking people I trust to tell me truthfully: Does my energy, confidence, or communication style reflect [fill in the brand]? If the answer is sort of or not quite, then I have some work ahead of me but I will be grateful for the knowledge.

Why it Matters

Put simply, a brand tells prospective customers what makes you different from your competitors and why they should buy from you instead. “Our Who affects how we are showing up,” Davis remarked.

How we show up, whether it’s at a business meeting or a kid’s soccer game, matters; after all, those other parents may be potential customers or connections to customers you are seeking. For example, what makes you the right accountant for a family? They have dozens to choose from. You came across as friendly, low-key and understanding of people making mistakes and that’s what they were looking for. None of us will be a fit for everyone and that’s okay. After all, wouldn’t you prefer a client who likes you for who you are and how you do your work?

For more info on how to build your brand, check out these 10 tips from Duct Tape Marketing.

Start ’em Right: Ensuring New Employees Succeed

This blog post was written by Patra Frame of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra has offered workshops and individual counseling on human resources and employer issues for Alexandria’s small businesses through the SBDC for many years. Whether you call it on-boarding or orientation, you need a process to help a new hire become a valuable… Read more »

The post Start ’em Right: Ensuring New Employees Succeed appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

This blog post was written by Patra Frame of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra has offered workshops and individual counseling on human resources and employer issues for Alexandria’s small businesses through the SBDC for many years.

Whether you call it on-boarding or orientation, you need a process to help a new hire become a valuable part of your team. Yet, I have seen far too many businesses which were not really prepared for someone to start. No-one is there to welcome the person the first day. There is no plan for the day and other things take priority, so the new person is ignored. Equipment is missing. There is no training on how to access computer systems, much less the software in use.

An advantage of being a small organization is your ability to treat a new hire well from the first moment. Doing so helps you both succeed! Plus it helps retention.

In AdvanceLoan Application Assistance

Make a plan for the first week, first month, and 90 days. Start with a review of the actual work to be done. Use a job description if you have one. Create some specific steps and goals for the person. Figure out who will show the person how your systems work and have a login ready. Ensure any equipment and entry keys, if needed, are ready.  Define what ‘success’ looks like at each period’s end.

If you have hired a more senior person, be sure you talk to anyone else whose role will be changed in advance. Explain the reasons you have added this new person and position to the staff too. This helps everyone understand the organizational goals and feel as if you are keeping them up to date.

The First Day

Welcome the person yourself or have their manager do so. Show them the layout including basics like bathrooms, coffee machines/refrigerator, or employee rest areas. Start the welcome process by reminding the person why you hired them and why you think they can succeed, based on interviews and their resume. Talk about the actual work to be done. Be sure you describe needed results and actions. Give them something that shows what must be done, such as a current job description.  Explain your organization goals, mission, and values. Describe the ‘success’ looks like this measures you have defined so they have a roadmap.  Tell them how you like to work or have their manager do this if they do not directly work for you.

Add in introductions to other employees, starting with those the person will work closely with and describe that interaction. Notify your whole staff of the new person with a little about their background and what their role will be.

Do all required paperwork – tax forms, I-9s, benefits, etc – on the first day but make this something you do later in their shift. Include physical access, security issues, systems access and security in this discussion.

The First Week

Set up some specific work objectives. Your goal here is two-fold. You want to ensure the person understands how their work impacts others by meeting and working with those employees. And, you want the person to begin to feel productive almost immediately. Check in informally during the week to see what questions the person has.

Going Forward

Plan a review with the person in the first few weeks. At it, ask what issues they might have, what else they need to know to do their job well, and what questions they have. Keep it short and simple but be positive and show how their role is important.

Make sure you have some formal check-in points. Many small businesses do a 90 day plan for what has to be learned and achieved, then use that as a review at the 90-100 day point. Depending on the role of the person and your culture, you may do this at 45 – 60 days or add a second check at 180 days.

These simple steps make a large difference in ensuring employees have what they need to succeed.  Most failed hires in the first year are due to management problems. You can significantly decrease job turnover by learning to hire well and then:

  •           effectively welcoming and supporting new hires
  •           ensuring they know what is expected of them and how to get information

The post Start ’em Right: Ensuring New Employees Succeed appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Finding, Training, and Managing Virtual Assistants | Google and Beyond Webinar Series Archive

(Find the original archive of the video here: Finding, Training, and Managing Virtual Assistants | Google and Beyond Webinar Series Archive.) Finding, Training, and Managing Virtual Assistants The Small Business Owner’s Secret Productivity T…

(Find the original archive of the video here: Finding, Training, and Managing Virtual Assistants | Google and Beyond Webinar Series Archive.) Finding, Training, and Managing Virtual Assistants The Small Business Owner’s Secret Productivity Tool Handout with clickable links to the

Document Automation in the Cloud | Google and Beyond Webinar Archive

Find the original archive of the video here: Document Automation in the Cloud | Google and Beyond Webinar Archive. Document Automation in the Cloud: Streamlining Business Documents Creation Using Web Tools Often not discussed is the amount of time…

Find the original archive of the video here: Document Automation in the Cloud | Google and Beyond Webinar Archive. Document Automation in the Cloud: Streamlining Business Documents Creation Using Web Tools Often not discussed is the amount of time, energy

Podcasting Your Way to Profitability | Google and Beyond Webinar Archive

Find the original archive of the video here: Podcasting Your Way to Profitability | Google and Beyond Webinar Archive. Podcasting Your Way to Profitability Podcasting is the new radio. It’s here, and it’s here to stay. The demand for audio

Find the original archive of the video here: Podcasting Your Way to Profitability | Google and Beyond Webinar Archive. Podcasting Your Way to Profitability Podcasting is the new radio. It’s here, and it’s here to stay. The demand for audio

Fitting small businesses into Alexandria’s priorities

This post is written by Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the SBDC and first appeared in the Alexandria Times on June 7, 2018.  The good news for those that care about small businesses is that they poll very high in candidate stump speeches. That’s likely because Alexandria’s economy and character are so dependent on them…. Read more »

The post Fitting small businesses into Alexandria’s priorities 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 June 7, 2018. 

The good news for those that care about small businesses is that they poll very high in candidate stump speeches. That’s likely because Alexandria’s economy and character are so dependent on them.

Small businesses comprise about 90 percent of total businesses and contribute most of the city’s commercial tax base. It’s not just their job creation and fiscal clout, those independent businesses that fit so nicely into our historic and quaint spaces also help form Alexandria’s distinctive sense of place.

The charm and proximity of our commercial districts are blessings, but they also pose unique challenges for both businesses and nearby residents. Restrictions have been imposed to preserve the character and history that distinguishes Alexandria. Any property owner, resident or retailer can tell you that making changes or adding to a building can be challenging, expensive and time consuming. But residents and businesses alike take pride in preserving the aesthetic that makes this such a great place to live, work and visit.Retail

At election time, we often hear about the need to reduce burdens for small businesses. Almost everybody wants to help small businesses and agrees in theory with reducing burdens on them.

In every survey of small business owners, regulatory compliance ranks at or near the top of the list of their greatest hinderances. Small business owners struggle to understand and respond to these requirements and doing so unfortunately takes their focus away from their products, services and competition – the core of their operations.

Red tape and delays have particularly harmful consequences for owners at the very fragile startup stage, when their resources are thin. Entrepreneurs desperately need to get their doors open to begin collecting revenue. Startup delays due to regulatory processes can be expensive, and a weak cash flow at the start may lead to failure down the road.

City staff recently identified zoning ordinances that were costly and time-intensive for small businesses. They focused on ordinances that seem excessive based on their limited community impact. These ordinances were typically put into place with good intent and without recognition of the unintended consequences for small business owners. Proposed changes also aligned with business trends that were not anticipated when the ordinances were originally written.

The almost universal agreement to reduce burdens for small businesses somehow ceased when specific regulation revisions were proposed. Some citizens and citizen groups perceived that the floodgates would open and their protections would be eroded.

The integrated nature of our community often brings together stakeholders with differing viewpoints, from residents who fear that nearby businesses will bring noise and traffic, to proprietors who are doing everything possible to help their businesses thrive. It takes smart and decisive leadership to understand the complexities of cutting red tape while engaging with stakeholders to carefully craft meaningful responses.

Our economy and quality of life are enhanced by the success of small businesses, so it’s worth considering whether we are all doing our very best to welcome and support them.

The post Fitting small businesses into Alexandria’s priorities appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Alexandria Small Business Profile: Scramble Indoor Play

Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the Alexandria SBDC, interviews Laurence Smallman, owner of Scramble Indoor Play, at his business.   This video is part of a three-part series created for Small Business Month, featuring interviews with Alexandria small business owners about the growth of their businesses and their experience working with the Alexandria Small Business Development… Read more »

The post Alexandria Small Business Profile: Scramble Indoor Play appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

Bill Reagan, Executive Director of the Alexandria SBDC, interviews Laurence Smallman, owner of Scramble Indoor Play, at his business.

 

This video is part of a three-part series created for Small Business Month, featuring interviews with Alexandria small business owners about the growth of their businesses and their experience working with the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

The post Alexandria Small Business Profile: Scramble Indoor Play appeared first on Alexandria Small Business Development Center.