Category Archives: Women in Business

Building Your Virtual Brand

5 Tips on Blogging for Your Business

Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to run a company that has no online presence. Even if your business has yet to develop a website, chances are it’s been reviewed on Yelp, discussed in a message board or bragged about on Facebook. IMG Woman Business Online

Yet there’s a lot of value in taking your online appearance into your own hands and creating a landing page for yourself. Companies as small as your local laundromat have already jumped on board.

So what’s the next step in building your virtual brand? Many business owners are launching a company blog in order to humanize their product, connect with their audience and share new initiatives without spending a lot of time or money. The great news is that, with the right tools, they can make an enormous difference for you and your potential customers – or even go viral. The flipside is that they can also fall flat without an audience at all. It’s all about how you do it.

Here are five tips on blogging to grow your business’ web prowess and hit a home run in the virtual world:

1. Keep it short

Gone are the days of long, flowery descriptions and thorough evaluations. Today’s reader is looking for the meat of your article, and they want it now. Often, someone perusing a blog has five or six other tabs open on their browser while reading your words. Keep your sentences short. Limit your paragraphs to two or three sentences if you can. Try to keep your articles around 500 words. And write with passion!

2. Use numbers

A great way to keep attention on your blog is to use numbers. Create a list and number each heading (like we did with this one). Include the number in your title. “4 Ways to Go on a Greek Vacation”. “8 Activities Not to Do Before Bed”. “3 Things my Mother Taught Me”. For extra effectiveness, try making your sub-headings count down (5-1) rather than up (1-5).

3. Media is your friend

If you want to make sure your online article is never read, make it long, use big words, and don’t include any pictures. Fortunately, visual media is easier to get your hands on than ever. There are great stock photos available for cheap for small businesses. There are amazing videos that can be embedded from YouTube and Vimeo. Use them, and don’t forget to cite your source to keep your Internet karma intact.

4. Ask the audience

Nothing is more important than your audience when it comes to writing a blog post. Always keep the intent of your article in sight, and make sure it’s creating value for your readers. Engage them by asking a question at the end of the post and encouraging them to answer it in the comments section. Bonus points for giveaway items and contests. There’s a lot that someone will do for a free water bottle.

5. Join the community

If you really want your blog to be popular, make sure you know your community. Just like your parents taught you, you can’t make friends only talking about yourself. The blogging life is similar. Find your contemporaries and comment on their posts. Join social networks and retweet others’ articles. Make yourself a member of the community, and the community will reward you.

Want more tips on how to grow your brand using your blog? Join Go Girl Travel Network at the first-ever Women in Travel Summit for female travel bloggers and brands. Learn more at http://www.witsummit.com.

Beth Santos is Founder and CEO of Go Girl Travel Network, a resource and community for women travelers and the creator of the Women in Travel Summit. Beth is a current MBA candidate at the Kellogg School of Management and runs the monthly Chicago Founders’ Stories events with venture capitalist and social entrepreneur Pat Ryan at 1871. Visit her website at bethsantos.com for more information about her projects and to learn about her blogging classes and speaking engagements. 

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Writing a Winning Proposal

Freida Curryby: Freida Curry, Director of the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC)

Successful proposal writing is one of the important keys to winning contracts, whether it is in the private or public sector.  When responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP) there are several important factors to keep in mind.

  1. Make a bid/no bid decision.  Before spending time, money, effort and resources to prepare a proposal, you want to determine if this is the right opportunity for you.  Review the scope of work thoroughly.   Are you capable of satisfactorily fulfilling all that would be required of you according to what is asked in the RFP?  Do you have the financial ability to deliver quality products/service on time?  Do you have time to prepare a dynamic proposal?
  2. Attend pre- proposal meetings (if applicable).  If a meeting is offered you definitely want to attend!  At these meetings you have an opportunity to meet the buyers and ask questions.  In addition, prime contractors, contracting officers, buyers, supplier diversity specialists and other small business owners are likely to be present.  This provides a unique opportunity for networking for the purposes of subcontracting, teaming and relationship-building.
  3. Research. You want to do research to insure that you have identified all of the information that can assist you in writing a strong proposal.  This can be about your competitors, the incumbent contract holder, the contracting agency’s or corporation’s buying trends, or industry trends, etc.   For government proposals, you can check agency procurement sites, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), or public research sites like Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).
  4. Break down the work.  Create an outline to make your efforts in responding to the RFP more manageable. If you are working with a team, assign duties to specify who will address each section of the proposal.  Also, make sure the headlines you use in your proposal match the headlines for each section within the RFP.  Set a timeline that allows several days to proofread and make necessary changes. Give yourself ample time to submit your proposal – being even a minute late can result in your proposal being deemed ‘non responsive’.
  5. Write your proposal so that it about the buyer – and not about you.  This is one of the most important steps for writing a winning proposal!  Your proposal must make it clear to the buyer that you understand their problems and that you can provide the solutions to solve them.
  6. Get a debrief. The last and often overlooked step is to request a debriefing – most government agencies are required by law to give one and many corporations offer them as well.  A debriefing is an opportunity to find out more information on how your proposal was evaluated and why you were not awarded (or awarded) the contract.   Debriefings will be valuable for understanding how buyers perceive your strengths or weaknesses; this knowledge will be invaluable for future proposals

All in all, responding to a Request for Proposal can be manageable process, if you seek guidance (when needed), do your research and allow yourself ample time to complete each step of the process. Remember — write your proposal with the client in mind making it clear and readable.  And remember — always answer the question the buyer is asking —  ‘What’s In It For Me?’

Schedule an appointment with the WBDC for more tips and pointers.  Also, a site with a wealth of information is www.CapturePlanning.com.

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Filed under Business, Procurement, Women in Business

WBDC 4th Annual Technology Makeover Contest Winner – Rebecca Fyffe, ABC Humane Wildlife

We are all familiar with pigeons, especially those of located in the metro Chicago area.  And we all tend to have the same feelings about them – “gross, get rid of them.”  One Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) is making that happen: ABC Humane Wildlife. The company is led by Rebecca Fyffe who serves as the president and submitted the winning Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) Technology Makeover Competition.

2013 marked the first year the WBDC Technology Makeover Competition was offered on a national scale and only to Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Certified WBEs.  The WBDC received applications from California to Florida and found there continues to be a need for updated technology within businesses of all sizes.

Rebecca’s organization has big plans for the software and hardware they won:

“The WBDC’s Technology Makeover is the best thing that could ever happen to my company. It would allow me to make a powerful and instant change that I estimate would increase my leads by 40 percent or more immediately! Within 90 days of having new hardware (server and workstations) ready to run our custom software, we would have the program in place just in time for the peak breeding season for most of Illinois’ animals as well as peak nest building season for bees.”

tech makeover

From L-R: Mark Key, CDW; Rebecca Fyffe, ABC Humane Wildlife; Carol Dougal, WBDC

ABC Humane Wildlife was announced as the winner of the Competition at WBENC’s 2013 National Conference & Business Fair in Minneapolis in June.  As a part of the prize package, Rebecca received hardware, software and marketing services from AT&T, CDW, Market M and Microsoft, as well as tickets to the WBDC’s 2013 Entrepreneurial Woman’s Conference and WBENC’s 2014 National Conference.

For more information on ABC Humane Wildlife, please click here.

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Filed under Business, Technology, Uncategorized, WBDC News, WBDC- Minnesota, WBE, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

5 Tips for Building Business Relationships that Lead to Successful Corporate Contracting

Cynthia Johnson, WBDC Director of Established Business Services

Cynthia Johnson, WBDC Director of Established Business Services

Contracting with major corporations can bring big bucks to any business, but what are the best ways to accomplish your goal of building the key relationships that mean profit for your business? Cynthia Johnson, Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Director of Established Business Services, shares five tips for successful corporate contracting:

1. Do research – doing business with a corporation isn’t about what they can do for you, but rather what you can do for them. The best way to find out their needs is to really understand a corporation’s mission, history, goals etc. Small business owners, particularly women and minorities, should create a vendor profile on the corporation’s supplier diversity page. The vendor profile includes contact information and other pertinent information about your business and can be accessed by supplier diversity representatives and corporate buyers. On the supplier diversity page, not only can you find information regarding corporation objectives, but you can be notified of outreach events and other relationship building opportunities.

Connection Points

2. Network with fellow small business owners – networking is vital, so make it count. We have an entire program called Connection Points built around the concept of focused networking. Networking with those who are in related or complimentary industries can offer all involved parties the opportunity to share ideas, trends, talents for the purposes of building relationships and strengthening businesses.

3. Value Proposition – it is important to write and maintain a strong value proposition, a clear concise “living” document that is used to give potential corporate clients a glimpse at the value your business can offer them. Your value proposition can be used as a means to introduce yourself or to as a relationship building tool in a one-on-one presentation meeting with the potential corporate client such as WBDC’s Contract Connections Program. In a value proposition you should:

Lead with your business strengths – make sure you highlight your capacity to manage awarded contracts, your financial strength & stability, past successes, bonding capacity (if applicable) and that you exemplify outstanding client services & best practices. Simply stating “I’m certified” won’t do; you must also display that you will offer the same high performance that corporations expect of all businesses they work with, and as a value-add you are also a certified WBE, MBE, DBE or VBE*.

4. Keep current – Renew your certifications and don’t let them lapse. Make sure you have paid close attention to any deadlines and paperwork you may have to complete to make this possible. Keeping current also means continuing to grow within your industry. Joining trade associations, subscribing to industry publications, attending industry events and sharing information with your professional peers will help you to stay relevant and build your expertise. These items are also impressive to add to your supplier diversity vendor profile and value proposition.

5. Be Persistent, But Patient – building a relationship in the business world is like building any other relationship. You want to let your potential corporate clients know you exist and highlight your value to them, but remember building a relationship takes time. Follow up is encouraged, but don’t be overbearing, when making a call or sending an email give time for the supplier diversity representative to process the information. Strong business relationships can take months or even years to cultivate, but in time, using these steps you can set the groundwork to be a success in corporate contracting.

For more information or set up an appointment to develop your corporate contracting plan, please call 312.853.3477 or contact Cynthia Johnson at cjohnson@wbdc.org. For government contracting tips, click here.
*WBE: Women’s Business Enterprise. MBE: Minority Business Enterprise. VBE: Veteran Business Enterprise. DBE: Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

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Filed under Business, Established Business, Supplier Diversity, WBE, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Celebrating Women Business Successes in Minnesota

The Women’s Business Development Center-Minnesota (WBDC-MN) is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2013.  To commemorate this milestone, as well as Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) and WBDC-MN corporate partners, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference & Business Fair coming to Minneapolis this June, the WBDC-MN held its 7th Annual Celebration of Success.

Attendees were honored to hear from MN Senators Franken and Klobucher as they addressed the crowd via video.  Both spoke of the great things the WBDC-MN is doing for women business owners and the work that is still ahead. See the videos below:

 

The Celebration of Success was held earlier this year and honored truly deserving individuals and companies that support the growth of women’s business ownership.  Awardees included:

WBDC MN Pic of Award Winners

The WBDC-MN honored the achievements and success of local women entrepreneurs and supporters of women’s economic development, including (from left) Lisa Holter, shareholder, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., Advocacy Award; Lynne Alexander, chairman and CEO, The Bureau of Engraving, Inc., WBE of the Year Award; Kelly Wold Smith, owner/president, Futura Marketing Inc., Giving Back Award; and Molly Larsen, supplier diversity senior manager, Best Buy, who accepted the Corporate Partner of the Year Award on behalf of the corporation.

  • WBE of the Year Award to Lynne Alexander, chairman and CEO, The Bureau of Engraving, Inc for her company’s success in leveraging its WBE status to secure business, and for outstanding contributions to the community and WBDC-MN.
  • Corporate Partner of the Year Award to Best Buy, for its outstanding commitment to supplier diversity and the utilization of women-owned businesses in its supply chain. Best Buy’s supplier diversity senior manager Molly Larsen, who accepted the award on behalf of the corporation, spoke of the evening and the award:

“Our program is relatively new so it is great for our team to be recognized for all the hard work we done over the past three years. The snowy weather didn’t keep folks away! The turnout, the food and the venue were fantastic.”

  • Giving Back Award to Kelly Wold Smith, owner/president, Futura Marketing Inc., for extraordinary contributions to the success of the WBDC-MN, its certified WBEs and the women’s business community.   Kelly says of the award:

“It is a milestone for me to have made it to a place where I can help others –I am so honored to be in a position where I can be honored for my contributions to a wonderful organization like the WBDC.”

  • Advocacy Award to Lisa Holter, shareholder, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., for strong commitment to women’s economic development and long-standing, generous support of the WBDC-MN.

The WBENC Regional Host Committee, featuring top WBE companies from throughout the WBDC’s nine state Midwestern region, was also introduced through the video below, created by Lili Hall, Host Committee member and president/CEO of KNOCK Inc.!  Learn more about the Host Committee here: http://www.wbenc.org/wbencconf/conf-host-committe.php.

Will we see you at the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair in Minneapolis June 25-27th? Best Buy’s Molly Larsen will be there and is looking forward to the conference, “I am always inspired by the dedication, talent, determination and creativity of the WBEs. They inspire me to continue to improve the program at Best Buy and find opportunities to purchase from them.”  Plus, Futura Marketing’s Kelly Wold Smith will “absolutely” be there, and suggests if you’re planning on attending to see “the lakes – I live in the western suburbs and personally I don’t think a summer trip to the Twin Cities is complete without a boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka!”

Click here to see more pictures from the celebratory evening.

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Filed under Special Events, WBDC- Minnesota, Women Business Owner, Women in Business, Women's History Month

Women’s History Month – What It Means to Millennials

During a regular Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) blog post, we focus on small business, growing your opportunities and raising public awareness. For this article, we’re going to shift our focus to what Women’s History Month means to some of the Millennials or Gen Y staff members at the WBDC and why it is so important to celebrate now, more than ever.


We asked, “Do you think junior to senior high school girls are aware of the suffrage movement?”

Kristin Travis:“Yes, but just like abolition, civil rights, religious, labor union movements, in the minds of youth today this is something that happened a very long time ago, and these issues are such that I believe they (wrongly) think have been resolved.”
Rebecca Glaubke: “I believe that many girls are aware of the suffrage movement but most do not know the details about all that happened and what women had to go through in order to fight for the rights we have now.”

2013 marks the centennial celebration of the first suffragists marching for equal rights to vote.  In the past 100 years, women have seen great changes, both socially and economically, but have the core issues remained?

Bethany Hartley: “In 1913 we were dealing with being stereotyped and told what our position was by men, but today we deal with self-inflicted stereotypes.  The same issues are still there, parity in the workplace, independence, etc. just coming at us from a different angle.”
Kristin: “Our biggest issue is the way we are portrayed to ‘mainstream America.’  The way we are portrayed in reality TV is deplorable.  We are still shown in the media as those who are put in place solely to serve others (children and men): Susie homemakers, the mammies, the soccer moms, the wonder-women, the gold digger…the other.”

On the other side of the coin, change has brought about new issues.  We asked, “What do you think is the number one issue women your age face today?”

Rebecca G.: “I believe the number one issue for women in their early 20s would be employment and living situations. For many women who are my age, it is tough to find a job right away after graduating and being able to afford to live on your own and away from your parents. There are few entry level positions that pay well enough to pay for rent or housing, whether you live by yourself or with roommates. Having few options makes it stressful to find employment that will pay well.”
Carolina Diaz: “I believe the biggest issue for women my age is the struggle to balance personal life with a career.”

From the perspective of the women we talked to, women’s rights is still an important issue – one that has only grown as the number of women in the workforce has increased.  The need for organizations that bring together professional women and educate the next generation is all too relevant. In closing, we looked for a solution, and it’s a simple one that falls on the shoulders of women at any age:

Rebecca Diaz: “Women need to be educated about women’s inequalities in order to fully understand the importance of women’s rights. Read books, articles, use social media and any resource to learn as much as possible. Younger women need to be proactive in advocating for women’s rights. No one is expected to change the world in one day – but encouraging our network of friends, colleagues and our community to enforce education and equality on any level is change in itself. Don’t perpetuate discrimination against women by ignoring and conforming to social and cultural stereotypes. Let’s open our eyes, ignite conversations and demand change.”

We encourage you to share your thoughts on the biggest issues you see for women, young and old.

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Filed under Uncategorized, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business, Women's History Month

The Tax (Wo)Man Cometh! WBDC Gets Advice from the IRS

Yolanda Ruiz

Yolanda Ruiz

With Tax Season quickly approaching, we at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) want to make sure you are the most prepared you can be when it comes to doing your small business taxes.  Who better to ask about taxes then the IRS?  For that we turn to Yolanda Ruiz, IRS expert and employee and frequent presenter at WBDC workshops on business taxes.

1.       What is the number one question you get from small business owners seeking assistance with their taxes?

“Unfortunately, many come to me when they are behind in their taxes asking about payment options. One of our partners noted ‘One of the major obstacles that business owners encounter with their businesses was not being aware of their responsibilities to the IRS. Most are repaying the IRS for lack of paying payroll taxes or estimated tax payments.’ It’s hard to catch up when you fall behind, knowledge is key.”

2.       What is a common misconception you see about taxes or the process of filing?

“Trying to reduce your tax bill is illegal. Actually, with tax planning you can legitimately reduce your taxes. Washington is constantly sending out incentives in way of additional write-offs and hiring credits (Section 179, Bonus Depreciation, HIRE). Utilizing these incentives will reduce your tax bill while expanding your business.”

3.        What resources are available to small business owners (especially those on a budget)?

“E-news for Small Businesses is an electronic newsletter that comes out every other Wednesday. It will provide you with information on current incentives (additional deductions/credits) for small business as well as free resources. To subscribe go to: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Subscribe-to-e-News-for-Small-Businesses

IRS also has VITA sites that offer free tax help to people who make $51,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. For a VITA site near you, go to – http://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

The IRS is proud to partner with Center for Economic Progress/ Tax Clinic. They can help you if you have a dispute or problem with the IRS to solve your issues quickly.  Also, they will be able to file current and previous tax returns. Call the Tax Clinic at (312) 630-0241 for an appointment, or go to http://www.economicprogress.org/clients/got-letter-irs for more information.

The IRS is proud to partner with The Law Project, a nonprofit that provides free services to qualified business start-ups: http://www.thelawproject.org

4.       What online resources would you recommend?

“The Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop online is composed of nine interactive lessons designed to help new small business owners learn their tax rights and responsibilities. It includes topics such as EIN, Business Structures, Recordkeeping, Classifying Worker and Business Taxes.

Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center on irs.gov – http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Small-Business-and-Self-Employed-Tax-Center-1

No more spending time navigating the IRS website, all that you need is on this page. “

“The purpose for tax education is not to make you a tax professional but to give you an awareness of your tax responsibilities and the many benefits that are available. By having an awareness of how your business should be run (for tax purposes) you can ensure that your accountant/tax preparer is compliant with filing and payments, you will avoid problems and you will allow your business to grow.”

The WBDC also wants to make sure you and your employees know about the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. If you file as a Schedule C, you as a self-employed individual may be able to receive the credit.  Click here to learn more.

The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. With the additional funds, the majority of recipients invest back into their local economy and can truly help grow small businesses.  To learn more about the EITC, please click here.

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Filed under Business, Business Start-up, IRS, Taxes, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

“Where do I find a grant to start my woman-owned business?”

All too often at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) we hear the question, “Where are the grants for women to start their businesses?” The answer: There are none.  No really, there are none.  If you find a grant for women starting a business, please post the information in the comments below, because in the last 27 years we have yet to see one.

Yes, there are loans for business start-ups, small business competitions with cash prizes and occasionally, you can find grants through Small Business Administration (SBA) non-profit partners, if you are already in business, but you aren’t going to find a grant without showing you have some “skin in the game.”  You need to prove that you are just as invested in your business as investors, grantors or lenders are going to be.  It’s time to get serious and shift your focus from looking for free money to building a solid foundation with a business plan, a thorough analysis of your financials (past personal and projected business) and target market research.

A question was recently posted on PartnerUp regarding the necessity of a traditional business plan.  Some thought they were irrelevant in this day and age of the ever changing business climate, while others saw them as completely necessary.  What do you think? Based on what we’ve seen with clients over the years, the ones that write down their idea into a solid plan and update that plan on a yearly basis have seen the greatest success and continue to sustain a fruitful business.  Plus, when it comes time to look for funding, it’s unlikely you’ll be taken seriously without putting your business in writing.

So what can you do if you’re a start-up looking for funding?  If you’re in Chicago, consider the WBDC Micro Finance Program, a direct lending program where the WBDC, as a core member of the Chicago Microlending Intitute (CMI), is making loans for Chicago business owners seeking additional support.  Plus, the WBDC provides a free webinar, Take the Mystery out of Finance, every month, and below is the most recent recording of the presentation, which covers crowdfunding and more. Watch it, take notes, and if you have questions ask us at wbdc@wbdc.org.

In two weeks, we’ll discuss more about furthering your education as a business owner when it comes to finance.  In the meantime, take time to become educated on financial resources available for you.  Here are just a few more, besides WBDC, to take a look at:

  1. Accion
  2. SBA
  3. FunderHut
  4. Family and friends

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Filed under Business Start-up, Established Business, Finance, SBA, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

8 Holiday Retail Business Tips from the Women’s Business Development Center

With holidays just around the corner, small business owners are prepping their businesses for what is hoped to be a prosperous season.  The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) has no shortage of retail clients and to help them, and you, we’ve put together a list of 8 tips to heat up cool weather sales!

1. Email marketing – if you don’t do it already, start now!  Great template based tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact are available at little to no cost.  Emailing is still the number one way to reach your clients online and create loyalty with your customers.  Have a plan for the holidays, schedule emails right up until Christmas, and even after that for any sales you might have!

2. Stay active – in the community that is.  Small Business Saturday is a nationwide event showcasing small business owners on November 24th.  It’s the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so be sure to encourage customers to save their spending for shopping local on Saturday. Make sure you’re active and take advantage of all the free business marketing tools you can find here.

3. Deck the halls- or at least the showroom.  Make sure your shop has a seasonal feel as it tends to make consumers more in the spirit of giving (read spending).  Think twinkle lights and cheerful music!

4. Prepare the troops – refresh your employees on procedures.  Giving your staff a run through of policies and procedures prior to the holiday rush is a good idea so they can handle any situation that comes their way.  Things to think about:

– discounts being offered

– how to deal with theft

– what to do with returns

– gift card sales

These are just a few of the basics that are often forgotten during the rest of the year.  A well informed staff makes a successful season and happy customers!

5. Party – reasonably and retail-ly.  If you haven’t already, hold a holiday open house.  Get neighboring businesses to participate through giveaways or staying open late with you; it’s a win-win for all. Make it special and offer exclusive deals.  If you’ve already had your open house, make sure your employees feel special by way of a holiday party just for them.

6. Give back. Rally the team and volunteer at one of the local shelters, food drives or other organizations that need assistance during the winter months.  Not only are you making a difference, you’re also showing the community that you are a socially responsible business.

7. Keep it social. As a B2C (business to consumer) business, you should already have a business Facebook page up and running.  If you don’t, here’s a free webinar recording from the WBDC on how to do right.  If you are active, don’t forget to post pictures of new merchandise, have a social media exclusive sale and engage your clients as much as possible!  And be sure to double check your reviews on sites like Yelp.com – nothing like a poor review to turn away potential customers.

8. Don’t forget about the men!  Although women are the purchasing decision makers for most households in the United States, don’t forget about their counterparts: husbands, boyfriends and sons.  Get your message out that you can help them find that perfect gift and offer a worry free shopping experience! This is particularly successful when you have a high number of return clients.  Nothing is better than unwrapping the perfect gift and not finding a gift card.

Try at least one or two of these ideas if you’re not already. Did we leave anything out? What do you do to make your business most successful during the holidays?

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Filed under Business, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Retail, Small Business Saturday, Special Events, Uncategorized, WBDC, Webinar, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Business Tips for Women in Small Business from the Women’s Business Development Center

Happy Women in Small Business Month!  Today’s post is split into two parts – one for women looking to start their business soon and one for those already in business.  Look through both sets of questions and refer back to them as you continue to build your business muscle!

Women Starting A Small Business

It may come as no surprise to you, but being a small business owner can be a difficult and demanding enterprise.  Here at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) we see many clients when they’re first starting and weighing out the feasibility of their idea. So how do you know if it’s a viable concept?  Does it have lasting power?  Below are 10 questions from www.SBA.gov to help you assess if you’re ready to start a business:

  1. Why am I starting a business?
  2. What kind of business do I want?
  3. Who is my ideal customer?
  4. What products or services will my business provide?
  5. Am I prepared to spend the time and money needed to get my business started?
  6. What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
  7. Where will my business be located?
  8. How many employees will I need?
  9. What types of suppliers do I need?
  10. How much money do I need to get started?

To read 10 additional questions from the SBA, please click here.  If you need help answering these questions, look no further than you local business center – find yours by searching here.

Women Already in Small Business

Have you been in business for a few years?  Do you feel like you’re an old pro at marketing your product or service?  Well maybe it’s time to take a new approach to your small business and try something new.  Here are 10 questions to ask yourself about your business and personal life.

When was the last time I…

  1. Attended a networking event?
  2. Attended a workshop?
  3. Updated my business plan?
  4. Hosted a customer appreciation event?
  5. Updated my LinkedIn profile?
  6. Updated my website?
  7. Used my own product/service?
  8. Explored new markets?
  9. Went on vacation?
  10. Hired someone new?

If you answer “I can’t remember” to any of these – it’s time to do it!  Go out, meet new contacts, learn new tricks of the trade, say thank you to your loyal clients and so on!  Don’t let your business stagnate! 

We want to know: What do you do on a regular basis to keep your business current?

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Filed under Advocacy, Business, Business Leaders, Business Start-up, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Small Business, Special Events, Uncategorized, WBDC, Women Business Owner, Women in Business