Small Business Tips

October 2016 Archive
Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees

Have you ever been to a business meeting that, though the intention was to come up with great ideas for the progression of the business, turned out to be a total flop? Attendees were bored, few ideas were shared, and everyone left the meeting feeling like it was a waste of time? Obviously, such events are a very little benefit to the development of your business, and there are few ways you can remedy that . . .

Meeting Time Equals Play Time
In other words, make the meeting fun. Don’t let everyone go wild of course. It needs to be organized play time, so to speak. For example, start things off with a game. As a suggestion, I read how one business owner asked his employees to write down something no one else knew about them prior to the meeting. When the meeting started, he passed out the responses and the employees had to guess who belonged to each, providing a little fun and humor to get things moving. Another employer brings tinker toys and tangram puzzles to get cognitive juices flowing. Not only do such ideas make the meeting more enjoyable, but they help your employees to relax and be more comfortable around each other and you.

Continue Reading: “Brainstorming Motivation for Your Employees”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 31st, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations, Ownership |

A Market in Part-Time Ownership

In the U.K. the concept has become a normal way of life, and though it hasn’t wholly caught on here in the states, part-time ownership is slowly creeping into the market. What exactly am I referring to when I mention “part-time ownership?” Well, here are some examples of businesses that have tapped into the industry:

Flexcar provides a range of membership packages to people who only have need of a vehicle part-time. Members designate when they need a vehicle parked locally and, instead of paying $500-$800 a month to lease a vehicle they hardly use, they pay an average of $100-$200 a month to only use a car when they need one. The business initially targeted residential markets, such as Seattle, where many people walk to most outings anyway. But Flexcar soon discovered that there was a need among members of corporate world, as well as those who couldn’t afford to purchase a car of their own. Not to mention the environmentally friendly benefits of the business, by reducing gas emissions.

Continue Reading: “A Market in Part-Time Ownership”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 30th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ventures |

Getting Others On Board With Your Vision

As I have discussed a number of times through the past couple of months, we all have visions, and the businesses we start often stem from those dreams for the future. Many visions require the support of others, especially financial investors, in order to press forward toward the goal. Because your vision is yours alone, you have to convince others of the value it has.

Here’s how you can start on the right track to getting investors and other support to come along for the ride:

Have a Passion
The vision you have must be something you’re passionate about. If you don’t have a full-fledged passion for it, it will be difficult to convince others that the investment of their time and finances will be worth while in the end. However, when you are passionate about your vision, and intend to pursue it even if you have to go it alone, people will recognize that and it will be easier for them to begin to see the value of your goal.

Find Allies
When looking for support (whether financial or otherwise), it is best to first seek out those that don’t need much convincing anyway. You will know the people in your immediate of friends and family who would be most likely to share your vision. But you will also need to take that a step further and reach out to other companies and organizations that would likely take little convincing. For example, if you want to start a specialty school for children with disabilities, do your research and find organizations that have already contributed to similar causes.

Continue Reading: “Getting Others On Board With Your Vision”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 29th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation, Startup |

Inner City Kids Learn About Entrepreneurship

High school drop-out rates continue to increase across our nation. According to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, nearly one in every three high school students in the class of 2006 did not graduate. Many of those drop outs come from minority groups in inner city schools, where poverty and crime are part of the life they know.

But the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a nonprofit organization out of New York, is doing what they can to change that. Though NFTE has been around for awhile (Steve Mariotti started working on the project in 1982), the benefits of the program continue to positively affect the lives of many kids across the nation.

Continue Reading: “Inner City Kids Learn About Entrepreneurship”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 28th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ventures |

The 411 on Schmoozing

Guy KawasakiGuy Kawasaki, the managing director of a venture capital firm, columnist with Entrepreneur Magazine and author of eight motivation books regarding business, says that schmoozing potential clients and investors is the best way to establish a business relationship. In his latest column, Get in Good, he provides the following tips for being a successful schmooze:

What’s the Point?
The ultimate goal of being a good schmooze is to do something for someone else. Granted, you probably have ulterior motives at play, but try not to let that be your entire focus. It should predominately be about helping others, so don’t be afraid to offer favors to your new business associates, and don’t expect anything in return. This, of course, is something I feel should be our goal in every aspect of our lives, not just in making new business acquaintances.

Go Public
Kawasaki believes that the best way to get in the door is to meet people in public at conventions, trade shows, seminars, networking events, etc. I agree that this is the best way to meet people and initially establish the business relationship. I do not agree with his statement that you can’t do so over e-mail or the telephone.

Continue Reading: “The 411 on Schmoozing”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 27th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Networking |

Transitions are Like Remodeling

I heard something the other day that really got me to thinking: difficult transitions in any part of life are like remodeling your home. Let me explain. . .

Inconvenience
Remodeling your home is no picnic, especially if you are doing extensive work, like adding on a room or redoing the kitchen (very popular choices). There is the inevitable issue of dust all over every inch of the house – dust you can’t get rid of until the job is done no matter how many times you vacuum and wipe the place down. Not to mention having to navigate through tools, furniture stocked piled in one room to get it out of the way of the work being done, hired help (if you’re not doing it by yourself). A down right pain.

Difficult transitions in life are an inconvenience as well. Take, for example, moving to a new town, which includes searching for a new place to live, selling the house you’re currently in, packing and unpacking, finding a new job, on and on. Or, what about transitioning your business from a one man operation out of your home to a five person operation located downtown. There’s nothing convenient about that either.

Continue Reading: “Transitions are Like Remodeling”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

Saving Time on the Telephone

Many of us find that there really aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything would like to done. Any shortcut can help to make the minutes of the day go by more smoothly. Something that can often take up a lot of your time in any business are telephone calls. But, they must be made and time must be spent.

Here are few tips for saving some time on those necessary calls, and maybe freeing up time for other things:

Map It Out
When important calls need to be made to clients or investors, make an outline of everything you need to discuss before making the call. Draw up the points you want to bring up, including possible questions from the other end of the phone and your responses. Also, when the call is connected, let the client know why your calling – give them a run down of what to expect from the call. If he/she knows that you have an agenda in mind, that might help to keep them from making small talk or changing the subject.

Continue Reading: “Saving Time on the Telephone”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Customer Service, Operations |

The Business of Dating While Owning a Business

You are a young and successful business owner. You already have many of the things you set you mind to accomplishing – a steady and lucrative income, success at a dream . . . there’s just one important thing still missing – a successful relationship in your personal life. But who has time to make that happen?

Granted, I can’t say that I understand completely where someone in that position may be coming from, since I started pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams after establishing my family. But many entrepreneurs start pursuing their business dreams so young (early twenties), that, by the time they feel comfortable with the path their business is on, they realize that they are still somewhat alone while many of those around them have gotten married and started families.

In all seriousness though, if having a family is something that is important to the future you see for yourself, the task at this point can seem arduous. Especially if your successful business takes up nearly every waking hour of your day. You may get noticed, after all you’re successful and easy on the eyes, but rarely do the dates turn into relationships.

If you’re at a point in life where you are ready to find a balance between running your business and finding that right person, here are some tips to get you on your way:

Continue Reading: “The Business of Dating While Owning a Business”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 24th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ownership |

Advertising Your Product on Stage

These days we’ve grown accustom to product placement in the movie theater. What used to be flashes of popcorn and fountain drinks as subliminal messages in the days of old has become an obvious flaunting of a Pepsi trucks driving down the highway next to the movie’s hero, who happens to be in the latest convertible to be released by Mercedes.

Product placement is expanding its borders. No longer something just for the movies, many companies are landing product placements on the stage as well. Broadway musicals are now incorporating products such as Red Bull energy drink and UPS express delivery in Stewart Lane’s latest hit, Legally Blonde.

Think having a product placed on the Broadway stage is way out of your league? Never fear, the theatrical product placement movement is really beginning to sweep the nation and many small local theaters are adopting the idea to help raise money in order to support their productions.

Continue Reading: “Advertising Your Product on Stage”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 23rd, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?

Yesterday I discussed hiring an advertising agency for your business. Today, however, I’m going to touch on when it might be time to fire your current ad agency and hire a new one. If you’re considering this possibility, first you will need to accept the fact that every business relationship hits rough places in the road to success. These are things you need to work through, and to determine if that is even worth doing, there is one all important question:

Is my advertising agency still challenging me/my business?

An ad agency that agrees with everything you say and doesn’t seem to develop their own ideas is not presenting a challenge, nor do they have your business in their best interest. Challenge involves risk. As a business owner, you know that you cannot be successful at anything without taking some risks to get there. A good ad agency will be willing to disagree with your ideas (in a professional manner, of course) and will present ideas that challenge your way of thinking.

Continue Reading: “Should You Fire Your Ad Agency?”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business

It’s not something that every small business can afford, but those who can should give an advertising agency a chance. However, you may feel overwhelmed by the process of hiring an ad agency to market your product/service, because it’s not a eni-meni-mini-mo type of decision.

Here are some tips for finding the right ad agency for your business:

Avoid Putting Limitations on Prospects

Don’t restrict your search to agencies who are only in your area. Then you’re limiting the possibility of finding the right ad agency for you. Many agencies are more than willing to communicate over long distances, and with today’s available technology, not everything will have to be done in a person-to-person meeting. Overnight mailings, telephones, meetings over broadband… there are a number of options available for getting the job done just as well as if your businesses were neighbors.

Continue Reading: “Hiring an Ad Agency for Your Business”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 21st, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Operations |

But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)

Every day we make thousands of decisions. What to wear, what to eat, when to leave, where to go, what to do first, which pen to use. . . the list goes on and on. Imagine, however, making any decision without exploring your options. Life would, first, be pretty boring if wore the same one shirt and one pair of pants every single day (what woman could survive?). And, when it comes to the more important things, it’s likely that life would be riddled with a few missteps.

Exploring your options is an important part of every decision we make. And especially when it comes to the big ones, such as how to run a business. This may seem like common sense to many of you. I know that I am an “option explorer.” I trek through the forest of who has the best price, climb the mountains of who will provide what I need, and wade the waters of what would have the best result.

Continue Reading: “But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 20th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Motivation, Operations |

An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients

You have a potential client that you know would be a great time investment for your business, but, no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to win them over. I’ve come across an interesting suggestion that just might work. However, this strategy works best for businesses in the service industry.

First, let’s take into consideration that most potential clients who are hunting for someone to provide them with a service have probably already been disappointed by another provider. They’re looking because they need someone who can meet their expectations and get the job done to their own standards. And, once they’ve been disappointed, proving that you’re the business they can count on can be a doozy of a task.

So, here’s the challenge: find out what the one issue they can’t seem to get solved is and offer to work at a resolution for them. That’s right, take on their number one frustration, the question that stumped the rest of them, see if you can’t find a way to make it happen.

Continue Reading: “An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Advertising Quality in Your Product

The number one rule for advertising quality in your product or service is to not use the word “quality.” Because this word is overused by the general business public, consumers ignore it. In fact, using the word “quality” can often invoke suspicion, much like when a business uses the phrase “you can trust me.”

Here are some tips for effectively conveying quality to potential customers:

Alternative Descriptions
The word “quality” in general is a limiting term, despite the negative connotations that it’s overuse has produced. It’s hard to do (I just caught myself using the term in my own advertising for my photography services), but instead you should go with alternatives like these:

premium, unparalleled, superior, impeccable, exceptional, unmatched, excellence, distinguished

Continue Reading: “Advertising Quality in Your Product”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

How to Buy Back the Business You Sold

There are many entrepreneurs out there who move on, selling the business they created from nothing to a larger company. The sale happens for any number of reasons: the owner just couldn’t make ends meet but there was a market for the product, the owner was ready to move on to something else, or the company had reached a plateau that only a larger company could overcome.

Often these entrepreneurs have a change of heart and want to buy their business back. Many times this is because they just can’t let go and are disappointed in the way the new owners are handling things. On the other hand, the new owners may not be as pleased with their purchase as they anticipated and may even offer to sell the business back. Regardless of the reason, an entrepreneur looking to buy back his previously owned business shouldn’t dive right back in without doing a little leg work first.

Continue Reading: “How to Buy Back the Business You Sold”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 17th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

When to Consider Bankruptcy as an Option

Truth is, most of us don’t want to EVER consider bankruptcy as an option to get out of debt looming over our heads, especially when it comes to our goal for a successful business. Filing bankruptcy, in the eyes of most, is like admitting defeat at our dreams, and no one wants to do that.

Unfortunately, however, there are often circumstances beyond our control, such as unexpected medical problems, which force us into a financial corner that, no matter how we try, we just can’t seem to get out of. If you’re in that corner, and haven’t consider bankruptcy as an option yet, maybe you should.

Consider the following to determine whether bankruptcy may be your only way out:

Map Out a Payment Timeline
Determine your personal average monthly income, and list your personal expenses (such as groceries, mortgage, etc.). Next, list your businesses monthly income and business expenses (utilities, supplies, payroll, etc.). Determine what you have left each month after expenses. No, list your debts, including monthly interest, and find a total.

Continue Reading: “When to Consider Bankruptcy as an Option”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 16th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Business Law, Money |

Getting Your Invention on the Market

You’ve brainstormed for uncountable hours. You’ve killed a dozen trees working through designs and specs. And you’re in the process of registering patent. Now you need to sell this new invention of yours, but how?

The Patent
First of all, don’t go for a full-fledged patent of your invention just yet, because, though you think it’s the greatest invention known to this generation, there may not be a market for it. Have you ever watched ABC’s American Inventor? Did you notice how many people thought the world of their inventions and spent gobs of money “perfecting” them, but were completely wrong about the consumer’s actual need for that product.

Instead of getting a patent right off, and spending quite a bit of money to do it, take the safe route and get a provisional application patent (which is approximately $100). This protects your invention from being swiped by someone else with a “patent pending” status (ever heard that phrase on a commercial?) for a period of one year. Before that 12 month period is expended, however, you must file for a full patent of your product.

Continue Reading: “Getting Your Invention on the Market”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 @ 12:10 AM CDT

Startup, Technology, Ventures |

What’s in a Domain Name?

One of the foremost aspects of starting a business is deciding on the name. You want something memorable, but also something that embodies the services you provide as well as the ethics you stand for.

However, what makes the process even more difficult these days is the difficulty in finding a domain name for your company’s website. And choices are becoming limited, especially when it comes to the .com domains. There are more than 71 million .com domains out there, which is nearly three times the combined total of the other domains, .net, .info, .biz and .us.

Nearly every single word in the english language is already spoken for as a domain name, and many of the obvious phrases associated with those word. This causes a bit of a problem for new businesses, as most want a domain name directly associated with their company name or the service they provide.

Because having a website is so important to the success of a new business, some are even revamping their business name in order to find a domain name that fits. The new hit these days is four-letter business names, which mean the same four-letter domain names. Take, for example, Bebo (a social-networking site), Etsy (an online crafts store), Lala, Lulu, Ning or Zing. Still yet, many businesses are choosing four-letter domain names which aren’t words at all, but simply acronyms for the business.

What’s the appeal of a four-letter domain name? Many say the like the idea that their site is easy for customers to remember. It means less of a chance the customer will spell the website wrong when attempting to access it, as well as faster access to the site (four letters is a lot quicker to type than 15).

I think it all comes down to the fact that, what’s in your domain name should be secondary to your actual business name. That’s more important. And people who are actually interested in you are more interested in the quality of the services your provide, not whether your website domain name is easier to remember. If they want your services or product, they will access your website regardless of the name.


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 14th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Startup, Technology |

What Successful People Do – Part 2

Last week I began summarizing the 9 qualities successful people portray, according to Dr. Henry Cloud’s book 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Success in Love and Life. Today we will be concluding this topic with qualities 6-9.

Successful people . . .

6. Use Their Anger
Many people bottle up anger and dwell on how someone did them wrong. They allow it to fester and infiltrate their attitude in a negative way. Successful people, however, know how to use their anger and disappointment and make something with it. They don’t hate the person, but, rather, hate the act of dishonesty, deception, etc.

Take, for example, the recent Bad Customer Service Experience that I vented about. I used my anger as a means for learning what quality customer service is, and shared that with the blog readers in order to assist them in establishing that quality in their own businesses. Rather than dwell on it (though, mind you, I did write a letter to the owner of the restaurant), I did something with it.

Continue Reading: “What Successful People Do – Part 2″


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Thursday, October 13th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Motivation |

What Successful People Do – Part 1

Successful people have a lot in common. It’s usually not their background (poverty or riches), where they came from (LA or middle-of-nowhere Kansas) and what they’ve been through (lavishly spoiled or battered and bruised). It’s usually not how they were raised or who they rely on. It all comes down to the choices they make.

According to Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life, successful people exude similar qualities that make them a success. Today we will touch on qualities 1-5.

Successful people . . .

1. Pursue Their Dreams
I’ve touched on this topic before in Seeking a Dream and Focus on Your Strengths. Successful people know what they’re good at and that’s where they place their energy. They have dreams and find ways to pursue them vigorously.

Continue Reading: “What Successful People Do – Part 1″


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Motivation |

Revisions to the U.S. Patent Law Under Consideration

United States Patent and Trademark OfficeThe House endorsed a bill last week that would mark “the most significant changes in patent law in more than 50 years.” The last major change to patent law was in 1952. Supporters of the renovations include consumer groups, major high-tech companies, financial associations and farm groups.

The most significant change is duplicating the patent process already established in many overseas countries, such as Europe and Japan, of “first to file” as the patent holder. Currently, the U.S. is the only major industrialized country in the world that still holds a “first to invent” policy.

Of course, these changes would need extra protect from fraudulent inventors who file a patent but have yet to invent the actual product, while someone else has invented the product but was second to file the patent.

Continue Reading: “Revisions to the U.S. Patent Law Under Consideration”


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Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Business Law |

Hard to Find Employees

It’s getting harder and harder to find good help these days. And there are many factors contributing to the problem that you, as a business owner, need to be aware of.

First of all, there is an increased number of young people seeking jobs that require more brain skill than brawn skill, which is making an increased shortage of employees for the manufacturing industry. Mechanics, engineers, freight and delivery truck drivers, machine operators and construction workers are some of the hardest positions to fill.

Another issue is a lack of adequate compensation for the demanding job. Teachers, for example, on a national average really get gypped when it comes to their annual salary and benefits. Though many seek a teaching career for the joy of the work, rather than the pay, there is also a lack of valuable, qualified teachers all over the nation because many just can’t afford such limited pay to support their own families, no matter how much they love to teach.

Continue Reading: “Hard to Find Employees”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 10th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ownership |

How and When You Should Pay Yourself

As a business owner, there are many things you have to worry about. Bills, supplies, meeting customer demand, hiring employees you can count on, choosing the right price for your product… the list goes on and on. One thing that may seem to be moved to the back burner in the midst of all of these concerns is yourself, more specifically, the personal funds you get out of the company.

So, how and when do you pay yourself for all of your hard work? Let’s first focus on the when.

When
To make things easier on your company’s budget, it’s best to pay yourself when you pay your employees. For example, if you pay your employees bi-monthly, then you should be paid on the 15th and 30th as well. This makes for easier accounting for the business, and leaves no doubt as to what you can expect.

Continue Reading: “How and When You Should Pay Yourself”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 9th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

Strengthen Your Voice

Speaking EffectivelyWords aren’t the only thing that make a good impression with clients, investors and partners. How you sound, the power of your voice, also says a lot.

So how do you refrain from cracking your voice in nervousness or melodically putting people to sleep? Here are some tips from Douglas Anderson of Entrepreneur.com:

Practice Breathing
That’s right, you need to practice the one thing that comes completely naturally. The best way to go about it is to practice your speech, greeting, sales pitch, etc. in front of the mirror and watch how your shoulders react. Do they rise and fall when you breath in and out? If so, work on that and try and get your body to react to breath through your abdomen/waist, not your upper torso. When your shoulders move while you talk, it portrays nervousness and a lack of confidence.

Sit/Stand Up Straight
How many times did you mother tell you that growing up? Well, it wasn’t to torment you, it was to help you look presentable, and you should thank her. Additionally, sitting or standing up straight when you’re on the phone, even when the other person can’t see you, makes a world of difference in the way you sound. Good posture doesn’t only portray professionalism, but it allows you to breath more freely, making it easier for you to talk with more power and clarity.

Continue Reading: “Strengthen Your Voice”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 8th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Motivation, Networking |

Leaders Can’t Do It Alone

The term leader is defined as “a guiding or directing head,” which indicates that, as a leader, you must have people to guide and direct. Leaders can’t be leaders without followers.

In other words, you can’t be a leader if you’re not bringing people along for the ride with you. Whoever coined the phrase “it’s lonely at the top,” was not a true leader. There should be no loneliness if you are leading correctly.

As John Maxwell explains it in his Leadership Wired e-newsletter article titled Rising with Your People, a leader is either like a travel agent or a tour guide. Travel agents make your travel arrangements, hand you brochures and even help you plan your daily activities for your vacation; all to a place the have, more than likely, never been. Tour guides take you along with them, show you the sites they’ve already seen, know the best places to eat, sleep and have a good time, etc. True leaders should be like tour guides.

Continue Reading: “Leaders Can’t Do It Alone”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 7th, 2016 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Motivation |

Implementing a Wellness Program

The cost of health benefits for employers and employees alike is a rising concern, especially for smaller business owners. Though it can’t get rid of the cost all together, implementing a wellness program into your employees’ working lifestyle can save you money.

Many high deductible insurance programs pair their health benefits with the implementation of a wellness program in order to provide lower premiums to small business owners and employees. However, the high deductible can reach over $10,000 and, in the long run, can really cause some debt problems if an employee needs medical services.

Continue Reading: “Implementing a Wellness Program”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 6th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

Strengthen Your Memory

I make lists. Lots of lists. I have a list of things to do around the house, and not just this weekend, but long term. I have a list of Christmas gifts I need to make/buy (yes, in August). And there are post-its and dry erase boards all over my house. Why? Because, if I don’t write stuff down, I will inevitably forget it. Typically I think of everything when I’m trying to go to bed, and if I don’t write it down right then, I won’t be able to sleep because my mind becomes a broken record for fear that I will forget whatever it is I thought of. Arg!

If you suffer from the same limited memory that I do, accompanied by the bustle of a life filled with family, friends, owning a business and the like, you’re probably wondering what you can do to strengthen your memory and make life just a little bit easier. Well, you’re in luck, because I have some suggestions:

Focus and Repeat
When you recognize that something is important and you need to remember it, focus your mind on it, whether it be something you thought of or something someone told you. Then repeat it over and over again to yourself out loud. The more times you hear something, the more implanted into your brain it becomes. And that’s the goal, to make an imprint on your brain.

Find a Special Place
No, not for meditation, but for your stuff. I am what some might call overly organized, with filing cabinets and a place for everything. This is, again, so that I don’t forget where things are located when I need them (and I still misplace stuff). If I don’t get something back in the location that I designate for it, it is practically inevitable that it is gone for good because there is little chance I will remember where I put it.

Continue Reading: “Strengthen Your Memory”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation |

Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research

As small business owners, we typically don’t have the resources to spend tons of money on marketing research tactics like corporate American uses, such as focus groups or national surveys, which cost a lot of money to conduct. However, we do have an advantage over big companies – we are closer to the customer. Which means we have more inexpensive, and relatively easy, options available to us.

Before conducting any sort of marketing research as a small business owner, you first need to make sure your client list is up to date with current addresses, telephone numbers and, most importantly, e-mail addresses.

E-mail is one of the best, quickest, and budget efficient ways to communicate with your clientele. It’s also an inexpensive way to do some marketing research, by offering current clients an incentive to take an online survey, such a coupon for 15% off their next purchase. You could also offer an additional 10% off for referring your survey to friends or family who are not current customers. That way you have a chance to get an expanding survey base.

Continue Reading: “Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, October 4th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

Professional Employer Organization Services

Many businesses, especially small ones that don’t necessarily have the man power for all of their human resources, needs use services provided by professional employer organizations (PEO). If you think you might be in need of payroll and various other services, there are some things you’ll need to think about first.

When You Need a PEO
• If you need to provide competitive benefits, such as health insurance, in order to recruit and keep employees. PEOs negotiate rates with insurance carriers for their entire clientele as a whole, which usually gets a better rate for everyone.
• When your business has strict regulation and compliance requirements on the state and federal level that would be difficult and time consuming to keep up with, such as businesses dealing with hazardous chemicals or explosives.

Continue Reading: “Professional Employer Organization Services”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, October 3rd, 2016 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Human Resources, Operations |

How You Know It’s Time to Grow

Those of us that own a business know that, at some point, there will be cause for expansion. This can be both exciting and scary. Exciting because it only means that our business is doing very well and demand for the product/service we provide is growing. Scary because it is practically common knowledge that, next to tapping into the wrong market, the transition from a small business to a not-so-small business is one of the top reasons businesses fail.

There are some clear indications that it is time to expand your business, and being able to recognize those signs will help to eliminate some of the anxiety that accompanies such a change, since you will know it is necessary.

New Challenges
One of the first signs that your business is in need of a change is the fact that you are facing challenges and struggles that you have never faced before. There may be an overwhelming feeling that your losing control of the business.

Continue Reading: “How You Know It’s Time to Grow”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, October 2nd, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Operations, Ownership |

Focus on Your Strengths

Many of us have ambitions to do lots of crazy things with our lives. We dream of being singers on the American Idol stage, strutting our stuff on Broadway, being a star basketball player like Michael Jordan, or climbing Mount Everest.

For most of us, however, these types of dreams are far reaches from reality. For example, many who dream of being singers, can’t really sing at all (hence the American Idol tryout flops). And when it comes to a career, pursuing the dreams that surround our weaknesses are not the ones that will make us successful.

I’m not by any means saying that you shouldn’t pursue a singing, acting or basketball career. In fact, if you are talented at those things, I would applaud you for pursuing them. What I am saying is that the dreams that center around a weakness are not the avenue to go.

Continue Reading: “Focus on Your Strengths”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 1st, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Motivation |