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// by SCORE Association / Aug. 24, 2009 0 comments

Win an All-in-One Color Printer

hp_laserjet_printerNeed a new printer to help your small business succeed? HP is launching the "HP Officejet Pro Challenge: Laser Edition through August 27, 2009. Five small businesses will be chosen at random to replace their existing non-HP color laser printer with an HP Officejet Pro 8500 Wireless All-in-One. Go to, www.hp.com/go/officejetprochallenge and fill out the entry form by August 27, 2009. U.S. small biz owners are eligible, with fewer than 20 employees that currently use a non-HP color laser printer (worth $600 or less), are eligible to enter. HP will provide enough paper and inkjet cartridges to last the duration of the four week challenge as well as let the five winning businesses keep the printers. In return, the winning businesses will blog about their experiences with the printer on the HP Small and Medium Business Community. The business with the most "useful" votes, as determined by his/her peers, will win free HP ink cartridges and paper for a year as well as a Roadworks by HP website design package, for a total prize valued at more than $2,100. Let us know how small business contests have helped your company succeed! SCORE Association View more posts by SCORE
SCORE Association

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our mentoring at no charge and our workshops at no or low cost.
@SCOREMentors | Facebook | Google+ | More from SCORE

// by Jane Pak / Aug. 21, 2009 2 comments

Continue Your Education

iStock_000005269748XSmallOne of the smartest things any business owner can do is continue their education. The remarkable thing about a recession is it brings to light all of the business practices we believed to be strong and true and reveals how reliable they really are. One thing is for sure – surviving the waiting time for an economy to heal takes sustainability and for a business that means being in a positive cash position to be able to buy time and adjust short term strategies. Fellow SCORE guest blogger Sue Hartman stated an excellent point which I will copy and paste to save you the time of searching for the actual blog: “Companies that have a longer term strategic plan (3+ years) have a significant competitive advantage in challenging economic times. They have already gone through the exercise of indentifying/prioritizing key initiatives and know where to apply their limited resources. (i.e., $’s, people). They already have a clear vision for the organization (i.e., what will the company look like in the future)? In most cases, a recession may slow down the rate at which a company moves forward, but more often than not, a depressed economy does not change the direction that a company should pursue.” This couldn’t be truer and for those of you who aren’t sure if you have a long term strategic plan, then chances are – you don’t. That’s the bad news. The good news is, there are plenty of places you can go to learn how to begin the process – many of them at your local university, business/management school. The Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners is fortunate enough to offer a robust program through the organization that teaches women business owners exactly how to develop the long term sustainable strategy, develop with a group of peers similar in size of business and experiencing the same growing pains. And the proof is in the pudding – our graduates have seen an average of 150-250% increase in profitability within a 1-2 years of graduating from our program. These are also the same businesses who, despite the recession, are still alive and kicking. These are the same businesses who will be prepared for the next recession when it comes around in about 15 years. An important point of clarification regarding having a long term strategic plan: this is not the same as a business plan. A business plan is a written document which details a proposed or existing venture. It explains the intended vision and status, anticipated needs, defined target markets and projected results. A long-term strategic plan focuses on organizational development and transition from an entrepreneurial endeavor to a professionally managed firm built on a foundation of the existing target market, products and services offered to support the market, resources to support the products and services, operational systems to support the organization, management of the organization and definition of the corporation’s culture. Basically, a long term strategic plan is the natural “next step” once the business plan is in effect. During tough times, business owners re-evaluate every expense. Time is an expense and utilizing any free time you have as a business owner now, while business is slow, to invest in the future to prevent being so severely affected by a recession is one of the smartest things you can do particularly before you get too busy as the economy recovers.   Jane Pak, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers
Jane Pak
// by SCORE Association / Aug. 19, 2009 2 comments

Overcome Adversity with a Back-up Plan

iStock_000007309956XSmall[1]In this land of opportunity, there is sometimes adversity. What's the solution? Plan B. If you are ready to start-up a business until you find another job or take on a few freelance assignments while looking for a job--plan ahead. Plan B can work for you. First, surround yourself with great people. Colleagues who believe in you and who can encourage your success. Your network of contacts who can be potential referral sources. And, mentors to guide you on successful first steps.

Plan B Quick Start

1. Decide up front is this a short term path or long-term future. 2. Form a business, even a sole proprietorship. It helps when managing your taxes. 3. On one page define your business vision, sales goal, net earnings (income for you after expenses) and how you are going to secure those sales. 4. Meet with a mentor to review your plan. Identify expenses and set sales targets. Get feedback. Ask questions to help you hone your plan.

Resources for a Start-up

Free Tools to Accelerate Success Quiz: Be Your Own Boss Talk over your idea. Think about your business direction. Map out a plan of action. Get advice, feedback and support Get a SCORE mentor. Christine Banning, SCORE View more posts by Christine
SCORE Association

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our mentoring at no charge and our workshops at no or low cost.
@SCOREMentors | Facebook | Google+ | More from SCORE

// by Jane Pak / Aug. 14, 2009 13 comments

Tips for Finding the Right Community

iStock_000005068328XSmall_CroppedOne of the best parts about becoming a business owner is the “freedom”. We take the leap of faith with dreams of flexible work schedules, executive decisions, self-dictated income and freedom from the shackles of reporting for duty at someone else’s beck and call. The only thing we think we’ll miss is the steady paycheck and the group health insurance. But what many will find after a period of time is that the days are typically longer, pay is lower, less steady and freedom has its price. This is normal when you’re a start-up. What many of us don’t anticipate is how little we appreciated the interaction with peers – the sense of community that comes with being a member of something bigger with other people. Sole-ownership can lead to the sense of living on an island and as humans and specifically women, we are inherently social beings. Business ownership can be counter-intuitive to what makes us feel connected. So where should you begin to find your tribe? As business owners, we’re chiefs of our own tribes, to find a group to belong to is the exact opposite of business ownership. But as members of a community, it’s critical that we play both leader in our own domains as well as team player in the big community sandbox. As a woman does it make more sense to join a local chamber of commerce or a women’s business organization? What about the multiple women’s networking or peer groups? The options for women are endless and every day there’s a new group of women, matrons, mavens, ladies, broads, you name it – they’re out there. So how do you know where you belong? The good news is – everyone wants you. The bad news is, it’ll take a little test driving to figure out who’s the right fit for you. As the CEO of the largest membership based women’s business trade organization in Los Angeles, I like to believe that we meet the most needs and offer the best value proposition. I suggest asking the following questions of you and of the potential tribe of choice:
  1.  What stage am I in my business? This is where you determine the number of years in business, revenues/gross receipts, number of employees and where you hope to be.
  2. What am I looking for in a tribe? This is an important question to figure out as a business owner and a tribal member. The offerings can range from social engagement to business development, educational offerings to procurement opportunities, peer learning to political advocacy. The thing to do is create a list of what is most important to you and find the organization that puts a strong emphasis on those top priorities.
  3. What is my intended level of participation? Do you want to join a group to simply say you’re a member? Perhaps part of your long-terms strategy involves becoming a board member as a key action item towards growth. Maybe you’re only interested in marketing yourself to the community.
  4. What’s my measure of success? Be clear on what you intend to do for the investment of your membership dues. Ask yourself, at the end of the first year, what will have happened that will make it worth it for me to renew? How well were my needs and wants met? Would I recommend this organization to another business owner?
Jane Pak, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers
Jane Pak
// by SCORE Association / Aug. 12, 2009 4 comments

Are You Marketing to the Cost Conscious Consumers?

bags_on_groundOne of my favorite retailing gurus Pam Danziger said in one of her books, it's all about "shops that pop." 

Are You Marketing to the Cost Conscious Consumers?

bags_on_groundOne of my favorite retailing gurus Pam Danziger said in one of her books, it's all about "shops that pop."  Right now, you have an opportunity to appeal to the consumer. This weekend, I saw mass market chains with large areas of empty floor space, uninspired accessory selections and store windows that really are the blah in blase'. For the small business retailer, this is a gift. Act now to market to impulse purchases, foot traffic and the flair your shop windows. If the major market retailers lack inspiration right now, you have an edge. Create a shop that pops. You can visit Pam's site to get her free newsletter about marketing to the affluent customer. Every consumer is reacting to this recession. Now, it's your turn to counteract the blues and attract some green to your store.

Some added retail resources:

Quiz: Do Your Customers Return? How to: 12 Ways to Improve Retail Sales Sales Team: 5 Ways to Motivate Your Sales Staff Take some time this month to plan your store windows, displays and impulse purchase plan. You can meet with a mentor to look at mobilizing your sales team to make the most of retail foot traffic. Christine Banning, SCORE  View more posts by Christine

SCORE Association

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our mentoring at no charge and our workshops at no or low cost.
@SCOREMentors | Facebook | Google+ | More from SCORE

// by Peggy Duncan / Aug. 11, 2009 7 comments

Recover Your Hardware and Software After Theft

A fellow business owner had the misfortune of a home break-in. The thieves made off with three of his laptops. Like so many others, he's taking extra precautions after the fact. I, on the other hand, am proactive. I take special care with my laptop because I run my entire business on it. I'm fanatical about backing up all my important data online, my laptop is never out of my sight when I travel, it's password-protected, and I have a subscription to Computrace® LoJack® for Laptops by Absolute® Software. This software "tracks, locates, and recovers stolen computers while providing you with the ability to protect your personal information from identify theft," as stated on their Website. If my laptop is ever stolen, I'll let Absolute know, and the software goes to work tracking its location. I will also be able to remotely delete all of my personal and sensitive files from the hard drive. To password-protect a PC or laptop, click Start, Control Panel, double-click User Accounts. You should see where to create a password (make it memorable but hard for others to guess). I hope I never need this protection, but I sleep better at night knowing it's in place. Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta View more posts by Peggy
Peggy Duncan
// by Jane Pak / Aug. 7, 2009 8 comments

The Strategic (and Smart) Business of Collaboration

Networking_WomenThere’s nothing like a swift economic crash to force business owners to immediately go into crisis-management mode. All businesses have scaled back spending, increased business development efforts and have continues of boot strapping to ride out the storm. From times like these come the adage, “never waste a crisis,” and nothing could be truer. A year ago the business environment was overflowing with opportunity. Now most businesses have experienced decreased profits, increased pressure from delayed payments, reduced or eliminated credit, loss of customers and overall contracting. However, in light of such misfortune, a greater opportunity exists. This requires a shift in thought process. Co-opetition is a counter-intuitive method of practicing business. It happens when you, recognize another business with a similar value proposition. It requires reaching out to another business with a historical competitive advantage and working together to gain market share as partners. Inherently, the practice of co-opetition makes us uncomfortable because essentially we feel we’re joining forces with the enemy. But in an environment where opportunity is lean, it is best to embrace the mentality that it is better to share 50 percent of something than to have 100 percent of nothing. I highly encourage business owners to consider their competition as potential collaborators. For example, one area of business opportunity which has been minimally impacted, and is receiving direct support through stimulus dollars is government contracts. For anyone who has competed in the contracting world, you know that it is a highly competitive arena full of “big dogs” who may engage small and minority enterprises to subcontract with them. It is difficult to gain an advantage against the larger corporations. The easier path is to sub-contract with a large primary contractor. There are numerous opportunities in the small to mid-value range that may be less appealing to larger contractors. Many of these contracts are up for grabs. As a small business, it would be beneficial for you to cooperate with another firm that, when combined with yours, makes you a medium-sized dog. This method isn’t only effective in the procurement arena. When seeing shrinkage in your customer base, it is obviously time to ask yourself, “What can I do differently to attract a more diverse client base?” Sometimes co-opetition does not involve your competition, but rather a company that has a relevant demographic similar to your own. For example, your baby-clothing store could do well to partner and share space with a maternity store. This brings both of your markets to one location for at least five years of continued patronage. While this course of action may not seem ideal, you should at least consider it. Co-opetition could lead to an entirely new and profitable business model. And, it still beats the alternative—doing nothing at all. Jane Pak, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers
Jane Pak
// by SCORE Association / Aug. 5, 2009 1 comments

Give Feedback & Connect with Us Online

BlogThanks for visiting the SCORE Women's Success Blog. We love reading your comments and feedback. If you like what you see, please take a moment to rate our blog and leave a note on Blog Catalog. You can also submit your favorite posts on Digg or share with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Also, check out our other social media sites and get great information for the success of your small business. Become a fan on Facebook and get workshop event info. Follow us on Twitter and get trendy small biz news. Join our LinkedIn group to make great connections. How has SCORE helped your small business succeed? SCORE Association View more posts by SCORE
SCORE Association

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our mentoring at no charge and our workshops at no or low cost.
@SCOREMentors | Facebook | Google+ | More from SCORE

// by SCORE Association / Aug. 5, 2009 5 comments

Do You Ask Your Network for Help?

mature_woman_at_laptopNetworking. Conjures images of business card exchanges. But, what's really powerful is building bridges. Then, asking your network, "would you help me with..." When your network answers with a resounding yes, then you are well-connected. I don't have the source, but love this quote, "It's not Who You Know. It's who knows you." Your network knows you and your business. You have trust. You can ask and it will yield advice, introductions and sometimes sales. This week, I will be traveling to Dallas to speak at the eWomen Network Conference. Thousands of women entrepreneurs will be there to listen, learn and network. A team of SCORE mentors will be hosting two sessions for mentoring on everything from start-up tips, to cash for business to search engine optimization. The power of building networks in action. Can't attend the conference? Try these resources: Download PDF: Making the Most of Your Network SCORE Mentoring: Free, Confidential Online or In Person Quiz: How Well Do You Network? Christine Banning, SCORE View more posts by Christine
SCORE Association

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our mentoring at no charge and our workshops at no or low cost.
@SCOREMentors | Facebook | Google+ | More from SCORE

// by SCORE Association / Aug. 3, 2009 1 comments

Find Great Resources for Your Business Start-up

excited_girlAre you wondering if you’re really ready to start your own business and be your own boss? SCORE can help. Check out these tips, tools and resources that help you set the right course. 60 Second Guides Business Quizzes Business Columns Reading Room Resource Links Top Five Tips   Talk over your ideas with a mentor online or in person. SCORE Association View more posts by SCORE
SCORE Association

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our mentoring at no charge and our workshops at no or low cost.
@SCOREMentors | Facebook | Google+ | More from SCORE