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// by Elaine Eisenman / Jul. 17, 2009 0 comments

 Be Proactive, Find Business Oppurtunities

iStock_000004115582XSmallI’ve always wondered why anyone would want to “keep their nose to the grindstone.” Taken either literally or figuratively, it’s a dangerous thing to do. While the literal danger is easy enough to figure out, the figurative may need some explaining. In times of challenges, companies are often guided to go back to the basics; “keep their heads down” and focus on the here and now. While doing the one thing you do best, and doing it better than anyone else, seems to make sense, it’s also a great way to miss out on both opportunities and new competitors. That’s because the phrase “turbulent times” doesn’t translate into “everything is standing still.” Your savvy competitors are probably very busy. They’re looking for opportunities being driven by the changes happening in the marketplace. They’re looking for ways to innovate, leap frog, if not eliminate, the industry leaders, and perhaps even change the industry all together. One great example of not standing still is Ray Anderson, the founder and former CEO of Interface Carpets. Preparing for a motivational speech on the company’s approach to the environment, Ray realized the most he could say for what his carpet company was doing was “following the law.” Instead of accepting that as acceptable, he started to look for different ways of doing things. What he found was his own passion to change how things were done, a passion that ultimately led to becoming a pioneer in the industry. A pioneer that created the industry of the green office, streamlined its costs, increased customer loyalty, and jump-started employee morale. Well ahead of regulations and his competitors, Ray implemented strategies for waste reduction, recycling, and energy efficiency. And in the process his sales went up 49 percent and he created a new benchmark for his competitors. I recommend companies continually scan their environment for opportunities. Turbulent times bring unique challenges that can become industry-changing innovations if you remember to keep your head up and constantly look and think about what is not only in front of you, but also on either side and coming up behind! After all, keeping your nose to the grindstone, simply results in a disfigured nose… Elaine Eisenman, Guest Blogger  View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers
Elaine Eisenman
// by Julie Brander / Jul. 16, 2009 4 comments

Finding the Right Image

Look at other business cards and identify your likes and dislikes, your business card reflects who you are, it captures the essence of your business image. Consider an eye catching logo, graphic or picture if appropriate. A business card should:
  • Have your business name that is clear and easy to read Have a tag line to convey the benefits at a quick glance
  • Must be printed on heavy card stock
  • Can be printed on both sides for additional information/appointments
  • Always include your name and title, address, phone number, fax number, email address and website.
. Carry at least 20 cards at all times and hand to everyone you meet Please share ideas that you have used on your business cards that have been effective in your business.
Julie Brander
Business Mentor
SCORE New Haven
Julie has been a SCORE volunteer since 1997. She has 20 years of experience in business, starting a manufacturing, wholesale and retail jewelry company. After selling her business, she dedicated herself to helping other entrepreneurs start and expand their business.
// by SCORE Association / Jul. 15, 2009 4 comments

Listen First for Understanding

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood," Steven Covey, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Fully 75 percent of people are extroverts, according to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. It means most of us are more likely to talk than listen. As an entrepreneur, your ability to listen to clients, advice, the marketplace and trends all help you make good decisions. Here are some ways to listen and build success: What is active listening? Learn more. Learn through listening. Advisory board article. Making the sale. Eight tips by Rieva Lesonsky. Getting a mentor on your team. Ask SCORE online. Share your comments. We're listening to you. 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 Betty Otte / Jul. 14, 2009 18 comments

The Value of a Positive Attitude

Sunflower and SkyThe other day I was reading an article about ridding yourself of the negative voices in your head. We have all read such articles -- "I don't deserve this or that," "I'll never be as pretty as my friend" and other such self defacing thoughts. I had many sales women on my sales team who came on as, what I called, shooting stars. They sold everything in sight only to drop from the heavens a month or so later. This being an example of "I don't deserve to be successful, rich, good...." Pick your poison. Then shortly after reading the article I was talking to a woman at SCORE who's company was going through bad times. We went through the standard routine of cutting back payables, collecting receivables, etc. but I noticed she was doing this with a very positive attitude. I was a bit surprised as many clients we now see at SCORE are very serious and worried. I asked how she was able to go through this difficult time for her company and maintain her positive attitude. Her answer: "I have a Happiness Filter which filters out negative thoughts." Never thought of negative thoughts being blocked by a Happiness Filter and loved the concept. Was she being unrealistic and a bit Pollyannaish? I don't think so as she had a good handle on what needed to be done, but she used her Happiness Filter to keep her moral and productivity up. Seemed like a great idea to me. Do any of you have a Happiness Filter? I'm working on keeping mine in 24 hour operation. No more bad dreams day or night for me! How is your Happiness Filter doing? Betty Otte, SCORE Orange County View more posts by Betty
Betty Otte
// by SCORE Association / Jul. 13, 2009 7 comments

Nominate Yourself Today

beautiful businesswomanBusinessWeek presents the fifth annual “Best U.S. Entrepreneurs 25 and Under” contest. The goal is to identify companies that both demonstrate a clear potential for growth and establish the talent of the young folks behind them. The 25 best companies will be featured on the Small Business Channel on October 9 and viewers will be able to vote for their favorite. The top five most voted companies will be announced November 9. All company co-founders must be 25 or under to qualify for. Nominate yourself today. Entry Deadline: August 16, 2009 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 Elaine Eisenman / Jul. 10, 2009 0 comments

Adjust for Changing Times

iStock_000006667499SmallOne of the most difficult aspects of leadership in times of uncertainty is to not only adjust to new realities yourself, but to get your entire organization to as well. Uncertainty comes about because of change. And the world is going through tremendous change right now. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but it is widely accepted that we will not be going back to business as we knew it. Capital markets are clamping shut. Regulations on industries and companies are becoming stricter. And companies that don’t adjust, won’t survive. That’s reality. But it is also an opportunity. Companies and their CEOs need to be realistic about the changes they need to make today to play in the business world of tomorrow. No matter how hard you wish for things to fall into place, that wish will not come true. The only possibility for success is for you to take control of all that you can control. If access to capital was part of your short-term strategy, what changes can you make to be less dependent on external funding? What product changes will you need to make to adhere to future, stricter environmental regulations? Being realistic now will allow you to be proactive, which in turn will make it that much easier to emerge stronger from the current turbulence and ready to face the future…successfully. Elaine Eisenman, Guest Blogger  View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers
Elaine Eisenman
// by Julie Brander / Jul. 9, 2009 2 comments

Upcoming Webinar

Redhead on laptop Check out the “Successfully Running a Small Business Summit” on July 14, 2009.  Click here to register. Title: Money Saving Tips on How to Recession Proof your Business Presenter: Julie Brander, MBA, Adjunct Professor of Buisness and SCORE Mentor Date: July 14, 2009 Time: 11:00 PST Duration: 45 minutes Summary: We'll discuss ways to save money and immediate action steps to reduce expenses. Examples of how to save money will be explained in the following categories: business, personal, automobile and household.
Julie Brander
Business Mentor
SCORE New Haven
Julie has been a SCORE volunteer since 1997. She has 20 years of experience in business, starting a manufacturing, wholesale and retail jewelry company. After selling her business, she dedicated herself to helping other entrepreneurs start and expand their business.
// by SCORE Association / Jul. 8, 2009 4 comments

Be Positive. Be Yourself.

MicrophoneLinkedIn has more than 40 million users in 170 industries. If this is new to you, here's the quick version. LinkedIn is an online, social network primarily for business. Visit, www.linkedin.com. Create a profile with your name, picture and info about your career background. Then, you can send invididual email invites or load in your email contact list to be part of your online network. This gives you a way to assemble close and acquaintance business connections in your own online, address book. Very basic. Now here is the beauty of it. Improve Your Google Search Results: When you set up your profile, you can create a custom URL that has your first and last name. This will show up in Google results after about 48 hours and helps clients find you online. Share Your News. You can post a sentence update about yourself, your business, an event that your connections see. You can share valuable info with contacts, without multiple emails. Just a simple weekly update. Ask Questions/Answer Questions. You can learn from the 40 million users by asking your questions. You get many answers and can choose what helps you the most. SCORE mentors are online and often answer small biz questions. Get Recommendations. You can send individual messages to your contacts asking for a reference. These testimonials are powerful on LinkedIn. This is a way to show that you and your business are excellent. Be courteous. If you want to reach out to someone with a business idea, send an InMail message via LinkedIn. Many folks use a personal address with their profile, send personal messages not pitches to that address. You will find a SCORE group online. Search groups and join us.  It's free. Sign up for LinkedIn. 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 / Jul. 7, 2009 7 comments

Optimize Your Social Media Sites Using PowerPoint

I use PowerPoint for all of my graphics projects. A designer will laugh at this because they probably use software such as PhotoShop to handle complex projects. Well, I don’t know PhotoShop well enough to whip out something fast, but I know just about everything that PowerPoint can do. And for the types of projects I have, I’ve figured out how to get them done fast using this software I already have. My latest project consisted of changing my Twitter background for my main Twitter account, and another one here @ digitalbreaks. Here’s how I did it. Twitter Background 20001 Ready PowerPoint for Your Design
  1. Decide on your color scheme, matching your Website, blog, etc. (or not), and sketch out a rough design. (Here are some charts that show you Web colors that match.)
  2. In PowerPoint, resize a landscape slide to 20” Width and 12.5 inches Height (click the File menu, Page Setup). Depending on your monitor and resolution, you may have to reduce the Zoom level in order to see more of your slide (zoom in and out as you need to see more detail).
  3. Either from Slide Master view or directly on the slide, change the color of your background. Make it more interesting by using two colors and experimenting with Shading styles (click the Format menu, Background, down arrow to Fill Effects, Two colors (then click the down arrow and choose colors). Try the different Shading styles. My @ peggyduncan Twitter background is a dark blue and white with the Shading style, From title.

Here's a Video - Part 1

Place Your Graphics and Customize Your Design
  1. Display the ruler (click the View menu, Ruler).
  2. To place graphics on your slide, first set your Zoom level at 50%. The zero (0) marks the center of your slide. Using the ruler as your guide, to the left, place your graphics between 0-8.5. On the right, place them between 4.5 and 6.5.
  3. Use guides and a grid to help you line everything up (View, Grids and Guides, Display drawing guides on screen, Display grid on screen.
  4. Create more guides by hovering your mouse over one and dragging while holding down the  Ctrl key. When you're finished and don't need as many guides, click and drag some of them off the screen.
  5. Add any other drawing elements and graphics you want (the higher the resolution the better). Add text using a text box so it will be easier to move around (located on the Drawing toolbar. Click the Tools menu, Toolbars, Drawing).
  6. Save the slide as a PNG (click the File menu and change Save as type to PNG Portable Network Graphics Format, Current Slide Only). The final filesize can not be larger than 800k for Twitter. If you need to resize any photos (but maintain the quality), read my previous post, Resize a Bunch of Photos by the Batch.
It’s important to note that when you save your slide as a graphic, it’ll only be 96dpi. This might be good enough for your design but if it’s not as sharp as you want, check out rNr Image Exporter from the PPTools Website. This is the software I use when I need to save my PowerPoint slides in higher resolution (about $30.00 and worth every dime), especially when I need to print them.

Here's a Video - Part 2 Here's a Video - Part 2.5 Add Design to Twitter as Background Once you’re satisfied with your PowerPoint design, sign into your Twitter account.

  1. Click Settings, Design tab.
  2. Under the default theme, click Change background image, Browse to find your graphic, double-click it.
  3. Untick the tile background box (so design won’t repeat itself when viewing using different monitor resolutions), Save changes.

Tweaking It Until It's Right

You will probably have to tweak your PowerPoint design several times and resave until you get it just the way you want it. I use two monitors: one on my laptop and a second 22", with both set at resolution 1280 by 720 pixels. The designs looked different on both so I tweaked it as much as I could so it would look great both ways. You have no control over other people's monitor resolutions so just do this to your satisfaction. A huge advantage of doing this in PowerPoint is that tweaking is so easy.

Now change the default colors in Twitter such as the sidebar background color, text, and links.
  1. Go back into Settings, Design tab, Change design colors.
  2. You may want to change the text, links, sidebar, and sidebar border, keeping everything color-coordinated with your new design.
  3. Click the sidebar block to select it. Now use your mouse to click desired color in the box and use the sliding bar next to it to hone in on the exact color you want. When you’re satisfied, click Done.
  4. Repeat Step 3 for each color block until you’re satisfied and click Save Changes.

Here's a Video - Part 3

After you've created your new background, leave a comment and link so we can check it out. Note: In my next post, I'll show you how to create a customized skin for your YouTube channel. Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta View more posts by Peggy
Peggy Duncan
// by SCORE Association / Jul. 6, 2009 2 comments

Disaster Preparedness for Summer 2009

Although hurricane season only affects certain areas of the United States, disaster can affect any business. Is your business prepared for: floods, fire, power outages and natural disasters? Check out these tips and tools to help protect your business from disaster: Monitor Hurricane Patterns Attend Disaster Prep Workshops SCORE Disaster Prep and Relief Page Find a Mentor with Disaster Experience What are you doing to prepare? 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