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// by Lisbeth McNabb / Jan. 23, 2009 1 comments
leadership-four-principles-mentoring-transactional-world.jpg

One: Be a mentee first. To be a strong mentor you need to have been a mentee. At every stage of our professional journey, we can learn from someone around us with wisdom and experience in a new area. We can also mentor others who desire to learn from our perspective.

Two: Be a servant leader. I encourage you to embrace the servant leader principle of giving forward especially with our mentees and trusted circle. They are those key professional people with whom we share our time, network freely and know that due respect will be given. And, it does not need to be clear how we will gain a tangible benefit as we mentor.

Three: Share from personal experience. You need to share from personal experience while not betraying the confidence of others. Share perspectives and wisdom. This is more helpful then providing advice or recommendations. Ask questions, share examples of related experiences and let the mentee make their independent decisions as they build their own path.

Four: Have mentors external to your work place. You can only mentor fully when you are not personally vested in the outcome of the mentees choices. If you find that you have a conflict of interest, you need to find your mentee another mentor. Because of the need for independence and objectivity, you also need mentors outside your department and outside your company. Lisbeth McNabb, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers

Lisbeth McNabb
// by Julie Brander / Jan. 22, 2009 6 comments
Managing-Tips-Todays-Business-Challenges

Business is harder today than ever before and with high unemployment rates and families faced with financially challenging times, a business owner must think carefully about how to keep their market share. There are day to day issues that must be dealt with in business, carefully think about each issue and determine a solution that will give you the best result. Important tips to consider:

1. Always control your expenses in all areas of business to increase the profit margins. Inventory costs, labor costs, supplies, and all direct and indirect expenses. Everything can and should be negotiated. Money saved will add thousands of dollars in additional profits.

2. Sell your products or services many different ways: online, storefront, wholesale, trade shows, home parties, corporate sales, sales promotions and incentives, joint marketing, and on consignment to name a few.

3. Always add new products and services for business growth. Protect your intellectual property properly with copyrights, trademarks and patents. www.uspto.gov.

4. Listen to your customers and ask your customers what they want, they will tell you and give you new ideas that will inspire change.

5. To retain customers, make it easy for them to do business with youDeliver on time and do what you promise. Go out of your way and do things that you normally would not do. Always exceed your customer’s expectations and give them a reason to come back. These are a few ideas. Please share other things that have worked for you?

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 Lisbeth McNabb / Jan. 16, 2009 0 comments
web-social-networking-for-you-and-your-company

How are you using the social networking tools available in LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo! Groups, w2wlink.com’s Network Circles, and other online tools? I get asked questions about online and social networking more than any other after I am introduced as a former match.com key player or as the CEO of w2wlink.com, a professional community of tools and networking for women. Here is an example of how I use LinkedIn to network effectively online.

Pick an objective and be disciplined in the pursuit.

Objectives. My four main objectives are to

1) to network with people I know directly

2) to develop new business for my company,

3) to hire people for my company and

4) to mutually help others in my direct network for their goals. I use LinkedIn to stay connected to my direct network. (When I was in a larger company I would work with an HR leader to contact within my Linkedin network).

People change companies and email addresses at such a high rate. LinkedIn helps me to stay in touch, update info and learn of progress. Discipline. When I sign into LinkedIn, I am focused on reconnecting with specific people, companies, titles or areas. I catch myself when I begin to wander or spend excess time poking around the site. Some meandering and browsing is productive, but with balance between time spent and achieving my objectives. I also use other social networks, but I think the key is balancing the objective and the discipline. This includes social networks which I visit in order to learn, explore and stumbleupon ideas. But, that discussion is for another blog post. Lisbeth McNabb, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers

Lisbeth McNabb
// by Julie Brander / Jan. 15, 2009 4 comments
finance-15-money-saving-tips-tough-economic-times

Do a business budget to determine where to cut back on all expenses.

  1. Sublease your space, share space or rent smaller space.
  2. Always check for cell phone and telephone promotions.
  3. Conserve all resources: a. Reduce utility bills by turning off lights using energy saving bulbs and lowering heat. b. Lease equipment or subcontract out tasks that can save labor.
  4. Ask to have finance charges lowered on your charge cards.
  5. Direct deposit for payroll cuts expenses and time.
  6. Lower interest rates on loans.
  7. Check bank statements carefully for added fees that may be charged.
  8. Cut back on all of your travel and entertainment expenses.
  9. Cut back on catered parties and do potlucks instead.
  10. Supplying food and drinks for your employees should be cut back.
  11. Only buy inventory that will be sold quickly, negotiate with manufacturers to drop ship or stock inventory for you.
  12. When marketing, purchase incentives can be more effective than branding ads. A call for action to get the customer to purchase now.
  13. Give employees financial incentives when business is increased.
  14. Offer a 4 day work week or hire part-time employees.
  15. Give titles rather than raises.

Business owners must be cautious and conscious of where all the money is being spent and to think about ways to save. Have your accountant help you with money saving tips and always know that once you spend money it is not always easy to make it back. Always consider when you spend there should always be a return on the investment. Let me know other money saving tips that have worked for you. For additional planning help for your small business, contact your local SCORE.

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 Lisbeth McNabb / Jan. 9, 2009 4 comments
Planning-30-60-90-day-play

As an entrepreneur, there are moments and days where the list is overwhelming of what needs to be done to drive cashflow and growth. A tool I use successfully to stay on course is a 30-60-90 one page tool. Simply put, it is:

  1. the top 3 areas that I need to get results
  2. the top 2-3 actions to the area
  3. who around me is on point
  4. when does the action need to be completed within the next 90 days

SAMPLE: KEY AREA - MARKETING

Action Area

Who

When

Draft New Campaign

Marketing Director

30 Days

Create Blog

Webmaster

90 Days

Implement Adwords

Marketing Coordinator

60 Days

As a CEO, the first year is heavily focused on: building revenue, building the team or partners, and closing investors or building cash from a second source. In a tough economic environment, such as in 2008, I have had quarters that I am raising capital externally and quarters that I am building a second channel of sales. Bottom line, whether handwritten or typed, this is my clear plan. And, my key players are on point with me to drive these results. As an early stage company, you cannot execute every idea, but you must execute the key actions. Lisbeth McNabb, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers

Lisbeth McNabb
// by Julie Brander / Jan. 8, 2009 3 comments
success-change-the-way-you-look-at-business

Owners of new and growing small businesses today know that the conditions of a business can change, as we have seen with the current economy. The technology that was cutting edge last year is now outdated, or worse, obsolete. Buyer moods can swing dramatically and marketing strategies are constantly changing as we need to think of ways to save money. Anticipating trends can be extremely valuable in keeping you current on everything from sales strategies and customer needs to technology tools and the general economy. Business is not growing and the challenge is what can be done to sustain, change will be inevitable and small business owners should constantly look ahead and think about ways to change the way they do things. The more you test the winds of change, the better your chances of success down the road.

  • Always try to set your business apart by doing things that the customer may not expect.
  • What do your customers need now in this economy as everyone struggles to make it?
  • Add value to your service, what can you offer that is recession proof?
  • Think about something that your customer needs that is essential to their business growth. Try to think about the next new trend.

Not all customers are created equal. Some are more valuable and loyal than others, and those are the ones you should pay the most attention to with special savings and service offers. And don’t expect loyalty from employees. As American society becomes ever more mobile and labor shortages worsen, studies have shown that workers will not stay on a job for more than three years. People are always looking for their next opportunity. Advances in technology will continue to radically change how small companies do business. You will need to keep up. Small business owners who know how to acquire and manage information will achieve the most success. Capturing and analyzing data about customer needs, wants, behavior and how they use your product or service will become increasingly critical. Always ask customers what they want and always exceed your customers expectations. Let me know if there are other things that have worked for you?

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 / Jan. 6, 2009 0 comments

Surround Yourself with Positive People

woman_mentorMake 2009 your year to shine. Don’t let the economy get you down. Look for opportunities. And, look for advisors to help you plan ahead. A mentor can help you look past the trees to see the bigger picture & how the broader landscape may give you insights into creating your success. If finances are on your mind, check out this free download, by SCORE and Visa: Financial Management Workbook. If you’re making a new year’s resolution, then focus on getting a great mentor. SCORE offers mentors to help you with cash management, setting sales goals, pricing strategy and more. Be positive. Be realistic. And, surround yourself with trusted advisors. You can Ask SCORE online today. -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 Peg Corwin / Dec. 30, 2008 3 comments
life-balance-catch-it-it-falls-floor

I've just watched a video in Stanford's E-Corner where Carol Bartz of Autodesk talks about balancing life and career.

Carol's advice? Don't expect short-term balance.  She reminds us busy women that there is always see-sawing, that perfect balance is not sustainable in the short term.

"Just catch it before it falls to the floor" she advises.  If you're conscious that you've ignored one aspect -- your mother, your flowers, whatever, "just go do some of it."  If you've neglected your professional literature, sit in a room with the door closed for a half hour and read.

In the long-term, balance is important. Carol urges us to aim for a healthy mix between work and life over the longer run.  This clearly requires setting priorities and regular planning:  Sundays with the kids and no email.  Tuesday afternoons for followup calls to propects.  Improve order processing by January 1st. Listen to Carol Bartz' entire 43 minute interview, or see short videoclips of its segments, organized by topic, such as Managing a Balanced Life.   In the Stanford E-corner, you'll find more video and audio interviews with many big names, like Carly Fiorina, formerly of HP, and Marissa Meyer of Google.   Men too, of course.

What do you think about short- and long-term balance? Share with me in a post, please. -Peg Corwin, SCORE Chicago View more posts by Peg

Peg Corwin
// by Peggy Duncan / Dec. 11, 2008 2 comments
technology-get-found-online-with-free-blog-tools-part-ii

I hope you’ve already added enhancements to your blog from the previous post (Part I) and improved your chances of getting found online. Here are a few more things to implement.

Create a sitemap. A sitemap organizes the information on your Website or blog and puts all the data a search engine needs in one place. It doesn't boost your rankings but it makes it easier for search engines to index your site (which improves rankings). Try this free online sitemap generator.

Register it in all the right places. There are many ways to promote your blog. Two include listing it with Technorati.com (an Internet search engine for blogs) and BlogCatalog.com (a social blog directory where thousands of blog sites are searched, rated, and reviewed).

Create a mobile version. Mofuse is a plug-in that detects when someone is coming to your blog or Website from a handheld device and will offer up a mobile version of it. If you have ideas to share, please leave a comment. -Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta  View more posts by Peggy

Peggy Duncan
// by SCORE Association / Dec. 10, 2008 0 comments

Time to Wrap up 2008 Sales

By December 19th, the sales year is pretty much over for most businesses. If you have proposals waiting for approval, seek the signature and that deposit in 2008. Get some revenue on the books and some business in the door for 2009.    
ducks_in_row If you are a retailer, this is your time. Take two hours this week to look at how you're doing for the holiday season. Make a mini-plan now to refresh your store windows every Monday between now and the new year. Foot traffic attracted by your displays can create energy and impulse buys. To help rev up your energy: Get tips on business vision from mighty entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Free to you thanks to our interview. Get Download. Free offers are interesting. Use them sparingly, but offer something of value. In retail, this loss leader generates excitement, interest and the sense that you really get your customers & their needs. I have a free offer for you. Visit the SCORE landing page to find out about our Free 1 Gig USB Drive. Visit page to Contact us (hint: link at end of page)  to be one of 10 who get a free drive each week in December. Visit December offers. Always free and confidential...SCORE business advice. It's what we are all about connecting you with experienced business experts as mentors. Give SCORE a try. Ask SCORE online. Visit next Wednesday for a post on sales forecasting. -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