5 Outdated Beliefs That Are Hurting Your Business

Take your time.  Read through the list and see if you had or still have any of these beliefs.  No shame in being honest, all of us have probably had at least one one of the listed items pass through our minds as we begun to conduct and operate our business.   So much has changed over the course of a few years and over various industries that we cannot continue to hold onto outdated beliefs, especially as business owners.  Everything goes through cycles, phases and re-boots.  Holding onto what we think is right is because it’s what we’ve known all long is the equivalent to throwing money away.  And no one I know is in the business of doing that.

OutDated

  1. Your customers can and will find you — The Great Recession (I love still calling it that) turned many people into obligated self-employed persons.  People started their own businesses because they had to in order to continue to earn a living.  Skipping over the personal metrics of what that all means — you are not the only person doing what you’re doing or offering what you’re offering.  I don’t care how well your website was designed, how quick you launched the business or how much money you invested.  You don’t exist until you let people know you’re in business.  Which means, you have to find your customer, not the other way around.  Ideas: marketing — traditional and online, networking, community partnerships and word of mouth.
  2. There is no “free” money out there for small business owners  – It seems like it’s no money out there, but there is.  A lot of the times, it’ll be in the form of a contest, and other times it can be a private grant.  Either way, if you want to raise money that you’ll never have to pay back again, just be willing to put in the time.  I probably shouldn’t say this, but I suggest staying away from the SBA and Grants.gov.  Most business owners aren’t professional grant writers, cannot afford a grant writer, don’t have the time and energy to read through the mess they call eligibility requirements and will not meet the guidelines imposed to receive the government funding available.
  3. The customer is ALWAYS right — If the customer is always right, then why are they coming to you?  No, seriously, think about it.  If the customer had all the answers and knew where to find all the resources, why are they knocking on your door?  This is not said to inflate our own egos, but just to help put things into perspective when we’re questioned by a customer or client about our capability and knowledge.  We never want to approach them defensively, but with a bit of enlightenment.  A reminder, so to speak, that we can do what we do because of how long we’ve been doing it, how trained we are at doing what we do and what we know about what we’re doing.
  4. If it worked then, it will work now  — Nope, nope, never.  The problem with this belief should be obvious, but maybe it isn’t.  If you haven’t heard it before, let me share it with you now:  The only constant in business  is change.  Your customers will change, your prices will change, your hours of operation will change, your employees will change and yes, how you do and conduct business will change because the economy and market are always changing.  Don’t believe me?  Fine, don’t change.   Come find me in six months to a year’s time.
  5. Working smart outperforms working hard — Uh, no.  You can work smart, but you still have to work hard.  There’s no way around that.   And we’ve all heard it before: Work smart, not hard!  Let’s be honest, someone had to work hard to come up with that, so what does that tell you?  There really is no substitute for working hard and working smart just means you’ve taken all that hard work and created a system for it.   That’s truly what it is.  Yes, many of us have been working hard only to spin our wheels and get nowhere.  So how do we avoid that trap?  Direction.  Work hard towards something, not just for the sake of working hard.

It’s easy to hold onto what we know and what we believed was working for us when there’s so much new untested crap being thrown our way.  However, we have to be wise and responsive enough to separate what sticks and what sticks to the fan.  The times are always changing.  We need to make we adjust, set sail and flow with it.

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“Get Your Own Damn Money” Administration

Fast forward about two minutes and 15 seconds into the clip and you’ll see the interaction where Roseanne and the other two characters have with the SBA representative.  The fact of the matter is that the SBA is designed to help people who want to go into business for themselves — start a small business.  But like any other resource you seek out, you must be — I hate saying the word “realistic” — you be AWARE.  Aware of the criteria you must meet in order for the SBA to be of assistance to you.  Aware of what you need in terms of a loan — or grants. The SBA’s website does state that the SBA does not provide grants, but there are federal grants that they point towards in case you’re interested and feel like jumping through hoops.

In all seriousness, no matter where you turn to for help, be prepared.  Know what’s required of you, know what you have to do and what standards you’re have to meet.

 

 

What Is Branding?

I’m a little uncomfortable with kids talking to strangers in this day-and-age, but this disembodied voice (as the disembodied voice refers himself to) has some valid points, not just for little Jimmy, but all of us running our own businesses.  We’ve come think that branding is the bells and whistles of  visuals and graphics.  But in truth, it is the voice and mission of the business.  And it’s hard to brand a business when the business doesn’t know what it should be doing and where it should be going.

 

{video credit: bretitor via youtube}

Idea Cafe’s 13th Small Business Grant Opportunity

If you’re not a member yet, head over to Idea Cafe now and sign up! It’s free for small business owners and entrepreneurs, aspiring or veterans.

“Idea Cafe is pleased to announce the beginning of a new Grant campaign in honor of all forward-thinking businesses. The 13th Small Business Grant will award $1,000 in cash, a total of $1,500 in advertising credits and tons of free publicity. No matter whether your business idea is ground-breaking or a simple, but yet creative solution to an everyday problem, we would like to hear about it.

To enter, winner wannabes should firstly decide on which kind of form would be presenting them and their business in the best possible light: a STANDARD or a VIDEO application. Both will require the owner to fill out their key business info, and answer four crucial questions about their business and plans for the future.”

 

 

[*Information Source: Business Owner’s Idea Cafe]

Chase Presents Mission: Small Business

Thanks to a fellow small business owner, who stumbled across this information.  Chase is giving 12 grants to small business owners to continue to drive their business.   Deadline expires at the end of June, so act fast!

“NO PURCHASE NECESSARY; INTERNET ACCESS REQUIRED

WHAT IS MISSION:SMALL BUSINESS℠?

Mission: Small Business℠ (“Program“) is an effort by the Program Sponsors, Chase Bank USA, National Association (“Chase“) and LivingSocial, Inc. (“LivingSocial“) (individually or together “Sponsor” or “Sponsors“) to increase awareness of the important role small businesses play in local communities and to help small businesses grow. As evidence of the commitment to small businesses nationwide, Chase will provide grants to eligible small businesses. These Program Rules govern the Program and set forth the terms and conditions between you, Chase and LivingSocial. Details about the Program are available at www.missionsmallbusiness.com (the “Program Website“). Please see the Program Website Terms of Use at www.missionsmallbusiness.com/termsofuse and the Program Website Privacy Policy at www.missionsmallbusiness.com/privacypolicy.

WHAT IS THE GRANT? WHAT IS THE GRANT POOL?

Chase has designated a minimum of $1 million and a maximum of $3 million (“Grant Pool“), with funds to be awarded to at least four (4) and up to twelve (12) small business owners (“Grant Recipient(s)“), each Grant Recipient to receive $250,000 (“Grant“), selected in accordance with these Program Rules. The Grant Pool will be at least $1 million ($250,000 to each of four (4) Grant Recipients), and may be increased by an additional $2 million – up to a maximum of $3 million (each additional $250,000 increasing by one (1) the number of potential Grant Recipients) based on consumer participation in the Program. To be considered as a potential Grant Recipient, small businesses must submit the Application, be deemed eligible and receive at least 250 Votes, all as described below. The purpose of the Grant is to enable a small business to execute a business plan that will result in expansion and growth of the small business, including for example, a new location, equipment, product or distribution channel. In addition to the Grant, LivingSocial shall offer Grant Recipients the opportunity to meet with its social media and sales executives, and will work with each Grant Recipient to design a LivingSocial promotion for the Grant Recipient’s business. LivingSocial will waive its standard commission for such promotion services, and any such promotion will be subject to LivingSocial’s merchant policies, timing and limitations determined in LivingSocial’s discretion, as well as Grant Recipient executing LivingSocial’s then current standard merchant marketing agreement. For all general inquiries about the Program email Sponsor at needhelp@missionsmallbusiness.com.

WHO MAY APPLY FOR THE GRANT?

A small business that meets the following requirements (“You, Your, you, your or small business“) may apply for the Grant through its owner or representative.

To be eligible a small business must:

  • be a for-profit only organization organized and resident in the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia;
  • have been actively engaged in its current business activity for at least two (2) consecutive years immediately preceding the start of the Program;
  • be owned by natural persons who are legal residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia, and who are at least eighteen (18) years old (or as required by the laws in your state of residence)(Note: A sole-proprietor shall be deemed a business and not a consumer for purposes of the Program);
  • have a valid employer identification number or taxpayer identification number;
  • employ less than one hundred (100) employees for the duration of the Program;
  • not be owned by an employee of Sponsors or a company wholly owned by a Sponsor or Sponsor’s parent company (an “affiliate“); and
  • produce evidence of the foregoing upon request.

A small business will not be eligible if, among other things, it or any of its owners, management or affiliated organizations:

  • are, or have been, under any investigation for fraud, misconduct (financial or otherwise) or other criminal activity;
  • promote or suggest, directly or indirectly, the illegal use of firearms/weapons, money remittance, check cashing services, use or sale of any illegal drugs (state or federal), prostitution or pornography, violence, or the underage use of alcohol;
  • suggest or encourage, directly or indirectly, the taking up of arms against any person, government or entity or otherwise challenge or seek to overthrow any government;
  • disparage or denigrate (in writing or otherwise) any race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, political orientation, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, marital status, veteran status or mental or physical disability or condition or otherwise discriminates (in an exclusionary way) against any of those groups based solely on being classified as fitting into those groups;
  • disparage, denigrate (in writing or otherwise), or act by means of adversarial or confrontational tactics to impact a product, service, person, industry, or organization including, but not limited to, the Sponsor or any Program participant;
  • participate in the Program, or otherwise conduct itself, in an unsportsmanlike or inappropriate manner;
  • post Prohibited Content (see below); or
  • violate these Program Rules.

HOW DOES A SMALL BUSINESS APPLY FOR A GRANT?

If you believe your small business is eligible and wish to apply for a Grant, you must do the following:

  • visit the Program Registration site at www.missionsmallbusiness.com/registration and provide your business name and information, business address, industry type as well as contact name, title and email address, which will be posted on the Program Website;
  • read and agree to these Program Rules with the intent to be bound by its terms even if you are later found to be ineligible;
  • complete the Application and submit your Application;
  • obtain at least 250 Votes; and
  • be deemed eligible by the Sponsors.

When you begin your Application your email address will become your User ID and a Password must be created so that you may create your Application until the end of the Application Period. Once you have submitted the Application you can no longer edit it. You are responsible for the safekeeping and appropriate use of the User ID and Password and you may be required to provide information sufficient to show that a user is your authorized representative.

WHAT DOES THE APPLICATION REQUIRE?

In the Application, you will be asked to provide, at a minimum, the following information:

  • business owner name;
  • business email and phone number;
  • business entity type (e.g., sole proprietor, partnership, corporation)and state of domicile;
  • years in business;
  • purpose of business;
  • number of employees ;
  • an Essay answering the questions described below detailing why you are applying for and how you would use the Grant; and
  • such other information requested by Sponsor to verify eligibility in accordance with the Program Rules.

ESSAY REQUIREMENTS

Your Essay, consisting of your response to the statements and questions below, (answered in 500 words or less for each question), will be used to determine whether you should be awarded a Grant. You may include any information you deem relevant. Your Essay may not contain Prohibited Content (see below).Here are the essay questions you should answer:

  1. Tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique?
  2. How is your business involved with the community you serve?
  3. What would the Grant mean to your business plan and how would you utilize the funds to ensure long-term growth and stability?
  4. What types of challenges can you identify with your business plan and how will you overcome them?
  5. Describe the talent on your team and how they make your business successful?

IMPORTANT NOTICE CONCERNING APPLICATION CONTENT

The following information may be posted on the Program Website:

  • business name
  • icon (based on industry)
  • business address
  • tag-line, of up to 150 characters, a key message for Consumers, which may be based on your Essay responses or other information you submit as part of your Application.

All Application information including your Essay and any additional information you provide will be used by the Panel to determine Grant Recipients and may also be disclosed to the public (including by posting on the Program Website) in connection with the Program and will not be held in confidence. Do not include any confidential, proprietary, competitive or trade secret information you wish to keep confidential. Content will not be kept confidential even if you designate it as confidential in your Application. While you may not edit your Application once you have clicked Submit, you have an affirmative obligation to notify Sponsors if any of the content has changed or is untrue. You must email the Sponsor at needhelp@missionsmallbusiness.com.

Sponsors in their sole discretion retain the right to determine eligibility of the Grant Recipients and reserve the right to disqualify an Application at any time for any reason. All content that has been posted on the Program Website referencing or related to a small business that is later deemed ineligible, may be promptly removed from the Program Website without prior notice. All decisions by Sponsors are final, binding and conclusive.

CONSUMER PARTICIPATION: SUPPORT AND VOTE

Tell your customers, friends and neighbors about the Program and direct them to the Program Website to Support Small Business. You are encouraged to share information you think relevant through links to your website, YouTube, Facebook or Twitter pages or accounts. The Panel may review these sites if you include them in your Application or Essay. You are responsible for complying with all applicable terms of each third-party platform, and all applicable laws, in connection with sharing information about your business.

For more information on the prograns rules, visit: https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/pages/program-rules for complete information

At the Program Website, Consumers will be asked to register their Support for the Program and then will be eligible to Vote for individual small businesses. Consumers must have an active Facebook account to verify their identity using Facebook Connect and may Support Small Business by clicking the SUPPORT box on the Program Website. A Consumer may click SUPPORT only one time. For eachSUPPORT click Chase will add a minimum of Five Dollars to the Grant Pool until the Grant Pool reaches the maximum $3 million. The daily dollar value of each SUPPORT click may from time-to-time be higher than $5.00 as posted on the Program Website.

Consumers who Support Small Business will be given access to the list of eligible small businesses who have Registered for the Program. Consumers may Vote for an eligible small business by clicking the VOTE box on the Program Website; Consumers may vote an unlimited number of times but only once for each small business. You must receive at least 250 eligible Votes on http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com from Consumers to be considered for a Grant.

VOTING RULES

You may not entice Consumers to Vote by offering any type of consideration, gift, award, or inducement, including merchandise, cash, online currency, discounts, vote trading or anything deemed to have value in exchange for Votes.

The count of eligible Votes by Sponsors shall be deemed final. Each Sponsor reserves the right to eliminate or disregard any or all votes cast by Consumers in excess of stated limits or otherwise not in accordance with the Program Rules or any instructions on the Program Website, including any voting instructions.

No Sponsor is responsible for, nor is either Sponsor required to count, in its sole and absolute discretion, late, lost, misdirected, unlawful or illicit votes, votes cast for an applicant later determined to be ineligible, votes cast in exchange for consideration, a chance to receive a gift, or award, including merchandise, cash, online currency, or anything deemed to have value, votes achieved through automated means, by registering more than one user profile, using another person’s Facebook account and name, as well as votes that are achieved through other fraudulent means, unsportsmanlike conduct or in a manner otherwise inconsistent with these Program Rules. No Sponsor is responsible for any costs incurred by you or your small business in connection with the Program.

CONTENT GUIDELINES AND PROHIBITED CONTENT

All content must be appropriate for all ages. You represent and warrant that you will not submit any content that contains (a) content not in English; (b) confidential information that violates any obligation of confidentiality; (c) any viruses, spyware, malware, or other malicious components that are designed to harm the functionality of a computer in any way; (d) content referencing, facilitating, containing or using, Prohibited Content; or (e) content that infringes on the intellectual property rights of a third party. Prohibited Content may be removed from the Program Website immediately and without notice. “Prohibited Content” includes, but is not limited to, content that, a Sponsor, in its sole and absolute discretion, determines violates the Program Rules or any applicable law, as well as content that promotes, suggests or encourages:

  • gambling, including without limitation, any content related to online casinos, sports books, bingo or poker;
  • the use of firearms/weapons/ammunition, any illegal drugs, prostitution, pornography, nudity, profanity or other adult content, violence, or the use of alcohol or tobacco products;
  • the taking up of arms against any person, government or entity or otherwise challenge or seek to overthrow any government;

Or otherwise contains or reflects:

  • obscene, indecent, defamatory, libelous, slanderous and/or unlawful content;
  • content that infringes upon, or otherwise violates, the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity or other personal or proprietary rights;
  • information that is false, misleading, deceptive or fraudulent;
  • hate speech, or other discriminatory, disparaging or denigrating content, whether directed at an individual or a group, and whether based upon race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, political orientation, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, marital status, veteran status or mental or physical disability or condition;
  • content that disparages, denigrates, or uses adversarial or confrontational tactics to impact a product, service, person, industry, or organization including, but not limited to, Sponsors or participants in the Program;
  • content that is primarily intended to advance a religious denomination, expand membership or encourage conversion;
  • content advancing a particular political party or candidate or supporting lobbying for any particular party or candidate, or expanding or encouraging a membership or a particular political party, candidate or lobbying effort;
  • content inconsistent with the Program Rules; or
  • unsportsmanlike conduct.”

 

for more information on program rules, visit: https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/pages/program-rules

 

[SOURCE: https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com%5D

Small Business Grant for Women

Small Business grants are often considered urban legends or folk stories from long ago, especially if you’ve ever tried to hunt for them. And when you do, it seems as if you always come across small business credit cards or small business loans, but never the grants you start out looking for. But despite our skepticism at times, small business grants do exists. You just have to keep your ears to the ground and your eyes peeled.

This small business grant is offered by Amber Grant. It’s for women small business owners that helps provide funding to assist in taking care of business expenses. To learn more about the Amber Grant, you can visit: http://www.womensnet.net/AmberGrants.aspxf

But be warned, the deadline to apply for this grant is at the end of the month, February 29th.   It’s a little short notice, but the application process is not monstrous, so you don’t have to worry about finding the time to complete it.  There’s also a reasonable $7.00 processing fee.

How often will you get the opportunity … scratch that… how often will you have the chance to be awarded free money to help you and your business?!

Don’t wait.  Best Success.