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Posts Tagged ‘Grow Smart Business’


Ken Yancey CEO of SCORE gets First-Ever Small Business Corporate Support Award

September 24th, 2010 ::

I was thrilled to hear about this news that SCORE presented the first-ever Ken Yancey Small Business Corporate Support Award on September 16th at the SCORE Awards in Washington, D.C. SCORE CEO Ken Yancey, is the first recipient of this award honoring those who provide exceptional assistance in creating small business procurement opportunities. I have met him several times and his passion for helping small business comes across as he speaks.

SCORE has a network of volunteers who mentor new and existing small Business and has helped  more than 8.5 million entrepreneurs with a network of 12,400 mentors. Well deserved award- Congrats ! Ken Yancey and SCORE.

More information from the SCORE press release : http://www.score.org/newsroom_ken_yancey_award.html

This award the “Ken Yancey Small Business Corporate Support Award” is named for SCORE CEO Ken Yancey in honor of his personal leadership in the development and growth of Business Matchmaking and his guidance in facilitating more than 75,000 face-to-face opportunities for entrepreneurs to present to government and major corporate potential customers, resulting in more than $1 billion in sales for America’s small businesses.

The Business Matchmaking organization established this annual award for an organization or individual who has provided exceptional assistance in creating small business procurement opportunities. Yancey has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, Fox and PBS as a small business expert. He serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advisory Council. He is an active supporter of the Boy Scouts of America.

Mike Mendez, SCORE Association Incoming Board Chair, says, “Ken Yancey has been instrumental in SCORE’s growth and success. It’s been an honor to work with Ken in leading mentoring and training support for America’s small businesses.” Mendez adds, “Today, we honor Ken Yancey as the first recipient for this award named in his honor the Ken Yancey Small Business Corporate Support Award. It’s a testament to Ken’s long-standing support of small business and the corporate partners that help small business connect with resources & opportunities for success.”

Mark Dobosz, Executive Director of The SCORE Foundation, says, “Ken is a visionary and inspirational leader. His ability to rally support for SCORE, small business mentoring and other great programs like business matchmaking demonstrate his commitment to small business success.” Dobosz adds, “Ken has built corporate support for SCORE’s mission and small business. We felt it was appropriate to name this award honoring corporate supporters of small business after the man who has done so much to enable small business success.”

About SCORE: Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 8.5 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE provides small business mentoring and workshops to more than 375,000 new and growing small businesses. More than 12,400 business experts volunteer as mentors in 364 chapters serving local communities with entrepreneur education to help grow 1 million small businesses.

Here is a video the Network Solutions team interview with Ken Yancey during the National Small Business Week

All Good Things Must Come To An End…For Now

December 31st, 2009 ::

In his post “Going, Going, Gone Social in 2009”, Joe Loong started with  “The end of the year is as good of a time as any to look back at what you’ve done, and this is triply true for bloggers.” I can say with full certainty that he’s absolutely right.

As I look back on my 2009, mainly on blogging for Network Solutions, it is with a bit of a heavy heart that this is my last post with GrowSmartBusiness, and for blogging for Network Solutions as a whole. It’s not for a lack of want on my part, but my focus is in one thousand places at once. Thanks to Shashi and Steve, I get an opportunity to explain what I mean rather than fade off into the background.

During the entirety of this last year, working with Steve, I’ve been working on a passion project that merges all of my loves (story telling, marketing, design, social media, movies, and science fiction (look…if you didn’t know I was a geek by now…)) into a great philanthropic adventure by creating a not-for-profit independent feature length film, “Browncoats: Redemption”. The focus of that film is to create fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness for, for five charities (Equality Now, Kids Need to Read, Dyslexia Foundation, the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center, and the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation) to date we have raised over six thousand dollars and brought people from all over the United States together for some amazing volunteer work. I’m proud to say Network Solutions has been behind Steve and I from the start and is one of the sponsors of the project. Their hosting package and domain help has been critical for a website about the film, browncoatsmovie.com.

Also back in June, I accepted a full time position at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as their Emerging Media Manager. This is going to give me a great opportunity to roll up my sleeves and show them the enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge of marketing, design, and social media that I talked about here. It’s a great organization and I am truly excited. I will have a lot to do, but some of the fun is that I help raise awareness of their actions, and cause, on their Twitter account @chesapeakebay and other social media avenues, as well as assisting with the technical side of their website cbf.org.

As you can imagine all of this has taken up a huge amount of my time and, more than once, caused me to miss some critical deadlines with my postings here. Like I said, I’d rather make sure someone that can be a bit more diligent than I try to be greedy and just take this spot. I would rather leave a door open to come back and guest post than wait till I’ve pushed it too far and have burnt a bridge. I also know that the content here on GrowSmartBusiness is solid and will continue to grow under Steve Fisher’s watchful eye.

I hope to connect with you sometime down the road and here your thoughts on my past posts. You might have learned something new, riff off of one of my topics, or even got inspired by one of them to do something new yourself. If you would like to keep following what I’m doing, you can reach me on my website wickedjava.com, on Twitter @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

And one last thing, I am asking you to make me a promise. In 2010, do something, just one thing, you’ve all ways wanted to accomplish and see it through to the end. Regardless of what people say (please make sure it’s legal), win or loose…I can’t begin to tell you how great a feeling that is.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Grow Smart Business Best of 2009 – The Year in Review

December 31st, 2009 ::

2009_ChecklistThis year has been one of massive changes for small businesses. We started this year in the middle of what has been the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Many people are calling this period “The Great Recession” because of the convergence of economic forces the impact across the planet and the length of time that this downturn has been going on. Only now are some sectors seen an improvement but we are still faced with higher unemployment, massive federal debt and the prospect of stability still a ways away. In order for small businesses to grow you need three things – stability, predictability and reasonable access to capital.

February 2009 – Grow Smart Business Launches

As we look back at 2009 for Small Businesses, we have seen some companies go out of business and other learn how to be leaner and/or tune their business models to the changed economic landscape. It was during this time that Network Solutions launched this blog “Grow Smart Business” to serve the requests from businesses to understand how to do more with their business with what they have at hand.

April 2009 – The First Small Business Success Index is Published

In a partnership with the University of Maryland, Network Solutions published a report called the Small Business Success Index, or the SBSI as it is called by some, which took surveys from 1000 small businesses and created a scorecard grade based on six categories – capital access, marketing & innovation, workforce, customer service, technology and compliance. The Small Business Success Index Report showed what many knew – customer service was great and personal but getting capital and lines of credit was tough to near impossible in the current economic climate.

What it did do was set a scorecard and pulse on the state of small businesses. It also brought Grow Smart Business in the radar of many small businesses and set the direction for the remained of 2009 – help entrepreneurs grow their business.

July 2009 – Michael Dougherty joins as a regular writer on Grow Smart Business

In July, Mike Dougherty came on board after writing on Solutions Are Power to be a dedicated writer on marketing. Known as WickedJava on Twitter he has written in many places about marketing and has a great background in print and digital marketing. Here are some of his best posts of 2009:

10 Ways To Get More Followers Using Social Media

Eight Things to Have Figured Out Before You Meet Your Designer

Eight things to think about before you start your logo

Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of “Crush It!” Part 1

Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of “Crush It!” Part 2

Eight Things To Keep In Mind For Your Websites Search Engine Optimization

September 2009 – New Small Business Experts Sign on as Contributors

Starting in September we began our small business experts program and received some great content from some talented contributors. They do this on their own time and for free because they want to share their knowledge and expertise with other small business owners. Here are some of the best of those contributor posts:

What is Generational Marketing?

If You Have Time for Meetings, You Have Time for Marketing

Body Language and the Art of the Interview

7 Ways To Be More Attractive To Lenders

Social Media is a Two Way Street for Business

Understanding Angel Funding vs Venture Captial

Social Networking Etiquette 101: 5 Ways to Mind Your Manners While Online

October 2009 – The First GrowSmartBiz Conference and the Second SBSI Report is published

Keeping with a schedule of monitoring businesses and releasing a report every six months, the second SBSI report showed that people were still giving great customer service, were trying to get a handle on utilizing social media more and that access to capital was getting better.

Network Solutions also put on the first GrowSmartBiz conference with was virtually sold out event that covered many small business issues and topics. You can get a good GrowSmartBiz conference recap on all the speeches and content here.

November 2009 – The Rise of the Homepreneur

In November, Steve King at Emergent Research put out a new paper with the support of Network Solutions on the rise of a powerful trend in entrepreneurship. The “Rise of the Homepreneur” or entrepreneurs that work at home is becoming a rapidly growing sector in the small business marketplace. Some of his findings were:

  • Home businesses employ over 13 million people.
  • Nearly 6.6 million home businesses generate at least 50% of the owner’s household income
  • 35% of home businesses generate $125,000+ in revenue; 8% more than $500,000.
  • December 29th, 2009 ::

    Whether you’re creating a marketing piece/strategy, or getting into social media, you need to be conscious of how you will measure the success, or failure, of your endeavor. Like sending a package through UPS or FedEx, you’ll want to know your items were received and arrived. It could be the amount of emails you collected, the number of page views you hoped to achieve, the amount of sales you intend to make, or any number of reasons, but you need to be conscious, as you start your efforts, that you have a way to track your leads back to its source.

    There are tons of ways you could to track your efforts. You could create specific urls to direct people back to a page on your website they could only reach by that marketing piece/effort, a phone number that is only used for that marketing piece/effort, or by the number of physical bodies that show up on the scheduled day. Whatever you choose, decide on what it will be before you get started. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked people how they determined the success of their piece only to hear “We didn’t think about that until after we printed it”.

    I am not suggesting, in any way, that you should throw out everything you’ve created till now if you can’t track them. If there are pieces you have that don’t have a way to be tracked, find a creative way to make them so with the resources you have at your disposal. Here are a few creative ideas:

    • Use mailing labels on your brochures/postcards to update your information.
    • Call the places you’ve placed advertising with to see if you can alter the type in the next edition.
    • Place analytics tools, like Google Analytics, on your site to see where people visiting it are going.
    • Use sites like bit.ly to shorten, and track, the website links you put out in social media.

    Once you’ve got the means in place to track the items, you need to determine what success means to your project, strategy, or piece. I’m going to ask you exercise some patience when it comes to tracking your success. Overnight success or an instant explosion of interest is not, and I repeat not, likely. It will take time, but you should determine what timeframe you are comfortable with or accepting of.

    A little thought on how to figure out what success will look like. Please understand that it might take a few days for people to get a hold of your effort and that you can’t factor for people who many not be interested in your effort sharing it with others. There are multiple theories of success that you could use to determine your final outcome. One theory of success is the Pareto principle, often called the 80-20 rule, states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The 1 Percent Rule is another, and Wikipedia defines it as “the 1 percent rule or the 90-9-1 principle reflects a theory that more people will lurk in a virtual community than will participate. This term is often used as a euphemism for participation inequality in the context of the Internet.”

    Lastly, please don’t think I’m saying tracking your items is a quick thing to do. Tracking your efforts is a task unto itself. You’ll need to set aside some time to review your statistics and outcome as they come in. This could be day to day, month to month, or an accumulative total in a year. It’s best to take a step back and remember it’s not personal, but in these numbers you can find what works and what doesn’t.

    The last thing you want to do is feel like any piece you’ve created was out there with no means for you to know it works. I hope this post has inspired some ideas of how you could begin to track the success of what is working and what doesn’t. This is me giving you a bit of permission to experiment with what works and what doesn’t, but always give each thing you choose to do a way to measure it’s success.

    I would love your thoughts on today’s post here in the comments or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

    As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Eight Things to think about before you use Social Media

December 24th, 2009 ::

Every day, more and more people become aware of the possibilities, successes, and capabilities of using social media as part of their marketing strategy. Some take the time to learn how to use the tools. Some will start blindly, get frustrated, stop using, and cry of it’s a failure/waste of time. Others will create accounts on the big social media sites, be less than passively involved, and ultimately forget they have them until someone asks a question.

With the people who are looking to get started using the tools of Social media, or are in the early stages of using them, here are Eight Things to think about before you use Social Media:

  1. Will this be a marketing tool or a customer service tool? People have a wide range of reasons to start using social media for their business. Often it is to promote themselves or their business, but companies, like Comcast and Zappos, have found that Social Media can be a great tool for improving customer service/experience.
  2. Are you the best person to take this on? Speaking of Zappos, their CEO Tony Hsieh, is their voice on Twitter. Not every CEO is the best person to be the online face of the company or organization. Chris Brogan, in his post “Develop a Strong Personal Brand Online Part 1”, wrote that you should “…remember that branding isn’t playing a role. Be yourself. It will become apparent rather quickly if you’re being someone that you’re not.”  This is the same whether it is a personal or professional brand. Deciding if you, or your boss, are the right person to be on social media is hard choice to make, especially when egos are involved, but depending on how you decide to use social media could make that choice for you.
  3. Do you have people around you that can teach you? Or is there someone in your company/organization that is already passionate about social media? Like Zappos, Comcast uses social media as a customer service tool, but instead of their CEO using it their Twitter account is maintained by Frank Eliason, Senior Director for Comcast National Customer Service. Because of Frank and Tony’s efforts, there have been a lot of companies following their format and finding success, and failure, in social media.  These are just two examples, but make sure that whatever your choice that the voice you choose fits the overall tone and attitude of your company.
  4. Are you willing to listen more than you talk? A big part of making social media an effective tool for marketing/customer service is the ability to listen to what your audience has to say as much as you intend to talk. People want to be talked “to” not “at”, so make sure that you find a balance between reviewing, responding, and posting.
  5. Do you have the time to focus on social media? Social media, like any other marketing/customer service effort, will take time out of your day. But, like checking your email or attending a meeting, if you believe it to be important to the success of your business, or your personal brand, you will find the time. A rule of thumb that works well for me is, and I can’t recall where I first heard it, “If you have time to schedule and attend a meeting…you have time for social media”.
  6. What social media tools will you use? Whether it’s wiki, blog, Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other avenues you could choose from, you need to decide which will be the best one for you depending on who your intended audience is. Take a little time and do some research to see just where your intended audience is, and they may not be using social media yet, to see if your choice is worth the time before you jump head first.
  7. Are you patient? Just like finding the time for social media, you need to understand that it will take time. Unless you are already a well known individual in the public eye, and being a legend in your own mind doesn’t count, then it will take time to grow your audience. You are also going to have to live with some people either not buying into your idea or talking negatively about your company, or personal brand. Don’t try to judge your success by the successes of others, but don’t throw in the towel early because it’s not doing what you think it should. You didn’t start a company just to quit did you? Treat your social media the same way.
  8. What will you determine as success? Will it be number of follower (which I don’t recommend)? Will it be how often your messages are shared? Will it be how many of your followers take an action on your behalf/request? That is really up to you, but I implore you to be realistic about your goals. Remember, you will need patience, clear intentions, and an ability to weather the storm as it comes, but success is ultimately determined by you, your efforts, and your choices.

What I can tell you is that if you are looking for a quick solution, or instant boost in sales, then social media is not for you. There, I said it. I’m sure you’re expecting me to say that no matter who you are or what you do that you should jump on the social media band wagon, but I’m sorry that’s not true. It has to make sense for you, your brand, or your company.

I would love your thoughts on this post or if there are other things you think people should keep in mind in the comments below. You can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

The Beauty of Keeping It Simple…

December 22nd, 2009 ::

In my last post “What is this ROI thing” I posted that “…marketing really comes down to the simple questions we learned in school. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.” Did I shock and offend a few people by simplifying that? More than likely I didn’t, but I have found that people who get easily offended by someone exposing the initial simplicity of something are ultimately trying to keep everyone else from knowing how simple it is as well.

There is no reason, in my opinion, that someone should just put a shingle on their door and expect customers to expect to know they are there and open. There are a laundry list of reasons that most businesses don’t make it past the two year mark and over all I see that as poor planning across the board. I have known more than my fair share of start-ups or small business owners that have forgone a marketing strategy in their first year or two because they have viewed it as too costly, confusing, or complicated. When in reality, that fear kept them from reaching a wider customer base or audience.

You need to know how you are going to get people to learn about your great new product/service/Whatchamacallit. Simply just creating the same marketing pieces that everyone has (a website, a business card, etc.) won’t have your phone ringing and email box filled with orders. I wish I could say it was that simple, but it’s not. You first need to think of those six simple questions as you go into the creation of your marketing piece/strategy.

The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How will vary depending on what you want to do. Here are some great examples of starter questions for your next marketing strategy/piece, but feel free to come up with your own:

  • Who –Who will want this? Who do we want to know about our latest product/service? Who is going to purchase our [insert item/service]? Who will carry our message for us?
  • What – What will we use to reach/tell people about? What will we use to measure who successful this is? What will separate us from all the other daily noise that our audience receives? What will we use to track it?
  • When – When will we be putting this out? When is the most effective time for us to launch this? When will use to track the success? When do we review on how well this is doing?
  • Where – Where are the people we want to reach with this? Where will be put this that people may not expect? Where will we announce the product/place/thing/event? Where do we want this to take our business?
  • Why – Why are we going to do this? Why will the audience we are trying to reach care? Why are we using X over Y? Why aren’t we using multiple opportunities for people to reach us?
  • How – How are we going to create this? How are we going to measure the success? How are we going to get this out to our chosen audience? How often are we going to try this to see if it is successful at different times of the year?

I know I’ve kept this extremely simple, but the biggest reason for that is that the resources for you to create your marketing plan are already available to you on this site. Steven Fisher wrote a great piece that I view as a strong follow up to this post, the Guide to Writing a Killer Marketing Plan.

I hope you at least come away from this post with a sense that your first marketing strategy doesn’t have to be scary or overly complicated. When you are in your first year or two of business your time is very valuable, but by asking simple questions up front you save yourself some time and be better prepared for when you hire a designer, marketing firm, or whomever to accomplish your goals.

I am interested in Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions you’ve come up with. Please leave them in the comments below or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

What is this ROI thing?

December 17th, 2009 ::

I was considering calling this post “How much effort are you willing to be put into getting what you want”, but ultimately changed my mind because I wanted the people who have asked me the question in the title to dig a little deeper. Lately I’ve been having a lot of conversations about Return on Investment, almost always just called ROI, with people interested in consulting work or at my day job.  I’ve come to the conclusion that most people throw this term around without thinking about all the different possible ROI there actually is. To start us all from equal ground, let’s check out what our friend Wikipedia defines Return on Investment as:

“In finance, rate of return (ROR), also known as return on investment (ROI), rate of profit or sometimes just return, is the ratio of money gained or lost (whether realized or unrealized) on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. The amount of money gained or lost may be referred to as interest, profit/loss, gain/loss, or net income/loss. The money invested may be referred to as the asset, capital, principal, or the cost basis of the investment.”

I know a lot of people that use the term ROI for their marketing, but Wikipedia calls it Return on Marketing Investment and defines it as:

“Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) and Marketing ROI are defined as the optimization of marketing spend for the short and long term in support of the brand strategy by building a market model using valid, objective marketing metrics. Improving ROMI leads to improved marketing effectiveness, increased revenue, profit and market share for the same amount of marketing spend”

Since the same simple acronym is used for a multitude of purposes, and equations to determine it, I can see how people get confused, discouraged, or laser focused on one aspect of a larger whole. When it comes to your marketing strategy, pieces, or tactics, the ROI is going to vary with each effort. I know this may sound like an overwhelming concept, but it really isn’t as bad as it might seem.  It really breaks down to a simple statement, “Is the result worth the effort”. Is that oversimplifying it? Maybe a bit, but marketing really comes down to the simple questions we learned in school. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

I can hear the cries now, “Mike you left out the cost aspect of it.” No, I didn’t. There’s a cost to everything. Whether it’s the amount of money that’s being put out or the amount of volunteers or paid employees taking their valuable time to brainstorm, create, implement and execute the strategy or piece. That, to me, is all part of the effort. So, as I asked above, how much effort are you willing to put into getting what you want?

You can determine that with a few simple questions. What is your ultimate goal/end result? What resources will you need to accomplish the goal/end result? Is the goal/end result worth the resources used?

You can make the answer to those questions as complicated or as simple as you want. For example, “the investment of passing out six thousand invitations is worth the three hundred people who actually attend, because the people who don’t will ultimately learn more about our party/product/services when they go home, use the specific url we created for the postcard, and research it.” Or another, “the investment of having my team of employees strategize for a marketing pieces is worth it because when the piece comes to completion they will have a greater sense of ownership of it and then want to help see it succeed in getting the x number of emails/sales/donations/etc. we want it to achieve”.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

You can get a marketing genius to come in and tell you that the Return of X minus the Financial Investment of Y divided by the Time Investment of Z hours is what your ROI will be. Ultimately, it comes down to how important, or valuable, the return is to you, your organization or company, your strategy, or success of your ultimate plan of world marketing domination. So, I’ll ask you the same question I have before, but in a different way, when you sit down to decide on your next marketing piece/strategy/effort is the return worth the investment?

I would love your thoughts on what ROI means to you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.

Anthony Edwards Gets #SmallBizCool

December 15th, 2009 ::

This is the final installment of #SmallBizCool from BlogWorldExpo 2009 for me and one that I am most proud of. Supporing worth while charities is something I’ve always been a big fan of. And when you find that a celebrity you like feels the same way…it is something magical. Rather than go into greater detail, let’s let Anthony Edwards himself explain why charity is so important and how he sees the new media landscape changing to better help support them.

Learn more about Anthony’s chosen charity Shoe 4 Africa or you can follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyEdwards.

If you haven’t had a chance to, check out Jill Foster’s #SmallBizCool interviews over at WomenGrowBusiess. You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.

Kevin Pollak Gets #SmallBizCool

December 10th, 2009 ::

It’s time for another awesome installment of #SmallBizCool from the floors of BlogWorldExpo 2009. If you haven’t had a chance to, check out Jill Foster’s #SmallBizCool interviews over at WomenGrowBusiess.

One of the most memorable moments, for me at least, was Kevin Pollak’s part of the final keynote for the Expo. His insight into how social media has changed the landscape of media is insightful. Here he talks a little about why he thinks social media is cool.

Learn more about Kevin Pollak’s show or you can follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinPollak.

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.

BlogCritics and Technorati's Dawn Olsen Gets #SmallBizCool

December 1st, 2009 ::

I’m really excited to bring you another #SmallBizCool, thought up by the great Jill Foster of WomenGrowBusiness, from the floor of BlogWorldExpo 2009. I met so many great people there, but I really got a great interview Entertainment Editor of BlogCritics and Technorai, Dawn Olsen. Dawn and I shared a lot of laughs, but she gave a great insight into what BlogCritics is all about and a little into what’s new with Technorati.

You can learn more about BlogCritics and Technorati at their websites and learn more about Dawn.

You can also reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways if you have been reading, and this time watching, thank you and stay wicked.