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The 4Ps of a Fully Alive Business

By Amy Sabio | September 27, 2011

No, the 4Ps are not price, product, place and promotion.  Those 4Ps are considered useless without having a marketing directive of building trust with a customer.  The new 4Ps: passion,purpose, positioning and personality, according to John Jantsch, is about how a business is experienced not just what it sells. Passion: Leading with passion is how [...]

Category: Biz Tips, Marketing, Motivational | No Comments »



Suggestions for the Summer Slowdown

By Christina Liberto | June 27, 2011

Now that the kids are out of school and the warm weather has approached, summer is the time when many businesses slow down.

Thinking of taking a few days off? Here’s what Ingrid Cliff on the Manta Small Business site recommends doing to get the most out of your summer slowdown.

  1. Plan a getaway. Hey, if you’ve got the time, why not?
  2. Take care of your health. You have to take care of you first! Remember?
  3. Take a business planning day. We like to make the distinction: working on your business, as opposed to working in it.
  4. Update your business. Create (or refresh) that Facebook page or Twitter account you’ve been avoiding.
  5. Renew your marketing materials. How about some shiny new signage. With a QR code, perhaps?

To read the full top ten, click through to the original article here.

This article by Lisa Barone at Small Business Trends also offers some great suggestions on how to be proactive during the summer months. Our favorite tip is 1. Go to camp! Summer, Barone says, is the best time to learn new skills, take classes, and attend events to form new relationships and expand your industry ties—activities that will allow you to develop both personally and professionally.

What are you planning to do with your time off? Leave a comment about your summer plans to recharge yourself and your business.

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Category: Biz Tips | No Comments »



Hi! We’re back with another conference “preview.” This time, on doing business globally. Christine Bonaguide, partner at Hodgson Russ and current chair of our Board, brings an informed legal perspective to this vignette of her upcoming presentation at the 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference.

Click here to continue reading…

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Category: Biz Tips, International Business, Women's Leadership Conference | No Comments »



Using QR Codes to Promote Your Business

By Gabby Printz | May 29, 2011

This is old news in the techie blogosphere/twitterverse, but you may have noticed these little barcode-type images popping up. What are they? They are QR codes or Quick Response codes, and you’ll find them in advertisements and magazines, on tickets and boarding passes, and even on business cards and t-shirts.

So what do they do? Well, they allow immediate access to relevant information with the use of a smartphone.

Similar to traditional commercial barcodes, a QR code is a two-dimensional image made up of black and white pixels that, with the right app, can be scanned by a smartphone to reveal all sorts of digital content: a string of text, a website URL, an email, a phone number, a location on google maps, or even a youtube video.

This is a great way to expand your social media outreach.
Try posting codes on the front or back of your business card, on print advertisements, on brochures, signage, and other marketing materials, on product packaging, event materials and nametags, restaurant menus, ticket stubs, or receipts.

Link to your own website or online content, your Facebook page or LinkedIn, directions to your business, a free download, coupon codes and special offers… the possibilities are limitless!

How to generate a QR code?
It’s so easy! Simply use a generator site, like qrstuff.com or qrcode.kaywa.com. Save the image, and put it on whatever you’d like!

This is a great way to make yourself and your business more visible and accessible. And it’s free, so why not try it?

We also found these tips to be helpful: 5 QR Code Failures to Learn From (via @BuffaloNiagara)

This is a particularly good idea for the vendors (and even attendees) at our upcoming conference. Integrate a QR code into your table signage so that conference attendees can instantly access your website, connect with you on social media, or learn more about your products or services.

The 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference will be held on June 14th at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Find out more or register online.

What is your experience with using QR codes? Any advice? Leave a comment below.

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Category: Biz Tips, Events, Marketing, Media, Women's Leadership Conference | 2 Comments »



The Progress Principle

By Gabby Printz | May 25, 2011

We’re very excited to have Dr. Teresa M. Amabile, professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, come and speak at our 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference (just three weeks away now!).

Dr. Amabile poses an interesting question: “What makes people happy at work?”

And this is what she has to say (you can consider it a little preview):

What really makes people happy, motivated, productive, and creative at work? Our new research, based on analyzing nearly 12,000 daily diaries of team members working on collaborative creative projects, reveals some surprising answers. Inner work life – the continuous stream of emotions, perceptions and motivations at work – has a profound effect on a person’s performance. So what boosts people’s inner work lives? Contrary to what most managers believe, the single most important thing is simply making progress on meaningful work – even if that progress is a small step forward. This is the Progress Principle, and it holds clear implications for managers and knowledge workers: Sustained high performance and employee well-being depend less on elaborate incentive systems or performance-management processes than on techniques for facilitating the small wins that constitute daily work progress.

If you are in the Western New York area, be sure to check out the 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference to hear more of Dr. Amabile’s discussion on the “Progress Principle.”

The 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference will be held on June 14th at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Find out more or register online.

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Category: Events, Women's Leadership Conference | No Comments »



Working Mothers and Perspectives on Balance

By Gabby Printz | May 4, 2011

In consideration of Mother’s Day this weekend, we thought we’d have a little conversation with our working, business-owning, professional, and all-around rockstar moms. So on our Facebook page last week, we asked:

To the working mothers and mom-preneurs: how do you maintain your work-life balance?

 

What we found was that maybe this supposed balance doesn’t actually exist! So what’s the answer, then? How do these women manage to participate and be successful in both family and work life? Well, I’ll defer to the experts. This is what our friends and clients had to say:


Great insights.

This post on The Glass Hammer also acknowledged the mythical nature of this kind of balance, and the author, executive coach Ann Daly PhD, offered her strategies for “finding your focus” among both family and professional demands. A large part of that, she says, is “committing to being present in every moment, wherever you are,” echoing what Arlene had mentioned to us on Facebook.

Let’s continue the conversation here! What are your thoughts? If a true work-life balance doesn’t exist, how do you stay on track? Moms, how are able to fulfill both roles? Let us know in a comment below.

P.S.– A happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there from the ladies at the Women’s Business Center!

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Category: Biz Tips, Coaching, Motivational, Women | No Comments »



Equal Pay Day 2011

By Gabby Printz | April 6, 2011

It’s that time of year again…
We are four months into 2011 and close to the day that symbolizes how far into the following year that women will have had to work to match the money earned by men in 2010 (a mouthful, but it’s true). Believe it or not, there is still a substantial gender disparity in earnings: in 2009, women only earned 77 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts made for comparable work. The gaps are even greater in some career fields and among certain ethnicities.

The Facts:
Did you know that only 3% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies are women? Or that, for the first time since the 1970s, the number of women in congress is declining? (source: AAUW) It’s not only about pay, but about broader disparities in the representation of women in the private and public sectors.

For further information on pay disparities particularly, pay-equity.org has made available the statistics and reports on wage gaps across industries, occupations, states, education and race over time.

Also, we invite you to watch the expert panel discussion we hosted last year on the gender pay gap, which focused on the causes and implications of the wage gap, as well as how to negotiate your own salary (here).

What you can do:
If you are an employer, this is the time to take a look at your pay practices. Do your pay scales favor men? Consider the questions on this pay equity self-audit.

Individuals can contact their representatives to make clear that the issue is important to their constituents. Ask them to support the legislation that aims to alleviate pay disparities.

Women are also encouraged to advocate on their own behalf. If you think you deserve to make more, then ask for it! Check out these tips for salary negotiation.

Finally, we ask that you observe Equal Pay Day with us on Tuesday, April 12th. Wear red to signify how women are still “in the red” when it comes to their pay and help to raise awareness about this pressing issue.

Leave a comment with your thoughts on pay equity.

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Category: Events, Pay Equity, Women | 2 Comments »



Between Entrepreneur and Small Business Owner

By Gabby Printz | March 18, 2011

Now HiringAn article in this week’s edition of Buffalo Business First reports that although levels of entrepreneurship are the highest they have been in the last 15 years, few of these new enterprises are hiring employees. This data comes from a recent study conducted by the Kauffman Foundation. It seems that while the recession is providing a ripe environment for start-ups (particularly, new tech start-ups), it’s not easy for these individual proprietors to establish and staff their new enterprises.

Niagara County Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counselor Andrea Lizak weighs in: “The main problem is that entrepreneurs can’t afford to hire, so the transition [from entrepreneur to business owner] is difficult.”

Are we reaching a phase in which entrepreneurial growth does not necessarily coincide with job creation or economic growth? Kauffman Foundation president and CEO Carl Schramm says that this trend could have “both short- and long-term impacts.”

It’s clear, however, that the small business sector is growing…gradually. The monthly small business index (compiled by the National Federation of Independent Business Owners) “has hit its highest level since December 2007,” Kent Hoover reports for Business First. Businesses are also investing in equipment (computers and software), according to a study by the NPD Group. So why aren’t small businesses hiring?

What we see here are two parallel issues:

From a broad perspective, how do we invest in small business in a way that promotes job creation? What kind of regulatory atmosphere fosters job growth in the small business sector?

On an individual level, how does one make that transition from sole-proprietor to small business employer?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not an economic strategist. So I’ll defer to the real economic advisers for solutions to our nation’s high unemployment.

But for the individual entrepreneur, we have some insight:

As a sole-proprietor, you are the entirety of your company. But, as you might come to find, you can’t do everything. Still, it’s not as simple as finding the right person and signing their paychecks (if you can even manage to do that, that is). Other administrative and tax-related steps must be taken, such as applying for an EIN, filing I-9s and W4s, and reporting new hires to the state. The SBA outlines these steps in this comprehensive article.

If you’re not yet at this point, then you’re main challenge is how to grow your business. For that, we encourage you to talk to a counselor and explore what specific resources are available to you. You can also check out our small business self-audit to determine what areas you need to work on to establish your business or take it to the next level. Also, I recommend tuning in to this video series put on by SBA and Dell about small business growth strategies.

It’s important to know that this kind of information and support is out there. Because in the grand scheme of things, it’s in everyone’s interest when a small business succeeds, grows, creates jobs, and contributes to our rebounding economy.

What are your thoughts on small business and job creation? What is your experience with the transition from sole-proprietor to small business owner and employer? Let us know in a comment below.

Category: In the News, Resources, Start-Up | 2 Comments »



Tax Time

By Gabby Printz | March 4, 2011

It’s that time of year again, and every online resource for small business has some form of the “tax tips” post (see our roundup below), but we’d also like to acknowledge that this is the time of year to get organized for filing in 2011. For small businesses owners (and the self-employed), most tax preparation actually comes during the tax year: collecting receipts, tracking expenses, measuring revenue, etc. Make sure that you have a good accounting system that you can keep up with. Also make note of the changes to tax law in the upcoming year. Inc. Magazine has a great article outlining what you need to do to prepare for next year.

But for now, April 15th is looming, so let’s see what advice is out there for completing your 2010 tax return:

How are you filing this year? What are your tax issues? Let us know in a comment below!

Category: Biz Tips, Financial, Resources | No Comments »



Why 2011 is the Year to Start Your Business

By Gabby Printz | January 19, 2011

It might seem counter-intuitive to think of starting a business during these (still) tough economic times, but — according to some — there are some particular advantages to taking the leap now.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that there’s never been a cheaper time to start a new business. Small Business reporter Rosalind Resnik says:

Ten years ago, a typical Internet start-up needed $1 million to launch a product and millions more to prove its business model and scale it to profitability or an IPO. Today’s start-ups run lean and mean thanks to the plunging cost of technology and a surplus of real estate and talent. “The popular ‘lean start-ups’ approach favors developing a product and getting it into the hands of customers as quickly and inexpensively as possible,” says Mr. Ronick of UpStartBootcamp.com. “Plus, the stigma of freelancing has lifted for both companies and individuals so start-ups can hire top talent on an as-needed, virtual basis. This lets founders hire better talent with more flexibility, reduced office space needs, and lower benefits costs.” And thanks to the power of social networking, it’s no longer necessary to hire an expensive PR firm to generate press.

Read the full article for the rest of Resnik’s reasons for starting a business this year.

The lending marketing is also starting to open up again (Reuters: “Regulators see small business lending improving“) and there is unprecedented assistance available for the underserved: namely, women and minority business enterprises. For instance, the Small Business Administration (SBA) just announced two new loan initiatives: Small Loan Advantage and Community Advantage. According to a recent press release, these programs “are aimed at increasing the number of lower-dollar SBA 7(a) loans going to small businesses and entrepreneurs in underserved communities. The agency’s most popular loan product, 7(a) government-guaranteed loans can be used for variety of general business purposes, including working capital and purchases of equipment and real estate.” Find out more about the Advantage Loan Initiatives.

Additionally, there is a new emphasis on opening contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses as part of the SBA’s Final Rule, which we wrote about back in October.

Besides these supporting developments, there are many benefits to owning your own business. You can be your own boss. You can achieve financial independence and fully utilize your skills and knowledge, all while maintaining your creative freedom. And if you’ve been laid off or are currently unemployed, see this as an opportunity or an alternative to entering a saturated job market (a huge talent pool of your own potential employees!). So go ahead, take the leap in 2011, and like countless other innovative and creative women (and men), discover the joy of owning a business.

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Category: Biz Tips, Resources, Start-Up | No Comments »




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