If You Build It They Will Come

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If you build it they will come. People perceive you off of how you perceive yourself first. The same goes for business. If you invest the time to make what you have for your business look as professional as possible people will be more likely to invest in it. Take the time to create professional labels for your products or business cards for your services. If you are a designer put together a nice portfolio. There are great tools out there that can take your portfolio to another level. You can take images of your designs and create an online portfolio. There are apps that can help you make amazing portfolios. If you would like to do it yourself and not rely on an app you can do that as well. I’ve attached a video below that shows you how to create a website or portfolio of your designs. It uses photoshop. Choosing that route will give you creative control over all the details.

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Boost Sales Become Vanna White

The Little Mermaid

Ursula The Sea Witch- The Little Mermaid

Say what you will about Ursula but the woman knew the power of word of mouth marketing.  She had costumers lined up because someone always knew someone who knew someone who had told them about her services.  Marketing your business is essential. You cannot reach the masses if you don’t market. This week I found an interesting way for small businesses to get their merchandise and services out there. Have you ever considered doing a showcase? A showcase allows you to set up a booth and market your business one on one with potential costumers. Showcasing in conjunction with a larger business guarantees that the traffic will be there as their costumers flow in and out throughout the day. This is great for people who have products they have developed or special services they provide. If you’re interested in doing a showcase contact some big name businesses and ask if they offer the opportunity for people to showcase. During my research, I found  that Sam’s Club  offers this type of opportunity. The video below is based on the showcasing they do and what you should consider if you’d like to participate. The key to getting your product out there is marketing, marketing and more marketing.  Never underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing.  Someone may know someone who knows someone who knows the right person that they just happened to have recommended your product to.  Ursula landed the kings daughter as a client which wasn’t too bad for business.

http://youtu.be/POOZ30N5RMA

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Bibbidi-Bobbidi… Investor?

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Wouldn’t it be grand if we all had fairy godmothers?  All our worries would be wiped away with a flick of her wrist.  Cinderella was a girl down on her luck.  She ‘d lost everything.  She had no income to invest in the business of “herself”.  She worked odd jobs scrubbing floors here and there but found herself in a one bedroom apartment with a view of everything she wished she had. Then one day an opportunity presented itself and she thought, “If I could just get there, I could network with the right people.” Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned and she found herself back on the inside looking out of her rodent (albeit helpful as they were) infested abode. Not everyone has the means to invest in their own business or wants to risk taking out a business loan. Sometimes it seems that we continue to meet dead ends. However, like Cinderella there’s hope for those who continue to dream on a tin can budget. Angel investors are individuals who have the start up capital to help new businesses. They do so typically in exchange for some level of ownership or convertible debt. There are several sites on the internet that cater to these types of investors. You can upload your business plan and hopefully link up with an investor. Uploading your plan to multiple sites will help increase your chances and you may instead have a few offers to choose from. Below is a link for a sample angel investor site located in New York. Cinderella found luck with a fairy godmother. Angel investor sites are worth looking into because you may just find yourself cashing in at the bibbidi-bobbidi-bank.

Link: http://newyorkangels.com/index.html

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Rumpelstiltskin Needed a Trademark

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Rumpelstiltskin was a man who knew the importance of a name.  He had many talents.  He could spin straw into gold and one day he offered to help a poor millers daughter being held in captivity.  However, he had a few strings attached.   She could use his services just not his name.  As long as he controlled the use of his name he retained his power.  You should always protect your identity in your personal and business life.  In business, you do so by having a trademark.  You can get a trademark for around $300.  Trademarks protect names, symbols, words and logos that distinguish your business from other businesses.  You’ll have to first do your research to make sure that the name isn’t already taken.  I’m in the process of applying for a trademark.  Once I finish the application process,  I will blog about the wait time and response I receive.  There are several sites on-line that offer you trademarks but in my opinion it is safer to go to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  As for Rumpelstiltskin, his empire crumbled with one word from the millers daughter, “Rumpelstiltskin!” I guess he should have had a trademark.

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Jack and the Giant Scam

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Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack.  Jack ran a small business with his mother selling milk from their cow.  However, they weren’t reaping enough profits.  They could barely make enough to meet their daily needs.  After a while, the business collapsed because their cash cow dried up.  Jack and his mother decided to cut their losses and sell their business.  On the way to the market, Jack met a man who offered him “the answer to all his problems” in exchange for his cow.  Jack thought it over and decided that magical beans were the way to go.  These beans are what I like to call “myths”.  This is information we hear through the grapevine that has no real backing.  I have heard several times that when you start a small business you can apply for a grant from the Small Business Administration/SBA or other funding organizations to cover the cost.  I did some research over the past few days and discovered that this information is simply incorrect.  The SBA does not offer “free money” for people looking to start a new business.  The grants that are available are for specific groups, activities or organizations.  On the other hand, they do offer guidance on how to start a business. They offer information on writing a business plan and training on how to start a business.  However, there is a tiny ray of hope for those hoping to receive a grant.  If you are dead set on a grant you can look into what your state offers.  You can check with the local economic development agency.  I’ve posted a link below that contains the websites for the local economic development agency in each state.  I’ve also posted a link that lists the different federal grants that are offered in the event you wanted to check for yourself.  To go back to Jack, I can tell you that after several phone calls and online searches I’ve learned that you should be leery of sites offering you access to federal grants for you to start your small business.  Some of these sites even ask you for money in exchange for a list of grants you can use.  Don’t let them scam you.  In the end, Jack made it up the beanstalk only to find a Giant that chased him back to where he started and he frantically tried to cut his ties with his investment (magic beans) by chopping the tree down.

Links:

Federal Grants – http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/home.html

Local Economic Development Agencies http://www.sba.gov/content/economic-development-agencies

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