Monday, December 27, 2010

Planning for the New Year

Here we are again saying goodbye to the old and hello to the New Year!  This is the perfect time of year to take a little time to stop, reflect, and plan.  If you own a small business or you’re thinking that this is the year you will start one – you need to have a plan.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Deb's 12 Dayz of "BIZ-MAS"

On the first day of Christmas my business sent to me
A New Year of profitability

On the second day of Christmas my business sent to me
2 good employees
and a New Year of profitability

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Miracles at the USPS

I was running around doing the usual Christmas errands the other day including heading to the post office to mail my cards and packages.   The line was long yet moving at a steady pace.   Customers were very patient.   As we stood there many of us struck up conversations about our plans for the holidays and to whom we were mailing our packages.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

All I want for Christmas

I’m a huge fan of old fashioned toys and if they’re made in the USA – all the better!   One of my favorites are log building kits made by a company called Roy Toy located in East Machias, Maine.   I don’t usually devote an entire column to one business but I’m making an exception because it’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about children and toys and Santa (I still believe).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Last Minute Ways to Attract Customers this Holiday Season

It’s not too late to drive customers to your business to do their holiday shopping!  Just because your business is small doesn’t mean you can’t attract customers like the big boys do!

As the time gets shorter take advantage of technology to do so.  Email and social media are the way to go!   But be careful and be thoughtful because there is a lot of “noise” out there.  You don’t want your message to get lost.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tis the season for the TSA

Having just returned from a trip to Detroit via the Bangor and Philly airports – I’ll share what I observed and lessons learned as I navigated through airport security in the event you plan to travel this holiday season for business or pleasure.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Jelly of the month club?

Tis the season to be thankful and if you own a small business it’s a great time to tell your employees that you love them!   Well (unless your married to them) that might be going a little too far – but letting them know they are appreciated will mean a lot to them.   There are the usual ways to show your employees appreciation – a free turkey, secret santa party, jelly of the month club, etc.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why can't you be more like...

If there was one phrase I would remove from the English language it would be “Why can’t you be more like…?”    From the time we’re very little we compare ourselves to others and often feel inadequate as a result. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

It was a Facebook message telling me that she had breast cancer.   I cried – hard.  It had been years since Janet and I had seen each other. We reconnected on Facebook to talk about our upcoming high school reunion just a few months away.  We grew up together – and were best friends from nursery school through high school and spent many hours talking about our futures. Then went off into the world and lost touch.  Years later – here we are again talking about our future Only this time breast cancer is part of the conversation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What do you want from me?

I was talking with a friend of mine who is struggling with a tough decision.  He began volunteering for an organization that he believes in – yet he is discouraged by the experience and is thinking that he may have to resign from serving on their Board.   So what went wrong?  The answer is a simple one – yet not an uncommon one. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why Take the High Road

Competition has been a recurring theme in my conversations with small business this week.  Specifically what to do when the competition appears to be doing everything to drive business away from you and to them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In a rut? Try something new

We are creatures of habit.   We tend to “rinse and repeat” our behaviors when it comes to where we shop, eat and play.  I’m guilty of this.  It’s partly because we’re all so busy that when we do have spare time to get out – we just want what we want and what we know.  So we rarely  - if ever try something new.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wish I had a flashlight

A few years ago on a beautiful September day I set off to Acadia to take a hike.  I chose a trail I had hiked many times and looked forward to a nice two hour hike  followed by a cold one at Lompoc Café!.  But somewhere along the way things went terribly wrong.  Evidently I “zigged” when I should have “zagged” and before I knew it I was lost.  I didn’t panic.  There were people around and it was mid afternoon – plenty of daylight left.  But one bad decision led to the next and rather than asking for directions or grabbing a map I thought my keen sense of direction would lead me in the right direction.  Not so much!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Lessons Learned from a Cow

I love the Blue hill Fair and this year I was fortunate enough to broadcast  from the KISS 94.5 van at the fair.  When my shift was over I walked around and took in all the sights, sounds and good eats of the fair.  Frankly, most fairs don’t appeal to me.  This one does because of the animals!    I grew up in Pennsylvania farm country so the sight of cows, the smell of a bail of hay and even manure is comforting to my inner child! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Building Customer Loyalty

I noticed the headlight was out on my 2002 Jetta so I took it into the dealership to replace it.  My car has 130k miles on it and like all of us with a few miles on us Ms. Jetta requires a little more upkeep than a newer vehicle. While I was there they pointed out several other issues that I need to address soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

ATTN retailers - No means NO!

“Would you like to open up a charge card with us and get a discount on this purchase?” is a refrain we hear every time we check out at many national retail stores.  As someone who has had store cards and paid them off - my answer is always “no thank you”.   But it troubles me that retailers do this especially in light of our current debt crisis.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Finding Your Bread & Butter

I’ve just returned from California where I enjoyed a wine tasting at Chateaux Montelena in Napa Valley.  This winery has a very interesting history that was told in the movie “Bottle Shock”.   Part of that history was told to me by the gentleman pouring the wines.  He told me that way back in the beginning of the winery the owner wanted to produce red wines - but reds take years to produce and the winery needed cash flow to tide them over before the reds were ready to be bottled and sold.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Maintaining a Positive Attitude even when...

I was talking with a girlfriend recently and asked how her husband was doing.  He was laid off from his corporate job several months ago.  She said he’s had a great attitude about the whole thing.  There have been days when he’s been  down-in-the-dumps but after several days of feeling sorry for himself - he recognize that bad attitude wasn’t going to do him or anyone else any good and he snapped himself out of it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Going into business? Better talk to the family!

For the second time this week I’ve heard about couples in business going out of business.  The stories are similar – young couples, with young children running retail operations and working 90 plus hours a week.  Business was ok but not good enough to justify the hours and the time away from their families. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lessons Learned Dealing with Unhappy Customers

Ask anyone who works with the public and they will tell you that one of the keys to survival is having a good sense of humor and the ability to let criticism roll off your back.   I learned this lesson quickly when I operated businesses in Bar Harbor during the summer tourist season.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leave the Whoopie well enough alone!

I recently interviewed the operations manager from a local bakery that distributes products through out the US and Canada. One of their most popular products are whoopie pies. If you are not familiar with them - imagine two chocolate round cakes filled with a butter cream frosting center. There are many variations to the recipe - different flavors and sizes - but the traditional whoopie pie continues to be the most popular.

Monday, June 14, 2010

When Customers (aka me) are Numb!

Yep... that would be me --- numb!

I am embarrassed to admit that I recently purchased a bed frame from a local store that specializes in custom made maple frames and I completely messed it up! I had to assemble the bed. There were instructions included but I guess I thought I could figure it all out without reading the directions (that always got me into trouble in school).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Business with Dad?

Happy Fathers Day to my daddy and all you daddy’s reading this!   I love my dad very much and he is truly an inspiration, mentor and a best friend to me.  That being said - I am quite sure I could never go into business with him.  That is not true for many sons and daughters who are or have been in business with dad.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Get Away Tips

Summer is finally here!

Funny how it seems to take forever to get here and then it goes by so fast! This is especially true for business owners who often find the summer months are their busiest.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tips to Land That Job

Congratulations to all the recent grads who are now job hunting! This time of your life is likely equally exhilarating and terrifying. Landing that first "real" job often requires a lot of persistence, patience, a little luck and paying attention to details that matter to your potential employer.

Whether you are a recent grad on the hunt for that first job because the idea of moving back in with Mom and Dad is enough to create an anxiety attack, or you want to make a job change because the idea of going back to the same old job Monday morning is enough to cause you an anxiety attack, here are 10 job hunting dos and don'ts.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Success begins with Good Dirt

I'm guessing that, like me, you're taking advantage of this great weather to plant your gardens, window boxes and hanging baskets. I love this time of year, planting something that I can nurture into beauty and enjoy for the coming months.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Do You Need a Dress Code Policy?

As the weather warms up you may be thinking more about what type of dress is appropriate for your place of business. It might be a good idea to develop a written dress code policy so your employees understand what is acceptable to wear to work and what is not.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why I Don't Want to See Your Underwear (at the office)

Remember when your mom used to tell you that “just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to.” I guess mom was right, except when it comes to knowing what to wear and what not to wear to work.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dogs in the Office?

More and more businesses are allowing employees to bring their dogs to work. The upside can be a boost in morale, employee retention a reduction in stress levels and absenteeism. Certainly, not every business is suited for pets - but if your business is considering it – here are some tips for making it work.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fusion Marketing Works!

On of the best and least expensive ways to promote your business is to partner with other businesses and promote each other! This is called Fusion marketing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why Getting Out There and Networking Matters!

As a business owner you are dealing with all sorts of daily demands making it easy to get so bogged down in the day to day operations and challenges of your business that you fail to get away from your business to network!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Don't Forget Your Business Cards

Even with all of the options available to promote your business these days, your business card remains your most effective marketing tool.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When and How Much To Tip

Billy Joel sang about the tip jar “They sit at the bar and put bread in my jar”. These days seems piano men are not the only one’s with tip jars. They seem to have cropped on every counter from coffee shops to restaurants to ice cream take out and many of us wonder when we should put money in the tip charge and when we should not.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

Every small business should develop an elevator pitch as part of their marketing and networking strategy.

The idea of an elevator pitch is to get someone excited about your business in the time it takes to ride an elevator from one floor to another - about 30 seconds!

An elevator pitch is a quick and concise way to communicate who you are, what you do and why you do it better…

Sunday, May 23, 2010

STOP Procrastinating!

A recent study conducted by a Professor at the University of Calgary indicates that we’re procrastinating more than we used to - in 1978 -15 percent of us were guilty of it. Today that number is more like 60 percent. If you find you’re among the many saying “I’ll do it later” here are five tips to help you step procrastinating and get it done now!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dealing With "aarrgghh" Unhappy Customers

Ask anyone who works with the public and they will tell you that one of the keys to survival is having a good sense of humor and the ability to let criticism roll off your back. I learned this lesson quickly when I operated businesses in Bar Harbor during the summer tourist season.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Motivating your Employees

If you have employees in your small business, you know that well motivated employees are more satisfied with their jobs and as a result, more productive.

Here are 4 easy ways to motivate your employees…

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I Didn't Buy the Pants from Your Store

I didn't buy the pants. Not because I didn't like them, but because I lost all interest after dealing with too many barriers " the barriers retailers put up between a customer's interest in making a purchase and actually making the purchase.

Friday, May 14, 2010

When Your Home is Also Your Office

When I was a teenager, my mom worked out of a home office. There were strict rules pertaining to Mom’s workday: She was not to be bothered unless the house was on fire or there were people at the door with balloons and a “ginormous” check from Publishers Clearing House. Mom laid down very clear ground rules, and she and Dad enforced them. Here are some tips to help you make working at home a home run:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Social Networking – Just Do It!

If you still think that social networking is for kids – think again! According to Facebook’s site – the fastest growing demographic of their 300 million users are 35 years old and older. If you aren’t using Facebook and other sites like Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your business you’re missing an opportunity and likely falling behind your competitors who are!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How to Get Your Customers to Give you Feedback

Customers are critical to the success of your business especially in these challenging times. Your customers are also a valuable resource when it comes to making decisions regarding the direction of your business.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Give A Little - Get A Lot

According to a new study by the University of California, Berkeley, workers who are more generous at the office had more influence and are more likely to get ahead in the workplace. This likely comes as no surprise, but it's a good reminder to give more than you get when it comes to how you interact with your co-workers. It's good for you, for them, for business and for your career prospects.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

SMILE:) - It's Good for Business

I recently returned from a fantastic trip to Aruba where customer service is as much a part of the island as the sandy white beaches. Tourism is the economic driver in Aruba so being nice to tourists is key to the survival of the island. From the hotel staff to the restaurant workers to the bus drivers – everyone is so nice!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What LL Bean can Teach us About Service

The National Retail Federation recently named LL Bean the number one retailer when it comes to providing exceptional customer service. There were a number of reasons customers voted LL Bean number one - including their liberal return policy. If you’re unsatisfied with a product you purchased at LL Bean they’ll take it back no matter how long ago you purchased it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to Make Meetings Not Suck

It will likely come as no surprise to you that when workers were asked what is their biggest time waster at work – many said --- meetings!

You can’t avoid having meetings in your business – as they’re necessary for communication and team building - but you can avoid meetings that are viewed as a waste of time...and here’s how…

Monday, April 5, 2010

Laugh It Up!

It's April Fools week and that means we can expect "kick-me" signs and whoopee cushions. Having been raised by the "King of Pranks" " my dad " I'm a big fan of good fun. Dad taught us at a young age that it's important to take what you do seriously " but to not take yourself too seriously.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Starting A Direct Selling BIZ (Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, etc.)

According to the Direct Selling Association more than 15 million people in the US are operating direct selling businesses. Direct selling is defined as the sale of a consumer product or service, person-to-person, away from a fixed retail location. Examples include Avon, Mary Kay and Pampered Chef.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Don't Be Fooled!

“Earn thousands of dollars working from home”

We’ve all seen and heard this pitch on t.v. Unfortunately most of these infomercials are nothing but scams! “April Fools” seems like a good time to offer tips to prevent you from being “fooled” by these offers, as I receive frequent calls from individuals who, wanting to start a home based business, have fallen prey to these scams.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Get Organized!

Tis the season for Spring cleaning! Whether you are cleaning out your closets, pantry or office – it feels so good to get rid of clutter and feel organized. In fact, experts on the topic of organizing will tell you that ridding your life of clutter can greatly reduce your stress level!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Play Nice with Others in the Sandbox for Business Success

We entrepreneurs tend to be the fiercely independent types. But - being too independent can often do more harm than good when it comes to the success of your business! With many of us concerned about the survival of our businesses in these tough economic times – it makes smart business sense to look for ways to collaborate with other businesses to save money and improve visibility.