Monday, December 27, 2010


Access to First Class Resources:

Outsource providers make substantial investments in technology, processes, and people and they gain expertise by working with many clients facing similar challenges. This combination of specialization and expertise gives their customers a competitive advantage over their competition.

First in a  series of compelling reasons why it makes sense for small businesses to outsource during recession and beyond. For more great tips, check out Next Level's blog, site or FB page.. Find the pros you need and list your own business also on the OED Community.


Monday, December 20, 2010

OUTSOURCING: Is it a four letter word?

Next Level Business Solutions kicks off a discuss and tip series on why outsourcing makes sense for small business.

During a recession, the term outsourcing congers up visions of thousands of American jobs streaming to emerging countries, however is outsourcing to US workers bad?

Let’s look at the definition of outsourcing: “Outsourcing or sub-servicing often refers to the process of contracting to a third-party.” In its simplest form everyone in the country outsources on a daily basis. Every time you go to the grocery, car mechanic, shopping mall, or doctor you are outsourcing. The same is true for your business. You hire (outsource) individuals with specific knowledge and experience to work for you, and the printing of fliers and marketing materials is outsourced to a printer. Next week we will look at why outsourcing is good for a small business in any economy.

For more great tips, check out Next Level's blog, site or FB page.. Find the pros you need and list your own business also on the OED Community.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Small Business Anxious Over Estate Tax

An article of on Thursday highlighted the growing uncertainty that many small business owners face in regard to the back and forth over estate taxes.

While the tax rates are still shaking out for a year starting in 2 weeks, many businesses are left with shifting values. With few businesses having purely liquid assets, the article highlights one owners concern that a thriving business may result in a tax nightmare for his sons. In spite of incremental gifting of ownership, capital investment continually improves the business value. Should growth for this employment engine be penalized?

As the administration and Congress worked to find compromise any of them could live with, owners were left approaching the start of a new fiscal year at the calendar turn with an unclear picture of future liability.

Tell us~ how has the uncertainty over the tax rates effecting businesses you know? Everyone sitting tight? New hires postponed? Ownership shares being held back?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December's OED 500 Winner Announced-- Cheesecake Anyone?

OED is pleased to announce that the fourth quarter winner of the OED 500 is Ruby Wesley of A Taste of Rubies. The New Brunswick, NJ-based specialty dessert company has been recognized for its creativity and perseverance throughout the past year. The OED 500 is a quarterly small business contest started as a way to recognize the flexibility, resourcefulness, and at times extreme measures displayed by American small businesses during our country’s recession. Hit hard by the recession like many small business owners, A Taste of Rubies has weathered 2009 and 2010 through the creativity and determination that is the hallmark of entrepreneurship.

“Ruby formed her business in 2007, just a initial indicators were pointing to slow down,” stated Brian Marshall, an OED Trustee. “The first two years of any new venture are often considered the most difficult. To launch a business under the recent conditions with credit tightening, consumer confidence lagging, and operational costs increasing shows a determination only fellow entrepreneurs can understand. You just keep moving forward, and Ruby has done that month by month, idea by idea. It’s a tremendous success story for NJ Small Business.”

Moving forward has meant creativity and leveraging every possible option to contains costs and entice customers. “It has been a challenge trying to offer affordable prices with the rising cost of goods. We came up with a new service: Dessert Parties as an affordable option for potential clients looking to have parties on a budget. This option allows potential clients to commemorate any occasion on a budget without having to sacrifice quality,” said Ruby. She continues, “We have adjusted, and we have parameters in place that allow us to be flexible and nimble in this volatile economy. We have several revenue streams (catering, wedding, general retail, fundraisers, wholesale and more). This versatile business model gives option and various way to continue earning income.”

To read the rest of the annoucement, visit

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thinking Like An Entrepreneur

“To think is to act.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher.

A popular misconception is that entrepreneurs are strong-willed men and women of action. But the truth is that successful entrepreneurs are strong-willed men and women, first of thought, and then of action.

Their primary everyday action is thinking and relentlessly seeking information to enable them to continually give their customers, employees and suppliers what they need (require) and want (desire) and get what they need and want in return, thereby achieving the ultimate in fair play and fairness

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Building (Business) Relationships Takes TIME

A major skill often requiring some fine-tuning with most entrepreneurs is the process of building relationships with prospective clients and future business associates BEFORE asking for the sale or discussing business participation specifics.
Most entrepreneurs are taught to talk to anyone and everyone they know and meet as soon as they can, about their new business BEFORE someone else gets to them first. This goes against all good business logic.
People do business with those they know, like and trust. New prospects need more than a first meeting to know, like and trust you. In all businesses, it takes time to build relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Be professional, focus on your goals and create a reason for people to do business with you – PERSONALLY!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why You Need A Business Plan

"Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.” – CD Jackson – American publisher

Anyone who wants to build or run a successful business needs a business plan. Building a business is no different then building anything, there are many pieces to put together and many details to cover. If you were building a building (whether a tool shed or a skyscraper) you would need a plan!

The sad truth is that most people plan trips and vacations better than they plan their business ventures. Frequently, it doesn't occur to them that a business plan can help - tremendously.

The process of creating a business plan forces you to take a realistic, more or less detached look at your business in its entirety.

Most people who have business ideas deal with them in a disorganized manner. Putting a business plan together and writing down specifics provides you with the opportunity to evaluate your business in its entirety so that you can proceed to implement it.

A finished business plan becomes a tool that will help you manage your business and work toward its success.

The business plan allows you to take nebulous thoughts and put them in concrete form. It is the difference between those who merely have an idea and those who make money on one.

The importance of planning cannot be overemphasized. It is the key to unlocking the door to success. And once you open that door, what do you find? About a thousand more doors with all kinds of variables, problems, and situations. The only way you can effectively handle those variables in a business venture is to have a logical, well-organized business plan.

By taking an objective look at your business, you can identify areas of strength and weakness. You can pinpoint your needs or details you might normally overlook. A business plan will give you enough information to help you spot problems before they arise. Planning will help you determine how you can best achieve your business goals.

A business plan does several things for you:
• Helps you identify your objectives.
• Helps you develop strategies to meet those objectives.
• Helps you earmark problems and suggests ways to solve them.
• Helps you avoid problems altogether.
• Helps create a structure to your business by defining activities and responsibilities

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How detailed does a business plan need to be?

“Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.” - John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946), British economist.

The amount of detail in a business plan depends on what the plan is for and how much is at stake.

If you are starting a part-time business that will only take a few hundred dollars and you don’t EXPECT it to become more then a glorified hobby then a short plan will do, a page or two.

If you are going to spend a significant amount of money, want this to be your full time business and you NEED the income from it then you need a full and detailed plan.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Become a "Positive Workaholic"

If you're like many small business owners, you log at least 50 -- possibly closer to 60 or 70 -- hours a week in the harness. You may put in a few late nights each week... spend some hours on Saturday (perhaps even Sunday) wrapping up details...tend to start vacations a day late and return a day early...slip away from the family in the evening to handle a few "just gotta get to" papers, bids, plans, etc. In the constant battle to keep your bottom line in the black, you do the work of two or three employees.

In short, you may be a workaholic. Many workaholics are guilt-ridden, driven souls who -- either due to fear of failure or genuine personal choice -- exist only to work. They neglect their own needs, the needs of their loved ones...even their own health. Ironically, even the business eventually suffers. As they become increasingly task oriented rather than results oriented, the time they put in becomes self-justifying and their productivity plunges. Eventually, they can become so completely addicted to work that they burn themselves out...and burn out their personal relationships as well. They can end up broke, alone and in poor health, plagued with stress-related illnesses.

But it doesn't have to be that way. You can become a positive workaholic! Positive workaholics live fast-paced, full lives. They work hard, but they also play hard. Most of all, they get allot done and are generally successful in their business and personal lives.

How to become a positive workaholic: You are a resource. When it comes to efficient, quality productivity, you are a machine that creates value. You are also a human being. How can you operate at maximum effectiveness and efficiency when it comes to building and running your business...and also maintain a satisfying life for yourself and others away from work? Here are a few suggestions:

• Strive for balance in your life. Successful workaholics see themselves not just as business owners, but also as spouses, parents, members of the community, sports fans, charitable volunteers, boaters, etc. Though they may not mix business and pleasure, they make sure they include a healthy mixture of both in their lives on a daily basis.

Suggestion: Devote at least one focused hour each day to something (A) you value and enjoy and (B) that has absolutely no connection to business.

• Be goal-oriented. If you enjoy work for work's sake, just dig a ditch each morning and fill it in each afternoon. Positive workaholics work to achieve specific objectives. They map out their life goals and their business goals. The work they do every day is undertaken to help bring them that much closer to their objectives.

Suggestion: Start by setting aside some time today to sketch out your most important business goals and personal goals...things you'd like to achieve or do by the end of this year. Put a star beside the single most important one on each list. Then develop the daily and weekly activities that will virtually guarantee your success in achieving these goals. This will give you tremendous focus each day.

• Boost your efficiency. Time can be your enemy or your friend. But people who achieve success in business and satisfaction in their personal lives do so partially because they have learned to accomplish more in less time.

Suggestion: Structure your time as if it were gold. Don't walk into work, look around and then decide what needs to be done. Instead, begin each day with a to-do list of what you need to accomplish during that day. That way you can hit the ground running each morning and move steadily and efficiently from task to task.

• Enjoy the trip, not just the goal. Positive workaholics enjoy what they do...and the daily process of doing it. They love to get up and go to work in the morning...and they love to go home in the evening. They resist feeling guilty about either putting in too much time or taking too much time off. If they've planned their work and leisure time properly, they can focus on each separately and forget the other.

Suggestion: Build in rewards for yourself and your family...something to look forward to outside of work. Maybe it's the Thursday all-you-can-eat buffet for lunch at your favorite restaurant or going to a movie in midweek. This expands to get-away weekends and at least one extended vacation each year.

• Build in family time or social time every day...even if you have to schedule it by the clock. This helps safeguard the things you really care about.

Suggestion: Actively plan family time. The best kind of activities tend to be daily routines. Consider things like planned dinners together; helping children with homework; reading bedtime stories; cooking dinner together; etc. This is one of the great advantages of being a business owner. You can leave work at three o'clock to catch your daughter's softball game, spring for pizza with the team afterwards, then put in a few extra hours in the evening.

• Learn to live in "daytight compartments." Owning a business is a high-stress way of life. It can be difficult to simply walk away from work and turn off the problems and concerns of the day. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. The idea is to plan with broad vision, but to live each day as if there were no yesterday and no tomorrow. Focus only on the one right smack in front of you.

Suggestions: Some business owners take a shower every evening after they get home, symbolically washing away the cares of the day. Others may put in long, grueling, highly-structured hours during the week; then on Friday afternoon, they take off their watches, devote themselves one hundred percent to family and social activities and refuse to even think about work until Monday morning. Most of all, no briefcase ever gets in the front door.

• Take time for daily renewal. This could also be referred to as recharging your spiritual batteries. It is very easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees as you slog through a daily schedule. Before long, you could become lost... doubting yourself and questioning the basic premises about your life and your values.

Suggestion: Block out even just half an hour each day for prayer or meditation, to read a few pages from an inspirational book or to listen to a cassette on self-improvement.

• Watch your health. Keep yourself physically tuned up and in peak form, and avoid using alcohol or tobacco as stress relievers. This will make you more efficient, able to focus more on work, get by with less sleep, require fewer sick days and be overall more productive. There is a direct connection between physical fitness and work productivity. (A recent study showed absenteeism among workers who had a high level of cardiovascular fitness was 25% to 40% lower than for less physically fit workers.)

Suggestion: Get regular exercise... even if it only means taking the dog for a half-hour walk each day. Also, learn to eat intelligently. Some foods give you energy, help strengthen your body; others drag you down. Talk to your doctor.

The bottom line: Workaholism needn't be a dirty word. On the contrary, it can be a very positive thing. By becoming a positive workaholic, you can build a prosperous business life and enjoy a rewarding and satisfying personal life.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time to Think and Time to Plan

“The whole secret of freedom from anxiety over not having enough time lies not in working more hours, but in the proper planning and use of your hours.” – Frank Bettger

No matter what plan or planner you use (paper or electronic), it does you no good if you do not use it to prepare yourself for your prospects and your clients.

Many successful people will set aside 3-4 hours every week to take a look at the week past and get organized and ready for the week ahead.

Some will do Saturday morning and some will take the time Sunday night… whatever the day or time SET IT ASIDE AND TAKE IT! Take time to THINK and PLAN.

‘Really valuable people do two things well… plan and then do things in the order of their importance.” – Henry L Doherty

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Profile of an Entrepreneur

“An businessman is a hybrid of a dancer and a calculator.” – Paul Valery – French philosopher

What follows are the five MAIN traits found in successful entrepreneurs.

 They are Problem Solvers
Entrepreneurs have an uncanny ability to find solutions for difficult problems.

 They are Calculated Risk Takers
A successful entrepreneur is a good judge of acceptable risk levels. They always research a topic before trying to make decisions and leave no stone unturned. They tend to be an adventurous group but always minimize their risk with alternate plans should something unexpected arise.

 They are Innovators
During their lifetime most entrepreneurs will start several businesses. This is due to the fact that they always have great new business ideas flowing through their head. An entrepreneur will start a company and then move on to the next big project. It is rare for an entrepreneur to stick around and actually "run" a company past the start up phase. The idea of running an established company does not appeal to them so they are likely to sell the business or hire someone to run the daily operations for them.

 They Delegate Tasks
One of the keys to becoming an excellent entrepreneur is their ability to delegate tasks to others. They delegate tasks they are not good at to others and run the parts of the business that they excel in.

 Handle Rejection Well:
Dealing with rejection is part of being an entrepreneur.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do I have what it takes to own/manage a small business?

“The starting point of all great achievements is desire.” – Napoleon Hill

You will be your own most important asset, so an objective appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses is essential.
To determine if you have what it takes, YOU need to answer some questions about yourself:

Am I a self-starter?

How well do I get along with a variety of personalities?

How good am I at making decisions?

Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?

How well do I plan and organize?

Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Improving Customer Service

The basic truth in business is that it's repeat business, from faithful customers, that builds your profit. We have all heard that, statistically, it's much easier to keep a customer and sell other products and services to that customer than it is to gain new customers.

Here are five tips on providing outstanding customer service to continue to generate new and repeat business:

1. Sell an honest product or service that you believe in.
2. Guarantee customer satisfaction and stand by your guarantee.
3. Make it easy for your customers to contact you with questions or concerns.
4. Take seriously your customer's comments, concerns or questions about your product or service.
5. Solicit your customers' opinion about your product or service and encourage them to be honest!

If your business is a customer service driven business, it will be apparent throughout the sales and service process with every customer. While many business people understand that they need to provide a quality product or service, they need to remember that customers care just as much about service as quality. You must provide both to keep your customers back.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How can I turn my business into a franchise?

For business owners considering expansion by franchising their model, Entrpreneuer's contributor Jeff Elgin shares these insights:

Question: How can I turn my business into a franchise?I want to start tea and coffee business vending machine franchise.

My first suggestion is that you need to walk before you can run. This sounds like a great idea in theory but you need to put the theory to test to make sure it works in the real world.

It sounds like you haven't actually started your first business yet. You will need to start the business first and then run a number of vending machines for a while so you can get the business figured out from a marketing and operational standpoint.

You'll need to develop all of your sources for machines, supplies and your inventory of coffees and teas. Then you'll need to make sure the business can operate profitably for a period of time so you can demonstrate that success in some form or fashion to prospective franchisees.
Even at this point in time, you'll then have to determine if franchising the business makes economic sense. There are many costs involved in starting a franchise company and the total investment to reach breakeven in a franchise company operation for any concept can easily reach over a million dollars.

It may be wiser for you to expand the business in another manner other than a franchise. You can receive expert advice once you get to this point in your business from a good franchise attorney--they will help you make sense of your options.

Look for more articles and research regarding franchising and licensing in the OED Community.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What do I need to know before I buy a franchise? ran a Q&A regarding franchises. For many would-be entrepreneurs, franchise opportunities provide a tangible model with turn key implementation. Contributor Jeff Elgin provides a quick answer and guides research:

Question: What do I need to know before I buy a franchise?
What questions should I ask the franchisor and how do I find the best market and location?
This is one of those questions that's quick to ask but involves a long, multi-part answer if you want the full scoop. I'll try to give you the quick and dirty answer.

What you want to see in any franchise is a strong positive track record of performance that you can verify during your research. This gives you the security of knowing that lots of other people have gotten a franchise with the company and then done well. If you can't find this sort of track record with any franchise you're researching then find a different one to pursue.

If you would like to receive additional information about all of the many facets you should be investigating with any franchise, you can access the archived articles I've written for over the past 10 years.

You'll find a record of over 100 articles with all the information you'll need to get a very strong idea of everything you'll need to know.

To see the original post and related Q&A regarding franchises, visit -

Friday, November 5, 2010

Give us a laugh, teach us a lesson, and get some free press!

When you run a small business, it’s fairly common knowledge that things won’t quite go accordingly to plan every day. Few situations are so riddled with unpredictable zigs and zags than wooing new clients. At times, you may find your self looking around the room for hidden cameras, thinking, “This has to be a set up right?” It may be a case of seeing more of someone’s personality than you expected on a first visit. Sometimes, the attire of office personnel may leave your draw dropping, showing a little too much in a different way. So what’s your story?

The best way for any small business owner to learn is often from another owner. It’s the basis of OED: Entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs. In this case, we want to hear in what first meeting nightmare did you find yourself stuck, what ran through your mind, and out of curiosity… what happened to the sale? Share your story—give us all a laugh, maybe teach us a thing or two, and be the Friday Featured Small Business receiving online media post and a week’s worth of promotion!

Need an example to pull out the memories you may have suppressed? Here’s mine:

About fifteen years ago, not long after launching my business, I was referred by a client to one of his friends. I was told they were a B2B company formed by the father about twenty years prior. As the sons had grown, they were taking the company over. My client mentioned there was “a little tension” sometimes.

“A little tension? I can handle that,” I thought. What I didn’t expect was being placed physically between the brothers, who each had very different views and visions of the business (classic ops & sales conflict) and who each had yet to outgrow the sibling bickering I see now in my ten and twelve year old. I was between two men in their 40’s who literally started fighting over every insult that ever passed between them (who had the bigger bar mitzvah? Thirty years later, still stinging?). Did I mention this was not a full LBAP meeting over major company issues? Not even a full marketing consult? I was being asked in to look at sales literature. It was just a “one brochure meeting,” and within sixty minutes I was watching two men come to blows… in their suits and all. I could only imagine Thanksgiving at their house. Their father, the President still at that point, came in to the room to diffuse I thought, but only made it worse. It seemed he like the competition between his sons, and felt it would push ops to stay on top AND sales to stay on top as he picked his successor. Oh yeah, that was healthy.

I knew then and there I couldn’t function in a hornets nest of emotions (and shoving) like that. The beauty of self-employment is you can be picky at times. While the work would have been great, it got so out of hand I just wanted to leave and then graciously thank my client for the “unique” referral. It was as I was getting my coat on that they realized I was sincere about leaving. All three were stunned and looked at me. The father, not happy with his sons or me at that point, snidely commented if I was too much of a lightweight to handle conflict, then I wasn’t the right person for them.

I refused to be baited into the skirmishes by the swipe. I also didn’t want to do anything that would reflect back on my client who referred me. I looked at the three of them and said, “I can deliver great marketing materials, but I’m not a family counselor.” For the first time they were each silent and STAYED silent. I told them what I would do, how we could proceed. But I also told them what I wasn’t willing to sit through- ever- whether on the clock or not. It was like a Mexican standoff in a movie, all of us waiting to see who would blink. And then, the father blinked. He asked me for a proposal ASAP, shook my hand and left the room. I am happy to report that I they were a 10yr plus client until they relocated from the area and sold.

I later found out via my client that both the sons and the father were so stunned I was willing to walk out and then REALLY do it. They were so used to people (mainly cowering employees) putting up with the antics, they hadn’t had someone say to all three of them simultaneously how out of control they were. Moral of the story: Stick up for your own professional standards, and don’t let the insanity suck you in. I stuck to my guns, nearly walked, and ended up with a very profitable and very long term relationship.

So now, it’s your turn. What was the craziest setting you ever found yourself in, and what happened? Tell us, and be OED’s Friday Featured Business.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Was the Voice of Small Business Heard at the Ballot Box?

This article is reprinted in its entirety, and may be found at's blog. There are some excellent points and questiosn posed. WELL worth a read by all!
By: Carol Tice

"With many election results in, some business owners are excited to see the U.S. Congress lose its Democratic majority. National Federation of Independent Business president and CEO Dan Danner said, 'It's clear that the voice of small business was heard in the election.'

But was it? Will the election changes really help small businesses to thrive?

What appears to be emerging out of the election is a Congress divided. Democrats retained their majority in the Senate, but lost it in the House. So now we have a Democratic Senate and President, but a Republican-dominated house.

I've been around long enough to recall other eras where we had this kind of a mix, and it is often a recipe for a lot of wheel-spinning. This could easily devolve into a lot of busywork and posturing that doesn't go anywhere. A cycle of Senate and House not agreeing on anything, unable to reconcile bills. Or bills that simply get vetoed and face difficult override battles in Congress. The Republican House majority isn't large enough to make that a snap.

If you wanted change, I'm not sure things have changed enough to really make any difference. If you liked things the way they were, the election probably didn't make you happy, either.

While NFIB may be excited to see 19 of its members, and in all 240 of the candidates it supported, head to Washington...Will it really help? My take is it would likely require more changes in who warms the chairs in Congress and the White House to get things moving in a new direction.

What do you think -- will the new makeup of Congress lead to a more favorable business climate, or just political gridlock?"

What do you think? Leave a comment!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

7 Steps to Turnaround Your Business

Thanks once again to Bill Donnelly of Bac2Profit for his second guest post, featuring some critical greta ways to refocus, get back in control, and back in control.

1. Stabilize Your Environment – simply put, maintain positive cash balances at all times. Sign for all obligations and sign all checks.

2. Discipline – instill the discipline to act, target results and be accountable with NO exceptions. Instilling superior discipline teaches others to act as you would act.

3. What is causing the problem – sales declining? Profit margins eroding? Expenses increasing? Losing key customers? Here you need an adequate financial reporting system to make the thorough comparative analysis to diagnose the problem and begin to formulate solutions. The use of financial ratios to look at performance for the last 3 years is critical.

4. Get back to profitable lines – whether product or services, rebuild and restructure around the most profitable, albeit smaller, lines of business. It is more important to get smaller and profitable than get bigger at this stage.

5. Prepare a turnaround plan – be practical, conservative and realistic. You will need to convince the bank and your creditors you will make it. Your plan has a realistic chance of succeeding. Your narrative should be detailed and in-depth and cover sales, operations, cost savings and how they will get paid. All backed up with comprehensive financial and cash flow projections.

6. Negotiate – you will most likely need your bank and creditors to restructure their debt. This will take time and your personal attention. Do NOT make a deal that puts you and the company under undue cash flow stress.

7. Execute, execute, execute – now is the time to make good on all the hard work you have done to this point to save the business. The focus of execution is disciplined decision making, results oriented thinking and tireless accountability to the mission.

Once you have gotten the business back on its feet you have one last decision to make – grow it or sell it. Your choice.

Friday, October 22, 2010


The Organization for Entrepreneurial Development has announced it will  award a $500 grant to a select small business on December 1, 2010. OED is  seeking a small business impacted during these troubled economic times that  has taken creative steps to keep going or stabilize.

What have you done to put out immediate fires while positioning your business for success during the recovery? Please tell us your story. OED knows that many business owners have been struggling to simply keep the doors open. Whether you've cut costs and /or consolidated, collaborated with other businesses, shifted  to a new opportunity area; we want to hear from you. If you started your business in this down economy we'd like to hear from you.

Applications will be accepted through November 15, 2010. Recipient will be announced December 1st.

We encourage you to share this opportunity with other business owners, be they vendors,  clients, or neighbors, who've also faced these tough times. Sometimes  strengthening another business is the best way to strengthen your own.

Apply, and then pass it on! We look forward to hearing from you, learning  from you, and rewarding you.

Below is the link to the application form:

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Hate My BlackBerry (Droid, I Phone...) or Am I an Instrument of Efficiency

Thanks to Bill Donnelly of Bac2Profit for snapping us back to reality on some basic business etiquette.
I’ve just finished watching a commercial for a new Droid phone (you can put another name in its place). Am I to believe I can be more efficient and more effective by answering emails IN THE MIDDLE OF A MEETING?

I have so many issues with the commercial and what it attempts to sell I want to SCREAM! Let’s start with:
1. Simple respect – to take a call or answer an email during a meeting or presentation is just rude. Have we forgotten manners?

2. Listening – by taking your attention from the meeting and the issue being discussed you CANNOT be listening. If you are not listening, how can you be engaged?

3. Distraction – if you think answering a call or answering an email is not distracting to others, you are kidding yourself. If you are their distraction, how can they be listening?

4. Focusing – what is your definition? Clearly, it is different than mine.

What I believe is we are not more efficient or effective with all this technology around us. How many times a day while working on a project do you read and answer new “urgent” emails as they arrive? How many times a day do you answer your mobile phone when it rings to take an “urgent” call from a friend or significant other? How often do you stop what you are doing to sneak a peek at your Facebook account or personal email?


Let me be clear, technology has helped make me be better but most of us have let it take control of us because we BELIEVE we are being more efficient and effective.
1. Leave the devices behind. Respect the people in the meeting. Their time is valuable too.

2. Pay attention and listen. If it’s that important someone will interrupt the meeting and believe me, IT’S NOT THAT IMPORTANT.

3. Set an example. If you pay attention and listen you cannot be the distraction. Others will follow your example.

4. My definition of focus is simple, being able to understand, ask pertinent questions, challenge where appropriate and come to a conclusion or decision. Finishing the task at hand.
It’s about doing one thing at a time and doing it to the best of your ability. Put away the ________ (you fill in the blank) where appropriate. Listen, focus on what is right in front of you and become THE Instrument of Efficiency.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is Small Business Credit Starting to Open?

A story headlined "Small businesses get a nearly $1-billion boost from U.S." was published today by the LA Times. It opened, "The infusion comes in the form of about 2,000 SBA loans totaling $970 million that had been held up for months in Congress. California businesses will get about 10% of the loans." It further stated, "Nearly 2,000 loans worth $970 million have been approved for small-business owners across the nation, the Small Business Administration said Tuesday."

Have you seen any opening in the small business credit markets yourself, or are edgy banks still slow to open the reserves for small businesses?

Share your feedback below!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Advice to New Business Owners: Part 2

Here are some more tips and comments from OED500 applicants when asked to share advice to people starting a business. In the OED spirit of "entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs," we'll be passing along some of the best feedback received. Read on and pass along to those you know who are making a go of it!

MG(ret)Roger Blunt
Retired Military Officers Association (RMOA)
Join or form systems of information sharing and cooperation with other small businesses in like situations; rethink the old paradigms that have characterized your operating systems or methods and don't be afraid to change or challenge them; look for cooperative efforts with others outside your standard arenas; be available to joint venture, team, or form other marketing alliances to increase your market share; work harder AND "smarter".

Tom McCormick
Pay yourself first! Do not expect to profit from revenue coming in alone. Determine that for each dollar coming in, you are going to take out X cents for profit. If you can't get the work done (at the proper quality level) with what's left over then you are losing money before you even agree to take on the revenue.

So true, Tom! How many business owners scramble to pay other without taking a salary? A too common problem in this economy and a hard business "habit" to break once started!

Don Ritzman

Absolute Identification, Inc.

Try to create relationships with partners that do not require major outlays of cash. Cash is the precious item that all start-ups need to preserve in every way possible in order to sustain and then be in a position to grow. Cashless transactions with key partners can help make this easier.

Great, creative way to stretch that ever-so-precious cash on hand!

Watch for more great small business quick tips, search for expert advice, and explore opportunity postings at!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Advice to New Business Owners: Part 1

Each OED500 applicant is asked for advice to people starting a business. In the OED spirit of "entrepreneurs supporting entrepreneurs," we'll be passing along some of the best feedback received. Some will be a healthy reminder to us all, and some may make you smile. In all cases, they are words to live by for people starting out. Read on and pass along to those you know who are making a go of it!

Jennifer A. Garcia
Logicreative Design (on twitter @ LogicCreative)
1- clarify your target audience not only who needs your products/services, but who can afford them
2- be very clear on your own business goals
3- utilize social media

Check out Eyal Bino's post on small business Social Media to get started on #3

Adele Ann Taylor: Adele's Literacy Library  (on twitter @ ALLforbooks
Plan accordingly and project your expenditures as far out as you can. Know that your dreams take a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

Well said, Adele!

Kendra Von Achen

DB Pros Consulting  (on twitter @ dbpros_crm ) Make sure you're committed to it before diving in. It is hard work running your business, and as they say, not very profitable for the first 3-5 years. I have virtually no overhead, but I'm not making what I made in corporate America.... Stick with it through the ups and downs and try not to get in your own way through negative thoughts, etc.

Thanks for the candid feedback, and the realistic expectation-setting reminder, Kendra. It's very easy for people passionate about a new business to get swept up in the energy. Grounded expectations are key to their businesses as they launch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is "fear" holding back small business owners' from taking steps to improve their business?

John Walters taps into the pulse of the small business community, and seeks your feedback to assess the current environment.

In speaking with small business owners, it occurs to me that they are feeling more than a little battered and bruised: the markets are down; 401K’s where they exist are in decline, and significant equity in their homes has been wiped out.

Employment statistics are not encouraging, consumer confidence is low, and at the same time owners are reading about how the government is helping small businesses, but they are not realizing the benefits.

Fearful that returns may not materialize, and with siege mentality, business owners are reluctant to invest money, even when the returns look to be attractive. In essence, they appear to be paralyzed from taking actions to improve their business.
“Cash is King” and owners are keen to hold on to what they have.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Please share your thoughts on the above.
Reprinted with permission from 1-2-1 Business Consulting, LLC

Friday, September 17, 2010


DC-Based Caterer Recognized for Perseverance
The Organization for Entrepreneurial Development is pleased to announce that the third quarter winner of the OED 500 is Gwyn Edwards, founder of Sweety’s Last Minute Catering of Washington DC. The OED 500 is a quarterly small business contest started as a way to recognize the flexibility, resourcefulness, and at times extreme measures displayed by American small businesses during our country’s recession. Hit hard by the recession like many small business owners, Ms. Edwards has preserved through the creativity and determination that is the hallmark of entrepreneurship.

“Gwyn has been in business over ten years, demonstrating tenacity to pull through the last prior downturn and this most recent economic turmoil,” stated Brian Marshall, an OED Trustee. “Like so many businesses, her business is a service-based business that many will see as a non-justifiable expense in recessions. By retooling how she presents her services, she has sought to maintain revenues. Changes in suppliers have assisted in cost containment as rising food costs were further chipping into her bottom line.”

Ms. Edwards formed Sweety’s Last Minute Catering in 1999, when an attractive opportunity presented itself. Spurred into entrepreneurship, she says she believes in, “starting out with a firm, well planned and well thought out footing.” Ms. Edwards explained, “I began my business in response to an opportunity and did not begin reviewing growth opportunities or making growth and expansion plans until I realized the initial opportunity could shrink as well as it could grow.  I would counsel others to actually perform 3,6,12, month and 2 year analyses and put plans into place to usher their small businesses thru growth or shrinkage periods and thru tough or not so tough times.”

“They are the drivers of the United State’s economy. The entrepreneurial spirit is vital to our country’s history and to our economy. “Small businesses account for 80% of all jobs in the United States,” said Mr. Marshall. “It is widely regarded that this nation’s economy can not recover without small business recovery. We support the entrepreneurs who have struggled, who have struggled through credit crunches and down sales. They are working though and pushing through to survive, stabilize, and then thrive. In OED’s mind, that needs to be recognized. Business owners like Gwyn need to be recognized for the dedication needed to overcome these challenges.”

The next round of applicants will be accepted beginning October 15, 2010. Awards are open to all types of small businesses ready to share their story of creative cost reductions or sales adjustments that have helped them weather this economy. Submission deadline is November 30, 2010 with announcement to be made December 15, 2010. To be placed on invite list for application, please sign on to

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Social Media for Small Businesses: Engage, Convince, Become!

OED Certified Advisor Eyal Bino shares Social Media tips with small businesses enagegd in B2B marketing.

According to, 86% of B2B firms are using social media, compared to 82% of B2C firms. However, only 32% of B2B firms engage consumers daily via social media channels, while 52% of B2C firms do.

B2B firms are eager to jump on the social media train before it takes off (has it already?), but they're forgetting what it means to have a social media strategy. While many are successfully engaging consumers, it's clear that most of them could take some clues from B2C firms' strategies.

B2B firms probably have a more daunting task than B2C firms when it comes to social media: B2C firms have to engage and convince; B2B firms have to engage, convince, and establish themselves as thought leaders. B2B firms aren't entering relationships with consumers; they're exploring partnerships with other businesses and have much more than reputation at stake.

The rewards of dedicating time to a focused B2B social media strategy are plenty. Here are some tips to leverage your B2B firm's online presence.

Twitter & Facebook
Share content that is valuable to your followers & fans. That is, your current and potential customers. Here is your chance to share interesting articles, links, websites, and news that are relevant to them. Ask them questions and invite them to engage with you, and each other! You can engage them by crowdsourcing for suggestions, or polling them on their opinions.

Many firms are using Linkedin as a vital piece of their social media strategy. Discussion boards are the meat of the tactics here, providing ample space for exchanging ideas and giving tips & suggestions. What's best is that you're engaging a network of professionals, who are likely to refer you once you've established yourself as a thought leader.

Blog & Website
The final piece of the puzzle. All of your social media efforts have been driving traffic to your website, and it is here that they shall be convinced! Clear, efficient, and to-the-point copy is a requisite; avoid wordy descriptions. A slick, simple, and intuitive website will make for easy navigation.

Ultimately, your blog should serve as a platform for current and potential customers to exchange information, and more importantly, to receive valuable information from you.

Tip: if your B2B firm is a one-man or one-woman show, make sure your profile is personal, so your customers know they are communicating with a human being. It makes the whole "online world" less devoid of personality, and ultimately more engaging.

Make sure to join our mailing list at for more tips and suggestions on becoming a successful entrepreneur!

For more small business promotion strategies, visit OED's online community.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Improve the way things are done, and the savings rack up

OED Certifed Advisor Dana Komar shares insight into some of the most effective cost containment measures a small busines can take.
Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production and service. Improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs. ~William Edwards Deming

In a contracting economy, good business owners realize the need to quickly get costs in line with declining revenues in order to preserve their operating margins. Typically, their first reaction is to eliminate obvious unnecessary spending on supplies and ancillary items and to reduce payroll. However, after these steps have been taken, many realize that they just are not enough. But, how can they pull more cost out of their operation without destroying the quality of their product? The answer is to focus on improving processes and increasing efficiency which will ultimately result in increased margins, production capacity, and product quality. This approach will also help owners surgically reduce resources spent in certain areas rather than blindly eliminating spending without truly understanding the impact it will have on the operation.

So, how do you do this?

By using a systematic approach to analyzing current processes, you will find opportunities to reduce the amount of time and money that goes in to producing your product.

First, assemble a team to perform this exercise. It’s important to have outside perspectives as well as insight from those directly involved in the processes. Therefore, including people from different functions and levels in the organization is beneficial.

Next, have the team map out the individual processes employees go through to produce the product, step-by-step. Are there steps that are taking longer than they should? Are they wasting time waiting, searching, or walking? Are supplies being wasted? Are they performing steps that really don’t need to be done at all? Are steps being repeated?

Now, list out the reasons why time and efforts are being wasted or why things are taking longer than they should. What is really causing these things to occur? Don’t assume that the most obvious explanation is the answer – keep asking why to uncover the true root cause of the issue.

Next, determine how to fix the root cause of the issues so that they don’t happen again in the future. Don’t just come up with a way to band-aid the problem “for now” – that’s not good enough.

Then, prioritize all of your fixes, starting with the ones that will give you the biggest bang for the time and effort it will take to make the changes.

Finally, get to work! Develop and execute action plans to implement the changes that are needed. Make sure each plan has an owner and a deadline to ensure accountability and completion.

After the initial exercise is over, encourage all employees to adopt this type of thinking and process analysis into their daily work. That way you will continuously build on previous improvements, thus continuously enhancing your operation and reducing costs.

For more small business saving strategies, visit OED's online community.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Question for the Small Business Owner

If you decided to walk away from your business, could you sell it or are you “the business?”

This vexing question is posed by John Walters, OED Certified Advisor, and founder of 1-2-1 Business Consulting LLC. His insight below is eye opening for many a business owner!

Recently I visited two small businesses where the owners informed me that it was their intention to operate the businesses for another four to five years, sell off the businesses and retire on the proceeds.

However, upon further examination, it became apparent that the businesses could not operate for more than a few days without their owners; the businesses did not have the required processes in place to make them self sustaining. Without the owners, there will only be assets to sell when the owners come to retire.

Both businesses were probably worth between $150-200,000. Since the owners were thinking more in terms of $2million each, based on a multiple of 4, they are facing a huge gap and a bit of a wake up call.

When we began to discuss this issue further, it became apparent that the owners were spending significant time in the business. As such, they thought it only natural that they should make all the decisions.

This behavior in reality intensifies the problem – employees realize that there is little point in second-guessing what the owner may be thinking – they stop thinking for themselves and rely entirely on the owner. The opportunity for delegation is lost.

While it may be difficult to delegate tasks within a small business for any number of reasons, including cost, this must be done if the business is to become sustainable without the owner.

As a Business Owner ask yourself the following:

1. Do I really need to make every decision?

2. What can I delegate now?

3. What could I delegate if I give a little training to my employees?

4. What procedures can I put in place so that I do not lose control?

5. What are the vital few things that I must do personally?

6. At what stage should I bring in a manger to take over my responsibilities so that I may sell the business as a going-concern?

7. Do I really need to take every decision?

How you address these issues will ultimately decide if you have a business to sell as a going concern or simply a few assets to sell off. The value creation / destruction potential can be substantial. Think back to the two businesses that I referred to earlier that at looking at $150-200,000 vs. $2 million.

Please give careful consideration to investing in your future by making sure that you have sound Operational Planning, Succession Planning and Exit Strategies in place. The risk of not doing so is too great.

And, please remember that “121″ is there for you should you need any help.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You Will Never Reach Financial Independence Working For Someone Else

“It is more admirable to be in business for yourself then to work for someone else.” – HL Mencken – American editor

It is a fact of life that it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet. Most Americans are working harder, even taking on two jobs, and have less to show for it then previous generations. Americans are living in debt and almost every household has two adults working outside the home.

Surveys have shown that the average person will work 900,000 hours in their lives (1,800,000 hours in a two-job household) and when they retire will live on an income only 1/3 of what they were earning prior to retirement. In reality, many people may work all their lives and never be able to retire.

Adding insult to injury, during their working careers most people must endure having their boss control their income, their daily schedule and even when they can take vacation. They will also risk layoffs, downsizing and termination… regardless of performance.

How can (and do) people break this scenario? By owning their own businesses… and thousands of people are entering the world of entrepreneurship every day.

People who never thought they had an option are learning that they can own their own businesses (and their futures) and working part-time or full-time can earn substantial secondary or primary income to their families as well as realizing the meaningful tax benefits that accompany business ownership.

Monday, July 5, 2010

OED 500 Small Business Award!

OED is pleased to announce that Steve Feld, owner of Fast Signs NE Mesa has been awarded OED's first OED 500 Award. The OED 500 was started as a way to recognize the flexibility, resourcefulness, and at times extreme measures displayed by American small businesses during our country's recession.

“Steve has displayed every one of the things that shows how entrepreneurs can consistently and effectively adapt to business conditions. They need to be nimble,” stated Brian Marshall, an OED Trustee. “Scott has researched overhead expense reduction and reduced his cost of goods sold to a level far below industry average. More importantly, he has taken time to work within his community. Supporting his local community has helped to demonstrate his integrity. This generous use of time has also raised the profile of his business. The expression ‘what goes around comes around’ can be seen. He was even awarded the 2010 Mesa Small Business Award for his efforts. He has created a true win-win. We applaud his efforts.”

Steve has been a Fast Signs location owner since 2007. He has made changes in cost structure, but has worked hard to get his store’s name in front of more people. “In the last 2 years I have done more community services by donating items, negotiating on being a sponsor at events that target my demographic using in-kind trade.  I adjusted my SEO, started a newsletter, FaceBook page, and active in social media. I’ve increased PR and had several items published now in local media.

They are the drivers of the United State’s economy. The entrepreneurial spirit is vital to our country’s history and to our economy. “Small businesses account for 80% of all jobs in the United States,” said Mr. Marshall. “It is widely regarded that this nation’s economy can not recover without small business recovery. We support the entrepreneurs who have struggled, who have struggled through credit crunches and down sales. They are working though and pushing through to survive, stabilize, and then thrive. In OED’s mind, that needs to be recognized. Business owners like Scott need to be recognized for the dedication needed to overcome these challenges.

The next OED 500 Award application is now up at: www/