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Small Business Spring Clean: How to Keep Your Business Ideas Fresh

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Expert: Octavia Kuransky
Small Business Spring Clean: How to Keep Your Business Ideas Fresh

Octavia Kuransky

Program Development Manager

Thursday, April 26, 2012 5:00 PM

Octavia Kuransky is the Program Development Manager at Central Alabama Women’s Business Center, an entrepreneurial development center funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. In 2010, Octavia founded Psychology for the Real World, a research/business development group. PTR employs clear-sighted science methods to develop best practices in management, development and staff training with a client list that includes US Steel, AmeriCorps and the State of Alabama Career Development Center.

She is project director of the recently formed business accelerator, Women's Business Opportunity Project. The author of several articles reporting on business, she is currently working on a book about the psychology of business. A west coast transplant, Octavia holds a master’s degree in Psychology and plans to enter a PhD program in the fall of 2012.

No matter how small or large, working to boost your business and brand can go a long way. It’s the time of year to fertilize and prune to spur new growth -- business growth. Do you have questions about how to sharpen your business ideas, how to organize your business or new ways to market your business?.Join us for a small business exchange with your questions for our host.

Participants can learn tips for growing a business and how to connect with business counselors and mentors.

Chat Transcript

 

 
From:
Dr. Phil Harris
Location:
Sioux Center, Iowa
 

Good afternoon. This is the first time that a Women's Business Center has hosted this SBA chat. I am happy to represent Central Alabama Women's Business Center. My goal is to provide you with current and useful information to further your business along.

 
From:
Dr. Phil Harris
Location:
Sioux Center, Iowa
 
Question:
How do you fine tune your elevator pitch after you do your spring cleaning? Can you say succinclty and expressly say what your business is and how it stands out from others?
Reply:
Dr. Harris, here is a general rule of thumb for composing elevator speeches. Name (you'd be surprised how often people forget to say their name in the press of the moment), the name of your company (again, people forget), the purpose of your service or product (this should just be a sentence or two) and last but not least something that adds a sense of urgency or uniqueness about your firm or product. Feel free to ask for follow up.
 
From:
Delphina House
Location:
Desoto, Tx
 
Question:
How to get the proper funding for your small business
Reply:
Hi Delphina, I am thinking by "proper funding" you mean adequate funding? If so, the amount of funding should be based on the financials developed in your business plan. By the way, did you know that you can visit a potential lender and discuss your plan informally before actually applying?
 
From:
Willie Jackson
Location:
Edina, Minnesota
 
Question:
When should a small business web site be updated? What are some strategies to attract new clients to service offered by a small business? How to address clerical task, when finances are not available to hire an interal accountant etc...?
Reply:
Willie, great question. An outdated website sends the wrong message to potential clients. Recently, we had an expert in to talk on web development, etc. He recommended a monthly sprucing and the inclusion of a blog in order to make your website more attractive to Google. Stragegies to attract new clients to small business is also know as a marketing plan - a function of any throughly done business plan. The most important strategy of a marketing plan is that it be focused to the demographic of interest to the company. As to your last question, the answer is subcontracting. Get referrals and be specific about the scope of work. Good luck. You are certainly asking the right questions.
 
From:
Nery Jaime
Location:
Los Angeles, California
 
Question:
As business development specialists, most of our business involves providing a service to our clients (ie: consultations, training, etc). How can we combine our services with technology to better conduct business? How can we take advantage of technology as service providers? And, is it prudent to do so?
Reply:
Hell California! Let me share with you a strategy we are currently launching here at The Women's Business Center. The most requested workshops - usually those contain basic building block type information - we will be putting online. This frees our rather small staff to do more sophisticated work and workshops because we aren't continually having to do ALL workshops. And the basic ones can be self-tutored. We believe this to be a good strategy because in effect we can provide more and more varied workshops to the general public. Hope this is helpful.
 
From:
Gwen Eberly
Location:
Clayton, OH
 
Question:
Do you have some creative, yet effective, ways for local governments to share information with businesses (i.e. speakers, financial resources, etc)?
Reply:
Hi Gwen. I can share with you some efforts I have observed on the part of Birmingham AL. Once per month, Birmingham City open its economic development council meetings to the public and allows anyone and everyone 5 minutes to present their business. The Mayor holds an open house once per month, and anyone get 10 minutes face to face with Mayor to ask questions or give information. I have heard that in one location, a reporter actually shadowed the district director and the district director got a first look at what local businesses needed.
 
From:
Tony Hines
Location:
Beltsville, MD
 
Question:
As a Government Contractor, what are the best ways to get a competitive advantage given that a large majority of contracts are solicited via RFQs, RFPs, and IFBs?
Reply:
Tony, I suggest that you contact your local PTAC office for advisement on this. Just Google SBA PTAC - they are experts. As to getting more jobs, talk them about strategies for subcontracting with awardees. Good luck.
 
From:
Candi Walz
Location:
Lindstrom, MN
 
Question:
What's one of the best ways to get your press releases picked up by the media?
Reply:
Candi, good for you to think of using the press for your business. I notice greater success in generating press coverage when I can connect to a breaking news story or some issue that is of interest already. Cultivate a relationship with a reporter so that you can call them directly and not have to reinvent the wheel each time. Collaborations always seem to be of interest to the press especially if the outcome can be shown to have some real impact - that should be your aim. To show impact - impact equals news.
 
From:
Peter Lee Adams III
Location:
Forestville, Maryland
 
Question:
I just stsrted a 501c3 a year ago with very little startup money,is there a way to get finacial help without a completed business plan?
Reply:
Peter, I tell you frankly - no there's not. And why would you want to try to eliminate a business plan? Would you take a vacation without a plan? No cost assistance is available for business plan development through SCORE or one of the sbdc's. Google Women's Business Center and see if there is one near you - wbc's will see anyone as a client. The purpose of a business plan is to prove that your idea is feasible - don't you want to know that?
 
From:
Jenn Williams
Location:
Coronado, CA
 
Question:
What is the best format to utilize social media to grow your business?
Reply:
Hey there, Jenn. The short answer is, it depends on the business. Some businesses should stay away from certain forms of social media, for example, a Facebook page might not be appropriate for a medical doctor. A review of your target market and a short consultation with a professional can help you determine what kind of social media is appropriate and most effective for you. Best wishes.
 
From:
Renee
Location:
Boston, MA
 
Question:
How do you get started with marketing in service oriented business???
Reply:
Renee, I always recommend to any business regardless of if it is product or service that it be informed by the target market which has been previously identified in the marketing section of your business plan. This is because we know that certain demographics have certain shopping habits - for example, girls 18 - 25 tend to shop online. So if you're marketing to that age group for merchandise would advertise online. It helps to pay attention to where your competition is marketing - they may have done the research for you. Hope you have a successful year.
 
From:
Mark Becker
Location:
Clifton Park, New York
 
Question:
I own a franchise business, it's been open for 7 years, and I need some capital infused to help me grow. I am a sole proprietor. Any suggestions?
Reply:
Mark, yes, I have a suggestion. Gather up all your financial reporting including tax returns and make an appointment with someone at SCORE or an sbdc. Did you know that it may be possible to get a coach at SCORE who has experience in your industry and can mentor you. You can of course also make an appointment for an informal meeting with your original funder. If your cash flow is marginal, ask about a SBA guarantee. God luck.
 
From:
Justin
Location:
Boise, ID
 
Question:
How do you market an industry that has a negative stigma associated with it? For example, a methadone clinic. There seems to be an untapped market and we are not sure how to reach them.
Reply:
Justin, interesting question. I have noticed sme creative advertising campaigns for some very serious conditions have moved their emphasis. For example, the SPCA used to show a lot of abused animals in their commercial spots. Now they show healthy animals in their new adopted situations and pose the question don't you want to be a part of this positive solution. Maybe start with the end in mind - a positive end and pitch to that. Thank you for the good work you do.
 
From:
Anna Winslow
Location:
, Kansas
 
Question:
Hi what are some easy ways to spring clean my expenses related to my business?
Reply:
Anna, great question. I would pick a number, say $200 or so. And any expenditures with an annual outlay of more than $200 will have to either show benefit - meaning the expenditure is directly parlaying into revenue - or absolute necessity. If the expenditure cannot do that, eliminate it or find a less costly way. You might even set some goals for expenditures - like how much you will spend on advertising for the year. Good for you.
 
From:
Egbeniyi Moses a
Location:
Ibadan, Oyo Nigeria
 
Question:
What are the basic steps needed in starting a business
Reply:
Moses, my best advice for you is a referral to the SBA.gov website. Pay particular to whether or not there is assistance from a ITAC office - international trade assistance. Research your idea, counsel with any experts you may find locally and plan. My very regards.
 
From:
Karleen
Location:
Boise, ID
 
Question:
What are innovative ways women are networking in their communities?
Reply:
Karleen, the most innovation I've seen - don't constrain to other women's groups. Look for opportunity rather than gender. Good luck.
 
From:
Dr. Phil Harris
Location:
Sioux Center, Iowa
 

I am happy to have been able to spend this short time with you today. Visit us at cawbc.org. For general information, visit sba.gov. I wish all every sucess.