Encouraging Entrepreneurship with the #Girlpower Pitch

I am looking forward to judging the #GIRLPOWER PITCH at the Blackstone LaunchPad Kent State University on Wednesday, November 12, at the Kent State University Student Center in Kent, Ohio.

During this competition a group of female Kent State students will pitch their businesses to see who will advance to a regional level competition. Based on their business pitches, two women will be chosen by the judges to move on to compete in the next level of business ventures pitch for the chance to win $200, $300, or $500 at the November 19th business pitch competition in Cleveland.

Letting Your Inner #GIRLBOSS shine!

All the CEO Ladies

Blackstone LaunchPad at Kent State University promotes entrepreneurship as a viable career path. Through meetings, mentoring, workshops and events LaunchPad helps Kent State students, faculty/staff and alumni to create new businesses or grow existing start-ups in Northeast Ohio.

Have questions about #GIRLPOWER PITCH? Contact Blackstone LaunchPad Kent State University

Congratulations Kip Marlow, Top 100 Small Business Influencer of 2013!

small biz awardCongratulations to Kip Marlow, author of The Entrepreneurs - Success and Sacrifice and host of the Entrepreneurs Club Radio show. Kip Marlow was named as one of the Top 100 Small Business Influencers in 2013 by Small Business Trends! You may remember that he interviewed me twice during the past year… once about the 2013 Super Bowl ads and the next time about branding for entrepreneurs.

Way to go, Kip!

The Entrepreneurs - Success and SacrificeIf you’re thinking of starting a business or already own a business, you’ll appreciate these insights. Kip interviews 23 entrepreneurs and draws them into conversation about what has worked for them, what challenges they’ve faced and how they have found success by following their passions. Great Stuff! Here’s the link to The Entrepreneurs - Success and Sacrifice on Amazon.

Resources for Starting Your Business

Launch in a Day for starting a businessAs the economy continues to improve, new companies are springing up. There are loads of different businesses that people are coming up with and most of them seem to be successful. Anyone can start up a business though, from people just starting college to people who have been retired for years (did you think you couldn’t start an online business because you’re retired? Find out why starting a business in retirement might be perfect here.) Unfortunately, not everyone can make it successful. If you are planning on starting a business, then don’t be disheartened. If you do your research beforehand and truly believe in your business idea, then you potentially could have a winning business. People can start a business in their twenties or even after they retire (if this aspect of life starts to get a little boring), as there is a rise in retirees launching businesses. No matter what stage of life people are at, anyone is capable of getting a business up and running. With commitment and determination, anything is possible.

Getting all of your business tools together beforehand will help you, and using a custom software development company in your quest to become successful will be paramount for your business. If you would like to start up your own business but have no clue where to start, then you might be interested in checking out these inflatable bounce houses. Being able to cater for parties for example, is a business that will always be profitable as people love to party. If this is something that you are interested in then it’s important that you do your research when considering purchasing commercial inflatables, JungleJumps or something similar.

There are other things that you need to consider though when starting a business. I’ve found myself suggesting these two websites several times over the last few months and I thought it would be worthwhile to mention them here.

The two websites that are helpful for entrepreneurs: Quick MBA and Launch in a Day.

Quick MBA isn’t particularly quick in that it covers so many facets of a business. But it will give you more insights to areas where you may have just a little bit of knowledge and a lot of questions.

Launch in a Day gives you step by step instructions on how to get going with your new business and is written by Denise Easterling, a friend of mine who is a CPA, has successfully launched, grown and sold several businesses and now is sharing her knowledge as an instructor at KSU.

The marketing section of Launch in a Day is all about the website. In 2013, doing business without a website seems like just a hobby. In years past you needed so much more: an office, business card, telephone, fax machine, printed catalog, and full time employees. Of course marketing is much more than a website, but for getting started, it is a strong first step!

What other websites should I suggest to people who are starting their own business? Please leave your suggestions in the comments below. Also, please use your real name so I know you aren’t spamming! :-) Thanks!

Graphic Design Ideas for Increasing your Brand’s Recognition

Iconic  Brand AlphabetThey say a picture is worth a 1000 words. In this day of internet and electronic media, a good graphic message must communicate quickly and minimally. Whether you’re contacting a graphic designer to create a logo for your brand, or to make marketing materials like custom T-Shirts from Houston screen printers, your graphic message must be effective.

Here are some links for graphic design inspiration to help your brand:

It’s most important to provide direction to your graphic designer that helps them understand the tone, manner, feeling you want to evoke. Share your marketing positioning with them. Make sure they understand who your target market is and what the market values. Don’t tell them a gazillion features about your product and service - that doesn’t help as much as offering the feeling you want to communicate.

Telling them where to put the lines is micro-managing, but telling a good designer that you want to communicate a forward thinking dynamic brand that appeals to 25 year old women who are looking for a new apartment, gives them the result you want. It helps them become creative and to apply their skills and knowledge of design. Once you have your amazing design, you can make use of Printers in London in order to materialize your vision so that you can distribute it to the world.

What branding design project are you working on? Share it in the comments below

Updating Your Marketing Tools Make Sense: Don’t Get Too Far Behind

animationAs technology changes, current jobs are lost and new ones come into being.

Watching this YouTube movie about creating animation makes this very clear. Changes that took 20 or 30 years to happen, now seem to take only a few or sometimes just a few months to become outdated.

Embracing new technology is difficult when you are comfortable with where you are.  Especially if you are uncomfortable with change.

As small business professionals know, if you don’t stay current, your pipeline of leads will start to dry up.  We all know someone who just can’t get past that “things are not like they used to be.”

I was recently talking with a business owner who has spent the last 10-15 years marketing his business with fliers in newspapers and direct mail letters.  He bemoans the fact that his leads have dried up but yet his advertising budget is swelling.

Although he has a small website (finally set up a year ago), he has no search engine optimization and distrusts the whole computer as a medium to bring him leads.  So his business is really suffering.

On the other hand, I met with another business owner about a month ago who came to me for a website revision and some trade show banners. When shown some of our work, asked if we create “Augmented Realty” videos for brochures.  Meanwhile, he had an administrative assistant creating his brochures in Microsoft Word and posting them on his website… still in Word. Being enamored with what I call the “bright shiny object” doesn’t help, when you’re still executing at a level that doesn’t hold up.  Big gap.

Both business owners have a ways to go because they neglected their marketing for too long.  Perhaps it was that one big customer that keep them too busy in the production side of things.

What ever the reason, keeping an eye on the hundred of marketing tools is something that needs to be done in a business.  It’s important to determine what mediums (websites, magazines, mobile phones?) various groups of people are using - and what works, what doesn’t for each type of customer a business has.

I don’t think that most small business professionals need to chase the most current, cutting edge techniques in marketing, but certainly staying in step by taking small steps, all the time, on a very regular basis, will keep your business moving forward. And then you never hit the big gap, big jump. Just one step at a time.