Ana Harvey Named to Lead SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership

Ana Recio Harvey, an experienced entrepreneur and recently the president of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has been named as head of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership, SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills announced today.  Read more about her background HERE.

Video Marketing; a Great Way to Showcase Your Business

In today’s Web 2.0 marketplace small business owners are learning to take advantage of every new technology tool they can find to grow their business. One of the least understood tools is Video Marketing. In this week’s episode of our BlogTalkRadio program ‘Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business’, our panel of experts explains how you can utilize Video marketing to grow your business, and how you can achieve this extremely cost-effectively. If you’re seeking new ways to market your business in the Web 2.0 environment, this is the show for you. Our panel of experts includes: Tim Tevlin, President of Local Business Videos Online; Greg George, Founder of iVideo Makers; and Bob Sullivan, Development Director of Think Creative Media Works.

Click HERE to listen to the complete broadcast!

What Does the Economic Stimulus Mean for Small Businesses?

This video segment from MSNBC: Your Business, Senator Mary Landrieu, co-chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, talks about Washington’s efforts to boost opportunities for small businesses during the credit crunch.

Companies Explore New Financing Options

As we all know, in recent months it’s been all but impossible for small businesses to get bank loans to start or expand their businesses.  This trend has affected all types of businesses large and small, including franchises.

Franchise organizations have benefitted substantially over the last several years from the loose lending standards that businesses previously enjoyed.  Those standards enabled many franchises to experience a very solid growth rate for a significant number of years.  Unfortunately, today’s credit crunch has effectively made franchise growth disappear.  Needless to say, this situation is not one that companies are happily accepting; and a number of franchise organizations have started to implement some very interesting alternatives to insure their organizations’ continued growth.

A recent article by Franchise Times provides information on a number of franchise organizations that have elected to implement alternative financing options which include franchise-sponsored:

  • limited guarantees
  • full guarantees
  • loan servicing
  • remarketing agreements
  • mezzanine financing
  • joint ventures
  • equipment leases

Read the complete article HERE, and if you are a franchisor, consider whether any of these options might work to enable your firm to continue its expansion.  If you are someone who is considering opening your own business but having trouble putting your financing in place, consider franchising as an option, and look at organizations which may be establishing such programs for their franchisees.

Novel Approach to Health Plans Gains Traction with Small Businesses

As the Obama administration wrestles with how to expand health-care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, some local organizations are finding creative ways to help cover one of the most affected groups — employees of small businesses.

The programs typically involve collaboration between business owners, nonprofit groups and local hospitals, which offer enrollees a range of medical services at a reduced rate. The plans keep costs down partly by bypassing the extra costs that come with traditional insurance. That can be a big help for small-business employees who can’t afford traditional insurance.

Small-business employees make up a disproportionate share of the country’s uninsured. Some 15% of U.S. residents, or about 46 million people, were uninsured as of 2007, the latest data available, according to the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, 32% of workers at U.S. companies with fewer than 25 employees were uninsured in that year, and 21% of employees at firms with 25 to 99 workers had no coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.  Click HERE to read more about these new health care coverage ideas.

A New Model of Venture Capitalist

Small business owners in search of funding for start-up and/or expansion have in recent months been out-of-luck due to the recent banking crisis and the resulting economic challenges.  While it’s never been easy for a small business to gain access to bank loans, in recent months it has become virtually impossible.  This situation has forced small businesses to seek out alternative means of financing – one of those often sought out is venture capital.

However, even the venture capitalists are being forced to adapt to this new economy and small business environment.  A recent story in the Wall Street Journal details a new business model being employed by a venture capital firm that was an early backer of Facebook, Napster, Plaxo, and Causes.  This new business model includes the participation of a group of Silicon Valley heavyweights such as former Yahoo chief executive Terry Semel, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Arrington, founder of industry Web site TechCrunch.

Read the whole story HERE.

SBA Appoints Leadership Team

Now that the new SBA chief is in place, the work has begun on appointing those who will run the organization in various leadership roles – and hopefully implement the work of making the SBA more relevant to today’s small businesses.  The SBA has announced a long list of recently appointed management team members, and we have placed this announcement on our website for your review.  Access the article by clicking HERE.  Review the list at your convenience and then please feel free to share your opinion of the appointees in your comments to this article.

Mobile Marketing – The Inside Scoop

Today’s BlogTalkRadio broadcast on “Mobile Marketing” consisted of an expert panel of nationally renowned mobile marketing industry insiders, including:  Kim Graham Lee, CEO of Vontoo; Matt Silk, Sr. VP of Waterfall Mobile; Kim Dushinski, President/Founder of Mobile Marketing Profits and author of ‘The Mobile Marketing Handbook’; and Michael Becker, Co-founder and VP of Mobile Strategies at iLoop Mobile and co-author of ‘Mobile Internet for Dummies’ and ‘Web Marketing All-in-One for Dummies’.

Our panel provided a wealth of information on the different types of mobile marketing options, best practices, choosing vendors, industry trends, mobile strategies that perform the best, and examples of clients that have utilized mobile marketing effectively.  The consistent theme throughout the broadcast – “just get started, stick your toe in and try it out to figure what works best for your firm”.

Hear the full broadcast at http://blogtalkradio.com/strategicgrowthconcepts.

Why Your Firm Needs an HR Professional

One of the questions I am often asked by small business owners is, “I only have one employee, why do I need to worry about human resources issues?”  My answer inevitably is, “Even if you are among the smallest of small business owners, you are still going to find yourself dealing with human resources related issues (even if you didn’t understand before today that those issues were human resources issues)”.  Find out what those issues are, and how your company should handle them by clicking HERE.

Examples of Mobile Marketing by Major Brands

As part of our efforts to keep you informed of all things related to marketing with new technology, we wanted to bring you up-to-speed on some of the latest uses of Mobile Marketing that we’ve recently learned about.  Our goal is that you begin to have some understanding of the wide variety of uses that mobile marketing can play in your firm’s overall marketing strategy.  Please check out the complete story on our ‘Marketing with New Technology’ blog.

SCORE Business Plan Competition; $10,000 Prize

SCORE and Scribd.com have launched the national “Dream Test Competition” to honor the best business plan with a $10,000 grand prize. The contest is co-sponsored by Thomas Nelson publishers and SUCCESS magazine.

To participate, complete a draft of your business plan for your dream business. Upload the plan to Scribd at http://www.scribd.com/dream before April 22 for a chance to win $10,000 in start-up funding.

Contest Rules:

1. Create and log into your Scribd profile.

2. Read the Official Submission Guidelines and use the provided SCORE Business Plan Template to create your dream business plan in 9,000 words or less. Submissions will be accepted until 11:59 PM EST on April 22, 2009.

3. On April 25, ten finalists will be announced.

4. Between April 25 and May 3, the Scribd community will vote for a grand prize winner.

5. The winner of the $10,000 grand prize and trip to Atlanta, GA, will be announced May 8 on Scribd.com, ThomasNelson.com, and during the Maximum Impact Simulcast.

For official competition rules, click here

Public Relations – How to Use it to Grow Your Business

Had an enlightening broadcast today on our BlogTalkRadio show, ‘Strategic Growth Concepts for Small Business’.  Today’s topic was ‘Public Relations:  How to Use it to Grow Your Business’.  Our expert panel consisted of:  Gail Kent, Managing Director of The Buzz Factory; Jennifer Fortney, President at Cascade Communications and Publisher of SmallBizPRMadeEasy.com; and Melissa Cassera, President at Cassera Communications.  Each of our panelists provided a wealth of valuable information on how to utilize public relations to your firm’s best advantage; each has also made available several special offers for our listeners.  Download the podcast at http://blogtalkradio.com/strategicgrowthconcepts – and don’t forget to check the special offers while you’re there!

Marketing Your Company Via Mobile

As with all small businesses, I am always researching to find additional ways of promoting my company to increase my customer base.  However, given my personal business background in the wireless industry I have become a strong proponent of mobile marketing and see it as “the next internet” if you will.  Therefore I’m putting in place several items that I believe will be of interest to those looking for newer, cost-effective methods of marketing their business.  Learn about our company’s “mobile initiative” at http://marketingwithnewtechnology.wordpress.com.

New SBA Chief, Karen Mills – Statement to Senate Prior to Confirmation

L-R: Karen Mills and Senator Mary Landieu

L-R: Karen Mills and Senator Mary Landieu

Karen Mills was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent as the 23rd Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration on April 1st. 

Below is an excerpt from her statement to the Senate Small Business Committee prior to her confirmation.  The Senate Small Business Committee is chaired by Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and its ranking member is Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snow.

Ms. Mills Statement:

Small business is the heart of the American economy. There are over twenty-six million small businesses in this country and they create 70 percent of the new jobs. This means that to find our way out of the current economic crisis, we have to find ways to help small businesses stay in operation and even expand.

There are at least two kinds of small businesses that are served by the Small Business Administration. The first are the small businesses on Main Street – the restaurants, the drycleaners, and the car repair operations –that are a part of our daily lives. These businesses depend on credit from the SBA’s 7a and 504 programs and advice from more than 14,000 SBA affiliated counseling centers.

The second type are the high growth, high impact businesses which have the potential to grow into the next American giants.

Did you know that Federal Express, Apple and Intel all were at one time supported by the SBA? Others include AOL, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and UnderArmor – a company that makes high-performance sports clothing which my family purchases a great quantity of this time of year during lacrosse season – it was started not far from here in a basement in Georgetown.

These businesses all started out getting an SBA loan, a government contract or an SBIC investment. For all of these enterprises, from Main Street shops to the next potential Intel, we know one thing: if the SBA can help these small businesses grow and prosper, jobs will be created, and America will be able to compete anywhere in the world.

Today, however, small businesses face an uncertain future.  The recession has reduced demand for their goods and services. With the credit crisis, it is increasingly difficult for them to find financing for normal business activities and expansions.

Currently, loan guarantees from the SBA are down by over 50% from their levels a year ago. There are several causes of this decline—and they are inter-related: lower creditworthiness of borrowers, tighter lending standards, lack of liquidity in bank balance sheets, and a frozen secondary market for SBA guaranteed loans.

The Congress and this Committee deserve great praise for recognizing these problems and for incorporating important proactive measures for small business in the Recovery Act. This Act reduces fees to both borrowers and lenders, increases the guarantee percentage on SBA loans and works to unfreeze the secondary markets. In addition, many viable but struggling businesses will get a $35,000 lifeline to bridge them for 6 months of interest and principal payments—which the SBA will fully guarantee.

As you all know, on March 16th, the President committed $15 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to be available to purchase SBA guaranteed paper in the secondary markets. This effort in conjunction with the SBA 90% guarantees and the fee reductions will go a long way to unlocking the credit small businesses need.

If confirmed, I pledge to work as a partner with this Committee to fully implement these important recovery programs.

Senators, today small businesses are suffering and the SBA has lacked the leadership and the resources to help them. These are problems we can fix.

If confirmed I will work on three important fronts:

  • First, the SBA must continue executing the plans in the Recovery Act and get capital flowing again through the core SBA loan programs.
  • Second, we must reinvigorate the Agency by attracting a strong and passionate leadership team and investing in the information technology the agency needs to operate.
  • Finally, we must – and I will – act as an advocate for small business across the administration. As Chair Landrieu and Ranking Member Snowe have suggested, I will coordinate with other Agencies, including Commerce, Labor and Energy, whose programs also affect small businesses.

FREE Marketing Plan Contest for Small Businesses; $8500 Grand Prize value

Small business owners across the U.S. have the opportunity to win a comprehensive Strategic Marketing Plan for their business prepared by consulting firm, Strategic Growth Concepts of Southfield, MI.  Strategic is sponsoring this national contest, being promoted primarily via Web 2.0 technology and social media, as part of their efforts in support of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s upcoming National Small Business Week celebration.

Contestants can enter the contest via Strategic’s website at www.StrategicGrowthConcepts.com where they complete an online entry form, including essays about their business and why a Marketing Plan will benefit their company.  Contest entrants have the opportunity to win the grand prize, a Strategic Marketing Plan designed to help the firm effectively market themselves to prospective customers and achieve increased sales (approximate value $8,500), or one of five secondary prizes, 2 hours of small business consulting per winner (approximate value $470 per winner). Entries can be submitted thru April 30, 2009, with winners being announced during National Small Business Week, May 17 – 19, 2009.

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Strategic Growth Concepts is a Detroit-based firm that provides training and consulting services to start-up, small and mid-sized businesses in the areas of Start-up, Marketing, Operations, HR and Strategic Planning.  The firm’s CEO, Linda Daichendt is a recognized business expert with 20+ years of corporate, small business and franchising experience.  Linda can be contacted at linda@strategicgrowthconcepts.com , and the company website can be viewed at www.strategicgrowthconcepts.com.