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Chamber Healthcare Reform Luncheon

Posted on February 21st, 2013

“Healthcare Reform is Moving Forward – Are You Ready for the Changes in 2014?”

Guest speaker Brian Connelly of Gilsbar Health & Benefit Management has generously provided the following slideshow for those who were unable to attend the luncheon on February 20th.

East St Tammany – Health Reform Feb 20 2013 v6.1

Simple Steps for Starting Your Business

Posted on February 21st, 2013

Is Starting a Business Right for You?

The SCORE Simple Steps for Starting Your BusinessTM Workshops can help you make a smart start.  This series will help you:

  • Define and evaluate your ideas.
  • Develop a marketing strategy.
  • Identify the best ways to fund your start-up.
  • Turn your idea into action with tools and templates.
  • Get useful and helpful mentoring sessions.
  • Connect with other entrepreneurs.

Jump-start your business idea with the SCORE Simple Steps for Starting Your BusinessTM Workshops. Successful and experienced SCORE executives and consultants from the Louisiana SBDC will help you reach a “go or no-go” decision for starting a business.

Simple Steps for Starting Your Business Series provides a one hour overview session the week of February 18 and a two day workshop on March 6 & 7 with one-on-one mentoring by SCORE mentors

  • February 18,19,26, 2013 – Attend one (Free) Start-up Basics Sessions in Hammond (CLOSED), Mandeville or Slidell
  • March 6, 2013 – Business­ Concept
  • March 6, 2013 – Marketing Plans
  • March 7, 2013 – Financial Projections
  • March 7, 2013 – Funding Sources and Next Steps

Get Started Today!

All sessions Free for Veterans & Family Members courtesy of the Walmart Foundation. Click on the link,  http://vetsfastlaunch.org/  to get your coupon.

Attend all 5 Simple Steps for Starting Your BusinessTM Workshops. The first session is FREE.

You get the whole series for $100.  Early bird registration is $75 by March 5, 2013.  One additional person from the same company can attend at NO COST!

Not sure if this series is for you?
Contact LSBDC Southeastern at 
985-549-3831, lsbdc.slu@lsbdc.org or visit wwww.lsbdc.org/slu  for more information or to sign-up.

Click Here for More:  Simple Steps for Starting Your Business.

How to Obtain Bank Financing for Your Small Business | SCORE

Posted on February 19th, 2013

In the early months of a new year always comes the desire for a fresh start. Maybe it’s the busyness of the holidays or the exhaustion of trying to wrap up things before the year ends, but for whatever reason, I always look forward to starting the year off with a new attitude, new goals and a newly created To Do list. One of the most important agenda items for any small business owner should be to take a look at their company’s finances.

By Rieva Lesonsky
In the early months of a new year always comes the desire for a fresh start. Maybe it’s the busyness of the holidays or the exhaustion of trying to wrap up things before the year ends, but for whatever reason, I always look forward to starting the year off with a new attitude, new goals and a newly created To Do list. One of the most important agenda items for any small business owner should be to take a look at their company’s finances.
If you’re thinking about getting financing in 2013 (or at any point in the future), it’s crucial to keep an eye on how closely you’re sticking to your business budget. Did you spend too much on unnecessary expenses last year, or cut back too far to the detriment of some initiatives? Should you have allocated funds to a different project, or did you underestimate the costs of an essential piece of equipment? Now is the perfect time to get a handle on your cash flow, so you can lessen any fiscal surprises in 2013. Here are some more items to think about, especially if you’re planning on applying for a loan.
1. Review New Business and Old Business: Do you have any contracts coming to an end? Which of those can you count on renewing, and which ones are less certain? What new business do you have in the pipeline? What can you do to close the deal on potential new business where the client is wavering?
2. Decide Where You Can Save: If you need to cut back on spending, go over every detail to see what you can live without, such as unused memberships and subscriptions or even office supplies that got put in a drawer and never used. You may have signed up for some automatic payments that seemed small at the time but can add up. Also, take a look at your insurance policies and equipment leases. Go over your contracts with your representatives and see where you can save. That also goes for utilities such as electricity, Internet and telecommunications.
3. Spend in the Right Places: You might need to reallocate some funds if spending now could make you more money in the long run. Have you put off buying your sales staff iPads, when the purchase could be doubling their efforts? Have you put the right amount into your marketing efforts or have you slashed marketing to the bone? What about hiring? Do you need a social media expert or a Web designer? What about your loyal employees who stick with you through good times and bad? Have they waited long enough for a pay raise? If you’re applying for financing, the bank lender or investor will want to see who’s on your team and what kind of staff turnover you have.
It’s a good idea to go over your finances with an expert who can point out red flags that you might not be able to see. Make an appointment with your local SCORE office to get personalized attention and advice and start 2013 off on the right foot.

 

Read More Here: How to Obtain Bank Financing for Your Small Business | SCORE.

8 Ways to Make Customers Love a Local Business – Via Score.Org

Posted on February 11th, 2013

By Daniel Kehrer

Founder, BizBest.com

Many local businesses are content if their customers seem “generally satisfied” overall. Others aspire to something more — they seek the kind of passionate customer satisfaction that inspires glowing thank you letters and backyard fence comments like “My plumber (or dry cleaner, pet groomer, dentist, insurance agent, hair salon, etc.) is really great! I highly recommend them.”

If you suspect customers aren’t quite feeling that kind of love for your business, you’ve probably got some work to do. In a sense, customers who aren’t wholeheartedly with you might as well be against you. Customers who lack the love factor can actually be more damaging to your business than those who do business with your competitors.

That’s because people who aren’t yet customers of yours might at least try you out in the future. But those who are blasé about your business have already tried out your product or service and found you lacking in some respect. That’s not good.

Earning true customer loyalty – the kind that translates into recommendations and referrals – takes commitment, innovative ideas, energy and a little old-fashioned elbow grease. You, as business owner, must clarify for everyone else just what it is you want to accomplish with customers. This includes partners, employees, vendors and others who support what your business does.

And lest we forget, customer “love” also translates into a better bottom line. A recent American Express survey found that 75% of small business customers are willing to spend more with businesses that provide great service – up from just 58% two years ago.

And here’s the kicker: A hefty 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of poor service.

Here are eight things that will help customers find the love:

1.  End the obstacle course. Take the initiative to find out when customers need (or will soon need) service or help – before they have to ask. The magical customer service moment is when your call, email or postcard offering help arrives as the precise moment the customer needs it.  Meanwhile, make it clear to each and every customer exactly how they can get service or help from your business when they need it – including a name and contact information.

2.  Avoid customer hot potato. Whenever possible, the person who speaks to a customer first should “own” that customer for the duration of their visit. Companies send signals of disrespect by passing off a customer to “someone who can better help you with your problem.”  Yeah, right.

3.  Streamline your website. Many small business websites seem cobbled together – a collection of different areas with different terminology and logic for getting around. Figure out one look and message you want to send, and stick with that.

4.  Fix (for real) the big issues bugging your customers. Millions of businesses ask, ever so thoughtfully, “How can we improve?” That’s good. But how many really listen and act on what they hear? Customers read inaction as lack of caring and won’t bother to respond the next time you ask. A business that makes changes based on what it hears from customers earns more love.

5.  Invest in customer loyalty. Customers have had it with loyalty programs that are just too much work or offer skimpy benefits. Try offering customers something without them having to ask or pay extra for it.

6.  Offer customers real choices. Don’t bind customers into the fake choice of letting them “opt out” of something. Let them know up front that they can decide to get emails, offers or whatever from you and give them a choice.

7.  Make someone responsible. Maybe it’s you. Or perhaps you make it part of someone else’s responsibilities. Either way, you call attention to your company’s passionate and persistent commitment to customer care. Be sure to reward employees publicly for exceptional customer care performance.

8.  Put your money where your mouth is. Define specific customer care objectives that are right for your business, put some resources behind them, and figure out how you will measure the results.

Daniel Kehrer is Founder of BizBest (www.bizbest.com), a free information service for small business, and editor of Marketing Matters (www.dexbusiness.com) and ShopTalk: Social Media (www.dexsocial.com). Twitter: @BizBest © 2011 BizBest Med

Original Article at SCORE.Org: 8 Ways to Make Customers Love a Local Business | SCORE.

 

SBA LAUNCHES AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WEB PAGE & BLOG | LSBDC

Posted on February 6th, 2013

 LA SBDC

SBA LAUNCHES AFFORDABLE CARE ACT WEB PAGE & BLOG | LSBDC.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today launched a new web page and blog dedicated to educating small business owners about the Affordable Care Act. The new tools will serve as a gateway for small business owners connecting them with information provided by SBA’s federal partners responsible for implementing the law, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Affordable Care Act provides small business owners with access and opportunity to provide affordable health care options for their employees,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. “SBA’s new Affordable  Care Act web page and blog will serve as a resource for small business owners who want learn more about how to take advantage of these benefits.”

The Affordable Care Act has many beneficial measures specifically for small businesses, including slowing premium cost growth and increased access to quality, affordable health insurance. SBA’s new web page, www.sba.gov/healthcare, breaks down the key provisions of the Act based on business size in the following categories: self-employed, fewer than 25 employees, fewer than 50 employees and more than 50 employees.

The web page also provides links to other useful information for small businesses, including a glossary of key health care reform terms, an interactive timeline with dates for when certain reforms will be implemented, a state-by-state breakdown of health care options, and how to learn more about specific tax provisions and regulations. Additional resources will be added as they become available.

The blog, entitled Health Care Business Pulse (www.sba.gov/blog), will provide small business owners with continuous updates about the implementation of the Act. The blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Readers should consult their legal or tax professionals to discuss how specific matters relate to their individual business circumstances.

INFOGRAPHIC: Facebook Wall Post Cheat Sheet | Free Enterprise

Posted on February 4th, 2013

INFOGRAPHIC: Facebook Wall Post Cheat Sheet

by Sheryll Poe

Jan 25, 2013

As a small business owner, you probably already know how important Facebook is to your business.

 

But do you really know what it takes to create an engaging post that keeps your “friends” coming back to your page for more?

This infographic by Linchpin SEO contains facts and figures about types of content that work best, how to get more comments, likes and shares, as well as how to use emoticons to get the most out of your wall posts.

Facebook Wall Post Cheat Sheet

Facebook Wall Post Cheat Sheet infographic by linchpinseo.

Originally published January 2013. Reprinted by permission, freeenterprise.com, January 2013. Copyright© 2013, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

via INFOGRAPHIC: Facebook Wall Post Cheat Sheet | Free Enterprise.

East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce
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