Category Archives: News You Can Use

What is the SCORE Business Learning Center?

The SCORE Business Learning Center (SBLC) provides aspiring and existing small business owners the business strategies and tactics needed to make sound decisions and achieve greater levels of success.

The SBLC supplements the business resources available on score.org. It fills the gap between the high-level content on our website and the personalized expertise obtained from a mentor.

At the end of a course, users will feel they have a better understanding of their chosen topic and the resources available for continuous learning. They will also have a mentor they can work with to apply the learning to their business.

You will find it here… https://www.score.org/biz-learning-center

Advertisements

Saying “I Do” to a franchise.

Like marriage, buying a franchise is a long-term commitment.

Before you say yes, make sure you understand to the in’s and out’s of franchising what it takes to be successful.

The Commitment

franchise opportunity

Be Your Own Boss. The phrase is repeated often in franchise circles, and it can be intoxicating to those considering franchise ownership. It means freedom from the typical 9 to 5. It means control. It means you call the shots. All of this is true, but being your own boss also means that you have responsibilities.

You are responsible for your employees, your customers, and your business. Their well-being is in your hands. That is why it is essential for anyone considering franchise ownership to weigh all the factors that go into being the boss and understand what it takes to be successful. Franchise ownership is a long-term commitment much like a marriage. It’s good to treat it that way, from courtship – researching franchises – to “I Do” – signing the Franchise Agreement. Remember the goal is happiness and financial independence.  Continue reading

Prepare now for paid family leave law in 2019.

by Monica Blackwood, Columnist, Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal

The last half of 2017 saw companies scrambling to understand and prepare for Washington’s paid sick leave law, and employers continued to educate themselves on the new regulations into the summer of 2018. While that flurry of activity was happening, there was another bill which Gov. Jay Inslee signed: Washington State Paid Family and Medical Leave Law.

We are now the fifth state in the nation to pass such a law, after California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York. And, the law’s “go live” date is fast approaching – employers need to comply by January 1, 2019.

A quick summary about this law: For the year 2019, funding will be built up into the plan. Starting January 1, 2020 eligible employees are allowed 12 weeks of family or medical leave. This includes mothers and fathers welcoming a child into their home either by birth or adoption; or to take care of themselves or a family member (defined as a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent or grandchild) who has a serious health condition, or for a family member injured due to military service. In some situations, that paid leave can be extended to up to 18 weeks.

Read the rest of the story here


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monica Blackwood is president and CEO of Westsound Workforce, with offices in Gig Harbor and Poulsbo. Contact her at monica@westsoundworkforce.com.

How much cash should a small business keep in reserve?

piggy bank cashCash is the fuel that makes a business run. It is needed to pay salaries including your own, fund marketing programs to acquire and retain new customers, invest in equipment and facilities, pay rent, supplies and many more day-to-day activities. Most financial experts recommend three to six months of operating expenses, but using this for every business in every situation is misleading.

To determine how much cash you need, you must look at the following key areas.

How Much Cash Have You Been Using?

If you’re an established business owner, look at your monthly cash flow report (or go to the next paragraph if you’re a start-up). This report will provide an historical and seasonal perspective. Note the cash received from sales and the cash spent. The net of these two is often referred to as the “net burn rate.” For example, if you have $50,000 in sales and $30,000 in expenses, then your net burn is +$20,000

Your “gross burn rate” only takes cash expenditures into account; in our example, that’s $30,000 and is the more conservative amount, since it does not assume any sales are made. Historical spending patterns are a good starting point in considering future spending plans.  Continue reading

Get found online with these 3 SEO tactics.

Search Engine OptimizationSearch engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever for getting found online—and getting customers to buy from your business. That’s because online search has become the primary way potential customers find local businesses.

Don’t believe me? A whopping 87% of people used a search engine to find a local product or service in the past month, the Local Search Association reports.

SEO was once a specialized skill that required hiring a professional to drive traffic to your website. Today, while SEO Is still somewhat of an art form, there are plenty of tools and tips you can use to improve your website’s SEO all by yourself—with excellent results.  Continue reading

Ready to start an online store?

With all the news about people making a ton of money online, many aspiring entrepreneurs are excited at the prospect of starting an ecommerce store. However, many people don’t think through all the things that they need to consider before they even start the process of building an ecommerce site.

Here are eight things to consider before starting an online store.

1. What Products Are You Going to Sell?

One of the most important decisions is determining which products you will sell on your online store. Your best bet is to start small – with a few select products that are based around a specific niche, i.e. breastfeeding products, scuba diving gear, hiking products, travel gadgets, hemp products, etc. Start with a handful of products in that niche – you can always add more products to your store as you grow. Check out your competition and see who you’re up against.

Be sure to pick a niche that you’re personally interested in. If you’re not interested in what you’re selling, you will quickly lose your passion.

Also, look for unique products that can’t be bought at Target, Walmart or other big brand stores — you will never be able to compete with them on price or promotion.

For instance, when I had an ecommerce site, I searched for mom- or parent-invented products that weren’t available through mass market stores. Plus, these types of product manufacturers are typically more willing to work with you on terms and drop shipping (which we will talk about in a little bit.) You can also look for innovative products to sell on crowdfunding sources like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

When you determine which niche products you’re going to sell, see if there are industry associations, trade websites or magazines. If so, join, follow and subscribe. Also, if there are product tradeshows around your product niche, attend these trade shows to discover new products, speak with the manufacturer reps directly and learn more about the industry in general. Often at the tradeshows you will be able to negotiate better pricing or drop shipping arrangements – especially if the manufacturer is launching a new product and they’re looking for new distributors.  Continue reading

Good leaders know everyone is watching.

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

good leaders know As a leader, you are always being watched. What you say, what you do, your reactions, your comments, your behavior, everything. Inadvertently passing someone without a “hello” or acknowledgment of their existence could be viewed as a slight by the receiver. Even though that was not remotely the intent.

When I’m working with leaders, they are often surprised when I bring this up. In their minds, people should be able to know what they meant or what they were thinking. It’s just common sense, right? It might be common sense, but we can’t be in the minds of the people we meet or work with every day. We don’t know their frame of mind, what fears or doubts they have, what happened before they arrived at work. What would be “common sense” in a neutral setting, might be anything but given the baggage, everyone shows up at the office with.

Good leaders know that it’s up to them as the leader to be aware of and modify their own behavior given the circumstances, not the other way around. Smiles, frowns, jokes, hurriedness, tone of voice, words, etc. are ALL evaluated for what they might mean to the person on the receiving end. And usually, these interpretations are wrong, but they now create a new narrative about what the leader meant or wanted done. Some leaders feel like it’s a sign of strength to “leave them guessing.” It’s not. It’s a sign of a need for control. Some leaders never clean up their messes – intentionally or unintentionally – and either way, it creates chaos in the workplace and ultimately distracts from the goals.

Continue reading on Mary Marshall’s website…