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Take a look at the sidebar on the right side of this page (or scroll down on your phone). Look for NEWS BY CATEGORY. You can select a category in the pull down menu or in the category cloud. If you’re looking for something more specific, there’s a search box below the cloud. If you still can’t find what you need, scroll up in the sidebar and CONTACT US by phone or email. Of course, you can always request a face-to-face meeting with a mentor. We’re here to help.

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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…

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

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 – researchingbfranchises – to “I Do” – signing the Franchise Agreement. Remember the goal is happiness and financial independence.  Continue reading

Do you think you might want to sell your business?

The Value Gap

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

business for saleHave you ever heard of it? Well, if you are thinking of selling your business in the next few years, it is a term that you should get familiar with.

The value gap is the difference in price between what the seller thinks his/her business should sell for and what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Bluntly, it is unrealistic expectations on the part of the seller.

Sadly, it is one of the bigger reasons why deals go awry in the lower-to-mid market tier. And, it can be avoided.

Causes of the Gap

There are a variety of reasons why a seller may think that their business is worth more than what others are willing to pay for it.

Continue reading

Washington business registration renewal letter scam.

Misleading Letter vs. Official Letter

Businesses in Washington should be aware of a possibly fraudulent letter claiming to be an official bill for annual business registration fees.

One letter received by an Edmonds-based business directed the business to send $121.86 to a post office box in Olympia. The letter stated, “your state annual report will not be filed until payment is received.”

The misleading letter did not include the Office of Secretary of State logo, as an official letter from the Office of Secretary of State would – see the example pictured above.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I win in the gig economy?

The “gig economy” — the market for individuals providing services or working on projects on a freelance on-demand or short-term contract basis — has been a growing trend. While there are no official gig economy statistics available to measure its prominence, we can make some assumptions about its increasing popularity based on other available data.

According to information reported by the United States Census Bureau, the number of non-employer businesses, the group of individuals most likely to work on gig basis,  was 24,331,403 in 2015. That’s 10% more than the 22,110,628 non-employer businesses in 2010.

And opportunity abounds for independent professionals who take on gig assignments. Many businesses outsource work to independent contractors and freelancers when their staffs are overwhelmed and to avoid the costs of benefits and ongoing payroll that come with hiring new employees.   Continue reading