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May 2013



Proactive vs. Reactive Business Business Branding Home Office Design Tips

from the founder & publisher

May 2013

Welcome to Volume 2 Issue 1 of Connections Small Business Journal (CSBJ). As we enter into Small Business Week here in Columbus, GA and as a whole across our great state, it's the perfect time to re-identify one of the largest needs in the small business community which is the need of education. Recent statistics show that 99% of Georgia companies are comprised of small businesses. While it is great to see this number, it's appalling to see a vast number of these businesses failing within a two year period of time. Why are we seeing this? Could improper planning, lack of capital, a flawed marketing plan, etc be potential reasons? Those of us in the trenches believe so and thats why CSBJ has taken a grass roots approach to educate the small business owner. We have launched “Power Hour” where small business owners are able to sit round table style and discuss the challenges that they are faced with, and ways to overcome them. We have also launched “ENGAGE” networking which is a FREE networking event held monthly for small business owners where small business education and sustainability is the focus.

Greg Wilson – Publisher

Finally, we are proud of CSBJ Radio, which is an online radio and podcast tool where yet again education and candid discussion are generated and promoted. For those who are familiar with the CSBJ story, we appreciate your support. For those who perhaps are reading this for the very first time, We encourage you to enjoy this issue and all subsequent issues of CSBJ and to join the conversation with us, as we connect with people, resources and information.

Phone: 1.706.289.7863 Email: © Connections Small Business Journal


Congratulations to Rachel Warr, owner Of Angels Loving Linens. CSBJ Small Business Owner of The Week!


Founder Founder&&Publisher Publisher Greg GregWilson Wilson Staff StaffWriter Writer Holli HolliMelacon Melacon Contributing ContributingColumnist Columnist Laqueta LaquetaWilson Wilson The TheDiamond DiamondCode Code Contributing ContributingWriter Writer Moniek MoniekJames JamesEldridge Eldridge

7607 Veterans Parkway – Suite A-48 – Col, GA 31904

Intern Intern

Business Phone: 706-223-0333

A. A.J.J.Reid Reid

Website Address:

1224 1224Peacock PeacockAve Ave Suite 100G Suite 100G Columbus, Columbus,GA GA31906 31906

Facebook Page:

706.289.7863 706.289.7863

what's inside this issue

May 2013



Page 7

Home Office Design Tips..........Page 11 Teen Connections..........Page 14 Image Is Everything..................Page 15 Taking Care of Business.........Page 16 Networking with CSBJ.........Page 17 Branding...................Page 19 Small Business Technology..........Page 21 Four Business Who Should Use Instagram.........Page 23


from service to serving

May 2013

5 Star Concierge was birthed and centered around service. For over twenty years serving as a non commission officer in the U.S. Army, Pamela Watson, owner of 5 Star Concierge knows all about serving. As a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army, she served her country in South Korea, Guantanamo Bay, Ft. Hood, Ft. Benning and the Gulf War. While in the U.S. Army, Pamela was responsible for arranging the day to day agendas for senior officers. She would also manage fleets of vehicles. This level of responsibility and precision planning, paved the way for the dream and vision that Pamela pursued after retiring from her duties as a soldier. She feels that service both to country and to the community is an obligation and should not be taken lightly. This obligation transcends into Pamela reaching women as well. Pamela is quoted as saying “It is important for them to know that they can follow their entrepreneurial dreams even with the many titles that they may hold. Whether they wear the title of a mother, a wife, a home maker or student, they are able to step out and follow their dreams.” Pamela believes that it is very important for women to see other women as small business owners, CFO's, CEO's and political figures. When one is able to actually see it rather than read about, it provides an extra push and “stretches you to get out of your comfort zone and achieve.” It can empower you to believe that “I can do it!”

Pamela's most prized contribution is her womanhood. This simply means that she knows that she will impact women, young girls and even professional women to pursue their individual aspirations. Pamela often asks herself how she is managing all this. She has caught herself wondering how she is able to juggle being a graduate student, being a wife, being a mother and a small business owner. She takes a deep breath and laughs as she answers, “Very strategically!” This is what Five Star Concierge is all about. Strategically planning and coordinating balance and adding time back into people's lives is truly the vision and foundation of Five Star. - Continued on page 10 .

from service to serving

May 2013

Continued from page 8

Through FSC Pamela has had an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. Whether it turns into a business deal or not, Pamela uses each meeting as a learning experience. When asked about the challenges that she faces, Pamela mentions that serving comes with its own set of challenges. She references countless hours of networking, pounding the pavement, marketing and attending meetings. With no guarantee of obtaining business, she presses on like a soldier an continues to serve. She is Invigorated when someone uses her services. It charges her as she is able to put back balance into peoples lives. She wants to leave a legacy of service to her children. Its important for her children to see their mother actually serving others. Five Star Concierge is a unique lifestyle management, planning and concierge service that provides work life balance assistance to clients in the Columbus Metro/Fort Benning areas.

Pamela Watson(C) pictured with CEO's Jay Alexander(L), Russ Carreker, Sheree Mitchell, Sen Emmanuel Jones(R) during small business week 2013.

FSC is defined by their over the top service, attentiveness, integrity, and commitment to our clients’. They understand first-hand the dilemmas of individuals, busy professionals and the modern day extended life. Balancing work and life is one of the hottest issues of our time, with increasing work demands being a primary factor. More and more individuals feel like there’s never enough time to do everything that needs to get done; resulting in over extending and over committing oneself. Whether it’s making non-medical visits to seniors and disabled clients, grocery shopping, organizing a corporate event, or providing tutorials, Five Star Concierge can accommodate these requests.

They are differentiated by customer service and they aim to meet their client’s needs and exceeding them at every interaction. ​

.Pamela Watson and Five Star Concierge, take on your day to day errands while making your life more practicable. To find our more about Five Star Concierge call or visit them online. Facebook: FSC Facebook Page Twitter: FSC Twitter Page 256.613.4269 Email:

6 simple home office design tips

May 2013

Whether you have a space at home reserved or assigned for operating a business, paying bills or making important scheduled appointments, here are a few tips that would help bring that dull corner to life, or make that small space more comfortable. 1. Location: You will more than likely spend many hours in your home office, so don't settle for just any space. Who wants to work in a closet with no window? Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t want peace and quiet but here are a few things to consider: distractions, the flow of traffic. Can you do your best in the heat of activity, or should you be tucked away? Also, if clients stop by, there must be adequate seating. 2. Functionality: Your workspace should serve you and not you serve it. When purchasing furniture, consider what would be both beautiful and functional to your daily needs of a home workspace. Try and go with something that would accent your home, i.e. traditional or contemporary pieces to help the flow or mood of your home. 3. Seating: Comfort, Comfort, Comfort! Who doesn’t need a comfortable chair? When choosing a chair, consider the countless hours you will spend in it. Choose one that is both eye catching and comfort driven! 4. View: Don’t find yourself staring at the walls. Who wants to glance away from a computer screen to a blank wall? If you don’t have a window to position your desk near, paint the walls or add some nice wall decorations. It will not only brighten your area, but also your mood!

6. Inspiration: Inspire yourself! Put something encouraging up or on your desk to be a reminder of the goals you want to accomplish. This can range from a picture of family to a quote or desired vacation. Use whatever you can, to inspire you and motivate you to get the job done!

5. Lighting: If you are not able to have natural light in your home office area, make sure you have plenty of any light. Inappropriate amounts of lights can add strain to the eyes, as well as generate headaches. You may want to use a small lamp on the desk to add light or change the position of your monitor so that it would not catch a glare from a nearby window if you have one.

- L. Wilson

ten small business mistakes

May 2013

Some of the most common practices are listed below yet, all too often, are not followed to the detriment of the small business. Avoid making these mistakes. 1.TEST MARKET: Many individuals fail to test market before business planning, before funding and even before launching a full blown marketing campaign. The experience tells you more about how to deliver it, who will buy it, how to find them, where to reach them, what they'll pay for it and if and how you can repeat the process profitably over time. 2. BUSINESS PLANNING: We've all heard it many times, yet many of us still resist developing a business plan. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." 3.SELL, SELL, SELL: Selling may sound like common sense to any small business owner, but many start-ups focus on everything else but sales. 4.MARKET, MARKET, MARKET: Marketing is often the first thing that gets cut during tough times, yet it is the most critical. 5.KNOW THE NUMBERS: Particularly for smaller businesses that have few products or services, bookkeeping often gets put on the back burner. This includes timely invoicing, payment tracking and knowing at any point in time how profitable the business is.

7. FOCUS: If what you're doing now is profitable and working stay focused and be very slow to change, just because someone asks for it or because you feel like it. 8. HELP: Help is a word that some small business owners are afraid to admit that they need. Help is available for any small business if they do one thing, and that is ask for it. 9. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK: Networking and building relationships still remains at the heart of business growth. 10. CELEBRATE SUCCESS: Many successful small business owners are driven. Stop and take time to celebrate each success no matter how small it is. This will help to create balance between the business and the personal side of life.

6.CASH IS KING: You can have new customers pounding down your door to do business with you, but if you don't have the cash to support investing in the equipment and resources to deliver the orders, you can go out of business just as fast as if you had no customers.

- CSBJ Intern

May 2013

From the desk of Nathan: Nathan Wingate Photography began as a trivial thought. It all started in Yearbook class. I have been a part of the Yearbook Staff for 4 years. My teacher (and inspiration) gave us photo subjects every week to photograph. I was ecstatic with my results. Learning to edit and gaining the knowledge of how to correctly use the camera was a fantastic experience. Each week would lead to new discoveries. Soon after, I purchased my first DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera. I figured that I could possibly learn to photograph people. My first shot with my new camera was phenomenal. I could not believe how easy it was to blur the background and make a subject stand out. I studied books and surfed the web for information on lighting, equipment, and the technicalities of my camera. Shortly thereafter, I created a website just to show others some of my work. Soon, people were asking how much I charge for a session and I had no idea how to reply. This sparked up my business. I was a much better at photographing nature than people but practiced to achieve portrait skills. Lighting is the number one key to creating a great portrait. I purchased accessories to obtain the correct light indoors as well as outside. Now, I am finally able to say that Nathan Wingate Photography is in existence and ready to shoot you in the face! Nathan Wingate Photography

To read more about Teen Connections visit CSBJ online at CSBJ Teen Connections

image is everything

May 2013

Image is the way other people see us. Image matters, and that rings true for both companies and individuals. The way you present yourself has a profound impact on your career and even your small business. It influences whether people agree to our request, pay us the salary we want or hire us. How does one go about changing his or her image. One sure way is to enlist the services of a reputable image consultant company. An image consultant company will provide detailed explanation and direction to help an individual or small business to achieve what is needed. These needs can range from acquiring a new job, produce a new image for a business or to simply feel good about ones self. An image consultant company can help create a professional look for every lifestyle, and provide customized solutions for people from every walk of life. - The Diamond Code (706)405-2354

taking care of business

May 2013

So, why did you do it? What were your reasons for taking a leap and adding to your pile of responsibilities by going into business for yourself? Being nurturers by nature, we take care of our children, spouses, parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends, strangers, and others, many times to our own detriment. I get exhausted just thinking about it… Personally, I threw my hat in the ring because I finally accepted the fact that I work hard at my day job (many days to my disadvantage), and I knew that I had the wherewithal to build something of my own. I started my event planning company, Distinctive Soirees, after taking stock of my abilities in time management, organization, and a desire to turn every place I go into a party . So far, it’s been like the never-ending Soul Train line: you are so incredibly tired that you don’t think you can stand for another second and your feet hurt, but you can’t stop because it’s too much fun. According to findings by the Kauffman Research Group, there are five major reasons that women venture into entrepreneurship. They are: wealth building, the desire to capitalize on an idea, the attraction to the startup culture, longing to be the boss, and the lack of desire to work for someone else.

Call me biased, but women are natural chameleons, we make the changes necessary to adapt to our circumstances. We know how to go through a window when doors are closed to us; we know how to ascend to the roof when we can’t break through the glass ceiling. To quote the Queen (Aretha, not Elizabeth), “Sisters are doing it for themselves, standing on their own two feet, and ringing on their own bells.” Whatever your reasons may be, I commend you for stepping into the land of entrepreneurship. It is not for the faint hearted, the easily shaken, or the lily livered. Sometimes you have to be your own cheering squad, while being the accountant, chief marketing and sales person, secretary, and driver. Sometimes you want to throw in the towel. Sometimes you think you made a mistake. Sometimes you wish you had more time (or one of those holograms like Tupac at Coachella). When you begin to feel that you have bitten off more than you can chew, I want you to think about this quote: Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is! ~ Anne Frank

Well, I conducted a mini survey of my own, and I was not surprised at all by the responses I received. Several women cited the desire to capitalize on a natural talent; others noted not being able to find a job, so they created one. A few very astute ladies started businesses selling a product that they used personally in order to qualify for discounts.

why network with CSBJ

May 2013

Why networking at a CSBJ event is good for your business… 1. Quite simply, the more people that know about your business the more business you are going to get and networking is a great way to tell people about what you do. Remember too that you’re not just telling the people at the meeting about your business – we all have many other contacts and people we speak to. BUT – networking is not a quick solution, networking is a process. Peopled do business with people. 1. People will take time to get to know you and understand what you do, but if you attend regularly and get to know people when they need your service, or perhaps get asked if they can recommend someone to a friend, you are going to be the person who immediately comes to mind. 2. Secondly, networking is great for when you need to fi nd someone to help you; perhaps you need a new accountant for your business or a physiotherapist to sort out a sports injury. How great to be able to pick up the phone to someone you already know? 3. Finally, running your own business is fantastic (most of the time!) but it’s really good to meet up with other people in a similar situation and people that are facing the same challenges. With CSBJ “Power Hour” it's great to meet face to face with fellow business owners and have your own “chat over coffee”.

What’s special about CSBJ ENGAGE? There are lots of networking groups around, but we are pleased to say that we get great feedback about CSBJ ENGAGE. There are two simple reasons for this. 1. Most importantly it is all about the people that attend – they are genuine, friendly and very welcoming toward new business owners (we don’t do cliques). We all have a professional approach to our businesses and work very hard, but we are not pushy or aggressive. Above all we are very positive and enthusiastic and we love running our own businesses. There are no “Big I's and Little You's”. Everyone always leaves these network meetings with a smile on their face, empowerment, knowledge and money in their pocket! CSBJ ENGAGE is FREE! 2. Our relaxed but positive approach is backed up by the structure at our meetings – organized but never pressurized .Each one that comes is able to do an audio logo to speak about their business. A guest speaker is previously arranged to speak on a topic that is relevant to small business. Guest speakers have also included actual small business owners that take the liberty to discuss how they are working to overcome the challenges of being a small business owner. If a business owner has give-aways, a drawing is held, and those in attendance are free to work the room and network.

photo gallery

May 2013


May 2013

Business world is not like high school. In high school, one typically falls into a certain category —"geeks," "freaks," goths," "popular," "jocks," "brains"—and it's really diffi cult to disassociate from this label if you don't like it. Luckily, in business world, you have the opportunity for a little control. Sure, one never has complete control over how others think, but with proper branding, the control of image is defi nitely greater than high school. Here are fi ve ways you can make sure you have a strong brand: 1. Focus One of the common mistakes businesses make in branding is trying to be everything to everyone. While one may not mind taking money from any person who walks in the door, there is still the ideal client for every business. For example, a business that sells makeup may literally sell their product to any woman, but their target market may be teenagers or young adults. Just think of your own personal interests when it comes to business. Some brands you love, others you may be indifferent to and others you just might not like. That's OK! We all can't love everything all the time. Narrowing down your business focus may close doors to come potential clients but hopefully it will open the door to many more. 2. Do your Homework It's a great step to narrow down your client focus, but that does no good if you don't take that a step further. Once you know WHO you want to sell to, it's important to do your homework. What are these people buying? Where do they spend their time? What's important to them? And who else is selling them things? Are there any others selling what you are trying to sell? Once you know as much as you can about your target audience, you'll be prepared to set yourself up to where you need to be. .

3. Set yourself Apart You may be the only business of your kind in your target audience. You may be the 100th. Either is fi ne as long as you identify what makes you unique. What is it that makes (ideal client) want to purchase your goods or services? If you are exactly the same as the other 99 businesses doing the same thing, then there's not a huge chance you'll land the people you are looking for. If, for example, you are selling makeup to teenagers, maybe your product has an acne fi ghting ingredient that makes it ideal. Come up with a list of why you are different and start your marketing there. 4. Be visual Many people are visual people. You may have the best mission statement and business plan ever, but if you don't have a strong logo then it's really diffi cult—if not impossible—to make a good impression. The power of good graphic design just can't be overlooked. If you don't have the skills to do this yourself, it's really important you hire someone to help you create your visual identity—logo, business cards, Website, brochures, any other collateral you may need. It all starts with a strong log that will speak to the person you are looking to reach. 5. Be consistent A logo is the start of your visual identity but it's not the only thing that matters. If you have one logo on your Facebook page and a different thing on your Website and some totally different font on your business cards, then you have an identity crisis. Your visual brand should be strong and consistent so that when people see your business card or your Website or your Facebook page, they can immediately identify that it is you without even reading the text. That isn't to say text isn't important. In fact, it's also important your written message is consistent on all platforms. You may not use the exact phrasing for your Facebook page bio as your Website, but the message certainly needs to match across the board. If you are fi nding that some of these elements are not existent in your brand, it may be time for some spring cleaning. - Holli Melancon Almost There

small business technology

May 2013

While technology can enhance productivity and sales, provide access to wider audiences, and, ultimately, increase profits, it also can be a major source of stress for the small-business owner. There is so much change out there, small-business owners often experience fear and frustration as they try to keep up. When it comes to implementing new technology, the two main challenges for anyone operating a small business are: money and time. However, it’s impossible to be a competitive business owner without taking advantage of today’s technology. Investing in technology that will make your life easier not harder is the key. While there may be a learning curve, there are a variety of ways to afford the technology you need as well as the technical support to help you learn how to use it. The following are three things that every small business can begin doing today. 1. Protect your computer system – Every day, viruses infect approximately 1 million computers around the world. Viruses can travel in anything from a USB flash drive to an email message, and can completely halt the productivity of a small business. To minimize your business exposure to viruses, worms and hackers, be sure you use the latest patches, system updates and firewalls for your software and computer systems. You can usually find patches and program updates on the software manufacturers’ websites. If you choose a cloudbased sales system, make sure your information as well as that of your customers, is safe by adopting an encryption strategy.

2. Make sure your website is up to speed – Customer impatience is at an all-time high. Customers won’t wait around if your site is slow to load or if transactions are too time-consuming. Make sure your site can handle the traffic peaks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Google Analytics is free and offers a simple snapshot of your customers’ experiences and how fast your pages load. Also, make sure that visitors can see and navigate your site no matter what device they’re using to view it. Test your user experience on smartphones, tablets and various email services. 3. Automate your marketing efforts – Sending meaningful and relevant communications has never been easier for small-business owners who utilize smart technologies. Social media is here to stay – so it’s a wise business move to start a Facebook or Twitter account to interact with core audiences. Plus, it’s free. Email marketing also makes connecting with customers quick and easy. Seek out systems that allow you to set up automatic email marketing campaigns as an easy way to save time and stress. As a rule of thumb, communicate with your customers in ways they actually want to be reached.

- Staff Writer

May 2013

Marie Cordero December 19, 1948 - May 2, 2013

“Your service to, and love for the small business community will never be forgotten�

Insurance for everything you hold dear! 2 Bradley Park Court Suite C Columbus, GA 31904


four businesses who should instagram By now, you've most likely at least heard of Instagram. It's quickly becoming one of the top dogs in terms of social media. In fact, you may have an Instagram account, whether it's personal or business (or both!) If you are one of the ones who has jumped on the Instagram train, that's great news for your business. If not, it might be time to consider making the leap. What is Instagram Instagram is a social media platform that's all about pictures. In fact, that's all it is. One takes a photo, uploads to Instagram (sometimes with a fun fi lter), types in a caption (and some well-thought out hashtags) and bam. You can also upload pictures from your Instagram directly to your Facebook or Twitter pages. It's similar to Twitter and Pinterest in that one has "followers" and "follows" but its owned by Facebook. When it comes to businesses using Instagram, there are really not many reasons to at least have a presence. The following are the types of businesses who should use Instagram:

May 2013

3. Businesses that like connecting The old saying, "A picture is a thousand words" does in fact ring true. Many of your patrons are probably visual people and may enjoy looking at a picture rather than reading a Facebook status or Tweet to keep updated. Not that those aren't important because they are, but pictures capture attention in a whole different kind of way. 4. Businesses that want to engage Pretty sure that every business fi ts into this category. Instagram is just another way of putting yourself out there, and if done well, really having the opportunity to engage with your customers. One doesn't have to be a world class photographer to take appealing pictures, so if there are any fears holding you back from Instagram or if you were wondering if your business is the right fi t, maybe this article will sway you to take the leap! - Holli Melancon Almost There

1. Businesses that sell things If you are a product business then fi nding things to photograph shouldn't be too tough. Take lovely displays of things you are selling. Tell your patrons about sales. 2. Businesses that sell services Businesses who don't sell physical products may wonder if Instagram is really for them. The answer? Yes, yes, yes. In fact, since you don't have a physical display of goods for people to come see, it might be all the more important you get yourself out there. There are plenty of behind the scenes ways you can connect with your clients on Instagram: pictures of things your printing, what your eating, your offi ce (or around town) pictures, projects you are designing/writing/photographing (whatever your service is)‌the options are limitless!

Connections Small Business Journal - Volume 2 Issue 1