Valley Entrepreneur No. 1

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Too young for Entrepreneurship? | How to Evaluate a Business Opportunity

Journal History of the Valley:

The Case for an

Economic History of The Rio Grande Valley

The Inter-Oceanic Northern Corridor

Mazatlan Matamoros TOP STORY

The Role of EDCs in


Growing your Business Our Story:

Business Leaders Roundtable Discussion

Successful innovators know whom they want their customers to become.

DIGITAL MARKETING for small businesses

Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa

Empowering Small Business Growth in South Texas




54 - 55






60 - 61 THE PROBLEM EMPLOYEE by John Schulz Attorney at Law 62 BUILDING AN ONLINE BRAND FOR YOUR STARTUP This e360 blog post is reprinted with permission from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.







One Region One Voice One Center

Weslaco breeds successful entrepreneurs Abstract Mary Arjona was an elementary school teacher for 10 years. Her mother started a floral business in 1998 that gradually transitioned into a baking supply and decorating shop. During summer and holiday breaks, she would assist her mother in the shop. Ms. Arjona felt ready to go into business for herself.

Introduction In 2011 Ms. Arjona retired from teaching. She researched different markets for her business and decided Weslaco made the most sense as its central location. In December 2011 she opened H&K Baking Supplies in downtown Weslaco. She started with a small inventory of items to assist the “at-home” baker.

Findings Ms. Arjona started her business with little fanfare and began building a loyal clientele from Zapata to Brownsville increasing her sales 85% in the first year. She leased the historic building she is in and has now worked with Business Development Institute (BDI) to facilitate and meet the requirements to obtain a Small Business Administration loan. The BDI helped her create a business plan for the next three years.



Ms. Arjona and her family have made H&K Baking Supplies a family affair. Her husband and two children work at the store on weekends, holidays and summers. Both children are learning the concepts of business including merchandizing, inventory control and marketing.

“Weslaco is just the right size and right place to start a business.” Ms. Arjona has discovered the Weslaco Advantage.

Call the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco at 956-969-0838 or visit for more information on how you can be part of the Weslaco Advantage


MARIA “CHARO” MANN Chief Executive Officer

Entrepreneurship & Regional Development “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker Welcome to our first edition of Valley Entrepreneur Journal, a source of relevant and insightful entrepreneurial, economic and legislative information designed to educate, inform and motivate YOU, the Valley Entrepreneur, join us, as we portray the Valley as a platform of tremendous regional strength. The above quote from Peter Drucker best summarizes my vision for this first edition. What predictable future do we want to create for the Rio Grande Valley? I choose to see growth and prosperity, where challenges are only part of the process. I want to see a community that feels proud to be from the Valley – One Community, One Region. Entrepreneurship is said to be the backbone of every economy, and it’s no different when we talk about our Valley entrepreneurs. We want our entrepreneurs to become connoisseurs of its business environment, and to become intrinsically involved in the process of creating it. And that is why in this first edition we bring content to support those efforts. We share a roundtable discussion with business leaders as they recount their initial entrepreneurial experiences and share what made them successful. We bring information about the role of economic development corporations, and how they can best connect with our local entrepreneurs. Our readers will also identify themselves with the evolutionary concept of regional development, a summary of our economic history, and how we can best capitalize on the new economic opportunities that present each day; such as the creation of the new university medical school, and the Inter-Oceanic Economic Corridor. And last but not least, our feature article intends to educate our entrepreneurs about legislation impacting small businesses. In addition, we present a list of organizations assisting entrepreneurs, and practical business tips in the areas of branding, finance, lending, time management, understanding your customer, technology, human resource and entrepreneurship. We would also like to extend our gratitude to all those that so willingly and enthusiastically supported the journal by providing expertise articles, especially to the Kaufman Foundation and Beth Ann Kaminkow from Tracy Locke.

Chief Executive Officer Maria “Charo” Mann Creative Director Oriol Zertuche Art Director Bratislav Djikic Editor-in-Chief Isaul Carballar Contributors Sofia Ayala Kauffman Foundation Senator Hinojosa’s Office Beth Ann Kaminkow Martin Lopez Miki McCarthy Leonardo Olivares John Schulz Mike Willis SCIC Board of Directors Pedro Salazar Eduardo E. Caso Lucia Valdez Celine Schulz Ramiro Garza Sue Tseng Nelda T. Ramirez Yolanda G. Salinas Advertising Sales: 956.369.9513 2314 W. University Dr., Ste. Edinburg, TX 78539

Our greatest thanks goes to you, the reader, to which this magazine is dedicated. With your support and entrepreneurial drive we expect to turn the Valley into a place that inspires the creation, retention and expansion of businesses in South Texas and beyond. Let’s do this together. Let’s do this the Valley way.




History You never step into the same river twice, or so goes the adage. Change is constant. So too have been the economic forces that ebb and flow, the clash of cultures, and the confluence of peoples’ dreams, that have over close to 300 years formed the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.


et, Vallyites do not have a comprehensive history of the economic, political and social developments that shaped us. Building tomorrow requires understanding yesterday. And, while as grade students we all get a hefty dose of American and Texas history, there is light treatment of influences from south of the Rio Grande – which of course are considerable for our region.

Coahuiltecans. Francisco Garay’s subsequent attempt to colonize the Valley also failed in 1523 when his expedition determined that the Valley was unsustainable for settlement. We are off to a slow start. The first European settlements began in an attempt to stymie incursions into Texas by Rene Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle. He’s French. Jose de Escandon lead an expedition into the Seno Mexicano (which includes the Valley) in 1747. He established the colonies of Camargo, Reynosa, Revilla and Mier. Civilization had arrived in the Rio Grande Valley, although it would still take Starbuck a few hundred years more before opening their first bar.

An economic history should include: demographic data (eg, population, household income, educational attainment); unemployment stats; measures of capital investment (eg, bank deposits, construction expenditures); and other indicators of economic In the years since, the Valley has experiactivity. However, the numbers don’t tell the mented with its own independence (the Recomplete story. Over the years, I public of the Rio Grande); fought have pieced together some source over where the international border Building materials for independent studies was located (the Nueces or the Rio tomorrow (can you say bookworm). Grande); and witnessed civil wars requires in two countries. The Bracero understanding First, A Shared Experience is a Program, the North American Free yesterday good primer on the Valley’s history. Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and In just 62 pages, you can travel now again immigration reform back nearly 500 years to 1519 when Alonso have ebbed and flowed from the headlines. Alvarez de Pineda first mapped the Gulf What is old is new. Coast in search of the fabled Southwest Passage to the Orient -- a strategic transAnother most excellent source is Anglos portation route for the nation that found and Mexicans in the Making of Texas by Dr. the passage. However, the Valley was first David Montejano. explored the following year when Diego de To better understand the beginning of MexCamargo sailed upstream through the Rio ican American culture, we must delve into Grande River before being driven back by the era where it all began with the Mexican 8

American War between the Republic of Texas and Mexico. In 1848 when the Treaty of Hidalgo was signed, thousands of people had to choose whether to remain where most were born and raised or move to Mexico. Choosing to stay, this group of people became the first immigrants without actually moving from their native country. The end of this war was the beginning of true Mexican American economic development in the Rio Grande Valley. Anglos and Mexicans In the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 by Dr. David Montejano is an excellent source in understanding this period as he writes in a chronological order with great detail. This book is a collection of secondary sources such as documents, maps, and charts, which gives an exceptional understanding of the occurring changes in the history. His homage to the literal

To better understand the beginning of Mexican American culture, we must delve into the era where it all began with the Mexican American War between the Republic of Texas and Mexico

The lower Rio Grande Valley became a curious urban and rural combination by the 1940’s with communities made up of homes of farm owners and workers and the various stores, processing plants, and industries that served them

A third must-read is Boss Rule in South Texas : The Progressive Era by Evan Anders, which speaks to the emergence of the Valley as that curious urban and rural combination. With the completion of the railroad network across the region and the introduction of large-scale irrigation, the economy, and subsequently immigration, boomed in the Valley during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Boss politics, which characteristically centralizes government authority by filling city offices with those willing to follow his orders, was “the inevitable product of the rapid, chaotic process of urbanization.” However, this form of government was sharply criticized with the emergence of the national trend of the Progressive Era,

whose reformers denounced the bosses as tyrants who monopolized power and manipulated people. Despite these moralistic appeals, history reveals these political machines performed a variety of constructive functions, including social welfare, particularly for immigrants, and the advent of economic development in the region with imposed municipal privileges for businesses, such as more franchises and less red tape. Heraclitus (random Greek philosopher dude) is credited for saying you never step into the same river twice. Change is universal, regardless of place, irrespective of time. Managing the Valley’s future requires us really to know our past.

feelings of the new immigrant’s decision to stay in the land they know remains objective. Montejano doesn’t pick a side, but instead he writes about the two sides and the relationship between the two races as they learn to assimilate and become the first Mexican Americans. Will the Mexican become a member of the minority group or will they become part of an immigrant culture? In the book Montejano says “ In the Texas-Mexican region, such a peace structure was characterized by two major aspects: one, the subordination of Mexicans to Anglos in matters of politics and authority; and two, the accommodation between new and old elites.” (Montejano, 34). Early in the 20th Century, a large scale of migration of Midwestern farmers to the Rio Grande Valley, matched by a growing surge of Mexican immigration, led to dramatic population growth in Valley counties. The lower Rio Grande Valley became a curious urban and rural combination by the 1940’s with communities made up of homes of farm owners and workers and the various stores, processing plants, and industries that served them.

LEONARDO OLIVARES Leonardo Olivares is the City Manager for the City of Weslaco with strong experience in federal, state and local governments.

References Anders, Evan M. Boss Rule in South Texas, The Progressive Era. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982. Montejano, David. Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987. Moretti, Enrico. The New Geography of Jobs. New York City: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Sanchez, Mario L. A Shared Experience, The History, Architecture and Historic Designations of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Heritage Corridor, 2nd Edition. Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1994.



The Role of EDCs in

by Miki McCarthy

Growing your Business If you own a business or are interested in starting one, you may have been given the advice to call the E.D.C. In Texas, economic development corporations have existed for over three decades since the Texas Legislature passed the Development Corporation Act of 1979.

businesses need access to capital and local EDCs may provide low interest loans. Some EDCs manage revolving loan funds that provides businesses with an alternative to traditional bank financing. Lastly, EDCs may be looking for an investor just like you, and may have an incentive program to attract you to their town. The reason why incentives are offered is to entice a business to locate in one city over the other. Like anything else, there is no such thing as free money! Projects should have financing in place and incentives are based on various factors that require performance from the business. Depending on a multitude of factors like the size of your company, the number of employees that will be hired, the anticipated capital investment, average annual sales, and anticipated sales taxes to name a few, your company may qualify to receive an incentive. Receiving an incentive from an EDC is equivalent to a city receiving a grant. The incentive would be offered and secured with a performance agreement that would delineate the responsibilities of each party. Should the business not live up to terms, the incentive received from the EDC would revert to a loan, and the company would be responsible for paying it back. In conclusion, while the role of an economic developer is often overlooked, it is important to understand this role and how ED professionals can help strengthen your business. An economic developer is the “be all” and “know all” for any city. They work diligently and tirelessly to accomplish comprehensive plans often times the ones championing the cause. They are the ones behind the scenes making things happen, but seldom receive all the credit. If you have not taken the time to get to know the ED professional in your town, now would be a good time to start. Years later, you will be the one giving the advice, hey, call the EDC. You will be glad you did. EDCs may be looking for an investor just like you, and may have an incentive program to attract you to their town


he law allows cities to create nonprofit development corporations vested with recruiting new industry and promoting their local assets. Serving as a catalyst, these corporations generate wealth by attracting new investment while retaining existing business enterprise thus creating jobs. Simply said, EDCs exist to empower business and grow their cities. Since 1989, EDCs administer a portion of the local sales tax to strengthen their economic climate. There are two types of EDCs known as Type A and Type B corporations. Type A corporations concentrate on the attraction of primary employers typically manufacturing and industrial companies. For example, Type A corporations may invest funds for infrastructure in an industrial park.


Similarly, Type B corporations are allowed to pursue the same projects as Type As, but have additional latitude to pursue quality of life projects such as open space improvements like parks and special events that promote tourism. Additionally, EDCs serve as a great source of information for any business owner with a menu of varying services. By contacting the EDC, prospective investors have access to real estate databases and the ability to visit multiple sites within a community. Maybe you have already decided on a location, but could use help identifying your trade area. EDCs may assist you in generating trade area demographic reports. They also have good rapport with supporting agencies like the Small Business Administration to assist with writing a business plan. Often times,

EDCs serve as a great source of information for any business owner with a menu of varying services

Alamo EDC is a Type B nonprofit corporation dedicated to the Economic and Community Development of the City of Alamo, TX. Visit us at to learn about our Economic Development Incentives Revolving Loan Program Business Retention Expansion Program 715 E. Business 83, Alamo, TX 78516 (956) 787-6622 (956) 787-7766 Fax




The City of Edinburg and Edinburg EDC support an environment of job growth, opportunity, and prosperity for people wanting to start a business. Edinburg’s probusiness climate continues to bring quality jobs to the city. We offer companies an unparalleled competitive edge, proximity to strategic markets, cutting-edge infrastructure, excellent schools, and a skilled workforce. We invite you to come to Edinburg, where we’re ready to work with you. No matter the industry, the City of Edinburg is committed to doing what it takes to keep Edinburg wide open for Business.

Distinctions Forbes Magazine McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA ranks No. 1 in “Least Toxic Cities” by Forbes in 2011. Forbes’ Best Cities for Jobs (mid sized category) ranked McAllenEdinburg-Mission MSA 4th.

Milken Institute McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA ranked 4th for “Best Performing Cities” by Milken institute 2010.

CNN Money University of Texas – Pan American ranked No. 2 for the “10 Most Affordable Colleges” by CNN Money, July 2011.

The Edinburg Advantage Business Meets Opportunity Visit us at our new office

101 N. 10th Ave, Edinburg, TX 78539

Advantages • Highly educated workforce • Access to a trade area population of over 7.1 million in a 150 mile radius • Prime locations • Aggressive economic development program • Cargo Airport with U.S Customs • Close proximity to two major commercial airports • Close proximity to 12 international bridges and 4 ports. • Abundant land • Access to Markets

For more information, contact us at 956.383.7124


Historical Employment Trends in

Hidalgo and Cameron Counties 1991-2011 by Mike Willis

The Rio Grande Valley region has experienced tremendous economic and employment growth for the past 25 years. There are several key drivers of the regional economy: Above-average population growth, tourism, and cross-Border trade. made up of our Public School System which employs tens of thousands of people. The “Education & Health” category actually includes only Private Education institution employees, and is primarily made up of the Healthcare Industryagain supported by our rapidly growing population base.


ur high birth rate and strong immigration into the region, both from south of the border and elsewhere in the United Sates, creates strong demand for services. This drives the growth in Government and Healthcare sector jobs, as seen on the chart, and creates our low median age of 28 compared to most other parts of the country. The “Government” sector is made up of local, state, and federal government employees who work here. It is a common misconception to think that this means primarily politicians and city employees. The reality is that it includes Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, and traditional Government employees, but is also


rest of the country, moving away from a “goods-producing” economy to a “service-based” economy. The “Business & Professional Services” sector includes finance, accounting, engineering, and other services you might expect, but there are other components to it that many are not aware of: There has been a dramatic increase in the use of staffing agencies for the past ten year. for a variety of reasons. Seasonal fluctuations in business have always been a part of this, but now many manufacturing and warehousing operations are relying on staffing firms to do their recruiting, screening, and hiring, and then using “Temp-toHire” programs to try out new employees for 3-6 months before making them employees of their company. These individuals are reported under the Professional Services sector as long as they remain the employees of the staffing firm. For busy entrepreneurs trying to startup a new company, the resources of a good staffing firm can allow them to focus on building their business rather than becoming an expert on employment law and all the related regulations. We have seen a great deal of growth in the Customer Care Center sector here as our growing population and bilingual culture have proven to be a valuable resource for these companies. We have over 8000 people employed in the region in Call Centers, and easily another 9000 employed by staffing firms in the “Business & Professional Services” category, so these two sectors comprise almost 70% of the total employment there.

The third and fourth-largest employment sectors are “Retail Trade” and Manufacturing employment has shown a “Leisure & Hospitality”, both of which are steady decline over the past fifteen years, supported by our growing population and by from a peak of 27000 to the current level of tourism from Mexico, along with a sizeable 12000. The trend towards temporary staffing Winter Texan base. As we have all seen, could add another 3000 to that current total almost every major retailer and hotel chain if they were reported in the actual sector they has established a presence here, and many worked in rather than “Professional Serare expanding their footprint dramatically vices”. However, as manufacturing employacross the RGV. These two sectors generate ment has decreased, we have seen a great deal of sales and occupancy the employment in “Transportation, There has tax revenue for area cities, which Warehousing, & Utilities” more than been a can help to lessen the need for high double. As we have lost assemdramatic property taxes to fund city governbly jobs to Mexico, where labor increase ment- a very important considerrates are dramatically lower, our in the use ation given the relatively low per location advantage has allowed us of staffing agencies for capita income in the region. to become a logistics and transthe past ten It is quite obvious that our region portation hub for the maquiladora year. is seeing the same trends as the industry and for manufacturing that

Business and professional services categories comprise almost 70% of the total employment out there.

Hidalgo, Cameron County Employment History 1991 - 2011 100000 90000

MFG Trans, WH, Utilities Nat Res, Const, Mining Leisure & Hosp.


Ed & Health

Gov't, Public Ed, Law Enf.

Bus, Profess. Svc. 70000

Retail Govt.

Healthcare, Private Educ.

Information 60000

Financial Activities Wholesale Trade

50000 40000

takes place in the interior of Mexico. This is a sector where our cross-border trade and proximity to Mexico really benefits us. Finally, “Construction and Mining” has taken a hit since the financial crisis and recession hit the housing market hard. “Mining” is primarily the Oil & Gas industry in Texas, and while it is booming just north of the RGV, we have not seen a lot of job growth locally due to this. It does create a tremendous number of alternative job opportunities for our workforce, as well as opportunities for entrepreneurs to identify a need and fill it in places like the Eagle Ford Shale.


20000 10000 0 1991











Data Source: TWC Tracer, CES Annual Employment Estimates, not seasonally adjusted

In summary, we are one of the few MSA’s that made it through the recession with very few net job losses. The reason we have a high unemployment rate is that our population growth is so rapid that we HAVE to create a tremendous number of new jobs every year to accommodate the new entrants into our workforce. While wages and incomes remain well below average, there are abundant opportunities for individuals to start new businesses or find good job opportunities. The education of our population is critically important- by ensuring we have an educated, skilled workforce, we can both attract higher-paying jobs and command higher wages by helping our companies to be more productive!




Economic development is always at the forefront of any nations political, social and cultural agendas. In the past, strategies for economic development were limited to state or national contexts.

By Maria “Charo” Mann


owadays, these strategies have to be planned with a global vision. With the latest and probably one of the largest infrastructure’s investments in recent years, Mexico’s Inter-Oceanic Economic Corridor, Mazatlan-Matamoros, seems likely the most ambitious and beneficial project. A group of states from the north of Mexico have agreed on the ambitious superhighway. It will be connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, linking the markets of Asia and Europe in a corridor that is well communicated and with great economic strength. Directly beneficial to both Mexico and the United States, the Inter-Oceanic economic corridor connecting the ports of Mazatlan and Matamoros is also aimed at facilitating global trade.


Conformed by Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, Chihuaha, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas; which account for more than 40% of the national territory, these group of states represents a market of 20 million people, who contribute more than 21% of the country’s GNP (Gross National Product), generate 27% of the products manufactured in the country, and houses almost 60% of Mexico’s bond export industry. The superhighway will be connected to one of the most efficient road networks, linking the main cities from northern Mexico and the southern states from the United States, while also reducing freight times and costs. Conceived by the Mexican government in 2007 as part of the National Infrastructure Plan to stimulate the economy, while also boosting trade and tourism, this $2 billion dollar hercule-

an undertaking will become one of the shortest and most efficient routes for the transportation of goods and services in North America. Among the many benefits of this endeavor, we can mention that an increasing number of manufacturers from the United States are moving their operations out of China and into Mexico, mainly because of its cost effectiveness in both labor as well as logistics. Due to the scope of this project, a lot is expected from a macroeconomic perspective, but the small producer, business owner and entrepreneurs will also benefit. As Mario Reyna suggests: “...this project of Mazatlan, Durango is a significant event but when we go around talking about it with the community, they are not aware that this is happening. So, with

this new highway it means that not only the agricultural goods are going to get here (from Mexico), but also of commerce from Asia is going to be able to be off-loaded in Mazatlan and brought this way period” Aimed at reducing the current over capacity, delays, high storage costs and low competitiveness of ports in North America, including Long Beach, California and Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas, México, the corridor will also cooperate in the industrialization of some regions in Mexico. A two day trip from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico has now been reduced to a 10 hour drive. By waking up early in the morning, you may be able to cross Mexico, coast to coast in the same day. That means we’ll see a lot of traffic coming from Monterrey and Saltillo, as well as Durango and Sinaloa, unlike in the past, says Mario

Reyna, Dean of South Texas College. Two major industrial and logistic hubs are already working and in constant development in the state of Durango. These include facilities such as industrial parks, foreign trade zones, research and development complexes, intermodal terminals and railway stations. Border cities will also be largely benefited from this major investment, including Matamoros, Laredo and Piedras Negras. Increased economic activity and concentration of infrastructure in this region, including the road, railway, and multimodal infrastructure, means development is sure to follow. The Inter-Oceanic Economic Corridor will spark a multitude of opportunities for businesses, investment and economic development in Mexico and the United States. A new horizon for international commerce is now open for business. 17

“An opportunity to create a new university that will have transformative impacts on South Texas comes only once in a lifetime,” as expressed by UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. The day of December 6, 2012 led to The University of Texas System Board of Regents approval to an innovative plan, now known as Project South Texas, to create a new university, along with a medical school. The focus of this upcoming new University in the Rio Grande Valley will be structured to provide an outstanding education to the students of South Texas, the United States and the world. With education of the highest quality; it will be affordable, accessible and innovative. The overall scope of this transition opens doors to new opportunities with the Valley’s potential economic growth, as a result, by creating high-paying jobs, attracting new industry, and drawing in research funding. The new university will transform Texas and the nation by becoming a leader in student success, teaching, research and healthcare. So what are the changes that lie ahead? You can follow this transition process through the following timeline.

Timeline 2012-2015 Date



• The University of Texas System Board of Regents approves transformational plan to create new university in South Texas


• Texas Legislature passes Senate Bill 24 authorizing creation of new university in South Texas that will also include a previously authorized new medical school


• Governor Perry signs Senate Bill 24 into law to create new university


• Board of Regents approves guiding principles for new university • Bill signing events in South Texas • Formation of transition leadership team led by UT System • Board of Regents launches national search for new university president • Initiate accreditation process with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Dec May


• Formation of campus-based and regional advisory groups and work teams • Chancellor begins holding monthly town hall meetings with faculty, staff, students and community members


• Campus-based work teams finalized • Collaborative work begins on new university mission, goals, curriculum and academic programs, organizational structure, administrative functions, etc.


• Marketing efforts under way to promote new university to regional, state, national and international communities

Nov-Dec 2014

Jan-Feb Jan-Dec 2015

• Name for new university finalized • President of new university announced • New university conceptual design continues • Academic and administrative transition plans initiated • Recruitment of inaugural first class


• New university prospectus due to SACS


• SACS approves new university


• Inaugural class enrolls in new university

Courtesy of The University of Texas - Pan American





We need to do what’s best for the Valley because at the end of the day we are going to be one Valley, one community.



he following discussion took place in a roundtable with successful entrepreneurs from Rio Grande Valley. They were invited to express their views on entrepreneurship in general, the future and past development of the Valley area as well as their views about business, life and passion. The idea of this magazine is to promote more regionally what local entrepreneurs are doing. The following are some excerpts organized by topic for structure purposes. The energy and emotion of the room was better captured by the audio, visit our website to listen to it.

Growing your business

Phillips: Growth is achieved by people who have a clear vision, focus and a strategic plan. Knowing what you do well, knowing what you don’t do well.

Business controls

relationship with banks and with bankers

Cantu: The thing is for you to set your goals and accomplish them and you change your goals as you grow. Cantu: Technically, I don’t know how to build a house, but I’m smart enough to hire the right people.

We’re clearly enjoying an explosion in the medical field.

Safir: Hire really good people, people smarter than you. And learn from mentors. They come in all sizes. It can be a spiritual mentor, it can be an emotional mentor, or people you just admire.

Safir: In terms of structure, I don’t think you can over-emphasize having the proper financial control and accounting principles that go along with owning your business. Many entrepreneurs are very creative. But sometimes, when it comes to organizing and controlling the sources and how the money is spent, that’s the Capital is last thing that gets looked at, and important; develop a perhaps it’s the most important.

Cantu: Keep focus, keep focus. Over time I develop routines, I am a routine person. I know what person is going to do what, every day of the week, every hour of the day.

Hiring And Mentoring

Phillips: You have to learn to put the right people in places they will do well in.

The internet

Safir: With the internet, entrepreneurs have another opportunity to do research and understand so much more about the product. With the internet you can know who your customer is, where he lives, where he eats, what time he goes to bed, how he celebrates events. You can target that particular customer.

Capital and banking relationships Phillips: An excellent banking relationship is critical. Stick with the local banks and regional banks. Also, another thing about those starting up is to never catch your

banker by surprise. If someone made a complaint, and Wage - Hour (Department of Labor) is coming in, let your banker know. Safir: Capital is important; develop a relationship with banks and with bankers. Have good credit. Cantu: Pour money back into it, just take a little bit for yourself. But pour back in, pour back in, pour back in. If you sell quality, there’s always a market for quality.

Credibility & trust

Cantu: You have to establish credibility and trust. Your business cannot grow if you have a bad reputation. If you don’t return phone calls, as a builder, that’s not good. You have to establish credibility and trust. Repeat referral business is the best business generator. Cantu: I think a lot of young people don’t save money. They want to go to the best concert, the best football game, they spend a lot of money. They want instant gratification; but you have to earn it.

Community involvement

Phillips: Everybody contributed to the Valley, giving back to community. We have all been very active in the community and that is something that people need to realize. They need to get involved in the community. Cantu: Community banks are the ones that support the economy in the Valley, and the less community banks we have, the harder it is for capitalists to help these businesses grow. Phillips: You can look at Lone Star, you can look at IBC, you can look at Texas State Bank & the days of Roney, and all those (banks) did the same thing. They grew organically by getting involved with their communities. Cantu: We should all work together. It’s good for the whole Valley. More recently, all the hospitals are spreading out with the same concept of branches, and that’s forcing everyone to think more metropolitan as well as more regional. What we need to emphasize is that we need to work more regional. It can’t be just McAllen, Edinburg or Mission. We need to do what’s best for the Valley because at the end of the day we are going to be one Valley, one community. Phillips: What in the world happened to the McAllen, Edinburg, Mission area that has made it boom? I believe it was the people and the leadership over the last 50 years. A


Growth is achieved by people who have a clear vision, focus and a strategic plan. Knowing what you do well, knowing what you don’t do well.


Story You have to have passion for it. It’s not about the money. If it is about the money, you are not going to make it

lot of it is banking, but a lot of it is just people giving back to the community.

Opportunities in the valley

Safir: We’re clearly enjoying an explosion in the medical field. That’s going to be a huge area of growth whether it’s in the research area or the service area or food service or hotels; all types of service industry for the medical industry. Cantu: There’s a lot of need but the key is education. We have to educate our workforce for these jobs, and if we don’t educate the workforce, we’re going to have to import people to come get these jobs. Phillips: If you’re asking, what is it that is worth going into, what do you recommend? Off-the-wall ideas sometimes work, but what you really want to know is where the money is. Look at retail, or growers, or the service people. You got people in various aspects of real estate or cars. Get into something where there’s a lot of dollars and then get your little tiny slice and see if you can go from there. Cantu: I think the McAllen area is very diversified because you still have the retail business with Mexico. You have the maquila industry, you still have some kind of agriculture, you have natural growth, you have healthcare now, you got Pan-Am, also the Metro is going to change things. You’ve got very diversified times. It’s not all agriculture or retail like before. Cantu: I think you’re at the right place at the right time. The Valley is going to explode. People are finding out that we’re here; there are a lot of opportunities. But I think the key is to keep educating our workforce. That’s the key, Pan-Am, STC, all those people need to step it up. Pedro: We’re trying to communicate to college students that it’s not about your degree, it’s what you do with it and how you 24

Photo Courtesy of TaggleRock

apply it. You have to create value. Whether you work for Lone Star National Bank, or you have your own business, you have to find a way to create value.

Passion, rewards, hard work Phillips: Anybody under 35 who isn’t working 60-70 hours a week is a slacker. And any guy over 40 or 45 who isn’t working 40 hours and putting another 20 hrs giving back into his community hasn’t learned his business.

way around it. It’s not an 8 to 5 job. And it’s also not about the money anymore.

Philips: You have to have passion for it. It’s not about the money. If it is about the money, you are not going to make it. For example, Sam Vale wants the best bridge operation, and the best railroad operation, and the best TV station. I think you’re Alonso wants the best construction at the right company, and the best bank, and the place at the right time. best hospital. If you focus on that, the The Valley money is going to come. is going to explode

Cantu: Passion breeds motivation to work long hours. It’s not about money; it’s about believing in something. It’s about having passion. You want to do it better; you believe that you can. I see a lot of young graduates who want to work 8 to 5 and want to make a lot of money and want big raises and have big titles but you have to earn it. If you want to start a business, you need to work hard; there is no

Phillips: There’s one bit of advice that Warren Buffet gave to Bill Gates. You know they became good friends over the years, and Buffet became his mentor. Buffet told Gates not to buy a jet. He said, you got everything else; your big house, your big company, just but don’t buy the jet yet. Because that’s the ultimate perk, and you want to have something to look forward to when you are fifty.

Larry Safir

Joseph F. “Joe” Phillips Joseph F. “Joe” Phillips received his Bachelor of Journalism from U.T, 1972. He spent three years on the staff of The Daily Texan and later co-founded The San Jose News (Costa Rica) in 1973 and Guatemala News in 1976. Joe sold San Jose News to a former U.T. professor in 1979, and returned to Texas to join his family’s fuel business. He helped build the business over the next 20 years from $8 million in sales to more than $90 million. Operations included real estate development, convenience stores and Burger Kings. Joe retired from day-to-day retail operations in 2009, and currently oversees investments. Additionally, he served as chairman of two state agencies under Governor Ann Richards, has served as president of the Rio Grande Council (Boy Scouts of America), and as a member of the Sharyland ISD school board for more than nine years. Joe is the father of one son, Andrew, a resident in emergency medicine at Stanford Medical Center.

Larry Safir is a Media/Health care executive with extensive experience in developing and managing television and radio assets in both the Spanish and English language. Throughout his career and later as Executive Vice President of Entravision Communications, he built and managed television and radio stations in San Antonio, Austin, New Orleans, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. From 1992-2010 he built and simultaneously managed 9 media properties under one roof that included Univision, Fox, Telefutura, CW, and My network TV affiliations as well as 2 English language and 2 Spanish language radio stations in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Mr. Safir produced and launched the Valley’s first US based Spanish language newscast for Univision rapidly obtaining market leading ratings which he maintained for over a decade. In addition, he produced and launched a prototype model for doing Spanish language and English language news using a single newsroom, studio and staff when he added Fox news in English to the Rio Grande Valley media cluster. Mr. Safir serves as a Board of director/ Partner of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, the largest Physician owned hospital in the United States with over 3,600 employees located in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. He also serves as Chairman of the Renaissance Cancer Foundation. Mr. Safir is a partner in several other valley and regional ventures including the NBA Rio Grande Viper basketball team.

Alonzo Cantu Alonzo Cantu has been credited by many as being a central driving force behind the transformation of the business and political landscape of South Texas. As a banker, developer, philanthropist and dedicated community organizer, Mr. Cantu exemplifies the highest standard of community leadership. For the last 35 years he has been President and CEO of Cantu Construction, a real state development corporation with important investments in retail, banking and healthcare. He has been awarded with several national, state and local awards for his philanthropic activities including the JC Penney Golden Rule Award and the National Medallion of Excellence. He has invested in a basketball franchise (the Rio Grande Valley Vipers) and is also the force behind VAMOS (Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships), raising over $15 million college-funds for Hispanics since 1996. A nationally recognized political financier, Mr. Cantu has raised millions of dollars for presidential candidates. In 2001 he was recognized as one of “the most influential people determining the fate of Texas”. Alonzo Cantu has been married to Yolanda R. Cantu for 30 years and they have two children, Allysa Nicole and Alexis Carina.




5 Things Lenders Look

by Sofia Ayala

For in Business Loans The small business world is a challenging world. Not only do you have to fight versus larger, more established companies, but you also have to do it while cash strapped. This becomes harder considering most finance institutions have rigorous lending practices.


ecause startups or small business do not usually have high-worth assets, the collateral required by traditional loans may not always be available. Thus, it is important to understand what lenders might be interested in hearing from a potential business. The following is a list of five must-haves every business lender will require of you. Be sure to adhere to these guidelines and prepare as much as you can. Preparation is key to getting a loan.


Assets, financial reserves and personal collateral that can be used to face business fluctuations

Most business lenders will require some financial backup before giving you money. 100% financing is never an option, keep this in mind when applying for a loan. Most business lender’s will not take full risk and thus will only fund projects that offer some level of security. Remember, granting a loan is all about risk mitigation. Loan officers are evaluated based on the decisions they make, and these are more about not making mistakes.


A track record of success and profitability that validates your future performance in the business world While making a business opportunity can have many interpretations, we are suggest-

ing you use your past successes to show your level of commitment and expected performance. The way you played a role in a companies success in the past will keep them interested and wanting to hear about your proposal. Showing your expertise in the field or industry is highly valuable.


A clean personal and business credit record

As with everything else, a lender will look at your credit history before making a decision. Keeping a healthy balance

of repayments is the easiest and most overlooked way to secure a loan. From a business and even a mathematical perspective, the way business lenders look at opportunities is by analyzing past behaviors. Basically, your past financial performance is a predictor of your future performance.


A solid cash flow or business plan that ensures you will pay back the loan

First and foremost, you must realize that banks are by default in the money lending business. Lending money it’s what keeps them running. Thus, they tend to view business opportunities with an associated risk. And here is where the opportunity lies. Your goal then, is to reduce the associated risks of your proposal. Considering there is a finite pool of resources from every potential lender, you must make sure your application looks more viable and financially attractive than other applications. Present financial statements that reflect `not only your knowledge of the industry or field, but also that demonstrate your awareness of the financial commitments.


Knowledge or industry expertise about your chosen business field

If this is not the case. You can always use your successes in other fields to demonstrate your entrepreneurial skills. A different approach that is equally valued is to use the industry expertise of a business partner or associate. not only will this help you secure the loan, but actually it will help your business opportunity. Loan application is not as different as work applications. You must demonstrate a coherent and committed path. The trick is to put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Or in this case, in the lender’s shoes. It is a good exercise to answer before hand questions like, why would this project succeed? How exactly will the money be used? What happens if things don’t work out as expected? You should also include a detailed plan of how you expect to use the money. 27


Financing Your Business Dreams

by Isaul Carballar

Following your calling into a dream business can seem like a daunting and almost impossible task. The following ten rules will help you decide if you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur.


hile many of us want to start an entrepreneurial career. Or follow our calling into a dream business, it is wise to look objectively at the business opportunity before committing time and monetary resources. Starting in the business world is hard and with a limited amount of resources, it is important to learn how to evaluate your dream business idea. Let’s look at ten rules that should be applied before starting your business career.

Nowadays it is easier to run a business from the comfort of your home computer. If you don’t feel confident to make money this way, perhaps you should not acquire expensive assets yet.


How much money is in your personal bank account?

It may be tempting to apply for a loan or get some funding from a relative. Before doing this and potentially burning a bridge,


Do you really believe in your idea?

Let’s face it. Everyone has had an idea that apparently could be turned into a business success. The trick here is to ask yourself if you have the skills and commitment Evaluate if you are that a proper execution will willing to use require. Don’t let yourself be your personal caught in the enthusiasm of assets to the moment and objectively back up your evaluate if you are willing to idea. backup your idea even with your personal assets. If your answer is no, perhaps you should go back to the drawing board and think of a better way to spend your time and energy.


Don’t think you need to invest

A mistake some people make when they are starting their business enterprise is to think that they need to invest in expensive assets or office space to be successful. 28

try to start your business with the money you have in your bank account. If you are not comfortable using your own money, don’t risk someone else’s assets yet.


Borrow from lenders before giving away your company

If after you have personally funded your enterprise you still need additional funding, it is wise to grow your company with money that comes from relatives or friends before investors. Most investors will require a share of your company and, considering the

If you are not comfortable using your own money to back up your idea, don’t risk someone else’s!

The strength of most new businesses comes not from money, but from the drive and focus from its founders. portunities for future funding. If you keep a record of all your cash expenses you will be in a better position to obtain more funding. It looks good and it works well.


Always, always pay on time

growth potential, a weak negotiation could put you at a financial disadvantage.


A good credit record is crucial

Getting credit cards used to be an easy task. Back in the day you could easily pay off your old debts with new debt. Nowadays, banks or lenders take a more careful approach and don;t give away credit cards that easily. Still, while it is still possible to get your hands on credit cards, you should do your best effort to keep a healthy credit report. Keeping a clean record is the single most overlooked activity to get funding. It’s easy to build it. It’s easier to break it.


Fund your operations using your vendors money

Keeping a healthy cash flow is crucial for small business. If not carefully managed, it is easy to be put your operations on halt due to insufficient funding. One way to fix this is by using your personal connections and seek for credit from your vendors. Your success can be translated

into the success of your vendors success. Use this when negotiating a credit agreement to fund your operations. After all, your vendors want you to succeed.

You never know when an opportunity will arise. Maybe you will need to acquire inventory or get an expensive asset to secure a customer. If you are starting you probably don’t have the resources needed to get that cash. Up until this point you probably have built a good reputation with potential lenders. Thus, you could easily get the much needed cash. If you have been paying all your debts in time you will not have trouble finding funding in short notice.


Being accountable means being consistent

A quick way to build your reputation is achieved by sharing your financial statements and projections with your current and/or potential lenders. You can achieve a degree of accountability by presenting consistent data and growth trends. Keep healthy books and share them with whomever you think will find an interest. This will help extend your credit.


Be honest even if no one seems to notice

If you are starting your business, it is likely that you will not be reporting to anyone else but to yourself. It can seem easy and tempting to use the cash flow as needed, without keeping a record of it. The problem here is not only poor management. Poor reporting can also translate into less op-


Do not get discouraged if things seem hard

While it is certain that business need money to start and operate, it is also important to note that most of the strength of new endeavors comes not from the flow of money, but from the drive of its founders. You must learn to keep pushing and not focus on getting money. Focus on making the business work. Money will always follow good ideas.



a s jo o in H ” y u h C “ Juan


Small businesses are vital to the economic success of cities throughout Texas and it is important that we continue to enhance the business climate through establishing businessfriendly policies. Our small businesses are what fuel Texas’ economic engine. 31

Cover Story


Additionally, I sponsored HB 194 which n Texas, we lead the nation in job adds a service disabled Veteran in detercreation and consistently have a mining whether a business is a historically lower unemployment rate than the underutilized business (HUB) for purposes national average. However, not all of state contracting. As of now, a HUB is a areas of this state are experiencing business that is at least 51% owned by an the benefits of this phenomenon Asian Pacific American, African American, as we still have communities that Hispanic American, Native American and/ suffer from high unemployment or American woman. These are businessand lag in economic development. es that have historically been socially and During the 83rd Legislative Seseconomically disadvantaged. This bill will sion, I authored several pieces of consider businesses owned by Veterans legislation that would positively imwho have at least a 20% service-connected pact small businesses, the backbone to our disability to be considered for HUB economy. We passed Senate Bill certification. Each state agency 24, which was at the forefront of my SB 24 shall make a good faith effort to legislative agenda all session long. merges UTutilize HUBs in contracts for conSB 24 merges UT-Pan American and Pan American struction, services and commodities UT-Brownsville and creates a free and UTpurchases. According to the Texas Brownsville standing medical school. The exand creates a Veterans Commission, there are bepansion of educational opportunities free standing tween 325,000 and 350,000 service will create greater access to health medical disabled Veterans in Texas. care and the related health care school businesses that the medical school Furthermore, as a priority for my will attract will be an enhancement to “jobs agenda,â€? I sponsored HB 1982. This our quality of life in South Texas. legislation is about creating opportunity for Texans in blighted communities through the Ultimately, the new university and medical creation of new jobs and new investment. school will create an estimated 7,000 new The Texas Enterprise Zone Program has high-paying jobs and immediately enhance been one of the most effective economic the status of the university in terms of redevelopment programs with the best return search, philanthropy and the ability to attract on investment for the State. In the past ten new faculty, research funding and economic development in the region. SB 24 is an enormous leap in establishing educational opportunities while acknowledging and responding to the rapid growth in South Texas. This session I also sponsored HB 3714, which seeks to improve the development, growth, and vitality of small businesses through a specified small business advisory task force. This task force of qualified individuals will review difficulties encountered by small businesses and will review information to assure that regulatory language is provided in plain language to the public. The bill creates a small business advisory panel that works alongside the Office of Small Business Assistance. With the help of this task force, the development, growth, and vitality of small businesses will be improved throughout Texas. The panel will meet to discuss ideas, potential barriers, and state policies that affect small business and issue a report to the legislature that describes issues and proposed legislation to improve the small business climate in Texas. The new advisory task force will advise the Governor on small business promotional opportunities; recommend improvements in state-funded programs; identify state laws, programs, and policies that may need change; and work on special projects assigned by the Governor. 32

The Texas Enterprise Zone Program has been one of the most effective economic development programs with the best return on investment for the State years, the Enterprise Zone Program has directly created over 50,000 jobs and helped retain over 160,000 jobs. In March, 2013 Texas lost 4,100 jobs which marked the first time the Texas economy has lost jobs in over 17 months. This bill would have given Texas a stronger economic development tool by emphasizing stronger job-creating incentives for businesses. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by the Governor. In order to ensure our small businesses have an educated workforce, this session I sponsored HCR 82 which requests that the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House of Representatives create a joint interim committee to study education policy as it

relates to developing a skilled workforce. Structural change in an increasingly global economy has contributed to high unemployment and a decline in wages for those without college degrees. Nearly two out of every three jobs will require some postsecondary education and training by 2020, and the United States currently lags behind other countries in linking postsecondary education with the needs of the labor market. In order for Texas to remedy this gap in the educational system, it is necessary to explore such topics as curriculum requirements, opportunities for new education-workforce partnerships, and the impact of emerging industrial sectors. HCR 82 will help guide us in the right direction to ensure that our policies focus on having an educated workforce to attract jobs and economic investment. As Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, I have put small businesses at the forefront of Texas’ economic future. I have secured millions of dollars for the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Program, designed to help put Texans back in the workforce. I have also voted for legislation that tripled the franchise tax exemption for small businesses and created the Texas Enterprise Zone Program that stimulates statewide investment. In 2009, I sponsored HB 2154, significant legislation to greatly benefit small business. This bill changed the franchise tax exemption from $300,000 to $1 million. This was a critical economic boost to our economy by giving our small businesses a much needed tax break.

The new advisory task force will advise the Governor on small business promotional opportunities; recommend improvements in statefunded programs

We must continue to improve our state’s economy and work with small businesses to provide a better future for our families

Finally, I am particularly proud of the investments we made in public education including $3.4 billion added to formula funding to phase out cuts from previous sessions. Education is the best equalizer, but it is also one of the strongest economic engines. An uneducated workforce is not competitive, so we must continue to invest in Texas schools so that we can be globally successful. Next session, we must continue to improve our state’s economy and work with small businesses to provide a better future for our families. 33




Yes, we are committed to supporting RGV-WBC and to making an impact in our region. The Economic Impact of our Contribution - We will be helping to create jobs by helping women and men start and grow successful businesses, which improves the local economy. - We will be helping to bring new Federal dollars into the Valley over 5 years by providing matching dollars. - We will be supporting outreach programs for small businesses who require customized and quality assistance: The Social Impact of our Contribution - By supporting the WBC, we will be reaching those sectors of the population currently underserved by other programs. We understand that WBC collaborates with many organizations to make the best possible resources available to entrepreneurs. - We will be helping individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged to become self-sufficient through entrepreneurship to break the cycle of poverty. The Marketing Impact of our Contribution - We will be given the opportunity to be the presenting sponsor at a WBC workshop and to provide a subject matter expert to lead the workshop in order to showcase our firm’s expertise in a specific small business arena. - We will receive recognition at events and in printed materials, and our marketing materials will be made available at WBC events, if we so desire. - We will be invited to the Annual Stakeholder’s Meeting to get an update on how we have made an impact. - We will be profiled in a WBC press release concerning job creation, economic development and how our organization is investing in the growth of our community. Releases are distributed to thousands of stakeholders including clients, board members, sponsors, mentors, investors, elected officials, local and regional media, etc. Our company name and a link to our website, if applicable, will be included on the WBC website. We will be given the opportunity to introduce our company at a WBC event.

WBC - 2314 W. University Dr., Ste. 230 – Edinburg, TX 78539 p: 956.380.2800 p: 956.369.9513 f: 956.380.1192 e:

MRO Industrial Supplies Parts Suppliers Maintenance, Repair and Operation.

OMA INDUSTRIES LLC Tel: (956) 454-2599 35


How to Evaluate a

Business Opportunity

by Martin Lopez

Whether launching a new company or adding a new product line to an existing company, new businesses evaluation should be done following a methodical approach. The first step is learning how to ask the right questions.


ew business opportunities present themselves to entrepreneurs in every corner. The most important thing when considering a new business opportunity is the ability to distinguish and qualify whether they are good leads or simply a waste of time. Since the inception of capitalism, entrepreneurs have initiated and failed in a variety of endeavors; however, failure has not usually been caused by mistakes made during the initial start-up phase. Many of these entrepre36

What to Look For

No matter which approach you adopt, there are common questions that every entrepreneur uses to evaluate an opportunity. First and most importantly, does the new idea meet a specific demand or a demonstrated market need? The best place to look will be in the growing sectors of the market that are continuing to expand. Investors are looking for large market opportunities within the fastest growing sectors of the economy so it is vital that you conduct market research and identify your target market. Depending on your startup capital, you may want to identify new fields because of the increasing diversity. Investing in a stagnant market may not be a good idea until you can identify inadequacies or inefficiencies in the sector. The next important question to consider is if the service or product is economically feasible. The answer to this question is affected by several components such as consumer demand, economic trends, production costs and market share. It doesn’t make sense to enter a market that is dominated by several different companies because it limits you market potential. Investors are more likely to invest in new products or services that project to Entrepreneurs have learn capture at least a 25% the value market share and yield of business high returns. There evaluation thru are several strategies trial and error to build market share including diversification, competitive pricing, selling in more markets, and focus marketing efforts into specific distribution channels. It is also important to evaluate the economic trends that will impact your business plan. You should understand the prevailing market trends for both the product market and the geographic region where you operate. This will assist in evaluating whether the business plan will be accurate and effective within a specific market. It is also important to know your target market and

neurs fail because they have not fully analyzed or evaluated the business opportunity from the onset. Before accepting a new business opportunity, the idea should pass a series of questions and tests aimed at verifying the validity and potential of the business opportunity. Every successful entrepreneur has established their own specific framework and criteria to judge new business opportunities. It is wise to research the methods from the most prosperous ventures within your target market before settling on your own criteria.

When evaluating an opportunity ask yourself the following: Do I know anyone who has unique expertise that I can leverage to make this a home run?

The ability to scale should be an integral part of every business endeavor. Understanding your industry-specific scalability requirements is crucial. and soliciting investments. Venture capital is another important source, but is not a feasible option unless you need more than $1 million dollars for seed funding. It is ideal for companies with high potential for return and growth, but is also high risk since they also require their pound of flesh which they collect through control and equity. It can also take several months to obtain this source of funding and it is not the best option if you need capital on short notice.

Constantly learning should be your number one priority as a business person.

demographics because a product that was popular in Europe or Asia markets may not fare as well in southern Texas.

Choosing the Right Opportunity

If a new business opportunity has passed the first series of test evaluating the validity and feasibility of the business, then, the next step requires a decision about whether the opportunity is right for you. Many entrepreneurs rely upon their intuition at this point to make the right decision. Whether you are a new or serial entrepreneur, you need to utilize your expertise and apply past lessons learned through personal experience. It is important to adapt and avoid any previous mistakes. You should also consider your personal connections and social networks available to expand your business opportunity. A specific idea may be more successful if you have more personal connections within a specific sector rather than attempting to break into a new market. If you have established connections, they can also provide valuable advice when considering a new business venture. If you are working with someone who was referred to you, it is crucial to verify their credentials, prior business relationships, and professional references.

Where to Find Funding

Seed funding is one of the most crucial elements for any startup company. Most entrepreneurs do not have the financial resources for their business opportunities

and need to raise the money through other sources. There is money available, but you need to know where to look. It is also important that you understand the strings and conditions that are associated with each type of capital. Many entrepreneurs fixate on a limited number of options which is often to their detriment, so you should explore all your options. Local banks are the first option for most startup companies in need of a temporary loan or a small infusion of financial resources. The Small Business Administration does not offer direct loans. However, it offers a government guarantee which reduces some of the risk to the third partner lenders. Be wary with commercial banks, because they often dismiss startup proposals unless you are willing to risk personal collateral such as your home.

Any business opportunity requires a great deal of evaluation and personal risk. If you have an established method to test the validity of each opportunity and utilize the resources available, you will greatly increase your chances of success. It is vital that you conduct market research and ensure there is a demonstrated need and that the opportunity is feasible. Whether you are creating a new business or have already established one, you should thoroughly evaluate any business opportunity presented. This will help you decide whether it is the right opportunity for you and to improve your plan to most effectively market you new service or product.

Crowdfunding has been growing in popularity with the increased utilization of the internet and during the current economic recession when many traditional lenders have turned away many entrepreneurs. This refers to a network of people who pool their financial resources in order to provide seed funding for startup companies. The social nature of this funding attracts investors that are interested in your product and provide free marketing within their established networks. While this can be a great source of financial resources, it is not considered a sustainable financial resource and can infringe on existing laws for collecting money




Five golden rules that successful entrepreneurs apply in their everyday life to keep them focused and with a top-notch performance.



Whether starting up or simply wanting a healthier work-life balance, establishing boundaries between your business and your life is the first step in regaining control of your life.


ll new businesses require an enormous amount of personal effort and sacrifice to ensure its success and sustainability. It is all too common that people become so focused on the business that they lose sight of other responsibilities and things they need to accomplish. It is easy to get lost in the chaos and details of daily business whether you feel you can’t leave tasks unfinished or there is just simply not enough time in the day. It is vital that you learn how to prioritize and manage your time effectively. These simple concepts will help to keep your professional and personal lives separate. It will prevent you from bringing your work home with you which can cut into the quality time you spend with family and loved ones. It is also important that you differentiate between these two aspects of your life so that you are able to relax on your time off. If you are unable to decompress and cope with stress, both your business and your personal life will suffer. Regain control of your life by better managing your working hours.

Time Management and How to Use It

calendar provides visual and tactile alerts, Time management is the ability to effectively hints, and things to remember that are pertiplan and control the amount of time you nent to various activities in your schedule. allocate to various activities. It improves It is also crucial that you recognize your own efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness limitations so that you don’t bite off more since it allows you to focus your resources than you can chew. If you take on too many and time for different activities based on responsibilities, your stress levels become their importance. With the advanceastronomical and the quality of your ment in technology, different tools work suffers. It is better to delegate and techniques can be utilized to less important tasks and allocate It is vital that effectively manage your time. you learn how your time to the most urgent projects. to prioritize Smart phones have truly revoluYou should also divide large projects and manage tionized the way the world makes into smaller sections to break up the your time business. Not surprisingly, they task over an extended period of time; effectively are also one of the most effective this way you can review portions each means of managing daily tasks. day and approach it with fresh eyes There are a variety of calendar apps rather than rushing to get it all done you can download to manage your schedule at once. Multitasking is another valuable and plan your entire day. You can also proskill that will improve your brain function and gram alarms to notify you before important boost your efficiency; it allows you to set aside meetings and set reminders for tasks that difficult tasks when you become overwhelmed still need to be completed. A personalized and return to them when your head is clear. 40

Successful entrepreneurs are highly skilled in managing their own time. Surprisingly, this skill can be mastered by anyone with the right mindset.

Visual stimulation and organization also affect our productivity. What this means is that you should maintain a well-organized, uncluttered workspace because it often influences your mental state. If your desk is overflowing with documents and you are unable to find things, your subconscious often reflects your physical environment. A clean workspace will allow you to focus on the task at hand and complete it in a shorter time frame. It will also guarantee that you keep your important materials organized and easily accessible. Keep Your Work and Personal Life Separate It is vital that you establish boundaries between your personal and professional life so that they don’t interfere with each other. If you bring your work and stress home with you, your family and friends pay the price which often creates tension and resentment. Below a few tips that will help you keep these two aspects of your life separate:


Establish boundaries such as avoiding work related emails and phone calls when you are at home. Advise professional associates they should only contact you in case of emergency after you leave the office. You should make similar rules regarding your friends and family during business hours.


Use time management skills to allocate the appropriate resources and time to the most important tasks. This

will allow you to work more efficiently and to complete all your work before you head home for the evening.


Develop other relationships with family and friends outside of your work environment. If you only interact with fellow coworkers or business associates, you are more likely to discuss and think about work even when you are not at the office.


Plan activities that you enjoy and allow you to stress down. It is important that you find hobbies and other

outlets that allow a temporary reprieve from your professional life. Spend time alone meditating, exercising, practicing hobbies, or doing something for your own enjoyment.


Do not bring work home or home to work because it is a slippery slope once you open this door. This means that you leave unfinished business at the office for the following day and that you do not discuss personal problems at work. You should also ask friends, family, and coworkers to respect these boundaries and help keep these parts of your life separate. Learning to effectively manage your time and prioritize is important to both the success of your business and your personal relationships. Time is a valuable and limited resource that we must learn to utilize for the most urgent matters, both in our professional and personal lives. These simple techniques ensure that you make the most of your available resources while still leaving time for loved ones. Owning your own business can be extremely stressful and demanding, but it is important that you make time to relax and cope with this stress. If you are unable to separate these two aspects of your life, it is extremely likely that your personal relationships and the quality of your work will suffer the consequences. 41

Think You Know

by Isaul Carballar

Your Customer? Knowing your target market means more than just choosing a specific demographic focus. I’s about really understanding your customers.


n order to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to know and understand your customer. Thriving companies are intimately familiar with the wants, demands, and buying behaviors of the customers who buy their products. Customers are valuable for many reasons other than just their buying potential; businesses can utilize their customers to evaluate which products sell best, potential improvements, their opinions of the services and products, and whether they would consider recommending their products or services to other people. It leads to innovations and better marketing strategies to reach potential buyers within your target market. 42

If your company can establish an efficient method to evaluate and understand your customers, it can be more selective in the marketing process. This allows you to concentrate company resources where they are needed in terms of marketing and purchasing. Profitable companies have analyzed the potential number of customers within their target market and understand their likes and dislikes with extreme exactness. They in turn use this information to a profitable advantage since they can create and deliver precise services or products tailored to the buyers’ needs. Knowing customers’ personal buying and spending habits allows

companies to display their products in the best locations, with competitive pricing, and provide appropriate warranties. It is vital that you offer the right support and features to your target market to create a positive experience for the customer.

What type of data to collect?

It is important when collecting data about your customers that you gather the appropriate types of data rather than wasting your time with frivolous information. Some key pieces of information you will need to collect include:


2 1

Name and Contact information because you can directly market to them in a personalized manner. This information will also allow you to contact them if there are any concerns regarding their purchases or orders. It provides the foundation to build a personal relationship with each customer.

Purchase history will allow you to track their previous purchases by type and date. It is important to track a customer’s buying trends in order to customize your product to your specific target market. This information is used to make projections about the time frame when customers are more inclined to make purchases, what they will purchase, and how much they are willing to spend.

Profitable companies have analyzed the potential number of customers within their target market and understand their likes and dislikes with extreme exactness

4 3

Hobbies help you to understand the customers’ likes and dislikes. It is important that you have a grasp of what they read, hear, and watch so that your company can reach each individual on a personal level. Knowing what holds your customers’ interests will provide the most effective outlets to market your product to reach the greatest amount of potential customers.

Demographics such as age, sex, and ethnicity provide statistical information to build your marketing approach to your target customers. It aids the identification of your customer base, the best channels of communication, and locating geographic areas with the greatest number of potential customers. It is also important to realize that the demographics are rapidly changing across the United States, especially in southern Texas. The current generation entering adulthood is more diverse than any previous generation. Hispanics are the nation’s largest and fasting-growing minority group with a current population of about 50 million. It is important to know who your customers are now, but also who they will be to ensure the future success and growth of your company. Knowing and understanding your customers is the fundamental concept at the center of every successful business. It is essential to establish a relationship with the individuals who may potentially buy your products. The ultimate key to any business’s success in knowing what your customer wants and delivering a product that meets their needs. Whether your business is flourishing or floundering, it is important to focus your time and efforts on your customers so that you can understand what they are thinking and respond appropriately.



by Martin Lopez


Management While most companies will only provide an environment that’s safe and easy going, only a small fraction of employers are actually invested in creating a top-notch working environment.


lthough Texas performed strongly within various economic sectors, the effects of the recession are still visible. The vast changes within the workplace due to the stagnant economy, including health care policies and layoffs, have left many employees with the impression that companies no longer care about the well-being of their workers. This perception could not be further from the truth; the majority of companies are taking extensive measures to create a welcoming workplace for its employees. There are even more employers that are striving to achieve greater employee satisfaction utilizing several methods to attract the most qualified candidates and ensure current employees want to retain their positions. Many of these efforts are concentrated in the improvement of their work environment to boost morale and increase overall productivity.

their lives at the office. This can include anything from changes they would like to see implemented, to measures that will make daily tasks easier, or simply a space where they can relax. There are also subtle design factors which can influence the overall mood within the office. It is also important that employees feel comfortable within their workplace since they will spend a large portion of their time in the facilities.

Why Create a Welcoming Workplace?

A supportive environment is one of the essential aspects for any employee to find fulfillment from their job. As any employer can

What is a “Welcoming Workplace”? This term can carry many different connotations, but the common underlying theme is that employers are looking for ways to keep their employees satisfied,

tell you, the quality and productivity levels are significantly higher when their employers are content with their jobs and feel the company is receptive to their suggestions. Even with the current recession, companies that offer the best benefits programs available and collect employee suggestions for improvement can effectively combat low morale. It assures employees that their place of employment is really a great place to work and is responsive to their needs. inspired, and excited when they come to the office every day. The most effective means of achieving these outcomes is through feedback provided directly by their employees about what will improve

When employees have a sense of security, they feel motivated to perform to the best of their abilities. Motivated employees ensure that a company is operating at maximum efficiency and delivering higher quality services.

Designing a Welcoming Workplace

While company policy and programs are the most effective way to improve employee satisfaction, there are also many visual design elements and personalized accommodations which can create a more welcoming work environment. There are specific color palettes which stimulate creativity, encourage productivity, and boost positive morale. Psychological studies have been utilized within interior design for many years since particular colors tend to provoke predictable physiological and psychological responses. Cool color tones reminiscent of the ocean or the sky create a calmer atmosphere while olive tones promote concentration. Warm colors, such as reds and oranges, can lively up a dull room but may be over stimulating if you choose the wrong shade. It is best to consult a professional interior designer to assess the best color scheme that evokes the desired behaviors or emotions within your workspace. Regardless of the degree of change, a new color scheme almost always improves morale, even if it is only temporary. Décor is another important design element that should match the overall image your company wants to convey. Whether your theme is modern, industrial, rustic, or classic it should be comfortable and inviting. The lobby area is especially important since this is often the first impression for both employees and clients; it should be a statement of the company’s image the combines aesthetic appeal and functionality. This same theme should be carried into employees’ workspaces to promote productivity and increase motivation. It is also wise to create a space where people can relax and take a momentary reprieve from the daily grind. Break rooms, gaming rooms, and lounges provide a space where employees can reenergize and collect their thoughts before returning to their daily tasks. There are several effective methods that companies can utilize to create a welcoming work environment, but the most important factor is that your employees feel inspired and motivated when they enter the work place. As a company, you want to create a supportive and positive environment that provides job satisfactions and sense of fulfillment. Employees that are happy in their jobs are more motivated which increases productivity and the quality of service. Employees are the lifeblood of every company, so it is important that they are comfortable in their professional environment. 45


Too Young for

Enterpreneurship? 46

by Sofia Ayala

Everyone dreams of becoming their own boss, but many people are too afraid to take the initial steps towards entrepreneurship. It is a position that requires a high level of risk but can also yield high rewards for those with enough persistence and dedication to make it a success. It also requires enough seed money to cover the startup costs.


here are many different reasons venture. It should include a detailed product people choose to become entredescription and an outline of your marketing preneurs, but financial gain is usustrategy based on extensive research of ally only a byproduct, not the initial economic trends. You will want to include motivation. Most people specifics about your idea, the enjoy the autonomy of becoming target market, an analysis of your their own boss and the freedom to competition, production costs, make professional decisions. New sales and advertising techniques, Don’t forget that business ventures can deliver an and an estimated budget of the failing is part of immense level of personal satiscapital required to cover startup the game. About faction and achievement, but you costs. 51 percent of new business fail need to have a feasible business Once you create a professional within five years plan and an innovative idea if you and viable business plan, you decide to go into business for yourwill need to secure the capital self. It is vital that you determine to finance you entrepreneurial the best sector to market your endeavor. If you do not have service or product and have a solid business access to large financial resources, you will plan to grow your business. You need to do need to pitch your idea to potential investors your research about economic trends to enor obtain a personal loan. When proposing sure there is a demand for your product and your idea, image and organization are cruservice in order to capture enough market cial to selling your idea. You should create share for the business to be sustainable. a professional keynote presentation that outlines the basic concepts of your business How to Become and Entrepreneur plan and financial earnings projections. Making the decision to start your own Once you obtain funding, the next step is to business is a crucial step on the road to put your plan into effect and begin the actual entrepreneurship, but there are a few key production, marketing and sales of your new elements you must consider during the product or service. startup phase. First and foremost, you need to have an innovative idea that has a Where to Find the Cash demonstrated market demand which you Obtaining the financial resources for any can sell to both investors and consumers. new business opportunity is the greatest The next step is the creation of your busichallenge for an entrepreneur. It requires ness plan which should provide a detailed a considerable amount of capital to make and realistic plan for every step of your new your business plan a reality. Several decades ago, the only option was to pay your dues through years of service within an industry and save enough money to personally cover the startup expenses. Today there are more options for ambitious entrepreneurs. A good advice is to understand where to look for funding. There are numerous Venture Capitalists (VCs) and Crowdfunding opportunities that are lining up to give new entrepreneurs and startup companies the necessary financial resources. It is important to remember that nothing is free and there are usually conditions associated with investors. You will also need to demonstrate that your business plan is both feasible and realistic with options to grow..

The other option available to entrepreneurs is to obtain a personal or professional loan from a bank. This can also be difficult since many banks write off many ideas or require that you put up collateral to obtain the loan. If you do not have a solid plan or fail, you could lose everything. There will also be challenges and rigorous tests you must pass to even qualify for the loan. They will scrupulously assess every aspect of your business plan and evaluate whether it will be profitable to invest in your idea. Entrepreneurship requires great personal risk since success is never completely assured, but the rewards for those who do succeed are definitely worth the risk. Before investing in your ideas, you need to ensure you have thoroughly research the market and the feasibility of your idea. You also want to make certain your business plan is perfect before you proceed to avoid any unnecessary complications down the road. Every new business venture is a gamble, even when it is well planned and executed.

Young entrepreneurs can bring a fresh perspective and may be more willing than established professionals to take a flyer on an idea



How Entrepreneurs Can Benefit by Using the Cloud to Run Their Business by Oriol Zertuche

The Cloud and Businesses

Have you ever heard a colleague for business professional discuss “the cloud” and not have a clue what they were talking about? Although the implementation of the idea and the company are relatively new, it is not difficult to understand.


There are several different business applications that facilitate taking advantage of the cloud. It allows you to check your emails from any computer in the world since they are stored on cloud servers. You can also collaborate with colleagues online by allowing them access to a document which everyone can view and edit simultaneously. You can also store an extensive amount of files online which will reduce the amount of paperwork you are required to track. Your files will only be a few clicks away as long as you have access to the internet. You can also create up-to-date notes for your employees from any computer or mobile device. The features of the cloud computing system have a great number of benefits that will make communication and business faster and easier. It provides broad network access through any internet capable device to ensure you can maintain contact anywhere in the world. It also utilizes resource pooling through multiple servers that are assigned or reassigned in accordance with consumer demand. The system also provides rapid act of the matter is that you elasticity meaning their capabilities can be have probably used the cloud automatically provisioned in certain circumon several occasions without stances which often appear unlimited to the actually realizing it. The cloud is customer. The cloud also performs on-deextremely user-friendly and will mand self-service with no human interaction revolutionize the way we all communicate saving you time and money. It is also a meaand share information. sured service which means resource usage can be monitored, controlled and tracked, What is the Cloud? creating an immense level of transparency The cloud is a network of servers which can for the provider and the consumer. perform a wide range of computing functions The greatest concerns for companies and that are available to a large number of comindividuals who utilize the cloud relates to seputers through real-time communication. It curity and privacy. The mere idea of trusting initially began as a means for “grid computanother company with sensitive ing” to solve multiple problems utilizThe features information and important data ing parallel networks and resources. of the cloud is extremely worrisome. The fact It allows convenient, on-demand computing that users can access the network accessibility to the network with a system have a from any location also creates a shared pool of resources including great number need for identity authentication networks, servers, applications, storof benefits that will make specific to each user. Other age, and other services. It facilitates communication concerns are more theoretical expedient solutions with minimal and business provider interaction or managerial such as intellectual property rights faster and easier intervention. which are still being debated


among several law firms, companies, and universities. Another potential concern stems from the use of autonomic computing which may eliminate many IT maintenance positions within companies that exclusively use the cloud. Many of these apprehensions are still being debated and addressed since the cloud is still adapting and evolving to market needs.

How to Set Up Your Business using the Cloud

If you own an Apple product, it is extremely simple to set up the iCloud on you mobile device, computer or TV. You can visit the company website and follow the step by step process to sign up. It will provide several options for storage space you need before you provide the payment information. The best part is that the network is flexible and allows for growth with the capacity for extension. You are only required to pay for storage you use and fees will increase incrementally depending upon the amount of data you save to the server. Although cloud is a relatively new technology, it is rapidly changing and adapting to meet the needs of all its users. It is making both communication and rate at which we do business much faster and more convenient. The cloud eliminates response time and miscommunication since all the information is relayed through the same server and it’s readily available to every user with access to the network. It is truly revolutionizing the way the world does business and making it a much smaller place. Now that you’ve understand what is the cloud and its implications, we will discuss some tools to get you started in the cloud. The truth is, you might have already been using the cloud before being aware of its existence.

Spreadsheets, Slide shows and Text Documents using Google Docs

The most widely used tool for sharing documents is Google Docs. Although they recently re branded their product as Google Drive, it offers the same feature of Office with the advantage that its a great tool for real-time collaboration. The

Cloud computing has proven a boon to businesses, for small business, it hits a particularly sweet spot.

basic version is free and gives you enough space to store all your files, but they also offer pricing options for businesses wanting to scale.

For project management consider Basecamp

The most successful endeavors are usually managed according to deadlines. With more and more resources and technology allowing for remote work, it is easy to loose track of your projects without a project management tool. There are many players trying to create the perfect project management tool, we think the best fit depends on your needs and budget. You can try using Basecamp, which some consider the best project management tool.

Accounting or Industry-specific tools

Accounting packages are usually implemented since new businesses start their operations, solutions include the widely used Quickbooks Online and other new players like Freshbooks. All Most of these products offer free and paid plans, and we suggest you do make an initial research to find out which would be best for running your business.

File sharing tools, consider Dropbox

The infrastructure and capacity offered by current technology providers has drop

prices to a mere fraction of what storing used to cost just two years ago. Thus, there are many companies that offer free plans for file sharing and storing. Our favorite is Dropbox, based on its safeness, reliability and ease of use. They also have a great customer support and highly affordable pricing plans.

For a simple task list, try Astrid

We understand projects and new business may not have all the processes to define strict time-lines, and actually sticking to these can be a disadvantage, making your business slower. That’s why we included a simple task management tool called Astrid. What better way of running a business than having a cute popup reminding you of your pending tasks. They offer an integration with Gmail and collaboration tools for employees and customers. A winner for starting businesses. As more and more businesses and applications join the cloud infrastructure we think it’s important everyone understands it. From the multimillion dollar corporations to the small business owner, business life in general is being both threatened and benefited by the cloud. Are you still waiting to jump in the cloud?


by Beth Ann Kaminkow


any famously successful innovation models are in the offing: Disruption, Diffusion, Open, Linear, Incremental, and so on. What makes any given innovation model effective has much to do with context and relevance. We are living in wildly exciting times for companies to innovate. Consumers most certainly expect it and many demand it. Some consumers want to be part of it; they feel there is reciprocity in the relationship that makes them cocreators, and the tools now exist to enable this. As it happens, much of my husband’s life work has been dedicated to innovation. Michael’s expertise specifically focuses on exploring the underlying costs and dynamics of how organizations invest in innovation to create new value. Among family, friends, colleagues and clients, Michael is notorious for responding, (when asked his advice), “That’s not the right question” or “What do you want the outcome 50

to be?” As annoying as these responses can be, they can be game changers. Often, our fatal flaw when embarking on innovation initiatives is to try to arrive at a great answer to a flawed question. If we do not frame our first question correctly, how can we expect the desired outcome? How often do we invest considerable time in an effort only to discover we would have benefitted greatly from spending a bit more energy rigorously thinking through the initial premise, hypothesis, framework, way-in, and guiding principles? In fact, asking the right initial question ensures we are beginning by clearly defining and articulating the expected result. In no area is this truer than innovation. The very nature and definition of innovation requires one to continuously explore new, improved methods, and to make changes to what’s been established. So, it makes sense that Michael’s new ebook (What Do You Want Your Customers to Become?, Michael Schrage, Harvard Business Review Press),

rethinks the most important question that should drive innovation. Michael calls this The Ask. When I first heard this, my brain did a backflip. It took a bit of mental gymnastics to think it through, and then stop and consider it in practice, in application. What flooded into mind were all of the existing innovations that validate this approach. This is not a book review or a veiled attempt to promote (Michael does just fine without my help). But I now find it hard to write about innovation without giving serious consideration to his design perspective. I also feel it is particularly relevant today. Putting consumers at the center of innovation has now become mainstream. Procter & Gamble led the way with its deep ethos of living with and shadowing consumers. Observing and understanding the behaviors, habits and daily routines that surround a brand is the best kind of research around. Beginning with the question, “who do you want your

Marketing customers to become?” goes even further. It takes you even deeper into a space most consumers can’t even articulate because it requires imagining something that doesn’t yet exist. Asking this question transforms strategic innovation insights. As the book states, “it provokes managers and entrepreneurs into reimagining, redefining, and redesigning their customers’ future. Whether you’re in professional services, business-tobusiness, or consumer products, such understanding fundamentally changes how to invest to create new value.” It’s hard to imagine any amount of research to replace what comes with that clear, intuitive sense of how people live and what they need as a result. This requires foresight. In a world of rapid change, marketers must develop the ability to see ahead. As good marketers, we are aware of a fundamental truth that many consumers won’t acknowledge: People change over time, often far more than they think, or know. Innovation triggers this. Technology (ubiquitous today) also conditions us to crave change, novelty — what’s new and improved — more frequently. Apple, of course, is a perfect example of this. Amazon too. As long as Apple keeps giving people stuff that they love (even before they know it is something they need or want), it will lead. But the company has also paved the way for next-generation competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy devices that are built to enable consumers to become better versions of themselves. “Doing things I never-before imagined doing” becomes a very potent currency. No longer is just the device genius but so, too, become the users. Apple may have given us device courage, but now others are giving us device empowerment. From the book: “Successful innovators don’t just ask customers and clients to do something different; they ask them to become someone different. Successful innovators ask users to embrace — or at least tolerate — new values, new skills, new behaviors, new vocabularies, new ideas, new expectations, and new aspirations. They transform their customers. Successful innovators reinvent their customers as well as their businesses. Their innovations make customers better and make better customers.” This is intoxicating stuff both for innovative companies as well as consumers. Essentially, the innovation becomes a transformative growth engine for the company and the consumer alike. As an athlete-hobbyist, I immediately jumped on the gadget craze of devices designed to measure and motivate

progress. A few to which I have paid particular attention are Nike Fuel Band, Jawbone One, and Fitbit. All three companies have every right to be playing in this space. Nike already “owns” it, so it’s a natural extension for them (not to detract from the first-rate technology experience).

marketplaces based on a vision for creating a type of consumer. Before Zara, Top Shop, H&M, etc., most people were accustomed to shopping by seasonality (even in regions that don’t have seasons). If you asked shoppers a decade ago if they needed — or even wanted — a clothes store where they could go weekly for the latest selection, they would likely think Jawbone is already known for its identity you were referring to returning to the store for extending, badge-like devices. Fitbit is a out-of-stock items. Today, a new generation fairly new startup and most likely at just the of shoppers has expanded expectations for beginning of its functionality and what is possible. How will mobile user experience. All three comdevices transform who clothes Successful innovators panies and products are most shoppers become tomorrow? know whom definitely on a mission to enable This doesn’t necessarily mean the they want their their customers to become better end of physical retail, but most customers to and more self-aware — to transform definitely the end of physical retail become. their customers through innovative as we know it. This also applies to products. Interestingly, in some innovative marketing techniques. recent customer reviews, the bracelet style — Take, for example, classic Converse sneakas an always-on wearable extension of one’s ers. Although there are now endless choices body — is garnering positive press. Why? in color, materials, and so forth, Because for users, it becomes a signal to the world that they are focused on fitness, Converse sneakers are still basically the monitoring their every move and recording it same as they’ve been since the early to chart their progress and motivate them1900s. However, through innovative selves into a better version of themselves. As marketing, they have communicated a lot the book puts it: “...value realization comes about whom they want their customers from how those innovations transform their to become. Because of this, they have customers’ perceptions, expectations, and remained relevant across a mass market performance. Innovation should be an investfor a long time and are continuously adding ment narrative explaining how customers new consumer segments. Through marketbecome more valuable.” Trendy, fast-fashion ing, Converse made it okay to finish off a retailers have also done a good business suit with their shoes. Many of their job of creating new loyal customers have become that guy! Innovation at the marketing, product and brand level is about creating and creativity. It’s about creating based on empathy for the consumer and foresight derived from thinking through whom you want your customer to become based on your own vision, capabilities and creativity. Create-the-future is a liberating call-to-action for any businessperson — especially in a world where innovation is not an option, or someone else’s job. Even further, those of us ready to embrace a customer we empower to become an innovator have a reciprocally virtuous cycle of co-creation ahead. BETH ANN KAMINKOW is president and chief executive officer of TracyLocke. A strong advocate of insights-inspired marketing programs, she is a pioneer in strategic-planning research methodolo- gies. Contact: bethann.kaminkow@ or (203) 857-7616. 51

Who Pays the Price for Lawsuit Abuse?


Our justice system is intended to make people whole, not rich. Unfortunately it is too often abused by those who view our legal system as a lottery where even dubious claims can lead to a huge payday. We all pay the price when our civil justice system is abused.

caught the attention of the American Tort Reform Association. The group bought rights to the CALA name and began building statewide and national support. In 1995 the Texas Legislature passed civil justice reforms, followed in 2002 by tort reform which addressed medical malpractice issues. Texas emerged as a national model for reform.

Fighting Lawsuit Abuse Matters

Lawsuit abuse affects us all by reducing access to health care, driving up the cost of consumer goods, and limiting job creation. Lawsuits can force doctors out of the exam room, leaving communities without the health care they need. We pay more for everyday products and services because of junk lawsuits. Employers look closely at a state’s legal climate when choosing a location to expand or relocate. When it comes to lawsuit abuse, we all pay – and we all lose.

Mission and History

CALA is a non-profit, grassroots coalition dedicated to educating the public about the - Lawsuit abuse costs jobs. Lawsuits and the threat of liability make it that much harder for employers to succeed and provide the jobs we need. We need more jobs, not more lawsuits. - Lawsuit abuse hurts patients. Patients pay the price as doctors leave the state or stop practicing because of the fear of lawsuits. - Lawsuit abuse costs families. Every lawsuit means higher liability costs that are passed along as higher prices on the goods and services we all need. When it comes to lawsuit abuse, we all pay – and we all lose. That is why we can’t give up this fight now! Bill Summers (1938-2009) considered CALA among the most important projects undertaken by the group now known as the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. During the 1980s, the Rio Grande Valley became a magnet for frivolous lawsuits that ended in windfall awards for plaintiffs. The expense of fighting spurious claims threatened to push some businesses into bankruptcy, while others were forced to close because of skyrocketing liability insurance premiums. In 1990, Sam Sparks told Alan Johnson, chairman of the Rio Grande Valley Chamber of Commerce, that the organization should do something to stop the barrage of lawsuits. The idea was presented to the Chamber’s executive committee, which immediately approved the idea as a chamber project. Bill Summers, Chamber President/CEO, suggested the name, Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse or CALA. Summers became the public face of CALA as the grassroots organization worked on its goals: to educate the public 52

about the costs to consumers of out-of-control litigation, and to advocate for tort reform, changing state laws to make the justice system more reasonable and less costly. “We wanted people to understand what lawsuit abuse means to…Mom-and-Pop businesses, to you and me as consumers,” Summer’s said. “All we’re talking about is putting back some common sense into our civil justice system.” Letters were mailed to every Valley business explaining CALA’s twoprong plan. Individuals and small businesses responded with contributions that ranged from $25 to $1,000 to further CALA’s goals. Through radio interviews, billboards, and bumper stickers, CALA told the story that, “When it comes to lawsuit abuse, we all pay - we all lose.” Unwarranted lawsuits resulted in lost jobs and lost businesses. The Valley medical community was hit hard by unwarranted lawsuits. In fact 86 percent of claims against Texas physicians resulted in no payment to the patient, however; the financial cost and impact to reputations were devastating. Doctors and hospitals gave enthusiastic financial and vocal support to CALA, which

cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse, challenging those who abuse our legal system, and returning common sense and fairness to our courts. Created by citizens concerned about junk lawsuits and the price we all pay for lawsuit abuse, CALA is supported by small business people, health care providers, consumers and taxpayers. Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) groups are located throughout the state. Launched in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley in 1990, the CALA movement has spread across the country. In the Lone Star State alone, more than 25,000 Texans support CALA chapters in East Texas, Central Texas, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley. Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse Rio Grande Valley Febe Zepeda, Executive Director P.O. Box 1499 Weslaco, Texas 78599-1499 Phone: (956) 968-3141 Fax: (956) 968-0210 Website:

The Women’s Business Center is your First Step to Success.

We are a non-profit organization offering prospective clients the guidance they need to achieve their dreams. Get the answers you need at the Women’s Business Center!

Financial Analysis Market Research

Loan Application Assistance

Mentoring Program

Business Workshops and Seminars

This Women’s Business Border Center is partially funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under cooperative agreement No. SBAHQ-12-W-0050. SBA’s funding is not an endorsement of any products, opinions, or services. All SBA funded programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for people with special needs will be made if request at least two weeks in advance by calling at 956.380.2800.

Southwest Community Investment Corp Women’s Business Center 2314 W University Dr. Ste 230 Edinburg, TX 78539 956.380.2800


Resource Partners Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB), Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center (ECC) is in the business of assisting entrepreneurs develop and expand their business through education. The ECC serves as a real life entrepreneurial laboratory for the University and the community where entrepreneurs inside and outside of the University can collaborate to take advantage of opportunities and create value. The ECC is has over 12 years of experience of providing business assisting suing its experienced staff, as well as UTB, UT System, and community resources. The ECC delivers it services through its Memberships, Professional Development, and Commercialization programs.

SBA The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. Now, the lower Rio Grande Valley district office in Harlingen, Texas is committed to fostering economic growth by providing assistance to the small businesses that are located in its area of operation. The SBA is determined to reach out to small businesses in unprecedented ways, to listen to their needs and to focus on customer outreach and quality management. Over the years, the SBA has developed many small business loan and assistance programs, special outreach efforts and initiatives to aid and inform small businesses. Their mission is to help Americans start, build and grow businesses.

Contact Information: Entrepreneurship and ​Commercialization Center Resaca Village 1601 Price Rd. Ste. E Brownsville, Texas 78520 Phone:956-882-4119 Fax:956-882-4122 Website:

Small Business Administration 2422 E Tyler Ave Suite E Harlingen, TX 78550 Phone: 956-427-8533 Fax: 956-427-8537 Region Website:



In 1994 with only three employees, “Accion” opened its’ first office in San Antonio, Texas. Now, they’ve been able to expand into eight states; enabling them to reach more and more people with each passing year. This organization has helped thousands of people achieve the financial stability and growth they so richly deserve as a result of their vision and hard work. Accion has made 13,700 loans totaling more than $147 million. Their mission is to provide credit and services to small businesses and entrepreneurs who do not have access to loans from commercial sources and to provide leadership and innovation to the micro lending industry. ACCION Texas 220 N. 10th Street McAllen, TX 78501 Email: Phone: 1-888- 215-2373 Region Website:


SCORE was formed by the Small Business Administration in 1964, known as Service Corps of Retired Executives. There are many chapters throughout the nation mentoring new and existing small business owners. The Valleys’ SCORE chapter was formed in the early 70’s and is staffed by volunteers with extensive business experience. By providing free and confidential mentoring, these mentors counsel their clients by phone or email and meet with them in the client’s place of business or in one of their offices. In 2010, the Valley Chapter mentors helped their clients through 166 face to face sessions and 656 email sessions. They also conducted a number of workshops with a total of 229 attendees. SCORE 2422 E. Tyler Ave., Suite E Harlingen, TX 78550 Phone: (956) 427-8623 Region Website: rio-grande-valley-score

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) SBDC is collaboration with the U.S. Small Business Administration, The University of Texas-Pan American, and public and private partners throughout deep South Texas. SBDC provides a wide array of management and technical assistance to business owners and entrepreneurs to strengthen business performance and sustainability. The SBDC offers free reasonably priced seminars, designed for new and existing small business owners and managers to acquire the information they need to make their business more successful. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) The University of Texas-Pan American 1407 E. Freddy Gonzalez Drive Edinburg, TX 78539 Phone: (956) 665-7535 Region Website: home/bdi_home/sbdc_home_2011

Texas Workforce Solutions Workforce Solutions, a not-for-profit corporation, is one of 28 local workforce development boards in the state. This Board serves Starr, Hidalgo and Willacy counties through a network of partners in the tri-county region. The primary goal of Workforce Solutions is to respond to the needs of employers, workers and job seekers, and provide the resources needed to succeed in an ever-changing world. Under the direction of the Texas Workforce Commission, and leadership of our Chief Elected Officials, the mayor of the most populated city in our service area, and Board of Directors, Workforce Solutions has served hundreds of thousands of Customers and Employers since 1999. Texas Workforce Solutions Phone: (877) 687-1121 Email: Website:


DIGITAL MARKETING for small businesses by Isaul Carballar

Don’t jump into marketing your business online just because you think the risks of not doing so exceed the costs of not doing anything. Clearly defining your business strategy first will naturally lead to a better marketing.

Marketing How the digital marketing landscape has changed in five years.

As the internet permeates our lives, with more and more of our every day devices connected to the internet as well, keeping up to date can be challenging, specially when entrepreneurs are already facing the challenges of running a business. Understanding this technological landscape is crucial if you want to stay relevant. The fact that almost everyone you know, (including your potential customers) is already connected to the internet somehow, makes having an online presence almost an obligation. Take for instance a recent survey by a leading digital marketing company. according to their results, five years ago 22% of companies were not using any type of online marketing tools. whereas today, that number has decreased to only 0.5% of companies still not using any marketing tool. The fact that some marketing tools did not actually existed five years ago is even more revealing. In the case of social networks, for example. nobody could have predicted the exponential growth that these online outlets have shown, yet, nowadays 87% of companies use some kind of social media marketing tool. Five years ago, only 10% of these would use them. Another tool that has shown exponential growth is online video. While back then only 6% of companies would use some kind of tool, now almost 40% of companies use a digital marketing tool.

The vast amount of marketing tools is as wide as the available channels. making sure you use the correct channel to market your business should be your number one priority as an entrepreneur.

their technical expertise. maybe even an aggressive online advertising campaign is working for them. All of these are valid marketing tools that can either work well separately or together. While I don’t necessarily think every small Looking at your competitors current plan business should start promoting their is a good starting point when figuring out services online, I do suggest thinking on what digital marketing channel is how eventually you will be using best for your business. digital marketing to promote your Perhaps they use video extensively. business. Digital marketing Perhaps they have a terrific product is merely an that sells through word of mouth. Simple Tips for Digital extension of Perhaps they use a combination of Marketing Success you and your blogs and article writing to showcase Traditionally, digital marketing is business seen as a high speed train with an unknown destination. While we do not know the destination or costs, we assume the risk of not jumping in exceeds the risks of not doing anything. Thus, we launch ourselves into digital marketing our products or services the same way we market ourselves online. Without having a clear strategy and goals, and using all the channels even if we do not necessarily know their proper use. Although in the long term you will most likely be engaging in several channels. You don’t need to spend valuable resources during initial steps to keep a “strong” online presence. Your goal should be to define and use only those channels that could actually give you results in the short-term. Another misconception regarding digital marketing is to think of it as a selling tool. There are many faces for digital marketing, and not all of them are actually about selling your products. The same rules that apply to


Starting a business nowadays is easier than before. Running a home-based international business is a viable option for almost anyone with a computer and internet access.

real life apply to the online world. Business as it is for the health of your business. people are not always selling or advertising It is usually the case in the business world their products. Sometimes they are making that entrepreneurs optimistically launch authentic connections, sharing expertise for themselves into new endeavours with ease. free, networking, or even having fun. Thinking of entry barriers as minor In fact, if any rule of thumb applies bumps, their inner self being the Don’t leave to digital marketing, is that it should business driver. Nowadays, it is also thinking be a reflection of you and your true that the tools to run a business about your business. The digital world can be are more affordable than ever bemarketing strategy cold, fragmented and fake. Digital fore. Thus, it can be tricky to think until after marketing should be warmer, consisthat starting a business is easy. starting your tent and authentic. On the contrary, it is also tricky to business. think that starting a business is Digital Marketing starts harder than it was before. Current with your Business Strategy technology makes running a homeBefore jumping into any conclusions based international business a viable option regarding digital marketing, an exercise to anyone with computer and internet access. on general business strategy would be the best approach to actually tailor your digital Truth be told, starting a business has not bemarketing efforts. It is a common misconcome easier nor harder. A business plan is as ception to think you can always think on needed today as it was in the past. Yet, if hisyour marketing strategy once you’ve started tory serves as a witness, entrepreneurs have your business. succeeded with and without business plans. Success has come thanks to their commitWhat is your current business strategy? Do ment and personal drive. Don’t think that any you have a specific target market in mind? tool will make you a better business person. Where are your customers located? Have Also, don’t think you can survive without them. you defined your goals and plans for the next it is your job as a businessman or business12 months? What about the next five years? woman to fully understand everything that Answering all these questions in a thoughtful impacts your business. What better moment to manner is as important for digital marketing start than now. Are you digital marketing yet?


by John Schulz Attorney at Law



Human Resources Congress needs to factor in the law of unintended consequences when it passes small-business legislation, with the understanding that people will respond differently to policy changes than policy makers intend.


ou’ve taken all you can. Whether it be a bad attitude, poor job performance, or just plain bringing too much personal baggage into the office space, sooner or later, you will have a problem employee. Sooner or later, you will have to terminate someone’s position. While it is common knowledge that Texas is an at will State, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can fire an employee for any reason whatsoever. So, before you take that step, take a deep breath and consider 5 things.

Federal Law Trumps State Law

Yes, Texas is an at will work state, which generally means that an employee can be fired at any time. But, remember that Federal laws still must be considered. Be watchful for claims against a protected class. In this day and age, it may be unlikely to fire someone over his or her race or gender. But, there are other classes that can pop up, such as a claim for a disability as being the basis for the termination, or that ageism (the employee was deemed too old or too young) could be in effect. Which leads into the second thing to consider.

in that employee’s file. Have a record of all business have any confidential customer the bad acts of the employee, this way, down information that this employee has access the road, if a claim is brought against you. to? Does this employee have a key? Now, this piece of advice does not mean that Does this employee know the code to the certain major grounds for termination can’t be alarm system, the computer, the company taken immediately. If the employee is caught safe? Does this employee have access stealing funds from the business, or to business information, such as assaulting someone at the office, a customer list, that you don’t or violating some significant ethical want your competitors to have? If provision for your business, then the answer is yes to any of those Sooner or action should be taken to secure the questions, make sure you have later, you business and/or the safety of those all business property on hand will have to involved. But, even if you have to at the time of the termination. If terminate someone’s terminate right then and there, make the employee has a laptop that position sure to document what happened belongs to the business, make and your reasoning, and have the sure it is at the office. Once the employee sign that for your records. employee is terminated, someone What if an employee refuses to sign? should watch him/her gather Bring someone else in as a witness of the his/her personal belongings and escort refusal, and then you and the witness sign, him/her out the door. After that, codes, noting that the employee refused to sign. passwords, and potentially even locks, should all be changed, to insure that the Apply Punishments Evenly employee doesn’t take anything with him/ There should be no favoritism in the office. her. And, if that employee was a signatory Yes, small businesses regularly employ famon anything, call the respective business/ ily members or friends to help out, but this institution and have the employee removed shouldn’t mean that these loved ones are as a signatory. above a reprimand. Business is business after all. More specifically, if a disgruntled ex Stay Calm employee comes back making some sort Don’t lose your temper. Stay professional. of discrimination claim, it will be harder to You are about to cause enough of a stir argue that point, if the same punishments by firing someone today. Remember that, are given out for the same/similar infractions if you are courteous and professional, it from other employees. will more likely cause the entire situation to go smoothly. This is not to say that you Are You Ready to Walk Him/Her should not be firm with the decision to fire Out of the Office someone, but merely to do so in a calm If an employee is to be fired, once you and respectful tone...even if you do feel tell them, you cannot expect any further like throttling them, because you’ve had it work from them. Consider this, does your up to here with their bull...stay calm.

Have You Documented the Problems with This Employee?

Yes, it’s an at will state. But the society as a whole is very litigious. Make sure to document the poor behavior of the Employee in advance. Have a system set up, so that you give written warnings to the employee at various stages of infractions. Make sure that the employee signs that they have received the warning, and then keep a copy of the warning, and the employee’s signed receipt, 61


Building An Online

Brand for Your Startup This e360 blog post is reprinted with permission from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Strategic words are out. Personal search is in. This week, the Kauffman Foundation held a seminar on “Online Branding for Startups” with help from Mark Traphagen of Virante, a SEO marketing firm out of Durham, N.C. I learned a number of things in the hours we discussed branding with entrepreneurs and Kauffman associates, but here are my top four takeaways. Authority Rules

Social media and interaction are great branding tools today, but they’ve also become very common. Everyone has access to them and is likely sharing, liking and linking just as much as you are. You have to stand out amongst the rest of the noise. How do you do this? As Mark told us, “people trust perceived authority”. People gravitate towards trusted sources and thought leaders in any given topic. This is why the books on Oprah’s book list receive such high sales number, or why Steve Blank has 79,000 Twitter followers. People trust those people who are authorities in a certain subject area, and therefore, are more likely to buy the products they suggest or follow the advice they provide. Establishing that you have some specialty knowledge in your topic can help you stand out from the white noise of bland retweets and iterations of others’ comments and quotes. Creating a rapport with your audience of trust shows them that you’re reliable,

and someone who’s advice is to be trusted. If they follow your tip, procedure, etc, things will be okay.

Dawning of the Dead: Google+ is Very Much Alive

Google+, remember that thing? It’s probably the social platform that usually falls to the bottom of your Update To-Do List. Well, start paying attention because it is very much a part of your online branding. Turns out personal Google+ profiles have page rank. Duh, it’s Google. Did we really think the king of search would create something that wasn’t integrated into their algorithms? Creating a personal page, or a community page on Google for your favorite topic or a brand page has an effect on your search rankings. Having a presence on Google+ allows Google to track more data on your content, as well as who and how many people are sharing it. Witness the

personalization of search. The bigger your network on Google+, the more they pump up your stuff. This is also where Google Authorship comes in. Linking your Google+ page to your created content allows Google Authorship to post your picture and byline in the search listing. It can also help you understand how your content appears in search with analytics around your authorship.

Panda and Penguin Rule

Google has a bit of a love affair with naming their algorithms after cuddly animals that start with the letter “P”. Panda, created in 2011, and Penguin, created in 2012, are the names of Google’s algorithms that sought to cut down on SEO ninjas. Panda aimed to lower the rank of low quality sites where content was thin or weak. Penguin then decreased the search rankings for sites that violated SEO techniques with keyword stuffing, link stuffing and duplicate content. People that were just throwing a bunch of keywords into their sites or code into the backend to increase search, were shown who’s boss with Google’s improved algorithms. What this mean, is that site with quality content are naturally becoming better ranked sites with Google’s increasing precision in their calculations. Still, for the SEO tricks that you are using in your sites, be aware of Google’s constantly changing algorithms and adjust accordingly. Or Google’s next “Puffin” (let’s say for fun sake) could mean defeat for your online presence.

Attention is the New Currency

Mark told us “you have an average of eight seconds to retain an audience,” and in reading this sentence you just lost half of that. Keywords themselves are not enough anymore. You need strong taglines that draw in an audience, and you need strong content to maintain their attention longer than it takes a bull to knock off a cowboy. Mark says this requires: 1) Authoritative content 2) Natural links (These are inbound links site owners didn’t create as part of their “link building” campaign.) 3) Active social engagement Create good content. Be earnest in sharing this content, and engaging with your audience. Ultimately, there is no single secret that makes you top dog in search (unless maybe you’re Larry Page’s best friend), but consistent content and insight in your specific topic can help your online branding. Mark reminded us through the day “it’s not the brand name or logo that ultimately draws people, it’s who the people, content creators and thought leaders are who hold authority that draw an audience.



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