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2/21/12 9:47 AM
SBT Houston Staff MAY 2012
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY Launched in March in a Big Way! I have launched a good many magazines titles in my 30+ years in advertising sales and publishing. My career started back in 1979 when I launched the Metro Houston Apartment Guide with Marshall Haas, the founder of Haas Publishing Company. We later launched Perfect Wedding Guides and Jacksonville Communities Guide. Around 1997, I assisted my friend Todd Stigall launch HOMES&LAND Magazine of North Houston and in April 2002, I launched REE Magazine for Sunshine Media. In 2010, I started my own company (with Partner John Cruise) Legacy Publishing Group, LLC which currently publishes Premier Agent Magazine and Profiles Magazine.
Contributing Writers Ron Consolino John Cruise Barbara Davis David T. Domzalski Cassadra Franceschini Erich Fruchtnicht Jeff Jones Bruce Hurta K.Pica Kahn Craig Klein Hank Moore Mike Muhney Erica A. Murray Monica Russo Rita Santamaria Jane Seaman Alvin Terry Pam Terry Aimee Woodall Aaron Young
But, never has a magazine (that I have associated with) launched in such a big way as this publication, Legacy Publishing Group’s SMALL BUSINESS TODAY. On Tuesday evening, March 20th, SMALL BUSINESS TODAY debuted with a “Champagne Launch” at the Marque Houston in City Centre with the magazine’s VIP’s and business leaders from Houston’s business community. Premier Issue clients were in attendance, the magazine’s Publisher’s Advisory Board Members, Editorial Advisory Board members, future cover honorees and other VIP guests were treated to wine, champagne, wonderful food, terrific networking and great entertainment. Farouk Shami of Farouk Systems, Inc (our Premier Issue cover honoree), creator of CHI hair care products, flat irons, etc. was on hand and was presented a cover poster after he shared his thoughts on wealth, success and happiness. The highlight of my evening was when Farouk (just before he departed), shared his compliments on the magazine and validated how needed the publication and its information is to future and current entrepreneurs. Many thanks to our hosts: Josh and Wayne of the Marque Houston for hosting the event. Also many thanks to our “helpers” at the event: Dawn Haynes/Fight or Flight, Eric Kleiman and Steven Magoon event photographers and Vanessa Vara (our graphic designer) for all of their support. It truly was a very, very special event in every way. Many guests wanted to know when the next launch is! Our cover honoree for May is Mr. Hank Moore. Hank, besides being a member of the magazines Publishers Advisory Board, is also our “Chief Advisor”. Hank has been a pleasure to work and it is no wonder that (as someone who has been a consultant, speaker and trainer all over the world), that he has friends and admirers everywhere! In a very short time, I have become a huge fan of his! You will enjoy his story. Well, it is time to let you get started with this very special issue of SMALL BUSINESS TODAY! Good Reading, Good Sales and Success to You Always, Steve Levine Executive Publisher
President John Cruise Executive Publisher Steve Levine Business Development/PR Anthony Norris Bill Huff Donna K. Rooney Alvin Terry Graphic Design Vanessa Vara Photographers Eric Kleiman
Chief Advisor Hank Moore Publisher’s Advisory Board Debra Bann Cyndi Barnett John Cruise Maya Durnovo Kathie Edwards David Holt Richard Huebner Jeffrey Jones Craig Klein H. Quincy Long Imaad Mahfooz Hank Moore Mike Muhney Dan Parsons Neil Polansky Susan Repka Monica Russo Rita Santamaria Allen Shapiro Pam Terry Jack Warkenthien Doug Winnie R.D. Yoder Aaron Young Phone: 832-460-2020 E-Mail: Steve.Levine@SBTMagazine.net Or Write: Small Business Today 5380 West 34th Street, Ste 230 Houston, TX 77092 See us on the web at www.SBTMagazine.net
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 3
THE BUSINESS OF REAL ESTATE
By Rita Santamaria
returned responses being accurate is the goal of the leader. In other words the leader must deliver clear, concise training to an individual prior to expecting that individual to perform well.
eadership: lead·er·ship (l d r-sh p) n. 1. The position or office of a leader: ascended to the leadership of the party. 2. Capacity or ability to lead others.
Manager: One who handles, controls, or directs, especially: a. one who directs a business or other enterprise. b. One who controls resources Good leadership is an essential for career and organizational success. To be a truly remarkable leader you must learn to apply your skills in such a way that all the planning you have done that got you in this position is applied seamlessly and without fan fare. Your skill is part what you have learned, practiced and improved on but the other half is self confidence to implement. Your success at the implementation is not about being lucky. It is about always using the skill set that you’ve learned.
A leader is moving forward always creating processes for ongoing goal achievements for herself and for the company.
Managers like leaders must be developed. Managers need to learn how to handle multiple tasks, deal with others effectively and manage their time. Learning how to persuade people is important since often changes are implemented by the company and the manager is often the one to deliver the news.
She must determine and design strategies for improving the organization. These might include changes. She would orchestrate the changes.
She must communicate effectively. Understanding the different personalities consisting of generally four types will help in understanding people.
Customers come first. You must continually reach out and touch the customer so the customer is loyal and always on your side. Your organization must be customer focused.
Personal values must be held high and untarnished for respect by your associates and customers.
Encourage creativity by others around you.
Create accountability within your team without creating competition within the team.
The leader must learn to delegate. Delegation with the expectations of
Motivating employees is a daily activity that is paramount to a successful office and lots of production. When production falters generally office spirit or the feeling of being positively motivated is missing. A manager is a leader. When in the position of being a leader and being respected it is always good to treat others in a respectful manner. Fear management does not work well. When people produce due to getting canned if they don’t produce, there is a lower Continued on page 18
Communicating with clarity is a talent.
CHAMPIONS SCHOOL OF REAL ESTATE
On a regular basis there are certain distinct activities that a leader must do. •
Often it is necessary to ask the question, do you understand what I am explaining? When delivering your ideas the manager needs to deliver the message only after practicing the delivery, expecting a challenge from someone in the office, and having a clear view of what she is trying to achieve.
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 4
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HOUSTON MAY 2012 EDITION
IN THIS ISSUE Leadership 4 Financing Your Business "Where's The Money?" 8
David A. McDougald
Eduardo Fernando Azcoitia - "The Maestro of Businesses, Transforming the World Into One Harmonious Symphany"
Futurist and Corporate Strategist Where the Worlds Top Companies Get Their Big Business Ideas
What Really is the Big Picture of Business 9
Real Estate Attorney “An Attorney Who Raises the Bar for Excellence”
Pin Your Consumers' Interest - Pinterest Captivates the Visual Audience 10 How to Talk to a Web Designer 101 (Part 2) 11 Your Next Step: A Business Plan Imperative for a Successful Growth Strategy 12 6 Mistakes Those Entrepreneurs Make When Starting a Business 14 Don't Focus on Just Building a Business, Focus on Building a Brand 16 It's a P2P World (Oh Yeah, B2B and B2C are Dead 18
Corey Deberardino and Daron Mendoza
Rochelle O. Barrow
First Texas Family of Home Builders
Mortgage Loans for Texas - Texas' #1 Flat Fee Lender
Romoco Properties "Marketing Her Homes Like She Markets Herself"
For Procrastinators: How to Overcome Presentation Preparation Paralysis 20 Starting Your LLC Off Right 22 How to Finance a Small Business Property With Only 10% Down 26 Oh Snap! Why You Need More Photos in Your Life 30 Small Businesses and the International Market 34 It's All in The Fit! 36 Standing Out in the New World: The Social Media World 40 Embrace Change to Keep Moving Forward 42
Fight or Flight Self Defense - There's More to Personal Safety Then Just Self-Defense
"Stepping Up to a Luxurious, New Lifestyle”
HOUSTON EDITION PUBLISHER: STEVE LEVINE SMALL BUSINESS MAGAZINE IS PUBLISHED MONTHLY BY LEGACY PUBLISHING GROUP, LLC. 5380 WEST 34TH ST. STE. 230 HOUSTON, TX 77092 EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER: STEVE LEVINE PRESIDENT: JOHN CRUISE PHONE: 832-460-2020 www.SBTMagazine.net ADVERTISING RATES ON REQUEST. BULK THIRD CLASS MAIL PAID IN TUCSON, AZ. POSTMASTER: PLEASE SEND NOTICES ON FORM 3579 TO 5380 WEST 34TH ST. STE. 230 HOUSTON, TX 77092 ALTHOUGH EVERY PRECAUTION IS TAKEN TO ENSURE ACCURACY OF PUBLISHED MATERIALS, SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR OPINIONS EXPRESSED OR FACTS SUPPLIED BY ITS AUTHORS. COPYRIGHT 2012, LEGACY PUBLISHING GROUP, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED.
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 5
ERIC KLEIMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
O By Barbara R. Davis
ver the span of 54 years, Hank Moore has been an International Business Guru, Corporate Strategist, and author of many books on success and business strategies, including â€œThe Business Tree.â€? With no plans to slow down any time soon, Hank is constantly in perpetual motion. He is a premier business speaker at national and international conferences. He is one of the few qualified to present at corporate retreats with the stature and experience to tell boards and CEOs how to change their strategies, policies, and methodologies. Last but not least, he is the inspiration for top companies in the world getting their big business ideas. In fact, Hank recently became the Chief Advisor for SBT Magazine because he is the epitome of what SBT is all about. Small Business Today Magazine selected Hank to be the May Cover Honoree because of his vast knowledge, wealth of experience, exuberance in everything he does, and sincerity in his desire to help others succeed.
marketplace. Let's look more honestly at the competition and what they're doing wrong. Let's think about how we failed because research tells us that we learn three times more from failure than from success.” Companies depend on Hank's advice for creating, implementing, and sustaining corporate growth in every level of an organization across all industries. He's introduced credit unions to the term of “under-served populations” which meant to them weaning Hispanic families from doing business with payday lenders. He was one of the first to recognize that it could be advantageous for companies that once were competitors to partner up on certain kinds of projects. Now, that's the number one trend in business for the future in how companies can create new growth. A perfect example is Kinko's and FedEx working together. One didn't acquire the other; they simply formed a joint venture. Other examples of collaborations: Star Enterprise (joint venture between Texaco and Aramco) and Equiva (joint venture between Texaco and Shell). Hank advised Houston Chief of Police, Lee Brown, on the neighborhood-oriented policing program. He advised LifeGift, which transformed an organ donor advocacy non-profit organization into a healthcare provider network. Many people refer to Hank as a “Futurist” because he was inducted into the World Future Society. Futurists will look more at recent trends as an indicator of what lies ahead and the challenges and then predict in the planning and strategy how to address these changes. The school of futurism that Hank is part of recognizes that one can't look at the future only as a technological event, nor only as a marketing event, and also not only as an academic study. One has to look at it across-the-board. Hank always says, “Look at the whole of the enterprise, then look at the pieces as they relate to the whole, and then back to the whole.” Author of many books including “The Business Tree,” Hank wrote another noteworthy business book called “The High Cost of Doing Nothing.” It takes the premise that American and global businesses are Hank Moore has written the largest original body of business work: five books and hundreds of articles. Currently, he has 50+ business articles, opinion pieces, blogs doing Band-Aid surgery six times more than they and quoted columns all over the internet. should have each year and one third of our nation's gross national product is spent every year cleaning up mistakes. This is often caused by leadership issues within their company. Later this Hank Moore is a Corporate Strategist which is a title he year, Hank's corporate ethics book will be released called, “The trademarked. “I'm the only one A strategist helps people Future Has Moved... And Left No Forwarding Address.” This book understand what they need rather than what is being peddled to talks about the future of business that has to do with planning and them by the garden-variety consultant.” Hank never advises with ethics. The point about ethics is that it should not be treated as a a cookie-cutter approach. He's been involved in probably writing standalone, nor should diversity, nor should total quality 500 strategic plans for clients everywhere from start-up management. These all need to be combined. companies to Fortune 500 corporations. A large percentage of what he does is working with company heads and giving them When Hank was 22, he was editing a magazine that was like TV some core ideas that they can agree with. It is with collaboration that the ideas then become their own. “One way to give them Guide and he got to know a lot of people in the industry. During that new ideas is to get them to go back and think about when they time, he met Michael Eisner, who eventually became chairman of the first began the business. If they can dust off the joy that made board at Disney. Recalled Hank, “He would call me up the phone them successful in the first place before they might have gotten and open up the conversation with I'm stumped. He needed an a little jaded by success, that's where some good ideas come objective person to talk strategy with and I was that person. That's from,” said Hank. what most business owners need. Small business owners generally will reach out and get mentors or advisers. Sadly, big corporate He continued, “I'm always getting them to look at others in their Continued on page 28
Financing Your Business: "Where's The Money?"
By Alvin E. Terry, MBA / Business Consultant, Dynamic Business Builders
ow that you have decided to take the leap of faith and make that “Great Idea”, a real business venture, what will it take to manifest it and make it into a reality? Money, Moolah, Dinero, Cash Dollar Bills, Cha Ching, The Benjamin’s The above comes in many other names depending on where you hail from. Having adequate amounts and sources of capital is paramount to the survival of any business. It’s like having an extra tank of oxygen available when you are experiencing “thin air”. This can usually lead to that syndrome of “I can’t breathe”, someone please help. I have been there and done that. That’s not a good feeling. You have to be realistic with yourself in your upfront preparations. If you don’t you will be one of those statistics of other small businesses that fail in the first three years of starting up. This can be avoided with proper cash flow planning, fiscal management and a good financial team. Understanding the everyday activities that you will encounter is very important and so is understanding cash flow cycles. Here is a partial list of questions that may arise at any given time. • Where can I get start-up capital, what is required to qualify? • What is the best way to finance my business? • Who can I trust without getting involved in a high-cost loan scenario? • How can I avoid people that will waste my time? • Are there non-traditional sources of funds that are available? • What if my credit is marginal? • What if I don’t have a history of sales, but I have many years of experience?
have collateral? • Etc…Etc…ETC… The list goes on and on, but for time sake, I know that you get the drift of where this can lead too. If you are a start-up or a new business with relevant experience, you might want to start with a Lender that specializes in funding businesses like yours. That Lender has to have lots of experience with specialized loan products, services and understanding of how to guide you through those special situations. I am going to recommend a couple of entities that fully understand and can help you achieve your goals. They are AccionTexas Inc., doing business in several States and Houston Business Development, Inc. if you are doing business in the City of Houston. Here are some examples of the types of loan products that they offer: AccionTexas, Inc. • Individual Business Loans Loans from $500.00 to $5,000.00 • Credit Start Loans Maximum Loan Amount of $500.00 to help establish credit • Pronto Loans Unsecured Loans from $500.00 $5,000.00 • Lines of Credit From $5,000.00 - $50,000.00 for Work ing Capital, Inventory and Seasonal Fluctuations • Loans to Immigrants with I-Tin Status • AccionTexas Loan Access Program Loans up to $50,000.00 to help Entre preneurs with limited or no collateral Contact info: www.acciontexas.org Shirley Brooks Vice President Operations East Region 888-215-2373 ext. 1501 email@example.com
The next best source for Houston based businesses is: Houston Business Development, Inc. Their “Fast Track” Loan Financing Workshop is highly recommended in order to be successful in this program. A “Fast Track” loan may be the answer for you. Here are some of the examples: • Micro-Loans $5,000.00 - $100,000.00 processing time 7 – 21 business days • Fast-Track Loans $5,000.00 - $25,000.00 processing time 1 – 3 business days • Small Business Loans $50,000.00 - $250,000.00 processing time 7 – 21 business days These loans can be used for Working Capital, Inventory, Equipment, Furniture & Fixtures, Machinery and Real Estate. As always, each type of loan has its own set of lending criteria that must be met. Contact info: www.hbdinc.org, Marlon D. Mitchell Executive Director 713-845-2400, Direct 713-845-2418 firstname.lastname@example.org These two entities are very customer friendly that will be delighted to guide you through the process with as little pain as possible. Once again, I sincerely hope that this information will give you some added value and momentum in your initial quest for funding and achieving your goals. May your business be a success. You can contact Alvin E.Terry, MBA Directly at 713-392-9107 or by email at email@example.com www.dynamicbusinessbuilders.biz
• Will I need collateral? What if I don’t SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 8
What Really Is The Big Picture of Business
BIG PICTURE OF BUSINESS
By Hank Moore / Corporate Strategist™
he biggest problem with business, in a onesentence capsule, is:
People exhibit misplaced priorities and impatience... seeking profit and power, possessing unrealistic views of purpose, and not fully willing to do the things necessary to sustain orderly growth and longterm success. What organizations and individuals started out to become and what we've evolved into being are decidedly different things. The path toward progress takes many turns, expected and unexpected. How we evolve reflects the teachings, experiences and instincts that are not part of formal education. Pressures continue and accelerate for companies to stay in operation, become competitive, keep ahead of the marketplace and perform quality work. Businesses of all sizes are besieged with opportunities, competing information sources and large amounts of uncertainty. Executives are not fully prepared to handle challenges of the moment, much less to begin developing Big Picture thinking. Seasoned executives face burnout daily. Much of the workforce is in transition, with unclear anchoring of where they've been and where they could head. Young and mid-level workers do not really know what it takes to succeed long-term and are, for the most part, impaired from optimum achievement. www.SBTMagazine.net
Failure to prepare for the future spells certain death for businesses and industries in which they function. The same analogies apply to personal lives. Greater business awareness and heightened self-awareness are compatible and part of a holistic journey of growth. The term Big Picture is often used but rarely applied correctly. If one believes vendors and niche consultants, the Big Picture is what their specialty is. It may be: human resources, organizational development, training, technology, sales, marketing, advertising, public relations, coaching or financial management. Few of those have actually written Strategic Plans and do not really comprehend what the Visioning process actually is. Thus, few in business know how to frame, craft and sustain a Big Picture of business. There are reasons: * Niche consultants say that their niche is The Big Picture, and the uninformed accept that. * Vested interests have a stake in keeping certain niche consultants in the driver’s seat. * Business school education is limited and behind the times. * Fear of change forces people to go to extreme lengths to defend their turf. * Spin doctors mine the fear and represent the vested interests of niche service providers.
* People in business are so overwhelmed that they do not know any better. * A great many people set up barriers to learning anything more than is what is on their radar. Businesses usually stop growing because they have failed to make investments for future company success. Rather than plan to grow and follow the plan, they rationalize organizational setbacks, excuse poor service or quality, and avoid change, all the while denying the need for change and avoiding any planning. Too often, they rely upon what worked for them in the past, on buzzwords, and on incomplete strategies. We’ve all seen businesses in which a paralysis creeps in, keeping them from doing anything at all. A growth plan or strategic plan is essential for any organization that intends to survive and thrive in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Companies need to heed messages from the marketplace telling them of changing market conditions, new global business imperatives, new partnering concepts, recognition of new stakeholders, and other changes outside of their influence that may profoundly affect them. Hank Moore/Corporate Strategist™ Phone: 713-668-0664 Website: http://www.hankmoore.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 9
Pin Your Consumers' Interest - Pinterest Captivates the Visual Audience
By Monica Russo
acebook, Twitter and YouTube have dominated the world of social media. However, it’s time to make way for a new, growing social media outlet that’s perfect for small businesses – Pinterest. Pinterest is the new, flashy way to share business logos, business products and the contributing content of other businesses and the like. Better Business Bureau offers business owners some tips to see if Pinterest is right for their business. Pinterest is an online bulletin board
that allows users to “pin” and organize images to specific categories of interest. When using it for business purposes, business owners can pin images of their business logos, business coupons and discounts, and other consumer-friendly images. Followers of that business can then like, comment or re-pin the image to their own boards, and continue on to the business site where the image originated. According to the retail deal site, ideeli. com, Pinterest has brought a 446 percent increase in web traffic to their business’ site.
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 10
With enough followers and images, your ‘pins’ are sure to go viral. Getting eyes on your product is the key to a successful business. What better way than to use an outlet devoted to enticing viewers through images? When setting up a Pinterest account, business owners should consider the following: Continued on page 26
How to Talk to a Web Designer 101 (Part 2) By Erich Fruchtnicht
n my last writing we discussed a few issues to consider when choosing your website designer. It is my intent in this article and the next to give you a few tools that you can use when talking with your chosen website designer to better communicate your vision. As a small business owner you are concerned with your bottomline and you want to ensure that you get maximum value for your dollar spent. However, purchasing a website is much like purchasing a car in that once you select your base model you then have to choose your features. As in car buying, features add to the functionality of the website and also the total cost. For now let's discuss the "base model." What I am calling the "base model" is the code language or software system on which your site is built. The biggest decision making factor here is whether or not you want someone within your organization to make website content edits (pictures, text, etc.) or if you would rather hire a webmaster to make them for you. Most small businesses are moving toward what are called content management system (CMS) based websites. A CMS is software that allows people with little or no code experience to make changes of varying degrees of complexity to content or other parts of the website. There are several reason for this
interest in CMS based websites, but reduced long-term maintenance costs, and availability of free plug-in applications are two of the biggest since they increase the value per dollar spent as mentioned above. With the ability to perform updates oneself, there is no need to have a website designer or webmaster on permanent payroll or even on regular retainer. It is still a good idea to have contact with your website designer in the event your website develops issues or needs upgrades. The CMS converts the difficult code into a simple user interface when viewed through the administrator backend. Usually, this interface resembles a familiar word processor such as Microsoft Word. Pictures, video, and audio can often be added to the pages directly through this interface making the process of updating content simple and user friendly. The large selection of cheap or free plug-in applications available to CMS users vastly multiplies the potential functionality and effectiveness of your website. Everything from social media plug-ins for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to contact forms that store potential clients' contact information are available, mostly free of charge, on most CMS software platforms. A huge benefit of the CMS software with regard to the plug-ins is the ease with which they can be integrated into a website. Generally, the download, install, and activation process are all automated
by the CMS software. It is then up to you, the user, to determine where and how to use the plug-in, which varies in difficulty depending on the CMS you are using. There are many CMS platforms to choose from, but most capable website designers will determine which one best suits your needs during the proposal process. In my business, I generally use either Wordpress or Joomla, but there are others that are just as capable and stable. Ultimately, the CMS your website designer recommends will be the one with which he or she is most capable and familiar. Hopefully, after my last column you will have found a website designer that you feel comfortable with and are confident will meet your needs. In the next installment, I am going to address some simple design concepts that will help your website "pop" and maximize the impact of your message. After all a website is part text and part graphics. Graphics is just another word for art, and if your art is pleasing to the eye visitors will remain on your site longer and you will have a greater chance of converting viewers into customers. Until next time! Erich H Fruchtnicht is President / Principle Designer at TGDesign, LLC w w w. t r i n i t y g r o u p d e s i g n . com or email him at erichf@ trinitygroupdesign.com
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 11
Your Next Step: A Business Plan Imperative for a Successful Growth Strategy By Jack Warkenthien
tarting or managing a small business is hard work. It takes time and a lot of personal commitment. It also takes a great deal of planning to overcome the odds that are heavily stacked against success. Over 80% of small firms fail within the first five years. What is it that makes a small business succeed or fail? There is no easy answer or guaranteed formula. However, most experts point to three major keys to creating a profitable, sustainable enterprise: • Effective leadership skills Access to cash for survival and expansion
4. Provides a pathway to obtain financing • A comprehensive plan is essential if outside funding sources are needed. It provides potential investors or creditors with the background information and financial projections they need in order to make a sound business decision. 5. Helps obtain customers and strategic alliances • A solid plan will reassure potential customers and partners that you have the capability to deliver on what you promise.
A well-thought-out business plan A good business plan is a dynamic document that captures vital information regarding your business - where it is now, where you envision taking it in the future and the activities you propose to get there. An effective plan does the following: 1. Establishes long term objectives and strategies • Nudges you away from the tactical day-to-day challenges in order to concentrate on the big picture. Encourages you to set specific and challenging objectives and determine creative ways to achieve them. 2. Provides an important management tool • Like a road map, a plan charts a route to your final destination and allows you to measure progress toward it. 3. Helps attract key employees
Everyone has competitors, and you have to know them and respect them in order to run a company effectively. Get their pricing and promotional materials, know how big and successful they are, and learn everything about their product or service.
• Prospective employees will be more likely to accept your offer if they understand and support your company goals.
If you already have a business plan, continue to refine it. If you don’t, plan to create one - this month! Now, it’s crunch time! You have 20 minutes to persuade a stranger to lend you money or invest in your business. It’s now or never; and your company’s future rides on the outcome. Is your business plan up to this kind of challenge? While business plans vary greatly in length and scope, winning plans share several ingredients. Here are eight characteristics of successful business plans: 1. Clear, Realistic Financial Projections Bank loan officers and investors often start and end their review of your plan, here. Detailed Market Research - Demonstrate that you know your customers and the problems you are solving for them. Know the size of your market and the trends. Detailed
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 12
Leadership, Leadership, Leadership You lead people and manage things. If you have holes in your leadership team, start lining up people to come on board and include mention of them in your plan. A Killer Summary - A great summary starts with a statement of what the company is seeking and continues with a clear description of the market, the company’s leadership, and proposed solutions. Keep it short -- two to three pages at most. Good Formatting And Clear Writing - The first requisite of a successful plan is that it be interesting to read, well written, and smooth-flowing. Write short paragraphs, and use bullet points whenever applicable. Keep The Plan Short - Fewer than 40 pages is a good goal. Long business plans are a turnoff. If it’s too long to look inviting for you to read, why would anyone else be interested? Design For The Bottom Line - If you are seeking investors, don’t just talk about the present-- project where the business is going. It’s also important to show that you have invested in the company. Don’t ask someone else for money if you haven’t put your own in first. Well, is your banker pulling out the checkbook? Back to the drawing board! Jack Warkenthien, CEO, NextStep Solutions. Email him at jwarkenthien@ nextstep-solutions.com or call him at 832344-6998 www.nextstep-solutions.com
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Gil Garza owner of G Ernest Desgin In a world of off-the-rack imitations, custom tailored garments by G. Ernest Designs are of such impeccable taste, others immediately recognize you as a leader. When you walk through the door of your office, your client’s office, your club, community or philanthropic organization you do so with confidence, knowing your apparel is just right.
For those desiring a “house call” to maximize their image with the finest quality clothing at the best prices, please contact the “master-of-style,” Gilbert Garza, by phone at
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Houston, TX 77024 www.GErnestDesigns.com SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012
| PG 13
6 Mistakes Those Entrepreneurs Make When Starting a Business By Jeffrey D. Jones, ASA, CBA, CBI
o you think that you are ready to start your own business, but are you really? Only about 2% of the adult population in the U.S. own a business. That means 98% of the adult population are what we call “closet entrepreneurs.” That’s people you dream about owning their own business, but don’t have the money and/or guts to do it. In the Houston Metro area there are approximately 60,000 new start-up businesses every year, according to the County Assume Name Records and the Texas Secretary of State records. Historically 50% of these businesses will fail in the first year and over 75% will be out of business before they reach their fifth year in business. The following issues are typical of why many start-up businesses fail. 1. Under capitalization - Many entrepreneurs under estimate how much money will be needed to launch a new business and make it successful. It almost always takes more money to get started than most people plan for. Leasehold improvements, lease deposits, furniture and fixtures, tools, and inventory are just some of the start up expenses. Then there is a need for working capital needed to carry the business until it reaches profitability. This can often take up to three years just to reach the breakeven point. Many potentially profitable businesses go out of business because they did not properly plan for the amount of working capital that would be needed. 2. Going it alone - It's difficult to build a scalable business if you're the only person involved. While some small service companies may require little capital to start, the cost of hiring even one employee can eat up a big chunk of your profits. Yet working 60 to 70 hours per week trying to make your business grow can quickly lead to burnout. There are only so many hours in a day that you can effectively work. If your business
is to grow, it will generally be done by hiring employees or subcontractors to do various aspects of the business. The solution is to make sure there's enough margin in your pricing to enable you to bring in other people. 3. Asking too many people for advice - It's always good to get input from experts, especially experienced entrepreneurs who've built and sold successful companies in your industry. But getting too many people's opinions can delay your decision so long that your company never gets out of the starting gate. Getting advice from friends and family who have never owned their own business can be detrimental to opening your own business. They are employees for a reason and do not have the entrepreneurial spirit. They are not risk takers and don’t understand those who are. Even well meaning attorneys and financial advisors can provide poor advice due to self serving reasons. An attorney once told me it is much safer to advise a client not to do something than it is to advise them to do something, because if the client does something like start or buy a business and fails, they will then blame the advisor rather than take the blame themselves. 4. Spending too much time on product development, not enough on sales While it's hard to build a great company without a great product, entrepreneurs who spend too much time tinkering may lose customers to a competitor with a stronger sales organization. If you don't keep one eye firmly focused on sales, you'll likely run out of money and energy before you can successfully get your product to market." 5. Targeting too small a market - It is fine to try to corner a niche market, but your company's growth will quickly hit a wall if the market you're targeting is too tiny. If you are striving to service a racial segment or a special hobby cliental for example, you may have to expend your
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 14
marketing efforts to cover a much larger area then you expect which will increase your marketing cost which in turn will affect your profitability. Pick a bigger market that gives you the chance to grab a slice of the pie even if your company remains a smaller player. 6. Not having a business plan - Not having a business plan is like not having a map when traveling into unknown areas. If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will get you there. Knowing where you are going is critical when staring a new business. The primary reason for a business plan is that it forces planning. Many people jump into a new business with a great idea, but they have done very little research to determine if the world is ready for this new concept. Research is the key. Proper planning will include doing a market study for the products and services you plan to offer. This includes talking to manufactures and distributors of the products you plan to sell, talking to competitors to learn the pitfall of the business, and obtaining information from industry trade associations that often gather and report market data on the industry they serve. In the event you need to raise either debt capital from a lender or equity capital from friends and family, a business plan will show you have put a lot of thought into what you are attempting to do and these sources of capital will be more likely to invest in your business. A business plan should be updated on a regular basis as you obtain more information about your business; however, be careful not to over think your business plan such that you never get around to opening your business. At a certain point, you have to close your eyes and take the leap of faith. Jeff is President of Certified Appraisers, Inc., You can contact him at 713-6803290, via fax 866-431-2319 or email jdj@ certifiedappraisers.com
By Woodie Stephenson
ortgage Bankers and business partners Corey Deberardino and Daron Mendoza have known each other for over 20 years and are proud to be working together to offer Realtors, builders and borrowers a new level of service in the Mortgage industry. Operating under mortgage banking powerhouse Mortgage Loans for Texas and serving all four Texas’ metropolitan areas, the bankers have multiple warehouse lines of credit that allows them to underwrite and fund over 99.9% of their loans in house while facilitating lightning-fast results and unparalleled turn-times and service. Mortgage Loans for Texas prides itself in offering no origination fee, having 24-48 underwriting turn-times and a promise to make your closing on time. “Unlike mortgage brokers, we personally handle our loans from application to funding,” says Corey. “We pride ourselves in excellence, integrity and making sure we provide the most efficient and timely service to our customers." Daron adds. “These guys did an outstanding job in processing a loan and getting it closed and funded in less than 10 days. I have been selling real estate for 20 years and they did an incredible job that most big name banks could never have done. I cannot thank them enough for their efficiency and turn-around times. I will be handing out their information to clients and prospects.” ----Paula Johnson, RE/MAX Heritage
Operating in an industry where time is of the essence and most lenders take the full 30 days given on a contract to close a loan, Corey and Daron average 14 days to finalize financing. “When you go to a big retail bank for a mortgage, they may send your application to a loan officer at another location which may slow down the process,” Corey says. “We review the application right away which allows us to be more efficient.” www.SBTMagazine.net
“The turn times are what our Realtors love and is just one reason why we are able to deliver more for their clients” Corey says. On top of that, by not charging the origination fee is what really separates Mortgage Loans for Texas from the competition. “Negating the origination makes it easier for the borrower to qualify, therefore; lowering the closing costs and limiting the seller contribution that a borrower may need for closing making for a smoother transaction,” Daron shares. As if they did not already offer their Realtor partners a plethora of advantages in service and value, they also utilize their state-of-the-art website to pre-approve clients for financing in fewer than 30 minutes. “We pride ourselves in being very efficient with our clients' time and in making the loan process almost effortless on their part.” Daron says. “Borrowers can easily apply on our website to begin the process and see how we separate ourselves from other lenders. After borrowers apply online, Corey and I get an immediate notification and we start the approval process to get them pre-approved in less than 30 minutes if they qualify.” To apply online, visit www.mortgageloansfortexas.com, or call their toll free number: (888) 520-1235 or (832) 319-6920. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com Mortgage Banker NMLS# 214363 Corey DeBerardino NMLS# 225651 Daron Mendoza NMLS# 225619
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 15
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Don't Focus on Just Building a Business, Focus on Building a Brand By David T. Domzalski
o matter how big your business is – it could be global or local – it is important to recognize that successful businesses work on building a brand rather than just growing the business. When people think of Apple or Coke, do they think of just the products these companies produce? Is it only about the iPad or soft drink? The answer is no. When customers think
of Apple, they think of excellence. They think of a company that excites them and makes their lives easier. With Coke, people think of summer time and having a cold soft drink at a ballgame with their family and friends. Similarly, local and regional companies can do the same thing. There is a company named George Leck & Son, Inc. where I reside
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SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 16
That is what brand building is all about. On top of that, it even touches on that all-important benchmark in the marketing realm: top-of-mind awareness. When you reach that level where a customer thinks of you first before everyone else in your industry, congratulations! You’ve built a successful brand and you probably receive a lot of business through referrals. So, how can you begin to build your brand? Here are some tips I use as I build my company’s brand: 1. Become an expert and/or source in your industry or niche. This may seem like common sense and it truly is. But, it must be pointed out because it is the foundation of building your brand – after you have a product or service people want to buy. Once you establish your business, you’re going to want to gain credibility by being a “go-to” person for media coverage when something important occurs in your industry. Seek out members
of the media who may need sources. Great ways to get that exposure are by using sites like RadioGuestList. com, HelpAReporter.com, and ReporterConnection.com. Also, you should attend networking events or ask to speak to a local group. These are great ways to set you apart from the crowd. 2. Customer Evangelists. The key to any successful brand is the customer. You must allow your customers to participate in building your business. This doesn’t just mean buying your product or service. This means engaging them through your company’s website, social media, or trade shows. When you involve the customer and make them feel like they’re apart of your company, they do a lot of marketing for you. This is where the all-mighty referral comes in to play that I mentioned before. Take care of your customers and make them feel like part of the family – and they will return the favor many
times over. 3. Become a thought leader and trend setter. If you develop your brand properly and methodically, you will have the chance to position yourself as the company people look to as a leader. If you’re a local venture, other businesses in your field may try to emulate what you do. You may end up being the benchmark by which other businesses in your industry measure themselves. If you’re lucky enough to have this happen to you, great. Make sure you embrace it with a touch of humility. Give back to your community and be the business everyone expects to set the trend. David T. Domzalski is the founder of Financial Bin, a media company focused on personal finance and entrepreneurial education for Generation Y. You can contact David through email or visit his website: FinancialBin.com and david@ financialbin.com
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 17
It's a P2P World (Oh Yeah, B2B and B2C are Dead) By Mike Muhney
o matter who you are or what you do, your life revolves around other people. Not only do our lives intersect with others, the professional and personal aspects of each one of our lives are becoming more and more blended. As a result, most of us need a shift of perspective in order to realize the full value of our orbital network. Always looking to enhance my own relationship paradigm, I appreciate it when someone else not only identifies this need but also articulates it in an even more elegant manner than I. Best of all a fresh perspective can help solidify the concepts I’ve been mulling over and cause an indelible impression from which I can draw upon to help others. Perhaps these thoughts existed all along, but creating a “positioning” statement based on these concepts has never been easy. I had the pleasure of watching a video interview of Mari Smith discussing her new book, The New Relationship Marketing. She stated that we should no longer look at the world as Business-2-Business, or even
Business-2-Consumer. Rather, she said, we live in a People-2-People world.
deepening personal relationships. One-tomany is only a starting point. It isn’t the goal.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll relate to my reaction to a conclusion so evident, so obvious…so common “sensical.” I shook my head and thought, Duh! Of course!
Start discounting the importance of the quality and effectiveness of your relationships and all the money, time, and energy that goes into building and maintaining a reputation, brand, or image might well be destroyed before you realize the extent of the damage. As they say, we do not really know the true value of water until the well is dry.
Why P2P Is So Essential, and Profound Whether you’re a small, local merchant providing dry cleaning services, for instance, or a major market presence with a household name, success comes down to relationships. For some of you, this will conjure up images of sales people pursuing leads to close deals. If that’s where your thinking stops, you couldn’t be more incorrect. In today’s world of hyper-connectedness, we must be all the more diligent to build and nurture the network of relationships necessary to succeed in a very competitive marketplace. Whatever you do, however you do it, you must be relationship-centric. The rise in popularity of social networking doesn’t exonerate and of us from the necessity of developing, maintaining, and
Over the course of the next few articles we will take a further look into the elements of achieving connectedness with others. It reaches far beyond what you might mistakenly assume you do not need. When it comes to relationships, especially those that make or break your business-driven results, be aware that if your relationships are “almost right” they can turn out to be very wrong. Mike Muhney is the Co-Founder & CoInventor of ACT!, and currently is CEO & Co-Founder of VIPorbit Software, He can be reached at Mike@viporbit.com, or visit www. viporbit.com
THE BUSINESS OF REAL ESTATE Continued from page 4 sense of esteem in the office environment. Being respectful means not embarrassing anyone publicly. All negativity is behind closed doors. Praise publically is always a great idea. A leader has time for others. Simply asking about the other person’s family, health, and children gives the positive indication that the leader is a caring person. Be sincere. Remember others special events like birthdays, their date of hire. Verbalize their importance to the organization. A leader volunteers for leadership positions.
When there are opportunities to “dig in and work with others” it is always good to lead by example. A leader has learned to not let insecurities come out in either words or behaviors. A leader is always in control. A leader is neither flip, sarcastic, caustic, nor abrasive. A leader makes other people want to be with them for mentoring and to feel more secure about what they are doing by simply being in the leader’s presence. Giving credit where credit is deserved separates the egotistical leader from the
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 18
leader people admire. There is very little admiration for someone who takes credit for the talent and contribution of team members. Leader or manager: these apply to all who desire a well run company where every person feels they have a part in its success. Rita Santamaria is the owner of Champions School of Real Estate. For more information on career in real estate, visit them on the web at www.ChampionsSchool.com
Dawn Haynes -
Fight or Flight Self Defense There’s more to personal safety than “self defense.”
By Barbara R. Davis
hen Dawn Haynes first began studying martial arts, she had no idea that it would lead to a career empowering people. As a Realtor® and New Home Sales Counselor who had been accosted on her job, she simply wanted to learn to protect herself. Five months later, when she was accosted a second time, she successfully averted that attack with the confidence that came from knowing that she was prepared. At that point, she did some deep soul-searching about what was really important to her. She had an epiphany that not only did she want to take control of her life and her fears, she also wanted to empower others with the knowledge that she would gain in doing so. She discovered that there’s more to personal safety than “self defense.” As a result, Dawn developed Fight or Flight Self Defense, a valuable training program that addresses a frightening topic yet makes it personable and relatable to every participant. Ms. Haynes regularly works with company wellness programs to provide “Lunch and Learns” throughout the business, educational, and non-profit communities. Fight or Flight Self Defense training is a great tool for risk reduction/risk management by equipping employees with the tools for a safer work environment. Some companies offer the training (workshops and/or seminars) for their employees who often work late or after dark, giving them an added measure of safety and security. It is also an excellent vehicle for team building. "Dawn seemed very knowledgeable, made the seminar interesting, and held my attention. I especially liked the techniques presented and definitely feel confident in my ability to apply them. It was excellent." ----Bellaire Chiropractor, Tom Superville Having dealt with her own challenges with limited time and a steep learning curve, Dawn knew there had to be another way. Dawn is a Certified FAST (Fear Adrenal Stress Training) instructor. As the acronym implies, FAST dramatically reduces both the time
and learning curve traditionally associated with learning to protect oneself. FAST has been featured on The History Channel, Spike TV’s “Practical Tactical—Don’t Be a Victim” Series, in Black Belt Magazine, and was the 2006 recipient of the Black Belt Magazine Industry Award for Best Womens' Program. Fight or Flight Self Defense is the only authorized FAST training provider in the state of Texas. Dawn is someone who thrives on helping others in all that she does. She always “steps up to the plate” when called upon to volunteer for different non-profit organizations. One of the ways she gives back is by providing free self defense seminars to men and women in recovery and in transition at the Star of Hope Transitional Living Center throughout the year. Ms. Haynes provides a variety of customized training solutions ranging from topic-specific workshops to full-contact seminars to meet the specific needs of each client. The primary focus of most self defense programs is on specific techniques but Fight or Flight Self Defense training includes the added components of self awareness, non-violent conflict resolution, and how to effectively turn fear into power. For Haynes, safety is a critical component in developing the “whole person.” She uses her training as a springboard for honing the skills a person can use to be more successful not only professionally but in every area of life. By presenting these skills within the context of a self defense seminar, Dawn believes that people have the opportunity to confront one of their biggest fears and successfully overcome it, freeing them to more confidently face other challenges in their lives. Says Ms. Haynes, “It’s like a fire-walk without the fire!” To learn how Fight or Flight Self Defense can empower you or your office, please contact Dawn by Phone at (713) 370-1932 or by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 visit her on the Web at www.713protect.com
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For Procrastinators: How to Overcome Presentation Preparation Paralysis
By Pam Terry
ave you ever been faced with preparing for a presentation and you didn’t know where to begin? Or, you start and stop so many times that you just decide to quit and work on it later and find that you never go back – then the evening before, you are frantically trying to put together a presentation that ends up being mediocre at best? You can stop spinning your wheels when developing a presentation by following this simple 5 step system that will help you prepare
any type of presentation. The more you prepare and practice, the more confident and compelling you will become. Here are 5 easy, simple steps for developing any presentation: Step 1 – Find Out About Your Audience It’s vitally important to know what your audience is expecting and wanting. Ask your meeting coordinator or call a couple of audience members directly. If it’s
your seminar, include a question in the registration asking what they would most like to gain from your talk. The information you receive will be the freshest and most relevant research you could possibly do. Bottom line is the first thing you need to do when preparing a presentation is to find out what you audience wants to hear. Step 2 – Create Your Objectives What are the objectives of your talk? Always create your objectives – this is your second step and closely aligns with
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www.pamterry.com SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 20
Step 1. Write down all of your objectives. If you want to get business from your presentation – be really clear about what you specifically want the outcome to be. How will you get business? Will you provide a way for people to sign up for a free consultation with you at the end? Are you going to be selling your book, CD’s, etc.? Do you want them to sign up for your mailing list? Do you want to get testimonials for your marketing efforts? Besides getting business from your presentation, what do you want the audience to get from your presentation? Write that down too. In other words, what will the audience leave with? Then deliver that in your talk. Step 3 – Create Three Main Points for Your Talk By selecting only three main points, you will stay focused and be on time. If you aren’t sure what your 3 main points should be, make a list of all your points and then start categorizing them. Pretty soon, your 3 main points will emerge. Three main points is about the limit of what
people can process in a presentation. You can either have sub points for each main point or you can have one or more main points be an entire story to drive a point home. See Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement speech at Stanford as a great example of 3 stories as main points. Step 4 – Create an Attention Grabbing Introduction Now you are ready to create your introduction. Acknowledge your audience by thanking them for being there. To engage them, either ask a question or make a bold statement. A great technique: ask the audience what they would like to know about the topic you are presenting – then write down their feedback on a flip chart – validate it – letting them know these are great points and that you will be covering all of these in your talk (then be sure to cover them). This technique connects and engages the audience. Share your objectives with your audience – including any offers you will be making at the end. Step 5 – Create a Compelling Close
For your close, ask people what value they received – this helps people to think about what value they did receive. When they share it out loud, it affirms the value and also creates value for others. If you have an offer, let people know about it now. A great offer to provide is free coaching or consulting and to have a simple form for people to check off if they want to be contacted to set up a 15 minute call. This helps you to identify who really wants help in your area of expertise and can lead to more business and a satisfied new customer. One of the best ways to create a compelling presentation is to be focused, provide lots of value and to end on time! You can accomplish all of these by preparing and then practicing as much as possible. Good luck and remember: Speak Up to Stand Out and Connect. Find more tips on public speaking at www.pamterry.com/blog.html. Pam Terry is a Speaker Coach and Trainer in Houston, Texas and can be contacted at email@example.com or 832-276-4153.
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www.GatewayCredit.net www.GatewayCredit.net SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 21
Starting Your LLC Off Right
MENTORING & EXECUTIVE DEVELOPMENT
By Aaron Young
orming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) for your small business can be a very simple process, but donâ€™t forget to consider a few important things before you do so. Make sure to outline: who are the members going to be, what will you accept as consideration for buying interest in the LLC, and how will the LLC be managed? Before forming an LLC be sure to account for the business laws in the
state in which you wish to operate. Research these laws before you make a crucial error, or contact a professional to secure a solid foundation for your LLC.
altering the name slightly will make it available. Also, when you designate a name be sure to include LLC or LTD at the end of it.
When choosing a company name most Secretary of State websites allow you to research if the name you want is available. No one else in the state can already have the name that you want. If your name is taken sometimes just
LLCs are made up of members who act in a similar capacity to shareholders in a Corporation. Anybody can be a member of an LLC and there can be one member or multiple members, itâ€™s really up to you. Members buy interest in the LLC with
Discover how you canâ€Ś Ward off potential lawsuits Dramatically slash your taxes Greatly reduce your chances of an IRS audit Gain a more credible business image Protect your assets and family for the future Since 1972 weâ€™ve made it our business to make sure you get the most out of your small business. Reap the rewards. Savor your privileges. Join the ranks with the mega successful. Start now with a complimentary consultation from a Laughlin Associates business advisor today.
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 22
cash, property, services, or the promise of payment. In exchange, the members receive ownership interest. There can be different designations of members based upon active decision makers or passive investors. If the LLC is managed by its members then it is considered “member managed.” If the LLC chooses to hire an outside manager or designates the position to a member, then it’s considered “manager managed.” How the LLC is managed usually depends on the long term outlook for the company. If you’re planning to only allow a few people to participate in the LLC and you’re all on the same page, then you might want to elect “member managed.” If you operate multiple ventures out of one company with active and passive investors then you might be better off hiring a professional manager or electing an active member to be the manager to avoid any unnecessary conflict. Articles of Organization The Articles of Organization is a form you file with the state of the LLC’s formation. The Articles of Organization contains the names of the members and/or manager, the business address, and who the resident agent will be. The resident agent is the location where any legal documents for the LLC can be delivered. In most states you can be your own resident agent or you can hire a service for this (recommended). Operating Agreement One of the first things you need to develop after you file your Articles of Organization is the Operating Agreement. Although Operating Agreements are not required by all states, it’s important to create a working document that fits the needs of the LLC. The Operating Agreement outlines the inner workings of the LLC including: ownership, management, distributions, and who has voting rights.
any profits/losses will flow through to you personally. You can also be taxed as a Corporation, making the LLC its own taxable entity, and you’ll pay taxes on dividends and/or salary received from the LLC. Summary The steps you take to establish the foundation of your company is very important and should be carefully thought out for the present and future goals of the company. It’s vital that you consider where you see the company in 5,
10, or 20 years from now. Some people jump into forming a business entity without realizing that there is more involved than just filing a form and putting a sign up. You are forming the entity for the additional liability protection the LLC provides, so take the time to do it right. Aaron Young, CEO, Laughlin Associates, Inc.firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-648-0966 www.laughlinusa.com
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Federal Tax Classification One of the great flexibilities of an LLC is the ability to select how you want the entity to be taxed. If you are a single member LLC, the IRS will automatically tax you as a partnership, which means
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 23
EDUARDO FERNANDO AZCOITIA –
“THE MAESTRO OF BUSINESSES, TRANSFORMING THE WORLD INTO ONE HARMONIOUS SYMPHONY” By Barbara R. Davis
he methodology of running a successful business has evolved greatly since the information revolution began. Since that time, businesses mired in “old school” ways are closing as a result of change and innovative entrepreneurs whose ideas have not only improved on how our society does things but have come up with completely new ways to do them, thereby creating new industries. Eduardo Fernando Azcoitia, is a “Maestro” and inspirational leader in the way businesses are conducted. His ability to “think out of the box” and the style in which he leads is an art-form as he shows businesses how to orchestrate everything into one harmonious masterpiece. In his desire to help others free themselves from the mire of our sagging economic times, Eduardo is coming to Houston to share his creative ideas and business acumen with those who are desperately lookingfor a new plan of action on how to transform and conduct their own business. Born in Mexico, Eduardo immigrated to the United States with his mother when he was in his twenties. He attended school and obtained an engineering degree in Management of Information Systems. From that career, he was involved in different things including consulting and detailing processes for different organizations. One of the processes he got to work on for the longest time dealt with technologies to improve the areas of marketing and sales, one of the most basic and important needs of any corporation. “Sales systems and sales processes are encompassed by the marketing aspect which is a vital component in every corporation. One of the most important aspects of marketing is communication and communication is about content,” explains Eduardo. In the
past, his company was hired to develop several publications. Over the years, he became quite experienced in that field and decided to become a publisher himself. That's how his path led him into managing content and communications which evolved into the creation of his publication, CityHarmony® that provides information in business transformation. Almost two years ago, Eduardo launched his impeccablydesigned, exquisite magazine and began its distribution in the Rio Grande Valley with the dream of expansion throughout the state of Texas. He has been so successful with his avant-garde creation that he is now launching it here in Houston this month. It is a work of art in itself and will most certainly be a valuable addition to the sophistication of the city. Eduardo named his publication CityHarmony® as a reflection of what comes together in an opera production... musicians, composers, the orchestra; the singers, actors, dancers, the set, the story...all united in complete harmony in one performance. In the same manner, the magazine focuses on the harmony and relationship between the Arts, society, and businesses within the city. CityHarmony® is a magazine that promotes harmonious city living. “We love, encourage, and support creativity, innovation, and artistic performance. City Harmony chronicles and celebrates the
“Alot of times, an entrepreneur does not have the scientific or expert knowledge for business and many companies are created like that, without a spec- ific or detailed business plan, relying mainly on intuition. It seems to me that entrepreneurs are somehow artists who get inspiration to satisfy a need in the marketplace.” ----Eduardo Fernando Azcoitia CityHarmony® Magazine
Eduardo Fernando Azcoitia – CityHarmony® Magazine
well such as Steve Jobs. Look how he transformed several industries and people were able to find their souls in his visions,” reflected Eduardo.
CityHarmony® Magazine Team achievements of artists who lift the human spirit with their imaginative genius and members of our business community whose contributions and ingenuity make our lives better,” states Eduardo. Having consulted with multiple businesses, Eduardo often says, “Business is Art.” He elaborated, “There's a debate about the art of business and the science of business because we want to focus on proven technologies and methodologies to produce an outcome. That comes from the Aristotelian proposition that every cause produces certain effects so if one concentrates on certain causes, the effects are going to be inevitable. That's the premise of our methodology, or as we call it, ”The Science of Business Transformation;” to do certain things that produce the desired effect. A lot of times, an entrepreneur does not have the scientific or expert knowledge for business and many companies are created like that, without a specific or detailed business plan, relying mainly on intuition. It seems to me that entrepreneurs are somehow artists who get inspiration to satisfy a need in the marketplace. They intuitively feel what is needed before others can see it. In that regards, they are very much like an artist. An artist receives inspiration and projects a trend
in fashion, or in architecture or technology, etc. and those factors are what we call the artistic part of business.” Eduardo is fortunate to be gifted in the “Art of Singing.” He laments that in infancy he was not able to develop skills in playing musical instruments but he more than compensated for it in his ability to sing. “It was almost a magical coincidence,” recalled Eduardo. He actually was working for the Opera handling their marketing. Later, he served on their Board as Vice-President of Marketing because of his background. One day, the Maestro asked him if he wanted to sing. Eduardo replied, “Yes!” So the Maestro auditioned him and validated for him that indeed he could sing. A dedicated and serious-minded worker in all he does, Eduardo started taking vocal lessons, learning technique, and doing vocal exercises every day. After several years of training, he finally got to perform on the stage in several roles in different operas including “La Traviata, Tosca, La Bohème, and Rigoletto.” “It has been very edifying for me and in the same way I feel that the Arts edify our cities,” expressed Eduardo.
Eduardo once read a quote by Stephen Covey that said, “Successful people are very obedient to the natural laws.” Eduardo summarized, “I try to work as closely in harmony with those laws. I think the closer I am to being in tune, that the more successful I can become. The moment that we are in tune with the universal laws, we get harmony.” Eduardo's overall vision as a businessman and an artist is to transform his audience and to impact them for the good. He explained, “My goal is to build other companies throughout the United States and thereby create jobs and help the economy and also inspire and help other entrepreneurs so that they can bring harmony to their city.” Currently, Eduardo's next goal is to resonate in harmony with Houston, a task he is most qualified to handle. He elaborated, “I wish to bring harmony to the city of Houston by promoting harmonious city living and successful businesses, also by inspiring the Arts and noble aspects of society.” On Eduardo's business cards, his title is “Business Transformation Director” but he really should change it to the “Maestro of Businesses” as he is conducting, transforming, and synchronizing businesses into one harmonious symphony throughout the city and eventually will change the world for the good of everyone.
“The power of the creative spirit is to envision and implement something that never before existed; that is what an entrepreneur does. A piece of art can transcend our time and a great artist is one who finds our souls. Similarly, great entrepreneurs can do that as well.” ----Eduardo Fernando Azcoitia CityHarmony® Magazine
“It seems to me that the mission of mankind has always been to improve or to advance our previous generation. We have the spirit of creating. I believe that the Lord gave us the ability to create and not just procreate. Whereas animals can only make more animals, we as human beings have the power to create, advance our society, and beautify our environment. The power of the creative spirit is to envision and implement something that never before existed, or make something existing better; that is what an entrepreneur does. A piece of art can transcend our time and a great artist is one who finds our souls. Eduardo Performing in Verdi's La Traviata Similarly, great entrepreneurs can do that as
For more information on transforming your business into a harmonious symphony, you can reach Eduardo by phone at 956.534.3434, by Email at email@example.com, or visit CityHarmony® on the web at www.cityharmony.com.
How to Finance a Small Business Property With Only 10% Down By Bruce Hurta
elieve it or not, a small business owner can sometimes obtain financing from Members Choice Credit Union (MCCU) to buy a small business property with only 10% of the project cost as a down payment! This kind of leverage is accomplished with a SBA 7(a) loan which is partially government guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. MCCU is an SBA Preferred Lender, and that designation gives MCCU the authority to qualify a small business borrower in-house without relying upon a second round of credit approval from the SBA. In this economic environment, where conventional bank financing may require 30% down to finance a small business property, how does MCCU use the SBA program to qualify borrowers with only 10% down?
There are three different ways to achieve this: 1. If the loan applicant small business has a stable, consistent cash flow which is sufficient to make the payments on a 90% loan, they may qualify. MCCU will evaluate the business’ historical and projected cash flow, the owners’ and business’ credit history, the management experience and credentials of the owners, and the balance sheet equity of the business to assess the adequacy of the proposed collateral for the loan. If the business or its owners have other assets, such as investment real estate or marketable securities, they may pledge additional collateral for the loan to help qualify for financing up to 90% of the project cost. If the seller carries a second lien note,
and agrees to stand by on payments until the SBA loan is repaid first, this may be another method to enhance the small business borrower’s minimum 10% cash down payment to qualify for financing to purchase the property. New startup businesses and special purpose properties generally require more than a 10% cash injection from the borrower. An SBA loan is not the cheapest form of borrowing for a small business; however, its pricing is reasonable, and the small business can achieve the lowest down payment and longest repayment terms for financing its small business real estate. For more information, please contact: Bruce Hurta is Business Lending Manager with Members Choice Credit Union. You can reach him at 281-7541112 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
TECHNOLOGY TIPS Continued from page 10
Pinterest is a great way to spread the news and drive sales. Is your business having a can’t-be-beat sale on back-toschool items, shirts and shoes, flashy watches? Is your restaurant serving a new, delicious item on the menu tonight? Without getting too promotional, Pinterest can make these images catchy and fun. Pinterest is perfect for those who like to share. Nobody likes a self-absorbed,
over-sharer, but on Pinterest your business can not only share the images that pertain to your business, but the images of other users as a way of saying “Hey, I find this funny and it relates to our mission, too. Check this out!” Is Pinterest right for your business? Since Pinterest doesn’t technically have any “business” features on their site yet, and their boards are more visually
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based, it may be hard to lure in potential customers, but it may be worth a shot. Social media is a growing attraction to all demographics and if your business wants to keep up with the times, BBB recommends trying new social media outlets to enhance your brand visibility. For more business news you can trust, visit www.bbbhouston.org or give us a call at 713-868-9500
David A. McDougald, Real Estate Attorney “An Attorney who Raises the Bar for Excellence”
By Barbara R. Davis FOR OVER 24 YEARS, DAVID MCDOUGALD HAS DEALT WITH ALL ASPECTS OF THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS IN THE GREATER HOUSTON AREA AND IS KNOWN FOR HIS EXCELLENCE IN FINDING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS TO COMPLEX PROBLEMS.
As a result of his strong desire to help people and efficiently provide the highest quality of service, David receives the majority of his business from referrals. It makes him feel good to think that his integrity and diligence might help his clients regain confidence in the legal profession which often seems to have a bad reputation. Priding himself in excellence, he doesn't want to take on something unless he knows he can do it very well. “If I do something, I want to do it better than anyone else. If I believe there is a better attorney for a particular deal or problem, I am not going to string a person along. No attorney can guarantee results, but if someone is my client, I promise that I will work hard and focus all my knowledge and experience on their issues.” Herb Jamison, a licensed real estate appraiser and real estate investor of both commercial and residential properties, shared these words of praise,
“I’ve used David as a real estate attorney since 1997 and have found his knowledge and experience to be invaluable. Most of the things we encounter on a daily basis, he can tell us right off the top of his head because he has that kind of experience base. ----Herb Jamison, a licensed real estate appraiser & real estate investor
PHOTO BY GWEN JUAREZ PHOTOGRAPHY
He has represented buyers, sellers, title companies, lenders, home owners, civic associations, appraisers, Realtors®, landlords, and tenants in all sorts of sales transactions including residential and commercial, as well as unimproved rural, ranch, warehouses, and other properties throughout Texas. In residential transactions, McDougald has experience with everything from starter homes to multi-million dollar River Oaks mansions.
David A. McDougald - Real Estate Attorney
“Of course, he never offers an opinion about something if he needs to do a little research but there’s been very few cases where he’s had to get back with an answer. The one thing that is really important to me is that he is very honest and forthright because that’s the way I like to do business. I don’t want any misunderstandings with any of the other parties in any of our transactions.” Communication is the utmost of importance to McDougald. When someone is his client, he explains their options without sugar-coating it until they understand the pluses and minuses. He'll then recommend a course of action he thinks is best, allowing them to make an informed decision. David works when the client needs him to work and when his clients are meeting with him, they have his undivided attention. He often works late into the night or comes into the office early in the morning in order to make sure his clients get the timely results that they need. If you are looking for a real estate attorney in Houston, Texas with a reputation for excellence, integrity, and doing things timely, then you needn’t search any further, David A. McDougald is the best choice.
Call David at (832) 814-9046 or email him at email@example.com
DAVID MCDOUGALD LAW
Hank Moore advises businesses on strategy. Here he is shown in Kuwait, pictured with Ahmed Al Othman and Dolly Abdullah Nanaa. In Kuwait, he presented a day-long think tank on business trends, challenges and opportunities. He spoke for Kuwait Petroleum. At the king's palace, he presented an executive retreat on Western world non-profit culture and the need for businesses to tie in with charity and community causes. Continued from page 7
people won't do anything until they get to a crossroad where they have to reach out.” Hank explained, “There are all kinds of issues that can ruin any business and research tells us that if as part of your planning, you look at the key crisis that could beset your company and you develop small strategies of how to prevent them from happening, 85% of the time you will be successful. So a crisis for a business is not necessarily something major; it could be slow paying clients. If you plan for all of the possibilities of it in your planning, same thing with diversity, same thing with quality management, and some of those other areas empowering the workforce, if all of that is addressed in your plan, then all of that is going to be addressed.” One of the things a small business can do that Hank strongly recommends as part of their strategic plan is for them to write a one paragraph ethics statement about their core values as they relate to their customers. Then once they've written that, use it in their marketing. Put it on their website. Tell the customers how much they value them. In turn, the customers become more loyal. If you are constantly looking out for your customers, you will keep besting yourself and you'll keep besting your competition. He also recommends that companies get an advisory board. In addition, he advocates board modification and putting some of the company's workforce on their boards for an employee perspective. Hank strongly believes that anything that helps get an employee into more independent thinking is a good thing. For example, simply encouraging employees to put on the company T-shirt and go participate on a fun run means they're out there donating their time by doing PR for the company but they're also making themselves more empowered. “There's a direct relationship that people who are proud of their company during their off-duty hours are going to be triple-proud during their on-duty hours,” stated Hank.
Hank shared, “If you treat your customers right, which is the ethical thing to do, you're going to get more customers and they're going to refer more. That's all it's about. In a down economy, you need to step up your attention to customers, put the spotlight on your program and what you do and how you satisfy the needs of those customers. If you practice customer-focused management, which means you tie every decision you make to a customer related outcome, you'll sell more customers and you'll keep more customers and you will get more of your stake- holders saying nice things about you. Small businesses are better at doing that than big businesses are. Some of these national corporations have this attitude that one customer doesn't matter. They don't get it; they think taking care of a customer is an option. If you treasure those customers, they'll treasure you.”
Hank stated that one can never become complacent about the customer and that they need to keep focusing back on them whether times are good or bad. He cautioned, “During the coming year, as we climb out of the recession, we cannot forget to always take care of the customer. Don't get fat and happy. It happened before and it can happen again. Things are cyclical. One must always stay vigilant.” These are some tips Hank gave in choosing a good business advisor: Look at their track record. Ask what have they done. There are a lot of people out there calling themselves consultants. That's one of the reasons that Hank trademarked the term Corporate Strategist because he didn't want to be called a garden-variety consultant. There are people calling themselves consultants that aren't. There are a lot of people calling themselves advisers. Some people use the term business coach. A business coach works with an individual helping them become their personal best. They don't work with companies.
Get a good business advisor right from the start of your business. Be willing to defer to a mentor. Lay your pride down and realize that you can't be everything to everybody.
Re-examine your core business yearly. - Are you really in the core business that you started out to become or are you in the business that you have evolved into which can be completely different? Don't go into core businesses that you are not qualified. Know when enough is enough.
Improve customer service. Worship the ground your clients walk on. Factor them into every decision.
Value, empower, educate, and train your employees. Get them to think of themselves as owning a piece of the action.
Have a business plan. Know what you are good at and stick to what you know best. Know how to run the business optimally by continually educating yourself and getting professional enhancement.
Do joint ventures with other businesses.
Sales and marketing are equally important. Don't undervalue your marketplace. Always do research first on what you should be marketing before you spend money on the marketing but it is very important to spend money on marketing and public relations.
Listen to what's going on outside of your company. Don't put your head in the sand and think that your competitor doesn't know what they're doing but on the other hand don't obsess about their success.
Have a strong quality control system set in place.
10) Financial projections need to be evaluated yearly. 11) Have the right physical facility. 12) On a daily basis, think big picture all of the time. Resist the temptation to look partially at a piece of your business. 13) Think about growth realistically. Sometimes you need to grow more and sometimes you need to grow less. 14) Never stop changing. acle that might come up in the future such 15) Learn how to work lean and mean so you can tackle any obstacle as a recession. 16) Have an exit strategy. - An exit strategy might include when to recognize that you have gone as far as you can go and it's time to retire and sell the company to someone else or maybe you should be part of a merger. Have a realistic understanding of the market value of your business. Don't let your emotions get in the way. Some businesses are not meant to last forever. Know the right time to get out. Sometimes it's better to sit back and become a well-paid advisor or employee and allow someone else to take the business to a level you wouldn't be capable of accomplishing on your own. With more pearls of wisdom, Hank concluded, â€œThere's only four ways to grow any business: First, you sell more customers. Second, you cross-sell more existing customers. Third, you create more products and services. Fourth, you do joint ventures to create things that didn't necessarily exist. Theoretically every company's corporate strategy should include at least three of the four.â€? Giving companies the strategies that lead them on the path to big business ideas is something Hank is most proud of and we at SBT Magazine are proud of Hank, too! www.SBTMagazine.net
Hank Moore appears at conferences, nationally and worldwide, as the opening futurist keynote speaker. He conducts corporate retreats and think tanks, guiding the planning process with his trademarked Business Tree model.
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 29
Oh Snap! Why You Need More Photos In Your Life
By Aimee Woodall
hey say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words isn’t always enough. We think a picture can say more than that. Photography can be a powerful tool for communication, and when done correctly, it can be a critical part of any public relations or marketing campaign. Why? 1. The lazy factor. People don’t like to read. Sure YOU do, but most people don’t, and they definitely don’t like to read too many words in a row. If given the option between Goodnight Moon and War and Peace, the former wins every time. So, use photos to make your message simpler and less exhausting. 2. The “wow” factor. People like to look at pictures. Even the worst picture makes a piece of work instantly more entertaining (not that we’re recommending bad photography), and it adds an additional element of interest. 3. The viral factor. People are intrinsically attracted to visuals. Because of the two factors listed above, photos and blogs/ posts/articles containing photos are more likely to go viral than ones
that lack them. And of course, you want your stuff to be seen – that’s how stuff sells. How? 1. Sharing sites. There are tons of places to upload and share photos. Our favorites are Flickr, Instagram, Photobucket and Smugmug, and they’re all super easy to use with their own pros and cons. Create an account, shoot and send! Plus, when you tell your brand’s story with pictures, you don’t have to worry about typos. 2. Photo filter tools. You know how your friends have those retro and casually artistic photos all over the Internet? Get in on their little secret, and install Snapseed, Filterstorm, Hipstamatic, Instagram or any number of other filter tools on your smart phone (and your employees’ smart phones!) for instant effect Added bonus: the grainy, exposed results hide nearly all imperfections. Not that the accounting team has anything to hide. 3. More stuff. The more you capture moments, the easier it will be to capture audiences – but you have to take the next step. Once you’ve figured
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 30
out the basics, you can expand your reach by using your photo platforms to their full potential. Send photo-based invites, capture images online, organize your albums and even host your brand’s very own art gallery. The addictive online photoboard site, Pinterest, draws visitors by the hundred thousands and smart brands are taking notice. You don’t have to be an expert to take advantage of photography as a marketing tool. With the right apps and a little dedication, you’ll turn the mundane into a work of art, and you’ll leave a lasting impression on your audience. Even in the world of Photoshop editing, there is truth in photography that can’t be found in any other medium. And there’s an added bonus! Recording milestones and day-to-day activity makes for added interest on your new Facebook timeline. So go on, click your heart out. About The Black Sheep Agency The Black Sheep Agency is a Houston-based creative agency specializing in non-traditional public relations, social media and experiential marketing. Visit theblacksheepagency.com or follow us on Twitter @shearcreativity and on Facebook at Facebook. com/theblacksheepagency.
24/7 Live Telephone Answering Service WESTPARK COMMUNICATIONS – Since 1968, Westpark has been providing the skills, technology, and commitment to support all kinds of organizations – from solo entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 corporations. Client Service Representatives answer your calls round-the-clock, seven days a week – with speed, courtesy and professionalism.
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Representatives thoroughly trained in the specifics of your call-handling procedures. They have been thoroughly screened for typing speed, spelling, grammar and comprehension, as well as communication and listening skills. All of Westpark’s Telephone Service Representatives work in our state-of-the-art call center.
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to the call. Every call is answered with your answer phrase. The script guides the Telephone Service Representative through the call. Always asking for the information you need, and using built in help screens to answer frequently asked questions.
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CHOOSE A BUSINESS BROKER FOR THE SAME REASON YOU CHOOSE AN ATTORNEY AND CPA...
EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE OUR SERVICES Selling or buying a business, we offer complete advisory and brokerage services performed in a highly confidential manner. In the event you are considering the sale of your business, or you have an interest in buying a business, give us a call. There is no charge for our initial consultation and advisory services.
ADVISORY SERVICES FOR SELLING A BUSINESS
dvising business owners with regard to developing an overall strategy for selling a business is the first step in determining if their business is marketable and ready to sell. Our advisory services include: · Developing strategies for maximizing • the value of your business
· Recommending deal structuring to • minimize tax consequences
· Preparing proper presentation to enhance • the marketability of a business
· Maintaining confidentiality while maximizing • exposure to qualified buyer prospects
ADVISORY SERVICES FOR BUYING A BUSINESS
Many entrepreneurs come to us not knowing exactly what they want. They just know they no longer want to work for someone else. Upon obtaining information about you and your investment requirements, we can match you with businesses that meet your acquisition criteria.
Are you already in business and want to
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Permanent Life Insurance from Northwestern Mutual stands the test of time. It’s an asset that offers protection, along with cash value that’s guaranteed to grow. All from the only company in the industry that has paid more than $70 billion in dividends over the last 25 years. That’s a foundation for life. Austen Spoonts Financial Representative (972) 980-2000 nmfn.com/austenspoonts
05-3024 © 2012 Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities) and its subsidiaries. Austen Ryan Spoonts, Insurance Agent(s) of NM. SNL Financial 2011 & A.M. Best (Historical 1987 to 1996). Limited to ordinary and group life insurance dividends. Dividends are reviewed annually, subject to change and not guaranteed.
Small Businesses and the International Market
By Erica A. Murray
hile the scenery of many of our metropolitan cities is inundated with colossal corporate office buildings with individuals hurrying in and out, there is a false illusion that is presented about the American economy! There is a belief that Fortune 500 and 1000 companies hold the entire workforce within the palm of their hands. This ideology is so far from true and there is something grossly wrong with this hideous perspective. In essence, the ultimate backbone of the economy in most countries is small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs). With that stated, it is imperative that these companies aggressively assert themselves into the international market to create sustainability and to remain competitive amongst their counterparts. Wealth creation, economic activity, innovation and employment are all a part of the focus as to why small firms and start-ups are important. Did you know that small businesses actually employ 49% of the private sector workforce in the United States, and 40% to 50% in other countries? The smallest companies in the world are the ones with the greatest power and impact! Small businesses with fewer than 500 workers account for half of the nation’s private, non-farm real gross domestic product (GDP), and half of all Americans who work
in the private sector are employed by small firms (SBA, 2009). Today these firms must focus on globalization – increasing their involvement in international markets, if they don’t want to see the doors of their businesses closing within the next 10 years. Internationalization is a strategy that should be utilized by small businesses to increase resources. In comparison to larger enterprises, SMEs are considered to be resourceconstrained, theoretically! On the contrary, SMEs are not limited at all to expanding to the global marketplace; actually they have more resources available to them then they realize. The soil and terrain has already been cultivated for them via the information super highway. The internet and computer technology has done what no one could have foreseen over 30 years ago, tremendously condensed the distance between individuals around the world! It is now up to the business owner or entrepreneur to capitalize on this phenomenon by utilizing the resources they possess effectively. Social media sites, Skype, and Oovoo to name a few are perhaps the most cost effective means by which one may tap into the global paradigm. Cross country expansions are taking place in record numbers through acquisitions and partnerships, even for SMEs. The question that is probably at the forefront of
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 34
the minds of business owner or entrepreneur is where do I start and how do I know if my business is ready to expand around the world? I would like to suggest a few tips. The first and most important step is to critically identify if there is a need for your offerings in the region you would like to expand. Then analyze and vet your services or products. Ask yourself are my products or services good, great, or exceptional? Then compile a small survey with a diverse group of individuals to obtain unbiased feedback to ensure that your results are not tainted. Next, consider the benefits of your products or services and how may they be improved…be HONEST! Compare the advantages and disadvantages. Finally consider how you can strategically position your products or services through effective pricing globally! Then consider hiring an international business consultant to assist you in developing and devising a strategic plan to tackle the market! Then execute your plan! Erica A. Murray is an International Business Consultant and is the owner of a boutique consulting firm, Erica A. Murray Consulting and may be reached at 800-5802113 x 2200 or you may visit her websites (www.ericaamurray.com or www.ceotothepowerofyou.com).
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 35
It's All In The Fit! By Jane Seaman AICI FLC
am not sure when, or why, it happened, but at some point we seem to have decided that the term 'ready-made' means 'will fit all'! We make excuses for closets full of multiple sizes; different designers means different cuts! We compromise, and accept, a garment almost fits, no matter the cost. We'll accept its tight in one area, because going up a size will make the garment too loose. There was a time when we, and the stores we purchased from, would not have accepted 'nearly' in terms of fit, and a tailor would have been on hand to ensure otherwise. Some of the top retail stores still offer tailoring services, but the majority do not. When it comes to tailoring many raise the question; if having a tailor alter a ready-made garment can cost the same, or not much less, than the garment's purchase price, why do it? The answer would be, it's all in the fit! We each have a unique body shape made up of numerous curves. As a result of our uniqueness it is almost impossible to get readymade clothes to fit us perfectly. How could any manufacturer construct one garment that would fit every variation of body shape? Consider this, have you ever tried to gift-wrap a curved object and been successful in getting the
paper to sit perfectly without cutting it? Dressing our curvy body is just the same. First we must ensure there is enough fabric to sit on our widest area comfortably. Once this is achieved we then need to cut the cloth in order to fit our narrowest areas. There is a simple rule to ensuring we get a great fit every time. Fit the widest parts of our body first, then tailor in. If we fit to our widest area and do not tailor in, then the eye will see us as being wide from top to bottom, and we'll have hidden our curves. If we try to compromise and fit to our narrowest area then the garment tends to be too tight where we our wide. What the eye sees now is something larger under the garment trying to escape, so we seem bigger than we actually are. A gentleman with broad shoulders must fit a dress shirt so it can be buttoned across the chest. However, with a ready-made shirt this often results in too much fabric in the mid-riff area so now he seems as wide from shoulder to hip. When in fact he normally has a smaller waist-line. Ladies with curvy hips must fit a trouser to the thighs and seat area. This often results in the waist being too loose and the leg width being too wide. Each of these issues can be an easy fix if taken to a tailor.
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 36
Yes, it may cost as much to have ready-made garments altered as the retail price paid, but in this age of the shoddy, and quick, mass-constructed, garments, a tailor can still be counted on to champion uniqueness and quality. With a little tailoring our garments will stand out from the rest, we'll look better, seem slimmer, and we'll keep the garment longer because we feel, and look great in it. The art of tailoring, has been around since the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. The Oxford English Dictionary's first reference to the word "tailor" gives the specific date of 1297. If we have know for so long that tailoring was a smart thing to do, why give up on it now? Here in Houston there's no reason to accept 'nearly' in terms of fit, for the city is blessed with an abundance of tailors with skills ranging from minor alterations to the highest quality of master tailoring. Don't compromise, show off the very best of you, it's all in the fit. If you would like a better understanding of your unique body shape, then you can learn more about the image consulting services I provide at http:// www.imagineconsultancy.com
Making Connections Count
Linking women business enterprises (WBEs) with corporate purchasers, government agencies, and other women-owned business for the primary purpose of creating connections and building strong business relationships. As an attendee you’ll have the opportunity to meet qualified suppliers and establish business relationships and partnerships that will help grow your company’s supplier diversity programs.
The two-day event features: • Various business workshops • A wine and hors d’oeuvres reception the evening prior to conference • Over 150 exhibitors and 1,200 event attendees • One-on-One sessions with potential WBE suppliers and corporate buyers • An Awards Luncheon that recognizes WBEs and corporate members for their accomplishments • A silent auction that includes procurement luncheons with some of Houston’s top corporations.
Reliant CenteR / may 16-17, 2012 / RegisteR now! wbea-texas.org/conference SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 37 www.SBTMagazine.net
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Standing Out in the New World: The Social Media World By Cassandra Franceschini
n a world flooded by social media and status updates, knowing when to post and what to post can often be overwhelming. Most companies have learned to adapt to the age of social networking, but the ability to communicate the right message is what separates successful campaigns from information overload. So how do get people to follow your message and tune-in to what you are saying? Simple. It is all about relevant content. Letâ€™s break this down. First, look at the platform you are using. Ask yourself if your company or your brand will benefit from a platform like Twitter- with itâ€™s short and to the point messages, or if a visually stimulated platform like Pinterest frames your brand. After you have selected your platform, consider your audience. Your audience will ultimately shape the message and tone of what you are communicating. A message communicated internally for the eyes of your company will take on a subtle yet serious tone, while reaching out to your demographic audience will take on more life and energy. Your demographic audience needs to be addressed properly. Hit them with the type of information that they like to hear in the way they like to hear it. A younger demographic will want things short and to the point,
where as an older and more business minded demographic often likes to have the details and supporting facts behind a message. If you are pitching a product, service or promotion to your audience, consider adding value and ROI to your message. Your personal or company brand needs to strategically hit the right audience. After evaluating your social media platform and audience, then you can get into the meat of it all- the relevant content. We are constantly feeding and pushing content to the mass and distinguishing between too much information and relevant information is a battle consumers are always faced with. Focus on the keywords that you feel are important to your consumers and the branding of your product or company and build around that. If you are communicating a promotion, event or buy-in you want the public to participate in, then focus on keywords that are going to separate your message from your competitors. What value does your company or brand offer in this promotion that your customer canâ€™t get elsewhere. What value will the customer get when participating in your social media campaign? These are very important questions that should be taken into consideration if
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 40
you are trying to pitch something that requires interaction from the user. So what is the importance of relevant content? Relevant content adds value to the conversation. Whether you post the content yourself or provide insightful feedback, you are adding depth and insight into a conversation that you are contributing. Adding that type of perspective to a conversation not only adds value, but it also distinguishes you as a trusted source of information. Establishing yourself as a trusted source serves as a huge benefit in a world of information overload. The important thing to take away is that one must remember that there are numerous competing messages across multiple social media platforms. How to distinguish your brand from the others is not by large and bold font or over-the-top imagery, but content that serves a purpose. Cassandra Franceschini Sr. Project Manager, BrightBox www.brightboxonline.com cfranceschini@brightboxonline. com
Rochelle O. Barrow — Romoco Properties
“Marketing Her Homes Like She Markets Herself”
By K Pica Kahn fter a decade of branding and marketing home builders, Rochelle O. Barrow is now busy branding and marketing herself. “I believe I have a unique advantage because of my marketing background. All my listing include professional photography & a custom DVD of the property that potential clients may take with them” According to Rochelle, her contacts bring, not only referrals, but agents who just drop by her open houses to see their friend. Describing herself as obsessive, she hosts four to five open houses a month believing it helps to show and market the property. “All of my business is through referrals” Barrow believes that good communication and well established relationships have been the key to her success. My focus has always been about Relationship Selling and building Rapport.
"Rochelle is very fun to work with. This was our first time selling a home, and she made the process a breeze! She is always there when you need to ask a question, and she really fights for her clients. She not only put in 110% of her time, devotion and herself. She went way above and beyond, and made the entire process really enjoyable. Thanks Rochelle!" --Aundrea & Ronnie Hartzog Always available, using the latest in communications, she finds herself in constant communication with clients, texting or calling, maybe just dropping by to clean off her sign. If her clients aren’t friends before the sale, they are friends after the sale. With a clear vision of her business, she opened her own company, ROMOCO Properties, LLC. “I don’t want to be big. I believe in a hands-on approach; I never want to loose that personal touch. She makes everything personal especially the life she has shared for over 17 years with her husband Todd who sells homes for a large private custom homebuilder. Both native Houstonians, they have a five-year-old son Ian who at times, accompanies her to work. “Everyone knows I have a son and he comes first, she said. “If I have to bring him along, most people love it.”
Rochelle O. Barrow Romoco Properties
Rochelle is a proud member of NAR, TAR, HAR, Women's Council of Realtors®, & The Houston Women's Chamber. She also supports the Leukemia & Lymphoma Societies. To contact Rochelle call 832-620-6644 , email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 41
Embrace Change to Keep Moving Forward By Ron Consolino
mall business owners today know one thing for sure: conditions on the business playing field can change rapidly. Buyer moods can shift, and proven marketing strategies may not seem to work any more. The technology that seemed cutting edge at one point is now outdated; or worse, obsolete. An important key to successfully piloting a small business now and in the years ahead will be embracing new ways of thinking. My SCORE colleague and successful businessman, Irwin Miller, puts it this way, “If it ain’t broke, fix it!” If it works today, it may not work tomorrow because the environment is always changing. You need the attitude that whatever is done today, can always be done better. Anticipating trends can be extremely valuable in keeping you current on everything from sales strategies and customer desires to technology tools and the general economy. As your business grows, change will be inevitable and small business owners should constantly look ahead and seek out ways to
shake things up. The more you test the winds of change, the better your chances of success down the road. Truisms like “stick to what your business does best” are outmoded. If you want your business to grow or just survive, consider that past business traditions and processes might only hold you back. Trying new approaches is vital. To get ideas about new products, services or markets talk to your customers and suppliers, attend trade association meetings, and read trade journals and other materials. Anticipating trends in the business environment is not easy but is essential in remaining successful over the long term. Not all customers are created equal. Some are more valuable and loyal than others, and those are the ones you should lavish the most attention on with special savings and service offers. Just as your customers put pressure on you, you should challenge your suppliers to find ways to reduce their prices, improve their delivery times, or
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 42
evolve their materials or services to better meet your changing requirements. Advances in technology will continue to radically change how small companies do business. You will need to keep up. Small business owners who know how to acquire and manage information will achieve the most success. Capturing and analyzing data about customer needs, wants, behavior and how they use your product or service is becoming increasingly critical. And don’t expect loyalty from employees without giving them something in return. Employees are looking for ways to enhance their skills and grow their careers. Our society is becoming ever more mobile, so, if you don’t or can’t help them, they will seek opportunities elsewhere. Ron Consolino is a business counselor for SCORE, a non-profit association whose volunteers help start small businesses and reach new levels of success in existing businesses. Send questions or volunteer enquiries to email@example.com, or call 713-773-6565, or visit www. scorehouston.org. www.SBTMagazine.net
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Integrated Communications in Texas | Pierpont Communications, Inc. www.piercom.com Pierpont Communications knows how to influence the way people think about you and your brand — and this helps you grow your business. With offices in Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, Pierpont understands how businesses communicate in the Texas market.
Find out how Pierpont can help your business grow and flourish. Visit www.Piercom.com for more information.
Pierpont Communications, Inc. Houston Office 1800 West Loop South, Suite 800 Houston, Texas 77027 Phone: 713 627-2223 Fax: 713 627-2224 www.piercom.com
Pierpont Communications, Inc. | Public Relations www.piercom.com/Public-Relations.aspx At Pierpont, we know that being a market leader isn't about having the most press releases, or the most colorful brochures.
Pierpont Communications, Inc. | Public Affairs www.piercom.com/Public-Affairs.aspx Public Affairs—Civic Engagement—Community Relations—whichever term you prefer, the simple truth is that people do business with companies they know and like.
Pierpont Communications, Inc. | Marketing www.piercom.com/Marketing.aspx Pierpont Communications offers a variety of marketing and corporate communications services to companies in the technology, health care, ...
Pierpont Communications, Inc. | Investor Relations www.piercom.com/Investor-Relations.aspx Pierpont Investor Relations offers a comprehensive portfolio of services designed to provide public companies and those engaged in the IPO process... SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 44
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 45
E .R . F. xcitement
un Because you deserve it. Look what’s waiting for you! Imagine dog sledding on top of a glacier, swimming with dolphins or reaching places that very few get to see. This is the new style of cruising and somewhere out there is a ship with your name on it. And the best part is you pack and unpack once!
Come one, come all We also specialize in land and tour vacations as well as group travel. Whether it’s a group for seniors, church, fraternal, school, alumni, hobbyists, or just a bunch of friends or family getting together, you could not ask for a more perfect way to vacation. We can also plan great fund-raising cruises for churches, schools, and nonprofit organizations. We take care of it all for you! Plus, you can even cruise for free. Put together a group and you could be eligible for a FREE CRUISE!
Go where you want to go at unbeatable prices! Caribbean • Hawaii • Alaska • Europe • South America Far East • South Pacific • New England / Canada Cruise Planners is an American Express Travel Services Representative agency that specializes in cruise, land and tour vacations. As a result,we have access to AMEX Mariner Club benefits and more. We have achieved “Top Producer” status with virtually every cruise line. This allows us to offer the best prices available along with professional personalized service. Cruise Planners is licensed, bonded and insured, and is a member of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), National Association of Cruise Oriented Agencies (NACOA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
We plan your vacation as if it’s our own. Quality Hospitality Travel www.qualityhospitalitytravel.com 281.257.2800 | 855.257.2800 firstname.lastname@example.org SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 46
FIRST TEXAS FAMILY OF HOME BUILDERS “Stepping Up To a Luxurious, New Lifestyle”
PHOTO BY GWEN JUAREZ PHOTOGRAPHY
First Texas Homes - Gallery Custom Homes - Harwood Homes
First Texas Family of Builders Sales Team
he First Texas Family of Builders offers homes under three brand names: Gallery Custom Homes, Harwood Homes, and of course, First Texas Homes. First Texas has been building in Texas for over 25 years and in Houston for over 10 years. By offering custom homes at production builder prices, First Texas involves the home buyer in every phase of construction so that the home is customized to the exact specifications of the buyer. Offering distinctive designs not found anywhere else, First Texas’s quality construction features the latest and greatest in technology. Committed to the Energy Star designation, even as it becomes more stringent, First Texas offers comfort and affordability in ownership. First Texas's distinctly Texan architecture, quality construction, unique design features, and unparalleled customer service combine to form a truly unique definition of value. “We're very proud of the craftsmanship that goes into our homes,” comments Todd Frederking, Houston Sales Manager. "If a Realtor® has a discerning buyer, that buyer is perfect for us. We can make custom changes and provide them a unique, one-of-a-kind home that truly accommodates their sense of value and enables them to step up to a luxurious, new lifestyle.”
“When someone tours one of our homes, they find that we have a different look and feel. Circular staircases, custom cabinets, and stone and cedar accents inside and out, are just a few of the ways we stand out.” ----Todd Frederking Todd envisions being part of the First Texas Family for the long haul. “Our Division President has been in his position for 10 years. We have sales people in Houston that have been with us for as long as seven years and even longer in Dallas.” Frederking continues, “This says a lot about what a great company First Texas is because longevity is uncommon for most home builders.” First Texas is a privately held company owned by Randall Von Wolfswinkle. “We do business differently than most builders. We take care of people differently and we handle our finances differently. We do business with cash, not credit. Whether purchasing lots, building inventory homes or build jobs for buyers, we pay for it in cash; which is very different from most
builders,” explains Todd. He continues, “One thing that is also unique about what we do is that every home comes out a little differently (even our inventory homes). Every blueprint crosses our owner's and division president's desk. We kick out an extra foot here or we add a little extra to the patio there. We make custom changes at production prices and each home is truly one of a kind.” Primarily catering to the move-up buyer, the First Texas Family of Builders can be found in 15 communities from Clear Lake to Conroe ranging from $200,000 to $500,000. First Texas focuses on customized value while Gallery Custom Homes and Harwood Homes focus on luxury. Todd notes, “Our flexibility in building revolves around our buyers’ lifestyle.” To find out more about the First Texas Family of Home Builders, check them out on Facebook at First Texas Homes Houston or go to www.firsttexashomes.com. You can also call Todd Frederking at (281) 820-9606 or email him at email@example.com
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY2012 | PG 47
LOOKING LOOKING FOR FOR AN... AN...
LOOKING LOOKING FOR FOR A... A...
TITLE TITLE AGENT? AGENT? LOOKING LOOKING FOR FOR A... A...
LOOKING LOOKING FOR FOR A... A...
REAL REAL ESTATE ESTATE AGENT? AGENT?
MORTGAGE MORTGAGE BROKER? BROKER?
WHERE YOU GO TO WORK
Advertiserâ€™s Index Advanced Business Brokers.........................................32
Better Business Bureau....................................................1
CHI.....................................................Inside Back Cover
Champions School of Real Estate................................4
Churchill Mortgage...............................Inside Front Cover
Mortgage Loans for Texas Profile.................................15
City Harmony Profile......................................................24
CRE Credit Services........................................................10
David Macdougald Profile..............................................27
Prepared for Life.............................................................23
Dawn Haynes Profile......................................................19
Premier Agent Magazine................................................16
Eric Kleiman Photography.............................................17
Quality Hospitality Travel dba Cruise Planners...............46
Fidelity National Title.......................................Back Cover
Rochelle Barrow/ROMOCO Properties Profile............41
First Texas Homes Profile............................................47
SEO 1 Source..................................................................38
G Ernest Designs...........................................................13
WBEA Expo 2012..........................................................37
GPS Wealth Mgmt..........................................................45
SMALL BUSINESS TODAY MAGAZINE MAY 2012 | PG 48
Fidelity National Title
Fidelity National Title – Galleria
“Exceeding Everyone’s Expectations with a Big Smile!”
“The moment I first walked in, I felt like I had just returned home to my family after being gone for awhile. They immediately acknowledged my arrival with a big hello and smiles on their faces. They introduced me to each of their staff and made me feel like I was important and that my clients were equally important. I love that they are so warm and friendly and that they are so detailed in every little thing they do...the snacks, the warm cookies, the ambiance. They did everything they possibly could to accommodate me and my clients achieve a stress-free transaction.” ----Yvonne Walker, Realtor® for RE/MAX Space Center
For more information, contact Kelli Owens by phone at 713-966-4050 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. 3005 W. Loop South, Suite 250, Houston, Texas 77027 Become a fan of their FaceBook Community Page at www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fidelity-National-Title/210076055718002
Small Business Today Magazine - May 2012 Edition