Wednesday, March 31, 2010

3 Reasons You Should Use Google Alerts In Your Business

Love it or hate it, Google has created numerous web resources that can be of great benefit to business owners.  One such resources is the Google Alert feature.  Here are three reasons that your business should consider using Google Alerts:


Monitor Your Brand-

Google Alerts can be an excellent way of monitoring your brand on the internet.  By setting up an Alert for your company name, a product, or your own name, you are able to track what is being said about you or your product on the internet.  This allows you to efficiently respond to any potential concerns in a timely way and better engage in the conversation about your brand.


Monitor Your Competitors-

Also, as you are monitoring your own brand, you can also monitor what competitors are doing or what is being said about them using an Alert.  Again, by doing a search for a major competitor’s name/products, you can track what their successes and failures may be and adjust your marketing/game plan accordingly.  This can be an effective resource for market research and SWOT analysis.

Understand Trends in Your Industry-

By using Google Alerts to monitor industry topics, you will be better able to adapt what you are doing to changes in your industry.  You can also gain access to resources that will help you improve your understanding of general business topics that you may feel you need some further education on.  The benefit is, whatever you are interested in tracking and learning about, you can monitor with a Google Alert.

Google Alerts


What other resources do you suggest using?  Add in the comments below:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today in Business Blogs

Included below are some links to business blogs on the internet today:

Customer Complaints are Good for Business

This article discusses the increased access that we have to customer complaints because of social media and important principles to implement as we respond to those complaints.  We must always evaluated what is at the root of that complaint and use it as a catalyst to improve ourselves and our business.  It goes beyond simply responding.  Complaints really should be agents for change and that requires a bit of humility on our part.  Get more information by reading the article.

Prenuptial Planning for Business Partners

Clearly outlining interests and expectations are boons to managing any growing business relationship.  Business owners should take the necessary time to evaluate potential issues and how you deal with them at the onset of the relationship; not when the problems arise.  This article includes some good tips about how to go through that planning process.

Why Small Town Small Biz Has an Advantage at Using Social Media Tools

Social media is creating tools that are becoming more and more localized.  So, while it is also easier to engage the world, we should also recognize the benefits in engaging our local audience.  This article has some great information in that regard.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today's Tip The Power of a Compliment - BusinessWeek

Business... Real business is about relationships. This is true within the company as well as with your interactions outside the company. In order for you to create something that persists, it is critical that you focus on building meaningful relationships. Here are some interesting pointers on things you can do to incorporate compliments and genuine praise into your business operations.

Today's Tip The Power of a Compliment - BusinessWeek

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Small Business Advisory Sessions

As a part of my law practice, I will be offering a new service entitled Small Business Advisory Sessions.  Information is included on my website.  Click to learn more.  I would love some feedback on what small business owners would like to see in an Advisory Session like this.  Please add to the comments the things that you would look for.

Turn Failure into Opportunity

Stay the course. We always have the opportunity of overcoming a difficult circumstance and still achieving success. Failure can also be a great learning experience for future opportunities. This quote goes well with the below article from BusinessWeek:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

- Calvin Coolidge

Today's Tip Turn Failure into Opportunity - BusinessWeek

SBA loans to small firms misstated, report says - National Business -

The Miami Herald here reports that the SBA has misstated the number of contracts that it has or is committing to small businesses. It is unfortunate that this organization has dropped the ball in its commitment to building up small businesses. I hope that this serves as a wake up call to the organization so that they can improve their efforts to commit more contracts to small businesses. That is more in line with the purposes of the organization. What do you think the SBA can do to improve their commitment to small businesses? Here is the link:

SBA loans to small firms misstated, report says -
National Business

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

4 Questions to Ask When Working Abroad

Globalization is still in full force and now more than ever, small businesses are breaking into the international market.  But with increased access to new business market, there is also increased access to potential liability.  Here are four questions you should ask as a business owner when considering expanding into an international marketplace.

1) Who are my potential clients?

When working internationally, it can sometimes be more difficult to investigate potential vendors or customers to evaluate whether or not they will be able/willing to do business with you.  Also, there may be more risks in operating in certain countries or with certain governments as clients given that country’s political and economic structure.

2) What are the country’s compliance requirements?

Also, different countries will have different regulations as to how you can do business within their country.  This means that the relationships that you make in one country may need to be structured differently in another country.  Sometimes you may need a distributor or other local liaison.  Other times you can directly access the market.  There may be different costs associated with the ways that you operate, so this evaluation must be taken in to account before entering that market.

3) What are the tax concerns that my business faces?

Different countries tax different income in different ways.  Some countries directly tax foreign direct investment.  Others have bi-lateral or international treaties that allow for some tax benefits.  Also, the IRS has specific standards for US businesses that general revenue abroad.  Especially if you foresee significant international income, it becomes critical to sit down and discuss the process with an international tax professional.

4) What culture concerns should I be aware of?

Having the relevant understanding of a specific countries culture is critical in the business process.  Some cultures value the relationship as much if not more than the business.  Others are more formal and “arms-length.”  This also impacts what different business deem to be an agreement.  Cultural research is a necessary part of doing business internationally.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Small Business Marketing Strategy : Business Marketing Plan : ACCION USA

Accion USA is a great micro-credit provider here in the US. I also enjoy all the resources they provide to small business owners. In the linked article, they focus on educating a small business owner in how to develop a marketing strategy for their business. Market research and analysis is critical and Accion USA includes some great ideas in this blog post:

Small Business Marketing Strategy : Business Marketing Plan : ACCION USA

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

International Trade Workshop Series

The Miami Free Trade Zone is hosting an international trade workshop series for small and medium sized businesses.  Here is some information:

The 2010 Import / Export Workshops
Session 1: Importing into the United States for International Trade Professionals
Thursday, March 25, 2010 (8:00 am – 11:00 am)
Session 2: Exporting Compliance for International Trade Professionals
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 (8:00 am – 11:00 am)
Session 3: Importing Food Products in Compliance with FDA and U.S. Customs Rules
Thursday June 3, 2010 (8:00 am – 11:00 am)
Cost to attend each event is $30. Light refreshments will be served.
If you wish to pay by check, please indicate which session(s) and date
you will be attending and make the check payable to
Trade Mission Center of the Americas, Inc. and mail to:
Jay Malina International Trade Consortium
111 NW 1st Street, Suite 2200 Miami, Florida 33128
Seating is limited, so please register now!

Another blog discussing the event:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Benefits of Advisory Boards to Small Businesses

I came across this blog post and it presents some ideas that I have been thinking about a lot recently.  Advisory boards are used frequently in major corporations but are often overlooked by small business professionals.  Advisory boards are great ideas for three reasons: 1) it allows business the chance to get feedback from industry professionals, 2) it creates and interesting and unique sounding board for small business owners, and 3) it can also act as a unique marketing arm for the business.  Take a look at some of the resources in this blog:

Monday, March 15, 2010

25 Ways to Jump-Start Your Business

Linked is an interesting article from that discuss 25 things that you can do in order to jump-start your business.  Here are why three of them stand out to me:

#2 Engage Your Employees-

By engaging your employees more in decision making and planning within your business, you can an added “advisory board” with an unique and fresh perspective on the direction of your business.  It also allows employees to feel more committed and involved in the organization, thus further motivating them.

#6 Shed Your Problem Customers-

This is true in any industry, we should not be so caught up in making a sale, closing a deal or signing a new client that we lose sight of what they might cost us in the long run (e.g. unrealistic demands on time, inability to be satisfied, consistent complaints about work product).  You are better served focusing on a few good clients.  Don’t let the bad ones distract your time from that.

#18 Find Some Amazing Interns-

As the article says, interns help to fill gaps within your business.  Take advantage of local colleges and university.  Work with career services offices to create new and unique ways of motivating quality interns to join your team.


For more ideas, check out the article-

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Access to Information:

One of the biggest drawbacks to the increased access to information that the internet gives us is the difficulty of sifting through everything to get to the information that you need.  This is especially true when looking through blogs and other user-generated content.  Here are some resources that help you sift through information to get to content that is useful:

And here is some guidance about how to select blogs from the OPEN Forum:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Personal Identity and Business Identity

The difficulty that many business owners have is separating the personal identity from the business identity. This is increasingly difficult in the new world of social media and direct line communications. There are three considerations to keep in mind when working on identity and business branding.

1) Your Industry

Each industry presents its own unique challenges based on how business interact with one another and their clients.  When determining how to create your business identity and potentially separate that identity from any personal presence that you may have in the public arena, it is first important to evaluate what the industry standard are and how similarly situation business operate.  In some industries, it is necessary for a business owner to separate their personal information/identity from the brand they are created.  This can be due to professionalism concerns, confidentiality issues or similar situations.  In other industries, the individual and business identities can become more blended as a business owner my want to establish more personal relationship with clients/customers.

2) Your Market

Also, in issues of branding and identity, it is important that a business owner know what the expectations of their market are.  Some customers or clients expect certain relationships to exist between themselves and the business provider.  This is especially true when operating internationally.  Pay attention to the culture of the market that you are operating in as well as the people with whom you are interacting.

3) Your Privacy

The last consideration you will have when evaluating the overlap of professional and personal identities is personal privacy.  This is critical relative to home contact information as well as information about family members.  In many industries, it is better to keep as much of this information private so as to protect the interests of those around you.  What is important to  remember in this regard is that many times the information that is supplied over social media sources is not private unless you specifically make a effort to make is so.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Miami-Dade Mayor’s Microenterprise Workshop

The Mayor’s Micro-Enterprise Workshop
Thursday, March 25, 2010
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
University of Phoenix Learning Center
11410 Northwest 20th Street, Miami 33172
Meet and connect with governmental purchasing
professionals from Miami-Dade County departments,
other municipalities, and various economic
development agencies.
Learn more about:
• Alternative Financing
• Business and Financial Plan Preparation
• Community Based Programs & Other Technical Assistance
• Education in the Business World
• Financial Opportunities & Information
• How to Be Green & Be Profitable
• How to Do Business with Miami-Dade County
• How to Market Your Business
• Legal Requirements of Owning and Operating a Business
• Pre-Qualification/Technical Certification & Contracting Opportunities
• Small Business Certification & Contracting Opportunities
Registration is required & space is limited. RSVP before March 22, 2010
to Lawanda Wright-Robinson at
For more information call (305) 375-3186

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