Category Archives: Vendors Corner

Numbers, Lists and New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business

This is the time of year for numbers: top ten lists for 2014, count down to 2015, eight candles of Hanukkah, twelve days of Christmas, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens…you get the picture.

For small business it’s also a time for taking stock and planning ahead. Some of us already have projections far into the future; others of us are just trying to make it to January 1st. Regardless of your degree of business acumen, we all have hopes and plans for the new year. Let’s take a look at some recommended New Year’s resolutions for small business for 2015 – and possible ways to keep them.

Huffington Post encourages, “The New Year is a chance to start fresh and make changes to bsuccessetter your personal and professional life. Start working on your business resolutions right now, adjust them as needed in the New Year, and watch them become a reality in 2015!” and gives the following essential New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Decide how to grow.
  2. Get small business certified (especially if you’re a woman, minority or veteran who owns and operates 51 percent or more of your company)
  3. Make sure your company is loan-ready.
  4. Update your technology.
  5. Have an exit strategy. Here are the details.

Here are recommended New Year’s Resolutions from Monster.com:

  1. Involve others in goal setting and planning.
  2. Keep goals in front of yourself and everyone one else.
  3. Communicate more and in more ways.
  4. Talk less, talk later and listen more.
  5. Focus feedback on the future.
  6. Be a model.

Monster goes on to say that “These resolutions remind you that you are not a just business owner thinking about a new customer, profit margin or monthly P & L — you are also a leader. All of these small business tips, when put into practice, will make you a more effective leader and a more successful business owner too.

Like many New Year’s resolutions, this list may seem a bit daunting. Remember that they don’t necessarily require any special skills. They may require a change in mindset and most likely a change in habits. The effort involved is worth it — for you, your team and ultimately your results.” Here is that Monster article.

Business New Daily gives us these (though they are for 2014, many of them still ring true):

  1. Get the most “bang for your technology buck”
  2. Adopt mobile payments
  3. Get closer to customers
  4. Make customer service a priority
  5. Focus on marketing efforts
  6. Revamp social media strategy
  7. Be SEO- and data-savvy
  8. Perform a security audit
  9. Prevent employee fraud
  10. Become more nimble

You can read the full list details here. Among these three lists of resolutions, this one from Business New Daily gives the best actionable details that include things like organizing your inbox – something you should probably consider before you start counting those five golden rings. The actions you take now will bring you closer to your resolve for 2015.

We like the Huffington post list for newbies. This is great advice for small businesses just starting out. We love the Monster list for the way it recommends you involve (even recruit) your employees in goals, planning, and communication (we love our employees).

We wish you the very best for the holidays and 2015!

 

Tagged , , ,

Small Business: What did we learn in 2013?

We love lists, especially at the end of the year. Top 10 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions, Christmas Wish Lists, best movies, best books, best fashions, best t-shirts…Even Santa is checking his list a few times to make sure he’s got it right.

checkin-it-twiceAs we wrap up 2013, we wanted to take a look at what we learned in 2013. This year marked the third anniversary of Small Business Saturday, which tops our list of small business accomplishments since most of our customers are small businesses. In this post we look at some of the lists of lessons learned for small business in 2013.

We found a great one from “Business Lessons I’ve Learned as a Small Business CEO” published on Bulldogreporter.com. Here’s the Reader’s Digest condensed version:

  • Be flexible when building your team. You hired Person A to do Job A, but as you get to know him, you find he has talents and skills better suited to another job—possibly even a job you haven’t identified! Be open to switching things up. Your business will benefit from having the right people in the right jobs, and your employees will be happier and more productive when they’re doing what they’re really good at doing.
  • Don’t spend more than you make.
  • If you borrow, invest it in the company. If you’re going to draw a salary from that money, don’t be tempted to take more than you absolutely need to survive. If your lifestyle is a little uncomfortable, you will be far more motivated to do whatever it takes to make your business thrive.
  • Don’t allow marketing to fall by the wayside. One of the most important components of any business plan is its marketing strategy. Too often, people don’t think that through with the same rigor they tackle concerns like projected cash flow and long-term goals.

Here’s another good one from Smallbusiness.yahoo.com

  1. Don’t Jeopardize Your Customers’ Trust.
  2. The Social Conversation is a Two-Way Street.
  3. Auto-Responses in Social Customer Service are Big No-No.
  4. One Social Customer Can Have a Huge Impact.

We particularly like this one “3 Essential Small Business Lessons from Jerry Maguire” from Yfsentrepreneur.com (YSF stand for Young, Fabulous and Self-employed):

  1. “The key to this business is personal relationships.” You’ve likely heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I heard that a lot and it really resonated with me when I started seeing the value of my network in working with vendors. Building personal relationships has been an integral part of growing my business to-date.
  2. “Roll with the punches. Tomorrow is another day.” Anyone who ever started a business or runs one knows there are days when when it rains, and then there are days when it pours. There will always be dilemmas, but thankfully there is always tomorrow to find the solution for them. I’ve had to overcome problems that could have easily taken me out of business time and time again, but I always knew I had another day to fight.
  3. “If [the heart] is empty, [the head] doesn’t matter.” We all have personal problems, and those problems can easily interfere with our work. Some of my better, most thriving moments professionally came when I was very happy personally with my relationships and my family life. However, there were also periods when my personal life wasn’t going so well, and I was fueled to work harder, professionally, as a result. All in all, I’ve learned that when I’ve been happiest, I’ve been able to better focus on my business.

The Jerry Maguire list resonated the most with us at Comfort Colors. And we loved the name of the website. Though we are not as young or as self-employed as we once were, our customers do make us feel fabulous. Thanks for another great year.

Tagged , ,

Vermont T-shirt David vs. Goliath Chick-fil-A

Eat More KaleVermont T-shirt screen-printer and friend Bo Muller-Moore of Eat More Kale is feeling his 15 minutes of fame this week as he takes on the big birds at Chick-fil-A, who issued him a cease-and-desist letter earlier this fall. Fearing the public might confuse Bo’s “Eat More Kale” t-shirts with Chick-fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign, the fast-food giant’s feathers ruffled when Bo recently applied for a federal trademark on his business name. The multi-million dollar fast-food company threatened to block Eat More Kale’s trademark attempt and shut down Bo’s business.

Bo Muller-Moore infront of his Eat More Kale studioFor those new to Vermont’s favorite T-shirt, Eat More Kale is a t-shirt screen printing shop run by Bo and his wife Melissa in Montpelier, Vermont. The quintessential artisan, Bo personally applies the designs to all his t-shirts and hoodies one at a time. On the other hand Chick-fil-A sold more than 282 million Chick-fil-A Sandwiches in 2010, that is 537 a minute or almost 9 sandwiches per second.

Eat More Kale is about supporting small business and local food. “I am a one man show, so my shirts are distinctive, offbeat, one-of-a-kind works of art. I have no giant call-centers to hide behind and I don’t need them. I am one man with one squeegee and that’s how I like it. When you see someone wearing one of my t-shirts you will instantly recognize its personal style, character and the care I took to craft it.”

He uses our products exclusively: both Comfort Colors and our Aurum Organic line. “The first time I got my hands on one of their shirts I knew they were the ones to use. These are some of the best clothes money can buy and their quality, style and earthy colors are the key to my success.”

This David vs. Goliath story captured national media attention. Beyond the local clucking on social media and VPR, the story is featured in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Boston Globe. Even Vermont Governor Shumlin is backing the case. “Don’t mess with Vermont and Chick-fil-A get out of the way,” Shumlin was quoted in the Globe.

Tagged , , , , , ,