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    February 23

    Effective communication can be the single most important key to the success of your business. Being prepared for each type of communication is the foundation for being effective.

    Whether you are asking a client to pay their bill, or justifying a fee increase, it is the preparation before the call that can secure your success. There are techniques available to assist you. “Lifescripts” authors Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine offer guidance on “What to say to get what you want in life’s toughest situations.”

    The authors divide the process into three parts: strategy of the situation, tactics and a flow chart of probable conversations.

    Let’s explore the guidance the authors offer when asking a client to pay their bill. The strategy is that frequently there has been a clerical mistake, whether actual or pretend. Allow the client to check on it but schedule the second call. “Lifescripts” authors suggest:

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    January 12

    I watched as my six year old granddaughter wiped the flour off the table.  With a dish towel in hand, she approached the spill from the back side and worked it towards the table’s edge.  She then took her other hand, placed it below the edge and swept the flour off the table into the waiting hand.

    I was surprised at her efficiency and her accuracy.  I asked, “Hannah, how did you learn to do that so well?”  With a smile and an inquisitive look she answered, “Boppi, don’t you remember?  You taught me!” Talk about giving me the right answer!  It may have not been me, but the point is simply that she had been taught. 

    It could be said the ability to learn how to do a job is contingent on the ability of someone to teach how to do the job.  Getting a seasoned employee to train a new employee is usually a good arrangement.

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    January 1
    Zeke Salazar knows tires!  He has always been the local go-to-guy when friends and family needed help with anything having to do with tires.  Tires on cars, trucks and even lawnmowers, Zeke can fix it.
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    January 1
    Morgan is a full time student, works for a ranch and owns and operates her own online ladies’ jewelry/apparel store.  The business was going well, but she wanted to take it to another level.
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    January 1
    Leather. Leather belts, bags, wallets and computer cases are just a few of the custom designed and produced products of Cow Dog Leather located in Eden, Texas. Cheryl Wood, owner and Greg Casey, leather craftsman started their business in June at the Eden Incubator.
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    January 1

    Rosa Camarillo, originally from El Salvador, has worked in the food industry for more than ten years. Since she started her first job she always dreamed on having her own restaurant that will cater to those that love Latin American food. One day, Rosita had the opportunity to make her dream come true when she finally had the resources to start building in Grape Creek (the town where she lives) her first restaurant, Rosita’s Kitchen.

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    January 1
    Lala’s Fashion owned by Jerri Fierro offers formal wear, specifically for women. The formal wear includes dresses for quinceañeras, prom, special occasions, bridal and more. Lala’s Fashion offers formal wear to the local community and surrounding rural areas. Ms. Jerri Fierro has managed Kerrie’s Creations in Ozona, TX for two and half years when she had the opportunity to run independently and establish her own company offering only formal wear under Lala’s Fashion.
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    October 13

    As a small business owner, have you been asked lately, “What do YOU need?”  If not, then let me say that there is a Texas group who wants to know.  The Texas Small Business Needs Assessment Poll is a partnership between the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ Community Development Department and the Texas Small Business Development Center Network. They are looking for your input!

    In reviewing the 2013 results of the Poll, 66% of business owners expected overall business conditions to improve.  The percentage of business expecting sales and revenue to increase was 71%.  Most of the businesses responding were small businesses with one to five employees.

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    September 22

    Last week I had the opportunity to attend the annual America’s SBDC conference in Grapevine, Texas. There were three full days of intense learning about different industries and how advisors can use best practices to serve such industries. One of the workshops I attended was given by Rhonda Abrams, a successful entrepreneur that presented the topic “The Leap: The Next Level for Business.” Rhonda Abrams has conducted in-depth research with entrepreneurs in many industries throughout the country to identify the key factors contributing to their ability to turn small businesses into mid-sized companies.  During the presentation Abrams talked about the importance of having a strategy in place to grow your business and leaving aside the fear of having to personally control everything to get this accomplished. In summary, these are the main points discussed during her presentation: 

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    September 8

    Yes, it is true; your small business can sell to the government. The only thing standing in your way is learning how to “talk the talk.” The Angelo State University Small Business Development Center can help you understand the needs of federal, state and local purchasers.

    Learn all about it Tuesday by attending “How to do Business with the Government.” The training session is from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Business Resource Center, 69 N. Chadbourne St. Check-in will be at 9 a.m., and the fee is $15. Selling to the government is open to all businesses!

    Small business owners will learn about requests for proposals, how to search for contracts specific to their products and services, and the value of forming team relationships.

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    August 10

    Are you significant?

    Recently I heard the word, significant, used in conjunction with employees. The motivational speaker asked, “Do your employees feel significant?” The combination of the words “employees and significant” combined into one thought was an unusual combination and it took me a minute to wrap my thoughts around it.

    Employees are commonly referred to as being valued, irreplaceable, important, empowered, happy, productive and a variety of other adjectives, but the single word, significant, carries its own unique connotation.

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    July 27

    While one of our interns was doing some file compilation, he brought to my attention that I had a high influx of clients in May compared with other months.

    He asked me, “What is the reason?” After trying to think of different reasons, my conclusion was that around midyear people have thought about starting a business long enough and maybe have received some extra money from their tax return to start the new journey.

    But the million-dollar question becomes, “How much money do I need to start my business?” 

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    July 6

    As an owner of a small business sometimes little time is given to the “formalities” of managing a business and certain areas tend to be overlooked.

    Performance reviews are a good example. Often, business owners work under the everyday evaluation policy without ever having a formal evaluation period; therefore, important information is missed causing potential larger problems in the business.

    It is well-known that employers who hold some sort of evaluation to review employees performance yearly gain tremendous benefits. Unfortunately, the word “evaluation” usually has a bad connotation because most people will think of an evaluation as the time to bring up failures or shortcomings.

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    June 22

    I watched as the manager leaned in to speak with his employee who was answering the telephone. As the employee began to respond to the caller, the manager spoke softly, “Manage expectations.”

    As the phone call progressed, it was evident the manager was coaching the employee how to be successful in providing all the information the caller would need prior to their arrival — managing expectations.

    Managing expectations helps to maintain smooth transactions. As a former furniture store owner, we held true to the statement, “Under-promise and over-deliver.”

     

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    June 1

    The dream of every business owner is for business to be able to expand, but when your business grows from day to night it can be scary.

    Like children, when they grow and suddenly no clothes fit them, you feel overwhelmed by the idea of what you could do to fulfill all the needs of your growing child/business.

    The current market environment San Angelo and nearby towns are experiencing is challenging, fast growth in a short time. Currently small businesses feel pressure to grow too fast to meet clients’ demands and be able to compete in the market. This accelerated growth has created stress in business owners and has driven them to make expansion decisions often without the necessary planning. And, unfortunately, this accelerated growth can jeopardize the business’ future.

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    May 18

    “The goal to be reached is the mind’s insight into what knowing is. Impatience asks for the impossible, wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there.” Hegel 1770-1831.

    This poster, neatly framed, hangs in my office to help remind me my job is to help my clients reach their goal by helping them prepare.

    Preparation is the “means of getting there” and the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center offers the training to prepare you so you can reach your goal. Without a basic foundation in the tools and vocabulary of business, it will be you who “asks for the impossible.”

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    April 28

    We often find ourselves looking for feedback, such as reviews on places or things of interest to make sure we are making the right decision or that we will make our time and money worth the while.

    Therefore, as business owners you are aware of the importance of customer reviews on your websites, social media and even word-of-mouth comments.

    Sometimes being able to handle all the feedback you received from clients can be challenging, but I guarantee it will be worth your time.

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    April 13

    As it is said, “I know I’m preaching to the choir,” when I say that customers will help you build and grow your small business.  Business owners constantly work to get referrals from their customers but sometimes it is good hear about and explore different techniques which may sharpen your skills.

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    March 23

    When hiring employees sometimes we find ourselves in a bind on what to put more emphasis on, soft or hard skills?

    The perfect combination is ideal but often difficult. For many job positions hard skills will be the area to focus on, but for many other businesses related to customer services or sales, soft skills might be paramount to make a decision when hiring.

    Hard and soft skills are often discussed when hiring. For most jobs, while the hard skills are essential to getting the interview, it’s the soft skills that will land the job because as an employer you want someone who won’t just perform their job function, but will be a good personality fit for the company and make a good impression on clients.

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    March 16

    SAN ANGELO, Texas — Got a great idea for a business? Got a great name for that great idea for a business? Does anyone else own that great name for that great idea that you have for a business? Better check on that.

    I am of the opinion that selecting the correct name for any endeavor has never been as important as it is today. Your business name will be bounced between all different venues of social media, TV and radio as well as print media. The name you select might even become a sought-after window decal.

    During my research for assistance to a client, I came across two different avenues for selecting a business name. First is advice from a professional naming company and the second is a “crowd-source” business naming opportunity.

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    February 23

    SAN ANGELO, Texas — Working in different environments surrounded by different people can be challenging, but also an educational experience.

    The world is composed of diverse people, and I am not referring to personalities. In this case, I focus on the different generations, the famous age gaps.

    Working at the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center, we work with clients from all generations. Interacting with all in a pleasant manner can be overwhelming at times. It is like flipping on and off different switches. But, the ability to do so will provide multiple benefits. Generational flexibility with clients and employees can become the key to a successful business.

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    February 9

    SAN ANGELO, Texas — The caller simply asked, “Can you help me with an idea I have for an invention?” My answer was, “Let’s meet and I can teach you how to perform a basic Web search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”

    The appointment was set and I did a mental review of the information I would be sharing at our first one-on-one counseling session.

    At the first meeting, I visited with the client about the Small Business Development Center and the wide variety of services we offer. I mentioned the center is funded through state and federal tax dollars and that every center, more than 900 across the nation, respects that responsibility. All centers are associated with colleges and universities and Angelo State University is our host institution.

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    January 29

    Mason Greenstar manufactures building components out of paper waste and a patented blend of binding solutions. Recent developments have led to their engaging in conversations with some very LARGE producers of cellulose. These cellulose producers see using Mason Greenstar processes to turn their refuse into environmentally friendly building materials.

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    January 28

    Entrepreneurs are dreamers. This statement was never truer than with Amanda Lyles. A native of San Angelo, MBA graduate of Texas Tech University and employee of the State of Texas, Amanda had a dream. She wanted to own and operate a Day Spa and had focused her energies on that goal.

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    January 5

    SAN ANGELO, Texas — There it was, finally the sofa had arrived in our store.

    It was beautiful in my eyes and I had lobbied hard to get it. It’s sleek, long slung seating had a contemporary modern look. The velvety or white which added to its uniqueness. Yes, it was orange, but in the late ’70s orange was still a popular color for living room furniture. It became a real conversation piece among our customers. Problem was, that’s all they did was talk about it.

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    December 16

    I received an interesting article a couple weeks ago. The article talked about the family affair of owning a business; learning who the boss is, and how the next ones in line can or cannot be successful.

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    December 2

    The question my client asked seemed simple at first: “How is a credit score determined?”

    I wanted to simply say it is determined by your consistent attention to paying your bills on time. Luckily though, I decided to research the answer and learned it’s far more than just paying bills on time.

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    November 12

    Before I started working at the Small Business Development Center, I had the same concept as many of you might have about SBDCs. The services offered by these centers are only for startups or “small” businesses. But, have you ever wondered what encompasses the term small business?

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    October 28

    “America’s Funniest Home Video” has provided an opportunity for the general public to laugh at the antics of small children, goofy grandparents and funny animals.

    With the Internet, this type of video is available instantly through myriad online portals. Your business, regardless if you are on the Internet or not, can be directly affected. What are you doing to manage the reputation of your business?

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    September 17

    When you make a decision to start a business, sometimes one of the first things you might do is go to the bank to open a new business account.

    Many times, the bank’s new accounts assistant will request you secure a DBA before opening the checking account.

    The DBA as it is called is an acronym for “Doing Business As.”

    This name is also referred to as a trade name or an assumed name. If you choose a name for your business as anything other than your own personal name, then you need to register it…