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Opportunity

§ September 6th, 2011 § Filed under small business § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , § 2 Comments

Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them. – William Arthur Ward

I started my business in April 1999 as a desktop publisher. I had a contract with my former employer to write and layout newsletters and search for and write grants.  As I met more people, I discovered a niche in writing, training, and desktop publishing for small businesses as well as non-profit organizations and government agencies. That morphed into doing consulting for small businesses, especially with their marketing plans.

But now, an opportunity has come along that has me truly excited.

Starting September 19, I will be a Business Advisor for the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Small Business Development Center (UTSA SBDC.)

I am thrilled about this chance to do much of what I already do under the umbrella of one of the most respected organizations for small businesses. I get a chance to work with small business owners to help them start and grow their businesses. I can help new business owners figure out whether their business idea is feasible, guide them in putting their business plans together, and work with them on their financing options. I can work with existing business owners to determine their next steps in increasing their size and scope and whether it is time to add employees. In addition, I can help businesses figure out the best way to market their products and services.

The fantastic part of this is that I get to do what I’ve done, but I won’t have to charge for my advice and guidance.  The one-on-one confidential business advising is at no cost to the business owner. The local SBDC is a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration and UTSA. The services are highly effective. Business owners who use the SBDC show sales growth that is three times that of the average Texas business.

I have long been a staunch advocate for the SBDC and have been a client as well. It will be an honor to work alongside people whom I so completely respect.

So I need a favor from my loyal readers. If you know of anyone who is starting a business, or anyone who needs advice on growing a business, please refer him or her to me. I’ll be at my desk at UTSA Downtown on September 20 and ready to meet with clients soon after. Please contact me.

It rained!

§ August 31st, 2011 § Filed under communication § Tagged , , , , § No Comments

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. – Kin Hubbard

Last Thursday, something remarkable happened. It rained in San Antonio. That’s remarkable because for the last six months, we have had only five days with any rain. With the exception of one day in June, these few days of rain produced less than an inch.

Thursday, I sat at a local coffee shop and when the rain started, everyone stopped what they were doing, looked up from their laptops or newspapers, stopped their conversations on their iPhones and in person, and breathed a collective happy, awe-filled sigh. Some people got up and walked outside. You would have thought it was snowing from the looks of delight and surprise on people’s faces.

I had a wonderful conversation with a delivery truck driver outside the coffee shop. I mentioned that I was tempted to dance in the rain. He told me that the last time it rained, he and his wife went walking in the storm, getting soaked, loving every minute of it.

People started talking to each other. Yes, in-person, real-life verbal conversations. There was not necessarily any depth to the conversations, but people who would normally ignore each other connected, at least on some level.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we all connected, even if only on a superficial level, with each other every day? If we made eye contact, said something, even banal comments, to complete strangers, rather than ignoring each other, wouldn’t it help create a happier community?

There are so many remarkable things going on every day that we are alive. We need to find excuses to connect with people in person.

Being Social

§ July 5th, 2011 § Filed under communication, marketing, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § 11 Comments

There’s always a price to be paid for doing, being, and having more, and it has little to do with working harder or knowing the “right” people. In as few words as possible, “get out more.”  – TUT… A Note from the Universe (Mike Dooley)

A few events lately have convinced me that it is time for some comments on social media. This is not designed to be a list of rules. One of the things I love about social media is that it is still in flux. We’re learning “acceptable” behavior as we go along. I’ve come up with a few suggestions, though, and would welcome your comments.

To the extent that you would keep your personal life and work life separate, keep your personal and work social media separate. I have two Facebook pages – one for business and one that is personal. My personal page is primarily a space for connecting with friends, although many of my friends are also business acquaintances. I only become “friends” with people I have actually met (with a few famous exceptions), and all are people whom I would invite to my home.

I started with two Twitter accounts, but am starting to meld those into one.  I accept everyone at LinkedIn, because I view that as a business network only.

I don’t think there should be any rules here, except to think about what your purpose is for the particular social media channel before you start accepting friends, following, and linking. Let that purpose guide you. Just stay civil online and be sure to proofread. Remember who has access when posting your location or any updates.  If your friends have photos of you in compromising positions, well, that’s another whole issue.

Please remember that just because you are good at connecting on social media does not mean that you are sociable. Sometimes the skills that make a person truly excellent at social media are not the skills that make him or her personable or well-mannered. Both venues require a bit of “walking in the other person’s shoes,” but the in-person interaction can be more difficult for people who are introverted. If you feel more comfortable online, you may need to work on your face-to-face manners. Make sure that you smile, make eye contact, act courteously, and follow through on commitments. When you are with someone in person, stop texting and updating, and be present.

Finally, the more social media you participate in, the more you need to connect in real life to balance yourself out. Recently, I joined a new friend for lunch. We initially met through a #BMPR event and started following each other on Twitter. We know each other more based on what we Tweet than an in-person connection. As I approached her, I realized that I was visualizing her name with an @ in front of it.

That’s when you know you have spent too much time online.

What guidelines would you like for social media? Join the conversation – post your comments here.

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