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Sep 19, 2014

New Business Spotlight: 3 Guidant Clients Become Small Business Owners

It’s that time again to shine the spotlight on a few of our clients’ small business success stories. See how these three entrepreneurs went from corporate America workers to business owners. 

Bill Colvin (pictured right) was a senior supply-chain manager for several Fortune 100 companies before he set out on his own to open a Max Muscle Sports Nutrition franchise in Bellevue, Washington. The competitive sports athlete has always loved a good challenge, and business ownership is just another way for him to conquer his goals. Now, he enjoys helping people reach their own health and fitness objectives. Learn more about Colvin in his press release.

When Luke Chang was let go from his corporate job, it served as the fuel he needed to start exploring business ownership with his wife, Kathy. The couple chose to open an 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon in Anaheim, California (pictured left), which celebrated its grand opening earlier this week. They’ve called the experience of business ownership “fulfilling and rewarding” so far, and expect it to get even better over time. See how the Chang’s financed their business debt-free in their press release.

Jon Potter’s career took an unexpected career detour when he decided to open his own business. Potter was a construction engineer in Kansas when he took a chance and opened a full-service salon and spa in Boulder, Colorado. Finishing Touch Spa & Salon (pictured right) offers everything from haircuts and color to therapeutic massage and relaxing steam sauna sessions. Check out his press release to find out what Potter loves most about being a salon owner.

Sep 18, 2014

3 Unique Ways You Can Thank Your Customers

Customers make the world go ‘round; you couldn’t own the business of your dreams without them! So even when it’s not customer appreciation day, it’s important to thank the people who help to keep you in business! You should always be thanking your customers by providing the best possible customer service your business can provide, but try and go the extra mile every now and then. 

If you want to show your customers some extra lovin’, try out these three unique ways to say thank you.

Offer great deals. 

Obviously, you have to think of the business first. You have to come out on top when it comes to pricing, but every now and then, offer some really, really good deals. If you can be known as the business in your industry “with the good deals,” it’ll do better for your profit in the long run. Not only is it a great way to thank your customers for choosing your business, but it’s a great way to get people to try your product or service that they might not otherwise at full price.

On top of offering some great deals every once in a while, celebrate your customers by offering a free product on their birthday, or provide seasonal coupons around the holidays. Birthdays and holidays are celebrations for family and friends, and you want your customers to know that they’re a part of your family.  

Try out a referral program.
Another great way to thank your customers for their business is to thank them for the business of their friends as well. If your company doesn’t already have a referral program and would benefit from one (a company that benefits from long-term or membership customers), try implementing one to let your customers know you’re thankful for their support, particularly their word-of-mouth referrals. Even if you just promise 50 percent off their next purchase with every new referral, you’ll end up making that money back through new customers.

Always follow up.
We make a point in our office to always follow up with every customer after they’ve used our service. Not only do we want our customers to know that we care about their experience with us, but it also provides invaluable feedback for us to implement their ideas and adjust how we do things. Whether you can do personal phone calls or you have to send automated emails to a crazy client list, both show your customers that you value their opinion and input. Do what you can, and be thankful for the feedback! 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Sep 17, 2014

Kanye West’s Wheelchair Flub Powers Discussion over ADA Compliance

Last weekend, the ever-controversial Kanye West stopped one of his shows in Australia to call out a man in the audience for not standing. When the man remained seated, West sent a bodyguard to investigate and finally continued the show when he learned the real reason why the fan wasn’t standing — he was in a wheelchair.   

Since then, the pop-culture world has been abuzz with how insensitive West was with his comments. There’s also a significant lesson to be learned from the incident for small businesses: the importance of ADA compliance. 

According to The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, all businesses (large and small) that provide goods or services to the public are required to:

  • Modify policies and practices that discriminate with against people with disabilities.
  • Comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities.
  • Remove barriers in existing facilities where readily achievable.
  • Provide auxiliary aids and services when needed to ensure effective communication.
More than 50 million Americans have disabilities, and each one is a potential customer. While it’s best to consult legal aid to determine if your business is ADA compliant in all areas, here are a few tips to get you moving in the right direction:
  • Remove physical barriers, such as steps. If the removal of steps is not possible, provide curbside service.
  • Instruct your employees to help customers with disabilities retrieve out-of-reach items.
  • Amend policies that exclude those with disabilities. Examples include permitting service animals in your business and letting more than one person in a dressing room at a time to allow for a wheelchair user and his/her companion.
  • Depending on how many parking spaces your business has, provide at least one accessible parking space with an access aisle of 5 feet or more to allow a wheelchair user to get in and out of their vehicle.
To learn more about ADA compliance for businesses, check out this Primer for Small Business.

Sep 16, 2014

Small Businesses Should Take the Smartphone Seriously

Smartphones have been all over the news lately. Between the unveiling of Apple’s iPhone 6 (which broke records with 4 million pre-orders), Amazon slashing the price of its Fire smartphone and Google getting in on the low-price boom with $105 Androids, smartphones are becoming increasingly common in today’s society. 

According to Pew Research Center, 55 percent of adults owned a smartphone as of January 2014, and that number’s expected to grow even more by next year. In China, they’re even testing a sidewalk specifically created for distracted cellphone users. What does all of this mean for small businesses? It’s time to start taking the smartphone seriously. 

With smartphones, more and more people are conducting research on a 4-inch or less screen, especially when it comes seeking out local businesses. That drastically changes the consumer experience on a business website, which is meant to be seen on a 12-inch or larger desktop or laptop screen. If your business website isn’t optimized for mobile viewing, that should be your first plan of attack. 

When someone scans a website on a smartphone, they’re usually on the go and looking for the basics — what the company sells, location, business hours, etc. When you’re working to mobile-optimize your website, make sure that information is on the homepage or easily findable within a few taps. Simplify the design and content of your website so it’s digestible on a small screen, and remove large photos or chunks of text that aren’t necessary and require lots of scrolling.

Next, think about the buying experience on a mobile device. If your business is involved in ecommerce, there are likely parts of the process that will have to adapt for mobile ease. The ability to buy online should be obvious, and the checkout process should be simple and secure. 

Many small business owners don’t think they have the time or money to spend on creating a website that’s mobile-optimized. But several free or low-cost tools exist to make the experience painless for the less tech savvy, including Mobify, Winksite and Wix.

Sep 15, 2014

Royal Baby News Sparks Conversation About Work-Life Balance for Mothers

Last week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, confirmed they’re expecting their second child. This announcement came just two months after the world watched the first birthday celebration unfold for the couple’s first child, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. 

The happy royal baby news comes on the heels of a less exciting article published by The New York Times, which reports that having children can be a fatal career move for women. According to the article, mothers are less likely to be hired for jobs, to be perceived as competent employees or to be paid as much as their male counterparts. Meanwhile, for men, children actually help them succeed professionally. Fathers are more likely to be hired and tend to be paid more after they have children. 

While Kate Middleton will have plenty of assistance to help her care for Prince George and his sibling as she carries out her duties as duchess, most working mothers don’t have the same luxury, especially when they own their own business. Here are a few tips for working mothers to lighten the load and remain a powerful force in the workplace:

  • Involve your spouse. Don’t get so caught up in savoring every moment with your child that you forget to include your spouse in the responsibilities of childcare. 
  • Line childcare up early. Start developing trust and confidence in your childcare provider early so when you go back to work, you’re not constantly worried.
  • Compartmentalize. When you’re at work, make it a point to be there mentally. You may find being a parent actually fuels productivity as you strive to get home sooner. Meanwhile, at home, stop thinking about your work duties and pay attention to your family (which will allow you to relax and recharge for the next day). 
  • Be kind to yourself. Many moms feel guilty for leaving their kids to go to work. But according to Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In,” mothers who work full-time have no less of a close relationship with their children. Additionally, being a stay-at-home mom has its own, unique challenges, including greater risks of depression and low self-esteem. 

Sep 12, 2014

New Business Spotlight: Renew Crew and Mr. Appliance

Join us in congratulating two more of our clients who used their retirement funds to open their own franchise locations.

After Christine Robinson left her 17-year career as an accounting manager at a small business, she decided to follow her heart and invest in her own Renew Crew franchise. She had concerns about the economy and knew a business would give her the best likelihood of getting a good return on her investment. Learn more about Renew Crew and why Robinson loves being a small business owner in her press release.

For Keith Griffith, it was the freedom of business ownership that lured him into opening a Mr. Appliance franchise. He had spent 22 years in the military, and when he attempted to transition into a “regular, civilian” job, he knew he needed more independence. Franchising gave him the opportunity to be his own boss while following a tried-and-true business model. Read his press release to learn more about his business and his goals. 

Sep 11, 2014

We’ll Never Forget

Thirteen years ago today, the United States suffered the horrific attacks of 9/11 that resulted in almost 3,000 Americans losing their lives. Our deepest thoughts are with those who were affected by the attacks that day. We’ll never forget. 

By presidential proclamation, Sept. 11 has been consecrated as Patriot Day. Americans are called on to observe a national moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. EDT in memoriam.
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