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Oct 1, 2014

3 Business Lessons Derek Jeter Has Taught Us

Baseball fans (including many in our office) are still celebrating Derek Jeter’s final game at Fenway Park last weekend. The New York Yankee shortstop has officially retired from the Yankees, choosing to play in his last games of the season rather than watching from the dugout, and his fans were with him to the end.

Believe it or not, Jeter has taught us some very important business lessons throughout his 20-year career. Before you say goodbye to the legend for good, take these lessons to heart: 
  • Don’t panic in the fall. It’s easy to assume the worst when you experience a dip in sales, but as Jeter showed us, it’s the ability to rise above and thrive under pressure that separates the good from the great. It’s no secret that the Yankees were going through a dry spell, even with Jeter on the team, but with his ability to remain a stronghold, he led the team to some otherwise unlikely victories. 
  • Aim for consistency. Jeter wasn’t known for his home runs or grand slams (he had only one grand slam in his career and averaged 13 home runs a year), but he consistently hit solid singles and doubles that led to wins. While you can and should dream big as a business owner, aim to be consistent rather than record-breaking. It’s those small wins than add up to make a very successful business.
  • Strike a balance. Not only was Jeter a great hitter, but he exceled at making a variety of pitches work to his advantage. As a result, pitchers couldn’t rely on one tactic to strike him out. Similarly, as a business owner, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your skillset so you can excel in multiple roles in your business, and customize your sales pitch to strike a chord with a variety of audiences.   

Sep 30, 2014

Learning from Comcast’s Customer Service Nightmare

Using Comcast and customer service in the same sentence, let alone the same paragraph, is sure to elicit groans from many. Sure enough, Comcast is among the worst-ranking businesses when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to the American Customer Service Satisfaction Index, and many disgruntled patrons have taken to social media to share their frustrating experiences. 

One such Comcast client, Ryan Block, recorded a phone call in which a representative refused to cancel his Internet service. It took eight minutes of Block repeatedly asking for service to be canceled before his request was finally granted.

Comcast made a statement earlier this week saying that they’re taking steps to fix their problems in customer service and has appointed an executive to a new position to repair the damage done. However, they’ve also agreed that it will take months before the issue will be solved. In the meantime, here are three lessons small businesses can learn from the Comcast debacle: 
  • Take responsibility. Don’t give your customers the run around to different departments and individuals. Take charge of solving their issue, even if it means going to other departments yourself and asking questions on behalf of the customer.   
  • Listen. If a customer has an issue with your products or services, listen to them uninterrupted and try to understand what caused their frustration. Only after they’re done talking should you apologize and begin working to solve the issue.   
  • Reimburse them for their problems. If a customer takes the time to call you about a problem, you can bet it matters to them; your job is to make them feel understood and valued. Thank them for bringing the issue to your attention, offer a refund for faulty products, and/or provide a coupon/discount for their next purchase. The more you make them feel valued, the more likely they are to be repeat customers and recommend your business to their friends.

Sep 29, 2014

3 Hispanic Entrepreneurs Who Are Making Headlines

Every year from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, the U.S. celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, recognizing the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Today, more than 50 million Hispanics call the U.S. their home; of that, a large majority hold notable positions in society: 70,000 hold CEO positions, 50,000 are physicians or surgeons, and 38 are members of the U.S. Congress. 

Hispanics have been making waves in the world of small business ownership as well. During the Great Recession, while rates of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs declined, the number of Hispanic business owners grew by 71.5 percent, making a big impact on unemployment rates. According to a 2014 report by Geoscape, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. is expected to grow 43 percent this year, from 2.26 million in 2007 to 3.22 million.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, here are three notable Hispanic entrepreneurs who earned more than 5 million in 2013:
  • George Paz — Chairman, CEO and President; Express Scripts Holding Company. At 57, Paz has been president of Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits management company, for 11 years. He’s led the company through three major mergers and has achieved earnings growth of 30 percent per year. 
  • J. Paul Raines — CEO and Director, GameStop Corp. Since 2010, Raines has led GameStop in opening 400 stores across the nation. Under his guidance, the American video game software retailer has also acquired Spawn Labs, a game streaming company, and Kongregate, a social gaming community.  
  • Dr. Joseph Mario Molina, M.D. — Chairman, CEO and President; Molina Healthcare, Inc. Named the largest Hispanic business in the U.S. in terms of revenue and growth, Dr. Molina took over as president of the company in 1996 when his father, the company’s founder, passed away. Dr. Molina was named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Hispanics in America in 2005.

Sep 26, 2014

New Business Spotlight: Floor Coverings International and Chitterchats Ice Cream Parlor

Taking the leap from employee to employer is a big decision, and this week, we’d like to cheer on two more of our clients who have pursued their dreams of entrepreneurship:

Mike and Lindsay Murphy always felt pulled toward business ownership. The couple finally decided it was time to pursue their passions this year, and they put their energy into launching a Floor Coverings International franchise in Birmingham, Alabama. Using a 401(k) rollover, the Murphys financed their business debt-free. See why they love being business owners in their press release
For Jeff and Jennifer Bramblet, it was a move to a new location that spurred them to become entrepreneurs. The Bramblets relocated to Reedville, Virginia last year, and they wanted a way to get more involved in their community. They decided to purchase Chitterchats Ice Cream Parlor, where locals have enjoyed sharing news and wise cracks for years — a tradition the Bramblets hope to preserve. Check out their press release to find out the secret behind their success.

Sep 25, 2014

Catch up with Guidant on the Road

The next week is going to be a busy one for the Guidant team with two conferences on the East Coast.

Beginning this Sunday, four of our team members (CEO and co-founder David Nilssen, Channel Marketing Manager Jana Leland, National Biz Dev Manager Allison Zorich, and new Senior Finance Consultant Steve Nilssen) will be at the annual The Entrepreneur’s Source conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This will be Steve’s first time to attend the conference as a dedicated TES consultant. We’ll have a table at the event, which lasts through Thursday, so be sure to say hello if you’ll be there. 

Next Wednesday, Oct. 1, our CEO David will also be at BoeFly’s Franchise Lending Spotlight event in Philadelphia. This event aims to introduce banks to some of the leadings franchise brands growing in the country, and David will be a panelist at the event as well.

Drop us a note if you’re going to be at either one of the events. See you there!

Sep 24, 2014

Fall Makes the Perfect Season to Open a New Business

The autumnal equinox took place earlier this week, and you know what that means — fall is officially upon us. While we normally think of fall as the season of bright-colored leaves, pumpkins and apple cider, it’s also a great time of year to start a business. 

As the world gears up for the holiday season, many consumers are in a buying spirit, and not just for gifts. They’ve been saving up, and fall is the time for them to start spending their money on themselves and others. Plus, as the weather gets chillier, people look for indoor activities, like shopping, allowing businesses to generate more foot traffic.

Don’t forget that the months leading up to the holidays are also ripe with sales on a variety of products. For start-ups needing to stock up on office supplies in their first months of business, fall is a great time to save on expenses.

Between the amplified revenue potential and increased savings, fall is an ideal season to set your sights on business ownership. Need help with financing? We offer a full suite of options to make financing your business as smooth as possible. Give us a call at 888.472.4455 to talk with one of our financing consultants, or take five minutes to get pre-qualified now.

Sep 23, 2014

3 Simple Ways to Keep Cloud Storage Safe from Hackers

In the wake of the exploitative scandal that led to several naked celebrity photos being hacked from the cloud, many are questioning the security of the invisible storage space that floats above us. How can you keep the data you store there safe from peeping eyes? 

According to an Apple investigation, the celebrity accounts that were hacked, including those of Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian, were the result of “very targeted attacks on user names, passwords and security questions.” However, to ease security anxieties, Apple has beefed up protection of data stored in the iCloud by launching a two-factor authentication. This new process allows iCloud users to activate a second means of verification, usually in the form of an SMS code sent to a phone, which must be entered to gain access. 

Here are a few other steps you can take to make sure data stored in the cloud remains for your eyes only:  

  • Avoid storing highly sensitive information in the cloud — the most obvious choice to ensure information remains private. Rather than sending to the cloud, choose another, more private method, like saving files to your local, password-protected computer or storing them in an email message.  
  • Beef up your usernames and passwords. Don’t use the same usernames and passwords over and over again. Change them often, use random words, and include a variety of lower and uppercase letters, numbers and characters. Get more tips on creating strong passwords here.  
  • Change your backup settings. Most cloud services give you the option to automatically back up your software. If there’s questionable data saved on your devices at any given time, turn off the automatic backups to avoid that private material from being saved in the cloud and perform backups manually.

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