Business names and slogans that sell

Your business name can help prospects remember you and what you sell, or it can leave them clueless. A name like PlumberToTheRescue will pretty much let anyone who hears about you or has one of your business cards know exactly what you do. But if your name is Bob Smith & Associates, you could be anything from an accountant to a driveway resurfacing company.

If you’re just starting out, consider choosing a business name that describes your business in some way. Don’t get too specific – you don’t want to call your photography business Darling Young Portraits if you also plan to solicit business as a business photographer. But do try to get some phrase in your business name that will help prospects remember you and think your business is the best one to call.

If you’re already using a nondescript business name – say Jones & Company, Inc. – there’s nothing to stop you from renaming your business (if the current business name isn’t widely known) or creating a unique name for the primary product or service you sell and promoting that unique name

Find Suppliers for Your Business

Better, faster, cheaper.

Those three magic words can turn your hot prospects into happy customers. But in order for you to give your customers better products, faster service and lower rates, you have to develop a core group of reliable suppliers who cut you good deals on the products and services you buy.

Finding reliable suppliers who will sell to you at low cost is no easy task. In fact, it’s not unusual for small businesses to find they can buy certain products cheaper from Wal-Mart than they can from a wholesaler. Nor is it unusual for a wholesaler or distributor to refuse to sell to a very small business. That’s because it will take their sales staff the same time to process your $150 order as it would to process a $5,000 order.

Nevertheless, you can develop a core group of suppliers you can trust. Here are tips to help:

Be persistent
Good suppliers and good deals don’t just show up on your doorstep. You’ll need to put considerable effort into finding the best products, prices and suppliers. You can find names of suppliers by scouring trade magazines and newspapers, searching the Internet and reading messages posted in online forums or mailing lists. Then it’s up to you to contact suppliers and get the best deal.

Don’t be so focused on getting rock bottom prices that you alienate your suppliers, though. If you nickel and dime them, act arrogant or make a nuisance of yourself, your suppliers won’t go out of their way to help you when you need it, and may ultimately decide they just don’t want your business at all.

Shop the ads in trade magazines
Whether you want to buy a pump to use in your laboratory, shredded paper to use as filler in decorative baskets, or silver earrings to sell at flea markets, you’re likely to find the products you need advertised in a trade magazine for your industry.

If you are just starting out in business and aren’t sure what trade publications exist, visit your local public library and ask the reference librarian for help finding trade publications in your industry. Check the list of free trade publications on, too. There may be one or more trade publications for which you’d qualify for a free subscription. You can also search for trade magazines on the Internet. Simply go to a major search engine like Google, BING, or Yahoo and search for the name of your industry and the term, “trade magazine.”

Once you find trade publications for your field, browse through all the ads. Small display ads at the backs of the magazines and new product listings can help you find new suppliers. If you are scouting out merchandise to sell, look over ads to see if there are any minimum purchase requirements.

Find suppliers on the web
Searching the Internet will help you find suppliers you’d miss in trade magazine. Go to Google or another major search engine and search for the name of the product you want to purchase followed by a word such as, “manufacturer,” “wholesale,” or “supplier.” If you’re looking for plastic boxes for example, type the term “plastic boxes wholesale” in the search box. Note the search results. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try a variation of the original search term, such as “wholesale plastic boxes.” Often you’ll see slightly different results just by changing the order of words in your online search.

Find Local Bargains
Before you place an order from out-of-state vendors, try to find a local suppliers for the same goods. You may be able to save a considerable amount on shipping costs and greatly reduce the time it takes to get your order without paying extra for expedited shipping. To narrow your Internet search down to local vendors, use the same search term you did initially, and follow that by the name of your county and state or your city and state. For example if you searched for “wholesale plastic boxes new york city new york” on Google, the first result that’s not an ad lists three companies under a heading that reads:

“Local results for wholesale plastic boxes near New York, NY”

Search for directories of manufacturers on the Internet
If you’re looking for manufacturers, you may have better luck searching directories of manufacturers online. Two of the most well know are the ThomasNet, which includes ThomasRegister and ThomasRegional listings and MacRae’s Blue Book. is a comprehensive resource for industrial information, products, services, CAD drawings. The site also has online supplier catalogs with detailed buying and specifying information. MacRae’s contains contact information for companies that supply industrial companies.

Extending the goodwill of Small Business Saturday: How to turn your SBS customers into regulars

Small Business Saturday – a nationwide holiday shopping event created by American Express in 2010 to encourage local merchant patronage – is an opportunity for small businesses to establish themselves as a shopping location/website of choice and increase their customer base in communities they operate. And it doesn’t have to be only a 24-hour window of opportunity. Small Business Saturday can be a launch pad to increased visibility and more engaged customers while providing momentum for the rest of the holiday shopping season – and beyond. Connie Certusi, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions, suggests the following for making the most of Small Business Saturday and leveraging the customer insights gained:

Be on your best behavior – Small Business Saturday has the potential to attract new customers and, as such, you should be prepared to shine. Be ready to showcase or offer samples of your best products or services and pay particular attention to your customer service. You get one shot at impressing visitors, so don’t spare any effort or appropriate expense in achieving this goal.

Incentivize your customers – If you want to increase the probability of Small Business Saturday customers purchasing your products or services again, you may want to offer a gift or discount that can be redeemed on their next visit. One efficient way to give out coupons is investing in a payment terminal that automatically prints discounts along with the customer’s receipt. Coupon details can be programmed and customized in advance, saving you the time and trouble of remembering to provide the coupon every time you help with customers’ purchases.

Social Media – Use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote your Small Business Saturday deals and encourage conversations about your business. Present your followers with a discount or gift when they visit you on Small Business Saturday, bring a friend along or recommend your business on their profiles. After Small Business Saturday, encourage people to write reviews of your business and their customer experience.

Track Small Business Saturday customers and best-selling items – Keeping records of the clients who visit your business on Small Business Saturday can aid customer retention. For starters, be sure to get their email address, and put systems in place to track their purchases. This information gives you an opportunity to thank customers for shopping and reward them with exclusive offers. It also helps you understand customers’ shopping behaviors better when planning how to retain their business. Additionally, track what sells best and what extra inventory is leftover afterward to identify sales trends, potential discount items and if additional holiday staffing will be needed. Depending on your size and needs, consider either a contact management or customer relationship management (CRM) tool to track these relationships more effectively, and an accounting system that can track inventory details and purchasing habits for your customers.

Cash in on mobility – Worldwide, businesses big and small are experiencing the many benefits of integrating mobility into their operations. If you haven’t tried it yet, consider testing a few tools on Small Business Saturday. Have your employees use a mobile payment tool via smartphone while assisting customers in the store, or look up inventory on a trial mobile app. You can also mobilize your customer data onto smartphones and tablets so sales associates can use the information to make purchase recommendations when speaking with loyal customers (i.e. a clothing retailer, beauty shop etc.). After Small Business Saturday, you can analyze if implementing mobile tools can further help improve your sales and customer service.

How to Sound Like You Mean Business (Even When You Feel Like a Wimp Inside)

There comes a time in life when we need to throw our weight around. To be taken seriously. To command attention. Not to intimidate or manipulate others (I hope) but to take a powerful stand for something we believe in.

With my three-step VoiceShaping technique, you can learn to control your tone of voice so only the emotions you want come through. These techniques will help you speak out and be heard, and express yourself with power and authority–even if you feel like a marshmallow inside.

Actors, orators and politicians have been using these techniques for centuries. Now you can learn them too. Here’s the basic idea: You can’t communicate effectively without emotion. To express yourself fully and congruently you merely need to access the proper emotional state. You do this by giving yourself cues, which are auditory (heard), kinesthetic (felt), and visual (seen). Here’s how:

Every tone of voice has a corresponding:

1. Key word- auditory cue

2. Mental image- visual cue

3. Body language- kinesthetic cue

KEY WORD: Your auditory cue. Using a single word, name the over-riding “feeling” you’d like to convey in your presentation. For an authoritative tone of voice choose a dynamic active word such as: “power,” “strong,” “win,” “go,” or “yes”(my favorite). Say this word aloud over and over with gusto!

MENTAL IMAGE: Your visual cue. As you say your authoritative key word out loud, a movie will begin to form in your mind. Keep saying your key word over and over, making the image clear and bright. For an authoritative tone of voice, some people see themselves as a coach, an executive or a military officer. Find the image that works for you. But notice all the cinematic details, the colors, the set design, the supporting players.

BODY LANGUAGE: Your kinesthetic cue. The fastest way to change the sound of your voice is to change your physiology. Make your body language BIG. To sound more authoritative, stand up! Erect posture. Strong hand gestures. Firm gaze, even when you are on the phone. In fact, when speaking on the phone, don’t let your eyes wander. If you are alone in the room, fix your gaze on the eyes of a person in a photograph or magazine. This technique may sound a little strange, but it really works!

What Do Your Customers Think About You?

Consumers are spending their hard-earned dollars much more selectively and you, as a small business owner, are vying for a share of that spending.

Why do your customers come to you rather than to your competition? Find out what, for them, sets your company apart. Show them that you value their opinions.

If you don’t know why your best, repeat customers continue to shop with you, or whether they would buy more frequently if certain things were done, or if you can’t estimate how soon they will return, you are behind in the game.

To stay ahead of your competition, you must be more familiar with your customers. Do they like you, your staff, your storefront or website, your products and services? Do they feel valued, or just a number? If a mistake is made, would they trust that you would rectify it in the best way possible? Is there more you can do to satisfy them before, during and after their purchasing experience with you?

The best way to answer these questions is to ask them!

There are many ways to survey customer satisfaction. Some surveys cost money, some don’t. Some stores even offer the chance to win a prize to get responses about customer experience. Large companies pay marketing companies quite a bit for this service…because knowing your customer is critical to success.

Many small business owners talk to their customers during or after a purchase and find out some information on the spot. Follow-up calls are sometimes made, but, some people are not comfortable giving you negative feedback, and they don’t come back. However, if the conversations are directed toward how you can improve, people are quicker to make suggestions. After all, everyone likes to help others improve! So, soften up those conversations if you really want feedback.

If you are looking for more objective input to determine your strengths and weaknesses, perhaps sending a mail piece would be helpful. You could send it to a few customers each quarter, include it with holiday cards, with a stamped return postcard on which there are just a few key questions meant to assess your products, services, your delivery manner, and how you can improve.

These are just a few suggestions that can bring you closer to your customer and let them know you are interested in their needs. When they know they are valued, then you get to know what they think about you. And that may make the difference in where they choose to spend their money the next time!

Nurturing Creativity and Innovation

Are you or someone in your company having trouble coming up with new ideas? Are you finding that everyone is starting to think alike or thinking about things in a short sighted manner? Perhaps they are reluctant to take risks and you are wondering if there is anything you can do.

The good news is yes-a lot can be done. The examples above relate to the creative operative of the team. Contrary to what many people believe, creativity doesn’t just happen—it can be intended for, nurtured, and developed.

So how is creativity different from innovation?

To gain a better understanding of what creativity and innovation are, let’s define them.

Creativity is a process of developing and expressing novel ideas that are likely to be useful.

Innovation is the combination and/or amalgamation of knowledge into an original, relevant new idea.

The evolution of creativity to innovation

So, diving deeper, we find:

Creativity isn’t just talent; it’s a goal oriented process: Becoming more creative and innovative is best facilitated by taking on a collaborative approach. Synergy happens when a group can take the best of each persons’ unique viewpoint and self and develop a new idea. We can only do this when we are comfortable with others—and in a comfortable environment.

An innovation is the end result of the creative process. Creativity is a process you employ to improve your problem solving. You are not done until your creative efforts have produced a product, service, or process that answers the original need or solves the problem you identified at the outset.

Creativity involves convergent as well as divergent thinking. The creative process begins with divergent thinking—a breaking away from familiar or established ways of seeing and doing that produces novel ideas. Convergent thinking occurs in the later stages of the process. As the original ideas generated by the divergent thinking are shared, they are then evaluated to determine which ideas are genuinely novel and worth pursuing. The group must then use convergent thinking to choose the best idea.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

—Pablo Picasso

Ignore Everybody

Huge McLeod wrote a colorful and divergent book named, “Ignore Everybody And 39 Other Keys to Creativity.” In his book he talks about his path to creativity and some great tips for fostering personal and professional creativity. Here are some highlights:

#4: Good Ideas have lonely childhoods: McLeod suggests that good ideas won’t always be received with open arms, even from your closest support systems. Good ideas often feel resistance because the alter the power balance in relationships. He believes this is why it is selling a new product or service to the general public can oftentimes be easier than selling it to your own internal team or department… Hence the title!

#14: Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside: McLeod writes, “The more you practice your craft, the less you confuse wordly rewards, and vice versa. Even if your path never makes any money or furthers your career, that’s still worth a ton.” Here we are reminded of the old adage—do you what you love and the money will come.

#16: The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do from what you are not: Know your moral and creative bottom lines. McLeod writes,” Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more B.S. you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.”

Unleashing creative potential

There are other steps you can take, as well. By being aware of convergent group norms, you can support an environment in which people feel good about themselves, their peers, and their work. Your role and leadership shapes the way in which they are motivated to seek out problems and solve them.

• Carefully determine the group, seeking creative abrasion.

• Cultivate the workplace environment; physical space is important as psychological.

• Provide techniques and resources that enhance idea generation.

• Manage the process of creativity, so that the best ideas are transformed into innovative products, services, and ideas.

How successful Benjamin Franklin was in creating new businesses and running them!

Sometimes, it just amazes me to realize that besides running his printing press and being an American Ambassador for foreign countries, he invented the heating stove, bifocal glasses, the odometer, a lightning rod to harness electricity, and organized the U.S. Postal System. And these are just some of his achievements!

When he was 20 years old, Franklin determined 13 key values he hoped to master. At the top of his list was to waste no time. I think Franklin realized that all of his dreams hinged on value number one.

I often think that small business owners -future ones and seasoned ones alike – could take a lesson from Ben. After all, they have decided to become their own bosses, manage their own time, and live their business dream.

The most successful small business owners I know waste no time finding resources and learning how to start and grow their businesses. They waste no time trying to please their customers and to build better products, not just sell the ones they have. In any given day, they are cognizant that seconds lost are dollars lost.

So it might be wise to ponder Ben Franklin’s number one value if you are starting or running a business and want it to be successful. If you do, you may find yourself wasting no time depositing your earnings in the bank!

The Fortune is in the Fact Finding

Yes, that’s what I meant. Of course, the more popular slogan is, “the fortune is in the follow-up” and there’s truth to that. But when it comes to networking the fortune is also in the fact finding.

Sometimes, people are so eager to meet new contacts and business connections that they do not do their due diligence.
What do I mean?

If you have been working hard to establish your brand and your reputation as a business owner, you should guard that brand carefully. Sure most people think about this when it comes to how they brand themselves online, in the media, or on their websites.

But, who you bring to your network affects your brand as well.

Imagine, meeting someone at a business function. You exchange business cards. You exchange emails once or twice. Maybe even a quick visit to the new contact’s website. Impressive.

So, you consider working with this new contact on a project. After all, the company website is impressive and the business card and email signature reflect professionalism.

The project is underway. Things are going well. Until you get a call from a long time friend.

“I saw the press release about this new partnership you have with XYZ Company. How long have you known the president,” he asks.

“Oh we met three months ago and I am so excited we are working together. How do you know him?”

“Well, my law firm represented a group of companies who sued him. I cannot disclose details, but if you do a Google search, I know you can find lots of information,” he adds.

You do the Google search. Pages and pages of complaints is what you find about this new contact. There’s information about how the person reinvents himself and reestablishes a new company to cover his tracks. It was all there. Only you did not do any fact finding. Now what? Crisis management!

Could this really happen?

Does this really happen?

YES. It happens all the time. It does not, however, have to happen to you.

Save yourself time, money, and possible regret. As you build your network, fact find for peace of mind.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Starting Your Business

When you start a business, a lot can fall through the cracks if you’re not careful. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got your products and services set up and ready to go, your business registered with state agencies so that it’s legal, and then you need an idea of how you’ll get customers in the door or to your site. It can be a lot to remember! Here are ten things you absolutely should know before you launch your business

1. What You’re Selling. A lot of businesses try to offer too many types of products or services to appeal to a wider audience, but that rarely works well. Instead, zero in on a handful of things you can deliver well.

2. Your Business Strategy. Starting a business without at least a rough business plan will only set you up for failure. You need to know your competitive advantage and how you’ll market your business before starting.

3. Your Competitors. If you don’t know who you’re competing against, how can you get a game plan on how you’ll win over more customers? Look at not only businesses that compete in your space, but also other types of solutions that a customer could consider instead of yours. And look in all markets that you serve–which might not just be local.

4. Your Customers. The key to running a successful business is truly knowing your customers. Find out who they are, how they shop, and what motivates them so that you can better serve them.

5. Where Your Customers Receive Marketing Messages. You could dive right in to marketing your brand on blogs and social media, but if your customers don’t frequent these channels, you’ll be wasting your time. Focus on the channels they spend the most time on.

6. Your Marketing Budget. You can only do what you can afford when it comes to marketing, so get real with yourself about how much you can realistically spend on marketing.

7. Your Marketing Strategy. Once you have your budget set, you can see what kind of marketing services that will buy. And keep in mind real costs: social media may be free to set up but you’ll pay in either your own time or actual money for someone else to manage the accounts.

8. What Your Business Entity Should Be. To protect your personal assets, look into incorporating your business or forming an LLC. Otherwise you put yourself at risk.

9. Your State’s Business Filing Requirements. To register a business in your state, you’ll be required to fill out certain paperwork and pay certain fees. Get this lined up prior to starting (especially if you run a restaurant or other type of business that requires special certifications) to ensure you don’t break any laws.

10. The Tools to Help You. Fortunately, there are tons of amazing tools, apps, and software designed to make running a small business easier these days. Many are free, and others are very affordable. Find the tools, such as accounting software, that will make your work as a small business owner easier.

With this checklist handy, you’ll be better prepared to open the doors to your business or launch your website. And preparation means your chance of success is tenfold!

Keeping Your Best Employees Motivated: it doesn’t always have to be money.

Finding out what motivates your best employees on a personal level is extremely important. As a business owner, you need to know what makes your team tick. The most efficient way to figure out what motivates these individuals is to simply ask them directly about what they would like to be doing, and what drives them to do their best.

Start talking: Begin with open ended questions:

• What kinds of work or opportunities are you most passionate about?

• What types of rewards most motivate you? Are you most energized by money, independence, networking opportunities, more time with family, or career development?

Ok, I know that sometimes these questions are difficult to ask directly. Instead, you may have to guess at the answers by asking not so obvious questions, such as: What do you like, or not like, about your job? Alternatively, you may simply notice how employees respond to certain tasks. See if you can tell what they enjoy and build an understanding from there.

Also, it is a good idea to find out what task in their job are frustrating to them, such as too much lack of resources, too much time away from family, etc. Try to address their needs and wants—and remove these barriers to success as best as you can.

Sometimes, however, you may have to hear some responses that sting. Sometimes the very things that frustrate an employee are things that you have an emotional attachment to. Perhaps the process you created from scratch is driving your employees crazy. If you can meet with the employee as an equal and not as an employer, you will be surprised what you might find.

Provide appropriate challenges

Laying out new challenges does not necessarily require promoting your best employees. Instead, the opportunity to accelerate their career growth may take the form of redefining or expanding a current role. You can keep these individuals engaged and growing by increasing their responsibilities and stretching the boundaries of their current jobs. Further, the cross training employees receive will surely increase innovation and productivity among teams.

Ideally, you will be able to match your star performers with assignments that both interest and challenge them. Keep in mind that job enrichment opportunities often exist outside the boundaries of their particular work unit. As their employer, you are in a better position to seek these opportunities out. Work within your own organization to identify special projects or other opportunities within the company.

Perhaps try:

• Asking star employees to start new projects from scratch

• Give high-potential employees the chance to fix processes or products in trouble.

• Give them rotations in different work environments.

You should be prepared to provide these individuals with adequate support to meet these challenges, through active coaching and mentoring.

Provide mentors for your best employees

Help them to grow by shaping their careers and responsibilities in the direction they’d like to go. To move them in the right direction, you’ll have to provide them with the right growth opportunities.

For the high-potential individual, having a mentor can be critical. Mentors know how to motivate employees by providing recognition for specific achievements. Beyond just offering encouragement, however, mentors can help employees:

• Clarify their career options

• Better understand the organization and navigate its politics

• Build support networks

• Deal with work obstacles

Create a program that pairs individuals with experts who are willing to guide them in meeting certain work challenges and in creating a vision for their career. Finding appropriate mentors should not be too difficult, as mentors do not necessarily have to be a part of your company. In fact, mentors outside the organization may have better and unbiased perspectives for your employees. Try reaching out to suppliers, strategic partners, and your own personal and professional networks.. You may be surprised at the response you receive!