Sunday, June 27, 2010

Award Winning Performance

image This article was written by Carl Woodard, Chapter Chair, SCORE Orange County

SCORE Chapter 114 of Orange County, California was recently honored as National Chapter of the Year, among 370 SCORE chapters across the United States. SCORE Chapter 114, a partner with the U. S. Small Business Administration, which hosted the event, received the prestigious award in Washington, D.C. , during Small Business Week – May 23-25, 2010.  Each year SCORE honors the Chapter that signifies exceptional service to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The Orange County Chapter, having more than 100 successful, experienced counselors, was represented in Washington by Chapter Chairman Carl Woodard and District Director Bill Morland.  The award was presented at a breakfast honoring many small business owners and champions who experienced noteworthy performance during the year.  Karen Mills, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, presented the awards. The full day of programs concluded with a reception at the U. S. State Department.

The second full day of activities began with a breakfast featuring remarks by Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, followed by a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, with President Obama acknowledging the importance of small businesses to the U. S. economy and how small business must lead the way for full economic recovery.  The day ended with a dinner for all award winners.

Every member of the Orange County Chapter contributed importantly to the more that 17,000 services that were provided to business clients during the year.  Those included personal counseling, more than 200 business related workshops, Women in Business breakfasts, CEO Forums and many collaborative programs with universities and sponsors.

SCORE thanks all of our clients for being a part of our mutual success.  We are well aware that your success in our success. It is our pleasure to provide the services which you need.

Please call us at 714-550-7369 or contact us at www.score114.org. To let us know how we can help you.

Starting a Business?

 

image This article was written by Dennis Wright, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

Looking back I guess it was in the fall of 1971… I was on Interstate 5, in Washington State late one morning traveling from one sales appointment to another, and a highway patrol car sped past me with siren wailing and lights flashing. It was at that point, I recall, my boss (who was riding with me) awoke - he’d been dozing, which had nothing to do with whether or not I’m a good conversationalist - turned to me and asked “what do you think of that”?

It turned out what had caught his attention was not the action; what he was focused on was the fact that someone had convinced the statewide law enforcement agency that replacing one of the two red roof lights with a blue light would make their cars more visible in poor weather conditions (lots of rain and fog in the northwest) and set them apart from other emergency vehicles. In short someone saw an opportunity within a mature market - emergency vehicles were all equipped with red lights, albeit in various sizes and shapes - to offer a product that was different, with facts to support its use and it sold!

That man, my mentor, believed there was opportunity everywhere… and to find it one had only to look and listen.

A similar example, I believe, can be seen in the video business… and it has happened several times over. Movies for home viewing were at one point mostly rented at video stores; the process was time consuming, the return process often inconvenient and “oh those late fees”. But did the big operators work at improving matters or were they too comfortable with their existing business model… well, along came a company with a new idea; movies delivered to homes by mail and it sold!

That story doesn’t end there of course; now it’s movies from a vending machine in the supermarket, it’s movies on demand from cable companies and downloads from the internet. So there we had a relatively mature market, and not once but several times someone came up with a new (and for some consumers a more convenient) delivery system and it sold!

The point is opportunity is indeed everywhere, but contrary to the popular adage it seldom knocks; you find it by looking and listening - through market research - then creating or tailoring a product or service that fits. And when that happens, when you meet a specific need or a want, your business should be on the short runway for take-off.

Building Block

This article was written by Jill Andrews, Lead Business Development Specialist, Small Business Administration, Santa Ana District Office

During a period when businesses were failing at a record rate, the Santa Ana District Office of the SBA launched a project to provide help to struggling small businesses called the SBA Resource Partner’s Tiger Teams. There was a great deal of local political and media support generated for this rapid response team effort. After an article was published in the Orange County Register a number of calls and requests for assistance came into the office.

One call was from Annie Haven. She was trying to launch a unique business and did not fit the criteria for Tiger Team Assistance. However, she was referred to one of the three SBA Resource Partners participating in the project … SCORE 114.

The Haven business that was in the launch phase was a natural fertilizer produced from drying cow and horse manure and bagging it with instructions on how to make a manure tea to water and fertilize plants.

Annie Haven’s interest in gardening is a result of being involved in her family’s businesses. She is from a family that settled southern California and had large land holdings in Riverside and Orange Counties and ran Haven Seed Company in Ontario for many years.

Launching a new business can be hard even in good times and starting a business with a big dream and little capital during difficult times is even harder. Tiger Team Coordinator Jill Andrews referred Annie Haven to the person she thought had the best understanding of her business. That person was Alan Simon, who owns and operates Omaha Steaks. Alan, of all the SCORE 114 counselors, knows how much manure a cow produces in a day and had lots of experience getting rid of animal residual waste. Alan counseled Annie by e-mail and phone for about a year. He worked on providing assistance to her via on- line marketing and had several people in his company who work with marketing and advertising assist her. He referred her to Tom Patty, another SCORE 114 counselor, who is a marketing wizard and has taken many products to market internationally. Tom reviewed her on-line marketing and offered his suggestions.

SBA staffer Andrews recognized that Annie needed to do “guerilla marketing” because she did not have a marketing budget to launch her project and put her in touch with another SCORE resource, Betty Otte, who was the district director of SCORE at the time. Betty connected Annie with Sherman Gardens, where Betty does volunteer work, and they bought her product. Betty also made introductions to friends who published national farm and ranch magazines.

Andrews connected Annie to the president of the National Farm Broadcasters Association and radio stations she had worked with in previous employment capacities. They admired her tenacity and liked the product and offered to feature her story on programs aired throughout the west.

Early in 2008, Haven applied for a SBA Loan through a company that charges a processing fee to clients. When Haven started the loan process she had excellent credit and had always paid her bills on time, by the time the loan was processed for approval, she had less than perfect credit because she had made investments in her start-up business and was not generating income . Additionally, she had paid down credit balances on personal credit cards and been rewarded for good stewardship by having her personal lines of credit reduced. This is a familiar story, similar to that of many small businesses who encountered such challenges in late 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Undeterred, Haven bootstrapped her business and utilized the internet to market on-line. She grew her business one customer at a time. The product generated many testimonials from happy customers.

A recent feature article in the Orange County Register brought in more orders.

More than a year has gone by since the SBA received Haven’s request for assistance. At present, the business continues to grow, orders are coming in and word of mouth and on-line marketing is working.

The business still needs an influx of cash from a loan, partner or family members or friends to accelerate its growth.

Annie Haven is building the American dream … one manure tea bag at a time. Her resolve to build and grow is as strong as her work ethic. She has three of the best SCORE counselors in the country on her team.

All she needs is a little luck and a little cash!

Motivating Your Staff, Sales and Customer Service

image This article was written by Barry McKinley, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

We have all walked into a business where staff members go out of their way to make us feel welcome and to be helpful. On the other hand, some businesses we have entered made us feel that we finally have discovered how to be invisible as we are ignored, or you go into a store and the customer service person asks to help but you immediately see their mind is not on their job but somewhere else altogether. In making a buying decision we will always select the company who made us feel important and needed.

Set the Tone of Your Company

All employees need to know the values and ethics of your company. Your sales and customer service personnel are the eyes, ears and voice of your company. You need to train them properly and constantly remind them and your customers via advertising, slogans and taglines how important they are. Your employees must understand that the customer and his or her needs come first. Be sure to teach your staff probing skills, using sample questions.

Set Goals Routinely

It is impossible to hit a target without knowing where to aim! Set goals, whether they are dollar goals, percentage of growth, profit or product and service focus. Set expectations that everybody is aware of. Create a monitoring system and ranking. Provide adequate training and tools that will help them obtain the goals. Remember not everybody will respond in the same way. Some may require more support, training, and guidance. Keep the goals fairly short term. Remember how proud and excited you feel when reaching a goal, help your employees to have that same feeling. They win---you win!

Communications- The Key To The World

Regular sales and training meetings are important. You must communicate to each team member how they can reach their goal and where they are. Ongoing communication keeps the team focused and heading in the same direction. Knowledge is power, and clear communications and effective education on company procedures is essential to success.

Building The Team

Teams are built on trust and positive input. Constantly evaluate your staff to be sure that you have the right people doing the right jobs. It is important for the team members to feel that they have the ear of management. Since they are the eyes and ears to your customers, it is very important to listen closely to what your staff have to say and encourage their suggestions and comments.

Maintain High Morale

Most important to your growth and survival is a motivated team with a positive attitude. Positive attitudes become infectious. Deal with negativity immediately, find the root of the problem and resolve it. Remember the old saying, “One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel!”

Encourage Friendly Competition & Give Rewards

Make it fun, offer gifts, run contests, the gifts can be as simple as movie tickets, or Starbucks for a week. People want to be recognized for their accomplishments.

Success Breeds Success

Success and a positive attitude at work will spill into your employees’ personal lives. You will find your employees are happier when they are challenged and they will look forward to coming to work. As the leader you must be the most positive person and your employees will follow your lead. You are the Orchestra Leader. It’s up to you to help your staff play the music!

Ten Commandments to Guide Citizens of the Corporate Kingdom

This article was written by Sandi Dolbee, Copley News Service (Reprinted by Permission)

In the beginning, there were Rabbi Wayne Dosick, Fortune magazine and a plane ride.

Caught in an airport without anything to read, Dosick ducked inside a gift shop and bought the only thing left on the rack -- a copy of Fortune.

What he found inside was the phrase that would nearly consume the next two years of his life: "The language of the pulpit has become the currency of the executive suite."

"I said, you know, if the secular marketplace is ready to listen, and it seems it might be beginning to, I could take these things and teach ancient spiritual values -- Jewish, Christian, Moslem, Zen, Buddhist, Native American Indian, Gandhi, Martin Luther King -- all of the people that talk about all these good things -- and somehow wring it into the modern marketplace."

And he did.

"The Business Bible: Ten New Commandments For Creating An Ethical Workplace" (William Morrow Co.) has just been released, 207 pages of rabbinical morality tales, updated Scripture and executives’ anecdotes designed to challenge, coax and cajole employers and employees into doing the right thing.

His theology is as simple as it is difficult.

"As the soda pop bottle teaches," he writes, "No Deposit, No Return."

In Dosick's bible, employees don't take home company pencils or lie to the boss, even if it makes them look good. And employers provide day-care centers, give to charities and treat workers the same way they want to be treated.

"My basic theory is that we are all good people," said Dosick, sitting into a chair in his living room. "We are born good, and in most cases we have been taught very good and worthy values by our parents and our teachers.

"And somehow, somehow, when we walk through the office door or through the factory gate, something happens. No one goes to work every day saying, ‘How can I cheat?’ And ‘How can I be a lousy person?’ The only thing I can figure is that pursuit of that dollar bill that somehow affects us or changes us or moves us in a different way."

His timing could not be better.

Three book clubs already have selected "The Business Bible" for distribution to members. And companies are turning to him for guidance.

The 46-year-old Dosick got his start in the business world by working for his parents in their grocery store. He dedicated his book to them for teaching him how to wait on people.

After graduating from rabbinical school, he served synagogue pulpits for 18 years. Two years ago he gave it up to pursue writing.

Besides his books, Dosick also writes a column in The San Diego Jewish Times, teaches a class at the University of San Diego and is the leader of the Elijah Minyan, an informal group of Jews who meet in each other's homes to discuss spiritual renewal and personal growth.

Such lifestyle changes, he suggests in his book, are just some of the new challenges facing each of us.

"You don't want to come to the end of your life and say,’ I blew it,’ he explains. "You want to say, ’Yeah, what I did was worthy and worthwhile and I made my contribution to the ongoing progress of the world and I felt good about what I did."

But that is his Commandment No. 9. First things first:

Commandment No. 1: Your ear shall hear; your eyes shall see. Good executives -- and workers -- listen and have vision.

"You have the opportunity to learn from everybody, everybody has something to offer you, something to teach you, something to give you," explains Dosick. "Nobody is all wise... you listen and you learn and you profit from it."

Commandment No. 2: Do not utter a false report. Tell the truth; do it gently and kindly, but do it.

"The reality is, if we tell the truth, we only have to tell the truth once," he said. "If you lie, you have to keep lying forever."

Commandment No. 3: Do no unrighteousness in weights and measures. Cheating is wrong -- whether it is taking home company supplies or ducking out early.

"It is what I call the Rodney King Syndrome," said Dosick. "It is really very simple. What if there were a hidden video camera on you that you did not know about and what you did today is on the six o'clock news tomorrow?"

Commandment No. 4: Love your neighbor as yourself. In the end, success is about people relating to people.

"You either succeed or you fail based on how you treat other people," said Dosick. "It is that simple."

Commandment No. 5: Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. This is about how to be a leader.

"You have one of two choices, you can say ‘Charge!’ or you can say, ‘Follow me’”, Dosick said, "and it seems to me that the best way to become a leader is to say ‘Follow me.’”

Commandment No. 6: Bring healing and cure. Health insurance, company gyms and daycare centers, extended family plans -- "if your employer takes care of you, you will in turn take care of your employer," is how Dosick puts it.

Commandment No. 7: You shall surely tithe. There are few times that Dosick uses words like “must.” This is one of them.

"You must share what you get," he said. "We are all interconnected. I could be making the greatest product, but if there are hungry people on the streets of my city, then all I am is selfish and all I am is self-centered and egocentric.”

Commandment No. 8: Remember the Sabbath. Take time for personal renewal -- and to remember what is important.

In all of his years visiting dying people in the hospital, Dosick said no one ever wishes they had spent more time at work. "In the end, no one, no one, gets a golden tombstone."

Amendment No. 9: Acquire wisdom. In an age when most people will not have the same job for life, it is especially important to seek happiness and satisfaction in what you do.

Amendment No. 10: Know before whom you stand. This is as preachy as the rabbi gets.

"I did not intend this to be a sermon or preaching, but I did intend it purposely and seriously to say that we live our lives not alone, not in a vacuum, not without consequence. That we stand before something higher than each of us."

In his bible, Dosick talks about a person's conscience or their God, either way, he said, there is something else out there. "In the dark of night or the light of the mirror you will have to give an account."

And in Dosick's bible, there is no heaven for the good workers and bosses. No hell for the swindlers and tyrants. He said he does not believe in that.

What he does believe is that in following his 10 new commandments, people can find meaning and value and ethics in their workplace. They can, he believes, do well and do good.