The Front Porch of Life- Living and Doing Business in Small Towns

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“Too often we forget about the 120-million Americans building their homes, their businesses, and their lives in small towns far from the limelight” — not my words but those of successful entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavic reflecting on the plight of small towns and small businesses decaying away.

And that is unfortunate because statistics indicate more than 50% of the employed population works at a small business.

A nationwide contest was held among small towns to find the one that could best improve upon itself by the community.

Small towns like Wabash, Indiana.

And that is how the Small Business Revolution project and web series came to be, and I have the first episode here.

As explained and described on their website:

“Amanda Brinkman, chief brand and communications officer at Deluxe, along with Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec, employed their marketing and business expertise to help six small businesses learn more about what it takes to compete in their local and regional markets. The entire Wabash journey is captured in this eight-part web series. The opening episode provides a glimpse into the community, the businesses and the town leaders.”

Whether you are a small business in a small town such as Belfast ME where I have lived or in a big city like Boston where I have also resided, you will view the series seeing familiar problems, then hopefully say “aha there is a solution.”

( Anthony M. Scialis is an experienced print & broadcast writer who coordinates blog, Twitter & Facebook social media content to create a focused & powerful customer engagement effort which will bridge the gap between the wants of your small business to grow and the needs of your customers to be satisfied. Follow https://twitter.com/amssvs)

Business Plan Competition & Intro Session

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Planning to start a small business? Take every bit of advice you can get — you don’t have to use it — just have it all standing by as resource material. And a great place for resource material is an Enterprise Center. Does your community have one? We do in Essex County, MA at Salem State University.

Biz PlanNot only does an Enterprise Center offer seminars and inform you of useful business programs, it brings in guest speakers — and ours even “puts its money where its mouth is” by way of a North of Boston Business Plan Competition.

Doesn’t matter whether it is just a business idea, or your company is already up & running  (less than three years old or an established business with a new strategic direction). As long as you are located on the North Shore, consider entering this annual competition.

  • Cash prizes – $10,000 for first place! Second place, $5,000. Third place, $3,000
  • Advice – Valuable feedback and suggestions. Judges are experienced entrepreneurs, business owners and leaders and capital investors.
  • Focus – Entering the BPC can provide the discipline and focus you need to develop and fine-tune a winning business strategy.

Participants submit a 5-part application that is reviewed by an expert judging panel and evaluated according to established criteria. Six semi-finalists are selected to present their plan in person to the judges. Three finalists go on to present their plan publicly at a grand finale at which the judges determine the first, second and third place winners.

All participants receive written comments on their submission; the semi-finalists and finalists have the option of working with a presentation coach to fine-tune their plan for the judges.

Competition deadline is 2/24/16.

But — and this is an excellent helping hand by the Enterprise Center — on Dec. 4th from 8-10am there will be a FREE How to Write a Competition-Level Business Plan introduction session. You are not just floating in the wind for this competition. Sponsored by the MA Small Business Development Center and co-sponsored by the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development, there will be tips on what’s involved in preparing the components of your application.

Bring your questions too because — yes this gets better — the Enterprise Center will provide a real pro for individual coaching: Margaret Somer, Former Regional Director, MA Small Business Development Center Network.

Need more incentive to sign up right now? Read her bio. She’s been in economic & development, a fund manager, operated home-based businesses, been a consultant and has exhibited a strong record of participation in the development of new business products and programs, community development initiatives, and public affairs and government relations.

You can’t put a price on the guidance you will receive at the How to Write a Competition-Level Business Plan introduction session. To register click here.

The Enterprise Center at Salem State University is located at 121 Loring Ave in Salem, MA. For more info call 978-542-7528 or email Lorie Skolski at lskolski@enterprisectr.org

( Photo courtesy of KROMKRATHOG from FreeDigitalPhotos.net )

Can You Wear Sweatpants to a Job Interview?

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Does the question need to be asked? Apparently sweatpants at interviews is a topic.

Thumbs down sweatpantsWhile I have been writing blogs and tweets for others over the past six months, this blog has been dormant as I dealt with multiple family & work situations at once. Something had to be sacrificed. Now in preparing to start up again, the search was on to find the “right” topic to say “I’m back!” But today realization hit me, just pick one and get back on this treadmill.

The sweatpants question was something I tweeted before leaving the house.

I had just written a blog, decided to walk around and came upon a musical performance in the town square. I shouldn’t have been surprised as I had tweeted about it for one of my accounts several hours earlier. But it had slipped my mind. Anyway, I pulled out the cell and shared a live stream Periscope of it.

That’s when it hit me. Just as I had decided to broadcast the event in front of me because it seemed like a Periscope event, I should just pick something I had thought interesting enough to tweet and write about it.

This blog’s major purpose is to help Small Biz navigate and utilize social media; the minor purpose is to help new writers improve their writing skills so they can secure employment, most notably in social media.

And there’s the connection to the sweatpants topic. Business owners and potential employees. Where do they intersect? The job interview.

Earlier, I had entered “job interview questions” in Google search and this jumped at me:

I have a job interview today at 1:30 at WalMart, but I have nothing nicer to wear, I’m broke with no job. On the phone he never did tell me what dressing type he is looking for. So. I was thinking a plain T-shirt and sweatpants. would it be ok?

Update: I’m sorry for being overweight and not being able to fit into jeans. I do have a pear of black cargo pants but I can’t find them. And I cant find the belt to it. And I can’t afford to go and get any.

While initial reaction might be “poor guy, give him a break,” let’s look at the facts.

He took the time to apply on-line to WalMart. Was he not serious? Did he not consider that they would call and invite him down for an interview? WalMart is not a speedy responder due to a heavy load of applicants. There would have been ample time to at least find the cargo pants and belt. Time to see if a friend or family member could lend him pants. Time to go to a thrift store to buy something for $5.

And— time to walk into a Salvation Army, Goodwill, St Vincent de Paul, or Catholic Charities to tell his tale of woe where quite possibly somebody would have said, “go pick something off the rack kid. If you get the job, come back later and pay for it.”

I would have. The guy was making an effort to get a job. I would have paid for the $5 pair of second hand pants for him.

But the fact that he even considered wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt for something as possibly life-changing as a job interview is frightening. And apparently as this next link shows, not all that singular.

As I said, I tweeted the question and marked it for three people in business for their reactions: @DawnCatherine CEO & Founder of La Bella Vita Cosmetico/Radio Show; @BudLaRosa Chief Business Performance Officer and Chief Financial Officer; and @DrJRogers Social Media Marketing Professor.

Bud was speechless in his retweet, and he usually is quite talkative in his responses.

Granted, clothing codes have been relaxed; I used to work at a company where dress shirts & ties have been replaced now by polo shirts. But the job interview is still the place to look and act professional. The place to sell your brand. The place to say to your potential employer “I will work hard and will represent your business in a professional way to your customers.”

The answer to the question is no. And so ends my first blog back. The treadmill awaits.

(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

 

Reporter’s Notebook: If The Job Offer Letter Is Poorly Written…

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Image courtesy of ningmilo at FreeDigitalPhoto.com

Recently I moved and needed to update my resume on LinkedIn, About.me, and all the job boards. Shortly afterwards, this item of questionable origin barged its way into my email.

Submitted for your edification, observe how you feel as you go through the email; gauge how the typos and grammatical errors make you neither trust nor want to work for this business— whatever it is.

By no means is my writing perfect, but I do respect my readers enough to attempt a quality effort. Consider how other people might feel reading your work when you don’t take the time to edit after writing.

Charity Guzman (LatifahGonzalez@hotmail.com) viamailgun.org

Good morning Anthony Scialis,

My name is Charity Guzman, I’m one of managers with the Recruiting Division. I spotted your CV online, and I think that you would be a great candidate for a recently announced job of a Shipping Agent with our Courier Department. Due to the start of a high season our client list has was extended greatly, which is why we’re now looking for more people to work remotely.

We offer a decent remuneration along with convenient part-time hours and other benefits. If you’re interested in this vacancy and are currently located in the United States, please reply to apply for it at your earliest convenience. This is a unique opportunity to start a carrer in a vibrant and growing team as well as obtain extra income working from home.

Yours sincerely,
Your Potential Employer

Charity Guzman (LatifahGonzalez@hotmail.com) First off, why is Charity using Latifah’s hotmail account for a business? For that matter why is a seemingly international import business using a Hotmail account (nothing wrong with Hotmail, but a sizable percentage of businesses would have their own name.com).

I’m one of managers with the Recruiting Division In case you didn’t notice, nowhere does it tell me the name of the company. (Also it should be “I am one of the managers…”)

Due to the start of a high season our client list has was extended greatly... Proper grammar would dictate a comma after “season.” Proper proof reading would have determined as to which verb to use “has or was.” (Actually “has been” or “was”).

If you’re interested in this vacancy and are currently located in the United States, please reply to apply for it at your earliest convenience. Since she indicated spotting my CV, didn’t she read my address as well? Rest of sentence has awkward construction of “reply to apply for it at.”

This is a unique opportunity to start a carrer Typo on “career.” At least I hope it is a typo and not a misspelling.

Yours sincerely,Your Potential Employer No signature or title; yes she mentions early on that she is a manager with the Recruiting Division, but proper business etiquette expects a name, title and personal contact info. And the company name.

Oh, and if you clever readers out there are going to say, but Anthony, it’s an international company that probably used cheap translation software-— well that says something too, doesn’t it?

So, boy & girls, ladies & gentlemen of the jury, would you bother applying, let alone wish to work for— or purchase products/services from— a company that issues something as poorly constructed as this?

The written word is still quite powerful.

(Image courtesy of ningmilo at Free DigitalPhotos.net)

Reporter’s Notebook: Evolving State of Journalism

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Repeatedly I’ve put forth that the “traditional media” is on its last legs— and that you boys/girls and men/women represent the future of journalism.

Old News - canon rebel t2i

Old News – canon rebel t2i (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

And just what does that future hold if you want to actually earn a living as a writer? The diminishing opportunities for newspaper reporters have been much in the news.

Content curation looks to be one solid way to go. That is according to an item in the Content Curation Community Newsletter which in turn focuses on an intriguing and informative article observation:

“…marketing departments are starting to function more like newsrooms that produce unique content about their brand and report on industry topics and trends. And journalists are being recruited to oversee the content part of content marketing.”

You should read this  guest post by Holly Regan that ran recently on the Thought Leadership website.