Why is Email important to Business? Thursday, Mar 12 2015 

Email is the most integral part of a business’s day-to-day operations. Although most new businesses do not comprehend how many uses there are for email. A few key optional uses are: marketing, team communications, contracting options, and business transactions. Another problem business’s have with email is their lack of knowledge of the basics. A few basic issues are: the improper use of Cc and Bcc, the subject line mistakes, and length of the email.http://netdna.webdesignerdepot.com/uploads/2012/11/email2.jpg

Cc and Bcc are first misunderstood by not knowing their definition or use. Cc is an acronym for ‘carbon copy’. This allows both the receiver and the person who is Cc’d to see the message as well as see each other information. A Bcc stands for ‘blind carbon copy’. This means both persons attached to the email receive the message, but neither sees the other’s information.

To”  – are people who are to take action

Cc”  – are people who are needed to be kept informed, but they are not required to take

action

Bcc” – are people who are receiving the message without any other recipients knowing,

and for messages containing 50 or more recipients

Once you have set the receiver information, now you must write a subject line. Writing a Subject Line can be one of the most difficult components of composing an e-mail. The main method to remember is ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid” or known as ‘KISS’. Keep it short, keep it sweet, keep it personal, and keep it focused. Business Insider lists a few tips and mistakes for writing subject lines:

Tips:

  1. Eliminate filler words – such as “hello” and “thanks”
  2. Keep it simple and focused – such as “focus on one action”
  3. Do not use ALL CAPS
  4. Highlight the value of the offer
  5. Set Deadline in Subject Line

Mistakes:

  1. Using an Indistinguishable Title
  2. Using the Wrong Name
  3. Not Referencing the Urgency
  4. Not Including a Reference to Who Referred
  5. Using the Wrong Name

After devising your subject line, now you must write your message. The length of an email can be considered either rude or a waste of time depending on the call to action and information presented. Drake Baer of Fast Company states that “every email should be 5 sentences long”. Action and motivation are the most aspects to deliver the best message. Center your word choice on what you want your recipient to do (action) and keep it enticing to your customer (motivation). Make the action simple in order to increase customer participation.

As previously mentioned, email’s main issues are: improper use of Cc and Bcc, Subject lines, and length. Since these issues have been taught and hopefully restructured your thought process in how you will writing emails in the future.

Julie Searing

Scroggins Consulting, LLC

Please Share and Forward this blog if you enjoyed the read!!

References

Baer, Drake. WHY EVERY EMAIL SHOULD BE 5 SENTENCES LONG. July 26, 2013. http://www.fastcompany.com/3014857/leadership-now/why-every-email-should-be-5-sentences-long.

Business Insider. 15 Tips For Writing An Excellent Email Subject Line. March 19, 2014. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-write-an-excellent-email-subject-line-2014-3.

—. The 9 Worst Mistakes People Make In Email Subject Lines. January 20, 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/worst-mistakes-in-email-subject-lines-2015-1.

Write Better E-Mails. 2015. http://www.writebetteremails.com/to-cc.htm.

Advertisements

Does Your Business have B.A.M? Monday, Nov 17 2014 

BAMMany people have dreams of owning a business. Some want the freedom to direct their own future. Ultimately, live a care free life filled with exotic vacations. Others want an untapped income stream. No matter the motivation, you need three elements to be successful.

Belief

A successful entrepreneur has to believe in their own ability to bring home the bacon. Let’s be honest, you can have the nicest business cards ever created and never make a dime. A fancy business card does not make a business. You have to know the value you bring in the market place. This means knowing what makes your product or offering unique. Then having the confidence and skill to share that value with the customer.

Activate

Planning your business activities is necessary, if you are going to be organized and focused. An entrepreneur needs a target to aim his shot. However, plans without action are just wishes. Regardless of the formal title, you are in the business of selling. Mary Kay Ash said it best, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” Yes, this business may be your deep down passion. However, money is what allows you to share your passion. Coaching women in their businesses and lives is what I was born to do. I would do it for free, and have. That said, the electric company hasn’t started taking passion as payment. So you have to always be selling, or as I like to say, “exchanging value” if you are going to continue to share your gifts with the world.

Maximize

Now here comes a biggie in the entrepreneurial space, maximizing. Acquiring new customers can be a lot of work, cost, and time. The worst part, the more time we spend working on seducing the potential new customer or client. The less time and resources we have to better serve the old and faithful. The ones that already know your value, and are willing to compensate you for it. Spend time maximizing your offerings to these customers. Look at AT&T, cable, phones and now security systems. Now of course new customers are necessary to keep a business growing. Just make sure it isn’t at the expense of the old.

Monique Moliere Piper

Certified Professional Coach and Author

How do Certifications affect your Business? Thursday, Sep 18 2014 

Certifications could benefit your business! Your company could greatly benefit from certifications if you invest time to learn, understand, and market the certification(s). Federal, state, and local municipalities have established certification initiatives to assist small businesses in securing contracting opportunities. Certification initiatives have designated contracting goals on each project. As a certified firm, you could be the prime contractor or a subcontractor on the project. As the prime, you have the majority percentage of the total value of the contract. For example, a construction project with a total value of $250,000 could have a designated 20% or $50k goal for a certified business. If your company is certified, then you meet the 20% as a subcontractor or you could be the prime. Conversely using the same scenario. Another company could be the prime and you could be the subcontractor doing 20% of the total value of the contract, which is set-aside ONLY for a certified business.Certified Certifications

 How does a business get certified? All certifications have an application process and they vary from agency to agency. Most applications are available online and some can be submitted electronically while others have to be mailed in. Some certifications have interview task attached.

 Length: The length of being certified varies.  Some certifications have an end date such as the federal 8a Certification – 9 years. Some certifications have an annual re-certification process, which requires submitting information to get initially certified and the submitting updated information that proves that your company still qualifies for the designated certification. Submission information could include business tax returns, personal tax returns, and financial statements.

Cost: The majority of certifications are free, your only cost is the time it will take to package your application. Federal, state and local certifications are free. Third party agencies, or agencies that administer the certification process on behalf on another agency, charge a fee to obtain certifications.  These certifications range between $250 -$350, on average.

 Research: I recommend that you research ALL certifications that your company can qualify for and evaluate. If you decide that certification is an option your company would like to pursue, then consider doing the certifications you select at the same time. Most certifications will ask for the same or similar information – so maximize time and do it all at the same time.

Remember, just because you have a certification does not mean that new business will simply start appearing. Certification is another tool for you to use in your arsenal of marketing strategies.

 

Author:

Tiya Scroggins, MBA

Funding a Business Monday, Aug 11 2014 

Funding a business is a task that requires your time and attention, early on. Raise funds or capital before you actually need it. Of course, you have the option to use your own capital such as cash, savings, credit cards, or equity in your property. If this does not meet your needs, then consider bringing in help from investors.

With investors, start with the people who know you best (friends and family). These people are more likely to take a chance on you versus someone that does not know anything about you. Set clear boundaries and clear terms. For example, what percent of equity will your investor receive for investing into your business? What will be the terms when they will get paid back or what happens if you don’t meet your projected goals of revenue generation? An investor is lookinhands-pulling-dollar-bill-puzzleg for a WIN-WIN scenario, meaning they are interested in gaining the greatest return on investment ROI. You are interested in giving up as little of the company as possible. The goal is to arrive at a happy middle for all parties involved. Do your research with coming up with the value of your company. Compare your company to those in your industry using realistic numbers.

Where are the Investors? Identify potential investors from associations, successful business people, crowd funding, venture capital companies, and established investor organizations.

Debt will be a personal or business loan. The business loan is an option; however, it will require good personal credit, the business to be in existence for a certain period of time such as (2-3) years minimum and a business plan.

Options:

Self-funded (cash, credit cards, credit card advance)

Debt (personal loan or business loan); SBA guaranteed loan http://www.sba.gov

Selling Stock of Business (to family, friends, investors)

Venture Capital 

RESPONDING TO RFPs Monday, Jul 14 2014 

RFPs are also known as Request for Proposals. They are different from RFQs or Request for Qualifications. RFQs are requesting information specifically on the Qualification of the firm and/or the professionals that would be working on the project. A RFP would include not only information on the qualification of the firm, but also information, such as: a Q&A comment sections with time deadlines, technical proposal, cost proposal, specifications on how the proposal must be submitted, such as “seal envelope” or “5 copies” or “electric copies.” In short, the RFP is more detailed and requires more work because the response will require more information.RFP-Sml

The RFP WILL have a page limit. Make sure you do not go over the page limit, no matter how tempted you are to provide more information, brochures, or videos. The technical proposal will provide the detailed narrative on the proposed company or team, past performance, methodologies and approaches, organizational structure, and organizational charts. The cost proposal is the detailed cost allocation for your services. It would include personnel, fringe benefits, contractual, consultants, supplies, equipment and miscellaneous expenses to name a few. If copies are required, produce the exact amount of requested copies. If an electronic copy is required, then copy all documents onto the jump drive or CD. During submittal, obtain proof that your proposal was submitted on time via electronic reply, signature or stamp from agency with date and time.

FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS, NO EXCEPTIONS!

Employees versus Independent Contractors Thursday, May 1 2014 

Employees versus Independent Contractors

When you hire someone, should they be an employee or an independent contractor? Maybe they would be both, but at different times. An employee is one that is paid a salary or hourly wages for working for your business. He/she works an assigned time, at a specific location and you provide the necessary material/supplies/equipment for them to complete their work. Employees are paid an agreed upon amount and set pay day. The business is responsible for paying the employee on time as well as withholding taxes from the employee’s paycheck and submitting all withholding taxes by their designated deadline (federal and state). . Lastly, the business is responsible for paying its share of employee taxes (the business’s portion) of employee with-holdings plus any workmen’s compensation on employees. Yes, it cost more than the hourly wage you pay your employee(s) to have an employee(s). An employee receives a W-2 form at the end of the year, mailed by January 31. The deadline for each business is dependent on your structure aEmployees vs Contractornd/or number of employees, etc. The exact timeline and reporting requirements can be found at www.irs.gov.

 

An independent contractor is an individual or business that provides its own material/supplies/equipment to complete a job for you. In other words, you do not tell them how to accomplish a job/work, you simply contract with them to perform a service. They supply the knowledge and resources to get the task accomplished. Independent contractors are paid an agreed upon amount at an agreed upon pay date. You should have agreements identifying tasks to be delivered with completion dates. An independent contractor receives a 1099 form for work completed in a fiscal year mailed by January 31. No taxes are withheld from their checks. They are responsible for their own taxes.

So, now that you know the difference between employees versus independent contractors, which one is applicable to you and your business?

 

HOW DO YOU BUILD CAPACITY? Friday, Apr 4 2014 

HOW DO YOU BUILD CAPACITY?

Building capacity requires you to focus on setting goals and strategies to accomplish those goals with deadlines. To build capacity, assess your areas of strengths and areas of weakness as well as that of your business. Some areas will be apparently evident, while others may take time to reveal themselves. If you are unsure of certain areas, then ask someone you trust their opinion.

 

ASSESSMENT

Perform an assessment of your operations. Are they efficient and are processes written and executed by all. Does everyone in your organization know and understand the operations.

FINANCIAL CAPACITY

To address financial capacity, consider decreasing expenses, business and/or personal loans, line of credits, business credit,

PHYSICAL CAPACITY

Add exercise to your regular habit, recruit volunteers, hire part-time employees, recruit help from local colleges/universities. Make sure you carve out time for yocapacitybuildingsmu to not work on business.

TRAINING

To strengthen the weaker areas in the organization, plan on implementing training for you and your staff. Leadership, sales/customer service, stress relief, and other types of training courses will strengthen the knowledge base as well as give your employees the tools to succeed. This builds a stronger workforce as well as growth within the company as employees are able to advance to higher positions based on their training and understanding.

COMMUNICATION

Decide that your organization would like to let more people know that you are in existence. Next, make a list of avenues that could be utilized to get the word out. Avenues such as social media, articles in newspapers, blogs, attending community events, and utilization of local network stations communicate your business message to the surrounding public and achieves community involvement.

MARKETING

First think of who your customer is outside of your storefront doors – what do they like, what are their hobbies, and do those things fit with your business’s goods or services? There are many marketing strategies and plans to choose from that will best benefit your customer and increase foot traffic. Social Media, joint venturing, branding strategies, and sponsoring public events are a few avenues of marketing for small businesses to take in order to gain awareness. Main point: remember who your market is and tailor your strategy to their needs/wants.

 

Author

Tiya “Ty” Scroggins

CEO of Scroggins Consulting, LLC

Are You Ready to Build Capacity? Monday, Mar 3 2014 

Are You Ready to Build Capacity?

Are you ready to build capacity in your business? Perhaps you would like to grow in one or more of the following areas: clients, revenue, employees, product or services, or geographic area. All growth requires some cost factor: time, money, practice, or sometimes pain. In order for you to grow your business’ capacity, you have to assess where you are, visualize where you want to be and develop your action plan to get there.

Capacity_Building

If you were to build capacity that means more is needed. You need more resources, more opportunities, more staff, more avenues, more policies, more agreements, more traveling, more regulations, or simply more tasks for you or someone to complete. All of this more has to be planned, organized and executed. If it is not, then the consequences can be overwhelming to you and the business. Some businesses do not recover from not adequately building capacity or deciding to launch into the deep and not being prepared. For example, let’s say your company is a one-person operation. You decide that you want to grow into a full-service consulting firm. To accomplish this task, you bid on a job and are awarded the contract, but remember the operation is only you. After initiating the contract, you realize that you do not have proper support staff to execute the contract, you do not have the necessary money to meet payroll, and you don’t have proper workmen’s comp insurance that is required on employees. The challenge for you is most of the tasks needed to build capacity take time to put into place. There are numerous tasks that have to be accomplished to build capacity. Just remember, count the cost, research, seek out information and resources, and assess the real needs of the business before you launch.

Author,
Tiya Scroggins, MBA
CEO of Scroggins Consulting, LLC

 

Are You Financially Fit For Business? Monday, Feb 17 2014 

To establish and maintain a business, finances are needed. Needed finances could include cash, loans, lines of credit, equity or access to family or friends who have financial means. All businesses need finances and will always need finances. Finances are needed to file applications, open bank accounts, purchase equipment, lease or purchase of buildings, licenses, payroll, marketing, professional consultation, and additional cost to do business, etc. This process is ongoing for the life of your business.

Do you have money saved, equity in your home, a loan, good personal and/or business credit or a rich relative? To be successful in business, you should address how you will pro

financially_fit

cure your start-up money and generate enough income to meet the ongoing financial needs of the business.

If you assess that you do not have the financial resources needed initially, then simply address this necessary issue and adjust your start-up time by launching your business at a later time.  This will help you with the unnecessary stress of not having enough financial resources and paying the cost of not having enough money. If your business is already in existence, maintain your financial fitness by obtaining a line of credit, business credit, invest/save-generated income, or obtain a business loan if needed.

Author

Tiya “Ty” Scroggins, MBA

CEO of Scroggins Consulting

Importance of Certifications Monday, Jan 20 2014 

Importance of Certifications

History 

certification

Certification programs were created to ensure non-discrimination in the award and administration of government-funded and private sector contracts and to avail minorities an opportunity to bid and win contracts that sometimes go to larger firms.

Requirements

The requirements to become a certified firm depend on the certification program and certifying agency; they vary from agency to agency. In order to qualify for the certification, make sure you have the met requirements prior to submitting an application. Some certifications require a site visit before being approved.

Documentation

Documentation needed for your certification typically includes the following: last 2-3 years of personal and business tax returns, last 2-3 years financial statements, resume of key personnel, articles of incorporation/organization, and declaration of core competence to name a few.

Cost

All certifications are free with the exception of two. The two certifications that have a cost are the Minority Business Certification (MBE) and the Woman Owned Certified Business (WBE).

Different types of Certifications:

Certifications are federal, state or local. The time it takes to officially obtain your certification can vary from a few days to several months. Certifications typically have an initial application and require annual updates to verify any changes to the company over that year’s time.

How does a Certification help you?

Certification helps your company because several bid opportunities have “set-asides” for ONLY certified firms. Set-asides could be 100% for a Minority Certified Firm or for a percentage of the contract such as 15% or 25%, consequently as a subcontractor your business could benefit with a contract.

Get certified, it could benefit your business.

Author:
Tiya “Ty” Scroggins
Scroggins Consulting, LLC

Next Page »