Jan 28, 2014

Super Biz Sunday

How Small Businesses can Win the Super Bowl

Super Sunday is one of the biggest consumerist days in America. There are more Super Bowl parties than New Year’s Eve gatherings; and as a country we actually spend more on this one day than we do for Christmas decorations! So how can small businesses profit from this unofficial consumerist holiday?

First: Stay Open!

The game doesn’t start until after 6, and many people will be out during the day picking things up for the big game, spending until the last minute.

Be a Gamemaker
Set up challenges and contests about the game.  In the week leading up to Sunday, run contests to see who can guess closest to the final score, TV rating, or Super Bowl MVP.  The winner (or people who thought they might win!) can come back and get a discount.  

Be Corny
America loves the novelty of everything being football-ized. Whatever you sell can be made Super with Seattle and Denver colors, the Super Bowl logo, or better yet, generic football images that work any year – like a field, helmet, or ball. While food/drink and paper items are the most common (cookies, plates, coasters, etc), don’t stop there. Go for things like welcome mats, cheap lampshades or lights, flags, magnets, clothing, couch pillows. The cheaper and cornier the better.

Be Social
Super Sunday is the perfect day to find common ground with consumers to connect with your market. Twitter will light up about the same football moments and commercials; trending hashtags will abound. Get involved! Use social media to talk commercials and halftime show. Throw your name into the social frenzy and share your thoughts. People love reading all the different reactions, and someone somewhere will agree with you! 

Be Lite the Next Day

After the excesses of Super Bowl Sunday partying, people want to take it easy and healthy the next day. Pitch your healthy options as Super Sunday detox – workout classes, vegetarian options, etc.

The bottom line is to be spirited. Dress up your windows or interior with Super Sunday signs. Bars and restaurants of course have great opportunities: special deals, featured drinks, activities or games for viewing parties, take-out specials, large order discounts, special deliveries until kickoff. But other businesses can take advantage too. People will be out and looking to spend - do some extra business this weekend!

Jan 21, 2014

MLK & Entrepreneurs

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at length about persistence and bravery through hardships - key virtues for entrepreneurs.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

No matter where you are today, somebody helped you to get there. It may have been an ordinary person, doing an ordinary job in an extraordinary way. Some few are able to get some education; you didn’t get it by yourself. Don’t forget those who helped you come over.

Sometimes it's necessary to go backward in order to go forward.

I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will still be rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. [...] Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.

Entrepreneurs can also channel MLK’s revolutionary spirit. Running your own business is a unique opportunity to do focused social good through your work.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

We must use time creatively – and forever realize that the time is always hope to do great things.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'

Social and cultural change via business and entrepreneurship has been a topic of recent discussion on TED (twice) and in Central PA.

Jan 15, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for Your Business

The New Year means a fresh approach to yourself and your business. Like personal resolutions, the New Year is the perfect time to tinker with your daily work routine or set new goals for your business. Our staff have some ideas to help make 2014 your best year yet:

  * Get involved in new and social media. Try to be active once a day. Then organize your media accounts with Hootsuite or TweetDeck.

  * Research which countries have signed Free Trade Agreements with the U.S.

  * Start or re-start a blog. Try to post every week. (Clearly this is one of our resolutions.)

  * Sell one additional product in the next couple months. Choose one that expands your target market. For example: if you run a burger truck, consider adding fish or veggie burgers to the menu.

  * Review your business plan and insurance policies to mitigate risk.

  * Attend one networking event each month: conferences, workshops, informational breakfasts or luncheons. Here's a Pittsburgh Business Times calendar to help you start planning. And here's our own list of upcoming events at the SBDC. This is also a good reason to re-vamp your business cards.

As you probably know from past January self-improvement efforts: pick manageable resolutions. Don't bite off more than you can chew during your busy workday. Check out some advice on how to keep your business' resolutions.

Best of luck turning your New Year's resolutions into long-lasting habits!