Posted on 22 September 2013.
POTTSTOWN PA – Seasonal businesses devote a large part of the year preparing for those special weeks or months when most of their revenue is generated. For many retailers, the holidays are boom time. Fitness centers soar in January and sag with the summer exodus. Some businesses sell more when the weather warms, the tax or wedding season arrives or tourists travel.
Those boom times come at a price: financial survival throughout the remainder of the year when business slows to a trickle. To help smooth the bumps of a seasonal business cycle, according to small business experts with the Pottstown PA chapter of SCORE, it’s important to create a tight budget and stick to it throughout the year.
Their recommendations to help seasonal business owners:
- Create a special cash reserve account for use only in leaner months. Set money aside whenever you can. Creating a cash flow forecast will help you identify patterns and see what you are up against. Include a worst-case plan to anticipate any nasty shocks.
- Operating a seasonal business also requires that you plan and use your time more efficiently than other business owners. Some periods may call for only 25-hour workweeks, while others go far beyond that. To ensure everything gets done and also avoid burnout, you’ll need to schedule your time carefully.
- Put slower times to good use by using them to update your Web site, catch up on maintenance, strengthen customer relationships or write marketing plans. You may want to employ only a small core of permanent workers and use temps or interns to fill in. Consider offering off-season sales or rates, and look for ways to generate revenue during quieter periods.
- Owners of seasonal businesses can also take advantage of CAPlines, short-term loans guaranteed by the federal Small Business Administration designed to help small businesses meet short-term and cyclical needs for working capital. To be eligible, your business must have established a definite pattern of seasonal activity. Eligibility is also based on the size and type of business, how the loan will be used, and the availability of funds from other sources.
To learn more about operating seasonally, call the Pottstown SCORE chapter at 610-327-2673, or visit its website, here. SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners.
Photo from Google Images
Posted in Consulting, Retailing, SCORE, Small Business
Posted on 08 March 2013.
POTTSTOWN PA – Budding entrepreneurs interested in learning practical, real-life information on how to start and operate a business are prime candidates for a spring workshop series to be conducted on four consecutive Mondays from 7-9:30 p.m. beginning April 22 by the Pottstown chapter of SCORE at its office, 244 High St., Suite 102.
“How to Start and Operate a Small Business” is intended for those who are considering starting a business, as well as those who are currently operating a small business. All courses are taught by local and experienced members of SCORE, an affiliate of the federal Small Business Administration, and by outside practitioners recognized as experts in their specific fields.
Workshop sessions include:
- Sources of Information and Legal, Tax and Accounting Considerations in setting up a business, April 22;
- The Business Plan and the Business Loan, April 29;
- Sources of Market Information, Marketing, May 6; and
- It’s All About Profit, May 13.
Instructors for the series are Scott Cass, owner, eScott Marketing LLC; Don Havas, president of Applied Technology and Sciences Inc; Jeff Kofsky, president of Higher Vision Coaching and Counseling; Laurie Kercher, vice president and commercial relationships manager of the Victory Bank, Wyomissing office; David Megay, attorney with O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei; Scott Rakowski, CPA, of Rakowski and Company; Ralph Clemmer, chairman of the board of Evans-Hauseman & Richard Inc.; and Carolyn Wiker, head of Adult Services at the Pottstown Regional Public Library.
Registration begins at 6:45 p.m., and all classes start promptly at 7. Each session costs $25. A manual on preparing a business plan is available for $20. A special price of $100 is offered for the 4 classes as a package, and includes the manual. Each additional person attending from the same company also qualifies for a 50-percent discount. Free parking is available in the lot behind the building.
Customers of Limerick PA-based Victory Bank, which is a workshop sponsor, can apply for a free workshop scholarship by contacting the bank.
Past workshops have been successful and well-attended; advance reservations are suggested. For more information or to register, call the Pottstown SCORE office at 610-327-2673.
Photo from Google Images
Posted in Consulting, Government, SCORE, Small Business
Posted on 02 January 2013.
POTTSTOWN PA – Many people overlook Internet security until word of a new virus or e-mail worm hits the headlines. Even then, it’s easy to assume that anti-virus software is enough to safeguard computers and data. But as the Internet has grown in sophistication, so too have threats to the security of the people who use it, according to business counselors with the Pottstown chapter of SCORE.
One technology firm that screens e-mails for spam and viruses on behalf of small business customers estimates that 3.6 percent of all messages contain a virus. Even for those who strive to be alert for suspicious e-mails, a distraction or familiar-sounding sender is all it takes for one to slip through.
Business owners must be prepared to protect their hardware, software, and data resources, SCORE advisers say. The first step is to educate everyone within the business about the dangers and set policies for using the Internet and opening e-mail attachments. Employees should avoid using file sharing Web sites, and employers should prohibit downloading applications from unknown sites.
All computers, networks, and e-mail servers should have anti-virus software and other security features installed. Computer firewalls can block incoming traffic that is not needed for your business. Owners also should update all operating systems, software, and security measures on a regular basis. Older versions are more vulnerable to attack.
Those who discover an infected PC should remove it from a network until fixes can be installed. Several software companies offer a range of anti-virus, anti-spam and computer problem-solving solutions for small business.
To learn more about technology issues facing every small business, call the Pottstown chapter of SCORE at 610-327-2673. SCORE is a non-profit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. The Pottstown SCORE office is located at 244 High St., Suite 102.
Photo from Google Images
Posted in SCORE, Security, Small Business, Technology
Posted on 31 August 2012.
by Burt Stein, Business Editor
for The Post Publications
POTTSTOWN PA – In a usual business relationship, a company provides a product or service for which the customer pays within a set period. Yet, any small business owner will likely be faced on occasion with late or missed payments. In the worst-case scenario, the company ignores such wayward payments, or takes for granted that the customer will eventually make good on the purchase.
The net result: Money owed to the company cuts into its profits and complicates its cash flow. Members of the Pottstown chapter of SCORE advise small businesses that a good collections strategy can help prevent slow payments from becoming a problem, and ensure that income from “AWOL” invoices does not remain lost forever. The goal: to create a step-by-step process, at the heart of which are smart decisions on granting credit.
- Make it timely. To maximize the likelihood of quick customer payments, invoices should arrive in a timely fashion and state in itemized fashion what it covers. A small business accounting program such as Intuit’s QuickBooks, or a dedicated low-cost software package such as Avanquest’s MyInvoices & Estimates, can easily create invoices.
- Identify yourself. Make certain that the invoice includes the company’s logo, phone number, clear instructions on how the check should be made out and where it should be sent, and a contact name.
- Follow up. Farther along in the process, send a reminder immediately if payment is not received by the stated due date. If it becomes necessary to press for collections, do not resort to threats or emotional appeals.
- Make it personal. According to collections experts, phone calls are more effective than letters or e-mails, so contact the customer or the business’s accounting department directly. Ask politely but firmly for immediate and full payment. If a letter becomes necessary, it should be personalized and sent by registered mail, so that its receipt can be verified should legal action be necessary as well.
SCORE, a non-profit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors, provides free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Offices of the Pottstown chapter are located at 244 High St. For more information, call 610-327-2673.
Photo from Google Images
Posted in Consulting, Finance, SCORE, Small Business
Posted on 16 April 2012.
POTTSTOWN PA – Internet search advertising is one of the fastest-growing outlets for businesses of all sizes, according to information from the Pottstown PA chapter of SCORE (the Service Corps of Retired Executives). Thanks to the convergence of search engine technology and high-speed Internet connections, customers in search of information about a particular product or service can have literally hundreds of answers in seconds.
Businesses who want added visibility often invest in small, text-only ads that appear atop or alongside search engine results. Such ads are ideal for small businesses, as they offer tremendous flexibility to control costs and can be tailored to specific search keywords, such as those for a geographic area or a specific product or service.
Internet ads also allow small business owners to test various marketing approaches almost instantly. For example, florists can quickly change from prom to wedding season or an air conditioning service can exploit an early heat wave. What’s more, results from these types of ads can be tracked, and return on investment measured in tremendous detail never available with traditional print types of advertising.
Local businesses that use a website to sell or market products and services will find online marketing critical to their success. Targeted ads attached to keyword search results are the clear winner among Web-based marketing methods. Their simplicity, low cost and popularity among small businesses have pushed flashy banners aside as the main method for connecting buyers and merchants online.
Best of all, Internet advertising is relatively simple to implement. In the two most popular search ad outlets — Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, advertisers bid on the keywords or phrases for their campaigns. The higher the bid, the higher an ad will be listed in the paid results. Advertisers pay only when someone clicks their ad and visits their site. A prospect who only reads a brief ad but doesn’t click it costs advertisers nothing.
Both Google and Yahoo have built-in tools to help advertisers track the effectiveness of their Internet ad campaigns. One important statistic is the “click-through rate” – how often the ad is clicked in proportion to how often it appears. Ads with high rates are obviously good; low-rated ads should probably be modified or deleted to maximize cost-effectiveness. In addition, Google also offers free “Google Analytics” that can help analyze website statistics.
To learn more about marketing small business on the Web, call the Pottstown chapter of SCORE at 610-327-2673. SCORE is a national nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners.
Posted in Advertising, Consulting, Media, Non-Profit, Publishing, SCORE
Posted on 09 March 2012.
POTTSTOWN PA – Three sessions remain in a workshop series on business use o social media platforms being conducted by the Pottstown chapter of SCORE, the Service Corp of Retired Executives sponsored by the federal Small Business Administration. Registrations are still being taken for seminars to be held on three Mondays this month.
“Using Social Media to Make Your Business Grow,” is being held at the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce conference center, 152 E. High Street, Suite 360, Pottstown, from 7-9:30 p.m., and with registration beginning at 6:45 p.m. Still on SCORE’s agenda are:
- The Power of Social Media, March 12;
- Mobile Marketing, March 19; and
- E-Mail and Social Media: Are They Married Yet?, March 26.
An introductory workshop was held March 5.
Those who attend remaining programs will learn that social media is amounts to more than Facebook pages and Tweets. SCORE representative Sylvia Landis says it’s about understanding a total marketing conversion strategy, the psychological hot buttons of different demographics, how to take on the challenge of integrating social media into an overall marketing strategy, and how to measure its effectiveness.
The workshops are for those currently in business, but also for any interested individual who would like to better understand how to use social media more effectively.
Presenters include Jeff Kofsky, president of Higher Vision Coaching and Consulting; Brian Dainis, president of Curotec LLC, a web design, marketing and search engine optimization company; Joy Sorrentino, a prominent social media consultant and blogger; Drew Griffin, founder of Mojo Digital Companies LLC, a social media, video and mobile marketing firm; and David Yunghans, regional development director for Constant Contact.
Individual workshops cost $40, with a 50-percent discount for admission of another person from the same company. Prospective participants can pre-register online, here, or phone the SCORE office at 610-327-2673.
Posted in Consulting, Media, Publishing, SCORE, Technology
Posted on 14 January 2012.
POTTSTOWN PA – Good writing is a fundamental component of all small business marketing strategies, note experts with the Pottstown chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. A thoughtful, well-crafted message will do more to connect with customers than almost anything else, they say.
This is particularly true for Web sites. Although the Web is a visual-driven medium, with sites using flashy graphics, sounds, and other fancy features, success still comes down to what business owners say and how they say it.
However, website copy differs significantly from that for, say, brochures or display ads. With only few seconds to capture and hold readers’ attention, web copy must be brief and to the point, but engaging enough for them want to see more. SCORE offers these tips:
- Establish credibility. The content on a site must be crisp and intelligent. What merchants say should grab a visitors’ attention, pique their interest, and motivate them to action.
- Avoid sounding like a commercial. “Don’t make your Web site look like an ad” is rule number one of web copywriting, says Maria Veloso, director of Web Copywriting University. “We are all bombarded by ad images daily,” says Veloso. “The last thing we want to see on a site is another ad.”
- Avoid the billboard look. Many small business sites seem specifically designed to look like billboards. Sites should provide help, not hype, with the feel of editorial, not advertising. “People go online for information,” says Veloso. “That’s why they call it the information superhighway.” Web visitors consider themselves active participants in a shared online experience, so the writing should speak to them in this way.
- Make the copy read like a conversation. Many successful websites use common, everyday words, not platitudes or overused clichés that show off the writer’s knowledge of the dictionary. Using the second-person (“you”) in addressing readers also helps create a personal bond with website visitors and helps convey a sincere interest in helping address their business needs. They more they feel like they know a merchant, the more interested they’ll be in doing business with that company.
For more advice on marketing your small business, call the Pottstown SCORE chapter at 610-327-2673. SCORE is a national non-profit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Its local office is located at 244 High Street, Suite 102, Pottstown PA.
Posted in Non-Profit, Publishing, SCORE, Technology
Posted on 20 August 2011.
One version of QuickBooks
POTTSTOWN PA – A basic workshop to teach business owners how to use the popular accounting software “QuickBooks” will be held Oct. 17 (2011; Monday) from 7-9:30 p.m. at the offices of the Pottstown chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, 244 High Street, Suite 102, Pottstown PA, the group announced Thursday (Aug. 18).
Participants will learn specific topics like setting up a new company, invoicing, paying bills, receiving payments, and using a check register. Also included will be instruction on Chart of Accounts, Inventory, Sales Tax, and Bank Reconciliations. The instructor for the class is Scott Rakowski, a Pottstown-based certified public accountant.
All participants are required to bring a laptop computer that has QuickBooks 2008 or later already installed. The laptop battery must be capable of operating for the 2-1/2 hours, as power outlets will not be available.
Entry to the building is from the ground-level parking lot behind it, where there is ample free parking. Those attending are asked to arrive at 6:45 p.m. to sign in.
The workshop fee is $25; a 50-percent discount is offered for each additional person from the same company who registers at the same time. For more information or to register, call 610-327-2673.
Posted in Finance, SCORE, Technology
Posted on 29 July 2011.
POTTSTOWN PA – Four fall workshops that cover essentials entrepreneurs must know to start a new business or grow a more successful one will be held on four consecutive Mondays beginning Sept. 12 by the Pottstown chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, at its offices in the New York Plaza Building, 244 High St., Suite 102, Pottstown PA.
Score volunteers will conduct these sessions from 7-9:30 p.m. on the following dates:
- Sept. 12 (2011), Sources of Information, and Tax and Legal Implications of Different Legal Structures;
- Sept. 19, The Business Plan and The Business Loan;
- Sept. 26, Sources of Market Information and Marketing; and
- Oct. 3, It’s All About Profit.
These events have been added to The Post calendar.
Instructors are Hanna Hartman, vice president and branch manager at National Penn Bank; Don Havas, president of Applied Technology and Sciences Inc; Jeff Kofsky, president of Higher Vision Coaching and Counseling; Mike Mayor, president of Systems Science LLC, and retired vice president of ITT Corporation; attorney David Megay with the O’Donnell Weiss & Mattei PC law firm; Scott Rakowski CPA, of Rakowski and Company; and Carolyn Wiker, head of adult services at the Pottstown Regional Public Library.
Registration each night begins at 6:45 p.m. Each session costs $25, with a 50-percent discount off workshop fees for each additional person from the same company or organization. A manual on preparing a business plan is available for $20. A special price of $100 is offered for the four classes as a package, and it includes the manual. For more information or to register, call 610-327-2673.
Photo from Google Images
Posted in SCORE