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Entries in Tips (3)

Friday
May012015

The American Small Business Championship

I was recently contacted by The Motherhood to participate in an online virtual session about the American Small Business Championship. This was an amazing opportunity and I’m thrilled to share some details with you about how you can get involved too!

The American Small Business Championship is hosted by Sam’s Club and SCORE. It’s a way to award small business owners for their sacrifices and dedication to their business. It launched in January and winners were announced on Feb. 24. There were more than 100 winners from 47 states!! The Championship aims to address the unique challenges and obstacles faced by small business owners.

Many of these business owners are moms just like us! Two champions, Veronica Jacobsen and Tabitha Birdsong, were on the session to tell their story and emphasize how the #ASBC has impacted them and their businesses. Jacobsen is the owner of Baby Love and Birdsong is the co-owner of Miss Birdsong’s Sweet Tooth.

The champions each received a $1,000 Sam's Club gift card, an expense-paid attendance at a regional Championship Celebration and Symposium, SCORE mentoring for one year and significant national publicity.

Sam’s Club works to connect small business owners with the training, resources and capital they need to grow and succeed. They invest in programs that connect existing small business owners – especially women, minorities and veterans.

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses succeed and since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE provides small business mentoring, workshops and education to more than 375,000 new and growing small businesses. Their mentoring program is completely FREE!

Want to learn more? Visit SCORE to learn more about the American Small Business Championship and upcoming symposiums. Visit Sam’s Club to learn more about their impact on small businesses. You can also visit SCORE for tips, tools and resources for small businesses!

Wednesday
Mar142012

Has Someone Copied From Your Business?

You may have seen some recent outcry via blogs and Facebook about a mom inventor who basically had her patent-pending invention design stolen out from underneath her. You can read more about it here, but basically, it looks as though a larger company stole Peachy, LLC’s concept, design and even her custom advertising images! That is pretty terrible if you ask me.

But, beware, even if you’re not an inventor, small business theft is common. The above example sheds a bad light on larger businesses, but it isn’t always a larger company taking advantage of a smaller one. Other small, mom-owned businesses who are just starting out can also be the culprit. Sometimes it’s a result of naivety but sometimes it is just blatant theft. This is one more good reason to do your research before launching a business and make sure you’re not infringing on someone else!

Trademarks, copyrights and patents can help us protect what is ours, but sometimes it isn’t enough. And, sometimes protection costs more than new entrepreneurs can afford. However, these things are definitely something that serious entrepreneurs should invest in.

I know first-hand the difficulties that copycats can cause and how expensive it can be to legally fight trademark infringement. Unfortunately, I’m not alone. This is an issue that is more common than you may know and it comes in varying forms.

Kelly Russo, owner of Travel with the Magic, has had several instances of others using her designs and materials. “In the past year I have had around five companies steal the layout, colors, HTML coding from the home page all the keywords there and more from my website,” she said.  “I have also had people steal graphics and buttons made for my website that Travel with the Magic paid for.” Not only have her backgrounds, borders, fonts, frames and navigation bar been reproduced, but Russo also said her entire terms and conditions and privacy policy pages have also been copied. 

Russo’s strategy is to immediately contact the site owner, send them a cease and desist with proof and demand that the copied material is taken down within 24 hours. Everyone that Russo has contacted has then removed the materials. However, some companies have apologized while others have made excuses. “I try to be firm, but when someone apologizes I accept it and move on. I know how hard it is to build your own site but it is better to build relationships with people and then ask for help, rather than just take someone’s hard work.”

Issues like this can have an obvious negative effect on someone’s business. “Once, someone’s site looked so similar to mine I had a client contact me and ask if I had a new agent. She thought that person was a division of Travel with the Magic.” When there are strong similarities between sites or business names, it’s easy for consumers to confuse the two. “If the copycat agency is not offering good customer service or helping clients the right way, it can negatively affect our reputation,” she added.

Russo admits that it is a tough situation and can be intimidating to contact someone you believe is copying you. “However, when you build a website and put the time and effort into it, someone should not steal your hard work.”

You may not always know if someone has copied or stolen from you. But, you should keep an eye out for it. Be active in your niche and monitor competitors. You should also set up Google Alerts for your business name or other keywords so you know when someone else is using them online.

Have you faced issues such as these? What have you done about it? Join the discussion in our Forum!

Saturday
Jan082011

Time Savers!

Who doesn’t need to save time? We’re all so busy with work, kids, husband, errands and our plethora of other responsibilities that it’s no wonder we crave any little tid bit that can help us save time, become more productive or multitask just a little bit better!

Here are five quick time savers that you may not have thought of. Have fun implementing them into your daily routines. Let me know how it goes!

  1. Prepare as much food and as many meals as you can for the upcoming week on the weekend. Chop vegetables for dinners or snacks and store them in the refrigerator. Freeze a dish that you can pop into the oven later in the week. Gather your supplies for an easy crock pot meal.
  2. Mornings rough? Make sure you have the kids’ school clothes out and ready the night before. Same with backpacks and homework; make sure it’s all packed up and ready to go the next morning before  you hit the hay the night before.
  3. Being organized can help you accomplish more while the kids are at school or napping. Keeping your to-do list prioritized will help you get more done when it’s time to sit down and get some work done.
  4. Save time by combining tasks. Don’t make extra trips to the bank or post office in the middle of the day. Stop before you pick up the kids from school or some other time when you already need to be out and about.
  5. Delegate. Have an assistant? Make sure you’re using her to her potential. Have your hubby run an errand for you or have your kids help stuff envelopes. Others are usually more than willing to help if you just ask!