Insights. SBDC tips for forward-thinking businesses
July 2016
Are you listening?

listeningEmployees, customers and others want to feel important and know that they are being heard. So, how can you let others know that you are listening to them?

  • Look at the person who is speaking. This is true in a hallway conversation, in a networking session and in a situation where a speaker is giving a presentation. Nothing discounts a person like you looking away (or at your smart phone) while they are talking.
  • Ask them questions. Ask about how things are going for them and ask for their feedback and ideas. Asking questions makes people feel like their opinions matter to you.
  • Show that you heard them and apply the feedback you receive. Reflect back what you have heard in order to get clarity or confirm that you understood correctly. Respond positively to suggestions and include the feedback in decision-making  processes.

Listening skills make the difference between good and great. Maintaining a high-level of focus when listening can be challenging, but it’s a skill worth developing.

I recently read a short article that refreshed my memory of good listening skills. Mart Zwilling writes, “In business, you need to always be listening – to customers, to advisors, to investors, and to your team members.” His blog post is titled “Entrepreneurs Need to Listen More and Talk Less.” He explains that this is partly to learn and partly to build relationships that are crucial for business success. Zwilling’s short article about the key elements of effective listening could help you move your business forward. To see the full article, click here.

Walworth County businesses eligible for SBA disaster loans

Low-interest Economic Injury Loans available for small businesses in Walworth County.

Press Release issued August 13, 2012 by the SBA

SBA Disaster Loans Available in Wisconsin
Following Secretary of Agriculture Disaster Declaration for Drought

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced today that federal economic injury disaster loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes located in Kenosha and Walworth counties in Wisconsin as a result of the drought that began on July 31, 2012.  (more…)

Wait! Don’t name your business yet!


Doyle Alphabet

What’s in a business name? More than you might think. The right name can help propel your business into profitability. The wrong name hinders your ability to reach your potential customers.

Often entrepreneurs choose a business name based on how it sounds or because it reflects a favorite thing or someone they care about. Some choose a family name or something associated with their location. This method typically results in poor business names.

As points out, “Your name should convey the expertise, value and uniqueness of the product or service you have developed.”

Internet search engines have made it more important than ever that you choose a name that tells the customer something about your business and marks you as distinct from other businesses.



Avoid These Startup Traps

Entrepreneur Every day I receive countless articles in my inbox stressing good business practices. Most I gloss over, but this one caught my attention. For entrepreneurs who have started a business within the past year and those considering starting a business, reading this article and heeding its advice could help ensure success. “Ten Common Arrogance Traps for Startups to Avoid” by Marty Zwilling has a title that could be difficult to relate to, but even entrepreneurs who are not the least bit arrogant could make these mistakes.

This is one of my favorites from the article: “‘If we build it, they will come.’ The hot term these days is ‘viral marketing’, meaning we won’t do any marketing, but our product is so great that everyone will know about us anyway by word of mouth and through Internet social networks. In most cases, viral marketing only begins to work after you prime the pump with several million in real marketing over a couple of years.”

While smaller businesses won’t need to spend “several million” in marketing, heeding the advice about priming the pump of viral marketing by giving people something to get excited about is critical.

Take a look at all ten traps to avoid at this link:

The business about iPads: how useful are they in the workplace?

Apple iPad2For business owners, keeping up with the latest technology often reflects a desire for increased efficiency as well a wish to project a professional, successful image. These days, nothing says “latest technology” like the Apple iPad tablet.

Apple’s April 2010 release of the iPad tablet made even the sleekest of laptops look cumbersome. Since then, the iPad has dominated the tablet industry, soaking up 97 percent of all U.S. tablet traffic, according to figures taken from The iPad’s no-strings-attached portability, iCloud syncing technology and high-speed Internet connection have caught the eyes of many, including those looking to incorporate the iPad into the workplace. (more…)

Is it true that you need a business plan?
post excerpt background

The exercise of putting a business plan together will benefit you and your company greatly.

Here at the SBDC office, people call us every day looking for guidance on figuring out how to increase sales, how to hire new employees, how to optimize their Internet marketing or how to launch a business.

Most of the time, those callers do not have business plans. Sometimes they resent my suggestion that they write one. “I don’t need a bank loan, so I don’t need a business plan,” they say.

What those callers don’t understand is that solutions to their problems of low sales, inadequate marketing and business start-up woes can be found through the process of developing a business plan.

Business planning entails thought, discussion, problem solving, research and more thought before the writing even begins. The process involves laying out in detail how you will transform your ideas into accomplishments.

As Paul Morin writes in his blog post, What Is a Business Plan For?, “You always hear that you need a business plan, but is it true?  If you talk to ten experts, it’s likely that five will tell you ‘yes,’ and five will tell you ‘no’.  At the end of the day though, even if you don’t ‘need’ a business plan, that is, a written document titled ‘Business Plan,’ the exercise of putting one together will benefit you and your company in a wide variety of ways.” To read the full post from the Company Founder blog, click here.