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Posts Tagged ‘business development’

By Charles Lamb, Marketing Director, Central Bancorp

ImageAn article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal last month (Most Small Business Owners are Marketing Online) reminded local small business owners of key challenges they face in creating the right marketing mix to establish—and keep—their customer base, create awareness, and differentiate their product in the marketplace.

A marketing program to do all of the above is tough work, assuming most small business owners do not have their own marketing directors, graphic designers, web developers, and social media experts on hand to do the work it requires to bring in customers and build their business. So, most small business owners—as the article states—resort to marketing online. The reputation of online marketing is it’s inexpensive and easy, and that’s why small business owners rely on the internet and social media to market themselves. I have some thoughts on why this should not be your only strategy outlined below, but first there are several points within the article on which I agree:

Small businesses need to go where their audience is. This is especially important if you have just one location and where your e-presence can benefit your growth.

Participating, networking, and being found online is extremely important. How customers interact with you electronically is critical and could be a prospect’s first point of contact with you due to the growing utilization of mobile and electronic devices.

A majority of consumers use the internet to research products and services in their local area. A user-friendly and attractive website or mobile application will drive customers to your business.

What made me stop and think a minute while reading Monica Mendoza’s article—who is, by the way, a great local writer for the journal—is the second paragraph, which says that of the small business owners surveyed by Manta—an online site for small businesses—74 percent find networking online just as, if not more, important than networking in person. Yikes!

Sure, you might need a Facebook presence. And, you need a decent website. But, as a small business owner, it’s to your advantage to also invest in developing strategic alliances and partnerships out in the community. You can do this by networking and getting involved in the Colorado Springs non-profit and business communities—creating ambassadors for your brand, which will drive business through referrals. And, the good news is that you don’t need a dedicated marketing department to create decent volume of word-of-mouth marketing.

Online marketing would be your mass approach and building strategic alliances and networking would be your grassroots approach to building your customer base—and it could most definitely take both efforts to do the job of building your business. But, my point is that you cannot put all of your marketing eggs in one basket and ignore the other. All effective marketing programs have a mix of both.

For further discussion or questions, feel free to contact Charles Lamb at 719.228.1143 or Charles.Lamb@CentralBancorp.com.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageEntrepreneurs invest their personal capital to start and build businesses. They write personal checks to make payroll, to fund equipment expenditures, and pay operating costs. They put their own money at risk in hopes of an acceptable return on their capital. Historically, investment risk taken by the successful entrepreneur has been rewarded by increased profits and a long-standing business venture. Those who opened businesses were lauded for their propensity and willingness to incur risk and for their commitment to community and growth.  

Not so much today. In this political season, entrepreneurs are painted as greedy or labeled as Wall Street “fat cats” In reality, most entrepreneurs across the USA are Main Streeters, like you and me. They sit across from friends and neighbors in local churches and restaurants. They get up each morning to work another day–to make a product or provide a service, train or manage staff, attempt to smartly grow a business, and to participate in and enrich a community. Each day across our country, entrepreneurs incur risk and employ others with no guaranty; only the hope of their own success.

On January 1, 2013, the financial success these entrepreneurs seek–the economic reward they pursue by putting personal capital at risk—will be severely diminished. Ordinary income tax rates for many small business owners in the highest tax bracket will increase by over 10%. A new 3.8% Medicare Tax (Obamacare) will be applied to certain investment income, such as dividends and interest income. Capital gains on investments will be taxed at a rate 30% higher than in 2012. Income derived from stock dividends will be taxed as ordinary income, rather than the current 15% tax rate – a whopping +400% increase for those in the highest tax bracket.  All this after the company itself has paid up to 35% of its income in corporate taxes. 

So what’s the big deal? Those doing well should “pay their fair share,” right? We can always debate whether tax rates of 40% income, 35% corporate, 23.8% capital gains, 40% dividend income, and 55% estate (death) are “fair.” The question today is: “Would you write a personal check to start a business, knowing that almost half of what you earn over time will go to the federal government in the form of taxes?”  Or stated another way, “Would you invest your own money to grow a business and employ more people and take more risk, knowing that upon the sale of your business the increased value derived from your investment and sweat equity will be substantially taxed, and, to add further insult, that upon your death more than half of the remaining value might also go to Washington, rather than to your heirs?” 

If you are curious why the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, why GDP growth is anemic, and why many of our best and brightest college graduates remain unemployed, you need only put yourself in the position of an entrepreneur and ask – “Would I write that check?”

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Contributed by Jill Webb, Director of Business Development, Central Bancorp

ImageAs home to a growing defense industry and military presence, Colorado Springs has the honor to host a number of technical conferences each year that discuss the nation’s defense capabilities–present and future.

I had the pleasure this past week to attend one such gathering of minds at the Wide Area Sensing and Communications (WASC) Conference, which brought together some tremendous defense experts and officials including General Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA; General William Shelton, commander of the Air Force Space Command; Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia; and several other Department of Defense officials and industry experts.

These professionals from the commercial and military sectors were here in Colorado Springs to share the latest and greatest in communication and technology platforms that our military and government are using and developing to keep this country safe.

While most of what I saw seemed futuristic and unimaginable, the most interesting aspect of the conference, in my opinion, is that a lot of the technology showcased came from local small businesses right here in Colorado Springs, and they should be commended for their achievements in advancing defense technology.

The following companies were at the conference along with their CEO’s, who shared their latest successes:

Navsys Corporation: Provides technical products and services in GPS hardware design, systems engineering, systems analysis, and software design

SkySentry: A national leader in the investigation and development of high altitude operations

Imprimis Inc: Supports government and private organizations in achieving operational excellence with the effective use of technology

Global Near Space Services: Designs and develops unmanned aerospace systems

Colorado Springs is known for its many great industries, outdoor offerings, and quality of life. Through the work of these industries and more, it has also become the second largest defense industry market in the United States. We should be proud of that accomplishment and celebrate these businesses who are making it happen!

For more information on the WASC Conference, CLICK HERE.


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Contributed by Gary Markle, President, Central Bank & Trust

The U.S. Small Business Administration recently revamped their CAPLines program after engaging financial industry leaders in all 50 states to implement changes benefiting SBA lending partners—such as Central Bank & Trust—and small business owners.

According to the SBA revised guidelines, the new CapLines program gives small businesses more flexibility to finance the contracts, subcontracts, and purchase orders they compete for and win. “By addressing the short-term and cyclical working capital needs of small businesses, the revolving line of credit will help them manage their cash cycle, scale up, and create jobs,” the SBA explains.

From our perspective as an SBA lender, these revisions make this once-underutilized lending program more attractive and allow us to fund a borrower’s short-term working capital needs under the SBA guidelines. For businesses that are growing and have been awarded new contracts, banks now have the capacity to do revolving lines of credit up to $5 million utilizing their own credit parameters. This means business owners can work directly with a dedicated SBA lender and process their line of credit expeditiously.

Key benefits of the CAPLines program (which can be found at SBA.gov):

– Small businesses can pledge accounts receivable, inventory, contracts, and purchase orders to secure an SBA revolving line of credit.

–  The SBA will no longer require small business owners without buildings or equipment to use their personal assets as collateral to secure working capital.

–  Small business subcontractors can now obtain an SBA-guaranteed line of credit to finance their work on a contract with a federal prime contractor.

To understand the benefits and details of the CAPLines program, small business owners should work with a lender who knows the SBA policies, procedures, and systems to deliver and service this type of revolving credit. The small business owner should also know who they’re talking to, who’s processing the loan, and who’s making the decisions that potentially affect their future growth.

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Contributed by Charles Lamb, Director of Marketing, Central Bancorp

I’m new to Colorado Springs—a transplant from the Four Corners—and in my four short weeks exploring, living, and working in the downtown area, I’ve grown to love the local small business feel permeating the city.

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with big box stores or national chains. Much of my ‘Black Friday’ shopping was spent standing in line in one. But, during the remainder of the holiday shopping season, I’ll commit to buying holiday cards, wine, coffee, bike parts, and groceries in as many locally owned shops as I can find.

It’s a great feeling to hand a wife and husband your debit card in their wine shop; sip on a latté in a coffee bar named after the area’s famous peak; get served a pastry from the daughter of the bakery’s owner; and bank where the teller knows your name—and you know hers. There is satisfaction in shopping local and knowing that your money will stay in town and have an impact here in Colorado Springs.

Please remember your neighborhood small business during the hectic holiday shopping season. Perhaps you’ll find the experience of buying local so enchanting—as I have—that it’ll become a shopping habit to continue year round.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

For the first time in two years, we are seeing some improving trends with the sales and payrolls reported by our clients.  That’s good news after several quarters of severe declines.  While some clients continue their downsize, many we talk with are now planning for at least some growth in their business in 2011, while still keeping a strong eye on expenses.  We think the hiring of new employees on average will be limited, due to continued economic risk (and increasing health care costs), but expect some upward pressure on salaries for key employees who have weathered the storm.

Indeed, Travelers Insurance just reported sales and payroll growth over their small and mid-sized business insurance portfolio for the fourth quarter of 2010.  There is no doubt that chronic high unemployment will continue to be a drag on this recovery, but trends seem to indicate improvement from the low points of late 2009 and early 2010.

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Contributed by Jill Johnson, Director of Marketing, Central Bancorp

I recently got on the bus — and what a ride!

As one of the newest board members of Community Partnership for Child Development, the local non-profit organization administering the Head Start program, I was excited to attend a Get on the Bus Tour with the staff of CPCD. A one-hour tour along with several other local business people, philanthropists and community members is designed to help attendees better understand the mission and programs of CPCD in a highly-engaging way. 

The experience solidified for me all the reasons I decided to join the board of CPCD, and it also got me thinking about the marketing applications of a Get on The Bus Tour.

The concept is simple and powerful — provide a way for potential clients to experience what you do and why it matters to them.

For Central Bancorp, our “bus tour” is a modified lunch and learn concept where we gather our top professionals to meet with the owners and executives of a business to learn more about them and help develop and drive solutions to their challenges. Acting as an informal board of directors during an hour and half lunch meeting has helped our clients and prospective clients experience what doing business with the Central Bancorp family feels like.

So, a few good questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the bus tour for my business? or How do I feature the best qualities of my business to my potential clients?
  • How do I help potential clients experience what doing business with me is like?
  • And how can I make that experience unique and compelling?

If you need inspiration I would highly recommend that you Get on The Bus with CPCD, click here for more information!

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