Has Your ‘Small Business Development Center’ Actually Helped You?

And especially, have they helped you learn effective, affordable and creative ways to market your business?

I’m curious because I often hear mixed reviews. These organizations are often branches of a govt agency and the leadership within the group (the directors, etc.) many times has no personal ‘hands on’ experience running a business. On the other hand, it seems that occasionally someone runs across an organization that has lucked out and has a great leader with tons of background.

I point this out because often ‘traditional’ books and consultants will tell you to reach out to your local Small Business Development Center and/or your local Chamber of Commerce. I confess, I love my local Chamber of Commerce (especially our lovely, vivacious and charming Executive Director) so I’m certainly not suggesting you overlook this resource. But I AM suggesting that you recognize that they are only a piece of the puzzle. It’s critical that you drill down into exactly they type of support and information you need and get that help from people who know exactly what you’re dealing with every day.

As much as it may kill you to step away from the business of running your business for a few hours, you must force yourself to make the time. I am NOT going to encourage you to get a mani/pedi or watch a movie during this break.

Instead, gather the training and education material you’ve been planning to read but haven’t made the time. Turn off the phone, put our your mental ‘do not disturb’ sign and dig in. Have a notebook with you and capture ideas that come to mind. It doesn’t mean you have to do them all today, it just means they are things to think about and you can execute on them when the time is right.

Or, use the time to connect with a fellow business owner…and DON’T waste the time with small talk. Prepare a list of 4-6 topics you want them to weigh in on. Maybe you need someone to brainstorm a new product or marketing idea. Maybe you are feeling frustrated or discouraged about another aspect of your business and need a new perspective. Make sure you stay on track and talk about the business issues you’re dealing with and get some objective input about the situation.

Owning a small business can be isolating and often you may feel like you’re out there all alone. Sometimes we all have to force ourselves to make planning and collaborating a part of our business, even when we feel like we don’t have the time.

ATV – Your Exclusive All Terrain Vehicle Information Center

So you are thinking of purchasing an all terrain vehicle (ATV). You can get a four stroke engine with aggressive off road tires, all wheel drive, and carrying racks so whether you are in the lumber or oil industry, working the farm, or going on a hunting trip your ATV is capable of going the distance.

When you are in the market for purchasing tires for your all terrain vehicle (ATV), there are several factors for consideration. There are numerous brands of tires available on the market specifically designed for all terrain vehicles (ATVs). Everyone is looking for a good bargain. So whatever discount source you buy your ATV tires from, make sure they are extremely well versed in all the technical specifications of the tires they are selling. There are cheap ATV tires available all over the internet.

For ATV owners wanting something out of the ordinary many owners look to after market tires to beef up their all terrain vehicle. In a typical ATV, Discount Tires perform multiple roles, including transmission of traction to the road surface, supporting the chassis of the vehicle, and absorbing the shocks from the surface.

If you want to strike out on your own and try to find an even better deal on ATV tires you’ll certainly be using a search engine to find the sites that you need. If, on the other hand, you’re simply type in the market for “discount ATV tires,” you’ll just be looking at all the same stores that have paid to be listed in the first search results that you see. And you’ll want to make sure you understand why the tires have been discounted.

If you’ve just gotten yourself some new Mini ATV tires, you should always mount the Mini ATV tires rims with bead seat safety humps. If you plan to spend exorbitant amounts of time in the sand, choose a sand tread for your ATV tire. Most tire stores that provide you with new tires for your ATV will be able to take your old ones off of your hands.

Again, depending on how you will use your ATV, don’t overlook the possibility that you may need ATV tire chains. With a variety of options available for every vehicle, ATV tire chains are a great way to increase safety and fun when crashing through the great outdoors. One of the first things a potential ATV tire chain purchaser may want to consider is whether they want two or four link spacing.

If an ATV enthusiast who lives in Hong Kong cannot find the ATV that he/she wants for sale in Hong Kong, he/she can visit an website with ATVs for sale and order the ATV from there; the ATV will then be shipped to Hong Kong as a special order. Online business owners have the advantage of being able to offer just about any type of ATVs for sale in their website without keeping them in a warehouse.

There are plenty of ATV dealers around the country so whether you choose to buy new or used, online or through your local dealer you have plenty of options. There are many good quality cheap second-hand ATVs. Going second-hand is a good thing if you’re looking for a cheap ATV. When considering the purchase of an ATV, and you are thinking of purchasing a used one, you need a competent mechanic to check it out before purchase. It’s important to remember the best of mechanics isn’t going to be able to always see how stressed and close to the breaking point some parts may be.

Don’t forget to consider thumb grips when purchasing an ATV. Thumb grips help prevent soreness and tiredness of the thumbs for a ATV rider.

And, depending upon how you will be using your ATV don’t overlook a multi-purpose tool and utility grid that is sometimes used to stack tools like shovels and axes to be used in various labor or field jobs.

When it comes time to give the ATV to a child, it is important to teach the child how to use the machine first. Youth ATVs are becoming more popular, especially in certain geographical locations. It’s almost the “latest” in these areas. More and more children are engaging in ATV related activities. A kid ATV will make a great gift for the child that likes to have an adventure.

Safety! Safety! Safety! Did you know more people per year die on ATVs than get hit by trucks? Over 4,000 people a year die in ATV crashes and over 60,000 injuries are reported; things like broken bones and non-break injuries to the knees, elbows and ankles. Tragically, the majority of these deaths and injuries have happened to CHILDREN! Any and all types of safety riding gear cannot be stressed enough if you are going to purchase an ATV! Don’t skimp! And don’t assume you won’t have an accident! Better safe than sorry is the best rule!

While purchasing safety gear and other ATV accessories, theoretically speaking, the brand is not really important, but in reality, sometimes it DOES make a difference. So, make sure that the seller of the cheap ATV has good ratings from different buyers. Whatever you do, stay SAFE as you enjoy your new all terrain vehicle.

For more indept research on this topic here is a great resource site: http://snowmobileshop.net

Whatever you do, stay SAFE as you enjoy your new all terrain vehicle.  Ms.CiCi

The Truth About Government Grants for Your Business

Free money! Receive up to $25,000 that never has to be paid back — Guaranteed! Get a grant to start your own business today!

If you’re a small business owner, or you’ve always dreamed of starting your own business, you’ve probably run across ads like these. Companies that “guarantee” you’ll get a grant to start your own business that never has to be paid back. Purchase their product, and they’ll give you the “secrets” to making all your money troubles go away.

Have you ever wondered if all the hype is true? Can you really get free cash to start or expand your business? Before you spend your hard-earned money on what could turn out to be nothing more than a list of names and addresses (that you can actually get for free in the Internet by the way), keep reading to learn the truth about grants for individuals and business start-ups.

First of all, what is a grant?

A grant is a sum of money that is used for a specific purpose. Grants are given away by charitable organizations called foundations, and their sole purpose is to give away that money.

In addition, the U.S. Federal government also gives away billions of dollars of grant money every year for many reasons — including to support and encourage economic development and small business growth, which is where you come in.

So what’s the catch? (You knew there had to be a catch, right? I mean, if it was that easy, every new business out there would be starting out in the black!)

Most corporations, foundations and government agencies ONLY give grant money to nonprofit organizations that have a 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS.

The most common grants given to individuals are in the form of scholarships.

So, are there any grants available to you as a small business owner? Yes. Is somebody just waiting to hand you a check for $25,000? No. In fact, you may never actually see the cash. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of all the programs that are out there — and that could add up to a lot more than $25,000. You just have to know where to look and what to ask for.

Here’s how it works. First of all, be prepared. Finding a grant is going to take some work on your part. You’ll want to set up a system for keeping the information organized. You can create a paper system with files and a calendar, of do it on your computer. You’re going to want to separate your research into classifications that make sense for your business, plus you’ll need to keep track of who’s giving what away and the corresponding deadlines.

Next, you’ll have to do some research to find what programs are available in your area, and what the guidelines are. Then you’ll have to do some deeper research, to eliminate the ones you don’t qualify for. (Most grants have some type of restrictions — some are geographic, some are targeted towards specific groups, some are for specific types of businesses, etc.)

And the third and final step will be to apply for the grants you qualify for and need. (For a small business grant, what’s required is usually a well written business plan).

So how do you get started? Before you start looking for grant money, you need to figure out exactly what you’re looking for. What exactly do you need to take your business to the next level. This will not only help you to be more focused on your business goals, but it will give you a better idea of where to start looking and save you time in the long run.

For example, do you need training? Maybe you’ve realized you need to learn how to use a computer, learn to build your own Web site, or master a specific program such as word or excel.

What about technical assistance? Are you trying to learn a new process or need to learn how to use specific equipment?

Do you need assistive technology because of a disability?

Do you need cash to purchase equipment and supplies?

Make a list of exactly what it is you need, and prioritize it. Figure out a schedule of when you need to have it. Create a basic budget based on how much what you need would cost if you had to pay for it out of pocket. Also note down where, in your local area, you can find what you need.

Now it’s time to start looking for your grant. A good place to start is the Small Business Administration. They’ve got a great Website that has lots of information to get you started. You can even take free online classes to learn how to write — or tweak — your business plan.

After that, start locally. Check with your own Small Business Development Center, Chamber of Commerce or, if you’re in a rural area, Association of Government office. If there are small business grants available in your area, these are the experts who will know about them.

Don’t forget about your local library. The librarian in charge of the research section is very knowledgeable, and can provide you with a wealth of materials.

It’s important to keep an open mind and think outside the box when you’re looking for grants. Not all grants come in the form of cold, hard cash. You might be able to find funding that will pay for the training you need, business classes or get a scholarship to go to your local community college.

Your local Small Business Development Center may operate a “small business incubation center” and can provide you with low-cost office space that includes telephone lines, use of office equipment, meeting rooms and someone to answer calls and take messages.

If you need help with advertising or marketing your products or services, look to larger corporations, your local chamber of commerce or your city’s economic development office. They may offer co-op advertising programs, reduced printing costs on specific advertising campaigns, and other resources for getting your name out to your target market. If you sell products for nationwide companies, check to see if there are advertising incentives where they’ll help to pay for your advertising costs.

If you’re a member of a professional or trade organization, see if they offer programs. Check the Internet. You can find grant information from the federal government online. The foundation center is another great resource with an interactive database. Women should utilize women’s organizations and the women’s business centers.

You can check the foundation center online for a very comprehensive listing of foundations and the grants they offer. Again…remember that most foundations DON’T give grants to individuals, so don’t waste a lot of time looking at the foundations themselves. Instead, LOOK FOR THE NONPROFIT organizations they have give grants to! You’re looking specifically for economic or community development grants.

That’s you’ll actually be able to access whatever grants, services and resources are available, because the nonprofit organizations are the ones who work with indidivuals and provide “service delivery.”

To find out who is getting the money, check the foundations 990 tax forms, which are usually available online. That will tell you which nonprofit organizations to contact.

Keep a file of all the possibilities, and hone your research to the sources that provide the best fit for your needs.

There are resources out there, if you’re willing to spend the time looking for them. Keep an open mind, be willing to think outside the box, and never give up!