The Winner of The September 2013 Spotlight Contest is…

Greetings!

It is with a bit of a heavy heart I tell you that this month, the contest I conceived and ran since its inception, will be my last as Supplier Connection’s Voice of Small Business.  Don’t fear: You can always find me on Twitter, the Supplier Connection Discussion Group on LinkedInFacebook, and of course, The SBE Lifer! Plenty of places to exchange views on running a small business.

And no need to panic, the Contest continues! IBM’s Social Business Manager, Meghan Wolf will be taking over running the contest from here-on-out. I can assure you The Supplier Spotlight Contest will continue!

With all of that being said, here’s my final big reveal:  The Winner of The Supplier Spotlight Contest this month is…

… Entry #5: Serve What You Do Best by Nick Mohamed from CLR Auto Transport!

As always, congratulations to CLR Auto Transport, and a heartfelt thanks to the other SBEs who took the time to submit their entries this month.  Although I say something similar most every month, it’s true: this contest is for SBEs who believe in the power of being a Small Business Enterprise and sharing experiences with other SBEs.

This contest is sponsored by Supplier Connection, an initiative where a growing number of large member organizations have committed to connect U.S.-based SBEs to their supply chains. Registration is open to all U.S. Small Business Enterprises.

Sept. 2013 Poll

Supplier Connection SBE Updates

3 New Entries on The SBE Lifer
I hope you’ll take the time to check out the new entries on my small business blog: The SBE Lifer–my aim is to cover a wide variety of issues I know small businesses face every day, for instance:

Business Fundamentals #1: Do What You Promise

Are You Investing or Gambling on Your Future?

Will Your Prospect Ever Become a Customer?

The Prize for Winning The Supplier Spotlight Monthly Contest:
In exchange for their efforts, CLR Auto Transport has earned the following opportunity to promote their company on Supplier Connection as the lead SBE through the month of October, and highlighted and the secondary SBE throughout November, too:

– Company logo and links prominently displayed on the Dashboard (New! Check it out now), highlighted under The Supplier Spotlight banner on the Get Connected page, and links to their profile from the Home Page.
– A 200 word description of their business posted beneath their logo
– A link to their website, Facebook page, Twitter account, company blog(s), etc.
– A link to an online sales presentation with audio
– Link(s) to product videos, commercials, and/or their YouTube channel
– Posted links to white papers they might have written
– A link for interested Member Partners or SBE Suppliers to schedule an online sales meeting
– A promotional email gets sent to all registered buyers from the Member Organizations

And finally…
– If CLR Auto Transport can attribute any new customer order to this promotion I’ll follow up by interviewing their owner, and post the interview on The SBE Lifer blog.

The October 2013 contest starts NOW!
And, by now, you know The Supplier Spotlight contest starts all over again on October 1st. And with a growing number of large Member Organizations, 500+ registered Corporate Buyers, a growing number of registered SBEs, along with a daily Social Media campaign driving more SBEs (follow me http://twitter.com/dnagallo) to The Supplier Spotlight blog; you’ll agree Supplier Connection is where all SBEs who sell B2B should want to be seen.

ACTION ITEM: Look at how you run your business. Review the innovations you’re deploying that have improved your performance. Remember, this is not your chance to submit your company brochure or sell your service, it’s about sharing ways you improve your company’s performance. Write them up and email the best ones to me no later than 8:00PM Eastern October 8th. Send them to mwolf@us.ibm.com to qualify for October’s contest. (For details on how The Supplier Spotlight works, click here).

Remember… You can’t advertise on the Supplier Connection portal for any amount of money.

No. You cannot.

The only thing we’ll accept is your best ideas.

SBEs are a journey… may the best idea win!

Dan Gallo
Small Business AdvocateSupplier Connection
Managing DirectorThe Allasso Group, LLC

Let’s Connect!
CLICK HERE to FOLLOW for my SmallBiz focused Twitter feed – @dnagallo
CLICK HERE to JOIN The Supplier Connection Discussion Group on LinkedIn
CLICK HERE to READ my blog: The SBE Lifer
CLICK HERE to LIKE Supplier Connection on Facebook
CLICK HERE to go to Supplier Connection: Visit the Get Connected page before Tuesday, October 1 to read about the winner of last month’s contest: HansonEllis

To submit an entry in The Supplier Spotlight contest you need to be a registered member of the Supplier Connection initiative with a completed registration. Registration is FREE. For more information you can watch this 1.5 minute video or read a lot more on the Supplier Connection portal.

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Vote Now for The September 2013 Supplier Spotlight Contest!

Last month’s contest ended while I was in Belize on a mission trip with my family. Belize has this way of focusing you on the realities of wider horizons, and healing you up at the same time.  But, I’m glad to be back–and what a contest to come back to!

We not only have 5 new entries for September… we’ve already got entries a-plenty for next month!  In addition, we’ve got our first-ever seeker of a Back-To-Back Championship–as last month’s winner, Hanson Ellis, is back with a very engaging entry.

What’s so interesting about this contest is that every month we get entries from perfect strangers–people who have never met, companies who have never heard of one another–and yet common themes emerge.  This month, most of the entries are concerned with helping each other achieve the greatest success we can (whether through correctly identifying what’s holding us back, or strategic partnerships with other SBEs).  So please, if you like the idea of a community of SBEs actually taking the time to help other SBEs succeed, read on and vote:

Entry #1: 3 Essentials to Turn a Good Company into a Great One | Hanson Ellis
Entry #2: Embrace Hardship and Innovate | Acrilex, Inc.
Entry #3: CRM Winning Streak | Sensor Analytics, Inc.
Entry #4:  Partner Up Out There! | Smart GeoMetrics
Entry #5: Serve What You Do Best | CLR Auto Transport

VOTE HERE

Voting has Closed!
Why not stick around and read the entries?

Supplier Connection SBE Updates

Coming soon from The SBE Lifer: Can You Crowd-Fund Your SBE?
My last post on The SBE Journal details my experience at crowd-funding through Kickstarter. The lessons I learned apply to running a small business.  The days of walking into a bank and walking out with a loan are over, but the days of crowd-funding (or crowd-investing) early-stage start-ups and expansions are just beginning.  So, much like my 5 Simple Steps to Increase Your Social Media ImpactI’m in the early stages of writing another free primer on how you can crowd-fund your SBE–stay tuned!

Today we posted my latest entry in The SBE Lifer, it’s a short entry called Business Fundamentals: Do What You Promise. It’s a real quick read and I’d love to know your perspective.

Check out a guest blog entry from Stephen Jackson, a fellow SBE in our Interviews With Experts #7: where Stephen discusses why he launched the non-profit organization Run2LIVE.

Remember, running an SBE is a long journey… you don’t have to do it alone!

Dan Gallo
SBE AdvocateSupplier Connection
Chief Operating OfficermyVRM
Managing Director, The Allasso Group, LLC

Let’s connect!
Watch my 1st video blog on Outgrowing Great Employees
Join our LinkedIn Discussion Group
Follow me on Twitter @dnagallo and I’ll follow you back
LIKE Supplier Connection on Facebook
Visit Supplier Connection Web Portal

Check out August’s Contest Winner: Hanson Ellis, Inc.

To submit an entry in The Supplier Spotlight contest you need to be a registered member of the Supplier-Connection initiative with a completed registration. Registration is FREE. For more information you can watch this 1.5 minute video or read more on the Supplier Connection portal.

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Entry #5: Serve What You Do Best

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Sept. 2013 Entry 5

Our business has had the good fortune of consistent growth in the past; however, lately, we’ve been growing at a decreasing rate.  As a small certified women/minority business enterprise, we are competing against larger nationwide corporations.  In order to generate new opportunities for the company, we have decided to invest in a new facility.

Upgrading to a new facility will improve profitability and efficiency in multiple ways:

  1. We are able to expand on our core capabilities.  We formed a partnership with a company we currently provide our services to.  The new facility will have a fenced-in secure storage facility both inside and out.  We will be relocating large tourism buses to our facilities, storing them, then relocating them to their final destination after they are purchased.  We are now earning revenue three times on a single vehicle!
  2. This allows us to open up contracts to other similar current and prospective clients.
  3. Improved Operations & Service Process Structures.  We will be reorganizing the layout of the office internally to improve communication channels between dispatch and drivers as well as between Sales/Marketing and clients.
  4. We are currently strategically located with our headquarters in Merrillville, Indiana. A glance at the nation’s map will show this area – the greater Calumet region – is the nation’s transportation hub. Just 35 miles from downtown Chicago, CLR provides easy access to major transportation facilities, including interstate highways, major airports, and rail and bus terminals.

These are just a few of the benefits that come with moving into our new facility.  It was a big decision to make; however, the changes put the control in our hands.  Instead of relying on technology to make a difference, we are expanding our capabilities to improve operations so we can more effectively do what we do best—personal customer service.

Best,

Nick Mohamed, 

Sales & Marketing Specialist
CLR Auto Transport
8350 Whitcomb Street
Merrillville, IN 46410
Tel: (219) 795-1040
Tel: (888) 257-2677
Fax: (219) 795-1456
nick@clrautotransport.com
http://clrautotransport.com
PS–Here’s a link to check out our progress: http://www.clrautotransport.com/clr-blog/clr-is-expanding

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Entry #4: Partner Up Out There!

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We recently opened up shop in the DC area, expanding our footprint from Houston and Nashville.  Opening in a new area takes creativity and a willingness to try new things to expand your client base.  We are doing this by expanding our service offerings through partnerships.

Sept. 2013 Entry 4

3D imaging and laser scanning is not something everyone understands or seeks out.  What people do seek out are services that 3D imaging can support, though.  Our DC office is located in the Mason Enterprise Center (MEC), which is a joint effort from George Mason University and the Small Business Development Center for Loudoun County, VA.  The MEC is an incubator office and has a different small business in each room providing an exciting atmosphere of energy, enthusiasm, and eagerness to try new things.

Because of the nature of our 3D imaging business and the location, we developed a plan to partner with other businesses.  Mike Williams of Building Envelope Consulting turned out to be the prime example:  Mike and I work down the hall from each other and often consult with each others potential clients, develop marketing materials, create new product offerings, and attend networking meetings and conferences as a package service.  It’s easy!  This has drastically reduced our marketing and sales efforts to his building management industry, increased our service offerings, provided us with an offering that people were more familiar with, and opened up a new network of potential clients for Mike and me in many industries.

It just made sense and I would encourage this type of partnership.

Domenick Alario, Director
Smart GeoMetrics
202 Church Street SE Suite 316
Leesburg, VA 20175
Tel: 713-574-6690 x114
Cell: 571-271-1893
Int’l: 571-295-8130
dalario@smartgeometrics.com
www.SmartGeoMetrics.com

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Entry #3: CRM Winning Streak

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I know I’m not the only one constantly looking for better Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to help me automate some of my sales procedures… I’m searching all the time for the newest, most intuitive tools.

Entry #3 September 2013

Then I found Streak (I have no affiliation except as a user). Streak is a simple and powerful organization tool that integrates with your Gmail inbox. Without having to use a complex separate software product I can now manage my follow-up with multiple potential customers inside Gmail. In addition to all of the cloud features of Gmail, one of the best features is how Streak makes CRM take place where so much of the CRM communication is taking place to begin with: namely, inside Gmail.

I am now using this to manage several processes where follow-up with multiple entities is needed over time. Anywhere I access a computer to check my email, I can work on my CRM and other follow-up processes. It’s free, and will always have a free version for modest users. Other features include: easy sharing of CRM channels with team-members, scheduling of emails to be sent at a specific time in the future, it works with Google Apps, and it doesn’t alter your email or label setup at all.

It has saved me valuable time and effort, and I highly recommend it,

Dadi Gudmundsson, President LinkedIn Icon 55px
Sensor Analytics, Inc.
27 Blair Terrace
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel: 415-738-8199
Fax: 213-348-0425
info@sensoranalytics.com
http://sensor-analytics.com

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Entry #2: Embrace Hardship and Innovate

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Entry 2 Sept. 2013

After we were hit by Hurricane Sandy, my thinking about the value of hardship to my small business changed drastically.

Hardship handled properly can actually be a great reason to change – and if there’s enough trust among employees they can summon up the courage to tackle some tough challenges.

So, you could say that hardship promotes innovation.

In our case there were lots of problems and worries about mold, health, ability to rebuild, finances, etc.  And naturally the storm hampered our corporate headquarters where all sales and administration were located.  But we used the storm – and fought hard to overcome the problems. 
We fought tough with the insurance company to ensure we would be reimbursed for our flood damages (in accordance with our flood policy).

We fixed the flood damages to our manufacturing rooftop – that was blown away and damaged in the hurricane.  We reached out to our long-term relationship of contractors (building, lighting, electric, IT, HVAC) to work together to fix our structural damages and rebuild our offices.  We worked very closely with our IT company to upgrade damaged workstations and routers and switches.  We built a new dedicated Server Room with new equipment and dedicated cable runs to improve performance.  We worked closely with our Professionals in the SBDC (Jersey City), banking, insurance, Credit Card processors, and technology vendors to rebuild.  We looked at operations to improve cash collections, sales, marketing, production, and HR.

So in summary: We used a problem as a tool for self-reflection and improvement.  Sounds corny but it’s the simple truth.

Thanks,

David Grunberg, Chief Financial Officer
Acrilex, Inc.
230 Culver Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07305
Tel: (800) 222-4680
Tel: 201.205.1815
DGrunberg@acrilex.com
http://acrilex.com

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Entry #1: 3 Essentials to Turn a Good Company into a Great One

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Being a good company seems to be the goal of many small business owners.  But why settle for good when you could be great?

Entry 1 Sept. 2013 Contest

Jim Collins, a business professor and author, wrote a book titled Good to Great that outlines many simple business concepts to take a company from good to great. Based on his research and adapting it to fit small businesses, I believe there are three core questions we must ask ourselves in order to grow: What are you deeply passionate about?  What can you be the best in the world at? And what drives your economic engine?

The first question should be easy to answer:  Do you have a true passion for what you’re doing? Self-analysis is essential. You can’t just decide to be passionate about what you do; the passion for what your business does must start from the top and trickle down to every single employee so it’s felt and ingrained in the company culture. Without this, employees and managers and even owners cannot move from good to great.

So, what can you be the best in the world at?  What you can be the best in the world at may not be what you personally excel at, but maybe it’s a process or system you can perfect that is better than anyone else.  Reflect on what your company can become the greatest at and don’t be afraid to take a large leap of faith to be the best!

The third and final idea is about driving your economic engine. A common misconception is that you must be in a strong industry to perform well, but this is just not true. Take Wells Fargo as an example of a company who faced much deregulation in the banking sector and still succeeded:  One reason for their success was because they found the ratio that correctly measured the efficiency and profitability of their company: profit per employee. By choosing a ratio that is appropriate to your business you can gain profound insights into what drives your economic engine.

Reflection of the three key questions is a crucial first step in growing your business in the direction it should go. It lays a strong and immovable foundation to build a great company upon that without it, your company may never be able to maximize its potential.

Remember, as Jim Collins puts it so simply, “Good is the enemy of great.”

Curtis R., Marketing Director
Hanson Ellis
3165 Fujita St.
Torrance, CA 90505
Tel: 1.800.793.3924
Int’l: 1.310.878.9429
Fax: 1.310.359.1437
support@hansonellis.com
http://hansonellis.com

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