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From our the Center’s entrepreneurs & friends 2009 thoughts & 2010 advice
What has been your biggest challenge in 2009?  One of my biggest challenges has been, trying to find the best way in organize the company.  As our company has been expanding, we have had to prepare ourselves on what is needed first and how to handle putting together a good employee package to keep employees interested in working with us.  This tough  economy has made it challenging but we do what we can. Julissa Carielo, Tejas Premier Building The biggest challenge in 2009 was getting folks to take action.  Making decisions is one of the toughest things entrepreneurs have always had to do.  Making decisions when there is so much uncertainty is even harder and often is paralyzing.  When I find myself becoming the proverbial deer in the headlights, I have to break the trance, kind of like the old Aqua Velva aftershave commercial, where the actor gets slapped and then says “Thanks!  I needed that!”   Cheryl Cook, Pro Money, Inc.
What has been your biggest challenge in 2009? Our biggest challenge at P3S Corporation was ensuring we had the right infrastructure in place to sustain our rapid growth (almost 5,900% from 2005-2008) while maintaining top quality customer service.  The way we did this was to bring in consultants with experience in working in our industry and with larger companies.  This allowed us to leverage best practices.  Paying for consultants, as needed, was helpful during the down economy. Mary Ellen Trevino, P3S   
What has been your biggest challenge in 2009?  My biggest challenge was trying to generate more business in this economy and standing out from the crowd. That is how we came up with SwebApps.  Also creating client trust so they would believe we could do the job well as a newby in the biz! Magaly Chocano, SWEB Development & SWEB Apps Biggest Challenge: growth. Our membership grew a bunch and as a result we expanded our gym twice! This led to needing more equipment, a system to inventory and developing a solid database to track it all. Def a challenge but a good one to have. Rick Martinez, Alamo Crossfit
What has been your biggest challenge in 2009? People eager to start their own business are all under the notion that the quickest way to start your business is to have a healthy start up capital account. The reality is that not all people have that kind of liquidity and turn to financial lending companies or banks for it. Because of lending requirements not everyone has collateral / good credit / any credit / not enough credit and all of those are factors on if / how much a person can acquire in loans. We took an alternative route when banks and lending institutions stopped lending in 2008 when the market began to crash. We began looking for retail space for rent that already had equipment we could use to minimize the start up costs. Once we found it our initial investment was only $10,000. That covered everything from marketing collateral like branding and uniforms to permits and signage. We opened up the doors with our business plan goals and budget in hand and have had one successful month right after the other.  Andrea Alvaro, Beyond Cake The economy; work is slow, so you cut down your employees’ hours, even do projects yourself to cut costs.  As a business owner, you know you have to reduce costs, but feel bad for your employees, because they have mouths to feed. Customers have also been affected by the economy; they are late to pay because they have not been paid themselves.  Jose Guajardo, Guajardo Trucking
What has been your biggest challenge in 2009?  Our biggest challenge has been effectively managing a multi-directional approach to the business.  While our firm provides traditional human resource consulting services, we created niche markets in human resource related “communication and branding” programs.  We see developing content for websites, authoring proposals and drafting employee newsletters as a natural extension of the image and branding that corporations want others to view (current and potential employees and customers).  This niche plays to our writing and graphic design talents.  We get to be creative HR professionals.
What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? So far most of my marketing has been done by building relationships and trying to set up visits with potential buyers.  Sending our current clients with ongoing progress reports has helped informed them of how our company is expanding and the talented people we have been able to hire.  Just letting them know that we are always looking for ways to improve. Julissa Carielo, Tejas Premier Building  Some of the ways I market my business are to use electronic tools; from multiple websites, to a bi-weekly e-newsletter, to articles on the internet that others can use in their electronic magazines, to social media sites (Linked In, Twitter, Facebook), to advertising in other’s e-newsletters and Chamber on-line and print directories.  I speak locally, regionally, and around the country, partner with affiliates who market for me, attend local networking events, volunteer with community organizations and use traditional print media in the form of oversized postcards. Cheryl Cook, Pro Money, Inc.
What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? P3S Corporation leverages networking opportunities presented by the STWBC, SBA, PTAC, SBDC, Chambers of Commerce and other select venues.  We also have a website, marketing brochures and a booth display.  It is important to be selective of which conferences and tradeshows to attend.  Select the ones most relevant to your customer base and industry.  We also take the time to meet with our small business representatives of the federal agencies we are trying to do business with.  This is a good opportunity to find out the needs of your potential customer.  P3S Corporation has also marketed at business to business mixers.  Although this venue provides for potential teaming opportunities, it is important to selective to avoid wasting time and money. Mary Ellen Trevino, P3S Social media and our website. also wearing our tee shirts religiously. Lastly our location on a visible hwy (Blanco Rd). do they work: yes. they all do and we have had measurable results. We tried a small mailer, a few hundred with zero response. Rick Martinez, Alamo Crossfit
What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? Branding was really important to start with. The concept of cake is easy but trying to market that ?It’s Not Just Cake Anymore? was difficult. We realized we needed a logo/brand that stood out before we could even market ourselves. We’re in a tremendously fortunate location that lends itself to our popularity in our growing market. The closest retail bakery is about 20 minutes away. Being Chamber members helped get our name out as well as being active with the city and community. We found ways to donate cakes and be part of school, corporate and charity functions. These marketing methods were cost effective with a huge return on interest to what we do. As a new business with little startup capital we found creative ways to put ourselves out there. We aren’t in a position to spend thousands of dollars in print advertising. But we will be. Our projections show  that it will have taken us 9 months to be  in a position it typically takes 2 years  to get to. I think our marketing, location  and product are making that possible. Andrea Alvaro, Beyond Cake
What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? Pens: I hand them to clients instead of business cards.  Since pens get passed around more often from person to person, I get calls from people I haven’t met personally.  Client follow ups: I call clients to see how they are doing and establish relationships  Discounts to loyal clients or new clients that need that final push to sign the deal  Jose Guajardo, Guajardo Trucking We utilize a commercial service offering brochure that outlines our services, the types of people we employ and a variety of developmental programs available.  This is a new tool for us, but we took our time in branding it so you really get our look and feel – clients can tell from the layout – we are fresh, innovative and timely.   The initial feedback for this has been very positive. We continue to volunteer throughout the community.  We view this  as a win-win opportunity for the firm.  We give back and we get our  name out there.  It is always a great conversation starter to talk  about a local charity or organization that could use a few more volunteers. LeAnne King, Seeking HR
What business and personal tips can you share for 2010?  No matter how tough it gets, don’t let go of your dream/  Stay consistent, positive and have  a smile on your face.  People forget they are offering a service, not doing a favor to their clients.   Jose Guajardo, Guajardo Trucking Be prepared to be BUSY. Support from friends and family is important. Listen to your business. NO ONE can tell you when you’re ready to take that “next” step in your business. Whether you need to hire an extra person but you’re not sure if you financially can, or if you have doubts about purchasing something that might over extend you. Be okay with saying no. New business owners often times say yes to everything because they feel pressured or think that’s just what their supposed to do; be okay with saying no. You’ll be ready when you’re ready in every aspect of business.   Andrea Alvaro, Beyond Cake
What business and personal tips can you share for 2010?  The best advice is to find a niche and find new ideas that make you the expert of that niche. Make yourself different!   Magaly Chocano, SWEB Development & Apps Business: the 'recession' is a rationale to fail. When an individual decides to open a buisness or start a venture then blames failure on the 'economy'...I don't believe it. With passion, dedication and the knowledge that you might just not get a lot of sleep, anyone CAN succeed.  Personal: Health and Family. No matter how much $$ you have, your drive or determination, having the support of your family and knowing they have your back makes success all the sweeter! Familia....and CrossFit.  Rick Martinez, Alamo Crossfit
What business and personal tips can you share for 2010?  The best advice I could offer is to not give up,  find your way in getting in front of the client that most interest you and they will eventually see how passionate you are about customer satisfaction.  We all start with one opportunity!  Julissa Carielo, Tejas Premier Building  The best advice I can give for 2010 is to do what I find myself doing this time of year.  The successful ones are those that have a plan, the detailed steps to achieve that plan, and someone to hold them accountable in taking those steps. Cheryl Cook, Pro Money, Inc.
What business and personal tips can you share for 2010? Enjoy your successes; remembering who and how you got there.   Leanne King, Seeking HR Under promise and over deliver; always exceed your customer's expectations. Find your niche; master your niche; market your niche.  Stick to what you do best and stay focused.  Balance work and life; work hard and play hard.    Mary Ellen Trevino, P3S
South Texas Women’s Business Center www.stwbc.com

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2009 Thoughts & 2010 Advice

  • 1. From our the Center’s entrepreneurs & friends 2009 thoughts & 2010 advice
  • 2. What has been your biggest challenge in 2009? One of my biggest challenges has been, trying to find the best way in organize the company.  As our company has been expanding, we have had to prepare ourselves on what is needed first and how to handle putting together a good employee package to keep employees interested in working with us.  This tough  economy has made it challenging but we do what we can. Julissa Carielo, Tejas Premier Building The biggest challenge in 2009 was getting folks to take action.  Making decisions is one of the toughest things entrepreneurs have always had to do.  Making decisions when there is so much uncertainty is even harder and often is paralyzing.  When I find myself becoming the proverbial deer in the headlights, I have to break the trance, kind of like the old Aqua Velva aftershave commercial, where the actor gets slapped and then says “Thanks!  I needed that!”  Cheryl Cook, Pro Money, Inc.
  • 3. What has been your biggest challenge in 2009? Our biggest challenge at P3S Corporation was ensuring we had the right infrastructure in place to sustain our rapid growth (almost 5,900% from 2005-2008) while maintaining top quality customer service.  The way we did this was to bring in consultants with experience in working in our industry and with larger companies.  This allowed us to leverage best practices.  Paying for consultants, as needed, was helpful during the down economy. Mary Ellen Trevino, P3S   
  • 4. What has been your biggest challenge in 2009? My biggest challenge was trying to generate more business in this economy and standing out from the crowd. That is how we came up with SwebApps. Also creating client trust so they would believe we could do the job well as a newby in the biz! Magaly Chocano, SWEB Development & SWEB Apps Biggest Challenge: growth. Our membership grew a bunch and as a result we expanded our gym twice! This led to needing more equipment, a system to inventory and developing a solid database to track it all. Def a challenge but a good one to have. Rick Martinez, Alamo Crossfit
  • 5. What has been your biggest challenge in 2009? People eager to start their own business are all under the notion that the quickest way to start your business is to have a healthy start up capital account. The reality is that not all people have that kind of liquidity and turn to financial lending companies or banks for it. Because of lending requirements not everyone has collateral / good credit / any credit / not enough credit and all of those are factors on if / how much a person can acquire in loans. We took an alternative route when banks and lending institutions stopped lending in 2008 when the market began to crash. We began looking for retail space for rent that already had equipment we could use to minimize the start up costs. Once we found it our initial investment was only $10,000. That covered everything from marketing collateral like branding and uniforms to permits and signage. We opened up the doors with our business plan goals and budget in hand and have had one successful month right after the other. Andrea Alvaro, Beyond Cake The economy; work is slow, so you cut down your employees’ hours, even do projects yourself to cut costs.  As a business owner, you know you have to reduce costs, but feel bad for your employees, because they have mouths to feed. Customers have also been affected by the economy; they are late to pay because they have not been paid themselves. Jose Guajardo, Guajardo Trucking
  • 6. What has been your biggest challenge in 2009? Our biggest challenge has been effectively managing a multi-directional approach to the business.  While our firm provides traditional human resource consulting services, we created niche markets in human resource related “communication and branding” programs.  We see developing content for websites, authoring proposals and drafting employee newsletters as a natural extension of the image and branding that corporations want others to view (current and potential employees and customers).  This niche plays to our writing and graphic design talents.  We get to be creative HR professionals.
  • 7. What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? So far most of my marketing has been done by building relationships and trying to set up visits with potential buyers.  Sending our current clients with ongoing progress reports has helped informed them of how our company is expanding and the talented people we have been able to hire.  Just letting them know that we are always looking for ways to improve. Julissa Carielo, Tejas Premier Building Some of the ways I market my business are to use electronic tools; from multiple websites, to a bi-weekly e-newsletter, to articles on the internet that others can use in their electronic magazines, to social media sites (Linked In, Twitter, Facebook), to advertising in other’s e-newsletters and Chamber on-line and print directories.  I speak locally, regionally, and around the country, partner with affiliates who market for me, attend local networking events, volunteer with community organizations and use traditional print media in the form of oversized postcards. Cheryl Cook, Pro Money, Inc.
  • 8. What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? P3S Corporation leverages networking opportunities presented by the STWBC, SBA, PTAC, SBDC, Chambers of Commerce and other select venues.  We also have a website, marketing brochures and a booth display.  It is important to be selective of which conferences and tradeshows to attend.  Select the ones most relevant to your customer base and industry.  We also take the time to meet with our small business representatives of the federal agencies we are trying to do business with.  This is a good opportunity to find out the needs of your potential customer.  P3S Corporation has also marketed at business to business mixers.  Although this venue provides for potential teaming opportunities, it is important to selective to avoid wasting time and money. Mary Ellen Trevino, P3S Social media and our website. also wearing our tee shirts religiously. Lastly our location on a visible hwy (Blanco Rd). do they work: yes. they all do and we have had measurable results. We tried a small mailer, a few hundred with zero response. Rick Martinez, Alamo Crossfit
  • 9. What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? Branding was really important to start with. The concept of cake is easy but trying to market that ?It’s Not Just Cake Anymore? was difficult. We realized we needed a logo/brand that stood out before we could even market ourselves. We’re in a tremendously fortunate location that lends itself to our popularity in our growing market. The closest retail bakery is about 20 minutes away. Being Chamber members helped get our name out as well as being active with the city and community. We found ways to donate cakes and be part of school, corporate and charity functions. These marketing methods were cost effective with a huge return on interest to what we do. As a new business with little startup capital we found creative ways to put ourselves out there. We aren’t in a position to spend thousands of dollars in print advertising. But we will be. Our projections show that it will have taken us 9 months to be in a position it typically takes 2 years to get to. I think our marketing, location and product are making that possible. Andrea Alvaro, Beyond Cake
  • 10. What marketing tools do you use to promote your business? How have you seen them succeed or fail? Pens: I hand them to clients instead of business cards.  Since pens get passed around more often from person to person, I get calls from people I haven’t met personally. Client follow ups: I call clients to see how they are doing and establish relationships Discounts to loyal clients or new clients that need that final push to sign the deal Jose Guajardo, Guajardo Trucking We utilize a commercial service offering brochure that outlines our services, the types of people we employ and a variety of developmental programs available.  This is a new tool for us, but we took our time in branding it so you really get our look and feel – clients can tell from the layout – we are fresh, innovative and timely.   The initial feedback for this has been very positive. We continue to volunteer throughout the community.  We view this as a win-win opportunity for the firm.  We give back and we get our name out there.  It is always a great conversation starter to talk about a local charity or organization that could use a few more volunteers. LeAnne King, Seeking HR
  • 11. What business and personal tips can you share for 2010? No matter how tough it gets, don’t let go of your dream/  Stay consistent, positive and have  a smile on your face.  People forget they are offering a service, not doing a favor to their clients.   Jose Guajardo, Guajardo Trucking Be prepared to be BUSY. Support from friends and family is important. Listen to your business. NO ONE can tell you when you’re ready to take that “next” step in your business. Whether you need to hire an extra person but you’re not sure if you financially can, or if you have doubts about purchasing something that might over extend you. Be okay with saying no. New business owners often times say yes to everything because they feel pressured or think that’s just what their supposed to do; be okay with saying no. You’ll be ready when you’re ready in every aspect of business. Andrea Alvaro, Beyond Cake
  • 12. What business and personal tips can you share for 2010? The best advice is to find a niche and find new ideas that make you the expert of that niche. Make yourself different! Magaly Chocano, SWEB Development & Apps Business: the 'recession' is a rationale to fail. When an individual decides to open a buisness or start a venture then blames failure on the 'economy'...I don't believe it. With passion, dedication and the knowledge that you might just not get a lot of sleep, anyone CAN succeed. Personal: Health and Family. No matter how much $$ you have, your drive or determination, having the support of your family and knowing they have your back makes success all the sweeter! Familia....and CrossFit. Rick Martinez, Alamo Crossfit
  • 13. What business and personal tips can you share for 2010? The best advice I could offer is to not give up,  find your way in getting in front of the client that most interest you and they will eventually see how passionate you are about customer satisfaction.  We all start with one opportunity! Julissa Carielo, Tejas Premier Building The best advice I can give for 2010 is to do what I find myself doing this time of year.  The successful ones are those that have a plan, the detailed steps to achieve that plan, and someone to hold them accountable in taking those steps. Cheryl Cook, Pro Money, Inc.
  • 14. What business and personal tips can you share for 2010? Enjoy your successes; remembering who and how you got there.  Leanne King, Seeking HR Under promise and over deliver; always exceed your customer's expectations. Find your niche; master your niche; market your niche.  Stick to what you do best and stay focused.  Balance work and life; work hard and play hard.  Mary Ellen Trevino, P3S
  • 15. South Texas Women’s Business Center www.stwbc.com