Hurricane Irma Recovery Assistance Information from SBA!

Do You or Your Business Need Assistance to Recover from Hurricane Irma?

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For Small Businesses & Nonprofits:sba logo

Small Businesses and Nonprofits Can Apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration!

WORKING CAPITAL: Up to $2 million (No physical damages necessary to qualify)

Interest rates as low as:

  • 3.305% for Businesses
  • 2.5% for Nonprofit Organizations

Repayment Terms up to 30 years!

For Individuals:

  • HOMEOWNERS: Up to $200,000 for Primary Residence
  • HOMEOWNERS/RENTERS: Up to $40,000 for Personal Property

Interest rates as low as 1.75%

Repayment terms up to 30 years!

FIRST STEP: Register with FEMA at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, on the FEMA mobile App or (800) 621-3362.

For ALL – Businesses, Non-Profits & Individuals:

SBA Offers 3 Ways to Apply for a Disaster Loan:

  • ONLINE: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela
  • IN-PERSON: Visit a temporary recovery center (call for locations)
  • MAIL: Call (800) 659-2955 to have an application mailed to you

For more information: (800) 659-2955 and (800) 877-8339 for the deaf and hard of hearing. Visit www.sba.gov.


Note: Loan applicants should check with agencies/organizations administering any grant or other assistance programs under this declaration to determine how an approval of SBA disaster loan might affect their eligibility.

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So, What’s Your Story?

3 Ways Storytelling Can Help Boost Your Business.

Surprisingly, though, during the many feedback sessions I led at Booth, no one asked me exactly how they could demonstrate “fit.” The answer I would have given? Successful applicants weave compelling narratives that demonstrate how their sparkling qualifications, values, and goals align with Booth’s.
That rule applies across the board: Whether you’re applying for an elite MBA program or trying to win investors and woo early adopters for your startup, it’s essential to convey that you and your audience are a perfect match. After all, as entrepreneurs, we’re all in a perpetual “competitive admissions” game. Hardly a day goes by that we aren’t trying to persuade others to join us in some effort. That means that we have to prove our “fit” day after day.
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Stories create that sense of fit. Even if you have a Ph.D. or MBA from a top-tier university, even if you’ve led the most respected company in your field, even if you’ve done the most extensive market research possible, the story you have to tell is always going to be worth more than strong qualifications alone. Time and time again, the people with the most compelling stories stand out.

Stories, in short, enable you to prove your value, paving the way to accomplish your goals. How do you find those stories? Here’s how.

Storytelling connects us with what our audience needs.

Say you have a business (maybe you already do.) You love the products you’ve designed. You’re proud of the services you’ve worked so hard to offer. But, focusing on your products, your services, your company isn’t what your audience needs. If you want to persuade anyone to act on the information you give them, you have to shift perspectives.

Several years ago, I worked with a real estate investment trust hedge fund to revamp its pitch book. At the time, the fund’s leaders were having trouble raising more assets to manage. As I looked through their existing pitch book, I noticed that every slide was answering the same question: “We are SO awesome; why wouldn’t any client want to invest with us?”

Of course, that’s what most investment funds’ pitch books look like. Like most of their competitors, they were preoccupied with themselves.

So, my work with them began. And, in time,, they shifted toward anticipating prospective clients’ questions instead of focusing on themselves. Questions began to emerge for the pitch book — questions that a client would ask: “How did the fund have such stellar performance for so long?” and “Can the team continue its track record?”

The pitch book we completed used these questions to tell the firm’s story. It worked so well that the firm achieved its asset-raising goals within 18 months!

Storytelling differentiates us, giving us a competitive edge.

Unfortunately, your company’s long lists of accomplishments don’t give prospective clients a way to see how you’re different from other equally impressive startups. You need accomplishments plus an emotional incentive. When faced with many similar-sounding options, people make choices based on how they feel about a business and its leaders. So, make sure that business is yours.

A powerful Radio Lab episode, Overcome by Emotion, illustrates this. It tells the story of a hard-working accountant who developed a brain tumor. After having surgery, he lost his ability to make decisions. Why? The surgery cut him off from his “emotional mind,” making him “pathologically indecisive.” Emotions are critical to our decision-making capacity. As author Alan Weiss has noted, “Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act.”

Di Fan Liu, an onshore private banker in Beijing, is someone I know who uses storytelling to speak to his customers’ anxieties. Liu and his firm know that their potential customers struggle to pass their wealth to the next generation. So, when they pitch their services to ultra-rich Chinese entrepreneurs, they tell stories about multi-generational family businesses that have succeeded in handing down wealth.

The catch? All the stories come from countries other than China. The company then asks potential customers to think of a fellow Chinese entrepreneur who has successfully done the same. Most of Liu’s audience can’t name a single one. This is the point at which they’re ready to hear about what his company has to offer them.

Do what he did: Once you anticipate your audience members’ emotions, tell the story they need. As I discuss in my book, Let the Story Do the Work, plot strongly influences the emotions your audience feels. For instance, shaping your business’s story as a “quest” narrative can make your audience feel restless, ready to achieve more than what life currently offers.

Storytelling establishes our personal credibility.

People don’t just want to buy a product or engage a service; they want to know what the people leading the business are like. And, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini‘s research on social influence, we tend to like people we imagine as being like us. We’re more likely to form a stronger connection with them and more likely to find their ideas persuasive!

Leading a business provides countless opportunities to demonstrate that you are like your clients. After all, clients often ask us, “So . . . tell me about yourself.” We can answer this with a story that is universal enough to make clients consider how similar our experiences are to their own.

Entrepreneur Kelly Standing of Standing Media tells a story that, thankfully, has not happened to everyone. When asked to say something about herself, she describes how her father saved her life after a bully left her hanging from a tree. Standing’s “worst nightmare” scenario is one any parent (or anyone with a similar, personal story of resilience) could relate to. And, so, it resonates.

In the perpetual competitive admissions game, stories prove our “fit.” But that doesn’t mean only “born” storytellers can succeed as entrepreneurs. I firmly believe that anyone can learn the methods for telling a brilliant story, and that once you’ve learned these methods, you will reach goals you never thought possible.


Article  from Entrepreneur: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/305062

Small Business Saturday Deals & Specials

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This November 25, we want to share Small Business Saturday® with you! It’s a holiday shopping tradition that celebrates small businesses like ours. And it wouldn’t be a celebration without our members like you joining us.

We are asking our members to send us your deals or specials running on Small Business Saturday to communications@sarasotachamber.com and we’ll keep a running list of our members participating below and share them on social media!

So mark your calendar for November 25 — the Saturday after Thanksgiving — and get ready to Shop Small® with us. Grab a friend or family member and stop by to support our local small business members participating on the big day.

You can help get the word out and celebrate Small Business Saturday by using #shopsmallsrq or #buylocalbuychamber on Facebook and all your social networks.

PLUS, while your out and about on Small Business Saturday, take a picture with the local chamber member and send it to us!

Thank you for all your support, and see you Saturday, November 25!

Chamber Members Participating:

  • Sarasota Architectural Salvage30% off on Small Business Saturday STOREWIDE
  • Key Chorale$10 off our “Christmas with Dale Warland” concerts to Sarasota Chamber members and friends! Online ticket purchase only for concerts November 26 & 28. Click here for tickets. (use the online code LOCAL)
  • Station 400 (The Landings location) – Free hot coffee or cold brew when you mention small business! Open 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Sunglass Express Optical (St. Armand’s Circle) – Stop in for Small Business Saturday deals
  • C’est La VieOpen for Small Business Saturday. Eat Local.
  • Elements Massage – All gift cards sold on Saturday, Nov 25th will include a free aromatherapy upgrade for each gift card sold. (Gift Card offers for 1-hour session: Members – 2 for $99, Non-Members – 2 for $129)
  • X30 Fit Boot Camp – 21 days for $47 Holiday special! (With this offer you get:-21 days of unlimited sessions, nutritional coaching, fitness and lifestyle coaching, group personal training, 100% support, fun and Non-intimidating environment, and everyone is treated like family)
  • Elite Laser Engraving, Inc.Place an order for your business and receive an item for yourself. (Terms and Conditions:  Business orders must be a minimum of $100. to get your free item up to $20.00)
  • Escape Countdown Sarasota – $19.99 per person Escape Rooms! If you come in and play on Saturday, you receive $10 off your next game!
  • Zemil JewelersShop online www.Zemil.net or visit our store.
  • Chamber Members: Email us to get your deal or special featured!

5 Ways to Market Your Business for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and the time is now to make sure you get the most of your marketing efforts to help secure sales success in the coming months. Here are a few budget-friendly ideas to help get you started.

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Social Media Contests

If your small business has a social media presence, contests on Facebook and Twitter are often a popular way highlight your brand and engage with customers, reminding them that your product or service is available – and a potentially great gift idea. With a few rules, a clever hashtag and incentive such as a prize or discount on your offerings, you can drum up excitement about – and draw people in to – your business.

Extra Appeal for Your Loyal Customers

Take this time to make your loyal customers feel extra special – it may come back to you by way of additional business and referrals. Without breaking the bank, you can provide special offers, sneak previews, free shipping or secret sales.

Special Events or Open Houses

Make your small business stand out by hosting an open house or special event at your store or restaurant. Use it to showcase holiday season gifts, menus and merchandise so customers can get a glimpse of your seasonal goods in advance. Pair the browsing with light refreshments – a mug of hot cocoa or a glass of cider – to get people in the holiday spirit. On their way out, give a special offer or coupon that invites customers back to make their purchases at a discount.

Holiday Help

This is a great idea from Illana Bercovitz at Small Business Trends: use social media to offer helpful tips during a stressful holiday season. Consider your industry, product or service and related advice you could offer to make customers’ lives easier. “Everyone appreciates useful advice and your customers will thank you for pushing content that makes their holidays slightly less stressful,” Bercovitz says. Use an original hashtag to maintain brand awareness across platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Email

Although it’s often considered overused, email remains inexpensive and easy to implement when it comes to maintaining contact with existing customers. That’s a key to remember – to be effective, email marketing should be used with folks you have already done business with or who have expressed an interest in your business and have requested email from you (otherwise known as permission marketing).

Keep these tips in mind if you plan to use email to support your holiday marketing efforts:

  • Keep the e-mail short and sweet. Link directly to the content of interest so you make the process as easy as possible for your customers.
  • Clearly state the email’s intent in the subject line. For example, “A Special Offer Just for You. Thanks for Your Business in 2013.”
  • Be festive in your design. Appeal to the sights of the season with a special design for the holidays.
  • Follow online marketing rules. Don’t forget that online marketing is regulated, so whatever tactics you employ be sure to follow government guidelines that apply to list management, SPAM and other guidelines.

For more great holiday marketing insight, check out this recent post from guest blogger Rieva Lesonsky, “Start Now to Plan Your Holiday Retail Marketing Campaign.


kmurray

About the Author:

Katie MurrayContributor and Moderator
I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I’ll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

MEMBER TIP MONDAY: 4 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS MORE LIKEABLE

LikeablePeople buy from people they know, like, and trust. While you might be in the right place at the right time when someone is up against it, and they may buy from you once without knowing, liking, or trusting you, for them to return, you’ll need more than luck.

Know and trust generally come along when you establish yourself as a likeable business with a human behind it. It’s difficult for people to like you if they don’t trust you, unless you’re a villain and then being untrustworthy is your business. For most of us, that is not the case. You can’t like someone you don’t remember, so let’s get to work on establishing the like part of the sales equation.

Share Your Reason

Think of how filmmakers or storytellers get us to like the main character. One of the ways is that they place him on a quest, or up against a challenge, that we want him to succeed in. Often it’s one we identify with. Share your reason for doing what you do. There’s probably someone in your audience or potential audience who can identify with your convictions and story. Passion is contagious.

Find Commonalities

In order to find commonalities, you need to share things about yourself outside of your business and how it came to be. Share your likes, be positive. Share what you love about your community or your love for bacon. Be genuine and people who see your social media posts or read your content, will begin to identify with what you’re sharing. They’ll jump in and say “me too” and you’re one step closer to getting them to like you.

Ask Questions

If they’re in your store or business ask them their opinion on something and really listen to their answer. On social media ask what they think or what their preferences are. Involve them in your rebranding by crowdsourcing some of your marketing decisions. People like being involved and if you really listen to, and then act on, their advice, they’ll remember it and like you more because they see you as someone who values what they think. That’s all a lot of us are looking for.

Anticipate Your Customers’ Needs

As a business you are in a position to help, whether it’s helping someone look better, feel better, be entertained, or whatever it is you do for your customers. But you are also in a position to solve problems or answer questions. Use your content and social media to help customers with problems they face in their lives. If you run a boutique, you can create posts about unique gifts for the women in your life. If you are a CPA create helpful checklists of things people should track throughout the year for effortless taxes. Be helpful. Anticipate what your customers need and then give it to them. If they know they can count on you, they will return again and again.

In today’s competitive market place it’s hard for your product alone to set you apart. Often it’s the things behind your product that will help you make a name for yourself. It’s the service, personality, and assistance you provide. These are the things that make people like you and they are also what keeps people coming back.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.comand the Event Manager’s Blog.  She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

6 Ways to Make the Most of Small Business Week

National Small Business Week 2017 is right around the corner… literally as we turn over our calendars to start May. Now, you’re probably asking yourself how you can support our local small business in Sarasota (at least that’s what I’m hoping you’re asking yourself!). We’ve come up with six simple ways for you get involved in National Small Business Week, April 30 through May 6, whether you own and operate a small business, employed by one, or just enjoy shopping locally!

Run Small Business Week Promotions

Need some inspiration? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Reward Loyalty: offer coupons and discounts to your most loyal customers during this week. You can add coupons to your Chamber Directory listing here!

Seasonal Themed Promotions: make this week extra relevant by making spring/summer and outdoor items on sale or by offering warm weather services at a discount (such as A/C Repair or Landscaping).

Special Holiday & Fun Observance Promotions: Get ahead of the game by making Mother’s Day (5/14) & Father’s Day (6/18) gift packages or coupons with purchase that can be redeemed on fun observance days like Bike to Work Day (5/18) or Martini Day (6/19).

Support Other Local Businesses

Take a couple minutes on your way to work to stop into a local small business, snap a photo to share on social media and tag them in it (also, send your photos to communications@sarasotachamber.com so we can share your photos, too!).  Offer special discounts or service to other Small Business Owners. Strengthening your support for another small business will strengthen your messaging to your target audience and will encourage them to support you, too.

Don’t Dip Your Toe In, Jump In

Showing up is 50% of winning. Don’t just promote the week, participate in the week! Google is hosting free webinars and workshops all throughout the week focused on topics important to small businesses. So remember, there is an educational component to the week, as well.

Team Up

Team up with other local businesses to cross-promote each other. Expand your reach by hosting a joint sale, offer to put their business cards or coupons in your storefront for yours in theirs. For maximum success, think of a complementary business to partner with, like fitness centers with nutrition stores or hair salons with boutiques, for example.

Update Your Listings

With more focus on small business during this week, in addition to any promotions you may run, you’re likely to see increased traffic to your website and social media accounts. It’s so simple to update your listings. This means your Chamber Listing, Google listing, Yelp, Social Media Pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.), need to have accurate information displayed for customers to find you.

As a small business owner, the last thing you want is a person learning of a promotion you’re running, but not being able to find your business or get the information to be able to make a purchase. Don’t let misinformation deter your customers!

Leverage Your Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA IS FREE! Use it. There are countless ways to utilize social media to your benefit business during Small Business Week!

Use popular hashtags like #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessWeek.

Follow the U.S. Small Business Administration on social media for updates during the week: Twitter @SBAgov and Facebook facebook.com/sbagov

Create a custom hashtag for your business or a promotion you are running.

Tag neighboring small businesses and use local hashtags to spark conversation.

Establish a theme for your Small Business Week social media posts.

While your out shopping at your favorite Chamber Member small businesses, snap a picture and send it to Communications@SarasotaChamber.com to be featured on our social media!

Encouraging awareness, building community, and expressing your passion for small business is the mission for National Small Business Week! Showing passion for small business will encourage your target audience to support you and other small businesses, as well. Have fun with the week and remember to put your money where your home is!

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To search The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Directory, please click here.


Partnering to Build Your Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

1945 Fruitville Road | Sarasota, FL 34236

http://www.SarasotaChamber.com

From the Chair’s Corner: Small Business is Big Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is committed to the support of business in

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Chair | George McGonagill | Questar Construction

the greater Sarasota region. As is common in most communities, your Chamber is certainly reflective of the community that invests in it. For Sarasota, that means that your Chamber is comprised mainly of businesses that carry less than 75 full-time employees. In fact, 80% of your membership is made up of those businesses.

Having worked for one of the largest employers in the region, Sarasota County Schools, and now as an entrepreneur with a small business, Questar Construction, I can say with certainty that the Chamber strongly supports the full spectrum of business sizes here in our area. However, it is the small business that drives so much of the economic engine in Sarasota and within your Chamber. It may come as a surprise to many that more than 60% of businesses in the United States have less than five employees. Furthermore, over 30% of workers in the United States are employed by businesses with less than 100 employees.

To be certain, regardless of size, business isn’t an easy endeavor. However, it is the small-business start-up that perhaps best embodies the spirit of entrepreneurialism. Roughly half of all small businesses will close within their first four years. That alone may speak to the importance of community support for small business. Those making the trek forward are our friends, family, and neighbors. It is critical for all layers of the community to support their efforts in hopes that our half is the half that succeeds, that our community be the place where small business beats the average. That’s not just something that would be nice, it is something we should strive for.

The Chamber is focused on promoting, supporting, and connecting the small businesses in our region. We are proud to include our annual Small Business Awards as a bridge across the entire spectrum of activities within those areas of focus. As we look to celebrating excellence in the small business community, I am always reminded of the fact that small business is big business in Sarasota. While your Chamber takes the opportunity to award small business excellence one day each year, it provides support for those businesses non-stop, all year long.

George McGonagill

Chair of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

President of Questar Construction, Inc.


The 2017 Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards will take place on Friday, June 2 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The event is presented by The Herald-Tribune Media Group.

Save Your Seat for Small Business Awards!