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Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation - Look Forward To Monday: Entrepreneurship Blog

Entrepreneurship is more than an academic discipline at Santa Barbara City College.It's our passion. The Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation trains entrepreneurs and assists small businesses using a comprehensive approach combining theoretical curriculum, practical application, mentoring, counseling, internships, networking, and post-start-up support. Dream. Plan. Profit.


Meet Powerful Women In Leadership Roles at the Women’s Festival On March 9-10thOpen in a New Window

On March 9 and 10, 2012, Santa Barbara, CA, you will have a rare Santa Barbara networking opportunity with powerful women in business. If you are interested in learning about the importance of education and women empowerment, you do not want to miss this unique Santa Barbara festival that seeks to empower women and celebrate Women’s History month.
The Women’s Festival is one of the only events in Santa Barbara that offers a unique opportunity to network with women in leadership roles from a wide range of backgrounds. The Women’s Festivals are the premier gathering of women seeking to empower themselves by connecting with the tools and resources they need to flourish and prosper in all aspects of their busy lives. Attendees help further the celebratory momentum behind Women’s History Month and address the crucial issues facing women today in an interactive, multi-cultural, and entertaining format—providing fertile ground for networking, referrals, and resource sharing.
If you live in the local area, you will have a unique opportunity to meet powerful women business leaders, and influential owners of Santa Barbara companies. You will leave with a renewed sense of the importance of education and women empowerment. Women leadership is a key focus of this March festival, and many say it is the best networking event Santa Barbara offers. Come help empower women at the 5th Annual Women’s festival. No other Santa Barbara festival gets you up close and personal with inspirational leaders from the arts, local non-profits and thriving businesses.
A talented team of well-connected men and women have joined forces to produce the 2012 Women’s Festivals in Santa Barbara, California. Founding non-profit organizations include the National Association of Women Business Owners, SCORE, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, Future Women CEO’s, Women’s Economic Ventures, GOLD, the Women’s Foundation of California, the Weidemann Foundation, the Profant Foundation for the Arts and Santa Barbara Chamber Commerce – all joining forces in a common goal of empowering women through educational and enlightening discussions led by renowned speakers and authors.
According to Founder Patty DeDominic, “We invite you to be up close and personal with inspirational leaders from the arts, important community organizations and business in beautiful Santa Barbara to help you create a Rich and Fulfilling life.”
The Women’s Festival seeks to benefit and encourage non-profit organizations specifically concerned with women leadership, e.g., NAWBO, Girls Inc., etc. The Women’s Festivals will celebrate the accomplishments and nurture the dreams of women in an interactive, multi-cultural, and multi-tracked format focusing on the five critical areas of women’s lives: Personal, Professional, Philanthropic, Political, and Planet— otherwise known as the “5 Ps.”
The festival mission statement is to further the celebratory momentum behind Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, which is always on March 8th, however, the Santa Barbara event is planned a few days later on March 9-10th.
2012 Festival Theme: Live. Love. Learn.
  • Better future relationships
  • Building a better world through philanthropy
  • Building better businesses – Skills for Success
  • Better health
  • Better planet – smarter, sustainable, and green
  • Working with young women, future leaders, building self-sufficiency
  • Looking at past role models to find lessons for the future
People from throughout the world will attend the California Women’s Festival on March 9 & 10, 2012 at the Earl Warren Show grounds located in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. The Santa Barbara festival will include a professional business expo, awards program, and educational and enlightening discussions led by renowned speakers and authors. For further information about how you can help empower women and meet women in leadership roles at the biggest networking event Santa Barbara has to offer for 2012, please visit the site at or contact

Empowering Women in Leadership Roles at the Biggest Santa Barbara Festival of the Year


Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes and VisionaryOpen in a New Window

Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, visited Santa Barbara today, and I had the fortune of hearing him tell his entrepreneurial story at the Arlington Theatre.  His story is as simple as his business concept. While Blake was on vacation in Argentina, he accompanied some new-found friends to a "shoe-drop" where he saw Argentinean children walking barefoot on streets strewn with garbage and broken glass, and learned that these kids without shoes were not allowed to attend public school because of the strict dress code.  No shoes, no education.

He inspired me as much as Yvon Chouinard did, founder of Patagonia, when he visited the Scheinfeld Center a few years back.  Blake's concept is decidedly different yet simple.  One for One.  That's it.  For every pair of shoes sold, one is given to someone in need.  How this concept would work as a profitable business model, he never discussed.  But I got the distinct impression that neither did he care.  He knew he had a brilliant concept, he was passionate about it, he had people super excited around him, and so he went for it...the money to be worked out later.  As it turns out, the money apparently did work out.  He's given away 2,000,000 pairs of shoes so far, and each pair retails for roughly $45. While he is mum on annual sales, you can do a little math of your own!

I've said before that I have yet to meet a student without a cause, or one without a philanthropic business idea.  It might behoove our students to look to Blake for inspiration, because he believes giving goes hand in hand with for-profit business.  And his One for One concept doesn't stop with shoes.  His next effort:  TOMS Eyewear.  With every pair of TOMS glasses purchased, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need.  Talk about a visionary.


Business Plan Competition To Have BIG ImpactOpen in a New Window

I just came from a press conference regarding the Scheinfeld Center's first annual New Venture Challenge and it dawned on me the huge impact of this event.  It impacts our college students, our area high schools, SBCC, and the entire community.  It is a benevolent collision of generous volunteers, altruistic organizations, philanthropic corporations and sponsors in a way that is having a community-wide impact.

The most generous of all collaborators include NAWBO-SB, The Bank of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, without whom we would have no awards to give away.

It can't be done without our volunteer judges: Jeff Carmody of Agility Capital; Lynda Weinman of; John Richardson of Ameravant; Gary Kravetz of SCORE, Alan Tratner of Green2Gold, and Christopher Morales of Montecito Bank & Trust.

The biggest impact, however, is yet to be seen.  Who will be our winners? Will they launch?  What impact will their business have on our community?

Stay tuned.  On May 13 we will have winners, and will be celebrating alongside them at the NAWBO banquet!


Networking Rules!Open in a New Window

We are out and about, that's for sure!  With the new launching of the Santa Barbara County Small Business Development Center (SBDC), we are hob-nobbing with all the go-to business people in town, from the Santa Barbara, Lompoc, and Goleta Valley Chambers, to MIT Enterprise forum, NAWBO-SB, SABER, AWC, you name it, we're there!  Recently I spoke at the Goleta Valley Chamber B2B.  If you haven't been, you should make a point of going to at least one this year.  It's a fun and lively networking event, with great food, and a take-home hotsheet.  Bring plenty of business cards, and prepare a 30 second commercial - you might win something for originality!

Why is networking so important to business? 
  • Networking helps BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE slowly, in a fun (but not pushy) way.  (Networking in an indirect sales tool that takes time). And we need people in business!  They eventually become our clients or customers, our employees or partners, or our investors.
  • Networking helps you build TRUST. The people you meet will be able to put a face to your business.  It becomes more personal.  People want to do business with other people they like and trust.  Trust usually trumps price.
  • Networking helps you gain KNOWLEDGE about your own industry and other areas.  You might be surprised by the people or industries with whom you find have synergy with your business.
  • Networking helps you build a bank of RESOURCES and REFERRALS.  If there is an area in which you can't serve your client, now you can send them off to someone you trust, who will do a great job for your client.  Your client will appreciate your referral, and that business will refer back to you when the time comes.
Now, multiply the importance of networking by 100!  Why? Because we live in small towns where the majority of business is earned through word-of-mouth referrals and reputation.

Happy networking trails, and we will see you out there!


Inspiration from a Voice PastOpen in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

I was given a gift.  A gift of a voice from the past, but not just any voice.  Jim Scheinfeld's voice, whose vision I  attempt to implement as the Director of the Scheinfeld Center. A vision of a man who passed in 2007, whom I never had the pleasure to meet. I crave to meet him, to have a conversation with him, to hear his vision in his own words.  I struggle to put the pieces together of his concept and viewpoints.  I often hear his voice through others:  the deans, faculty and administrators at the college who had the privilege of meeting and interacting with him, Jim's colleagues and friends, his wife, his accountant, and his past emails.  I try my best to put myself in his shoes, and wonder often, "What would Jim want?"  "How would Jim handle this?"

The other day, a colleague and friend of the Scheinfeld Center donated several copies of Jim Scheinfeld's book, "A History of Manpower, Inc." This is the company his father (Aaron Scheinfeld) and his colleague (Elmer Winter) founded in 1948, and was acquired in 1970 by the Parker Pen Company.  Jim was one of the first employees, who eventually became head of development of Manpower's international operations. During those intervening years, prior to acquisition, Manpower grew to generate a billion dollars in global sales under Jim's direction.  Jim's success with this company afforded him the opportunity to invest in the Scheinfeld Center at Santa Barbara City College, gifting a permanent endowment for the implementation of an entrepreneurship center, available to our diverse community.  Reading this book takes me one step closer to seeing Jim and hearing his voice. (Thank you Christopher Morales and the Montecito Bank & Trust.)

So you can imagine the weight that sits on my shoulders, to ensure his vision is ultimately achieved, and his goals of serving the community are met.  I am humbled by this job, and am inspired every day by Jim's voice and ever-present spirit.


Lost Mojo Found?Open in a New Window

I know so many entrepreneurs that plug along each day, no matter the obstacles faced.  Day after day, night after night, pushing their service or product - doing whatever it takes to make it - with a smile.  If you know an entrepreneur, you know what I am talking about.  That sometimes annoying and seemingly tireless positive attitude.  The truth is, everyone has a down period - even entrepreneurs.  Some come to the brink of failure, some face naysayer after naysayer, or incompentent service providers, and even lawsuits.  Add a bad economic environment and you have a recipe for "losing it."  How much can an entrepreneur take before reaching a breaking point?  And why don't entrepreneurs give up?

Failure Accepted, Thank You Very Much
Most entrepreneurs have risked failure, experienced failure and learned from it (or are they hardened by it?)  Early failure becomes a part of the entrepreneur's start-up story.  Maybe time is taken to cry and carry on - and then the entrepreneur moves on.

Long-Term Visualization
Keeping the eye on the proverbial ball. Goal Setting.  Planning.  Charting destiny. Entrepreneurs can look ahead to the ultimate goal, and see a bad economy or a failed prototype as a step in the ladder to ultimate success.

Patience Over Time
Success is rarely overnight, and entrepreneurs stomach the time factor.  Sometimes it takes 15-20 years for technology or attitudes to catch up with a good idea and suddenly it becomes marketable.

You Are What You Think
Entrepreneurs transform thinking - they don't wallow in negative space.  If you can practice zapping that negative self-dialogue when it rears its ugly head, you will live more like an entrepreneur, with confidence.

It's time to quit our whining and complaining about the down economy, pick ourselves up and act more like entrepreneurs.  The economy is on a strong path to recovery and the past year or two are just blips in the radar.  By now, we all have lean but strong operations and we are poised for new sales, new consumer confidence, and success! 

What lost mojo?


Has Like-Ability Trumped Education in Today's Corporate Model? (and Other Considerations)Open in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

I have been contemplating what makes a great innovator, and have been drawing inspiration from our past speakers in the Scheinfeld Center's Enlightened Entrepreneurship Series.  All have different business ideas and have experienced a wide range of successes, and yet I can't help but harp on the resounding commonalities that these speakers share that might offer us some insight into what it takes to be a truly great innovator and entrepreneur.

Has Like-Ability Trumped Education in the New Corporate Environment?
As much as I hate to admit it, all of our highly successful speakers (making hundreds of millions annually) either have had no formal education, or find that formal education is not the most important contributing factor to success.  While they all hire highly educated people, all of our speakers would agree that being a "people person," having an ability to work in teams, with minimal supervision, and having a passion outside work is the key to getting hired. I suppose you have to have personality and like-ability. In fact, Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) stated his hiring criterion this way, "If I don't want to have dinner with you, then I won't hire you."  This represents the new culture of the corporate world - putting ultimate emphasis on creating a positive and fun environment that fosters freedom and innovation.

Does Hearing "No" Incite a Visceral, Competitive Response?
All of our speakers may have heard the word "No" a million times.  If they had listened to the naysayers, perhaps they'd be cleaning toilets for McDonald's.  What type of person hears the words "You can't do that" and responds naturally and emphatically with "Oh yes I can!" as opposed to getting discouraged.  This is a passionate person, who believes with every fiber of their being in their idea.  They are on an unstoppable mission, and race past obstacles.  I recently toured the research lab of Wayne Rosing (former head of engineering at Google).  He is building telescopes for planetary research during what he has coined his "refirement."  He builds the telescopes to the specifications he needs because those kind of telescopes don't exist, and was told it couldn't be done.  Well, he did it anyway, and it works. Yvon Chouinard wanted to use organic cotton, but no one was growing organic cotton, so he bought a farm and grew it himself.  If it doesn't exist, build it yourself.

Failure is Always an Option, But Do You Allow it to Affect the Path You're On?
Most of our speakers have touched on becoming highly successful too fast, or making huge mistakes, almost losing everything and starting all over only to be even more successful.  They just come back with the same idea only tweaked slightly to avoid the same mistakes.

Do You Have a Limitless Stash of Ideas in Your Brain?
There is no denying the unique brain power of innovators.  I find the true entrepreneurial mindset is almost genius-like with an endless supply of ideas, not all of which will ever be developed.  Most focus on a single project, and when that's complete, move on the next.  Not only that, their ideas are game-changing and mostly disruptive.  This is a very distinct and recognizable quality in entrepreneurs - and you can easily distinguish the idea person (seemingly more right-brained) than the non-idea person.  Most non-idea people are very happy doing the legwork for idea people.  Which kind are you?

Are Your Ideas Linked to a Greater Purpose?
The most inspirational innovators are those with ideas linked to a purpose outside their own benefit.  Take Wayne Rosing, for example.  His research project is a privately funded foundation existing for the sole purpose of building a world-wide network of telescopes for scientific research and research-based education.  What's in it for Wayne?  Nothing.  Just the sheer enjoyment of working on his passionate idea.

These entrepreneurs and innovators have vision and are driven everyday by the challenge of making this vision come to life, come hell or high water.  Now that's inspiring!


Top 10 Small Business Trends For 2010Open in a New Window

Here at the Scheinfeld Center, we'd like to think we have our finger on the pulse of the local business community - but so much so that we would put ourselves out there with predictions for business trends in 2010?  We decided to take the risk and be proved wrong later!  After all, we are entrepreneurs and are willing to step off the cliff now and again.  So, at the risk of making fools of ourselves, here goes:

10. More Pet Pampering Products
9. Cheap & Chic: Offering discounted but stylish products, services and pricing that make "Cheap Chic."
8. Cloud Computing
7. Surge in Innovative Liquors
6. Electronic Medical Record Storage and Services
5. Green Energy Businesses
4. More Green Car Purchases
3. Local Food & Product Consumption Surge: Emphasis on 100 mile radius consumption
2. Rise in "Accidental Entrepreneurs":  Stay at home moms and out of work folks will start their own businesses out of necessity.
1. Geo-Based Electronic Marketing  iPhone apps

Happy New Year!


Lunch with Wayne RosingOpen in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

You may not know the name or face, but Wayne Rosing is one of the most fascinating and interesting people I have ever met.  With such a rich (and perhaps famous) history in technological engineering, he commands the room with war stories and vignettes of a personal journey hardly imaginable.  Working with Steve Jobs, he launched the "Lisa Project" at Apple which is the precursor to the mac. He developed Java at Sun Microsystems, and built the Google engineering team to what it is today.  He is a techno-geek's dream date!  I had the privilege of having lunch with Wayne at his telescope lab yesterday (where it is his hobby to build a science institute!), to lay the foundation for our upcoming Enlightened Entrepreneurship Series event on November 20.  He is charming, relaxed, off-the-scale intelligent, and funny.  I can't wait to hear more of his story, skillfully elicited by our moderator, Jacques Habra - a fellow techno-crazed entrepreneur.

RSVP if you want to come!  Hope to see you there...


The Beast: The Business PlanOpen in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

Students keep crossing my path inquiring about business plans, so I surfed the net a little, to see if I could provide a little inspiration to those struggling through the painstaking process.

Here's one of my favorite blog entries on the subject: Writing A Business Plan - Torture & Triumph written by one of the owners of the Metropolitan Brewing company in Chicago, IL. She said:

Learning how to write this business plan was an agonizing process of self-motivated reading, researching, sifting, guessing, doubting, crying (well, that was mainly me), arguing, and endless hours of typing. Each new section was loaded with new information to learn and new questions to ask. We learned. We asked. And, as each section was finished, we realized that we’d gained more confidence about our brewery and how we planned to run it. I’ll be damned if we weren’t actually gaining confidence in ourselves, too...In the end, you have in your hands this document that is your playbook; your strategy to succeed as a business owner.

Whether you're just starting out with your plan or looking to revise and update it, start by viewing some FREE sample plans at or explore business plan software applications such as FastTrac or Businesss Plan Pro.

One really useful FREE planning site by the Small Business Administration is the SBA Business Planner.

Your best bet, though, is to study and hash out the details of a plan in our Business Plan Development course (BUS/PRO 208) with Professor Van Dam or look for a Business Plan course in your area.

Soon I am off to the annual conference hosted by the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) in maybe I'll stop by that Chicago brewing company and thank them for inspiring us to finally tackle that beast!


Economic Outlook Improves After Third Glass of WineOpen in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

The truth is, I wouldn't be able to see straight after three glasses of wine, but one with dinner on a Friday night does wonders during a flagging economy. It's not surprising that sales in affordable luxuries are up despite one of the worst economic downturns in our lifetime.

Recently the IMF (International Monetary Fund) released its much anticipated economic outlook report. In short, the report finds that although a recovery is taking place, the global economy still has a long way to go before it’s in the black. Led by a resilient Chinese economy, the U.S. has started to slowly pull itself out of the recession, even as unemployment hits record numbers.

While it may be premature to buy that brand new BMW or that gold watch, it's definitely time have that extra glass of wine with dinner at your favorite local hangout.



From Martians to Mom & Pop: Is there a Common Denominator to Entrepreneurs?Open in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

In 2003, when I was a parent at Santa Barbara Montessori School, I was asked to be a driver for an unusual excursion to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a NASA lab established by the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena. One of the parents (a real rocket scientist) arranged for the school to visit and observe the finishing touches being placed on the Spirit, a Rover that was part of an imminent Mars Exploration Mission. The highlight of the trip was standing on a box to peek through a window and watch the “surgeons” working on the Rover in a clean room. It was an awesome sight, to see the little go-cart being built with such fanfare, and care. It gave the Spirit launch special meaning to all of us a few months later, and as far as I know, the Spirit is still roving around Mars, collecting data.

Who dreams up the Rover concept and what do we have in common? Is a rocket scientist really any different from the restaurateur who invents a new recipe, or the computer repair shop that “makes it work?”

When you boil it down, here are some common traits of entrepreneurs in any sector:

  • Entrepreneurs are in touch with the part of their brain that fuels imagination.
  • They always question existing ways of doing things, and consider how they can do it better.
  • Entrepreneurs are fearless positive thinkers. Failure is just a little bump in the road.
  • They have a penchant for staying on the cutting-edge of their industry. They take the initiative to keep abreast of new developments.
  • Entrepreneurs keep the big picture in the forefront, and lead teams to take care of the mundane.
  • They are driven by intense passion to get up in the morning and push their idea until is works.
  • Entrepreneurs are never finished. There is always a new idea on the horizon, or several. They are endless idea machines!

Even if your idea seems small compared to the Rover, you could revolutionize your industry and that’s what entrepreneurship is all about – making “your” world a better place. So don’t let anyone tell you that you’re no rocket scientist – look at all you have in common!


Who Has Time To Think Anyway?Open in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

We've heard that in order to be happy and successful, you have to find your passion, and drive your life and business by your passion. What if you already have a business and life driven by passion? What's next?

Thinking. That's right. After all, what leads to innovation and planning sound strategies for your future? Thought. Meaningful thought. Objective thought. But, haven't we moved away from believing in the value of thought? What would your boss say if every time she walked past your desk, you were staring into space, thinking?

I remember back in the 70's, when my father worked for IBM, he brought home these neat little bright orange desktop plaques. Each one said "THINK" in a different language. Was IBM onto something? Was "thinking" the cutting-edge concept of the 70s?

I suppose I should consider making thinking a priority, but I have to run. I've got three back-to-back meetings today, followed by a networking event, and a report due Friday. I have to tweet, blog, update the website and run an educational program. I'll add "thinking" to my to-do list, and when I get around to it, I'll let you know.


Change the Tune of Your TweetsOpen in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

You can't go anywhere without hearing about Social Media Marketing, Web 2.0, and SEO. What is the buzz, er, uh, tweets, all about?

I think I am finally getting it. It's all about creating a virus - spreading the word about your business, your services or your product, in a less obvious way, and catching your customers nearly by surprise. It's insidious, but oh so effective! It's about dominating your sector in every way possible - on facebook, on linked-in, through twitter, getting search engines to pull up your company every time, and allowing people to "follow" you or "subscribe" to you.

As a business owner, what are you supposed to blog about anyway? Well, as it turns out, not your business! It's an indirect marketing tool. You want to capture the interest of potential customers, but not try to push direct sales through your blog. So, if you own an auto-detailing company, your blog could be about BMWs - but not how great your services are. Or, if you own a jazz bar, your blog could be about John Coltrane - not how good your food is. Or, if you own a hotel, it could be about travel - but not how luxurious your suites are.

Should you be tweeting about how great your new fall lineup is? No way! And don't just tweet once a week. Tweet several times a day. And follow as many tweeters you can in your sector, to get others to follow you. Tweet about where you are located, the project you are working on, or what inspires you in the moment.

It's about attention getting, not selling. So go home, and re-think it all. I'll bet your blog is a re-do, and you better change the tune of your tweets.


First 120 Days As Entrepreneurship DirectorOpen in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

For many of you who are newly working on entrepreneur programs at your college, or who are just getting started, I want to share some insight after my first six months.

(1) Move slowly and build a foundation.

Get to know the players involved in your program and assess the overall lay of the land. Create a short term plan and share it with others. Then, move slowly. Slowing down is somewhat counter intuitive, especially when you are new and excited about the work ahead. I can't emphasize enough the importance of careful execution. I really do not want to fail, and some ideas work and some don't. You won't know which ideas fly until you gradually present them and receive feedback. Luckily I have a very engaged group of "core champions" available to give me feedback every step of the way.

(2) Be flexible.

Something you may have been passionate about in the beginning, might turn out to be a non-starter. Don't worry - there are better ideas ahead! Sometimes bigger ideas are made smaller until you see if it will work. Sometimes ideas are flat out rejected. It's an agile approach to development.

(3) Let your website be your foundation.

I have labored over the last three months to get our new website created. The process forces you to organize your image, your mission and vision statements, and your brand. Content building is the most onerous, but in the end you have a comprehensive and organized station for all the information about your program, to which you can proudly refer all your initial queries and gain momentum. It helps other departments on campus keep abreast of what your program is doing and developing. Your website is your foundation, from which everything else stems. It is the major building block for future development. You can slowly add to it as you develop more ideas.

(4) Engage social media marketing.

Yes, you too should be tweeting, linking in, facebooking, and blogging. If you're not, you will be left behind. It's not that hard, and your interns will have a blast with it. But make sure content is managed carefully and professionally.

(5) Feed your website like a hungry child.

Don't let what you've built die off. What a waste of resources. Feed it, keep it up to date and fresh and let it inspire you or others to think bigger.

(6) Marketing - on campus and off!

Get out in the community and slowly build awareness of who you are. Attend business networking events. I am only just getting started and am receiving such amazing positive feedback. The small business community is hungry to get engaged! On campus I am slowly building awareness and planting the seeds of inter-disciplinary collaboration... one department at a time.

(7) Keep your chin up.

People will not want to be around you if you are slumping. Stay focused, energetic, positive and happy. You are building something you want others to be excited about, so your job is to project your enthusiasm and passion, in an authentic way, and get people to want to help you and engage. There will be setbacks and hurdles, but keep your eye on the future and the benefit your program ultimately offers the community.


Economic Downturn: Is Flat the New Excellent?Open in a New Window

by Melissa Crawford

I have a debilitating fear of heights and must carry with me chalk to keep my palms dry in order to keep climbing higher. Even in the face of such fear, the chalk helps me push through it and move up. What is your bag of chalk for you and your business? The fear factor of the economic crisis may sit with us a while, and what will help you push through it? Is it your peers? Is it colleagues in your favorite association? Is it your investors? Embrace whatever it is and keep pushing ahead.

I presented at the Santa Barbara's Chapter of the Association for Women in Communication's event on March 4, 2009 at the Canary Hotel, entitled Tools for Succeeding Not Just Surviving in a Downturn Economy, alongside SBCC's President Andreea Serban, and Professional Development Center stars Susan Block and Jill Scala. I am proud to be part of an institution supporting women in business, and encouraging small business success.

My message is simple and positive: Ready your business for the economic upswing.

But, in this troubled economic climate it is difficult to keep a positive outlook. I suggest a daily mantra: Recessions Always End. Repeat this several times a week or even several times a day.

Here is a summary of my presentation:

President Obama, Entrepreneurs & Opportunity
  • President Obama, and most of America for that matter, is looking to entrepreneurs and small business owners to get us out of this economic mess.
  • Corporate workers getting laid off are starting their own businesses with greater chance of success due to maturity, experience, and financial backing.
  • Women-owned businesses are growing faster than any other demographic.
  • The president's plan will ease up lending to small businesses.
Take Action Now for Survival
  • Analyze your business: Improve efficiency and cut costs - but be wary of cutting so far back you kill your business. This excellent and timely article from Inc. Magazine addresses new ways to cut back, that might seem counter-intuitive.
  • Analyze yourself: Are you operating at your optimum skill level? Have you implemented all those great ideas you've had forever but didn't have time? Are you taking caution to balance your work life and your home life and manage the added stress of economic grief?
  • Take action: Now is the time to enhance your skill set. Take entrepreneurship courses, marketing classes, enhance your website. Make your business sparkle, so to speak, to thrive when the economy turns around.
Revise Long-Term Strategy
  • Create long-term sustainable business practices. Plan to build cash reserves and operate at higher profit margins, long term.
Try Something New
  • Barter. Don't be afraid to barter (but treat bartering like any other contractual relationship with a written agreement!)
  • Restructure Price. Reveiw price points: can you re-set pricing on certain items? Can you bundle items? Can you add value to exisiting services without increasing pricing?
  • Partner. There are many talented and very experienced professionals looking for work. Can you team up in a way you never considered?
New Measures of Success

During this recovery period, we need to re-set our thinking in terms of success. What is success during a recession? I believe keeping your doors open is success! Here are some new ways to measure how well you are doing:
  • Survival is success. If my doors are still open, I am succeeding!
  • Flat is the new Excellent! I am succeeding!
  • 20% down in revenue is better than the rest! I am succeeding!

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