PAUL AND SARAH EDWARDS: LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
To baldly go ...
IMAGE IS IMPORTANT if you run your own business.
Not just your business image—your logo, your Web
site—but also your personal image. Customers
want to see who they are doing business with, and
they want to like and trust what they see. They also
may come to expect you to look the way they are
used to seeing you, so what do you do if you want
or need to adopt a dramatically different new look?
Long ago, in order to maintain the business
image Sarah and I had established, I decided to
wear a hairpiece. But as the years passed I began
asking myself, “Why not shave off the rest?”
I consulted various people, including Dr. Joyce
Knudsen, an image professional from The Image-Maker Inc., and garnered key points that you might
want to keep in mind if you decide to change your
personal image too.
Know the expectations in your field. Carefully observe your field and notice what images are
projected by those who are successful and well
Paul and Sarah
com) are the authors of
Middle Class Lifeboat
and 16 other small-business books.
regarded. Seek the advice of an image consultant
who is familiar with your milieu and clientele.
Define what you want your image to say
about you. You need to feel like it’s a projection of
who you are and how you want the world to see
you. If you’re no longer comfortable with your
image, it becomes more difficult to project the confidence and self-assurance you need to be effective
in face-to-face communications.
Test the waters. Once I knew I was ready for
a more natural me, I tried the idea on trusted personal and business contacts. Their enthusiastic
encouragement gave me confidence.
You’re never going to please everyone,
and that’s OK. There will usually be a few folks
who rely on the familiar and find a dramatic switch
too unsettling or dislike this or that.
Most changes can be reversed. Once you try
out the new you, it won’t take long to know if it’s a
good move. If you’re getting negative reactions, you
can always change again.
The new year is definitely time for a new me. I
won’t be going back. I’ve gifted my hairpieces to an
acting company, lost my gray hair, saved time and
money, and every day is a good hair day! How
about you? Is this the year for a new you? C
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A POTENTIALLY lucrative client for any
business is the federal government. For
small-business owners who may feel
the odds are against them, here are
two words: not true.
Lourdes Martin-Rosa, an adviser to
Give Me 5 (
some tips for anyone looking to do business with the public sector. GM5 is a
national education program launched by
American Express OPEN and Women
Impacting Public Policy (
to help women business owners get involved in
federal contracting. Because there are too many
tips to list here, we are presenting the don’ts this
month. Watch for the do’s in February’s Connection.
Don’t underprice yourself. Being the least
expensive provider won’t necessarily win you any
business, and may make some officials question
the quality of your products or services.
Don’t give a sales presentation or “talk
at” your prospects with slide shows. Take
the opportunity to sit down and hear what challenges they’re facing so you can fine-tune your
offer to meet their needs.
Doing business with Uncle Sam
Don’t waste money on print
mailers. After the anthrax scare, it
became difficult to get unsolicited
mail through to federal agencies.
However, you can often reach contracting officers via e-mail.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Don’t overpromise on what
your products or services can
achieve. Be able to back up your
claims and deliver on agreements
to gain a positive reputation among
Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s tempting
to respond to every opportunity that crosses your
path. Focus your sales efforts on a few select
agencies to gain an in-depth understanding of
their people, processes and needs.
Don’t wait for a request for proposal (RFP).
Get to know the right contacts at target agencies
and understand what they need. Trusted vendors
are sometimes asked to help formulate RFP guidelines, which gives them a significant advantage.
Don’t make assumptions about evaluation
criteria. Ask for clarification of evaluation criteria,
and create your proposal around them. C
SCORE, A NATIONAL association partnered with the U.S.
Small Business Administration,
is dedicated to helping small-business owners form and grow
their businesses. Recently,
SCORE has updated a section of
its Web site for veterans and mil-itary-community entrepreneurs
The site includes a number of
new and updated resources in
the following departments.
Ask SCORE offers advice by
e-mail. Veterans can search for
mentors who have previous military experience.
Insights for Veteran
Entrepreneurs features key
articles on the mind-set needed
to become an entrepreneur,
grant resources for small businesses and tips on exemplary
Resources for Veteran
Entrepreneurs includes a directory of state programs for returning troops, plus a list of more
than 30 organizations, groups
and Web sites that offer information, training and assistance.
Stats and Research on U.S.
Veteran Entrepreneurs provides the latest research and facts
on veteran entrepreneurship.
Loans to Aid Your Success
links to important business
lending programs: SBA
Economic Injury Loans, the
Military Reservist Economic
Injury Disaster Loan Program
and the Patriot Express Loan
How SCORE Helps
Veterans highlights assistance
and programs offered by local
SCORE 2.0: Find Us Online
links to SCORE podcasts, a
women’s blog, free e-newsletters
and SCORE’s Facebook page.
How SCORE Can Help You
highlights SCORE’s free online
and face-to-face mentoring, free
and low-cost workshops and
free e-newsletters. C