Guest post by Raymond McConville with Verizon corporate media relations’ team.
With great power, comes great responsibility. As the operator of some of the most advanced wireless and broadband networks in the world, Verizon has the power to transform lives, and the responsibility to make the world we live in a better place.
It’s with that mindset that we launched the Powerful Answers Award at the International CES this week in Las Vegas. With $10 million total in prize money, the Powerful Answers Award will be a year-long competition to challenge the best technology minds in the industry to develop wireless, wireline, or cloud-based solutions that address issues in health care, education and sustainability.
We know the small business community is full of just the innovative minds we’re looking for. Have an idea for a mobile app that will make the delivery of health care faster and more effective? Or perhaps a broadband service that makes a home or office building more energy efficient? Verizon wants to hear your business plan.
The Powerful Answers Award will launch on March 31. Applicants can go to www.powerfulanswersaward.com at that time for all the submission guidelines and rules. Winners will be announced at the CES next year.
Good luck if you enter!
This post is from the Verizon Small Business team.
In the spirit of supporting all small business owners, the Verizon Small Business team wants to alert you to an outstanding opportunity from our partners at Chase.
Have you heard about “Mission Small Business”?
It’s a joint promotion between Chase and LivingSocial to help up to 12 worthy small business owners during these tough economic times. It demonstrates their commitment to small businesses, and was developed to provide small businesses with resources needed to make a positive impact on their business. The program will award grants of up to $3 million to small business owners nationwide.
How would you grow or improve your business if you had an extra $250,000 to work with?
Mission: Small Business℠ invites small business owners who have been in business for at least two years and have less than 100 employees to apply for a grant for their business. As part of their submission, small business owners will need to explain why their business is unique, outline a proposed plan for utilizing the grant to grow their business and describe how the business is involved with its community.
The Verizon Small Business team thinks that another really cool part of this program is that consumers are actually encouraged to support your business once you’ve registered. They can get involved by clicking the "Support" button at missionsmallbusiness.comand voting for your business. Each time someone clicks to support a small business, Chase will add five dollars to the grant pool, up to a maximum of $3 million. Each registered small business must receive at least 250 votes to be considered for a Grant. The voting period is open from May 7, 2012 through June 30, 2012.
At the end of the voting period, small business applicants that have received 250 votes will have their applications evaluated and grant recipients will be chosen. Grant recipients will be announced on or before September 15, 2012.
So, we’ll ask you one more time, what would your small business do with an additional $250,000 in your bank account? That’s what a little bit of effort on your end could net your small business. But, you need to get started today, because you also have to start asking your customers, employees, family and friends to start voting for your business!
Complete program details and terms and conditions can be found at http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/.
If you enter, add a post to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VerizonSmallBiz and remember to ask our Verizon Small Business team and all of our followers to vote for your business.
Then, be sure to come back and let us know when you won—and how you’re planning to use your grant to grow your business.
We salute our partners at Chase for coming up with a timely opportunity for small business owners across America!
Good luck everyone!
If you know of other contests for small business owners, please share it with us.
Guest post from Shirley Chun in California, small business marketing manager for Verizon. To get news specific to California, follow @VZCABiz (www.twitter.com/vzcabiz).
To continue our work to assist small businesses in southern California, my local team sponsored the Verizon Small Business Makeover contest earlier this year. Small business owners entered for a chance to win a $5,000 technology makeover.
I’m happy to announce that Raquel and John Anthony from Temecula, CA are the grand prize winners! Read about their business and how my team will help get their store the technology they need to run their business more efficiently and productively.
Chili Gourmet’s Challenges:
Raquel and John are small business owners who started their business in 2007. They have enjoyed success selling their family’s not-so-famous salsa at the local Farmer’s Market in Old Town Temecula. In 2009, they opened the Chili Gourmet Fiery Food Store and since then they manufacture six salsas, six pepper jellies, and they are the largest suppliers of New Mexico Hatch Chile in Temecula, Calif. As is typical with most small business owners, Raquel and John handle every step of their business: manufacturing, advertising, bookkeeping, sales, public relations, marketing, events and more. Here are some of the items that Raquel outlined as their technology challenges in her entry for the contest:
- Not having a computer in the store and they’re often forced to operate their accounting system on a memory stick that bounces back and forth between their home PC and laptop
- No laser printer or fax machine
- Often their coupons, flyers, labels, and faxes are made at the local print shop
- Manual inventory system that involves writing every sale on a log sheet. Items are often missed and inventory doesn’t always match. This makes it a challenge in transferring to a profit and loss sheet at the end of the year
The Verizon “Make Over”:
Verizon’s small business is excited to hear about the early success of Raquel and John’s business. They’ve expanded into a retail store and turned a family dream into a successful small business. However, to continue their success the Anthonys’ business need to be streamlined and automated to move them towards greater productivity. This will also give them more time to focus on the uniqueness of their business and further grow their customers!
Verizon, along with Intuit and Google, our key partners, together recommends these changes and how these services can give the Anthonys a boost in how they run their business:
- Make sure your company has the right communications services (Verizon Solution Bundle).
For a small business it would be important to have a minimum of three business-grade telephone lines and broadband (Internet) access. Depending on the amount of customer traffic, we recommend the two telephone lines so that if the main line is busy, it would route to the second line. The third line could be used for faxes and backup broadband access. Completing the package is Verizon Internet Security Services and Online Backup to keep computer(s) free from spam, viruses, offering firewall protection and more. Oftentimes, online security is not even a service that is considered by small businesses until important private data are compromised, stolen or hacked. No matter the size of your business, online backup is also an important service to have as it backs up all of your data and keep important business information in the cloud that can be easily accessible and retrieved.
- An updated, fresher looking website with Verizon Websites powered by Intuit. Currently the Anthonys have a good website with solid content. However, there a few things that will really help spice up Chili Gourmet Fiery Food Store’s website and many of these functionalities are available through Verizon Websites powered by Intuit:
o A website refresh every quarter or a couple times a year makes any business’ online presence more interesting. Verizon Websites powered by Intuit’s Design Full Services offers website design tools and a choice of over 2,000 templates to provide an easy way to design a new look for any business’ website.
o Search engine optimization that will allow your business to be found on over 100 search engines!
o Utilizing the Verizon Websites powered by Intuit product will help the Anthonys fine tune their website so they can easily add contact information as well as a map and directions to their store. Additionally, emails from customers or potential customers can be sent from their website and reach their inbox.
o Consider having a toll free number to help track where your customers are calling from and making it most likely for them to pick up the phone and call you.
o Add links to your company’s social media pages directly onto your website so online visitors can easily “fan” your Facebook page or “follow” your Twitter account, connect with your business on LinkedIn or Google+.
o Upload and update current or special promotions, seasonal products, coupons or new information on your company website when it makes sense to further engage and attract customers back to your store.
- Embrace cloud based (or online) services like Google Apps for Verizon.
o A small business particularly should (and can easily) get a domain name, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, instead of @yahoo, @hotmail, etc. email address.
o Track online customer information and orders with Google Analytics software which can be incorporated back into inventory as well as sales management systems.
o Manage recipes (data) and how to use products from Chili Gourmet Fiery Food Store by loading them into Google doc to help manage them and provide customers the ability to easily download the recipes.
o Ability to connect with suppliers on inventory and make sure manufactured goods are sent in a timely manner.
o Ability to easily connect with customers online.
- Be mobile. A smart device can do so much for a business on the move, for instance Verizon’s 4G LTE LG Revolution Smartphone and the Intuit GoPayment application.
As the grand prize winner of the Verizon Small Business Makeover contest the Anthonys will also receive a HP Pavilion dv7t Quad Edition laptop and $2,000 which will help complement the total effort in the Chili Gourmet Fiery Food Store technology makeover by Verizon.
I’ll share more about our other semi-finalists soon*:
Nick Chiotellis DDS from Gilroy, CA
Stacey Bradley Photography from Lancaster, CA
Artworks Gallery & Framing from Palm Desert, CA
Paradise Catering and Events from Long Beach, CA
The $500 American Express® Gift Card Watch to Win Sweepstakes Winner is Nick Chiotellis DDS from Gilroy, CA.
Congratulations to all!
*Each semi-finalist will receive a customized Verizon Small Business service recommendation
It’s Father’s Day Weekend! I bet some businesses like restaurants probably get a nice boost in traffic during these celebrated days. Let us know if your business gets a boost at certain times throughout the year.
The big news in my book this week is the Verizon Hardest Working Small Biz Dad contest. There is still time for Verizon’s customers who are dads and run their own business to enter for the chance to win $5,000. All that is required of the entrant is the completion of the entry form and either uploading a video sharing how you manage running a business and a family or a link to a blog post describing it.
Check out these articles I found of interest this week:
Read this New York Times article about how some businesses are turning to new technology to connect with their clients. If you missed our last blog post we highlight real Verizon Wireless small business customers and how they are using technology to run their business more productively and efficiently.
This blog post doesn’t give you any tips to do anything, but it does highlight the results of a recent study with small business owners and their view on whether they are prepared for retirement. I just thought it was an interesting read and wanted to share.
Here’s a quick read (slideshow) offering six reasons why you need a mobile strategy for your business.
As online videos are on the rise learn how to create them which may help lead to more sales. P.S. I did see that Jennifer Aniston “sex tape.”
Lastly, small businesses in the LA, Orange, Ventura, San Bernandino, and Riverside counties in CA can enter the 2011 Fan’s Choice Awards for the chance to win $5,000 if your website gets the most votes. Although many small businesses have a website, there are others – like nearly 40% of small businesses – do not have a website for their business. Verizon hopes to help with this contest and to remind small businesses that there are many easy do-it-yourself website building software like Verizon Websites powered by Intuit that can help get your site up in no time.
Until next time, have a great weekend!