It started in July 2010 when Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine Program launched an innovative program to provide Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Grants to domestic violence survivors to help them start or expand a small or home-based business.
One of the first to receive a grant is Ebony Fletcher who almost lost her life to an abusive ex-boyfriend after he sat on her back and shot her in the head. The $5,000 grant she received from the Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine Program in 2011, allowed Ebony to grow her business by purchasing new equipment and expand her line of hair products.
Over the years the program expanded and even more survivors were offered a grant to start-up or expand a business.
Last week, Verizon launched entrepreneur training programs in New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany to continue to support domestic violence survivors and help them rebuild their lives.
Verizon’s $500,000 in grants to five workforce development organizations across New York State will fund the development of training programs to help survivors start or expand their own small or home-based businesses, which can lead to greater financial stability and independence, crucial factors in breaking the cycle of violence.
These five organizations, in partnership with local domestic violence advocacy agencies, are developing programs to educate and mentor survivors to develop a viable business plan for their venture.
Participants who complete one of the five entrepreneurship training programs will be eligible to apply for a Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Grant, up to $5,000, through the HopeLine program. To date, 14 grants totaling $57,500 have been awarded across New York State, with more planned in 2012.
Below are the five organizations currently recruiting participants for their local program. Each program builds on existing ones and align with the needs of the local community. Courses include financial literacy, taxes, legal issues, time management, conflict/problem resolution, professional etiquette, and more.
For more information on the Verizon Domestic Violence Entrepreneurship Grant click here or visit the organization’s website below.
• New York – Sanctuary for Families, Inc.
• Syracuse – WISE Women’s Business Center and Vera House
For information about domestic violence in the workplace and why it’s your business click here.
If you received a grant for your business, share your story with us.
[Photo from left to right: Dorothy Cucinelli, Equinox, Inc.; Richard Bennett, Hudson Valley Community College; John O’Malley, Verizon Wireless; Kathy Magee, Equinox, Inc.; Ebony Fletcher, Owner, Ebbies Hair and Nails Salon, Inc.; Amy Barasch, New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; and Heather Briccetti, The Business Council of New York State.]
A few posts back, I talked about our GoPayment solution in conjunction with Intuit and how it made it easy for the entrepreneur or small business owner to accept credit card payments anytime and anywhere. Today, I’d like to share a success story. Verizon Wireless customer, YiShaun Yang, owner of AdoraPet, conveys a good business case below.
In her own words YiShaun wrote:
While I was working as a corporate attorney in a Manhattan law firm, I made the decision to take a leap of faith and start my own business. I believe children are full of potential and possibility, and it was important to me to create a business that nurtures children’s dreams and development.
I started a business in the children’s products industry called AdoraPet (http://AdoraPet.com).
As an entrepreneur, my business is nimble, but we still need the same tools that an enterprise may need, though in a different version.
I didn’t think I would be able to accept credit card payments without going through the hassle of entering into an onerous credit card processing contract that had termination fees and other obligations.
I had my first holiday fair of the season coming up and time was running out to find a suitable solution. But one day while in the Verizon store, I saw the GoPayment credit card swiper, and it changed the way I do business and allows me to easily serve my customers better.
I found the online set up process to be incredibly quick and easy. I plugged in my information online and was able to find out very quickly that my application had been approved.
Before the fair, I was able to enter in my different products, their prices, and whether or not to accept tax for each item, which made the actual sales process much faster and more streamlined.
I decided to have a special holiday set of all 8 of my children’s books, and even though I was offering a special holiday price, it was more than most people carry in cash.
I was so happy to have GoPayment, especially when a woman came by at the very end and bought 5 holiday sets right on the spot because she was able to pay by credit card!
Now, I carry the GoPayment swiper with me wherever I go. It’s light and compact and comes with its own plastic case, so I can easily toss it into my bag or pocket. I love the versatility it gives my customers and me, and it helps make running a small business easier.
[Editor’s note: If your business is like YiShaun’s where you can sell your products at fairs or on the go; then you will seriously want to consider getting a mobile credit card processing solution so you can accept payment – for your product(s) – no matter where you are! For more information click here or go to http://bit.ly/wD8LJI
Guest post from Jennifer Prosek, CEO of CJP Communications and the author of Army of Entrepreneurs™: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth. July’s featured author in the Verizon Author Series. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
While many big companies have been reporting record profits, most small businesses are still stuck in the economic downturn. Seventy percent have no plans to expand their staffs over the next 12 months, according to a recent U.S. Bancorp survey of 1,004 U.S. companies with annual revenue of $10 million or less. While there’s no easy fix, what this says to me is that every employee matters and needs to be an engine of growth for the company.
A little history: Several years before the Great Recession hit, I had begun developing the “Army of Entrepreneurs™” model, which seeks to instill an “owner’s mindset” in every employee. I recognized I could no longer singlehandedly run my growing PR firm. I needed an army of leaders, creative thinkers, rainmakers and problem solvers.
When the recession hit, the Army model literally saved my firm. We took a big hit, losing nearly half our business in the worst months of the recession. But my ‘army of entrepreneurs’ found new clients, developed new revenue sources, and expanded existing accounts. While 65 percent of public relations agencies nationwide reported revenue declines, CJP Communications grew.
While any company can develop its own ‘army of entrepreneurs’, there’s one essential element they need to get right and that is the culture. Culture empowers employees, flattens the management structure, democratizes decision making, encourages communication and motivates every member of the team. The four pillars below can help build that culture.
Live the core values of your culture and model entrepreneurial behavior. Entrepreneurs work hard because they’re truly passionate. So get excited about the work you are doing, and your employees will too. Enthusiasm is infectious.
Also, with authenticity comes transparency and honesty. In my company, all information (with the exception of individual salaries) is fair game. Sharing information gives employees what entrepreneurs have as a matter of course — intimate knowledge of the business.
Commitment to People
A big factor in any cultural ecosystem is how people are treated. Are they respected and supported? Are they challenged? Do they have the resources and training they need to advance?
An entrepreneurial culture is based on the idea that each individual can be a powerful force for change in the organization. Investing in professional development is a clear indicator that every person is valuable.
And don't forget to have fun. Celebrating exceptional work, big wins and milestones brings people together, reinforcing teamwork and giving them a chance to bond with one another.
Commitment to the Business
Ultimately, it’s all about the business and its success. One way to strengthen that commitment is to align an individual's interests with those of the business. At my firm, we have a program called Commission for Life™, which encourages new-business generation. Anyone who books a meeting that results in a new client gets 5 percent of the revenue for the life of the business.
The work of building a company’s culture never stops. There are always new ways to improve communications, boost training and provide new challenges. An employee once sent me an e-mail that summed up what a great company culture should strive for: "a living, breathing, adaptable, fun environment."
How do you build your company’s culture?
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Hello, I’m Ellen! It’s a hot Friday in most places across the country... I know I can sure use some ice cream. While we all know how to introduce ourselves, it’s always good to get feedback, click here for some insights from BNET.
Now I know we are all winners here, but every once in a while something may not work out in our favor and we lose a little of our self-confidence, so click here for a short read to give yourself a boost.
This article caught my eyes… five ways to improve your website. Click here to get the tips from Entrepreneur magazine. In this blog, we have stressed a number of times the importance for a small business to have a website. If your business does not have a website, please set one up today. Do not be one of the 40 percent of small businesses that do not have a website. Verizon can help and offers Verizon Websites powered by Intuit, an easy do-it-yourself website building software… I say no more on this issue.
Onward and forward, for those of you who are social media savvy check out this article to see if Google+ is the ultimate content marketing platform. Here’s another article where Google+ is compared to ‘boring’ Twitter.
Next week, I’ll host another free webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center featuring Jennifer Prosek, author of Army of Entrepreneurs. Jen will give insights into how to motivate your employees and how to keep talent in the pipeline… just because you are not hiring today doesn’t mean you won’t hire tomorrow. To register for this live free webinar click here or go to http://bit.ly/p2G7Hw.
In the event you are a horrible boss – which I’m sure you are not – there are ways to reform. Click here to read this article from Fast Company.
As always, happy reading and stay cool!
Do you really want to blog about entrepreneurship and venture capital? Sure.
My colleague Dan and I were asked by Ellen Yu and the Verizon Small Business team to share our thoughts and information about start- ups, entrepreneurship, from our perspective at Verizon's corporate venture investing program (http://verizon.com/ventures).
There is already a lot of very good information published or available online about these topics, and more is generated every day. There are some great commentators and very experienced investors who freely share their experiences. Many of our posts will highlight what we consider to be very good articles, books, blogs, podcasts, and other resources on particular topics of interest.
My top online recommendation is one of my favorite financial VC bloggers, Mark Suster from GRP Partners. First of all, his writing is excellent. His blog, Both Sides of the Table, is a great educational tool for anyone running a start-up or considering the VC funding route to fuel their company. He also has does a weekly podcast at ThisWeekIn called "This Week in Venture Capital". His interviews are informative and entertaining. I don't know where he gets the energy (or time) to do all this publishing and recording, but it is a great service to innovators and investors.
While you are checking out ThisWeekIn, you should also look for Jason Calacanis' podcast, ThisWeekInStartups. Jason gets an amazing line up of entrepreneurs to explain the traps and tricks they have learned following their passion.
In future posts we will provide additional recommendations about where we go to learn more every day about these topics. Of course, we’ll also share our personal insights with you too as we have vetted many business proposals from entrepreneurs seeking funding.
Here’s my first tip: Anyone can ask for funding, but a company that can recruit a strong team and deliver a great productdeserves to be funded and has the best chance to succeed. Continuously seek direct and critical input from advisors, customers, and vendors to objectively evaluate your team or product. Don’t be afraid of hearing negative feedback. Just the opposite. Thank the messenger and do whatever you can to address real or perceived shortcomings. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch was famous for his line, “How am I doing?” Make sure you know how others would answer the question about your company.
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Happy Friday! It’s February already… some folks like me just celebrated Lunar New Year and many others will tune in this Sunday to watch the Super Bowl. Before we break for the weekend check out these interesting reads below.
If you haven’t heard, President Obama unveils ‘Startup America’ he said it’s “a national campaign to help win the future by knocking down barriers in the path of men and women in every corner of this country hoping to take a chance, follow a dream and start a business.”
For those who have a business, read this article from the WSJ Blogs to see if you need a patent to protect your brilliant ideas.
Businesses going global or are already global, make sure your company avoids these I.T. slip-ups.
We talk about social media in this blog and have provided free webinars with expects offering you advice to get started and to find leads. But are you getting results from your social media initiatives? Let us know by commenting below and also check out this article as it may get you back on track if you were a little off.
If you are looking for a bunch of small business related news at your finger tips visit Alltop’s small business section (http://small-business.alltop.com/), where you’ll also find Verizon’s small business blog posts.
Lastly, it’s great that your business is buzzing along nicely, but ask yourself if your business is vulnerable to security threats? Here are some useful tips that may help reduce security threats in your business. For additional tips download the Verizon Business 2010 Data Breach Investigations Report.
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