Money Saving Tips Any Business Can Put into Practice

Sam-Burlum-logo3 (2) Resized Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author, Published on 3/22/18, a Exclusive

Tags: Barter, Business, Community, Currency, Economy, Finance, Free Enterprise, Small Business

Source: There is an old saying, “To be profitable is to save money.” A small business needs every advantage it can get when it comes to trimming expenses and unnecessary cost. Here are a few savings tips for every business.

During tough economic times and a very competitive business climate, Small Business Owners are doing all they can to conserve cash and increase accountability of the best use of their working capital so that they avoid watching their margins of profit from slipping away in between the floor boards. “A penny (or dollar) saved is a penny (or dollar) earned,” so here are a few tips a small business can adopt in order to save on fees, interest payments, and other bills that seem to cut into an owner’s profit margins.

1). Do away with debit/credit card use-switch to a reimbursement system. Banking institutions have switched their business model to a fee based revenue generation machine; which is different from when banks mainly profited from interest payments and fees attached to loans and loan servicing. Every time you use your debit/credit card, there is a transaction fee, either at the merchant and/or at the bank, and sometimes both. Ever use an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank? You will find in those cases multiple usage and service fees from ATM Vendor, the bank it is associated with and your own bank. Some of these fees range from mere twenty or thirty cents upwards to three or four dollars.

To avoid watching these fees and service charges cutting into your profits, stop using debit/credit cards for every little business transaction. Also if you have multiple employees you will want to limit their usage of these cards as well. Use a draw of petty cash that is withdrawn from the bank in person. Use cash on smaller transactions under $100 when applicable. As it relates employees, you can set up a system in which they front the initial expenses they incur on behalf of the business, such as tolls, parking, gas, lunch or dinner meetings with clients, postage, and other purchases that make up the vast amount of small transactions. Once a week, have each employee submit their receipts to the company accountant for reimbursements and issue them a check for these expenses. Less usage of debit/credit cards means less fees you are charged.

2). Pay your vendors and/or suppliers early. Many of your vendors and/or suppliers may be on 30, 60, or even 90 day payment terms with your business. This allows for your business to have the time it may take to sell inventory or service a client account before you have begun covering your cost of goods sold. Many distributors, vendors, and/or suppliers do offer a discount if payment is received before the 30 day window. Usually the offered amount is 2% discount if a bill is paid within 10 to 15 business days. If such terms are offered, pay your bills early to take advantage of these discounts.

If your business has a burn rate of say $10k per month, 2% is $200 saved per month ($2400 a year). That is $200 that is found money which can be applied to other parts of your monthly budget, such as marketing and advertising. If your vendor and/or supplier does not yet offer you early payment terms, negotiate this upfront with them. This is a small concession they will be glad to offer in keeping you as a client. It is of no risk to them. Most vendors or suppliers are accustomed to not receiving payments until 30 days after they are due.

3). Pay your credit card balances on time and/or in full. Most Small Business Owners utilize credit cards as a form of business credit to keep their business afloat in between getting paid by clients. Most small business owners and managers often take credit card offers that provide “interest free,” or “low interest” on credit that is borrowed. Many of these deals are contingent on payments being made on time and/or in full. When only the minimum balance is paid, a small business owner now loses the low interest deal they first had when they acquired the card. To avoid these increases in interest rates and service fees, pay the balance off in full and on time.

Another practice you can try in saving money when using credit cards, is to call the credit card provider themselves and negotiate a “one time balance paid in full” when you have a high balance and are looking to close your account. Credit card companies would rather receive payment on an account that is closing than have it sent to collections. Usually if you get a manager or supervisor on the phone, you can ask to negotiate a final settlement offer. This saves you money in fees, interests, and charges, and clears the credit card company of the account.

If you are using credit cards to make purchases for business growth needs, consider joining a barter exchange that has a multitude of businesses connected to their network in which you can engage in. Barter is interest free.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.



Recycle, Re-purpose, Reuse; Giving New Life to Used Items

Sam-Burlum-logo3 (2) ResizedWritten by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author, Published on 2/1/18 a Exclusive

Tags: Business, Community, Economy, Finance, Government, Green, Healthy Living

Source: In comparison against most smaller and undeveloped nations, the United States categorically is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. When compared to the average household in other nations, even the poor are not considered so poor. As a nation we also are some of the world’s most consuming population of material things. Our nation also wastes just as much as it consumes. So how do we lessen our consumer footprint not to be so wasteful?

There is an old saying, “Everything has its place.” Go into any suburban home in post-modern day era, and you most likely will find a basement, an attic, a closet, a garage, or even a shed full of items which have outlasted their initial use. It seems that most households in America will replace their cell phone every six months, a kitchen appliance once a year, and then there is the question of what to do that occasional odd ball item which someone may give us as a gift, yet serves no immediate purpose in our household.

So what are we to do with all of this stuff? The obvious answer is if the item is much past its prime, beyond the cost of repairing it; it is time to recycle it. Every year, landfills run out of space because we still do not recycle enough. Glass, plastic, metal, electronics, appliances, wood, paper, cardboard, automobiles, and even some types of concrete-cement all can be re-processed and converted into other products. Before you throw something into the garbage can, ask yourself can that item be recycled. Most county governments have a waste disposal and recycling center which you can donor your renewable waste. Salvage yards will accept every type of metal and in some cases, plastic, glass, cardboard, and electronics. Wood items are ground down to make mulch or cardboard.

If you have children, you will know this scenario all too well; you buy an outfit, a pair of shoes, or a toy for your young child just to watch them outgrow it in a matter of a few months. There are a few options…You can trade up your gently used items for either cash, store credit, or a donation voucher at a local consignment shop which deals mainly with children’s items. One store in mind is called Once Upon a Child, where slightly used items are cleaned up and prepared for resale well below the original sticker price. You can find many name brand items can be found in these types of stores for a fraction of the former sticker price, thus allowing disadvantage parents to purchase name brand clothing for their children, without the high cost. You can also donate your items to your local church or to a family that might have children that might be slightly younger than yours; thus allowing for the children items to get a second life.

Just about any household item can be cleaned up and resold at a consignment shop, flea market, if the age of the item is correct, and antique shop, or even at a church bazaar fundraiser. There is an old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Your item may have outlived its use with you, however for someone else the item’s life is just beginning. Common items that you can find at flea markets or bazaars include tools, car parts, children’s toys, household decor, and even furniture.

You can try finding a new home for your item online. Craig’s List and EBAY are online havens for folks looking to sell and buy slightly used items. Even Facebook offers their version of the local marketplace. The most popular categories to buy and sell used items include used furniture, used cars and trucks, used garden tools and equipment; and children’s items. You will also be surprised at the amount of private sellers of jewelry, collectibles, and closeout items from businesses which are liquidating their left over inventory.

Many non-profit organizations have programs where you can donate your used and undesired car, boat, truck, trailer, or recreational vehicle. The standard previously followed, is that the donor would receive a donation voucher that they could write off their taxes in the amount of the lowest retail book value for their donated vehicle. In more current years, the donor gets a voucher for their item that relates to the scrap value of their former item. Then the non-profit will usually deal with a third party who would determine whether to scrap the item, or offer it for sale at the higher retail value. The public has no idea how much more the third party makes or how much the non-profit will actually receive. In this case, its best to sell your item as a private sale to another individual and then donate the cash amount to the non-profit you desire to assist.

The latest trend is that something old can be made new again. Wooden pallets can be taken apart and remade into shelves, storage crates, or even décor. Metal sheathing can be re-purposed into material for walls, shelving, made into crafts and containers, or even used in the construction or renovation of a home or business. Glass bottles and jars are great for making sand art pieces, planter pots for small flowers, or even fill them with candy or treats as gifts. Even old lumber, such as rustic beams, floorboards, shiplap siding, can be re-purposed for giving a new home the rustic look, or can be used to replace damaged lumber in a restoration project.

Even some waste products around the home can serve another purpose. Food scraps such as used coffee grinds, egg shells, banana peels and bones from meat when added to leaves and grass clippings, make for a great compost mixture for the at home gardener. Cardboard and newspaper can serve as a weed barrier in vegetable gardens and are safe for the soil.  When the cardboard and newspaper break down, they provide contents for earth worms to use to help enrich the garden soil.

Many of us are used to taking former dish and bathroom towels once they are past their prime and put those towels back to work in the garage as wash rags for the car or lawn equipment. Plastic bags from the grocery store can be reused as small garbage bags around the home. Brown paper bags from the grocery store can be made into protective book covers for children’s school books. Gift boxes can be held on to and reused again the following holiday season. Just about any item around the home can be re-purposed and reused into something else.

It is our responsibility as stewards of planet earth, to find ways to get the most life out of the consumer goods and material items around us. With limited landfill space, and the need to protect our precious fresh water supplies, the more we can do to recycle, reuse, and re-purpose, gives us one less item that makes its way to the landfill before its prime.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

Online Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

Source: In today’s multi-media and digital marketing world, small business owners have multiple choices of low-cost/no cost options in promoting their business, in addition to traditional marketing and advertising tools and practices designed to aid the local business in becoming noticed by potential consumers.

Traditionally, before the internet and mobile devices, marketing and advertising options were limited and costly for the small business owner. Most small business owners would look to advertising in the newspaper, on local television or radio, or even handouts and flyers placed on car windshields and in mailboxes. As technology advanced, so did all the methods to stay out front of your competitors and customers. There are several tools online to help a locally owned business promote one’s self which carries little or no cost.

At one time, the standard form of advertisement for a business was to be listed in the Yellow Pages, which was the business-commercial section of the phone book directory. However, times have changed with consumers relying mainly upon their mobile devices more to communicate, and in some cases, not even having a home land line-supported phone. In place of the Yellow Pages are websites and business directories such as Manta, Merchant Circle, and Tap Into.

Manta is a website which lists profiles of local businesses, and allows for consumers to leave a review after their experience of either purchasing a product or service. Manta allows for a business to set up a profile, including spotlighting the services and products a business has to offer. The profile serves as a business card to the digital world. Manta also allows for local ranking of your business based on customer reviews and special awards a business may receive. Manta also has tools which allow local businesses find other resources, and to connect with other small businesses to fulfill operational or vender needs; all this without having to flip through pages of the phone book.

Businesses will benefit from using Manta. A small business can separate itself from the crowd of other similar local businesses by having customer reviews that new potential customers can use as a point of reference in making a buying decision. When new potential clients see a number of positive reviews about a business, they also see local brand loyalty. Repeat customers tell a very different story to the market than having hundreds of one time customers. Manta’s ability for a business owner to see customer feedback and reviews will allow for a business to identify areas of improvement within its business model.

Merchant Circle is another online business listing site. Merchant Circle is a platform that allows for the locally owned business to connect and network with other locally owned businesses, sharing contacts and ideas, while helping to connect the business with potential customers. Merchant Circle had advanced their capabilities beyond just being a local business directory. Merchant Circle has combined the concepts of a local business directory and profiles with the tools of social media and marketing. Businesses can level up and purchase additional marketing services from Merchant Circle, focusing efforts on a specific geographic area.

Local online new sites, such as TAP Into, also offer free business listing directories. TAP Into focuses its hyper-local content in the State of New Jersey and surrounding areas, and is supported by the local business community. Local businesses can list their business contact and location information. Also, businesses can submit press releases to the local editors and publishers, giving businesses the ability to promote an announcement or event.

These sites can help a business in establishing an online content footprint. Businesses that have multiple articles, or key search words or phrases in their business profile description are more likely to rank higher in search engines due to the amount of content. With so many people on the go relying on information at their fingertips from their mobile devices, if your business is not at least showing up on the first two or three pages of search engines, then your business will not be seen by new potential customers. Business listings with Manta, Merchant Circle, and TAP Into drastically change your local small business’s placement within the rankings of search engines. I have even seen businesses that don’t have their own website rank high in search engines because their business profiles are enhanced and provide a lot of detail to potential consumers.

Social media is the place a business should turn to in promoting their business wares and reaching new potential customers. Take your pick, there are many to choose, however, the front-runners for two-way engagement still stands as Facebook leading the way, followed by Linked-in, Google Plus, Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. Each social media platform offers something different and serves a specific purpose.

They say, a photograph is worth a thousand words. That is where platforms like Flickr, Tumblr, and Instagram have specialized in providing a photo journal online to be shared with family, friends, fellow colleagues, and potential customers. These platforms are designed to allow users to load up photographs in the moment and share them with fan base instantaneously, in hopes of creating a real-time feeling of “I wish I was there,” for the person viewing the picture. This emotional trigger also can work well in creating a product demand in the moment. A business can feature a picture of a spotlighted product, and offer to the first hundred people who comment on the photo, a discount on their next purchase with the merchant.

Video content ranks the highest on the internet. Video content is also the most sought after content in the leading search engines. Every smart phone or mobile device is now equipped to film short video. Small businesses can create their own small videos and post them to various video hosting platforms that will help a business establish a wider internet presence. The most popular of video social media sites is YouTube.

Videos created with the purpose to capture the attention of a new potential customer needs to grab the attention of the viewer within the first 15 to 30 seconds, or you will lose the attention of the viewer. Your video content should also be unique and have a different hook. There are tens of millions of videos posted between You Tube, Vimeo, and Daily Motion, so you will need to be creative in order that your video can be searchable and stand out among the crowd.

If your business does not have a website yet, you need to get one. You can acquire a domain name from Go Daddy for just a few bucks a year. Create-it-yourself website platforms Wix, Word Press, and, provide several pre-existing templates. The most important pages to have for a very basic website are: a home page or landing page which is the first introduction to visitors about your business and its products/services, a contact us page, which includes the hours of operation, information about your products and/or services, as well as a list of the most popular or unique products/services you provide, and lastly, the about us page, giving visitors a little more information about the business and you as the owner.

Monthly e-newsletters are another way to stay in front of your customers. Email newsletters should not be a large book or difficult to read. It should inform the reader on two or three key areas you desire your customers to focus on about your business. Maybe you’re going to have a product or service sale or host a special event; email newsletter is a great way to keep your customers reminded of your business updates. You can also offer up an informative article (about 200 to 400 words) that will help educate your audience on how to make a better buying decision or create public awareness about a cause your business supports. The online tools and services of Mail Chimp or Constant Contact offer a variety of low-cost options to reach your current clients.

It may seem overwhelming at first that on top of all your other business responsibilities you now must spend time in front of your computer marketing your business, and yes, there are many options to employ. There are tools to help you manage your online efforts. Two tools that will help you measure and manage your online presence are Google Analytics and Hoot Suite. Google Analytics can help you measure your marketing ranking and efforts online, so you can eliminate online marketing that is not the most effective or does not provide a return on investment. Google Analytics will also give you the data you need to enhance the online marketing that is helping create customer flow for your business. Hoot Suite is a digital dashboard that you can use for managing and posting content to multiple social media sites at one time, thus saving you time having to make daily posts to each individual site.

The choice is yours. You can choose to spread your marketing efforts over multiple digital platforms or you can choose to stick to one or two tools. Local businesses that employ multiple online channels to promote their business are usually the businesses that have the most physical foot traffic in their door. Once they are in the door it’s up to you to provide the best experience to keep them coming back and tell their friends and neighbors about you and your business.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

How the Internet Has Affected the Interstate

Source: Right after World War II, in the 1950s, America was on the move. With the completion of the Interstate Highway System, and more families owning more than one vehicle, families took to the open road to explore, connect, and become educated. Six decades later, fewer families see their vehicle as the expression of their freedom; and find access to the world through the internet.

How amazing it is that in just 60 years, how far we have come in declaring our expression of what gives us the tools to feel mobile and free from the confines of our own zip code?

Six decades ago saw the golden age of the auto industry in America; with the Big Three—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler-Dodge dominating the majority of the vehicle ownership sales; where machines and men made America a country that became completely mobile.

Fast forward 60 years and you find the digital technology revolution is helping families become mobile again, and is changing how people define their mobility.

Now in the palm of your hand, one can access information from almost anywhere in the world. They can learn how to cook a specialty dish on Youtube, or read about historical event by “Googling it,” or even watch their favorite movie or television show on the go via an app on their cell phone. One can even shop for a new pair of jeans, pay for it, and have the jeans delivered to their door in less than 24 hours. The interstate has fallen to the internet.

America use to be completely reliant on their vehicle for everything; to go shopping, to pick up the groceries, to go downtown to see a movie, or to go visit a friend. An entire culture was developed around the premise that Americans identified mobility and freedom to travel with their cars. A variety of business models even developed to cater to the rise of the interstate. Service businesses were built around the idea of a driving culture behind the wheel. Drive-in movie theaters, the drive-through fast food take out restaurant window, the roadside attractions all were a reflection of the pride that many had as vehicle ownership.

Vehicle ownership also allowed for the shaping of modern-day suburbs to flourish. The commuter was born. Individuals were no longer relegated job opportunities as far as their local metro transit system (if any even existed) would take them. Vehicle ownership allowed for a person to live in the countryside where homeownership was less costly; as more people found it more affordable to live outside the city, but yet still work there; the car became a vital tool in developing personal wealth.

The family car, the extra car was also seen as a sign of status. At the top, luxury brands of the likes of Cadillac, Mercedes, Jaguar, or Lincoln, would echo and reflect where on the social economic scale an individual would rank. Today, that hasn’t changed, but the vehicle is no longer viewed as the pride and joy as it once was. Today it is treated and viewed more like an appliance; with an expected shelf life and is disposable.

The new status symbol of mobility is the very mobile device that many carry in their pocket. The digital era and the convenience of the mobile device (cell phone, tablet, kindle, etc.), has allowed for people to stand in their living room access the world. With this tool, the internet superhighway is the road that is most traveled over any other physical road in our current society.

Apple, Samsung, and LG are now the Big Three that offer the vehicles that provide access for people to get information, connect with people, and experience life in a way never thought of. The development of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, allow for people to connect with a click of button without having to put an ounce of fuel in the tank or drive not even a mile down the road. Just about any book once found in the library is now found in a digital format that can be read on a screen.

Programs and services like Skype, Google Hang Out, and Go to Meeting, have given people the ability to have one-on-one communications, seeing each other on a screen and hearing their words, where people can be as physical distant as the other side of the world. These services allow for people to communicate and build relationships beyond the boundaries of how far a car can take them, and are limitless to the boundaries of continents.

New businesses that cater to the new form of mobility include a host of app, ranging from apps that allow you to download coupons and deals from your favorite retailer to keeping track of your steps and physical fitness, are downloaded by the millions each day. There is even the business of add-on hardware to keep your mobile device in shape (cases, ear phones, etc.). Not to mention all of the tech improvements that has made the mobile device more functional, integrating camera, internet, video capabilities.

The internet has most certainly captured the imagination of the youth. They have grown up with the idea that the internet is as much as part of their lives as vehicles once did to our parents. Modern generations don’t know any other life but that of the one in the digital age. With the press of a button they can reach people in other countries, find out information on any subject, and view a video related to any interest.

Such technology has even entered the classroom. Virtual learning, by way of connecting by video over the internet allow for students to attend classes and seminars or view lectures from anywhere in the world. The internet has demonstrated it offers mobility to all those young and old regardless if they qualify for a driver’s license.

It once was said, “Mobility is life,” and so when there is a traffic jam on Interstate 80; remember you could have chosen to route yourself by way of wi-fi.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

Growing Your Network

Source: Every business needs a support network it can turn to for advice, to help grow its market presence, and provide referrals. Every step in growing your small business network will require you to invest into relationships with potential clients, vendors, employees, and community advocates. So, where do you start?

It is critical to your business’s growth and health that you establish a network of support around you. Every small business needs to have a legion of community advocacy on its side when the business environment becomes hostile. Some of your flow of client referrals may come from other business owners you have developed a relationship with over time, who do not offer the same services as your business. In the event your business experiences a disruption, who are the fellow colleagues in the business community that you can turn to in order to keep your business on track? It’s vital to establish and maintain positive relationships within the industry or business community, for two things will come out of it: resources and opportunities.

A business grows and thrives on building relationships with people. It is very important to join or be part of a business or community network. Joining either a trade organization or a local chamber of commerce will allow your business to outreach towards experienced mentors who have “been there and done that” in the business world. This provides you the luxury of learning from their mistakes and successes.

Joining a business or trade organization will lend your business instant credibility. Most consumers view the lone wolf as such that, a predator out to take their money. However, when a business joins an organization, it usually must qualify under a vetting process that deems the business and its owner credible. You can make personal connections with people, some who may offer client referrals, and in turn you may have clients you cannot serve, and will need to send them somewhere.

Having a network will increase your purchasing power. You can get better group rates if multiple business owners come together to join in using a shared services model to source things like health care or office supplies. Many business organizations or trade groups have preferred vendors which they refer to for business liability insurance, financing, or other business to business services, which may cater their expertise to a specific industry or geographic area.

When building any business relationship, the goal in mind should be to create a mutual or greater value exchange. Whether it is the exchange of ideas, or client referrals or vendor referrals, keep in mind, time is money, and to waste a person’s time without an equal or greater value exchange is to also waste their money as well as your own. Business relationships should be reviewed as long-term. Just because you met someone today or had a discussion with a new business contact today, does not mean they are obligated to you in any way, unless of course you and the other party sign a contract. You must approach each relationship with a pure intention that what you offer will uplift or enhance their life or business in one shape or form.

So where do you go to join? There are local business organizations and trade groups which are a good place to start. I suggest researching your local Chamber of Commerce. This is the place where business owners, politics and community all come together. Chamber of Commerce offers several opportunities to network with other businesses, which is also your audience if your business sells to other businesses. The Chamber of Commerce is an educational resource for your business as they will be able to connect you to information on how to acclimate your business within the local community. Also, the Chamber offers opportunities to connect with the community though a myriad of local events open to the public, giving businesses an opportunity to showcase their products or services to the general local public.

Organizations such as the National Small Business Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and National Small Business Association are small business trade organizations that blend solving industry issues with community advocacy to leadership in government. These organizations allow for businesses to network with each other and provide a voice for small businesses collectively, as well as on behalf of small businesses concerning regulatory matters and legislation that will either help or hurt the small business owner.

So how do you build a relationship with the community around you? Community outreach should be a priority when mapping out your marketing and advertising campaign and budget. Not all community outreach costs money. Sometimes it involves investing your time. Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Elks Lodge, and the VFW-American Legion are staples in the community. They are organizations led by local business owners and community leaders that perform good works aimed at uplifting the community. Through your service in one of these organizations, you will get to develop relationships with other people who will recognize your dedication to help others.

Some businesses take the lead by organizing a community activity. 5K runs are a very popular way to get people to gather together for a good cause. The money raised can be donated to charity, and you have plenty of opportunities to get your business name in front of people, leading up to, during, and after the event. As the host and main sponsor, your business name and contact information would be placed on all the event’s marketing materials, sign up forms, social media, and mentioned during the event. You can have a team staffing a booth or table of information made available to racers and supporters.

Another role your business can play in growing its network is becoming a member of a community activist group. This can be tricky because some community activism is driven by political agendas, and so it is important to not push an agenda or get involved with any group that requires you to vacate your personal values or alienates your clients. If you’re a business that caters to female clientele like a beauty parlor, you may choose to help a community activist group that supports women who are victims of domestic violence. If your business is in the environmental industry, you may want to take up cause with a group that advocates for better environmental practices.

Wherever you choose to build relationships, make sure that you are joining because in your heart you want to make a difference, want to help others and effectively uplift the community around you. If you volunteer or join a business organization or trade group with the intent that it’s all about what you can get out of someone else, your actions, words and mannerisms will speak out for your wrong intentions and people will take notice. Building a community and network goes hand in hand in lending your time, expertise, and sometimes financial resources in serving others. Remember, you get back what you give.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

The Pride TLC Difference


Published on, written by Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter

So you have just retired from your career; the kids have all moved out of the home; you may have lost your spouse or loved one; and you may no longer have all of the mobility that you once had. What do you do next? You begin to make lifestyle changes and choices. You may choose to let go of the house you called home for most of your life. Where do you go? Do you choose to find residence at an assisted living facility, or do you find yourself in need of more in-depth services of a nursing home?

Or what if you are the family member of the loved one who can no longer make these decisions on their own? You have come to the realization and conclusion that your loved one, whether it is a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even a spouse, will receive better care and attention than what you may have to offer. Your loved one may be at a point in their lives where they need round the clock care. So you turn your research efforts to the internet and stumble upon a few choices.

One of those choices may be the Pride Therapy and Living Campus. So you decide to investigate, and take a tour of the facility. Then you may explore other choices for employing senior health care services for either you or your loved one. So how do you know which facility to choose?

Understanding what matters in providing excellence in senior health care are important factors in choosing a facility. What type of care do you need; Assisted living, intimate nursing home services, or rehabilitation center?

Usually a major deciding factor in your choice of facility  is the overall feel of the staff, their ability to meet the needs of residents and patients, and the interactions and genuine encounters you may have experienced while you gathered information. After visiting a few facilities you return to the idea of the Pride Therapy and Living Campus. So what is it that makes Pride TLC so special?

For starters, the Pride Therapy and Living Campus is not corporate owned. In order to be competitive against the typical “chain” of nursing home facilities that are corporately owned, they must pride themselves in other areas of competency that are lacking elsewhere. They pride themselves on being your community senior health care center; totally focused and devoted to the health and well-being of the residents that are considered part of the “Pride TLC Family.”

Proprietor Phil Castleberg explains, “In part of what is the Pride TLC Difference is people. The majority of our staff lives within the surrounding area. They most likely grew up around some of the patients and now have an opportunity to serve them as they enter their elder years. Being a part of the community of Weston, allows our staff of therapists, nurses, aides, and administration to be more attentive and respectful of the needs of each patients. As a result, our staff have a higher regard for life, and treat every patient with respect, honor, and love.

Pride Therapy and Living Campus has adopted the latest trend of offering multiple services under one roof. They offer assisted living quarters and skilled nursing/rehab services. Having these services in the same location provides a resident or patient the ability to have all of their needs met, regardless of what phase they may be in their lives. This removes the stress of moving from one facility to another, and creates a friendly environment that you are being attended to by the same trusted nurses, therapists, and aides no matter which division of the facility you call home.

Pride TLC has a unique atmosphere to it. When you first pull up to the facility you experience the beauty that surrounds the campus, with is architectural appeal and maintained grounds you immediately feel comfortable. When you enter inside of the facility, you can view the many visiting areas and sitting rooms that give this facility the look and feel of a country bed and breakfast.

“We wanted to create the sense of being home. All of our patient rooms have been arranged with the assistance and input of our staff. I asked them to design the look and feel of each room as if they were going to be the occupant of that room. As a result, each room has small touches that make them unique from one room to another. Our staff did a great job in making this facility feel like home,” Castleberg continued.

Pride TLC’s culture focuses on personal health and wellness. When you first meet the staff, you get the sense that they really care about the people who enter Pride TLC. Their attentiveness to detail and ability to recognize that life, regardless of age, is valuable reflects in the way they serve guests, residents, and their families. The smiles of the staff and their welcoming demeanor inform us that the employees of Pride Therapy and Living Campus enjoy their profession and more so they enjoy being a part of the Pride TLC team.

“Being here at Pride TLC is a choice and a lifestyle. We are a smaller family ran local operation.”

Other factors that make Pride TLC special is that they operate above industry standard. Having doubled the nurses and therapists ratio to every patient versus the industry norm allows Pride TLC to provide immediate care and expedient services. The strict discipline and commitment to excellence in senior health care have actually assisted Pride TLC to be more affordable for the average senior or family member in search of senior health care accommodations. So if your decision to enter a facility is strictly based on price, Pride TLC has you covered.

Pride TLC also knows the pain experienced in the last moments of life. Our specialized team of hospice care experts treats every patient and their families with comfort in their bedside manner. Life at Pride TLC is valued from the time you enter to the time you depart; always remaining in the hearts of the staff that make up the Pride TLC team.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

Hiring Your Weaknesses


Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author of The Green Lane, a syndicated column Published on 07/01/17, Exclusive

Source: During most of their entrepreneurial journey, a small business owner will wear many hats when managing and taking to tasks the numerous duties required to operate their small local business enterprise. How does the small business owner become profitable, while freeing themselves from tasks that are necessary in the day to day running of their business, all while not neglecting areas of their business? They must focus on hiring their weaknesses.

As a new business owner, it may seem that you will be wearing many hats. Before you have a workforce to rely on, you are an army of one; in charge of every task and duty involved in operating your small business enterprise. You must go to work to get the work so you can go to work to make a profit.

In between all those things, you are the one who takes to task putting together the marketing and advertising, are the one in charge of networking with potential clients in your community, and are the one with the duties of stocking the shelves and maintaining a positive and clean appearing store front. At first it will seem very overwhelming to handle all these job responsibilities as they have many moving parts. A new business owner must come to terms with how many duties they can effectively handle, so that each task is done correctly, turning out positive results for their business.

Each business owner must come to terms with themselves, and be completely honest about what their strongest skills are that they have to contribute to their business and what their weaknesses are, which pose a determent to their own enterprise. It is only in this very humbling experience, can a business owner set aside ego and become teachable and open to delegating tasks to other people.

So how does a business owner know what their best skill sets are? There are methods that will help come to this conclusion. Start with a clean sheet of white paper, and make a list of all the reasons why you started your business. Then make another list of all the tasks and responsibilities you enjoy about operating your business. On another sheet of paper list all the tasks that you don’t enjoy or find rewarding within the day to day operations of the business, but yet are critical functions that must be addressed. Then think about this for a moment…the tasks that you do not enjoy doing, is it because you are not as well trained in these areas?

Take a moment to rank each task according to a scale of one through ten – one being the score given to a task that you are least confident in doing yourself, and are least educated or trained in, including tasks that you are not willing to become educated or trained in. This will help you in defining both your strongest skills and weaknesses, giving you a baseline of which jobs you can expect yourself to source out to an independent contractor or delegate to an employee.

So, what is the best use of the business owner’s time? Usually it is the business owner who is the leading sales representative for their business. Potential customers want to know the story and the message behind the scenes that makes the business stand out from others like it in the surrounding area. It’s the business owner, who is the founder that tells this story the best, including why the business owner decided to go down the self-employment track. The business owner needs to dedicate time to building relationships with multiple audiences. They will need to have positive relationships with other business owners, which sometimes become customers, with vendors and suppliers, with professionals (such as accountants or attorneys), with local community leaders, and with potential customers. This will require the business owner to set aside time to network with these different groups of people. The business owner needs to spend time researching new product or service offerings. This may require the business owner to take time out from the day to day operations of the business and travel to trade shows or attend events that showcase the latest innovations. The business owner also is at the lead in providing customer service.

A business owner must look at financial metrics of the best use of their time. There are several methods for calculating where the business and business owner’s time must be focused in order for the business to realize a profit. My approach is looking at the business and the vision in the bigger picture; then reverse engineering this model to put a plan in motion that will get the business owner to focus their best use of time on activities and goals that will help them arrive at their determined benchmarks.  All other tasks that don’t directly help the business and business owner achieve these goals can be delegated.

Tasks such as office or property maintenance, cleaning and stocking of store front shelves, or cleaning of tools, are all examples of minimum wage activities that take away the business owner from their core duties in making the business profitable. This is where a business owner can hire someone part-time to handle these jobs. This is considered a weakness for the business owner, because these tasks do not generate an income.

There are two methods on how a business owner can hire their weaknesses. The first method is hiring third parties to handle functions of their business, on a project by project basis, where these tasks do not require a full-time employee on site. A business owner may opt to hire a bookkeeper, accountant, and/or payroll service that are given the responsibilities for maintaining records of the financial transactions of the business, filing of taxes, and dealings with all the HR management aspects of the business’s workforce. A business owner might decide to farm out their marketing and advertising to a branding and marketing company, to handle the creation and development of the business’s marketing collateral, ad placement, social media and digital marketing campaigns, as well as develop a website and other public awareness campaigns. A business owner may also choose to hire a landscaper or janitorial service to maintain the business’s location or storefront.

The other method for hiring your weaknesses is to hire direct employees to work for your business. You may have a hair salon and you, yourself may be an expert hair stylist, but find it difficult to answer the phone, and book appointments for clients, while trying to provide service to the client right in front of you. If so, you can hire a receptionist that can handle and manage customer service over the phone. You might be experiencing growth and need additional people to help service your already successful flow of customers. Then you would be in search of employees that have similar skill sets to offer so they can assist in servicing your customers. Maybe your business is a retail business, and you need a stock clerk, in which that person can also be trained to be a cashier.

If you are not sure about hiring the person long term, however the potential employee has the skills you feel will help your business, you can offer to hire the person on a trial period. A trial period gives both the employer and the employee a way out if the relationship is not what each party expected without any hard animosity. If the potential employee performs to the standards and expectations set forth in the initial interview, then you can offer the option of full time long term employment to the new candidate. The potential employee also has the ability to hold open the doors of opportunity with other potential employers if the current employment situation is not a good fit.

Most small business operations do not have the capital to compete against corporate giants. Some perks a small business can offer is a flexible work schedule that is accommodating to both the business’s hours of operation and the schedule of the potential employee. Small businesses can provide performance bonuses or incentives for employees when they assist in the growth of the business. A small business can allow for an employee to telecommute when applicable; saving the employee commuting costs.

A small business can offer to pay for additional education or training, while on company time for their employees. Learn to earn programs have become very popular for small businesses. A business can promise to pay all or part of a tuition fee to higher learning or job training. The employee will agree to stay with the business for a term agreed upon by the business owner and the employee. Once the term has been fulfilled, the tuition is paid for or reimbursed to the employee by the business owner. If the employee leaves prematurely to the end of the agreed term, then the business owner would only have to cover a portion of the tuition, and the employee would be responsible for the rest. This helps the employee advance their career and the business to retain talent.

A small business can offer to help compensate the employee with commute cost reimbursement. Some employees must travel up to two hours away to stay employed at their current situation. The small business can offer to assist with tolls and parking expenses, and offer the employee a fuel card with a pre-determined allowance. These are also valid tax deductions for a small business. A small business may allow for a small expense account for the employee that is predetermined to cover cost of office supplies used at home when the employee is telecommuting. Other perks a small business may opt to offer are employee discounts on the business’s products/services. Some small businesses do contribute to a retirement fund that the employee may take with them when the employee moves to another place of employment, if the employee met the term of their employment with the business.

So, where do you go to hire your weaknesses? Today there are a plethora of options. Websites and social media sites like Linked-In,, Craig’s List, and Meet Up, which are prime places to post employment ads and provide the ability for two-way engagement between the potential employee and the business owner. Also, you can utilize the services of an employment agency or head hunting firm. These types of firms already have a data base of potential candidates that may fit the criteria of someone you desire to fulfill a job role. A small business can offer a mentorship or apprenticeship opportunity to business students in high school and/or college. These students are in search of employment experience as part of their coursework. If the student proves to be a success during the term of the apprenticeship, you can offer the student either part time or full time employment.  Also, you can ask for referrals from your current employees. Employment One Stop Labor Centers may also offer candidates that are currently receiving unemployment benefits and in search of a job.

No matter the type of employment arrangement, as a small business owner, you must be able to delegate the tasks that occupy your time, taking you away from income producing activities and be willing to let go of a little control. No employee will ever know all the things you know. No employee will ever do things in the exact manner that you would do things. When you are hiring your weaknesses, you must have a level of trust in the professionals you are hiring, so they can be comfortable in helping your business solve problems, and the latitude to do so.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.


Taking Pride in Senior Health Care

PrintWritten by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative Reporter and author, Published by

Source: Whether it you are in search of an assisted living facility, nursing home, rehab center, or memory care unit; there are few facilities that offer all of these services under one roof located in central Wisconsin that can provide all of your needs with a staff capable of helping you navigate the twist and turns of an already complicated health care system. We take a look at one facility aimed at providing service for your loved one with tender loving care and dignity, putting pride back into senior health care.

So your loved one is in need of a facility during their rehabilitation transition back to good health; or maybe your parent, grandmother, aunt or uncle has become too frail and is unable to manage all of their own day to day needs and affairs.  Most families try to take care of their aged loved one, sometimes splitting shifts of care for the elder family member with the help of a spouse or sibling. In today’s very busy and complicated post-modern world, usually both spouses are working full time to meet their own household needs; in some cases, still have to manage their own children’s health care and education.

You try to partner with your siblings in caring for grandma or Uncle Joe, however your siblings now reside further away from their former childhood home, leaving few or no one to care for the aged in your family. You even resorted to hiring an assisted living nurse to frequent the love one’s home on a weekly or daily basis. It turns out your loved one is very particular and sometimes become frustrated with the level of care provided by the assisted living nurse; sometimes because they are not as well trained about your loved one’s conditions or they are not properly skilled in taking care of people with pride and dignity.

So now you turn to the internet or look up in the phone directory, in search of a nursing home, assisted living facility, rehabilitation center, or memory care unit, in hopes of locating a center that you feel comfortable will provide the level of care for your loved one that you would expect for yourself. After a few tours and visits of the traditional facility; you have to make a decision of where to place grandma or even your own parent, until they either get well enough to return to their home; or find a more permanent setting they call home.

What you have seen so far is far from something you can call home. Usually very sterile and industrial appearance, you come to realize the ideal of a stereotypical senior facility serve you right. Long white hallways, with little or no décor; minimal staff, takes minutes to locate; and when you do find a staffer; your questions go unanswered because they are not as qualified to care for your loved one as you are. The one thing you can count on is the unfriendly nurse who makes no personal connection, which rolls their cart from room to room, administering medications as prescribed by the patient’s doctor. Yes that seems the choices you have for grandma; where you must chose the worst of evils; a place for grandma to just be until her health takes a direction for better or worse…

Until now…

Changing the way patients are cared for while creating new standards in senior health care quality of life is a modeled destination designed to uplift individuals seeking elder care, and making them feel they are at home, regardless of their condition.

Located in Weston, Wisconsin, Pride TLC Therapy and Living Campus is restoring faith in senior care. Setting new standards in facility design and quality in staffing, Pride TLC has done the unthinkable. They have transformed the typical stereotypical senior care housing unit to an all in one inclusive full service full care campus, improving the quality of life for patients, staff, and the community.

When you first walk into through the doors of Pride TLC, you immediately take notice of the design of the facility, which was designed to mimic the Main Street setting of your loved one’s youth. Completely equipped in house with a full service salon-barber shop, chapel, movie theater, dining areas, meeting areas, fitness room, and wings with their own libraries and family meeting rooms, Pride TLC has set the pace for other senior care facilities to follow.

The quality of staff at any facility will command the quality of care your loved one will receive. Pride TLC has taken the industry by storm, by recruiting the most qualified of care takers to assist your loved one, so your time with your parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even your spouse which calls Pride TLC home, can spend more time with you when you visit than worrying about the business of health care. From the administrators to the nurses and facility staff, each team member is waiting for the opportunity to make your loved one’s stay the most comfortable and enjoyable experience, regardless of their individual condition or diagnosis.  Pride TLC, is restoring faith in senior health care by providing you the best short term/long term senior health and rehab care; treating you and your family with tender loving care and dignity that you deserve.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

Signs of Assisted Living Facility Quality of Life Standards to Look For


Written by, Samuel K. Burlum, Investigative  author, Published by

Source: Searching for an assisted living facility that offers a quality standard of life, one that your loved one may be use too, can be a daunting task. There are some considerations to keep in mind when searching for the ideal residency to help care for your loved one, including how much tender loving care (TLC) is reflected in the staff’s service and the facilities/grounds themselves.

There are several styles and levels of quality when a family member is shopping for the best assisted living facility to suit their loved one’s needs; including the provision of personal care and facility amenities. Most seniors in their golden years are hesitant of taking residence at an assisted living facility due to the stereotypical stigma of the traditional “old folks home.”

Initially, a family member needs to define what the standard of quality of life should be for their loved one. These preferences will vary person to person based on several factors. Ask yourself these questions about the individual which you are trying to help find new residency in an assisted living facility:

Q. How active of a life style does my family member currently have? If your loved one is a busy bee, engaged in many activities and hobbies, and still wishes to enjoy spending time on these things, you will need to locate a facility that has plenty of hands on things to do.

Q. How mobile is my loved one? If your family member is still able to get around on their own, or has a restless personality where they must stay on the go, then you will want to search for a facility that offers transportation off the grounds to local venues. Also, the facility should be situated on grounds that offer many walking paths inside as well as outside to accommodate for inclement weather.

Q. Is my loved one ready to experience a life style without so many possessions? Most assisted living facility rooms are much like hotel rooms, providing just enough space for what you need. You may want to search for a facility that provides larger living spaces for your loved one’s things.

Q. Is my loved one a social butterfly or do they like to keep to themselves? If your loved one enjoys being around other people, you will want to locate a facility that offers social engagements and group activities.

Q. Is my loved one a private person? If they are, search for a facility which offers entry to their rooms which provides privacy from main halls and social areas of the facility.

Q. Does my loved one have a large family and do they intend to visit on a regular basis? Not every loved one is so fortunate, however if they are, then you will desire to find an assisted living facility with plenty of family rooms reserved for visiting.

Q. Does my loved one celebrate their youth? If your loved one is still celebrating their youth, then an assisted living facility should be your target. Many families confuse the term nursing home with assisted living facility. These two health care units differ in the level of care residents need on a daily basis.

Q. Will my loved one need to transfer to a rehab, nursing home, or memory care unit in the future? If the answer is yes, then you may want to consider a facility that offers continuity in care where residents, as they become patients, can be rest assured to receive the same quality services from the same quality staff.

Not many facilities offer an all exclusive, multi-care service units, one under the same roof. Health care administrators and innovators have found value in offering total continuity of care, so now new senior health care facilities are being designed to include rehab services, nursing home, memory care, and assisted living all on one campus.

An example of this type of facility is located in Weston, Wisconsin. Pride TLC Therapy and Living Campus serves as a model facility in the industry as one of the fully equipped, total encompassing centers that offer services and accommodations for all four types of senior care, while preserving a quality of life that most individuals in their golden years may not have opportunity to experience.  These residents won’t have to travel far, but just down the hall to enjoy many of the same amenities their main street had to offer, including: full service salon-barber shop, chapel, movie theater, dining areas, meeting areas, fitness room, libraries and family meeting rooms.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water, Main Street Survival Guide for Small Businesses, and Life in the Green Lane-in Pursuit of the American Dream.

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