Become a Member

Writing for Business 

During your college years, you were expecting to write papers, draft letters, and take part in all sorts of writing, right? Who knew that would be such an integral skill once you got to your “real” job later in life. Writing for business is a given nowadays with emails, reports, and presentations given on a daily basis no matter what field you are in. 

Don’t think you write often enough to worry about your writing skills? Think again. According to a study conducted by Carleton University, professionals spend one-third of their time at work reading and answering emails. You might spend more than this, or less, but chances are that a significant portion of your day is spent writing something.

Why Writing is Critical to Your Business 

Solid writing skills can mean the difference between being taken seriously in your position or being seen as less professional. Poor writing skills can lead to miscommunication, lost opportunities, and even a loss of business. Think of the number of times you have read an email or report that did not communicate the central message well. It is frustrating to decipher what the message really says. 

Let’s take a look at a few aspects of your writing that can help improve your reports, emails, or marketing materials. No matter what you are writing, it is a good idea to brush up on these areas as you progress in your career. 

Know Your Audience

As with anything in life, it is good to know who you are dealing with when you present, send an email, or write a report. Knowing who you are talking to can give your writing a sense of purpose and direction. For example, an in-office email could be short and informal, but a customer email or a PowerPoint presentation should follow the guidelines of courtesy, clarity, and conciseness. Your audience should be your compass; keeping in mind what the recipient seeks to learn narrows down the possible directions your writing should take (SkillsYouNeed 2019). Think about what they know already, especially as you determine the terminology to use. If you’re writing to a specific person or group of people, look for ways to personalize the document by considering their interests.

Think First 

Take a few minutes to mentally define the goals of the written piece. Do you know the main content: the who, what, when, where, and why of your writing? Think through it first before you even reach for the pen or keyboard. Thinking in broad terms first will help you to focus your message and make sure that you highlight all the important points you want to make. 

Be Brief 

Workplaces are busy places. Take the fluff out of your writing and get to the point. Be direct and short in your writing, unless the type of writing dictates added details and expansion on the topic. Readers will appreciate not having to sift through extraneous information to find the real message. 

Be Careful with Word Choice 

As just stated, it is important to be clear, concise, and direct in your business writings. It is also important not to use too many buzzwords or jargon that could turn off your reader. Jargon often makes you sound pretentious, and it can further alienate your reader. Instead, write the way you talk. Keep it natural and direct.

Edit, Edit, Edit 

It is always a good idea to have someone else read through your work whenever possible. Small mistakes can be easily missed by the original author. If you have no one to proofread for you, copy and paste your writing into Google Translate and have it read the document back to you. Usually, mistakes are obvious when you hear them aloud. Also, Google can usually catch flagrant typos or spelling errors. 

Need some help with your business writing? Join us at our workshop entitled Writing for Business and Grammar Skills on October 23, 2019. 

Building a Positive Company Culture 

Not all of us can be Google, which prides itself on a unique and happy employee culture. In some ways, Google Headquarters looks more like an adult playground than a corporate office. In fact, there are people employed at Google whose sole purpose is to create a happy and positive employee culture. How about that? 

Ok, so not all of us can afford to have a gym, playroom, or spa retreat inside our office, but we can still do some fairly simple things to maintain a positive company culture. Here is how. 

Create a Safe Space 

Not all offices have extra room to build an adult playground with a ping pong table or video games, but almost every office can carve out a small area where an employee can relax, enjoy their lunch, and chill out away from their desk. Sperling Interactive in Salem carved out an area in a room that was not very functional in order to build a “nest” where employees can relax, hang out, and sometimes just have a different place to get work done. 

 

Show Gratitude 

When something good happens at work, thank the people responsible. This might mean an email, short letter, or maybe even a small gift to show gratitude for the hard work. Make sure you are consistent in doing this or employees may notice that you gave a shout out in one instance and not in another. 

 

Encourage Positive Thinking 

Encourage your team to think in a positive way. This means in your thoughts, actions, and words, you should keep it upbeat and happy. Obviously be genuine, but try to always have a “glass half full” attitude. This outlook can be contagious. 

Don’t Just Talk… Listen 

Everyone likes to be heard, whether it is complaints about the dishes in the break room building up in the sink or a company policy that someone would like changed. Truly listen to your employees and they will feel valued. It does not mean you need to do everything that it asked but, rather, listen and respond. This sense that feedback is welcome can make employees feel valued and want to stay at your company for years. 

 

Encourage Employee Learning 

Whether you can afford to subsidize a masters program or certificate programs or not, you should be encouraging your employees to learn more. If you invest in them, they will invest in you. I can not say enough about this! 

Check out our events calendar for more workshops on nurturing a positive company culture. We all can’t be Google, but we can make out employee culture a happy one. 

 

Franchising 101: Things To Consider

The franchise industry is a $2.3 trillion industry, with one out of every six jobs relating to franchising. Statistically speaking, therefore, a franchise has a better chance of succeeding than most small business start-ups, due to the support and name recognition. If you are considering getting involved in a franchise, now is an excellent opportunity, but there are also things to consider before you take the leap.

What is a Franchise?

Before we take a look at whether a franchise might be right for you, let’s examine what one is and how common they are. Drive down any main street in America and you will see a Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald’s, a UPS Store, and a CVS. See, you didn’t have to go far to find a franchise, did you? Franchises are an extremely common way of doing business.

A franchise is a type of license granted by an initial business owner (the franchiser) to other business hopefuls (the franchisee). The license is sold to others who will continue to use the name, logo, and business model.

Things to Consider:

Is a franchise the right fit for me?

Franchising is not for everyone. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, “Some see it as a way to venture out and become their own boss, but at the same time have the safety net a franchisor provides. While as a franchisee you will be the boss, you’ll still have the franchisor to deal with – so, you won’t be totally independent of oversight.” Most people who join a franchise do not want to change the system of work but rather believe in the business model that is already there and want to become a part of that system.

How hard do you want to work?

If you are choosing to work within a franchise, don’t go into it with the mental idea that the work will be easier because the company is already formed and a blueprint for success is already there. That would be a big mistake. Any new franchise still requires long hours and dedication. Don’t confuse a system that is already set with coasting into your own franchising success.

What is the risk?

Before you sign on the dotted line, do some research. What is the failure rate for this particular franchise? What do you know about the community you will be working in? What is that community’s turnover rate for this type of business? Do your homework before you jump at the opportunity to franchise.

Do you have questions about franchising? Check out our event, “Is Franchising Right for You?” on June 4 from 8:30-10:30 am. See our website for more details.

 

Patents Basics

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It has led to inventions and progress in so many fields. Do you have an idea for your business and want to get the idea or innovation patented? The process for filing for a patent can get a bit tedious so, do your homework and understand what issues may lie ahead of you. We also suggest discussing your case with a patent attorney.

According to Entreprenuership.org a patent grants inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, selling (or offering to sell) or importing their inventions throughout the United States for a limited period of time. To obtain a patent, the inventor submits his or her application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (known as the “USPTO”).

There are three main types of patents:

  1. Utility Patents –  Almost any product, process, or ornamental design that is new, useful, and non-obvious is patentable. What we normally think of as a patent is known as a “utility” patent, because it covers the usefulness of a product—the way it operates, what it produces, what it does, etc.

  2. Design Patents- Design patents protect the ornamental design or appearance of an article (i.e., they do not protect aspects of a product that are functional). A few examples of designs that may be protected by design patents include the ornamental aspects of furniture, packaging, shoes, game boards, and fonts.

  3. Plant Patents (used less frequently) are for certain new varieties of plants that have been asexually reproduced, for a term of 17 years.

As a business owner, you will most likely be filing for a utility or design patent. The registration process includes: a clear and concise description of the company’s declaration that it is the original and sole inventor, written drawings (where necessary) of the invention, filing fees; and, one or more of the company’s “claims” of exclusivity. Be sure to be very specific in your documentation as you must prove that you are the first to do something or make something like this. The United States Patent Office has a complete list of patent laws and resources. Please,  follow the link above. 

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

REGISTER NOW!

Nurturing a Culture of Innovation

Our world today is evolving faster (technologically speaking), than it ever did in the past.  Technology is constantly being improved  to better suit our lifestyles and needs.  Even before the high tech boom in the Silicon Valley in the 20th Century, the business world was in a constant race to be more creative and more innovative.   How then, do we as business owners nurture a culture of innovation and creativity in the workplace to keep our companies thriving and progressing?

Innovation is not a mathematical equation that can be applied to a brand or company.  Instead, it is an environment that is nurtured in such a way that leaders are able to unlock and harness the “light bulb” ideas that go off.  Business leaders and owners can not just announce that the office is now an innovative office and encourage all staff to get thinking creatively.  Rather, they must procure an environment, both physical and mental, that engages employees in a non-traditional way.  Here are just a few suggestions to help you shape the environment in your company into an innovative one that allows for employees to be open and able to take risks in their thinking.

  • Schedule Brainstorming – Teams should brainstorm at the beginning of each project.  Bouncing ideas off each other can be helpful to mold and stretch ideas that may have been ignored in other traditional offices.  All members of staff should be included in the brainstorming, not just the people with a “creative” title.  During these sessions encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking by making it a safe place to say anything.  Who knows one idea may spur another and so on.
  • Rewards – Give rewards, even small ones for creative ideas around the office.  This might include a longer lunch or a premium parking spot or a small gift card.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail!  Failure may seem negative, but it also means that  you were not afraid to try.  Even Ben Franklin failed hundreds of time before his experiment succeeded.   50 to 70 per cent of all new product innovations fail at even the most successful companies.
  • The Physical Office – Make the office fun where ever possible.  Google International allows for games, couches and even resting areas to get employees comfy and relaxed.  A relaxed mind can think more creatively.
  • Provide Education and Training – Learning should be a lifelong adventure.  Give employees a chance to be learning and expanding their knowledge base.  That knowledge will allow for more creative thinking.
  • Allow Alone Time – Most of us think about the innovative process as a group of like-minded individuals pounding out the solution to a problem.  Don’t forget to allow for some alone time for employees to really think through a solution.