Business Resources

Introducing ASCENT Online Learning

Ascent is a  free online learning platform by the SBA for women interested in starting or growing their small businesses. Women own or co-own 45% of all businesses in the United States. These businesses represent all types of industries and are owned by all types of women. The majority are small, with great potential for growth in both revenues and job creation. The Ascent learning platform is packed with in-depth information to help women grow their business.

WOSB Federal Contracting Program

Helps provide a level playing field for women business owners, the government limits competition for certain federal contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) that participate in SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (WOSB Federal Contracting Program). The WOSB Federal Contracting Program permits certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs in eligible industries to compete for contracts that are set aside for them. It also allows contracting officers to make sole-source awards to WOSBs (including EDWOSBs) under specific circumstances. Visit www.sba.gov.wosbready for a comprehensive overview of the program. Learn more: 

 Woman Owned Business with WBEC Florida 

As a certified Woman Owned, business you get access to a current list of supplier diversity and procurement executives at hundreds of major U.S. corporates and federal, state, and local government entities that accept WBENC Certification. WBENC is also an approved Third Party Certifier for the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program. Visit:

https://www.wbecflorida.org/

Business Articles

5 Free Tools to Boost Your New Business in 2021

Starting a new business can be difficult. Where do you start and how do you use your initial investment? Oftentimes, you may not have huge funds at your disposal. This doesn’t matter in today’s digital age, however. As you will see below, there is a range of useful tools and resources that can help you grow your business. We have listed five excellent examples for your benefit!

 

1. LibreOffice – Office Software

 

Having office software can help greatly during any stage of business. However, paying expensive subscription prices for something like Microsoft Office is not always possible. This is why LibreOffice is a great tool.

This is a free office suite that essentially gives you the same functionality as Microsoft Office. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet processor and more. The programs are all easy to use and have advanced functionality so you can easily manage your business and draft things like business letters.

2. LogoCreator – Business Logos

 

When starting your new business, your branding and identity are important to establish. One of the first things you can do is create a business logo. However, you may not be able to pay a graphic designer to create one for you!

Fear not – LogoCreator is a free online tool that allows you to produce a logo with minimum effort. It has an intuitive interface and a set of tools that anyone can learn. You can even choose from a range of templates if you need inspiration.

3. Hemingway Editor – Spelling & Grammar

 

The written content of any business must be impeccable. This includes perfect grammar and spelling, and excellent sentence structure. You may not have the funds to pay for software, or even hire a content writer.

This is why something like the Hemmingway Editor is a great tool. This free tool analyses your written content and immediately shows any errors. However, it is much more than this. The Hemmingway Editor will also suggest improvements to your text such as overuse of passive tense, and the use of too many complex words or sentences.

4. GIMP – Graphics Design

 

Oftentimes when starting your business venture you may need to create graphical elements like product images and website banners. The solution here is to either pay a graphic designer or pay for expensive software like Adobe Photoshop.

But you don’t have to! GIMP is a free raster graphics program that anyone can use. Using this software, you can produce amazing graphics for your business. It also has a set of photo editing tools so you can edit your product photos and make them look professional.

5. Lightworks – Video Creation

 

Lastly, we have Lightworks. This is a free video editor that is great if you want to create video marketing or video content for your new business.

Lightworks is open-source and it offers an easy-to-use interface that anyone can learn. Using this program, you can cut, crop, and splice video clips. Also, you can add elements like transitions, overlays, and audio tracks to make professional business videos.

Grow Your Business Today With Minimal Expense!

You don’t have to spend a fortune to start a new business. This much should be evident from the free tools we have listed above. This is only the beginning! The web is packed full of amazing free tools like this that are waiting to be used.

If you know where to look, or are willing to spend time researching, you can find a free resource for virtually anything! As a result, you can devote your initial investment to important things like product development and marketing.

Top tips for creating a small business logo

Logos are essential for small businesses. If you want your brand to be recognizable and have a strong brand identity, having a professional logo is a must. Figures show that 50% of businesses now design their own logos. With this in mind, here are some tips for small business owners on how to build a great logo.  Click on the plus sign below to continue reading.

Picture vs. word logos 

If you’re new to logo design, you will quickly discover that there are many types of logos to choose from. By looking at other brand’s logos, you will see that some use words or letters, whilst others prefer images and pictures. 

So, which is best? To help you decide on the best option for your small business, here are the pros and cons of the three most commonly used logo types. 

1. Wordmarks 

Wordmark logos use text to spell out the company name in a stylish way, usually using distinctive or interesting fonts to stand out and portray the brand message. This type of logo is popular with brands that have shorter names, such as eBay. 

Pros:

  • Instantly recognizable 
  • Always unique 
  • Easier to design 

Cons: 

  • Can seem generic without an eye catching font 

2. Letterform

A letterform logo uses the initials of the brands first letter or letters. This is something that’s usually chosen for brands that have longer names, like McDonalds or IBM. Like wordmark logos, it’s important that letterform logos have interesting fonts or colors to stand out. 

Pros: 

  • Better for long or complicated names 
  • Size and shape can be more versatile 

Cons: 

  • Often needs multiple views to be recognized.

3. Pictorial 

Pictorial logos are incredibly popular among businesses. They use a picture or image that represents the brand. This is a way of evoking more emotion in the audience and communicating the brand message in a clear way. 

These types of logos can become instantly recognizable and associated with the company – Apple and Shell, for example, use pictorial logos. 

Pros: 

  • Consumers tend to respond better to pictures 
  • Can be used in combination with words 

Cons: 

  • If using a picture alone, may need lots of exposure to be recognized 
  • Can be more difficult to design 

Choosing colors and fonts 

Picking the right colors and fonts is incredibly important in logo design. Different colors portray different messages, and this is not something that should be overlooked.

According to an article in the Logo Company, “The Psychology of Color in Logo Design”, brands can use colors to convey the following: 

Red: Excitement, youth, and boldness

Yellow: Optimism, clarity, and warmth

Orange: Confidence, cheeriness, and friendliness 

Purple: Imaginative, wise, and creative

Blue: Dependable, strong, and trustworthy 

Green: Peaceful, growth, nature, and health 

Grey: Calm and balanced 

Tips for creating your logo 

 

Before you start designing and building the perfect logo for your business, here are some final tips to help you get started: 

1. Keep it simple 

Of course, you want your logo to be interesting, unique, or even quirky. But, at the same time, it’s important that it’s concise and clearly conveys your business and brand. If it’s too complicated, the meaning won’t come across and it won’t be memorable. 

2. Make sure it’s versatile 

When you’re designing your logo, you need to make sure it’s versatile and can be used on different platforms. This is essential in the digital age, as consumers will be accessing your business through a range of devices and methods. 

Always ensure that it can be viewed on desktop and mobile, and is suitable for your social media pages, print, and apps. It also needs to work on different backgrounds and be flexible in terms of size. 

3. Use a logo making tool 


When you’re ready to start building your logo, there are lots of tools available online. Many of these are free or very affordable, and can help you design an awesome logo for your small business. Some examples of tools you can use are Logo Creator, Canva, and Wix

7 Things About Running a Small Business That No One Talks About

Do you dream of running your own business? For many people, having the freedom to pursue their passion and work on their own terms is an important ambition. Being able to build wealth for yourself, not someone else, and follow your own interests sounds amazing. 

But, the reality can often be different. Starting a business has lots of rewards, but also comes with its own challenges. In fact, 22.5% of small businesses fail within the first year. To help you avoid this, here are 7 things no one tells you about running a small business. Click on the plus sign below to continue reading.

1. Business networking is so important 

Running a small business can be isolating, and it’s very important to build a strong support network. Business networking can help you find mentors and get valuable wisdom, insights, and honest feedback from other business owners. 

Networking with others in your industry can also help you find new clients and contacts. This is one of the best ways to boost business growth and get your idea off the ground. 

2. You need to be very adaptable 

Even with careful planning and a clear strategy in place, launching and running a business rarely runs smoothly. There’s no set path to follow, and things can change really fast. 

Because of this, it’s important to be adaptable, willing to adjust your plans, and to be prepared for a variety of unexpected situations to happen. You may need to change direction at any point with very little notice, and this is something you must be ready for. 

3. It’s long hours and hard work 

If you’re starting a business to avoid the 9-5, you might not realise that running a company actually means working very long hours – often, it’s much more than a regular job. 

Although in the long-term it can be very rewarding, both in terms of increased personal freedom and having more opportunities to grow wealth, it’s important to be prepared to work hard, especially in the beginning. 

4. You need a lot of self discipline 

Being a business owner requires a great deal of self-discipline – this is something lots of entrepreneurs are not expecting! It can take a while to get results, and this means working consistently for long periods without seeing immediate results. 

To help you get started, make sure you have a good routine in place, know your long-term goals, and stick to your plan, even if you don’t feel like you’re making progress straight away. 

5. Outsourcing costs can build up fast 

Another thing people don’t realise when starting a business is how quickly costs can accumulate. Outsourcing work is common for new business owners, especially if they have a heavy workload, don’t have strong expertise in some areas, or have types of work they don’t want to do. 

These costs can build up quickly. And, although it’s important to get professionals to help with more complex tasks, there are lots of things that aren’t as hard as they seem, and you can actually do yourself to save money. 

For example, you might choose to design your own website using SquareSpace or a similar service. Or, you could do your own design work using Canva or create your own logo using a tool like LogoCreator. This isn’t as time consuming as you might think, and can save you a fortune. 

6. You need to reinvest profits

You might be looking forward to having extra cash after starting a business venture. However, most business owners find they need to reinvest their profits for a while after launching a new business

Most of the time, you need to spend money to make money! If you want your business to grow in the long-term, reinvesting your profits is essential. So, make sure you amend your income expectations and prepare for lower income accordingly. 

7. You don’t need to quit your job straight away 

Lastly, when you start a business, you don’t need to quit your job straight away. Taking a big leap of faith isn’t for everyone, but you can still start your business alongside your job and quit later if it’s a success. 

By building income gradually, you still get the security of your 9-5 job whilst working towards a bigger dream. Although this means working longer hours, many people feel it’s worth it. 

 

An Entrepreneurs Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is the basis of digital marketing. Where do people turn to first when looking for something? They use their PC or mobile phone and reach out to search engines.

The best way to put you at the forefront of the search engine results is to create an optimized SEO strategy and website that keeps visitors and the search engine in mind.

Yet, focusing on keywords in 2021 is so cliché. So how do you meet your content marketing goals? Here we look at an entrepreneur’s guide to SEO.

What is an SEO strategy?

When it comes to content marketing, your SEO strategy plays a crucial part, as it is how the content displays on the first page on the SERPs (search engine result pages.) When you see the content unorganized and scattered, the search bots find it hard to index, identify and range your site pages.

Mobile SEO is another factor to keep in mind when creating your strategy. The reason, as most people use their phones and need to have an excellent overall experience using your site. These days Google concentrates on mobile-first indexing.

So what does this mean? It means that the Google algorithm crawls the mobile version and not your desktop site first to index and rank pages. Therefore, your desktop and mobile version needs to have a responsive design, page speed, and high-quality local SEO content. So how do you achieve this? You do it with the following SEO strategy.

#1 Build a Successful Brand

No matter what venture you start, it all begins with a credible brand. With a strong brand, you create instant recognition for customers to identify you, and it all starts with a logo. Therefore, the best opportunity to set the correct tone building trust with clients is to use a logo maker application to help build the best logo available.

You want your logo to wow people. So when creating your logo, it needs to be flexible, scalable, and memorable. Along with a logo, you want to create a powerful brand so users trust your website and the content you post. There are other free branding tools available like BusinessCards.co to make your own promotional cards. 

#2 Make a List of Topics Your Content Wants to Address

Now that you have a brand that is sure to wow your visitors, the next is to compile a list of about ten terms or words associated with your service. Then, you can use an SEO tool like Google’s Keyword Tool to research those words. Doing this helps with finding popular short-tail keywords but not dedicating them to only individual blog posts.

For example, you have a swimming pool business and want to rank your “fiberglass pools.” While this term ranks high, you need to identify other related keywords to include. These can range from “fiberglass pool cost,” “fiberglass pool prices,” and more.

Then you need to make a list of long-tail keywords using the same tool to dig a bit deeper into your original keyword. When you have this list, you can use it in your blog posts or on your web pages, creating a cluster around your topic.

#3 Create Pages for Each of Your Topics

Now use your long-tail keywords to create high-level topics you found. Create pillar pages that act as a table of contents. These include a description of your main topic to brief visitors on the subtopics you will elaborate on in your posts.

These topics should coincide with what your business offers to make it easier for clients to find you on search engines. You can use these long-tail keywords in your blog posts as they rank high and allow your visitors to engage with your business. 

The important thing with your blog posts is:

  1.   Not to use your long-tail keywords more than four times as it can lead to keyword stuffing penalizing you.
  2.   Remember to link out to your pillar page created for all your topics using tags in the content management system or an introductory anchor text in the article.
  3.   After publishing your blog post, link it within the main pillar page supporting your subtopic, allowing Google to know there is a relationship between your long-tail keyword and the main topic to rank.
  4.   Also, create a consistent blog post at least once a week and best to study your target market, writing about things that interest them.

#4 Lastly, Create Backlinks

As important as the first steps mentioned, it helps to do link building to attract backlinks to your site from other available sources. You can do this by linking to authority sites to make an impact on your rankings. Most importantly, after doing this, you still need to:

  •         Optimize your content monthly by updating your old posts with new up-to-date information
  •         Always look for changing keywords and track how your post ranks with those keywords
6 Free Design Tools for Impressive Visual Content

Design can be extremely impactful. Visuals have the ability to express brand voice and build trust with your audience. Everything from a professional logo, attractive website, or an engaging presentation comes from intentional design. Studies have shown that it only takes .05 seconds for a website to make a lasting impression. Which is why it’s so important that the right impression is made. Click on the plus sign below to continue reading.

So, you know you need strong visual representation, but you aren’t a professional graphic designer? The beauty of the world we live in, is that it’s one full of free online resources. No need to break the bank on expensive software or hiring a graphic designer to make your business stand out.  Even if you don’t have a knack for creativity, these free tools are here to make your life easier.

 

For your website

 

Your website is basically your virtual business card. It’s usually one of the first impressions given to your prospects. Which is why it’s so important to have a quality, professional looking website. 

 

Website design tools can take time to learn how to navigate. It can get a little frustrating if you have to spend extensive time learning a tool’s ins and outs before you can even use it. Which is why I’ll always be thankful for Wix. This tool has endless possibilities for creating your unique, personalized website. Using Wix is uncomplicated, even if you’re not a super tech-savvy person.  Templates are available to work off of and you can upload and store your images for use.  There is even a blog creator tool, so you can effortlessly organize articles on your site. With so many features for free, Wix is an excellent tool for creating an elegant website. 

 

For Your Logo

 

Creating a logo is a very exciting step to becoming a business owner. It’s the image that most people will probably think of when your business comes to mind. If you need some inspiration, templates can help give you a starting point to work off of. Or maybe you know exactly what you want and just need the tools to create it. 

 

If you’re wanting an uncomplicated, straight forward tool for designing your logo, a great option is Logo Creator. It provides you with color options, shapes, frames and templates. And the cool thing is that you can upload any icon of your liking to use in your logo. You can have your unique, personalized logo finished in minutes with this easy to use tool. 

 

For Icons

 

Icons and vector art are commonly used in logos or other promotional purposes. There are plenty of pre-designed icons and images which you can find online for free. With the largest database of free vector icons, you’re sure to find the perfect image from Flaticon. Simply type in a key word to describe what you’re looking for, and Flaticon will present you with several options to browse through. 

 

For Color Coordination

 

Some of us are gifted with an eye for color, and some of us- well… not so much. Color has a very important role in affecting the emotional side of the brain. If the colors in a website, for example, don’t flow it can be difficult for the visitor to process the website’s information. Finding a collaborative set of colors to incorporate throughout your visual presentations will be more likely to keep your audience’s attention. 

 

A very helpful and slightly addictive tool for all things color related, is Coolors. This free to use color generator will help you come up with a palette to fit your brand. There are several options to help you come up with just the right hues. You can simply browse popular or pre-created palettes. Alternatively, you can select your own colors to mix and match. Even if you’d like to replicate colors from an already existing image, there is a color matching tool to pick up the hues and give you digital swatches of them to use. 

 

For Multiple Purposes

 

If you’re looking for a multi-use software for all of your graphic design needs, you might feel intimidated by the costs or skills required for such a tool. Which is why millions of people have been turning to Canva for creating professional looking designs. Whatever your design needs are- business cards, book covers, gift certificates etc.- Canva’s got your back! The free version which includes 8,000 free template options, 1GB storage for uploading photos and 2 folders for organizing your projects.  

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