Thursday, July 2, 2015

4th of July: What's Happening in Your Town


It's one of the most anticipated holidays on the calendar -- one that for many signifies the official start of Summer -- the 4th of July! 

Check out the festivities taking place in and around your community over the weekend.



4th of July Events
Much of New England will continue to celebrate all month long

Our Marketing and Communications team curated a patriotic playlistJust press play for your soundtrack! 



Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

-- Amy, Cate, Jaime, Lisa, Paula, Rachel, Steph and Taylor







Networking for your New Business

Starting and growing a new business can be daunting. It's important to have a strong network you can rely on for help. Building a network can lead to more success down the road, so it is essential that you understand why it's important and how to accomplish this.
Networking brings your business to the forefront of the competition and helps secure potential clients. The more people you meet, the more chances you have to educate them about your business. New customers can learn what you do and what makes your business unique. Existing customers can learn about new products and services, and why they should stick with you and ultimately recommend you to friends. People will be more likely to select your business, if they feel they know you, or have received a recommendation from someone they trust.
Now that you understand why it is important to grow your network, here are a few ways to accomplish this goal:

Be Present Online – Have a strong social media presence on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Google+. Writing blogs can also be a great way to get your mission across. You can get to know other companies in your field by following their posts. The more you know about your community and competition, the better you will be at anticipating needs.
Attend Events - Plan to regularly attend networking events both in and out of your field. You never know where or when you may meet a potential investor, colleague, or future client. Meet-ups like happy hours, workshops and conferences are great ways to speak casually about your business and make connections with interested parties.
Be Organized – People don’t have a lot of time on their hands, so make sure you know exactly what you want your message to be and how you will stand out from the competition. What makes you different and why should a client pick you over someone else? It is also important to know your audience. Someone may be more interested in one aspect of your business over another. Figure these answers out ahead of time so you are ready to network when the opportunity comes.

When in Doubt, Don't Be the Shark - No one likes being on the other end of an aggressive interaction. Whether networking in person or online, there's etiquette worth considering. Most often, networking translates to making a first impression and bad ones can turn into deal breakers down the road. Make an effort to approach people how you'd like to be approached. When face-to-face, try to actively and considerately listen, rather than simply waiting for an opportunity to pitch your message. In an online environment, like LinkedIn, be confident and passionate about your business but genuine. People can sense inauthenticity even from behind a computer. Definitely be creative and most importantly, have patience. Remember, you're in the majority -- the individuals you connect with are most likely in the same boat for their endeavor. If you don't put them on the defense or leave them feeling uncomfortable, you've avoided that shark mentality.

Are you a new business on the rise and less than a year old? The New Business Sponsor Program introduces you to a community of trustworthy businesses.
For more information you can trust, visit us a bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Written by: Adam Koncius, Koncius Digital Marketing

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Internet Safety: How You Can Protect Your Small Business From Internet Crimes


Small businesses are becoming more frequently targeted in Internet based crimes by hackers who are increasingly sophisticated and threats that are more widespread. It’s easy for criminals to hack a small business's computer system, if it has a weak defense. Putting an Internet security plan in place will help lessen your risk and prevent criminals from accessing sensitive information like banking numbers, email accounts, customer information, financial records, etc.   
We’ve compiled a few tips and resources to help you establish cybersecurity precautions for your small business.
  • Train your employees.
    • Set clear expectations and rules regarding what can and cannot be installed or downloaded on work computers.
    • Make sure employees are backing up their work regularly.
    • Facilitate password changes on a regular basis and make sure employees know what constitutes a secure password.
    • Employees should be able to recognize suspicious links and emails and know not to open them.
  • Assess your computer network and formulate a cybersecurity plan. The FCC offers a Small Biz Cyber Planner that helps businesses discover and protect themselves from “growing cyber threats.”
    • Encrypt any confidential information.
    • Update your security software regularly. Bugs, viruses and malware are ever evolving. In order for your computer to remain secure, you need to stay up to date with security software.
  • Protect your customers by having and following a privacy policy. If you use the Internet to communicate with customers and collect their information, you could be putting them at risk. The FCC offers some best practices which can help your small business safeguard clients from online risks.
    • Keep any data retention to a minimum. Unless you need the information to deliver the product, don’t ask for it. The less sensitive information you have, the less risk to your business and to customers.
    • Talk to your customers and make sure they understand what information you need and why. If you keep track of purchase history to help make product recommendations, explain this. Additionally, try to make policies as simple and clear as possible. Oftentimes consumers skim through the fine print. Break it down into pieces of information that will be easily digested.

For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Reputation Management for New Businesses

Whether you are a large corporation or a small business of one, managing your reputation should be high on your priority list.  Online reviews, word of mouth and customer opinions can make or break your company. It's important to know what is being said about you and what to do in case a problem arises.  Here are a few tips for managing your reputation.

Act Quickly – Set up Google Alerts about your company and do periodic searches for customer feedback to keep tabs on both praise and criticism.  Don’t just ignore the bad reviews or negative comments, address them quickly and professionally.  Customers want to be heard. If they know you are listening –  and more importantly doing something to address their concerns –  you may keep that business you almost lost.

Recognize the Positive - Let consumers know that you hear and value their praise. Consider featuring positive feedback and/or testimonials on your website to publicly show appreciation for happy customers. Highlighting the relationship shows gratitude while at the same time, builds credibility in your community and with prospective clients.

Take it Offline – Keep an eye on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and your own website.  If you hear negative comments being made through a social media site, address them privately, if possible.  Email or call the customer to address their concerns and see what you can do to make things better.  They will appreciate the personal touch and you will save yourself from getting into a potential online battle.

Follow Up – Once a concern has been addressed, make sure to follow up with the customer to ensure they are still happy.  This could involve a simple phone call or email, or perhaps offer a coupon or discount on services.  This will confirm you are continuously working to please your clients and that you do not forget about them even when things are going well.

Take the High Road – Remember you cannot please everyone all the time. Address an unhappy customer's concerns and attempt to fix the problem to their satisfaction. If they are still not pleased, offer an apology, remain polite and professional and do your best to leave the situation in a positive light.

Are you a rising new business less than a year old? Becoming part of the New Business Sponsor Program will help you build and maintain a strong reputation.

For more information you can trust, visit us a bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Written by: Adam Koncius, Koncius Digital Marketing

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How To Write A Professional Email

Email can be an effective tool in business. It allows for efficient communication with customers, co-workers and colleagues in your industry as it does not require both the sender and receiver to be available simultaneously. However, email is often considered informal which can present some difficulty when trying to compose a professional message.
Before drafting an email it's important to consider the following:
  • Do you know the recipient? If you do, are you asking for a favor? Or an introduction?  
  • If it’s a new professional acquaintance, reference where you met and/or a mutual connection to establish rapport. If it’s an intro you seek, include a snapshot of your company and your responsibilities or communicate via a social site with an internal email [InMail] program like LinkedIn to streamline the pursuit.
  • Making a pitch? If yes, get to know your audience. Being familiar with more than just the recipient’s job title is essential for a well-crafted email pitch. Just ask HubSpot.


Often, things like tone can get lost in translation in an email. Approaching your message with the following tips in mind can help avoid miscommunication:
  1. Create an eye-catching subject line. It should be succinct and to the point.
  2. Time is money. Be brief! You don't want to lose the recipient the moment they open your message. Assume your recipient has a high volume of emails. In the interest of time, they may skim your message, resulting in missed details.
  3. Address the person directly and be personable. For example: "Hi Jenn, I hope all is well!" or "Good morning, Jenn!" both address the recipient and exude a tone that will be well received.
  4. Speaking of tone. Be sensitive. Are you offering criticism or feedback? Perhaps it would be best addressed in person. Are you worried your email is so concise that it's reading as rude? Close your email with a positive comment or sincere compliment to offset any misconstrued sharpness.
  5. Don't include anything you wouldn't want to see as a headline. In today's world, anything you write is just one click away from the wrong hands. Keep this in mind before hitting "send."
  6. Watch out for grammar and spelling mistakes. Using shorthand in an email is one thing, but making a grammatical or spelling error can hurt the recipient's interpretation of the message and perception of you as a professional. Proofread your message and then proofread it, again.
  7. Be wary of elaborate signatures. When signing off in an email keep things simple. Relying on a corporate logo can be dangerous as they do not always load correctly. Test your signature before you send your message or stick to the basics: your name, title, business and phone number.


Send your next email as an Accredited Business! Learn more about being part of a community of trustworthy businesses.


For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Importance of Knowing your Competition

It’s a competitive world and nowadays there are more options than ever for consumers.  As a small business owner it is important to know who you are up against and what you can do to stay competitive in the market.  The best way to accomplish this is to know who your competition is and what they are doing.  Here are a few tips on how to stay in the know.

Use the Internet – Set up Google alerts and search for keywords that relate to your industry – or specific competitors  as well as your own company.  You will be kept informed anytime someone pops up in the news.  Also, use social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to see what customers and the general public are saying.  

Look within the Business – Check out the competition's website to see how they are marketing themselves.  Research who they have on staff and if they are hiring for any new positions. This will tell you how big the company is and what resources they have to run their business.  If they are hiring, you can examine the request and see who they are looking to bring on and for what purpose.  This also allows you to see what benefits and salaries they are offering so you can stay competitive.  

Ask your Clients – One of your best resources for learning about your competition is your customers.  Talk to them about who they have worked with in the past and what they liked and disliked about them, as well as what they are looking for in your business. Likewise, do this if you happen to lose a customer.  You want to know why they may choose to look elsewhere – better pricing, friendlier service, etc – and improve for next time.

Are you a rising new business less than a year old? Becoming part of the New Business Sponsor Program will provide you with the tools you need to keep a leg up on the competition. 

For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Written by: Adam Koncius, Koncius Digital Marketing

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Get Your New Business Off The Ground

Most successful businesses are not overnight successes. This knowledge can make starting a new business seem daunting since you are venturing into unknown territory. The risk of defeat is very real but it’s also important to remember that many success stories are born from failure. Staying motivated and organized could mean the difference between your small business making it and falling apart.

As Jeremy Bloom -- author of ‘Fueled by Failure: Dare to Fail. Dare to Succeed.’ and co-founder/CEO of Integrate -- expressed in Entrepreneur:

Don’t be afraid to aim high. Google wasn’t built in a day, and you won't reach your primary goal in a short time, either”. 

When getting your new business off the ground, there are a few things you can do to ease the stress during this process.

First. Have a mentor. An adviser can provide invaluable insight and constructive pointers. Having someone with pertinent experience -- to act as a sounding board and help you discover which questions you should be asking -- is a great resource to have when building your business. You can find people within your own personal network as well as within your extended professional network. Is there a person outside your network whose work has impressed you? Utilize social media. If you notice this professional replies to direct tweets, try reaching out! Twitter is an easy way to catch the eye of even the busiest of entrepreneurs.

Second. Make a plan. Putting a plan in place is one of your tickets to success. Your idea could be fail-proof, but without a strategy this won’t matter. You should understand what makes you different from competitors, who your target audience is, and how you plan to reach those customers. Additionally, identifying long and short term goals are a great way to stay on track and will leave you feeling accomplished as you cross things off your list.

Third. Define individual objectives. If you aren’t pioneering this business endeavor entirely alone, identify the role of each person involved. Once roles are established make sure there is a clear understanding of expectations. You can hold your employees and yourself accountable by writing out tasks on a team white board and checking things off as you go along.

If you are a rising business less than a year old, consider becoming a part of BBB’s New Business Sponsor Program. This program offers you necessary tools and knowledge needed for nurturing your new business.

For more information you can trust, visit us a bbb.org/boston, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.