• Secrets from the Scalerator: Are You Targeting the Right Customer?

    The final installment in a 4-part series about businesses that met the AmEx OPEN Scalerator challenge to grow their revenues 15 percent in three months.

    Able Access Transportation

    Do you really know who your customer is? By reevaluating the target of her sales pitch, Annette Tipton has put her company on track for a year of record-breaking revenues.

    Tipton is co-owner with her husband of Able Access Transportation, a paratransit service they established in 2001 in Milwaukee, Wis., that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She was one of 12 participants last fall in AmEx OPEN’s pilot Scalerator training program, which helps existing businesses develop strategies for growth.

    To be sure, Tipton was in a growth mode before the course started. Thanks to upgrading her fleet, moving into a remodeled building in a more central location, installing a new telephone system, fully integrating the software system, enabling all vehicles with GPS, and outfitting drivers with sharp uniforms to update the brand identity, Able

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  • This Couple Swam Away from the Shark Tank with $200,000

    By the time Noam and Irene Krasniansky’s Shark Tank pitch aired on ABC on Friday, February 28th, their reusable paper-towel product, Bambooee, was already available in northern California Costco stores, several Whole Foods stores, and thousands of natural food shops nationwide. It had won an innovation award at the 2012 International Home & Housewares Show, and was featured on Good Morning America, where three out of three mom testers approved.

    Bambooee, which the Krasnianskys call "the un-paper towel," brought in revenues of $122,000 last year. They expect triple those sales this year. But help from the Sharks, they say, could help “take Bambooee to the next level.” Noam tells Yahoo! Small Business that he and his wife auditioned with 50,000 other entrepreneurs for a spot on Shark Tank because: “We’re not a large corporation with a lot of money, connections, and wherewithal for distribution. This is an innovative idea and we wanted it to grow quickly, so we needed the right partner

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  • Launching the Yahoo Small Business Incubator Series


    We are very excited to announce that next week we are starting our Yahoo Small Business Advisor Incubator program. This is a 3-month long program of content, advice and support for anyone actively starting out with their own small business. It can actually be started at any point but is designed to be paced about right for a 3-month progression from business idea to achieving your first sales.

    There are three main parts to the program.

    1: A set of excellent content from Yahoo Small Business Advisor and its partners covering the theme for the week and providing the background and practical advice you need. This will include practical worksheets, forms, spreadsheets and any other materials we can provide to be helpful.

    2: A group forum where those actively taking part can ask questions and get support from each other and from Yahoo Small Business Advisor editors, writers and partners.

    3: A biweekly live chat or Q&A where participants can get help with understanding how to confront and

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  • 6 Signs Your Leadership Skills Could Use Some Work

    Profits have dropped, productivity has slowed, and your business has felt like it’s been on a roller coaster for years. Before you blame the economy, you might want to take a look in the mirror. Those conditions could be clues that your organization is lacking strong leadership, according to management consultant and trainer Ed Eppley.

    Eppley is a leading expert in professional management, sales strategy, and performance management. His clients include a "Who’s Who" of business category leaders that include BMW, STERIS, Sara Lee, Speedway, Steamboat Ski & Resort Company, Emerson Electric, Safelite Auto Glass, and others. As an instructor of the Course for Presidents at Aileron in Tipp City, Ohio, Eppley also helps owners of private businesses apply a system of professional management to identify and correct workplace problems.

    With 30 years in the business, Eppley has honed a skill for spotting problematic management. In advance of his forthcoming book that teaches his preferred system

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  • Appreciation

    For many of us, feeling a sense of belonging in the places we work, homes, and with the people we love and care about is satisfying. We work hard to make sure that what we do counts, and that we are able to support ourselves. But more to our need to survive and make every moment count is an even deeper, psychological need: the need to be appreciated.

    Appreciation is such an important factor in our lives and workplaces that organizational researchers find without appreciation, productivity in the workplace decreases, and employee morale is greatly affected. Closer to home, not being appreciated by the people you share a home with can be discouraging, and can sometimes lead to hostile home environments.

    Many agree that communicating appreciation is important. Then, why don’t we practice it more? As individuals, we lack practice in our appreciation skills. It costs you little to show appreciation on a consistent basis, and the rewards will far exceed your expectations.

    The 5 Languages of

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  • Secrets from the Scalerator: Focus on Established Revenue Sources

    Part 3 in a 4-part series about businesses that met the AmEx OPEN Scalerator challenge to grow their revenues 15 percent in three months.


    Bill Reilly says what he learned in atwo-month intense sales- and growth-focused training workshop last fall was “not rocket science,” but it enabled him to grow his revenues by 15 percent in a matter of weeks and invest in new equipment that is already contributing to his bottom line. Now he’s scouting for a bigger location and planning a 25 percent headcount increase.

    Reilly is co-owner of Hands-on Garage, afull service automotive maintenance business that also provides mechanic bays, tools, and professional guidance for customers who want to work on their own cars. He was among 12 Milwaukee-area business owners who were selected to participate in the American Express OPEN pilot Scalerator program last September.

    At the end of the training, participants were challenged to devise a strategy for exceeding their first quarter 2014 revenue plan by 15

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  • Trolls

    When you start your entrepreneurial journey, you will inevitably have visions of what your success will look and feel like. Perhaps you picture yourself on a boat, drinking champagne? Or maybe you see yourself winning a Nobel Prize for making major change in the world? Whatever the dream and vision, I’m sure it doesn’t include being attacked online and being hounded by strangers.

    Unfortunately, in the world we live in, this is a possible reality. I wanted to write this piece to warn you, but also support you and give you tips on how to handle your success haters; also known as internet trolls. You see, you don’t have to be Richard Branson to be considered worthy of trolling. In fact, at the age of just 24, I already have a troll crew that follow me from blog to blog, success to success, shouting negative, untrue abuse.

    So why do we attract trolls in the first place?

    That’s easy - for sticking our heads above the parapet! By our very nature of being entrepreneurial we want to stand

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  • Storytelling

    This is a guest post by Shane Snow, chief content officer at Contently, a New York company that connects freelance journalists with corporate assignments. The article first appeared on the Content Strategist blog.

    In 2012, a pale woman with crazy eyebrows and a keytar strapped to her back made a video of herself, wearing a kimono and holding up hand-Sharpied signs on a street in Melbourne. One by one, the signs flipped, explaining that the woman had spent the last 4 years writing songs. She was a musician, and had parted ways with her record label, which had said the cost of her next album would be a whopping $500,000. She and her band mates were very happy to no longer be with the label, and had worked hard to create some great new music and art. But they couldn’t finish producing the record on their own. She needed people’s help to get it off the ground and to make what was now her business — independent music — work.

    “This is the future of music,” one of her signs read. Another, “I

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  • Secrets from the Scalerator: Incentivizing Crossover Sales

    Part 2 in a 4-part series about businesses that met the AmEx OPEN Scalerator challenge to grow their revenues 15 percent in three months.

    When ScaleUp Milwaukee brought the American Express OPEN Scalerator program to town last fall, Tom Dougherty, owner of Advanced Chemical Systems, was among 12 area business owners and managers who were accepted to enroll to learn how to scale up. Less than four months after completing the intensive two-month workshop, Dougherty has already translated what he learned into impressive results at his 12-person business. He attributes the sale of a $100,000 contract in November, as well as a 16 percent spike in his chemical sales since then, to the growth plan the Scalerator helped him conceive.

    “Every small business is trying to grow,” Dougherty says. “What prompted me to join the Scalerator were the specifics the leaders asked about my business during the interview. The professor did enough homework on us that it was like getting a personalized

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  • Secrets from the Scalerator: How Three Businesses Scaled Up Fast

    Leaders in Milwaukee began an initiative last year to spur economic growth by helping businesses in the region learn how to scale up. The payoffs are already coming and other metro regions ripe for revival are taking note.

    Yahoo Small Business reported here last year about the Rust Belt city’s “entrepreneurship ecosystem project” called Scale Up Milwaukee. Led by Babson College entrepreneurship professor Daniel Isenberg, the program has support from the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as well as funding from AmericanExpress OPEN for Enterprise: Coalitions for High-Growth Entrepreneurship. The AmEx program aims to foster high-growth entrepreneurship by giving select communities, starting with Milwaukee, the right resources and tools for a better entrepreneurial environment.

    Among the resources AmEx OPEN brought to Milwaukee last autumn was the Scalerator—a two-month series of two-day workshops

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