Small Business Owner Becomes Government Contractor

Six years ago Jacki Simoni juggled a flashlight, dog leash, poop bags, and animal repellant before her nightly walk and thought to herself, “There has to be an easier way to do this.” So Jacki set out to rectify the problem and ended up inventing the
PupLight, a light that attaches to the collar of dogs and makes it possible for the dogs to see in the dark.

Jacki has sold quite a few units at 150,000. Her biggest retailer is Petco. Jacki also sells through Amazon.com. While these figures aren’t bad for something she invented for herself, Jacki always thought that her product would sell a little better. Recently, her luck has started to change. Jacki’s product got picked up by the Secret Service to be used on their dogs. Even better, a few weeks back Jacki signed a contract with the General Service Administration, or GSA, worth $125,000 and making Jacki able to offer her product to over 1,000 different government departments.

“The process that Jacki had to go through is thorough and substantial. The federal government evaluates the product offering and then negotiates for best pricing from the company,” said Rita Haake, program manager of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of DuPage in Illinois, who helped Simoni with her GSA application.

All Jacki has to do is contact government agencies that use dogs and see if they are interested in her product, and then they negotiate for a price they can both agree on. Considering that the PupLight was originally for herself and her two golden retrievers, Jacki Simoni has created a product that can potentially help service dogs, drug dogs, and cadaver dogs do their job to the best of their ability.

Jacki had to do a lot of research for her product to make it work for all dog breeds. Poodles had different necks than dachshunds, and those dogs were infinitely different from something like a Saint Bernard. After 15 prototypes, Jacki had a product she was happy with and made her canine customers happy as well. The PupLight gets rave reviews from its users, and the Petco gave it four out of four stars. Jacki built her small business from the ground up and is now the hero for many government officials, especially those with four legs.

5 Ways To Stay Motivated At Work

Running a small business can be a daunting task for anyone. The pressure to be in complete control and keep a little business above water can wear anyone down. Subsequently, stressed out, overwhelmed workers and bosses can make for an incredibly unpleasant environment for employees and customers alike. With the holidays quickly approaching it is even more important to keep cool under pressure. Here are five tips that anyone from the business owner to the janitor can use to relax a little and enjoy their job.

Break Down Goals Into Smaller Steps
Goals can be hard to achieve, whether it be a goal for the end of the day, week, or year. The knowledge that something must be done at a certain time can drive a person crazy, so naturally a goal that must be completed can cause mass amounts of stress. The best way to complete a goal in a timely manner is to break it down into manageable chunks. It is a bad idea to try and complete something all at once. By breaking down a goal into steps there is time to reflect on the work and make sure everything is well thought out. Keep the steps small and easy to accomplish in the given time frame, but at the same time big enough so that progress is made every day.

Set Public Expectation
The biggest motivator for almost every worker is not falling behind in the eyes of their peers. By making public what you plan to have accomplished, you not only have the pressure of letting yourself down, there is the added facet of disappointing your coworkers. Public pressure can be an incredible motivator because everyone loves praise and dreads criticism. The possibility of seeming less productive than people in the same position can create a drive that was not there previously, and sometimes a little push is all that is needed.

Find Support
Some aspects of a small business can be more overwhelming than others. If your job is to send invoices to other employees, then it is unlikely there is a need for tons of positive support. On the other hand, if the business belongs to you and it is your responsibility to keep it productive, then it is a terrible idea to go it alone. While not necessarily asking other people to help directly in your job, it is always good to have family and friends that support what you do. Let people know when you need help and don’t bury yourself with things that are impossible to handle alone. Find support in coworkers, family, and friends. Sometimes an extra set of hands can make all the difference.

Get Away For Awhile
Jobs can be suffocating at times, and it is important to take advantage of little breaks from the workday. Avoid having lunch in the same place as where you work. Don’t simply microwave a Hot Pocket at your computer. A new surrounding can lighten the most foul mood. Eat something healthy and enjoyable on your break and stretch your legs whenever possible. Don’t overload on caffeine or press too hard throughout the day, or you could become burned out much too quickly. By changing it up throughout the day and making the most of the time away that you have, you can stay productive even at the worst times.

Remain Positive At All Costs
This is probably the toughest tip of all. When things get really ugly, it is almost impossible to keep a positive outlook, but it is essential. When things pile up and begin to weigh on you, you may begin to feel unmotivated and get less done than ever before. To keep positive don’t dwell on work outside of work and think of all the good things your business has given you. Keep in the forefront of your mind exactly what made you fall in love with this business in the first place and continuously think of what you want this business to become. Other people will follow your example, and eventually things will again become good.

With these steps and many others it is possible to keep motivated in your work space, at least most of the time. Don’t be critical of yourself if you drag some days, just focus on how you will do better tomorrow. Before you know it, you will have a routine based on positive motivation and when you have it down to a science, you can share your personal method with everyone around you.

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What To Give So You Can Recieve


It is almost that time again. Holiday season will soon be upon us. With that being said, this is the time where many businesses can make the most money of the whole year. To be a successful business during the holidays it is essential to get into the holiday spirit. Decorations and good cheer can only go so far to bring the clientele in, so in order to make your business stand out, the best way is to give away before selling. Now I know product is not cheap, so free samples may sound counter intuitive, when in fact they can be the exact opposite. Here are three ways to turn giving a tiny bit into receiving major profit.

Make it small but useful.

Everyone has been to the store has eaten a free cracker with a touch of fantastic topping, and sometimes you get hooked, landing a jar of some sort of jelly in your grocery cart. The store probably will go through two jars a day max of the spread but sell fifty in the process. A good product will sell, but the consumer has to know that the product exists and how it works. If your business is food-based, then sampling is easy. Cut up one yummy piece of food and offer it to the masses. What about other types of businesses? Take the smallest possible bit of the product that can stand alone and offer it either free or free with purchase. Trying to sell a computer? A free 2 gig flash drive could do the trick. Selling clothes? The perfect necklace to go with the perfect Christmas sweater. Customers love to feel like they’re getting a deal. The more expensive the product you want to sell is, the more fun and useful your freebie has to be.

Be clever.

While everyone has had the delicious free food experience, a lot of us have also had the tiny, completely useless sample experience. As a woman, I am familiar with tiny pointless pieces of plastic that are supposed to smell like a certain perfume. What do I smell instead of seduction and raindrops? I smell plastic. Even if I get a whiff of the fragrance, it’s not as if I could wear it for a few hours and have it on my wrist to remember later. Recently I went into an expensive lingerie store that was offering perfume samples in an incredibly clever way. There was a sample bottle of the perfume and next to it a bowl of long, black ribbons to be spritzed and tied around the wrist like a bracelet. In a store famous for silk and lace a small black ribbon fit perfectly with the atmosphere and lent the wearers a chic accessory that conveniently smelled of a certain fragrance. Guess what? Later that day I returned and bought a bottle. This is a perfect example of clever advertising that lures the customer in with something free but also serves as a reminder for the store itself even if the customer doesn’t buy the intended product. A tangible item is much more effective at getting your point across than an ad in the paper.

Put your best foot forward.

It is easy to set out a tray of stickers that were ripped out of a children’s coloring book and call it a free sample, but this will get you nowhere. Sampling is your time to shine. When you pass something tiny into a customer’s hand, you don’t want it shoved into a pocket. Make your freebie something that connects with your store and displays its absolute best in the smallest, most inexpensive package. One of the best ways to stick in a customer’s memory is to make your freebie wearable. A small plastic bracelet will have to be slipped on but at the end of the day at home will also have to be taken off again, therefore reminding the customer of where the bracelet came from. Same goes for things like t-shirts and other types of things that can be worn. The whole point of giving something away is to remind the consumer at least one more time of your store or product. Don’t give away gaudy bumper stickers or something that is clearly just an advertisement. Small things that can be used more than once can jog the memory of a customer and bring the bigger memory of the store or product to the forefront of their mind.

They say that the best things in life are free, but usually that isn’t true. Because every little thing has a cost, the ability to gain something free of charge is exhilarating for most people. By offering tiny reminders of your business to consumers, it is possible to receive tenfold the cost of whatever little thing you gave away. So this holiday season try to give just a bit before you focus solely on receiving.


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Going Green, Without Going Broke


The signs are everywhere; green is the new gold. A Prius on every corner, an energy saving bulb in every streetlight. The world is truly changing for the better as people become more and more conscience about their mother earth. As a society we are trying to make the healthiest choices for our plant. We recycle, we reuse, we compost, among many other things, but as a small business owner is it really possible to uphold a green image without going broke? Luckily, the answer is yes. While the prices of hybrid cars might make someone clutch their wallet in fear, a few simple steps can be taken to guarantee that your business will be environmentally friendly, therefore still attracting the nature-conscious crowds, without spending all of your own hard earned money.

Open the window, or light a fire

It may blazing outside, or maybe your toes have gone numb from the cold, but the answer is not to crank up the air or the heat, but instead to utilize a more natural source of temperature control. Open a window and let the breeze blow in, and add a little atmosphere at the same time by hanging a windchime by the open window. Indoor air is oftentimes more polluted than the air outside! Of course there is the chance that the business is in a smoggy, stinky area. In that case there are other alternatives to chill out. A great way to cool off and save energy is to use a ceiling fan. A normal fan will use only as much energy as a 60-watt light bulb, and this averages out to be 98 percent more efficient than an air conditioner. In the winter the problem changes, and you need to keep your customers warm and toasty. The first step is to make sure that the building is well insulated, this is crucial to cut down on your energy bills. Make certain that all windows and doors are sealed, and that there are no places that the frigid air can sneak in. If you really want to cut down the costs, invest in a wood furnace. Oftentimes they cost less than a used car, and can cut your energy costs down to nearly nothing. There are plenty of companies that offer wood burning furnaces as alternatives to gas. Boot up the computer and do a search, the answers are everywhere.

Save a tree, save a dollar

While trees are a renewable resource, the human population clear cuts forests so fast that the trees have no time to recover. There are hundreds of ways to save paper in a small business, most of which are completely overlooked during day to day life. When you use the printer, print on both sides of the paper, and while you’re on the computer go ahead and pay your bills online. Keep flash drives or CD’s handy to keep your records on. Not only will you save filing space, but you will also save on paper costs. Make sure that all employees have an email address, and email important company news instead of printing and mailing. If your business is food related, use cloth napkins instead of paper. You can wash and reuse cloth napkins hundreds of times without ever having to order replacements. Lastly, offer reusable cloth bags for a small price as an alternative to paper or plastic. These reusable bags not only help the environment, but if they have your company logo, they also act as free advertising for your business.

Get together to go green

A large part of having a successful green company is making sure everyone in the company is participating. Carpooling is a simple measure that has been popular for years, and if done correctly, it can save everyone vast amounts of gasoline and money, while helping to not pollute. Make sure everyone has their tires inflated correctly, as it saves on gas mileage, and have the carpool cars maintained regularly, to prevent emissions. Make a company phone list, and let everyone decide whether or not they’d like be be included. This makes it easier for employees to keep track of schedules and policy changes without having to drive to work.

Keep it simple

Going green isn’t all about the hybrid car or solar panel energy. The simplest ways to to be friendly to nature are often the ones that do the most good. Instead of buying cleaning supplies, make your own with ingredients like baking soda or vinegar. When your old computer starts to wear out, recycle it or donate it to your local Salvation Army, don’t throw it away. Printer cartridges can also be refilled, instead of buying new ones. These steps may seem new, but there are other things that are encountered in everyday life that can make a difference as well. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and only use the dishwasher or washing machine when they are completely full. Simple things like this are what going green is really all about.

Going green may seem like a fad at times, just something that everyone does to look cool. In reality, this may be true for some people, but for others it’s a lifestyle that will help to save the planet. Small choices can help save the world, and if handled right going green can also help a small business not only be good to the environment, but save money too.





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You want me to buy you what? The Silly Bandz effect.

Today’s economy is anything but silly, but a success story everyone has most likely heard about by now is the Silly Bandz phenomenon. Where did it come from? More importantly, in an economy that is just starting to struggle back to its feet, how does one man make a fortune off of silicone rubber bands? For every genius invention that goes unnoticed, there is another that turns the market on its head with its simplicity. While parents are scratching their heads as their children scream for more rubber bracelets, and other small business owners look on in confused awe, creator Robert Croak is probably smiling smugly. The good news is there are a few simple steps that can be taken to make your small business a success, even if your product is more complicated than a hippopotamus shaped rubber band.

Every smart business owner knows that while the adult is the money maker, it is the child that is the spender. One look from those big eyes, and there is no hope for Daddy or Mommy. With a lip pout and a pleading note in the voice almost any child can coerce their parent into buying whatever they please. No parent wants their child to look less hip or popular next to their peers. Let’s have a look at a few enormous fads of the past few years and their similarities.

• Silly Bandz
o Small silicone arm bracelets, that when not being worn form different shapes. They come in many different colors and shapes, such as: Animal, Vehicle, Garden, and Music. Highly collectible and are traded among children.

Beanie Babies
o Soft, bean-filled stuffed animals. Beanie Babies were the brainchild of Ty company, and while their popularity has waned, they had a long run, culminating in parents buying hundreds of happy meals to find the specific bean and cloth animal that Junior demanded. Another collectors item that seemed to capture the imagination of children, as well as the imagination of a few not-so-well-adjusted adults.

• Pokeman
o While Pokeman came in many forms, ranging from action figures to computer games, the card game was easily the biggest cash cow for creator Satoshi Tajir. Packs of cards would sell for around five dollars, and the goal was to, by the luck of the draw, garner the much-prized holographic cards. Leagues were formed for the card games, with much of the 1990’s child population claiming to be “Trainers”.

Now after we’re done rolling our eyes about the silliness of all of this, anyone will grudgingly admit that the creators of these products were marketing geniuses. The question is now what do these products have in common, and how can a product-based small business create a product that will capture the imagination of children while also capturing the contents of their parents wallets? As far as uniting factors in the aforementioned products, a few characteristics stick out.


• Collectibility

• Small price
• Possibility of finding the rare card/band/stuffed animal.

With these factors in place, you create not only a demand, but a comfort for parents in the fact that the product, in its singular form, doesn’t cost over ten dollars. It is easier to stomach dumping ten dollars ten times over one month than it is to dump one hundred dollars at one time. The reigning king of fads, Silly Bandz, incorporates all three of these factors. They are easy to collect in enormous amounts, they are inexpensive at three to five dollars a pack, and one child is always going to have a certain shape or color that another child desires, therefore sparking the demand for a certain silly band. When you look at the broad spectrum of possibilities for money making that these little rubber bracelets offer, it suddenly doesn’t seem so silly.
Clearly a few simple factors can turn your product from a dud into the next Silly Bandz. If Robert Croak can make a fortune out of something I find wrapped around my morning newspaper, it is most definitely possible. Any one person is only one incredibly simple idea away from having hoards of salivating children and exasperated parents lining up around the block from the boutique, waiting for the newest release of the latest fabulous product. Good luck!


Looking for a GeoVison Security Camera System to help secure your small or medium business? Call www.CameraSecurityNow.com today at 877-422-1907 for a free phone consultation. Ask about the new Hybrid DVR/NVR surveillance solutions.