Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

5 Ways to Turn Merry Days into Money Days

Guest Post by Lyz Marshall, E-Magnify Business Counselor

Many of us are preparing for the holiday season with thoughts of giving and sharing with those close to us. For would-be entrepreneurs, it is also a perfect time to try out a business idea or new product or service. Why? The holiday season and new year creates a marketplace of consumers that are primed and ready to purchase goods and services that satisfy a need or desire. At a loss for business ideas or not sure what to do? Here are five ways to turn these Merry Days into Money Days: 

1. Create Something Unique and Personalized
  • Bake It: Do family and friends rely on you to make your special cookies or treats every year? Why not package them for sale this season? You could customize and market them to those busy parents that promise to have treats for the kids' play, a party or school event. 
  • Make It: Maybe you have a knack for thematic, ethnic or traditional decor or you are crafty and artistic. Why not start a customized home decorating service? That's what Martha Stewart did to build a multi-million dollar empire! Use your talents to develop ethnic or traditional items that make the season nostalgic for both young and old alike.
  • Create It: Perhaps you (or your kids) have a way with words and a great creative eye behind a camera. Why not create customized holiday animated cards, promotional videos, or customized ornaments for your school, church, or community/volunteer organization's fundraiser? Crowd funding is a popular fundraising medium but the top websites use a creative touch to gain momentum.

2. Offer a Gift of Time
  • Organize It: Maybe you have a talent for organizing and prioritizing in a way that makes 24-hours in a day double. Celebrities, executives, and famous people are not the only ones that deserve (and need) to have an assistant to stay on top of things. Offer concierge-type services to help organize busy schedules or coordinate visiting family and friends' holiday travels or entertainment needs.
  • Find It: Love to shop and bargain hunt? Be a personal shopper to purchase and deliver recipe ingredients or hard to find ‘wish list’ items to your client's home. I once hired a girlfriend to be a personal shopper after I was bedridden due to a major surgery. It was the best $50 investment I ever made! She fulfilled a real need, made some extra cash (I relied on her several times), and helped a friend in need. 
  • Shuttle or Watch It: What about offering to be a shuttle service for visiting friends and relatives that need transport to and from the airport, train or bus station? Maybe you are better at organizing and entertaining younger people? Offer a sitting service for those parents that need to catch early bird or late night sales or need time to hide those treasures. (Psst...Don't forget to check with the parents of furry, four-legged family members)!

3. Clean Up and Out
  • Clean It: The holiday season is also a time of endless parties and gatherings that generate a lot of clutter and trash. After a day of decorating, entertaining and hosting, who really has the time or energy to clean before or after the party? Here's your chance to shine --literally! Offer a party preparation and clean up service that specializes in before and after party clean up for families, community groups, or organizations. 
  • Clear It: Offer a de-cluttering service to haul away old debris and trash before or after house or party guests arrive. Don’t stop there…help with the removal of old items within the home and around the home that are safety hazards.

4. Get Some Hang time
  • Hang It: Are you (or a significant other) handy around the house? Offer a service to hang and later remove outside Christmas lights and yard decorations. 
  • Build It: Other services might include building and setting up cumbersome decorations and trees, assembling complex electronics and entertainment systems, or assembling toys and furniture.

5. Turn Something Old into Something New
  • Recycle It: Let's face it. We are a culture of people that collects stuff. People have packed garages, storage units, and homes filled with forgotten or overlooked treasures. Take a look around to see if you may have slightly used or unused items that could be sold on eBay or Craig's List. Think of the new or upgraded items you could get in exchange. This is especially true for old cell phones and games that are dusty gold mines of cash! 
  • Consign It: That extra holiday weight gain might make some clothes and shoes a little more snug than you would like. Why not give them a new home and a fresh start for others in need through consignment shops and stores.

By taking just a little time to offer your talent and resources, the holiday and new year can be a much merrier season -- all the way to the bank!  Do you like these ideas but you are still not sure of how to start?  Contact E-Magnify women's business center and schedule a free appointment with a business counselor to help you get started.

What are some ways you make extra money during the holidays and all year round? Tell us here or share your ideas in a comment. 

About the Author: 
Lyzona Marshall is an E-Magnify Business Counselor, Assistant Professor of
Business at Seton Hill University, and a business owner. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Ask the Experts" Free, Recorded Webinar

Q&A Session to Help You Start Your Business - Ask the Experts!

E-Magnify Business Counselor Lyzona Marshall participated in AARP's “Ask the Experts” webinar on November 13.

The webinar was recorded, and is available online for no charge. (Free registration is required.)

During this hour-long webinar, small business owners and staff from the SBA and AARP answered questions on the following topics:

  • Developing Your Business Idea and Plan;
  • Securing Financing;
  • Marketing; and
  • Getting a Mentor.

Access "Ask the Experts" here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Free Resources for PoweredUp Sales

As part of PoweredUp Sales, our new Signature Business Training Series, we are pleased to offer you four complimentary whitepapers from sales training expert Larry Lewis of Client Builder Sales & Marketing LLC.

Download these sales whitepapers: 

About PoweredUp Sales:
Business development is the #1 need of small business owners. That's why E-Magnify + PowerLink has teamed up with Client Builder Selling to help small business owners take charge of their sales through a new Signature Sales Training Course.

This sales training program provides business owners with the ability to hire salespeople with confidence, rapidly get them up to speed and develop effective systems for selling and sales management that improve topline revenue and profitability.

The program will consist of four in-person two-hour workshops conducted at the E-Magnify + PowerLink Pittsburgh office (located at C-leveled in Bloomfield) and eight two-hour virtual workshops conducted live over the internet via web conference. The workshops will be conducted over six months (two per month) by Larry Lewis and Wendy Lydon.

Next Session: January 12 - June 15, 2015
Register by December 19, 2014 to save $200. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

How to Increase Your Company's Selling Horsepower

Join us on Monday (December 8) for a special, complimentary presentation by two expert sales trainers. Learn how you and your sales team can PowerUp YOUR sales! 

Date: December 8, 2014
Time: 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Location: E-Magnify + PowerLink Office at C-leveled in Bloomfield (4117 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA)
Cost: No charge to attend

Larry Lewis
Founder & President
Client Builder Sales & Marketing, LLC

Wendy Lydon
Business Coach & Vice President
ThistleSea Business Development

Business development is the #1 need of small business owners. That’s why E-Magnify + PowerLink has teamed up with Client Builder Selling to help small business owners take charge of their sales through a new Signature Sales Training Course. 

Click here to reserve your complimentary seat for "How to Increase Your Company's Selling Horsepower" on December 8 to meet the trainers! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nominations Open: BusinessWomen First Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2015 BusinessWomen First Awards.

Presented by the Pittsburgh Business Times, the 2015 BusinessWomen First Awards honor the region's most influential business women. They're looking for women from every industry and profession; women who've made a difference in their communities, blazed a trail for other women and are leaving a mark on the western Pennsylvania business community.

Deadline is December 31, 2014.  Read the eligibility requirements for nominees. 

For more information, contact Richard Cerilli at or 412-208-3815.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stand Out from the Crowd (Marketing Workshop)

Learn how to stand out from the crowd and get positive marketing results. Come to the next Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber Leadership Development Series presentation on December 8. 

Event: How to Stand Out from a Crowd and Get Positive Marketing Results
Date: Monday, December 8 
Time: 7:30 a.m.—9:00 a.m. 
Location: Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber Headquarters, Wexford, PA

Cindy Neky, Certified Social Media Strategist 
Cindy is a certified Social Media Strategist, Constant Contact Authorized Local Expert, marketing consultant and engaging speaker. She makes learning about the new marketing trends interesting and valuable. 

Leslie Goldstein, Certified Direct Marketing Specialist
Leslie is one of only 60 US Postal Service Certified Direct Marketing Specialists. Before joining the USPS, Leslie served as Vice President of Marketing Solutions for a direct marketing agency. 

Register online here ($10 for Chamber members, $20 for nonmembers).

Presented in partnership by Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber, Seton Hill Univeristy's E-Magnify, Duquesne University Small Business Development Center, U.S. Small Business Administration, and Huntington Bank.

Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.