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    This group's mission is to generate business for its members through highly qualified referrals. Independent of national organizations, the membership fee is modest, just sufficient to support meeting costs, development and targeted charities.

    New members are welcome to attend meetings held weekly on Thursday 7:30AM-8:30AM at Timothy's, Danvers, 225 Newbury Street (Rt One North)
    Danvers, MA 01923

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Press Release – Business Financing Essentials

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Three Secrets to Business Financing” Presented By IBN

MIDDLETON, Massachusetts (May 4, 2013)- The Innovative Business Networking (IBN) Group is hosting an informational seminar called “Three Secrets to Business Financing” on May 15, 2013 from 5:30pm-7:30pm at Teresa’s Italian Eatery in Middleton, MA.  The event features presentations by local business leaders.

The presentation will include essential information needed when approaching a lender, including how to get lenders on your side, when to apply for loans and what common mistakes to avoid. The speakers will be available to answer questions following the presentation.

The speakers for the event are:

Joel Francois: President of Francois and Associates, a local debt relief agency. Joel helps local small business owners reduce and eliminate unsecured debt. Joel is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor (CPFC) as well has a Certified Debt Arbitrator (CDS). Joel has also worked for credit card banks, law firms, debt buyers and debt settlement companies.

Stephen T. Vesey: President of Vesey and Weeks, PC, located in Danvers, MA. Steve is also a Certified Valuation Analyst and a Certified Business Exit Consultant. His firm not only provides conventional accounting services, but Business Valuations and Transition Planning as well.

David Egan: Vice President, Commercial Services Officer for Metro Credit Union. Metro Credit Union is one of the largest Credit Unions in the state with 14 branch locations throughout the greater Boston area including Peabody, Salem and Lynn, MA. He has over 15 years experiences helping small business owners find solutions to their financial needs. Dave has held positions in commercial lending, Business Development and Branch management within the financial industry. He was previously Vice President; Small Business Lending Officer for TD Bank in the North Shore region, David’s expertise is in commercial Real Estate, Small Business, and SBA Loans.

The event is sponsored by the Innovative Business Networking (IBN) Group. IBN is a group of business professionals who offer a range of different services, located on the North Shore. Their members come together to build relationships and provide resources through a cooperative of local business leaders. IBN members regularly share their experiences and knowledge through community seminars, scholarships and special events.

To find out more about IBN or this event, please call (978) 818-8328(978) 818-8328 or visit our Event page.

 

 

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A Night Out With ‘Talk To The Hand’ at Laurie’s 909

Last night my wife Patti and I went to a little restaurant on Tuttle Street in Wakefield called Laurie’s 909 to see a very good friend Sarah Littlefield perform in a great a cappella group called  “Talk to the Hand.”  Sarah and I are friends, business associates, and members of the Innovative Business Networking group. The show was great, which of course was no surprise, however I was pleasantly shocked by the pristine quality of the food, the ambiance, the staff, and the people we met at Laurie’s 909.

The owner, Laurie Rizzo, made sure to accommodate Patti’s gluten and dairy intolerance and her business partner, Bob MacFadgen, made sure that we were enjoying both the setting and the food.

Patti and I started with a nice martini, accompanied by oysters from their raw bar. We then had the crab cake appetizer (full of crab meat and perfectly spiced), followed by a seafood misto soup that was loaded with mussels, shrimp, little neck clams with a tomato and linguica sausage base.  It was fantastic!  Afterwards we enjoyed a spinach salad with old fashioned bacon bits, red onion, goat cheese, and homemade vidalia onion vinaigrette that was amazing.  This was all accompanied by a reasonably priced Cabernet called “Uppercut,” I think my friends at Title Boxing Club will appreciate that.

We will absolutely go back.  The atmosphere was nice, just loud enough but not too noisy, small but comfortable.  We took a while deciding on what to eat because there were just enough of the right things to choose from with choices including fillets,  salmon, fried food and more.  We would give it an A!

Patti and I own Phil Richard Insurance and Sarah and her husband Chris own BrightStar Care in Danvers. I am so proud of Sarah for putting on a great show. I want to thank her for a night of great entertainment and for introducing us to Laurie’s 909. It is through events like this that we can truly see how valuable local business networking can be.

 

Patti & Phil Richard and Sarah Littlefield

Patti, Phil, and Sarah at Laurie’s 909 for Sarah’s performance!

 

Phil with Sarah and the other members of Talk to the Hand

Phil with Sarah and the other members of Talk to the Hand

[Previously published on the Phil Richard Insurance Blog]

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Hitting the New Year Hard – TITTLE Boxing Club

We hope you had a wonderful New Year’s and are ready to embrace all 2013 has to offer! Have you made any resolutions? We have. In an effort to better serve you, we’re working on improving ourselves and our office in every aspect. From a brand new state of the art management system to charitable giving we are bettering our office in hopes of fine tuning our procedures and ourselves to provide you with better service. We believe that one step in doing so involves getting fit and healthy.

In 2012 our office had the pleasure of meeting Ken Greer, owner of the newly opened TITLE Boxing Club in Danvers. Phil and members of our staff have been working out at TBC Danvers for over a month now, and we LOVE it!  You can learn more about TITLE Boxing here:  www.facebook.com/TBCDanvers.

TITLE Boxing Danvers is having an open house this weekend, Sunday, January 6th, and we want you to come! You can learn all about the Power Hour workout and see what it’s about for FREE! It is absolutely the best workout available, we can’t say enough about it! Show your support for a local small business and burn up to 1000 calories at the same time! We encourage you to take 2013 by the horns and try something new! Phil and some of our staff will be there sweating it out and we’d love to see you! You might think it’s weird to workout with your insurance agent, but like our logo says, we’re making insurance personal.

Where and When:

TITTLE Boxing Club

29 Andover St. (Grassfield’s Plaza)

Danvers, MA 01923

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Showcase Class FREE

12:00 PM Kid’s Boxing and Conditioning FREE

Image

[Originally posted by Phil Richard Insurance]

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Black Friday and Christmas Shopping Tips

[This post previously appeared on the author's company blog]

The key to avoiding excessive credit card debt and a date with a Massachusetts bankruptcy court is of course to spend less money for your Christmas shopping. To maintain control of your finances, avoid excessive borrowing on your credit card and try to pay for everything immediately.

And since the Christmas season is a time when many of us are tempted to overspend and borrow, taking advantage of the manifold of Christmas season bargains can be a highly effective means to purchase great presents and avoid credit card payments you cannot afford.

One way to save money is to take advantage of the numerous sales offered on Black Friday, the day immediately following Thanksgiving. Black Friday gets its name from an accounting term. The phrase ‘in the black’ describes a profitable firm. Since Black Friday is traditionally regarded as the start of the busy Christmas shopping season, merchants hope this period will result in a profitable year, thus the name ‘Black Friday.’ Numerous bargains are available on Black Friday, but expect to wait in line, as it is among the busiest shopping days all year. Crowds can be avoided by shopping online during the busiest times and you can still take advantage of the day’s sales.

To take advantage of the Black Friday sales, start by purchasing a few newspapers on Thanksgiving Day or a few days before to view the ads in advance. Many will be jammed with advertisements. Sometimes it can help to bring the ads with you when shopping, especially in stores that offer a lowest-price guarantee, so you can show it to the sales clerk. And read the sales ads carefully, as some price reductions will require the item to be purchased during specific times, such as before 8:00 a.m., or are only available until supplies last. Often the stores will open extra early, some even starting at 4:00 a.m. or earlier. Due to Massachusetts blue laws, none will be open on Thanksgiving Day. And you can avoid the Massachusetts 6.25 percent sales tax by heading up to New Hampshire where there is no sales tax. Take Route 93 north to Salem, New Hampshire and you will be surrounded by stores, especially on Route 28. Same goes with South Nashua off Route 3 on Daniel Webster Highway.

And try to compare prices with other stores. Often the big box stores such as Wal-Mart or Target will be cheaper. And with the internet, comparing prices can be done at home with sites such as PriceGrabber.com.

But if you really plan, you can save even more by taking advantage of the sales that occur throughout the year. Often prices can be even lower than they are on Black Friday, especially on items that can sit around for months, including kitchen appliances, watches and toys. So to keep out of debt and bankruptcy, be diligent about looking for bargains and only buy what you can afford.

Happy shopping.

Joel Francois is General Manager at Francois and Associates, a Massachusetts based debt relief company helping local consumers take control of their credit and personal finances. Visit www.mylocaldebtrelief.com to learn more.

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Avoiding Snow and Cold Temperature Related Workers Comp Claims

The first snow storm and cold temperatures of 2012 will undoubtedly bring with it a few workers comp claims. Employers are liable for workers’ compensation benefits to an employee who sustains a snow or cold related injury while working.   Although employers may have no choice but to send employees outside in the winter, their health and safety should always be a priority.  Many snow and cold related workers compensation claims can be avoided with proper equipment and some common sense.

Snow

Un-shoveled or icy pathways can lead to slips and falls by employees.  Make sure walkways, steps and entrances are properly cleared and maintained.   Keep adequate supplies of ice melt and sand on hand and spread frequently.

Before asking any employee to shovel snow, make sure that they are healthy and capable enough to do so. Too many people suffer heart attacks while shoveling snow.  Some at-risk work populations face even higher risks in the cold.  These include older workers, workers who have predisposing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension, and workers who are taking certain types of medications.

Lifting snow can also cause serious back injuries. Have employees wear back braces for added support.  Always assign multiple employees to void having only one worker remove snow for a long period of time.   Provide employees with plows, snow blowers and ergonomic shovels.

Hire professional snow removal companies to perform the work and eliminate the risks of snow related injuries.

Cold Temperatures

Employees who are exposed to cold temperatures are especially susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite and other cold exposure injuries.  Train employees on OSHA’s Cold stress equation so they can take preventive actions or quickly recognize the symptoms and take corrective actions

If employees are exposed to outside winter conditions for long periods of time as a requirement of the job, think about issuing them or supplementing the cost of coats, gloves, boots, ear protection, and hats.

Allow employees to take frequent short breaks in warm dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.

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Salt, Salt, Salt……What’s It All About!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans released in January recommend shifts in food consumption patterns, encouraging individuals to eat more of some foods and nutrients and less of others. One of the “eating less” recommendations is to decrease sodium intakes. Due to health concerns associated with our current high national intake of sodium (averaging about 3,400 mg/day but much higher in some populations) sodium intake recommendations have decreased. The guidelines maintain their previous recommendation of no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day – about 1 teaspoon of salt – for most people, but now recommend reducing intakes to 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day – about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt – for people over age 50, and those of any age who are African-American, or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, including children who fit these criteria. Remember not all of sodium comes from the salt shaker; approximately 75% comes from food we commonly eat.  Be sure to check food labels and portion size.

The reduction in sodium will require a gradual approach to changing consumers’ dietary choices. Some suggestions to start decreasing your sodium intake are:

  • Taste food before salting it. Lightly salt food only as needed, not as a habit.
  • Use herbs, spice rubs and fruit juices in cooking in place of salt.
  • Prepare food using little salt or fewer high-sodium ingredients. For example, skip using salt in cooking pasta, rice, cereals and vegetables.
  • Check food labels comparing like items and choose lower sodium foods. Also watch for “low-sodium”, “sodium-free” and “no added salt”.
  • Eat fresh lean meats, poultry, fish, dry and fresh beans and peas, unsalted-nuts and eggs, all of which contain less sodium.

Ursula Whitney, RD LDN, is a registered, licensed dietitian with a nutrition counseling office in Danvers, MA. Visit www.northshorenutrition.com to learn more.

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7 Characters of Killer Marketing in the Connected World

Probably most of us have heard of the 4 “P’s” of marketing:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Place

Today’s Marketers believe that there is much more than the traditional 4 “P’s” required for Killer Marketing, the kind of marketing that literally compels the prospect to buy.
The 4 “P’s” don’t leave much consideration for the environment and the community in which the marketing happens.

7 Characters of Killer Marketing

Meet the 7 Characters of Killer Marketing

With our increasing connected world, Killer Marketing requires a more social feel and that is where we meet the 7 Characters of Killer Marketing.

  1. Cognizance
  2. Clarity
  3. Confidence
  4. Consistency
  5. Congruence
  6. Coherence
  7. Community

Meet Cognizance, the first of the 7 Characters of Killer Marketing. Every business person needs Cognizance, or awareness, in their marketing so that they can take advantage of the white-hot moment.

More at Strategies That Work

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Achieving Happiness

Happiness is an internal state of mind.  Yes, it’s been said before but I will say it again –happiness is an internal state of mind.  It is based on how we interpret our world and our experiences.  Here are the four key components that build a foundation for true happiness.  I f you can cultivate these four things in your life, whether you are a 70 year old grandmother or a Fortune 500 CEO, you will start to feel true happiness in  your life.  Everything else is the proverbial icing on the cake.

1) The ability to take care of oneself in life

Or in other words being a “self-feeder”. This means earning enough money to take care of basic (not extravagant) needs. You can put a roof over your head, feed yourself, get where you need to go, maintain some work. We tend to think money is the key to happiness but actually studies have found that once basic needs are meant extra money does not carry a great bang for the buck—pun intended.

2.) The ability to earn love

Lack of love, on some level, is why many people end up in my office.  A simple definition of love is the expectation of being given good things by those with whom we interact.  This can vary from the friendly greeting of your bank teller to the passionate embrace of your lover.  All are degrees of love, appreciation and human warmth. Here’s the catch: there is no such thing as unconditional love. It must be earned. Love is conditional on what we offer another person in order for them to feel lovingly toward us. Unfortunately, one’s ability to earn love can be impeded by personality issues, neurosis and anger that most people are unaware they are presenting to others.

3.) The ability to cope with life’s difficulties

The easy parts of life (which are few) are just that–easy. Where we gain happiness is how we handle the difficulties that land in our path.  This is learned as a child through our family experience and by our successes and especially our failures as we age.  Handling life’s difficulties with grace, open-mindedness and with our problem solving hats on is paramount to internal happiness.  Faulty teaching and imperfect role models cause many people to struggle with life’s difficulties.

4.) The ability to have fun

A friend of mine defined life as getting up every day and solving a series of problems.  I think this is a fair perspective. We feel happier in life when we make a conscious effort to have fun in between and while solving life’s endless procession of problems.  Life is hard work (see #3). That does not mean fun should be set aside until the work is done.  The work of life is never done. Therefore, a person’s ability to have fun along the way is the final component to feeling happier.

For more information visit www.MaureeMichaels.com

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IBN Post-Event Wrap-up

It was probably too much to ask of Chris Brogan to come speak to a group of local small business owners the night before he was to present the keynote to a crowd of hundreds at the New England B2B Expo. But heck, since it was in his own backyard I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. So while we were all hoping to see and hear Chris live in an intimate setting like Teresa’s in Middleton, the two cohorts that did join us did an outstanding job filling in.

Joe Sorge and Rob Hatch were both in town visiting with Chris earlier in the day and to our luck decided to step in and share their experiences. Joe Sorge is a partner at Kitchen Table Companies and the proprietor of AJ Bombers in Milwaukee, a burger joint known for its’ peanut butter and bacon burger. Rob Hatch is the COO at Human Business Works.

So after an extended networking hour of imbibing, still hoping for Mr. Brogan to walk through the doors, we sat down to hear Joe and Rob’s stories and learn firsthand how social media, more specifically Twitter, helps small business.

I’ll skip the details here since you can follow along with the playbook at KTC, but the night’s key takeaways were simply, 1) listen 2) learn and 3) engage. Listening to what others are chatting about on twitter or Facebook can open up an opportunity for engagement and peak the curiosity to learn more about you and your business. It’s about leveraging serendipitous discoveries through online conversations and the sharing of information, 140 characters at a time. For some, the thought of cramming a cogent point into 140 characters is a daunting task. The fact is lurking by simply listening what others are tweeting about and how they’re doing it is a valuable first step in shortening the learning curve.  In the long-term, listening and quickly responding to other tweets can pay dividends and help grow your following organically.

What brought it all together for Innovative Business Networking members and guests were their first hand experiences. Joe talked about how AJ Bombers got its start and how the business took off when Joe’s tweets became its’ online persona. When comparing Facebook versus twitter, the analogy of Facebook being like a bulletin board while Twitter was more like a water cooler made sense when you thought about the lingering lifespan of FB posts versus the real-time relevancy and half-life of a tweet. Rob further emphasized these points with similar comparisons.  After their brief talks, they spent most of the remaining time answering questions. The Q & A time was very informative and well spent. Overall, the evening provided the inspiration to join the online conversation and help clear a path to leveraging social media, not as an end-all, but as another tool in the SMB marketing kit.

A special shout-out to the Events and Education Committee for their planning and selection of Teresa’s Italian Eatery and a very special thank you goes to Cary Roles for her emceeing skills and making it all happen.

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How’s Your Website Doing?

So you have a brand new (or dusty) website and it looks great. The logo, colors and layout are appealing, the web copy conveys all the right messages, video testimonials establish trust and the blog reveals you as authoritative and knowledgeable. Now what?

Many small businesses are content with just having an online presence and don’t give much thought or attention to their websites once they are launched believing that if it’s up-n-running and looks good, they will come.

Well it really doesn’t work that way. With millions of websites going online every month, standing out from the crowd and your competitors takes some insight, planning and market intelligence.

The first thing you should do is check if you are on anyone’s radar. Is your site attracting any traffic whatsoever? If not, do you know why? If it is, how can you improve its rank? If you’re a brick and mortar business, are your site visitors local?

In order to answer any one of these questions, you need to look no further than your monthly statistics report. Most hosting services provide basic reporting tools capable of answering some of those questions. If you’re paying a webmaster, at a minimum, a monthly summary report should be provided. Without these statistics, insight into how effective a website is at attracting visitors is virtually impossible.

Awstats Summary Traffic Report

Reported period Month Feb 2011
First visit 01 Feb 2011 – 00:03
Last visit 17 Feb 2011 – 21:07
Unique visitors Number of visits Pages Hits Bandwidth
Viewed traffic * 217 1289
(5.94 visits/visitor)
2704
(2.09 Pages/Visit)
6724
(5.21 Hits/Visit)
91.19 MB
(72.43 KB/Visit)
Not viewed traffic * 1669 2251 11.53 MB

A quick way to check if your website is drawing significant web traffic is to use any one of several traffic measuring services available online for free. The three most popular are Alexa.com, Compete.com, and Quantcast.com. Each provides estimates of traffic either as a percentage of all Internet users who have visited your site or as an estimate of all the hits and unique visitors for all US traffic. While these services may not be 100% accurate in measuring visitor traffic, they can provide a baseline marker for how well a website performs over time.

Alexa.com

Alexa.com

Today’s consumers begin and end their search for products and services online. If your website is known only to people you already do business with and unknown to anyone else, it is to your advantage and livelihood to know why. Without regular site checkups, making informative decisions on what is helping or hurting your online presence is not possible. Web analytics allows businesses to gain insight into how effectively a website draws traffic by providing actionable data on content appeal and visitor demographics to better target your market and grow your business.

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