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Houston is Ranked the 3rd Best City in the Country to Start a Small Business!

by Erin Marchesano 20. October 2014 13:13

For the third year in a row, Thumbtack.com has partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to conduct a survey of small businesses nationwide. With this particular survey, the goal is to learn what small businesses believe is a healthy political a regulatory climate by having them rate how it is to do business where they live. The survey aims to learn what creates a healthy, vibrant local business environment by asking owners & operators directly about these issues in the cities in which they live.

Categories on the survey include:

Overall Friendliness – “In general, how would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?”

Ease of Starting a Business – “How difficult or easy do you think it is to start a business in your state?”

Ease of Hiring – “How difficult or easy is it to hire a new employee at your business?”

Regulations – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to business regulations generally?”

Health & Safety – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to health and safety regulations?”

Employment, Labor, & Hiring – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to employment, labor and hiring regulations?”

Tax Code – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to tax code and tax-related regulations?”

Licensing – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to licensing forms, requirements, and fees?”

Environmental – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to environmental regulations?”

Zoning – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to zoning or land use regulations?”

Training & Networking Programs – “Does your state or local government offer helpful training or networking programs for small business owners?”

According to Thumbtack, some of the key findings for Houston include:

• Houston is the second easiest city in the country for starting a business.

• Five Texas cities made the top ten for overall business friendliness - Houston (#3), Austin (#4), Dallas (#6), Fort Worth (#7), and San Antonio (#8).

• This is the second year in a row that Houston has earned an A+ grade for its friendliness to small business.

• Male business owners were significantly more optimistic about the local economy than female business owners, reporting scores that were 6 percent higher than their female counterparts.

• 60 percent of Houston business owners report they are happy with the level of taxes they pay.

For more information about the survey & to review its full methodology and analysis from the link below:

2014 Thumtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey: Methodology & Analysis

 

This is the Most Exciting Time in the World to be in Marketing!

by Erin Marchesano 17. October 2014 15:53

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 B2B Marketing Forum hosted by Marketing Profs out in Boston, MA and it was definitely a conference for the books. After attending last year, I couldn’t wait to see what Marketing Profs had up their sleeve, from the speakers, to the vendors, to the attendees, and of course, the giveaways!

When you have that much knowledge, and that much talent, and that much excitement flowing through the veins of each attendee and each speaker, a conference of this caliber is simply bound for greatness, and indeed it was.

Ann Handley, the CCO of Marketing Profs opened the conference this year by sharing that it was the company’s largest year to date. With over 850 attendees and speakers from all around the world, this year’s conference was 30% larger than 2013 and by far the most connected, most unique, and most exciting for today’s marketers to attend.

Each of the speakers in the workshops I attended was exceptional but my personal favorite was Amber Naslund, SVP of Marketing for Sysomos.

The workshop was called, “Becoming a Marketing Change Agent in Your Organization” and it really resonated with me in a way that I could not wait to bring my newfound knowledge back with me to share!

Right now, marketing is the cultural hub and momentum driver that is dragging companies into the 20th century and since marketing impacts EVERYTHING; it’s really the heart of every organization.

Because of web and digital communication, expectations from consumers as well as businesses have changed. Not only in the world of B2C, but in the world of B2B, people in general have higher consumer expectations. The internet offers them information that wasn’t readily available before, making decision markers even harder to reach.

With the changes in consumer behavior and higher expectations, it is crucial for organizations to be much more collaborative in nature. Collaboration is the key to meeting those expectations. Empowering employees, providing open lines of communication, creating a standard of cultural self-awareness…

Amber really hit the nail on the head when talking about the key components of collaborative companies and I’d like to share them below:

 

1.) Cultural Self-Awareness – It’s important for organizations to NEVER lose touch with what we want our company culture to be, but also what our company culture currently is. One way to find this out comes directly from our employees by conducting internal surveys that ask REALLY GOOD QUESTIONS!

• How do we behave?

• What do we care about?

• What will we not compromise?

IMPORTANT: Culture within an organization doesn’t happen by mandate; it’s something that comes organically and we cannot force it!

 

2.)Digital Literacy – Yes, it’s valuable for employees to know how to use the web, social media, and other digital communications, but what’s even MORE valuable is educating our employees on the impact of digital literacy on our business.

• It’s important to know not only HOW it impacts our business, but WHY?

• Teach and educate on why we need to understand the impact of these tools on our business and what benefits come from understanding that impact.

 

3.) Empowerment & Permission – If you ever have an employee say to you, “I don’t know if I’m allowed to be engaged and I don’t think I have the tools to do it…” you’re not providing your employees with the support they need to work in a truly collaborative environment.

• We must tell our teams that we want them to be collaborate and we want them to share their knowledge and ideas!

• Once an individual becomes a resource, they become valuable to a business and each individual has something unique and insightful that they deserve to share.

• If you have employees constantly guessing if what they are doing is ok, they eventually won’t spend the time at all.

 

4.) Active Communication – Plainly and simply, find other ways to communicate besides email! When organizations become reliant on email, important data gets lost, questions take longer to get answered, decision makers get bogged down, and all these things cause a breakdown in communication.

• Always house important content in places that people have access to without relying on past emails as reference.

• Use real-time tools such as instant messenger or Google Drive to communicate“newly & quickly”.

 

5.)Educational Programs – Continued education is absolutely necessary on an individual level and also an organizational level, but while teaching for tools and learning are great, what we really need to be doing is actively teaching our employees about collaboration and culture.

• This can be done actively or interactively, through team building, workshops, or activities.

• It’s about creating a company culture that’s sustainable, and if you aren’t educating your team members on how to do that, then your culture will never adapt.

 

6.) Advocates & Experts – It absolutely shines true that people who are really, really good at what they do, WANT TO DO IT.

• Find those experts within your organization and let them share their experience and personal motivation with the rest of the company.

• They don’t have to be marketing experts, but if they’re good at what they do and have a wealth of experience; they can be a huge asset for education and teaching.

 

7.) Rewards & Recognition – Rather than having annual awards, company-wide drawings, or generalized department recognition, focus more on the individual efforts of your employees.

• This is something that needs to become part of the company DNA.

• People deserve to be recognized at the individual level so that they feel their hard work is actually contributing to something bigger.

 

So where does all of this come from and what does all of this mean? We live and work in environments surrounded by “no” and our company cultures are unintentionally falling by the wayside because we don’t know how to implement change, but now is the time for marketers to be a catalyst for CHANGE.

Small steps can make a big impact.

 

OH, and by the way…

Thanks Marketing Profs. I thought I looked nice that day too… #andsmart

 

 

#MPB2B

Erin Marchesano,

Marketing Manager, Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation

Connect With Me on LinkedIn!

Southern California Gas Company Is Helping Keep SoCal Beaches Clean!

by Erin Marchesano 18. September 2014 11:50

This summer, SoCal Gas Company has partnered with Adopt A Beach to work together in not only keeping Southern California Beaches clean, but also in making sure the public is informed on how to recognize and respond to a natural gas leak. Public safety is a priority for SoCal Gas and what better way to get the message out there in front of millions of people to see!

Most commonly, a natural gas leak will come from a pipe or other form of containment and will disperse gas into a living area or any other area where gas should not be. Natural gas may explode at any moment if exposed to flame or sparks and not knowing how to recognize a natural gas leak can leave individuals in a very dangerous situation!

According to SoCal Gas, spotting a dry patch of grass in your yard is one of the many signs of a potential gas leak and you should immediately rely on all of your senses to determine if it is in fact, natural gas.

Now, first things first:

LOOK!

• Look for a damaged connection to a gas appliance

• Look for dirt or water being blown into the air

• Look for dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise moist area) over or near pipeline areas

• Look for a fire or explosion near a pipeline

• Look for exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster

LISTEN!

Listen for an unusual sound, such as a hissing, whistling or roaring sound nearly a gas line or appliance could be an indication of a gas leak.

SMELL!

Smell for the distinctive odor of natural gas! Some people may not be able to smell the odor because they have a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure to it) or because the odor is being masked or hidden by other odors that are present, such as cooking, damp, musty or chemical odors. In addition, certain conditions in pipe and soil can cause odor fade - the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.

Look out for the SoCal Gas Company’s beach campaign this summer on Dockweiler Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, as well as Huntington Beach and be sure to spread the word about the safety hazards of a natural gas leak with others!

Thank you to the Southern California Gas Company for bringing awareness to the public and helping to keep SoCal Beaches clean and looking beautiful for beach-goers year round!

 

Today, And Every Day, We Honor Our Nation’s Heroes… Both Two-Legged and Four…

by Erin Marchesano 11. September 2014 10:53

Our thoughts are always with those who have risked their lives to defend our nation and today, on September 11, 2014 we remember and honor the heroes who came to the rescue of innocent civilians who became victims during the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

Among those heroes on 9/11, were our amazing four-legged friends who are often the very first responders when attempting disaster relief efforts of all kinds. The National Search Dog Foundation is one of the many organizations pairing rescue dogs with first responders and their service to this country is to be commended.

“SDF is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Ojai, California. Our mission is to strengthen disaster preparedness in America by partnering rescued dogs with firefighters to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. The teams are provided at no cost to fire departments and other emergency service agencies throughout the country.”

Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation is proud to have an organization like SDF as a partner in the California Sponsor A Highway Program.

Their efforts during natural disasters can often be the difference between life and death, and their willingness to risk their lives to save others is beyond compare.

 

Thank you to those who have served our country.

Thank you to those out there serving our country still.

And thank you to our friends whose love for another goes far beyond their love for themselves.

You are everything to this nation, and we honor you.

 

Fort Worth Is One of the BEST Cities in the Country to Start a Small Business!

by Erin Marchesano 20. August 2014 12:42

For the third year in a row, Thumbtack.com has partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to conduct a survey of small businesses nationwide. With this particular survey, the goal is to learn what small businesses believe is a healthy political a regulatory climate by having them rate how it is to do business where they live. The survey aims to learn what creates a healthy, vibrant local business environment by asking owners & operators directly about these issues in the cities in which they live.

Here’s what people are saying about the Fort Worth business climate:

“The State of Texas is a great place to live and do business. I formerly lived in California and there is no comparison.”Builder, Hurst

“The local and state governments make it easy to register and keep up with taxes. Sales tax can be paid online each quarter with minimal to no paperwork.”Videographer/Photographer, Hurst

“I cannot imagine expanding my business beyond where it is today because I could not keep up with government regulations.”Psychic Medium, Flower Mound

“Forming a business is fairly straightforward, but keeping a business can be somewhat of a hardship after taxes are paid and contract workers are hired.”Photographer/Designer, Fort Worth

Categories on the survey include:

Overall Friendliness – “In general, how would you rate your state’s support of small business owners?”

Ease of Starting a Business – “How difficult or easy do you think it is to start a business in your state?”

Ease of Hiring – “How difficult or easy is it to hire a new employee at your business?”

Regulations – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to business regulations generally?”

Health & Safety – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to health and safety regulations?”

Employment, Labor, & Hiring – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to employment, labor and hiring regulations?”

Tax Code – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to tax code and tax-related regulations?”

Licensing – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to licensing forms, requirements, and fees?”

Environmental – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to environmental regulations?”

Zoning – “How unfriendly or friendly is your state or local government with regard to zoning or land use regulations?”

Training & Networking Programs – “Does your state or local government offer helpful training or networking programs for small business owners?”

According to Thumbtack, some of the key findings for Fort Worth include:

• Small business owners rated Fort Worth's tax code as the second friendliest in the country.

• Five Texas cities made the top ten for overall business friendliness - Houston (#3), Austin (#4), Dallas (#6), Fort Worth (#7), and San Antonio (#8).

• Small business owners gave Fort Worth an A+ for its regulations, including an A+ for health and safety regulations and the tax code.

• Fort Worth had an unusually high portion of businesses - 18% - that had only been operating for one year.

• Fort Worth earned a D+ for ease of hiring, one of the worst grades in the nation (rating at 67th out of 82) and the worst grade in Texas.

For more information about the survey & to review its full methodology and analysis from the link below:

2014 Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey: Methodology & Analysis

 

The First EVER Corporate Sponsor A Highway® Program is Now Open in the State of TEXAS!

by Erin Marchesano 14. August 2014 13:03

Texas Sponsor A Highway®, a company of Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation is excited to announce that not only our newest, but LARGEST market for the Corporate Sponsor A Highway® Program is now open and available for immediate sponsorship in the state of Texas!

What started out as a pilot program in 1985 in the state of Texas has now grown into a nationally-recognized program where Adopt-A-Highway volunteers and corporate sponsors work hard to keep the Texas-born program going strong. Up until this year, the state of Texas only allowed organizations and groups to sponsor as part of the volunteer program which requires members of the program to go out and clean up trash themselves.

The Texas Sponsor A Highway® Program, (not to be confused with the Texas “Adopt-A-Highway” volunteer program), gives businesses and organizations the opportunity to sponsor roadside maintenance in exchange for a monthly fee.  A businesses’ sponsorship will include a recognition panel on a Sponsor A Highway® sign with their company name and logo that is placed directly alongside some of Texas’ busiest roadways in one-mile increments.

Sign locations will be available in five major metropolitan cities including Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

As one of the many businesses to join the new Texas Sponsor A Highway® program, you will get first choice on sign locations and will have a large amount of availability to choose from. Choose a location near your place of business, or choose 10 locations in the neighboring area to help brand your business to the local community.

Gain recognition for your community involvement and make your mark on improving the environment through the Sponsor A Highway® program. Your contribution will not only keep the communities in which you do business, safe and looking beautiful, you will also be responsible for improving the quality of the environment along with the many other businesses that believe in this proven program.

Sponsors with the Sponsor A Highway® program leave lasting impressions with hundreds of thousands of motorists each day in the communities that they sponsor. Traffic volume which is referred to as “Average Daily Traffic” or “ADT” ranges in Texas from a low of 35,000 vehicles to a high of 315,000 vehicles per day depending on the different major roadways.

The average vehicle carries 1.8 passengers per car, delivering 63,000 to 567,000 of impressions each day!! That’s less than .20 cents per impression!

Sponsor Testimonials:

“Millions of people see our sign every month. We view this as a way to help serve our community, drivers will also connect that message to us as the place to buy their next Toyota. For the price, it was really an easy decision.”

- Suzanne Castaneda, Director of Marketing

Longo Toyota

 

“Cracker Barrel employees have pride in their hometowns. We sponsor many miles of interstate and our guests tell us they appreciate our commitment to the community. This partnership extends our brand of hospitality beyond the rockers on our front porch.”

- Mary Lancaster, Marketing Services Coordinator

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.

 

We are excited to work with new and existing sponsors at growing this program into everything it can possible be. It doesn’t matter if you are the local pizza shop or if you are a large corporation with locations all across the nation, the Texas Sponsor A Highway® program has opportunities for everyone.

Demand for these locations is high and availability won’t last long so call today for more information on how you can become one of the very first sponsors to join the Texas Sponsor A Highway® Program!

800-200-0003

info@adoptahighway.com

www.texashighwaysponsorship.com

 

**SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT** - Shooters Outpost

by Erin Marchesano 13. August 2014 10:31

Shooters Outpost opened its doors on December 3, 2012 and has since provided a full line of firearms, ammunition, accessories, and a large 5.11 tactical clothing selection in its 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Open 7 days a week, Shooters Outpost prides itself on superior customer service and is dedicated to firearms, ammunition, hunting gear, tactical gear, reloading supplies, conceal and carry clothing, and much, much more.

Just 0.7 miles from exit 9 north off Route 93; Shooters Outpost is New Hampshire's newest old fashioned gun store.

Having recently joined the New Hampshire Sponsor A Highway® program in 2014, Shooters Outpost is dedicated to the improvement of New Hampshire roadways and keeping the community beautiful.

For more information about Shooters Outpost visit their website www.outpostnh.com or visit their Facebook page for updates and promotions on their latest supplies!

www.facebook.com/ShootersOutpost

 

Austin is Ranked the BEST City in the Country to Start a Small Business!

by Erin Marchesano 13. August 2014 09:36

For the third year in a row, Thumbtack.com has partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to conduct a survey of small businesses nationwide. With this particular survey, the goal is to learn what small businesses believe is a healthy political a regulatory climate by having them rate how it is to do business where they live. The survey aims to learn what creates a healthy, vibrant local business environment by asking owners & operators directly about these issues in the cities in which they live.

And here’s what small business owners are saying about the business climate in Austin!

“Great economy and friendly people willing to network”Designer, Austin

“With no state income tax and lower business taxes, Texas is an environment where small and large businesses can easily start up and thrive. That’s why businesses (and people) are leaving places like New York and California in droves. Those states over-regulate and overtax their businesses out of business. By contrast, Texas’ business-friendly model is an example for the rest of the country.”Commercial Photographer, Austin

“It is very easy to start a business where I live. The regulations are few, taxes are fair, and the local government works with small businesses.”Photographer, Austin

“I feel my state is very supportive and the city I live in is perfect for my business. Plenty of work here and plenty of competition.”Caterer, Austin

According to Thumbtack, some of the key findings for Austin include:

• Austin's tax code took the number one spot as the friendliest to small businesses in the country.

• Five Texas cities made the top ten for overall business friendliness - Houston (#3), Austin (#4), Dallas (#6), Fort Worth (#7), and San Antonio (#8).

• Austin's regulatory friendliness scores were the second highest in the country, and it received an A+ for its health and safety, labor, tax, and licensing regulations.

• Male business owners in Austin were more optimistic about the outlook for the local economy than their female counterparts, rating their optimism 7 percent higher than female owners.

• Small businesses gave Austin's training programs an A+ grade and rated them 4th best in the country.

 For more information about the survey & to review its full methodology and analysis from the link below:

2014 Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey: Methodology & Analysis

 

Join The Most Exclusive Group…

by Erin Marchesano 8. August 2014 10:41

“The Latest Status Symbol For Hamptons Elite Is Adopting A Highway”

By, Doree Lewak, New York Post, August 5, 2014

This week, an article was published in the NY Post, highlighting some of New York’s elite individuals for their involvement in the Sponsor A Highway® program:

“The latest status symbol in the world’s richest playground is being the proud owner of a rather pedestrian-looking sign along Montauk Highway and Route 27, especially between Southampton and East Hampton. Competition for such prime stretches is fierce — years-long waiting lists are not uncommon — making them all the more desirable to master-of-the-universe types.

Most sign up for one- or two-year contracts, pledging to pay hundreds of dollars a month to go toward contractors who maintain and beautify roads. In exchange, adoptees can have their names — and their businesses — on a sign for all of New York City’s movers and shakers to see.”

Each of the individuals interviewed for the article are partners with Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation and we’re proud to be working with them! Sign locations in Long Island are extremely limited and an ongoing wait list has been created for people and businesses interested in areas that are not currently available.

“There’s very little turnover. Once these sponsors are in, they don’t want to give up their segments,” says DOT staffer Carlos Rojas.

Space is so limited that a onetime wait-lister feels all the more territorial now that he’s claimed his mark — on Route 27 just before East Hampton’s iconic Hook Windmill.

“Offer me a million dollars — and I still won’t give that sign up,” says Eli Wilner, master fine art framer of some of the world’s most valuable collections, who has a gallery on the Upper East Side.

 

 Since the fall of 2013, Josh Guberman has maintained a one-mile stretch of roadway along the eastbound side of the Long Island Expressway.

“Instead of the location or the spot, we took what we consider an inferior spot,” he says, referring to the more traditionally working-class section of Suffolk County — just outside the Hamptons proper.

Despite being on the wrong side of the road, as it were, he says he’s happy to give back to the community — and get recognition for doing so. “My friend called and said, ‘I always wanted to have my sign on the highway!’ ” says Guberman. “It’s really nice to actually have some measure of acknowledgment. It’s not like having a blimp up in the air.”

Other business owners like Jill and Bobby Zarin have also joined the program and over the years have hoped to add additional signs but have had no luck due to limited availability.

Jill and Bobby Zarin — who have enjoyed a plum sign for their business, Zarin Fabrics, on Route 27 in Southampton for a decade — would also like a second location to broadcast a more personal message (“Jill loves Bobby”).

But, Jill Zarin reports, there’s nothing left worth having. “There’s definitely a waiting list — location, location, location, like any real estate.”

Another elite individual who loves the program is Donald Trump.

To read the full article follow the link below:

http://nypost.com/2014/08/05/the-latest-status-symbol-for-hamptons-elite-is-adopting-a-highway/

To be part of the solution and get your name or business on a sign call today.

Availability is EXTREMELY limited!

800-200-0003

**SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT** - Kitchen & Company

by Erin Marchesano 6. August 2014 16:14

Kitchen & Company specializes in everything for cooking, dining, and entertaining. They appeal to everyone - from the novice to the gourmet cook - by offering the broadest product selection and variety available. Their mission is to provide customers with the best quality merchandise at the best prices.

For over 10 years, their 12,000 - 15,000 sq. ft. retail stores have been a one-stop destination for products used for the preparation and serving of food. With more than 20,000 value priced items in stock, their selection is unsurpassed. They carry everything from kitchen electrics and cookware to gourmet food and kitchen textiles. Their stores have over 120 feet of kitchen gadgets.

Their wide selection along with their friendly, well-trained staff ensures that they are the authority for cooking, dining, and entertaining.

We’re talking about real stores with real people.

For more information about Kitchen & Company visit their website here.

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