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Success: Tip 3 – Brand Yourself, Don’t Embarrass Yourself
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How many times have you found yourself walking through a store, scanning hundreds of items a minute, disregarding most of them, but occasionally stopping to touch something or pick it up to get a closer look? Now picture that same store – whether a supermarket, department store, warehouse or club store – and replace the sea of products with people. You heard me. Imagine every box, can, pair of pants, video, book, and bag of candy replaced with a person just like you. Visualize thousands of them…maybe more…maybe a million in any given store. Now, do that visual walk through again. Would you notice you?

Let’s be honest, most of us look a heck of a lot alike. While we’re all certainly different and special in our own ways, at first glance we blend into a sea of countless others. Whether you’re looking to launch a new business, build your reputation, earn a promotion, attract a great new client, or to be considered for a special opportunity, standing out—in a positive way—is essential. But what do most people see if they come in to take a closer look? How often are you putting your best foot forward in person, or online?

Now that the economy has taken a downturn and great opportunities are getting harder and harder to find, this is the perfect time to build (or refine) your professional brand. Odds are, when someone goes to look for you online or learn more about you, they come up with little or nothing you would want them to see. If you fall into either of these categories, it’s time to do something about your online persona, or lackthereof, and build a professional identity. At YSN, we happen to call it a PROJO – your professional mojo. After helping thousands of people around the world build theirs, I can assure you that building a professional profile that you can truly be proud of will not only build your confidence, but your business too!

Do yourself a favor and also conduct a personal and professional brand audit of yourself . Analyze everything that the outside world could find out about you with a simple online search. Objectively consider the kind of impression you’re portraying, then clean it up. Start being more intentional, purposeful, and proactive about the kind of image you’re projecting online. Don’t assume others are going to take the time to “get to know you”. It’s your responsibility to grab and hold their attention. Because just like being one in a sea of products on shelves, you too have a matter of seconds to impress upon others that you’re worth a closer look.

Jennifer Kushell is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful: How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime. As President & Co-founder of YSN, Jennifer has dedicated her life to helping young professionals and entrepreneurs in over 130 countries find success through powerful tools like the YSN Assessment.

Jennifer Kushell, Guest Blogger
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Finance: Accelerate Access to Cash
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4 Ways of Keeping Cash in the Business

If cash is king, then your business needs more flowing in than out of the business. Keeping cash after the sale & expenses is all about that mighty goal of profits. Check out this page with resources on cash & credit: access to cash.

Accelerate your access to cash:

1. Sell more and collect payment at the sale.
In a tight economy you can sell more by adding a service contract. You can sell more by bundling products into a package with a slight discount. The client gets a discount, you get a bigger sale & still keep solid profits.

2. Collect more up front, collect progress payments & get receivables.
Every SCORE mentor will say collect the funds you are owed & do it quickly. Whenever possible, collect a deposit up front. In contract arrangements, set up the project for progress payments as key milestones. For everyone, put a collections policy in place and follow it to collect what you are owed. Ask SCORE how to set up a collections policy.

3. Save more by cutting expenses and holding on to your cash.
Look at cutting expenses by 10 percent. It is amazing what you can find to trim in costs, when you really look. Spend what you need to market and operate the company–but don’t stock unnecesary items, print large quantities of branding materials or commit to long-term contracts. Keep your cash in your business as fuel thru the recession.

4. Borrow funds for bridge capital until customer payment is received.
A line of credit is good way to fund bridge capital. If you have a good credit score and track record in business–your chances for a line of credit go up dramatically. Even in tighter credit markets, a solid business can get a line of credit. If your credit score is not as strong, explore an SBA-guaranteed loan. Community banks and the bank you do business with day-to-day are good places to start. SBA loans may be an option.

Christine Banning, SCORE
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SCORE
For 50 years, SCORE has helped aspiring and current small business owners achieve their dreams. Through a network of over 11,000 volunteer business mentors in 340+ chapters across the country, SCORE connects decades of business experience and knowledge with those who can best use it.
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