I recently presented a social media workshop to a group of employees representing their organizations who were there to learn new ways to market their respective work places. I was taken aback when I asked the group to raise their hands if their organizations were using social media as a means to communicate their activities and only a few of the 30 or so in attendance raised their hands. What a missed opportunity! Then one of the attendees remarked, 'My employer wants us to start a Facebook page for our organization but we're prohibited from using Facebook at work.' Do you see the contradiction here?

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:54

Sales tax can be taxing

Sales tax may not be the sexiest of business topics, but it's often the topic that causes the most confusion for business owners especially new ones. Take myself for example. I recently launched a new business making jewelry and accessories and selling them online. I assumed that because I was selling online only and didn't have a retail store in Maine that I would not have to collect sales tax. But I wasn't sure, so I called Maine Revenue Services in Augusta and they set me straight. Let me first say that they were very nice and helpful, and I would strongly recommend that if you have any questions call them!

It turns out that, because I live in Maine and do business in Maine, I do in fact have to collect sales tax on items shipped to Maine residents. If a Maine resident orders and wishes to have the product shipped to another state, I do not need to collect Maine sales tax. I thought to myself, 'I should know this stuff!' Then it occurred to me that if I was easily confused, there are likely many of you who are as well. So I set out to learn more.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 14:11

Your Business Deserves professional marketing

Many small business owners feel that hiring professional marketing assistance is out of their league. Some might not have a specific marketing budget in place (although every business should, in order to succeed). Other start-up businesses opt to handle their marketing activities in-house, which may actually turn out to be more expensive in the long run.

In actuality, although professional marketing may cost more, it is likely to provide far better quality in presentation and communication. Here are a few suggested marketing components that are more effective when produced by trained professionals:

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 16:25

Ain't no business like doggie business

Bangor shop makes matching pet & owner apparel

BANGOR - After years of making jackets for her dogs and other friend's dogs, Cyndi Rollins of Bangor has turned her love of animals and fashion into a viable business. This Yorkie owner creates custom made dog leashes and collars that coordinate and match with belts, headbands, boat shoes or flip-flops worn by their owner. All her fashions are made right out of her own home on Sixth Street in Bangor where her Dogn'i business is located.

"I always wanted a business of my own," said Cyndi Rollins, owner of Dogn'i. "I kind of made a list of all the things I liked to do and I got down to pets and fashion. That's how I came up with the idea of pet apparel and coordinating fashions for owners."

That was back in 2000. It took Rollins, who is a full time insurance agent, another eight years to truly launch a web site, promote her products and start ringing in sales.

Published in Biz
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:47

Making it in Maine

In case you haven't heard manufacturing is alive and well in Maine! This was abundantly clear when I had the privilege to introduce nine Maine companies as part of a Business Showcase at the 2012 Manufacturing Summit held in Rockland by the Manufacturers Association of Maine. The companies included Howe & Howe Technologies, Sappi Fine Paper, Biovation, Pepin Associates, Revision, Wentworth Technology and more. The companies ranged from those that have been doing business in Maine for a long time and employ hundreds of people to start-ups with one or two people.

What was particularly interesting and exciting was the range of products being developed by these companies right here in Maine - everything from paper being used in Nike sneakers and Gucci jackets to medical dressings that are made to not stick to skin, robots being used to fight fires, headsets for the fast food industry, airplane parts being made by new lightweight composite materials, and highly-absorbent fiber products being used in packaging to preserve fresh food.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 19:37

Bangor Business Expo

BANGOR In this economy, the last thing you want your business to be is invisible. Many businesses will be getting their names out there, networking and learning new ways to maximize their presence at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce's 2012 Business Expo on May 10.

'Everything centers around our 90 exhibitors that we're going to have set up that day,' said Karen Cole, the executive vice president of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. 'What we have surrounding all that is seminars with our guest speaker Rich Brooks.'

Cole said that there will also be a networking lounge set up with comfy couches, coffee and plenty of chances to trade business cards and elevator speeches with other like-minded business people and entrepreneurs. The lounge is sponsored by Husson University.

Published in Biz
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 13:35

A hot dog education at College Dogs

New Orono restaurant features specialty hot dogs

ORONO When most of us think of hot dogs, we more or less think of the same thing. A bunch of hot dogs on the grill, a bag of rolls and a handful of basic condiments ketchup, mustard, relish. That tends to be our default thought process with regards to hot dogs.

But then you visit a place like College Dogs, located in the University Mall at 6 Stillwater Avenue in Orono. College Dogs is the kind of restaurant that reminds you of the true and epic potential of the hot dog.

'I moved here from Fall River (Massachusetts) about a year ago,' said Jody Blanchette, owner-operator of College Dogs. 'I came up to visit some friends in the Old Town/Orono area and liked it so much I decided to move here with my family.

'I was looking for a way to make a living,' he continued, 'so I decided to bring something that wasn't around here; stuff like hot dogs, fried treats, steamed burgers, fried dinner plates and home cooked food.'

Published in Biz
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 23:37

My Interest in Pinterest

So far I've managed to steer clear of 'Angry Birds' and 'Words with Friends.' I'm an avid Facebooker, I have a profile on LinkedIn and I tweet - keeping up with all of that is hard enough. So when my sister showed me her Pinterest page and raved about how much fun it is I looked the other way. I will NOT be sucked in to another time suck.

But every day I see and hear more about Pinterest, so I thought that it might be a great tool for business owners to promote themselves. I guess I should look into this.

Published in Local Business
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