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“Before beginning, plan carefully.”
The philosophy of the great Roman Orator Cicero is just as appropriate in today’s small business environment as it was in the political arena of the Roman Empire. A sound and well thought-out marketing plan is an essential part of a firm’s ability to compete in today’s marketplace. In spite of this, many small businesses take a disorganized or haphazard approach to their marketing efforts and, as a result, fail to capitalize on opportunities to sell more of their products and services.
Why do so many take this half-hearted approach? Many believe it stems from the nature of the entrepreneur, who thrives on action and being intrinsically involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Planning is seen as a non-active effort and therefore does not provide the same stimulus as being involved in producing and selling a product and/or service.
The process of creating a marketing plan involves three steps:
An analysis of the firm’s internal and external environments;
A decision on a “Unique Selling Point” to emphasize and project; and
The selection of action plans (both paid and unpaid) to reach the targeted customer base.
The U.S. Small Business Administration published a final rule in The Federal Register that will increase some of the size definitions of small businesses in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and Other Services sectors.
The final rule will increase 37 of the revenue-based size standards in 34 industries and three sub-industries in the “Professional, Scientific and Technical Services” sector. It will also increase one size standard in the “Other Services” sector.
If you are considering government contracts as a way to increase revenues in your company, be sure to check out the SBA's Government Contracting Classroom where you will find self-paced on-line training designed to give you the confidence and know-how to participate in the federal contracting arena.
The new online contracting series is called Government Contracting 101, Parts 1-3. Part 1 provides an overview of the small business contracting programs so small businesses know what is available to them. Part 2 is designed to help small firms understand how the government buys goods and services. Part 3 is about how to sell to the government. All three modules include a “resources and tools” section with links, materials and more that are useful.
In the last decade, Brazil has been one of the fastest growing emerging markets. It is currently the largest economy in Latin America, and seventh largest in the world. This week’s trade spotlight highlights the importance of U.S.-Brazil trade relations and how the relationship benefits American farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, and workers.
As one of the fastest growing emerging markets, and a country that the International Monetary Fund projects is poised for continued growth, Brazil is an important trading partner for the United States. In 2010, U.S. goods and services trade with Brazil was $81 billion, with exports accounting for $52 billion and imports accounting for $29 billion. This resulted in a goods and services trade surplus of nearly $23 billion for 2010, a 61 percent increase from 2009.
Brazil is the 10th largest goods trading partner with the U.S., with goods trade surplus of more than $11 billion in 2010. Trade in services between the U.S. and Brazil totaled more than $21 billion in 2010. Additionally, the services surplus for the United States was more than $11 billion.
In 2010, Brazil was the United States’ 8th largest goods export market. U.S. goods exports to Brazil were more than $35 billion, a near 36 percent increase from 2009. Overall, U.S. exports to Brazil accounted for nearly 3 percent of total U.S. exports in 2010. The top U.S. exports to Brazil were machinery, aircraft, and electric machinery. Additionally, the U.S. exported $578 million worth of agricultural products to Brazil in 2010. The leading categories of agricultural exports were wheat, cotton, dairy products and sugars and sweeteners.
“The U.S.-Mexico border is open for business.” That is the refrain I and others who work on border issues tirelessly deliver wherever we can. But with the media’s relentless focus on immigration, drug-trafficking, and cartel violence, we know that we must provide and promote objective evidence to support our message. A report recently released by Arizona State University’s North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) and NDN’s New Policy Institute (NPI), entitled “Realizing the Value of our Cross Border Trade with Mexico” does both.
The report only confirms the overwhelming evidence that the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) has assembled conclusively establishing that Mexico and, by extension the U.S.-Mexico border, is vital to the long-term health of the U.S. economy. However, all of that evidence is for naught if Americans are not made aware of it.
That is why I was pleased to join the effort to promote and further publicize the NACTS /NPI report at an event hosted by the New Democrat Network (NDN) last week, where I was joined by one of the authors of the report, NACTS Director D. Rick Van Schoik. I am convinced that it is through this kind of collaboration—between the public and private sectors—that we will change the national conversation about the border.