Engage

President’s Message ~ 2016

I was sitting in one of our local coffee shops, reflecting on 2015 and what I hope to see in this New Year, and had an overwhelming thankfulness for this town. We may not be “so little” any more, but the character and charm of Louisville has carried on through every growth spurt, and that’s what makes it unique. A community of small and large businesses, people, dreamers, and doers that put us on the map and make this place thrive!

So when I think about what I hope for in 2016, I hope to ENGAGE this wonderful community, made up of everything listed above and more, and tap into all you have to offer!

What do I mean by engage? Well, I believe the best way to create & sustain a thriving business community is to find out what people are most passionate about, and let them run with it. This year, I look to engage our Chamber members by asking you to find what you’re passionate about and put it to use for your fellow members and community!

At some point you wanted to be a part of something bigger, but often busy schedules and life stresses pull us away from what we want to do. They disengage us without us even realizing it, but now you find yourself in a comfortable routine, and it’s a little daunting to risk changing that.

I want to challenge you to try, to become engaged again, to rekindle whatever made you want to get involved in the first place.

What does this look like?

  • Get involved with the events that interest you most. We have no shortage of fantastic events to be a part of! Like beer? Find out how you can be a part of Pints in the Park!
  • Have a great business tip? Share it at a networking event, or better yet, host a happy hour with the Chamber to share it with our members.
  • Engage in social media. You are on there already, share what you find interesting from our page with friends, and share what you think we should know on our pages!
  • Push past your comfort zone at the next After Hours, meet someone new, and then visit their business. The only way to make meaningful connections is to be a meaningful connection.

I read recently that “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”. Let this be a year of growth for you, for our Chamber, and for our community. I look forward to all you will get to experience this year when you take that leap!

Sarah Giammaria ~ 2016 Chamber President

What Does “Involved” Mean To You?

Summer is one of the best times to take advantage of our thriving Louisville community by getting involved!  I realize the word “involved” can feel a bit daunting … especially if you’re not certain exactly what IS involved.  It can mean many different things.  Most importantly it means you can be directly connected to a variety of events, festivals, special programs and fundraising activities on any level that works for you!  Here are my 3 top, easy and fun ways to get involved:

#1 – Networking: if you aren’t already regularly attending our Louisville Chamber networking events such as our “Business After Hours” and our new monthly “Biz Crawl,” to name a couple, please consider attending.  These events are a direct benefit to the profitability and success of our member businesses and organizations.  You will meet new people and see familiar faces!

#2 – Special Programs and Fundraising Activities: Getting involved in these types of opportunities are not only important by giving your support, but they are also great ways to market your business and pick up on practices and ideas that you may not have thought of!

#3 – Volunteer: By offering your time to volunteer with fellow Louisville Chamber members, you are helping to improve and protect our business environment and overall quality of life in our Louisville community.  Our Chamber is always looking for and welcoming volunteers for our events and we are so very grateful for your time and support!  Just give us a call if you are interested.  It is A LOT of fun!

The Louisville Chamber of Commerce is committed to making our community a fantastic place to live, work, have fun and thrive.  There are lots of fun options of entertainment and adventure –day or night–  all year long.  Please consider getting involved … you will be glad you did!

Marketing Is A Noun

It is both exciting and daunting to be asked to write for the Chamber Blog.

As many of you know we write a blog for our own business and often publish articles that we believe will be of value to our customers…. most of whom own and are trying to grow a business.

People join the Chamber for a many reasons…. but growing your business has to be among one of the more common of those reasons.

It’s part of what is often called “marketing”.

I spent many years not understanding how to “market” my business.
Or if I did understand how, I didn’t get why.

All in all it was an uncomfortable, scary and an unproductive place to be.

I felt like it was something hugely important (and it is) that I didn’t get and certainly didn’t do well.

If that feels like you, I would guess two things about you –

  • You didn’t go to school to study marketing.
  • You are a pretty typical owner of a small business.

One of my favorite business strategists, Michael Gerber, wrote a book in 1986 titled “The E-Myth Revisited” so long ago, that in this case the “E” stands for entrepreneurial (not electronic or e-mail).

One of Michael’s root premises is…. most small businesses are not owned by entrepreneurs, they are owned by a technician who had an “entrepreneurial seizure”.  

Most of us came to business ownership by an indirect path.

  • We found something that we liked and/or did well.
  • Then decided it would be even more fun if we owned a business that did that.

There might be another path for many small business owners too…. I call it  “lifestyle seizure”.

  • Many of us reached a point in life, where lifestyle was the most important thing for us.
  • We see business ownership as a vehicle to do more of what we want, and less of what we don’t like.

Either way, business ownership through “seizure” doesn’t make us bad people.

But those of us who came to business ownership via “entrepreneurial or lifestyle seizure”…. are often missing some of the instincts of the true entrepreneur.

We may not have the passion to attack all the challenges of business ownership, without some help.

When I think about what I didn’t know and wasn’t comfortable with…. selling tops the list and marketing is a close second.

So, here’s my marketing lesson for Small Business Owners.

Marketing is a noun. It describes a collection of activities that you will use to grow your business.

Marketing is not a verb (even though you often hear it used as one). You can’t actually DO marketing.

So, if you don’t know how to “do marketing” you are not broken….. you are normal.

If I were to ask you how businesses are marketed, your answers might look like this –

  • Place ads on the radio or in the newspaper (that’s not marketing….. that’s placing ads)
  • Network at a variety of events (that’s not marketing….. that’s networking)
  • Use direct mailers (that’s not marketing….. that’s mailing)
  • Cold call (that’s not marketing….. that’s phoning)
  • Blog or email (that’s not marketing, that’s….. well you get the idea)

So from that, we draw three conclusions –

  • In order to promote your business you have to “do” something.
  • You can’t or won’t “do” something you don’t understand.
  • You understand plenty and could use those things to promote your business.

You can easily turn all of this into Marketing Action Plan.

All that we are looking for is…. a fewspecific activities that you can do well, consistently and measure

That’s really important, so I am going to say it twice and really loud…. A FEW, SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES, THAT YOU DO WELL, CONSISTENTLY AND MEASURE.

Build your plan in the plainest possible language. Build it so it will pass a this test –

  • Is it comfortable for you…. you won’t do it well and consistently if it’s not.

Once you have that plan…. do it well and consistently and your business will grow.

And measure…. even the best laid plans don’t always work, so you might have to “tweak” if you are not getting the results you want.

This very simple approach can work…. the sales of my business almost doubled over the four years after I started using this approach.

P.S.  Michael Gerber really did write a great book. It provides a very useful prospective for the small business owner and you should really think about reading it.

We’re All Part of the Chamber

So I’m sitting here most of the way through the month of April on a monthly blog deadline wondering what to write for the blog for the Louisville Chamber of Commerce.

Most of what I write as an attorney is meant for insurance defense attorneys, district attorneys, other divorce lawyers, and judges. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. I’ve always been a “chamber of commerce” (at least at the local level) and “glass half-full” kind of guy. My Dad taught me to always try to see the good in things. We have a lot of good right here in Louisville.

A newly-elected member of the Board of Directors of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, I have come to know a lot of what is happening in the business community in Louisville over the years. Having moved to the City ten years ago when you could have shot a cannon down Main Street and not hit anything you would have never imagined numerous awards for “Best Place to Live in the Country”. The Louisville real estate market skated through the Great Recession. Lucky us.

With growth comes growing pains. For sake of example, I watch the DELO development going up on the other side of the railroad tracks from my law office, wonder where all of the growth is leading, and how the City’s infrastructure will support this growth. Businesses and residents need to coexist and work together to be good stewards of our City. Get involved. There is lots going on with the Small Area Plans for the South Boulder Road Corridor and the McCaslin Boulevard Corridor. You can find more information at this link.

Stay involved. Volunteer for the Louisville Chamber of Commerce. Volunteer or become a member of the Board of Directors of your favorite non-profit. Become a member of a City Board or Commission. Whether it’s history, the arts, or something else that strikes your fancy there are lots of opportunities to get involved in the community. We have a lot of history here in Louisville. Having grown up in New Orleans, Louisiana, I have always been a big fan of the culture of where I call home. Go to the Louisville Historical Museum. Support the Louisville History Foundation, the Louisville Cultural Council, the Louisville Arts Association, and the Art Underground.

Oh, and how about the Louisville Chamber of Commerce events? I need to get this wrapped up and get ready to go to the Chamber Business Expo today at the Elks Club on Main Street. Got the Taste of Louisville and the Taste of Louisville 5K and 12K races coming up on June 6th, the Spaghetti Open Golf Tournament on July 10th, Pints in the Park on August 29th, and the Parade of Lights during the holiday season. Love the Louisville Labor Day Parade and Parade of Lights. Truly Norman Rockwell moments. I always get goose bumps.

Don’t forget the monthly Louisville Chamber Business After Hours and the new Biz Crawl where we visit several businesses in one area of the City included with the cost of Chamber membership. These are all great networking opportunities and well worth the price of membership in the Louisville Chamber.

Join one of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce Leads Groups. I’m a member of the Chamber Business Connections Leads Group that meets the first three Wednesdays of each month at 11 a.m. at the Old Santa Fe Grille on Dillon Road in Louisville. We are always looking for new members.

Don’t miss the First Friday Art Walks each month and the Street Faire produced by the Downtown Business Association starting June 12th as well as the Farmer’s Market starting May 30th.

If you need help with realizing your dreams or a legal issue bugging you give me a call. I can either help you or point you in the right direction.

Now that wasn’t hard! Once you let a lawyer talk, it’s hard to shut them up. Out.

Getting the Most From Your Chamber Membership

successYou’ve heard the term (or is it slogan) “Membership has its privileges,”, and with a Chamber membership that’s certainly true. With a membership in the Louisville Chamber, you get the advantage of connecting with other business professionals; taking part in on-going events and gathering; and of course, getting more exposure for your business. That last one seems to be an overlooked piece of the membership “pie” when it comes to members leveraging their profile on this very website.

Recently, we, along with Goozmo, embarked on a journey to update the Louisville Chamber’s website from top to bottom. Goozmo had the “fun” task of moving all the previous content of the old site into the new one and setting things into a WordPress environment, while we had the joy of putting a new face on this site, and building in a newer membership feature. For members of the Chamber, this latest feature has many things that are designed to help you get greater exposure for your business, and create more reach to potential customers and clients.

First Things First: Sign In to Your Profile

If you haven’t already, make sure to login to the Member Only area. When you do so for the first time, you’ll need to go through the typical steps involved with passwords and user names, keeping in mind whatever email is associated with the Chamber account is the one an email will be sent to. We’ve put a pretty good tutorial here that can help answer many questions you might have.

Once you’re in the profile area, you’ll want to pay special attention to your Profile Description and Business Card blocks; these two places are what help populate the member profiles that are seen by the public.

Beyond the Profile

This new site will give your business some extra opportunities for both exposure and advertising reach. Note the block at the bottom footer area titled “Your Ad Here”; these are spots “for rent” by members, and allow for a small image to be placed there, along with a link to your offer. Also new is a blog, which is what you’re reading from now. If you have an article that would be of interest to the membership community and beyond, contact the Chamber and ask about providing a blog for publication here. (Please note: The blog is not an advertising platform or political platform, so content is restricted to items that would be of benefit/interest to business owners, members, and the general public.)

Finally, Make Friends!

I’m not sure about you, but events and things I do are much more fun when I meet neat people, people who aren’t trying to sell me something, but are genuinely interested in connecting. If someone in the Chamber seems like someone you might want to meet or talk with, do it! Sometimes we’re all so busy running our businesses that we forget to just stop, shake hands and exchange some conversation with someone new and have some laughs without the discussion of business at all.

Not everyone is a good chatter or networker, either. As gregarious as I might seem, even I hit my times of bashfulness (or maybe I’m just tired!), as others might do. Those are the times I appreciate a kind word, smile or introduction to others. It’s at these moments that you build lasting relationships, not only with people you might do business with, but who you might refer to someone later on.