Getting Legal Right When Starting Up

Starting a business is hard. I am aware. Starting a business right is even harder. When money is tight, misspending money can literally kill your new business. As I have started a business, I have felt how important each penny is. Some pennies keep the lights on, and anything that does anything other than that can be hard to prioritize.

Getting legally established and protected is, of course, super important to your business, that is, if you plan on it succeeding and growing. Who knows where to even start and thinking about the whole process can be terrifying.

I recently learned about Preti Flaherty’s Launch Pad program, and I have grown to love it. We are so fortunate to live in this little city that has so many resources we can learn from.

One of my favorite SMBME regulars, Maddie Purcell of Fyood Kitchen, recently went through the program and I asked her if we could do coffee and she could tell me about her experience.

If you haven’t heard of Fyood, you are in for a treat. Operating in Fork Food Lab, Fyood is a cooking competition where cooks or teams of cooks create final dishes with four mystery ingredients. Dishes are presented to a set of judges and then everyone shares a full meal family style. The whole event takes about 3 hours and you end up eating a six-course meal. The event is even BYOB, how fun is that?!?

Fyood has standing weekly events but is really seeing growth with private parties, birthday parties and team building events with businesses.

Maddie said she first heard about Launch Pad from a flyer at Cloudport. At the time, she was in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign and knew she was going to need help separating her personal and business finances. She said after doing lots of “unproductive Google research” she was overwhelmed and knew she was going to need help but startup funds are tight.

She said going through the Launch Pad program was a relief because it took the responsibility off her to try to figure it out and put her and her growing business in the hands of professionals. It took one of the thousands of things a business owner needs to do off her plate. She loved the team, she got the assistance she needed, plus they thought of things she would not have thought of herself at this phase of building her business.

If Launch Pad sounds like something you want to check out, contact the folks at Preti or just apply. They do have limited spots, so you need to do the application.

Again, I know there are thousands of things we are working on in our businesses. This is a simple and complementary way to make sure one of the most important parts is handled… well. THAT is what could make the difference for you.

At each Social Media Breakfast, I ask attendees for topics they want to talk about or cool stuff they are seeing locally. I have had a couple people mention the awesome online marketing from Fire & Company and the great people behind it.

You may have seen them – the beautiful vintage red trucks turning out gorgeous AND delicious wood-fired food at events, weddings, and at some of your favorite local breweries.

I reached out to Ryan Carey and we got a few minutes to talk about how he is using social media to grow their brand and get new customers – all while being super busy with their business.

On having a Social Media Strategy

A post shared by Fire and Company (@fireandco) on

Ryan, who is responsible for the social media for Fire & Company, is very aware that their brand and why people do business with them is about more than just the food. They have the vintage catering trucks, they work alongside some other top-notch professionals in their industry, and go to some beautiful places for events. Their story, is part of the whole story.

Fire & Company tries to capture not just the food but the whole event experience in their photos. Prospective clients will then be able to see themselves in the story and want an experience like that.

I need to add, the product from Food & Company is beautiful and delicious. With so many details in the story, it is also important that they exceed expectations with their specific piece – the food.

When asked if the posts are pre-planned or happen in the moment, Ryan said his employees make fun of him for taking pictures all the time at events but he actually prefers to post later. He says taking a day or two to reflect on the moments he captures gives him a better perspective on if it is worth sharing.

Take Your Own Photos or Hire Someone

A post shared by Fire and Company (@fireandco) on

Capturing the essence of your brand in photos is so important. Many businesses struggle with whether they should take their own or hire someone. Ryan told us he takes most of the photos they share but it is clear he has an eye for photography.

He also acknowledged that because of the industry he is in, there are professional photographers around who take wonderful photos. He posts a lot of his own photos but when he posts one from the photographers, he is always sure to give them credit.

Boosting Facebook Videos

I asked Ryan for an example of something he tried that went really well. His first thought was a few times he posted a video to Facebook and boosted them. He said those were viewed between 6,000 – 10,000 times. He was impressed that with very little effort, he can take a video on his phone, post it, and then boost it to his Facebook audience and friends of that audience and reach so many people.

Tying those boosted posts to business is difficult for them right now but the branding is important for them. Also, referrals are a huge part of their business, so showing connections on Facebook is an advantage for them.

Trying New Things

When asked if there was anything new for the 2017 season, like many others I have talked to, Ryan wants to try getting into SnapChat. Live events, weddings, and parties always have so much going on. There is a bunch of entertaining content that he thinks could make for some fun Snaps.

We love what Ryan and Fire & Company are doing with their social media. It is simple but yet stunning. They are definitely capturing more than just food in their posts. We look forward to seeing what the 2017 season has in store for them!

If you have a company you think I should talk to, let me know!

This post is a guest post from SMBME friend, David Pride. David owns Social Impressions, a Social Media Marketing company, specializing in the hospitality market. He is also the Sales Manager for the Portland Harbor Hotel. People can find David and additional blogs at www.socialimpressions.net

The cheese burger I had for lunch is causing me some acid, actually it’s making me wish I had some Pepto Bismol.

As a kid I never liked the taste of it, pink, slimy, and slightly minty. In fact, it reminded me of the pink candies my Nana’s not-so-secret boyfriend used to bring her. She kept them in a glass jar on her table. Whenever he would leave her home the jar would be filled with these round pink chalky candies. Perhaps it was some sort of parting kiss that us grandkids shouldn’t have known about…

Enough of me reminiscing about lovely Nana…I started this story with one goal, to tell you about my amazing experience with Pepto Bismol, masters of Pink.

About six months ago I started following Pepto Bismol on Facebook because I somehow came across their fan page. I thought it would be interesting to see what they talked about and see how they interacted with their fans. Almost immediately I was impressed with their snarky attitude and willingness to poke fun at their gas preventing, fart squashing, pink slime juice.

The first post I noticed exclaimed “We make parties better.” It had roughly 110 responses from their followers everything from the expected “I chug bottles of this stuff” to folks just chiming in and agreeing with the Pink. Every person who interacted with Pepto was acknowledged and not a single comment disregarded. I was totally impressed and soon I found myself interacting with Pepto because I wanted to be part of the fun.

One afternoon I even tagged Pepto in my status begging them to bring me a bottle after a traditional Maine Beans and Weenie dinner I had consumed the night before. They acknowledged my tag and even commented back. I felt even more connected with the brand I once overlooked as a child. What really won me over was what happened next…

One unsuspecting afternoon I opened my email and there before me was a message from my Pink pals. It said “David, we appreciate you interacting with us and we would like to thank you for your friendship, may we have your mailing address?” At first I was suspicious of it being a scam but judging by the email address it came from and other legitimate items in the email I responded in kind, with my mailing address.

Three weeks later a box arrived. Inside of this box was all things pink:

  • A pink insulated lunch bag,
  • a Pink LL Bean beach towel,
  • a Pink LL Bean Canvas Tote Bag,
  • and a handwritten note in pink from Pepto that read –

    “Thanks for being our friend and interacting with us.
    Enjoy this gift and stay Pink.”

I was so impressed I immediately took all the stuff laid it out on my couch and began snapping pictures for Facebook and Twitter – tagging Pepto in every post. Soon roughly 1,000 of my closest friends were seeing Pepto pink in their Facebook and Twitter Feeds.

Guess what else happened? My friends and followers began asking me about Pepto… and I began telling them about Pepto. Before I knew it I was the Benny Hinn of the acid reduction world. Pepto Bismol had made me a product evangelist for just the price of the few items listed above and for acknowledging my comments.

The next week at Shaw’s I found myself noticing Pepto advertisements, and I even bought a bottle for the upstairs bathroom just in case my acid acted up again. Being a man of larger carriage I knew that Doritos consumed tonight meant Doritos consumed tomorrow morning also. Quite unexpectedly I found myself wanting to support Pepto and wanting to tell my friends to do the same.

There are many lessons to be learned here. One of which is don’t melt sharp cheddar cheese on Cool Ranch Doritos at 11pm, or the Pink stuff will be a must by 3am. But the other lessons are a bit more fun.

  • Lesson #1 is that Pepto posted fun content that made me want to interact with them.
  • Lesson #2 is that Pepto acknowledged the followers who commented back and continued the conversation.
  • Lesson #3 is that Pepto saw someone who was excited about their conversations and capitalized on it by making that person (me) feel even more connected to their brand. In return I made sure my friends knew that Pepto – for lack of a better term – is the shit. (Couldn’t resist).

Am I suggesting that all of us who have Facebook Business pages begin mailing stuff to our followers and fans? Can we afford that? Probably not, and we probably don’t have the budget that Pepto has either. What we do have that our friends in Pink also have is personality and the ability to make the members of our community feel special. When I feel such a connection to a brand that when I don’t check their Facebook page I feel like I may be missing out on something, guess what? They’ve done something right.

If a product that focuses on diarrhea, stomach aches, and flatulence can make me feel special – pretty sure I can do the same for the followers of the companies I represent.

I’ll drink (the pink) to that.

Cheeseburger photo credit: TheCulinaryGeek

“There is never a good time to stop talking for a month” – @silentclark

A few months ago we got to listen to Marc Pitman talk to us about fundraising with social media. You can see his presentation slides here. Marc certainly has flair and a passion for fundraising. We talked about large successful fundraising campaigns like Twestival. What about small campaigns? What about the effort a single person can do?

Meet Silent Clark

Silent Clark HarrisThis past year I had the pleasure of meeting Clark Harris. Way up here in Maine we may not be as familiar with the adventures of Silent Clark but down in the Asheville, North Carolina area, he is kind of a big deal.

After the loss of his mother to cancer, Clark Harris had an idea. His idea was a large personal sacrifice to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. His efforts would be to do his part to ‘silence cancer’. You can read all you need to know about his goal and progress on his website SocialMediaExperiment.com

The effort was simple in explanation but one of the most difficult sacrifices a young, talkative man could make – Clark was going to stop talking. All of his communicating would be ONLY through social media. All of his talking and texting, including at home with his newly wed wife, would stop. No talking. He attended the wedding of a friend, ordered coffee, networked at events without speaking to anyone.

Clark has said one of the hardest parts about this experiment was that his whole life was on display. Every conversation was live and in real time for the whole world to see.

His efforts were picked up by popular social media personalities and his story was covered on Mashable, local news stations, CBS Online news and many more. His intentions were to connect with people that were strangers to him and to be unified on a single front – wanting to beat cancer.

Clark didn’t talk for 100 days and in that time he raised $18,000. People could donate online and show their support by following him on twitter or becoming a fan of the Facebook Fan Page.

Should we all stop talking for a month?

No, I am not saying we should all stop talking. What I am saying is that we often hear grand case studies and examples of people making a difference with social media. There is also a lot you can do with just one person or a small business. It will take an idea and some execution but it can be done. Clark had a cause that was very important to him, he had tools at his disposal and he had an idea. He had to do some serious planning and his sacrifice was huge but he was able to make a difference without a huge marketing team or event budget.

I also have a tad of an inside scoop that this won’t be the last we ‘hear’ from Silent Clark. Keep an eye on him this year too for how he is going to take his cause and try to make an even bigger impact.

What are you going to do to make a difference or to raise funds using social media this year?

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