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.

ceiling at Rising Tide's new event spaceI am thrilled to tell you that Social Media Breakfast Maine has a new home. I have some very big goals for 2018 and knew a venue switch was needed to meet those goals. I knew a few major needs were a comfortable room, a good internet connection and parking for attendees.

When I sat with Rising Tide and talked about their brand new event space they were opening, it immediately felt perfect. Besides the needs I had, there were some wants, PLUS things I didn’t consider that were going to be met with this move.

I started SMBME almost 9 years ago only because I wanted to help local businesses navigate digital marketing. I wanted them to understand the opportunities and have a safe place to ask questions and meet other people like them. As it has grown over the years, I still have the same things motivating me to keep doing them. I try to keep the room as inclusive as possible, as friendly as possible, and to make it feel like a small room.

In the past few years, I have gotten to know the folks from Rising Tide in a few different capacities. Their ethos (rising tide lifts all ships) isn’t just a slogan, they walk the walk. They are professional, community-oriented, friendly, and driven.

To make this move I obviously needed some help because big things take getting some help 🙂 I think I found a great crew to help us all move forward in 2018.

First I have consistent support from Portland Press Herald, PretiFlaherty, and Gorham Savings Bank. They have helped so much in the past few years and any growth would not possible without them.

Next, we added a long-term partnership with Maine Public Relations Council. After moderating a panel for them last year and attending their annual conference, I was reminded of the top-notch content and workshops they are regularly putting together. We will be doing a few joint events in 2018 and I will be sharing some other workshops and career development programming they are doing. I feel like being more involved with MPRC will be perfect to expand programming for all of you and to get you the resources you need to grow your businesses.

We also started a longer relationship with Noyes Hall and Allan. Bob O’Brien has been an avid SMBME attendee since we started in a conference room on outer Congress Street. Since then, he and the folks have Noyes Hall and Allan have become friends AND who I use for my business insurance. Bob has always helped out when we needed it and this is another perfect example.

Lastly, we met some new friends at the end of 2017 who are helping us grown for 2018 Anania Media and Fluent. I can’t wait for you to hear more about the great work they are doing.

I am very excited about this new home for SMBME and hope to see you on Fox Street soon!

I was asked recently by Jess Knox, from Venture Hall, and Erin Ovalle, from MaineLife, to do a short interview for their Game Changers segment. It was great to spend some time gushing about this little community we have made.

I started hosting the Social Media Breakfasts in Portland almost 8 years ago. It started with about 20 “early adopters” (aka nerds) in a conference room and it has grown into what it is today. We were talking about how to use social media to market businesses before social media was “a thing”.

Just about every month we tackle a different topic in and around the social media space and try to figure out how we can use it to promote and grow our businesses. I feel this community is as strong as it is because the events have always been about the room, the market, and the businesses in our city and what they need.

I have been honored to be a part of this. I have been proud to watch people get jobs in this room, start their own businesses in this room, and to grow their businesses. Thanks to all of you for making #SMBME what it is.

Be sure to catch MaineLife at 11:30 on Sundays on WCSH6, their YouTube Channel or their Facebook page.

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!

Last night we celebrated 75 Social Media Breakfast Maine events. We had a special nighttime event at Red Thread, in One City Center.

group-photo-smbme

Photo credit: MaineToday Media

Reflecting on the night and last 7 years (eek!), I realized I need more than a quick Facebook post.

First, I have to thank the wonderful community that IS SMBME. This event isn’t about a person or a company, it is about a group of people who are curious, smart, friendly, inclusive, and helping shape business in Maine. What started as 12 nerds (aka “early adopters”) in a conference room, has turned into a group of people who support each other and a monthly event with about 100 attendees each month.

mike-sobol-smbmekyle-smbme

Photo credit: Amazing DJ Music (Sound and Photography)

I want to thank our speakers, Mike Sobol and Kyle Poissonnier, for their interesting and inspiring presentations. Mike talked to us about challenging our assumptions, trying new things, and gave us examples from his work experience where what ‘worked’ wasn’t what people assumed would. Kyle inspires me so much. We asked him to come back again to talk about his recent Just A Kid From Maine release at Catalyst For Change Wear. He had an idea, asked his audience their thoughts, brought it to market and they reached their goal in about a day. A powerful and inspiring story!

A photo posted by April D. Cohen (@soporealtor) on

I want to thank our sponsors. The Portland Press Herald, Gorham Savings Bank, OTT Communications, Mainely SEO, The Maine Real Estate Network, Noyes, Hall & Allen, and Agents of Change. It was especially fun to have some sponsors that helped us really get our start come back for this special event. Thank you all so much!!

stephanie-michelle-chandra-smbme

Photo credit: MaineToday Media

I want to thank Stephanie from Red Thread for being an amazing hostess. I have hosted many an event and have NEVER felt as confident in the space and event prep. Stephanie took things off my hands that have never been offered before. Never. She made my prep for the event so much easier. I can’t thank you enough. If you haven’t been, please go by Red Thread and say ‘hello’. Beautiful space and some great ideas that you can execute in your own office.

I want to thank MaineToday Media and Amazing DJ Music (Sound and Photography) for capturing some great photos from the evening. It is wonderful to see a fun event captured so well in images. We loved having you there!

Lastly, thank you for all of you who attended last night. I know night events are hard, Fridays are hard, rainy nights are hard… but you made it and I truly appreciate it! It was a great time. I can’t wait to see where this community takes us all next!

A photo posted by April D. Cohen (@soporealtor) on

Tomorrow is the beginning of Maine StartUp and Create week. We are so fortunate to have so much support for startups right in our backyard! This is a weeklong event with literally dozens of sessions, keynotes, meetups, and activities all focused around startups.

You can’t be everywhere but I took a look at the schedule and here are four sessions I know I can’t wait to check out!

MONDAY – 2:15pm at MECA
What Do Users Want?
I had the pleasure of speaking at the Retail Association of Maine event with Brett from FieldStack (and Bull Moose). He has some great insight on creating a product Bull Moose’s customers needed and using data to drive business decisions – even when it is against what you as the owner THINK they want. Brett is only 1/4 of the fire power on this panel. We are pretty sure this is going to be a good one!

http://www.mainestartupandcreateweek.com/schedule/what-do-users-want/

TUESDAY – 9am at MECA
How to Share Your Story with Your Customers
It is no secret I am a huge fan of Might & Main. Sean and Arielle are skilled at really helping brands visually tell their story. Take the knowledge of Might & Main and add some Disney, Google, and Weymouth Design and we are pretty sure the roof is going to come off the building. Yowza! Bringing a hip looking notepad and fancy pencil to this session!

http://www.mainestartupandcreateweek.com/schedule/branding/

WEDNESDAY – 11am at MECA
Social Media: The ROI and How to Track It
Well hello! One of our favorite topics. Taja and her Pulp + Wire team are representing so many brands and know a thing or two about measuring the ROI of their efforts. We can’t wait to see what Tess has planned for this Lightning Workshop.

http://www.mainestartupandcreateweek.com/schedule/social-media-the-roi-and-how-to-track-it/

THURSDAY – 11am at MECA
Writing Effective Marketing Copy

Writing GOOD copy is a challenge no matter the industry. This sessions sounds fun and super helpful. Looking forward to checking it out.

http://www.mainestartupandcreateweek.com/schedule/writing-effective-copy/

FRIDAY – 6pm at Merrill Auditorium
Greenlight Maine Finale Event

That morning we have a SMBME but that night…. it is finally here! One of these three companies is walking off the stage with a giant check for $100,000. Two of three three of them are previous SMBME presenters! It is going to be an exciting evening and great way to wrap up the week!
http://www.mainestartupandcreateweek.com/schedule/greenlight-maine-finale-event/

How about YOU? What events are you excited to check out? Or if you can’t attend, which are you sad to miss out on? It is going to be a crazy and exciting week!

PubHub Cruise on Casco Bay

This question has come up a few times in the Social Media Breakfast Maine LinkedIn Group so I thought I could make a list here too. When people are looking to move to the area, move back to the area or to be more connected in our little city – they look for good networking opportunities with business people like themselves. Here in our lively city there are events and opportunities like that all year long.

Here are a list of great networking opportunities right here in Portland:

  • Maine Tweetup – Held about once a month the Maine Tweetups (#metweetup) are a great place to connect in person with people you can continue your conversation with after the night is over on Twitter. There is a Maine Tweetup Facebook Group that seems to be the best place to hear about the next gathering.
  • PechaKucha Portland – PechaKucha is for the creative types. It is a really neat event that meets every few months. Area designers and creatives present their work in a unique format. They have a Facebook page and website where you can hear about upcoming events and calls for speakers.
  • Portland Green Drinks – Greendrinks is held the second Tuesday of every month at various locations around the city. The goal is to connect people from Portland who are interested in environmental and sustainability issues. You are encouraged to ‘bring your own vessel’ (beer drinking vessel) and you can fill it up as long as the beverage supplies last. Really energetic room.
  • Propel – Propel is affiliated with the Portland Regional Chamber. Their mission is to cultivate and foster the interests and careers of young professionals in the area. They have regular events, mixers and the popular Entreverge Awards. You can find out about upcoming events they have on their website.
  • PubHub – If technology and entrepreneurship is your thing, you should attend a PubHub – the free beer doesn’t hurt either. This event, organized by the Casco Bay Tech Hub, gets together once a month. They feature at least one speaker a month to talk about challenges and opportunities right here in Maine. They have a website that lists their upcoming events and a newsletter you can sign up for to get an email when the next event is announced.
  • Social Media Breakfast Maine – Obviously! Once a month we learn about things happening in the social media space, connect with our peers and eat bacon. To hear about the next SMBME, you can sign up for our email list (right hand side of the page) and you will hear about the next event first!

There are of course many more events happening all the time. I know folks like the Maine PR Council, 2 Degrees Portland and LiveWork Portland have mixers and events but I am not sure how regularly.

If you know of a regular networking event for area professionals, feel free to tell us about it in the comments!

Happy Networking!

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March 15th 2019

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