Author: Jeff Nicely

Crafting A Compelling Small Business Brand Story

Published: Published: | By

A Step-by-Step Guide for Northern Shenandoah Valley Businesses

As a small business owner or solopreneur in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, you know how important it is to stand out in a crowded market. One effective way to do this is by crafting a compelling brand story that resonates with your target audience.
In this post, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to create a brand story that sets your business apart and attracts loyal customers.

Step 1: Reflect on Your Business (Winchester, VA Small Business Owners, Take Note!)

Take a moment to think about your business, its history, and your experiences.
Ask yourself questions like:
  • What inspired you to start your business?
  • What problems do you solve for your customers?
  • What sets your business apart from others in Winchester, VA, and the surrounding areas?

Step 2: Identify Your Core Values (Let Your Values Shine in the Northern Shenandoah Valley!)

Write down the values that are most important to you and your business. Consider what drives your decisions and actions. Narrow it down to 3-5 core values that define your business and make you unique in the Northern Shenandoah Valley market.

Some examples of core values include:
  • Customer service
  • Quality products
  • Community involvement
  • Sustainability
  • Innovation

Step 3: Define Your Purpose (Make a Meaningful Impact in Your Community!)

Based on your reflections, identify the purpose behind your business. What impact do you want to make on your customers, community, or industry? Craft a purpose statement that summarizes your why and inspires others to support your mission.
Some examples of purpose statements include:
  • “Our purpose is to provide high-quality products and exceptional customer service to the Northern Shenandoah Valley community.”
  • “Our purpose is to empower small business owners in Winchester, VA, with the tools and resources they need to succeed.”

Step 4: Develop Your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) (Stand Out in the Winchester, VA Market!)

Clearly define what sets your business apart from competitors. What unique benefits do you offer to your customers? Craft a concise UVP statement that summarizes your unique value and resonates with your target audience.
Some examples of UVP statements include:
  • “We offer personalized customer service and high-quality products at competitive prices.”
  • “Our expert team provides innovative solutions to help small businesses grow and thrive.”

Step 5: Craft Your Brand Narrative (Share Your Story with the World!)

Use your reflections, values, purpose, and UVP to craft a compelling brand story. Share your story in a way that resonates with your target audience. Highlight your struggles, triumphs, and lessons learned, and make sure to showcase your unique personality and voice.
Some examples of brand narratives include:
  • “We started our business with a passion for helping others and a commitment to quality.”
  • “Our team has years of experience in the industry and is dedicated to providing exceptional service.”

Step 6: Define Your Brand Voice and Tone (Be Authentic and Consistent!)

Determine the tone and language that best represents your brand. Consider how you want to come across to your audience. Develop a consistent voice and tone across all communications, from social media to customer interactions.
Some examples of brand voices and tones include:
  • Friendly and approachable
  • Professional and expert
  • Fun and playful
  • Serious and authoritative

Step 7: Visualize Your Brand (Make a Lasting Impression in the Northern Shenandoah Valley!)

Develop a visual identity that reflects your brand story and values. Create a logo, color palette, typography, and imagery that resonates with your audience and makes your brand recognizable in the Northern Shenandoah Valley market.
Some examples of visual identities include:
  • A logo that incorporates your brand’s colors and values
  • A consistent typography and font style
  • Imagery that reflects your brand’s personality and tone

Step 8: Share Your Brand Story (Get the Word Out and Attract Loyal Customers!)

Share your brand story across all platforms, including your website, social media, marketing materials, and customer interactions.
Ensure consistency in your messaging and visual identity, and watch as your brand attracts loyal customers and sets you apart from the competition.
When you need help with any of these steps, please reach out to our experienced team of Small Business Experts who can help you craft a brand story that creates a strong emotional connection with your idea customers, differentiates your business in crowded spaces, and sets you up for long term business success.
We look forward to being part of your small business success!

A Small Business Guide to Increasing Social Media Engagement

Published: Published: | By

Using US national days can help small businesses increase social media interaction. National days cover a lot of topics, many that matter to your audience.

National day posts can grab people’s attention, start online conversations, and create real interactions.

And this is key for small businesses because it can grow your brand and build customer loyalty which translates into sales.

Participating in national day conversations can work wonders.

Understanding US National Days

Because national days spark so many online conversations, they actually shape social media and google daily trends. 

Small businesses can use these days to their advantage. But planning is required.

Let’s make National days fun and creative for us all.

March 2024 US National Days Calendar: Daily Post Ideas for Engaging Content

Week 1:

March 1, 2024 – Zero Discrimination Day

    • Advocate for diversity and inclusivity within the workplace or community.
    • Share inspiring stories of individuals who have overcome discrimination.
    • Offer promotions or special events that celebrate diversity and equality.
    • Hashtags to consider: #zerodiscriminationday, #nodiscrimination, #antidiscrimination, #equality

March 3, 2024 – World Hearing Day

    • Raise awareness about hearing health and the impact of hearing loss.
    • Share tips for maintaining healthy hearing and emphasize the importance of regular check-ups.
    • Partner with local audiology professionals to offer educational resources or services.
    • Hashtags to consider: #worldhearingday, #hearingcare, #hearingawareness, #deafawareness

March 6, 2024 – National Oreo Cookie Day

    • Share nostalgic Oreo moments and encourage followers to share their favorite Oreo memories.
    • Host a “twist, lick, and dunk” challenge where followers can showcase creative ways of enjoying Oreos.
    • Collaborate with local bakeries to feature unique Oreo-inspired treats.
    • Hashtags to consider: #nationaloreocookieday, #oreo, #cookielove

March 8, 2024 – International Women’s Day

    • Highlight influential women in history or within the company and initiate discussions on women’s achievements.
    • Showcase products or services that celebrate and empower women.
    • Support a women-focused charity and encourage donations or volunteerism.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #internationalwomensday, #iwd, #womenempowerment, #breakthebias, #celebratewomen

March 10, 2024 – National Pack Your Lunch Day

    • Share easy and healthy lunch recipes or tips for packing nutritious meals.
    • Run a lunchbox photo contest and award the most creative or practical entries.
    • Discuss workplace wellness and the importance of mindful eating.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #nationalpackyourlunchday, #lunchideas, #healthylunch, #lunchbox

Week 2:

March 14, 2024 – National Potato Chip Day

    • Explore unique potato chip flavors and encourage followers to try unusual combinations.
    • Host a “perfect dip pairing” challenge where followers can share their favorite dip and chip combos or their most creative way of eating chips:  IE:  On a sandwich, in soup, or as a salad topper.  Who knows what you might learn.
    • Create lighthearted polls to determine the ultimate potato chip flavor.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #nationalpotatochipday, #potatochips, #crispygoodness, #chipslover, #snackattack

March 16, 2024 – National Panda Day

    • Share fascinating facts about pandas and their conservation efforts.
    • Organize a panda-themed art contest or feature panda-themed products.
    • Partner with wildlife organizations to raise awareness about panda preservation.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #nationalpandaday, #pandabear, #endangeredspecies, #pandalove, #wildlifeconservation

March 17, 2024 – St. Patrick’s Day

    • Host a virtual St. Patrick’s Day party with themed games and activities.
    • Share St. Patrick’s Day traditions or folklore and invite followers to share their own.
    • Offer exclusive St. Patrick’s Day discounts or promotions.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #stpatricksday, #stpattysday, #luckoftheirish, #stpaddysday, #shamrock, #happystpatricksday

Week 3:

March 22, 2024 – National Goof Off Day

    • Share lighthearted content or behind-the-scenes glimpses of the team having fun.
    • Encourage followers to share their favorite ways to unwind or “goof off.”
    • Host a caption contest featuring a humorous image related to your industry.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #nationalgoofoffday, #havefun, #relaxationday, #enjoylife, #unwind

March 23, 2024 – National Puppy Day

    • Share heartwarming stories of rescued or adopted puppies.
    • Host a “paws-itively adorable” photo contest showcasing followers’ beloved pups.
    • Partner with local animal shelters for a virtual adoption event.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #nationalpuppyday, #puppylove, #adoptdontshop, #puppykisses

Week 4:

March 25, 2024 – International Waffle Day

    • Spotlight unique waffle recipes, including international variations.
    • Create a “Waffle Day Challenge” where followers can invent their own waffle creations.
    • Partner with a local café or bakery for a waffle-themed giveaway.
    • Hashtags to consider:  #internationalwaffleday, #waffles, #breakfastofchampions, #wafflelover, #homemadewaffles

March 31, 2024 – Easter Sunday

  • Share useful Easter tips and advice. These could include DIY decoration ideas, Easter meal cooking tips, or family activity suggestions. 
    • Consider running Easter-themed contests or giveaways. You could ask followers to submit their best Easter recipes, crafts, or stories to win a prize. This boosts engagement and participation. Remember to follow the platform’s contest rules closely.
    • Give followers behind-the-scenes peeks of your Easter prep. This could be decoration of your premises, creating Easter-themed products, or setting up promotions.
    • Think about sharing images from Easter events. These could be church services, egg hunts, community events, or team participation. It helps humanize your brand.
    • Consider these hashtags: #eastersunday, #eastercelebration, #easterjoy, #eastereggs, #easterbunny, #happyeaster.

Create Engaging Content

Boost your small business by using national days in your content creation. Here’s how:

1. Match your content with the theme of the day. Use fun graphics, engaging stories, special events, or special offers.

2. Include content from your followers. Ask them to share their thoughts or stories about the day. This builds community.

3. Add interactive elements like polls, quizzes, or challenges. This encourages audience participation and strengthens relationships with your customers.

These tips help small businesses create eye-catching content that starts conversations and boosts social media engagement.

Maximizing Reach and Impact

Another way to increase reach on national days is to use hashtags and trends wisely. This will boost your visibility and engagement. 

Think about using trending topics in your posts to naturally increase visibility and attract more people. 

Then consider teaming up with influencers and local businesses who can help broaden your reach. It can make your content seem more authentic while creating opportunities for cross-promotional opportunities for both of you.

To measure success, look at things like audience engagement, brand visibility, and sales. Also consider things like reach, impressions, clicks, and user participation are also useful.

By understanding what content works and what your audience likes, you can fine-tune your approach for the future. Whatever changes yo make, base them on data insights so you learn how to build stronger connections with your audience over time.


Utilizing national days for social media can effectively help businesses connect with their audience in innovative ways. By aligning content with these days, small businesses can join existing conversations and foster deeper relationships. 

Further, creating content for specific national days can significantly boost engagement. Incorporating user-generated content and interactive strategies can also drive more meaningful interactions. 

Lastly, measuring success through key metrics makes it easier to refine your strategy in the future.

Welcome to March!   Now is an great time for small businesses to plan their social media calendar, making engagement and brand awareness a priority.

Social Media Content for Small Businesses November 2023

Published: Published: | By

November 2023 is here, and it brings with it a calendar full of exciting national and world days, holidays, and national month themes that offer ample opportunities for small businesses to engage with their customers.

From celebrating and raising awareness to interactive events, this month is packed with potential. Let’s explore the highlights of November and discover ways small businesses can make the most of them.

National Days to Celebrate, Connect, and Engage With Your Customers

1. National Sandwich Day (November 3)

Restaurants, cafes, and delis can celebrate by offering special sandwich deals or running a “Create Your Dream Sandwich” contest. Other small businesses can run photo contests asking followers to share photos of their favorite sandwich. To run this contest, talk it up before November 3.  And when you create posts, make sure to share mouthwatering photos on social media, using #NationalSandwichDay and #DeliciousEats.

2.  National Nachos Day (November 6)

Post on social media your favorite nacho recipe, host a nacho party for your customers, or invite a select group of clients or clients out to a local restaurant that serves nachos.  Or you can highlight a local business that has great nachos and encourage your followers to check them out.  If you plan far enough ahead, you can create a video interview with the owner of the nacho place, or you can create a quick video tour showcasing the local business.  This is a great way to partner with another local business and get more reach and engagement from cross promoting with other businesses.   Here are some popular hashtags to use in your posts:  #NationalNachosDay, #NachoLovers, and #FoodInspiration

3.  National Peanut Butter Fudge Day (November 20)

Post an easy to follow peanut butter fudge recipe, post interesting trivia about peanut butter fudge like it’s history, ingredients or popular variations.  Create partnerships with local food or dessert businesses that make peanut butter fudge. Cross-promote each other to expand your reach.  Or ask your followers to share a favorite memory of a time when they remember eating fudge and loving it.  Offer a unique peanut butter fudge prize for the best story.  Some popular hashtags to include in your posts are #NationalPeanutButterFudgeDay, #Fudgelovers, #TastyTreats.

4. National Entrepreneur’s Day (November 21)

Highlight local entrepreneurs and other small businesses in your community on National Entrepreneur’s Day. Collaborate with other businesses for joint promotions, host a “Meet our Local Entrepreneurs” event, or actively promote the products or services of local entrepreneurs on your social media. Some engaging hashtags to consider with your posts are #EntrepreneurDay and #SupportLocal.

5. National Cake Day (November 26)

Bakeries and dessert shops can organize cake decorating contests, offer special discounts on cake slices or anything related to cakes.  If you don’t own a bakery, fear not.  You can ask your followers to share a photo of their most recent cake, you can share cake-related quotes, share a favorite cake recipe, video yourself making a cake showcasing your bloopers and all, or you can partner with a local bakery to showcase their business, offer gift certificates to their bakery to the first 25 followers who take some action on your social media page. Consider using the following hashtags #NationalCakeDay and #SweetTreats to reach a broader audience in a creative and delicious way.

US Holidays: Building Community and Appreciation

1. Veterans Day (November 11)

Show appreciation for veterans by offering special discounts, freebies, or partnerships with veteran-owned businesses. Highlight a local veteran and encourage others to celebrate the veteran with you.  Another idea is to consider engage with your local military community to promote activities they plan to offer that day.   Remember to boost your reach and further you chance of engage by using hashtags like #VeteransDay and #SupportOurTroops.

2. Thanksgiving Day (November 23)

Create a sense of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day by organizing a “Thanksgiving Thank You” event where you and your team write personalized thank you notes to your customers.  Express your appreciation to other local businesses on your social media pages.  Make sure you tag the business that you appreciate.  Visit a local business and take a photo with the owner or staff members so you can make encourage shopping local.   Foster a sense of community by using hashtags like #Thanksgiving, #Gratitude, and #ShopLocal.

3. Small Business Saturday (November 25)

Celebrate your role in the local economy on Small Business Saturday. Encourage customers to shop small and consider offering exclusive deals, contests, or discounts that are available only to your online audience.  To reach more followers, use hashtags like #ShopSmall #SupportLocal and #SmallBusinessSaturday and make sure to thank your customers.

4. Cyber Monday (November 27)

Leverage your online presence by running special online promotions or contests. Offer exclusive discounts for online shoppers and engage your virtual community.  Consider hosting an event in your business that you promote in advance of Cyber Monday.  Some hashtags you’ll want to include in your social media posts are #CyberMonday and #OnlineShopping.

National Month Themes: Raising Awareness and Giving Back

1. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

This is a great opportunity for you to partner with local authors and bookstores for book signings, readings, or literary events. If there a particular books that our audience will benefit from, consider offering a few copies as prizes for followers who share about the favorite author and book on your social media pages.  Or, consider hosting a local author to come to your business to share his/her journey as an author.  Allow for questions and answers, promote the event, and plan to make this a great experience for anyone who shows up.  This your opportunity to partner with other businesses while doing something positive for your community. Some hashtags you might to consider using are #NaNoWriMo, #LocalAuthors, and #WritingCommunity.

2. National Adoption Month

Collaborate with local adoption agencies, offer support, and raise awareness about adoption with your followers and in your community. You can host adoption awareness events or if you have a pet-related business, host pet-friendly activities.  Get your audience engaged with the hashtags #AdoptionAwareness and #SupportAdoption.

3. National Diabetes Awareness Month

Promote healthy eating or offer fitness-related services or events to encourage your community to lead a healthier lifestyle. Consider hosting a health expert who can share tips and strategies to lower diabetes and it’s risks.  Or, host a walking event, an exercise class, or a healthy meal out of your business.   If you aren’t a cook, bring in a local chef or caterer who can provide healthy options that are proven to help fight diabetes.  Be part of the solution in any way you.   Some popular hashtags to use in your posts are #DiabetesAwareness, #HealthyLiving #LiveWell.

4. National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Raise awareness by hosting informational sessions, fundraisers, or events that support Alzheimer’s research. Encourage your customers to engage and donate to the cause. Provide a list of resources on your website and social media pages.  Since alzheimer’s disease touches so many lives, it’s likely that your customers and followers have personally cared for someone who has struggled through this disease.   Use #AlzheimersAwareness, #EndAlzheimers #StrongerTogether to increase your post reach and engagement.

Small Business Content Calendar November 2023 Laurel Ridge SBDC


November 2023 is a month full of opportunities for small businesses to engage with their customers in meaningful and fun ways.

Whether you’re celebrating national and world days, participating in US holidays, bringing awareness to national month themes, or creating interactive events, you can strengthen your relationship with your community and showcase your commitment to their well-being.  it will take some creative planning in advance but it will be well worth your time.

Know your audience, be creative, spread joy, and make your small business a place for customers to connect, engage, learn, and be cared for during this exciting month.

Power Up Your Business Conference

Published: Published: | By

Are you ready to take your small business to new heights of success? Join us on October 20, 2023, at the Power Up Your Business Conference, where an extraordinary opportunity awaits you.

Why Attend?

Diverse Learning Opportunities: With over 20 engaging breakout sessions, we’ve tailored our conference to address the most pressing challenges faced by small business owners. Whether you’re interested in government contracts, securing tourism grants, financial strategies, or starting a small business from scratch, we’ve got you covered.

🚀 Main Session with Tammy Bjelland: The dynamic Tammy Bjelland will headline the event, sharing invaluable insights on making your business more efficient. Her custom business tools and expertise is a game-changer for any small business owner.

🎥 Recording Access: Can’t make it to every session? No worries! We’ll be recording all the breakout sessions, ensuring you have access to this wealth of knowledge even after the conference.

🌟 Special Tracks: Explore tracks on social media, hiring and retaining talent, and more. Gain insights from seasoned local business owners and experts Bill and Sandy Long, Patti Sollenberger, Patrick Barker, Jenna Finch, Vanessa Santiago, Michelle Brown and Justin Kerns.

🍳 Complimentary Meals: Enjoy a day filled with learning and networking, with breakfast, lunch, and snacks included in your registration.

This isn’t just another conference; it’s the small business event of the year. Don’t miss your chance to elevate your business and connect with fellow business owners. Secure your spot today and let’s power up your business together! 💼🌟 

Register here.

Listen in as our director Christine Kriz shares the details about our Power Up Your Business Conference.  We look forward to seeing you at the conference!


Successfully Hiring and Retaining Great Team Members

Published: Published: | By

In the world of small business, where challenges abound, Bill and Sandy Long, the vision and passion behind the Auto Care Clinic in Front Royal, VA, stand as shining examples of how to build a thriving business. Their journey is marked by a few key principles that have propelled them to success and can do the same for you.

Watch as their team shares insights into what makes them successful.


Motivating Employees: Bill and Sandy understand that motivated employees are the heart of any successful business. They’ve cultivated a work environment where their team members feel valued and inspired to excel, creating a workplace that radiates positivity.

Continuous Learning: In an ever-evolving industry, Bill and Sandy have made continuous learning a cornerstone of their success. They seek opportunities to expand their knowledge and ensure that their team is always ahead of the curve.

Problem-Solving Prowess: Instead of just identifying problems, Bill and Sandy actively engage with their team to find innovative solutions. This collaborative approach has fostered a culture of creativity, resilience and ownership.  Their employees are proud to be part of the team.

Leadership, Not Supervision: One of their standout qualities is their ability to lead, not just supervise. They trust their team to excel without the need for micromanagement, empowering them to take ownership and perform at their best.

But here’s the exciting part: You have the chance to learn directly from Bill and Sandy Long!

They will be sharing their invaluable insights at our upcoming Power Up Your Business Conference. This is your opportunity to get firsthand advice from true small business leaders.

Don’t miss out!

Register for the conference  and embark on a journey toward a more successful and motivated team.

Bill and Sandy look forward to answering your questions and showing you the path to small business success.

Join us on Friday, October 20, 2023 at 7:30am and let’s power up your business together!

Tips for Busy Small Business Owners to Increase Sales

Published: Published: | By

Running a small business can be a whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and stretched thin. But what if I told you that there’s a powerful tool right at your fingertips that can help you increase sales and grow your business without adding a ton of extra time to your workload?

Facebook Groups may just be your secret weapon. In this guide, we’ll show you how to effectively utilize Facebook Groups to boost sales while keeping your busy schedule in check.

1. The Untapped Potential of Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are online communities where like-minded individuals come together to share knowledge, interests, and experiences. They can be a goldmine for small business owners looking to connect with potential customers and drive sales.

2. Finding the Right Groups

The key to successful Facebook Group marketing is finding the right groups to join. Start by searching for groups related to your industry, niche, or target audience. Join a few that resonate with your business goals.

A great place to personally connect with businesses in your industry and target audience will be at our “Power Up Your Business” Conference on October 20, 2023. 

Make sure you arrive prepared to connect personally then follow up on social media with business leaders who you can help and who can help you grow your business.

3. Establishing Your Presence

Once you’re in the right groups, it’s essential to establish your presence as a valuable member before diving into sales tactics. Here’s how:

  • Complete Your Profile: Ensure your Facebook profile is professional and includes information about your business.

  • Participate Actively: Engage in group discussions, answer questions, and provide helpful insights related to your industry.

  • Build Relationships: Take the time to connect with group members, network, and genuinely contribute to the community.

Remember that social media is a long-term game that takes time, just like building relationships in person…it all takes time, respect, and social skills.

4. Sharing Value-Driven Content

As a busy small business owner, your time is precious, so make the most of it by sharing valuable content that showcases your expertise:

  • Educational Posts: Share informative articles, how-to guides, and tips relevant to your industry.  If you need help coming up with great post ideas, message us because we have a ton a resources to help you excel at creating posts.

  • Behind-the-Scenes: Offer a peek behind the curtain with posts showcasing your business’s inner workings.

  • Customer Stories: Share success stories and testimonials from satisfied customers.

5. Thoughtful Promotion

When it’s time to promote your products or services, do so thoughtfully and strategically:

  • Highlight Benefits: Craft persuasive posts that emphasize the benefits of your offerings.  Consider the possibility of using AI technology to help you save time while creating posts that will increase engagement. 

  • Exclusive Deals: Offer special discounts or promotions exclusively for group members to create a sense of belonging.

  • Ask for Feedback: Seek input from the community on product ideas or improvements to involve them in your business.

6. Running Engaging Contests and Giveaways

People love contests and giveaways. Organize interactive contests within the group and offer your products or services as prizes. This can generate excitement and word-of-mouth promotion.  Please note that when running contests on social media, you must play by the rules of each platform or run the risk of being warned before having your page closed down completely.  We have seen pages closed for not complying with the platform guidelines.  Here is a link to Facebook’s Contest Guidelines.

7. Leveraging Group Admins

Build a positive relationship with group admins as they can help you navigate the group’s dynamics and potentially promote your offerings.

8. Analyzing and Adjusting

Regularly assess the effectiveness of your Facebook Group efforts:

  • Use Facebook Insights: Track engagement, reach, and sales generated from group activities.

  • Adapt Your Strategy: Based on data, adjust your approach to maximize results.


Facebook Groups offer a unique opportunity for busy small business owners to increase sales and build lasting customer relationships. By finding the right groups, establishing your presence, sharing valuable content, and promoting your offerings thoughtfully, you can turn these online communities into a valuable sales channel. Remember, it’s not just about making sales; it’s about building trust, authority, and a loyal customer base in the process. So, roll up your sleeves, get started, and watch your small business thrive overtime, in the world of Facebook Groups.

How To Maximize Your Expo Booth Impact

Published: Published: | By

Are you a solo small business owner gearing up for an upcoming business expo?

Participating in such events can be a game-changer for your business, offering opportunities for networking, lead generation, and brand exposure. However, to make the most of your investment, it’s crucial to have a well-thought-out strategy. In this blog post, we’ll explore effective tips to help you maximize the impact of your expo booth as a solo entrepreneur.

1. Set Clear Objectives

Before you dive into the whirlwind of an expo, take a step back and define your goals. What do you want to achieve? Are you primarily looking to generate leads, make sales, or increase brand awareness? Having clear objectives will guide your booth setup, engagement strategy, and post-expo follow-up.

2. Plan and Budget Wisely

Expo participation comes with costs, including booth rental, marketing materials, travel, and accommodation. Create a detailed budget that covers all expenses, and stick to it. Allocate resources strategically, focusing on areas that will have the most impact on your goals.

3. Booth Design Matters

Your booth is your business’s physical representation at the expo. Invest in an eye-catching booth design that reflects your brand’s identity and values. Ensure your signage and graphics are professional and enticing, drawing attendees in.

4. Create Engaging Materials

Prepare promotional materials like brochures, business cards, and giveaways. Make sure they’re not only visually appealing but also informative and memorable. Quality materials can leave a lasting impression on expo attendees.

5. Elevator Pitch Perfection

You’ll have limited time to capture attendees’ attention, so craft a compelling elevator pitch. Clearly and concisely communicate what your business offers and why it’s valuable. Practice until you can deliver it confidently and persuasively.

6. Staffing Strategy

As a solo entrepreneur, you may not have a large team, but that’s no excuse for not having the right people in your booth. Ensure you or your staff are knowledgeable about your products or services and can engage with attendees effectively.

7. Interactive Elements

Consider incorporating interactive elements into your booth. Live product demonstrations, engaging presentations, or hands-on activities can create memorable experiences and draw a crowd.

8. Lead Generation

Implement a lead capture system to collect attendee contact information. Use technology like tablets or mobile apps to streamline this process, allowing you to focus on engaging with prospects.

9. Networking Opportunities

Don’t just stay confined to your booth. Attend seminars, workshops, and networking events within the expo to connect with other exhibitors and potential partners. Building relationships can lead to valuable collaborations.  For networking opportunities beyond the expo, check with your local Chamber of Commerce.

10. Follow-Up with Finesse

After the expo, promptly follow up with the leads you’ve gathered. Send personalized messages and offers that align with attendees’ needs and preferences. The follow-up is where many opportunities are lost or won.

11. Evaluate and Adapt

Take time to evaluate the success of your expo participation. Measure your return on investment (ROI) by analyzing sales generated, partnerships formed, and other key metrics. Document what worked and what didn’t so you can improve for the next expo.

12. Stay Consistent

Consistency is key in marketing. Maintain the momentum generated at the expo by continuing to market your business through various channels, such as social media, email, and content marketing.

In conclusion, solo small business owners can maximize the impact of their expo booth by setting clear objectives, careful planning, and strategic execution. Remember that expo participation is an ongoing learning process. Each event provides valuable insights that can help you refine your approach for future expos. So, go out there, make an impact, and watch your business grow!

Success Strategies to Power Up Your Business

Published: Published: | By

In today’s small business landscape, it is crucial for companies to constantly seek ways to boost their performance and stay ahead of the competition. This article will explore some powerful strategies that can help businesses achieve growth and success.

Develop a Strong Brand Identity

Create a Memorable Logo

  • Choose a design that reflects your company’s values and resonates with your target audience.
  • Ensure that your logo is versatile and can be used across different marketing channels.

Craft a Compelling Brand Story

  • Define your company’s mission, vision, and values.
  • Tell a story that connects with your customers and differentiates your brand from competitors.

Consistent Branding Across Channels

  • Maintain a consistent visual identity across all marketing materials, including website, social media, and print materials.
  • Use consistent messaging and tone of voice to reinforce your brand’s identity.

Embrace Digital Marketing

Build a User-Friendly Website

  • Ensure that your website is easy to navigate and provides a seamless user experience.
  • Optimize your website for search engines to increase visibility and attract organic traffic.  Small Business expert Cameron Nelson will be addressing this specifically at our Power Up Your Business Conference.  Check out the schedule of speakers here:  Small Business Conference Schedule

Leverage Social Media Platforms

  • Identify the social media platforms that are most relevant to your target audience.
  • Create engaging content and interact with your followers to build brand loyalty and increase brand awareness.  You can learn this and so much more at our Power Up Your Business Conference on October 20, 2023.

Implement Email Marketing Campaigns

  • Build an email list of interested prospects and customers.
  • Send targeted and personalized emails to nurture leads and drive conversions.

Foster Customer Relationships

Provide Exceptional Customer Service

  • Train your employees to deliver outstanding customer service.
  • Respond promptly to customer inquiries and resolve issues in a timely manner.  Bill and Sandy Long, owners of Auto Care Clinic in Front Royal, VA will be speaking about customer and employee loyalty at this years Power Up Your Business Conference

Implement a Customer Loyalty Program

  • Reward loyal customers with exclusive discounts, special offers, or VIP perks.
  • Encourage repeat purchases and referrals through a tiered loyalty program.

Gather and Act on Customer Feedback

  • Regularly collect feedback from customers through surveys, reviews, and social media.
  • Use customer feedback to improve your products, services, and overall customer experience.


By implementing these power strategies, small businesses can enhance their brand presence, attract more customers, and ultimately boost their overall success. It is important to continuously evaluate and adapt these strategies to stay relevant in an ever-changing business environment.

How Do I Hire A New Employee in VA?

Published: Published: | By

When you’re ready to hire a new employee in VA,  you’ll need to consider several key elements to ensure you get your hiring done right the first time.

Employee or Independent Contractor?

Determine whether you want an employee or an independent contractor. There are certain factors that define a worker as an independent contractor.

An independent contractor does not rely on the business as the sole source of income, works at his or her own pace as defined by an agreement, is not eligible for employer provided benefits and they have a degree of control and independence.

Hire A New Employee

1. Develop a job description for the position. What do you want this person to do? What are the clear expectations?
2. Develop a job posting and interview questions.
3. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
4. Register with the Virginia Taxation department
5. Register with the Virginia Unemployment Commission

Forms For VA New Hires

Once you are ready to hire there are new hire forms you will need.
1. Ensure new employees return a completed W-4 form and VA-4 tax form
2. Have the employee complete the I9 form.
3. Have the new hire complete a Contact Information form and Direct Deposit
Authorization form
4. Work with a bookkeeper to do your payroll or learn the state and federal tax laws and
how to report and pay your taxes.
5. Schedule pay periods to coordinate tax withholding for IRS
6. Each employee should have an employee file. If you offer benefits there should be a
separate file for anything health related.
7. Develop an employee handbook
8. Create a compensation plan for holiday, vacation and leave
9. Decide who will manage your payroll system
10. Learn which records must stay on file and for how long

The IRS maintains the Employer’s Tax Guide, which provides guidance on all federal tax filing requirements that could apply to the obligations for your small business.

The State of VA Taxation department has a business checklist.


**Thanks to our SBDC Director, Christine Krize for these insight.

Do You Want to Bake Your Business?

Published: Published: | By

You’re asking what does “Bake Your Business” even mean?

I like analogies, so bear with me.  

If you wanted to bake a cake you would need certain ingredients, like flour and eggs and maybe butter or some flavoring, right? And you may have to get some culinary training to be able to bake the best cake you can bake, right?

When you make a cake you want everyone to rave about the cake and you want people begging for more, right?

Having your own business is something like working to make the best cake that others will want to eat.   

There are some common ingredients you need in order to be succesful.


You need to know what problem your products and service will solve.

How is your product or service going to uniquely solve this problem better than anyone else?


Once you know who you customer is, ask yourself, “Where is my customer today?”  “Where is my customer spending time today?”  “What social media platform(s) is my customer hanging out on today?”  

Every successful business needs to solve a problem that their customer already perceives is a problem.

If your target customer doesn’t see their problem, you are going to need to invest a lot more time and money to educate and convince your customer that there is a problem. 

You may want to start with the problem your customer already understands and recognizes before you start solving a problem your customer doesn’t see or recognize. 


  1. Who is my target customer?
  2. Where is my target customer
  3. Are there enough of these target customers in my market?
  4. Identify everything you possibly can about your customer?  What is their age?  What is their financial situation?  What is their level of education? You should be able to describe your target customer as completely as you can. The better you understand your customer the better your product or service will solve their problems and fit with their needs.  This, my friend, is a major key to your success or failure as a business owner. 
  5. Do the research. Going with your gut is not always a good plan.   You think you know how to make that cake and you think you know the flavor that people will want, but are you 100% sure? There are direct ways to do your research like observation, interviewing. There is also research tools that can give you an overview of the market and the particulars of that market, like profitability, fixed and variable cost ratios, but this does not take the place of being in and knowing the market.  Getting experience or partnering with someone who does have the knowledge.
  6. Talk about your idea with folks who are likely to be in your target audience.   You need to test your concept. If you want, you can use a non-disclosure agreement but you do need to get other people’s perspectives.  
  7. Consider where you want to locate your business.  Consider what particular skills will you need, who you will serve, and think about how much capital will you need to make your business work in this locality.

Whatever you do, please make sure you have a particular audience that you want to serve, now their problems and solve those problems better than anyone else in your industry.

I know that starting small requires a slower approach than most people would like.   But the slower approach is also the least expensive way to set up your business for long term success.

Before you sink a lot of money into a new business idea, test the market and see if there is a market for your product or service.

Our team is always available to help you with these tips and more.  We want to see you launch, run, grow, and make your business successful.  We’re here when you need us.  You never have to run your business alone…you have experienced, trusted partners in us.

Reach out to us anytime!

**Thanks to SBDC Team Member Dale Maza for these insights.