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Saying “Farewell” to WordPress

June 16, 2011 Leave a comment

With much deliberation, we have decided to phase out our WordPress page. This is because we now host all of the blog information on our website. To our followers, here is where you can pick up:

To get updates about all the following content, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or sign up for our bi-monthly e-mails

  1. To hear the stories of the business people we work with, visit our Client Profiles
  2. To stay up-to-date with our media presence, visit In the News
  3. To learn about upcoming seminars, visit our Seminars page.
  4. To get advice from guest contributors and bloggers, visit the Smart Advice Blog.
  5. To see new videos, visit our Videos page.
  6. To learn about new business resources,visit New Resources for Business
Thank you and see you on the website!
Categories: uncategorized

“The Top 10 Reasons Restaurants Fail” by Andy Simmons for Biznik

April 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Andy Simmons has written an excellent, insightful article on the main obstacles that ultimately sink restaurant owners. If you know the common mistakes, your chances are that much better.

(Excerpted, Read Full Original Here)

Don’t let these 10 challenges stop you from creating and growing your dream business.

Owning a restaurant in a good economy is a challenge. Owning one in a down economy is even more difficult. Here are the top 10 reasons why restaurants fail. Avoid these mistakes.

1. Constrained by Your Vision. A savvy owner knows it’s all about the customer, not his or her personal tastes and opinions.  Don’t be self-possessed.  Be open to opinions other than your own.

2. No Identity. Lack of identity is the opposite of being constrained by your vision. A restaurant’s success depends on its ability to establish a brand and stick to it, so develop an identity and focus on perfecting it.

3. A Bad Opening.  “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” was never truer than in the restaurant business.  There’s a reason actors rehearse before opening night—you should too.

4. Hiring & Training…

5. No Formal Recipes…

6. Poor Inventory Management…

7. Undercapitalization…

8. Poor Ownership…

9. Insufficient Market Analysis…

10. Lack of a Business Plan…

Read Full Text Here.

The food carts are coming.

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

The 2011 Eat Mobile Food Cart Festival by Willamette Week

Foodies rejoice. Tickets are now on sale for Willamette Week’s 2011 Eat Mobile Food Cart Festival to be held on April 23rd. A mere $15 gives you access to 40 food carts featuring diverse cuisines and styles. Now in it’s fourth year, Eat Mobile promises to be bigger and better than ever, and will showcase Portland’s enormous and diverse community of gourmands operating out of mobile carts.

Proceeds from the event will support Mercy Corps Northwest and our business development programs. Your admission will be an investment in what we do best: supporting local entrepreneurs. Just like the ones that will be serving up delicious treats for you at the festival. So mark your calendars and get ready for a righteous feast.

What Willamette Week has to say about Eat Mobile:

“With more than 400 food carts selling their tasty goods within our city limits, Portland has become a destination for mobile eats. In July, Portland was named the No. 1 street food city in the world by CNN Travel, and according to Gourmet.com, the Pacific Northwest is “doing for street food today what it did for coffee in the 1990s.”

With an annual attendance of over 2,000, Eat Mobile showcases the food, music and people that make Portland’s food scene so special. Part food festival, part cart competition, Eat Mobile allows attendees to sample from 40 of Willamette Week’s favorite food carts as vendors compete for the coveted Carty Award.”

Get your tickets here.

The Lineup

A big win for LIFE

March 13, 2011 Leave a comment

On March 12th, Mercy Corps Northwest held it’s inaugural fundraiser to support business and life skills education for women in the Coffee Creek Correctional facility. The gala was a huge success, and apart from being a great time, raised $16,000 for the LIFE program. That’s enough to fund an entire 32-week class for 25 women, with more to spare towards another class.

In LIFE (Lifelong Information for Entrepreneurs) women inmates not only learn about business fundamentals, but other core concepts like financial literacy and goal setting. This training helps to build a base for a successful transition outside of prison. Once on the outside, Mercy Corps Northwest teams up with the ROAR Alliance (Reentry Organizations and Resources) to provide a continuum of support for ex-offenders ready to get on their feet again. With a full house, we were humbled by the strong vote of support from our community.

Even if you weren’t able to attend, take a look at the photos from this memorable night and watch the video by John Waskey, New Sky Productions.

This would not have been possible without the contributions and tireless effort of countless people. Special thanks to the LIFE participants who came, the auction item donors, the wineries and cooks, the performers, the volunteers, the guests, and so many others that touched our hearts with their generosity and spirit. Our most sincere acknowledgement goes to Rose Gerber, the volunteer superheroine who turned this dream into a reality.

Social Media Marketing Tips

February 3, 2011 1 comment

According to the NY Times, there are 1.97 billion internet users worldwide, and 266.2 million in North America alone. 600 million people worldwide have Facebook accounts, and over 25 billion tweets were tweeted last year.

Simply put, it is no longer something we can ignore. But where do we start? Here’s some food for thought from The Loud Few: Is social media right for me?

Some of you have started social media accounts and have gotten frustrated by lack of results. If so, take a look at Six Reasons Why You’re being Social Media Ignored.

To polish up on your copywriting skills, check out www.copyblogger.com. This blog is the standard for information on writing persuasive blogs, attracting customers, and writing amazing copy.

Finally, if you want some ideas of how to get started, take a look at people who are using social media well and take a move out of their playbooks.

Tom Howe teaches a great seminar at Mercy Corps Northwest on Social Media Marketing. But sign up soon, this one fills up quickly!

That’s What It’s All About

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Charlene Wesler feeds the homeless on christmasCharlene Wesler, a Mercy Corps Northwest client and owner of the liege-style waffle food cart Gaufre Gourmet (parked at the north east corner of Burnside and SW 3rd) spent her holidays handing out free waffles, coffee, and tea to all who stopped by. Channel 12 news even stopped by and did a feature on their efforts. You can watch the video here.

Hats off to Charlene, Michael, their children, and their extended family for their graciousness and embodiment of the true spirit of the holidays.

Categories: uncategorized

Meet Tom Howe – Seminar Presenter

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Tom Howe, MCNW Seminar PresenterThe success of Mercy Corps Northwest’s programs and services would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of volunteers like Tom Howe, a business seminar presenter. Howe is a local practicing business attorney as well as the owner of a web services company, Control Center. He has written four books and speaks at legal conferences throughout North America and technology conferences around the world. Currently, he delivers his seminars at Mercy Corps Northwest and at SCORE. His commitment to helping small businesses succeed has made him a valuable asset to our team and highly sought after teacher amongst our clients.

Call to Action
Tom Howe is a lifelong volunteer, and has given time to such organizations as Big Brothers, Big Sisters and The Yellow Brick Road. He just wrapped up 20 years of volunteering with SnowCap Community Charities. He states that service is a family value, and that his family strives to include volunteering into their vacations….

READ MORE

Categories: uncategorized

Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Build a business.

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment
A match and business advice through MicroMentor helped Rose Sabel Dodge get her fiber arts and crafts business off to a good start. Photo: Ian Wagreich for MicroMentor

A match and business advice through MicroMentor helped Rose Sabel Dodge get her fiber arts and crafts business off to a good start. Photo: Ian Wagreich for MicroMentor

by Jinell Smithmeyer

Business mentoring isn’t a new concept for many professionals — but the way these connections are happening is changing faster than ever. Breaking out of the mentoring program mold is the Mercy Corps program MicroMentor, best described as a Match.com for business mentoring. With online profiles and connection tools for participants, MicroMentor is catching on amongst entrepreneurs and business professionals around the world as a simple, convenient way to get connected.

Essentially MicroMentor is a platform for providing business mentoring and expertise to small and growing businesses: growth-oriented startup and micro-businesses, as well as cooperative and small and growing enterprises that help fight poverty and create lasting jobs in nations around the world. But in addition to being an online service that connects small business owners with business mentors, MicroMentor provides training, tools and continuous support to help enterprise development organizations deliver high-quality business mentoring and advising cost-effectively and at scale.

Small business ownership presents its own special set of challenges – by providing access to business expertise, knowledge, and connections through mentoring, MicroMentor is assisting entrepreneurs as they build robust enterprises that will thrive in 2011 and beyond.

In the U.S. alone, MicroMentor has engaged more than 7,000 people and facilitated over 2,400 mentoring relationships, with participating businesses reporting significant revenue and employment gains. Building on its success in the U.S., MicroMentor expanded to Nicaragua in late 2010, with plans to launch in Haiti in early 2011.

To find a mentor, go to the website and create a profile and mentoring request. Volunteer mentors will be able to view your request and offer to help (you can also request help from specific mentors). Business professionals can go to the website and sign up as volunteer mentors through a similar process.

Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Build a business. Visit MicroMentor today to get started.

Felton Howard, MCNW Staff Honored at Luncheon

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Our own Felton Howard (Navigator, Reentry Transition Center) was honored at a benefit luncheon for Central City Concern (CCC), who produced a beautiful video telling Felton’s story.

Before joining Mercy Corps Northwest, Felton was originally a CCC client. He gained employment via the CCC Employment Access Center and lived in CCC housing, eventually completing the Recovery Mentor Program. Today, Felton has been reunited with his family, lives independently, and makes incredible contributions as a member of our team.

Watch his journey in the video below.

Tackle your Business Taxes

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Small Business TaxesThis winter, Mercy Corps Northwest will be offering a two-part seminar series on the small business tax return. The first session (In November) covers everything you need to gather to be ready for the tax season and the second session (in January) actually walks you through the steps of filing a Schedule C tax return. Come learn how to do business taxes right, learn about new deductions, and ensure a maximum return.

Seminars can be taken separately or as a set. Both are held at the Mercy Corps Northwest Office: 43 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97204 (river side of building)

SIGN UP TODAY

Tax Planning for the Small Business Owner
Thursday, November 18th, 2010 5:30-7pm
Good tax planning is one of the keys to being profitable as a business owner. Learn how your business income and expenses impact your tax return. In this class, you will learn what you need to know about home office, depreciation, auto expenses, etc, as well as the information you need to keep track of.

Filing the Small Business Tax Return
Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 5:30-7pm
In this class, we will walk through the process of filing a small business tax return. Have you ever asked yourself, “Where do all these numbers go?” Also, learn about self employment tax requirements.

About the Presenter
Gilbert Gleason is currently a tax preparer with H&R Block. He has 25 years of management experience in the non-profit arena. His areas of expertise are Investments/Stock Options (income, sales, losses), Home ownership, purchase, or sale, Home foreclosure, Real estate rentals or vacation homes, Healthcare expenses (e.g., medical, dental), Charitable giving, Income earned outside the U.S., Retirement income, Income from multiple States, Clergy, Small Business, Sole Proprietor, or Self-employed, Trusts & Estates, Partnerships, Corporations, Not-for-Profit organizations, Help with IRS or State notices / audits, and Tax Planning.

SIGN UP TODAY

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