Archive for April, 2011

SHINE: The Entrepreneurs Journey, A short film by Dan McComb & Ben Medina

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Biznik, a social networking site for entrepreneurs, has produced an excellent video exploring the success and challenges, hopes and fears of entrepreneurs. It does a great job of telling the stories of the people who face enormous odds to manifest their vision and pursue a life full of meaning. Give it a look:

SHINE: The Entrepreneur’s Journey from Dan McComb on Vimeo.

From the website: SHINE is a collaborative film project produced by, an online networking community for micro business owners and solopreneurs. The project began on May 6, 2009 when 12 video crews and over 400 entrepreneurs gathered in Seattle’s largest film production studio to share why they work long hours, for low pay, facing great uncertainty.

The film combines compelling stories from the event, and interviews with academics, celebrated researchers (like Scott Shane author of Illusions of Entrepreneurship), and entrepreneurial superlatives (like Bruce Livingstone, founder of iStockphoto, acquired by Getty Images for $50M).

The result presents the larger story about entrepreneurship in an economy where 90 percent of all new jobs are created by small, entrepreneur-driven businesses.

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“Face the Fear and Move On” by Barbara Saunders

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Barbara Saunders delivered an excellent seminar last Thursday on business models based on multiple revenue streams.  This article from her blog set the scene for the presentation. Barbara works with self-employed solo professionals (who she calls “Solo Pros”) to gain confidence, adopt smart business practices, and increase revenue. This is an excerpt of her article, full version here. Read her other posts on The International Association of Self-Employed Communications Professionals Blog here.

Be a Lion, IASECPBe a Lion

The Cowardly Lion was the one that was always scared – “I do believe in spooks!” Yet he was the one that led the charge against the Wicked Witch and her monkey minions. Well, eventually…

Fear can be paralyzing. It robs us of our peace and potential. Being in business can be scary. Things can move fast – especially on the internet. You don’t have time for fear. I would love to empower you to turn your fear into excitement.

Tips To Help You Move On:

I’m not good enough.
One of the most common fears, especially for those that are recently laid off, is “I’m not good enough to have my own business”. Get over it already. You’re a professional with years of experience. Yes, there are some new technologies to learn to run your business. That’s good news. It makes business so easy now. Yes, there are some new marketing tactics to master. Think of it as on-the-job training. Jump in and start swimming.

There’s another angle to this. As creative professionals, we can tweak and edit until the cows come home. Guess what? No body cares if the comma is in the wrong place. Nobody cares if your image is a few pixels to the left. Just get on with it already. Get yourself out there. Listen to what your target market needs and create the solution for them. Keep it simple at first. The point is to move. The longer you wait and worry, the bigger your fears will become. Good is good enough, get on with it.

My own business might not provide me with a ‘guaranteed income’.
There are no guarantees in anything, move on. Remember that job you were laid off from? You worked hard and got laid off anyway. At least when it’s your own business you are the one that benefits from your own hard work. And when it’s not working, you can change it. You’re in control of where you’re going. That’s way better than any guarantees. Besides why should any guarantee put a limit on what you can earn?…

This is an excerpt of her article, full version here. 

About the Author

Barbara Saunders, IASECP

Barbara Saunders, IASECP

Barbara Saunders is a publication designer and has run a successful solo pro business for more than a decade. She is the Director of the International Association of Self-Employed Communication Professionals and the Solo Pro Academy ( It’s our mission to build community and help creative solo pros build and run successful businesses by providing support, innovation, tools, and strategies. Our goal is to liberate our members from the feast and famine cycle.

Pedaling to Success: Eric and Naihma Deady and their bike shop push forward

April 18, 2011 7 comments
Eric and Naihma Deady, Bike Commuter. Photo by Juan Carlos Delgado

Eric and Naihma Deady, Bike Commuter. Photo by Juan Carlos Delgado

Written by Mike Russell, Pivotal Writing
Photos by Juan Carlos Delgado

Eric and Naihma Deady are no strangers to rejection.

While they sought a loan to start their new business, The Bike Commuter, Eric recalls “being laughed out of a number of banks around Portland” back in early 2009. “They wouldn’t take a second look at our application.”

Fortunately, the Deadys saw the rejection as just another step on the path to opening their own business. Aside from the long-held dream of self-employment, they had an expected child to motivate them. At the time, Eric traveled extensively for his job; a situation that would soon become intolerable: “I needed work that would let me stay close to my family. I’d wanted to be my own boss for years, so this seemed like the right time to go for it.”

Having ‘wrenched on bikes’ over the years, Eric knew he could offer a richer customer experience; “We believe that there are no dumb questions, and that people can enjoy cycling on any sort of machine. It doesn’t matter if you ride a $100 bike or a $4,000 bike, so long as you’re having fun and living better for it. I didn’t start this business to make a quick buck; I want to share something that brings me great joy.”

The Bike Commuter Storefront. Photo by Juan Carlos Delgado

The Bike Commuter Storefront. Photo by Juan Carlos Delgado

That policy of acceptance has become a hallmark of the Deadys approach. The Bike Commuter’s friendly reputation has garnered a growing community of grateful customers. For Eric, “It’s very rewarding to hear ‘My bike has been running better than ever before!’ It’s even more satisfying to help a first-timer or someone with a disability get mobile. Support from customers and the community is validation and vindication of my dream.”

Among all the proud moments, one in particular readily leaps to Eric’s lips; “Getting final word from Mercy Corps NW on financing. That was a great day for us.” At a time when the economy was slowing and credit was scarce, Eric and Naihma had heard plenty of ‘No’ and were left with few alternatives.

Eric Deady plying his trade. Photo by Juan Carlos Delgado

Eric Deady plying his trade. Photo by Juan Carlos Delgado

In retrospect, Eric is glad that traditional banks rejected his application; “Our chances of success would have diminished greatly. We needed more engagement than a wad of cash and a loan payment. We might not be here if it weren’t for Mercy Corps NW. They helped us avoid some major problems that a bank might not have helped us through. MCNW patiently answered all of our questions, and really held our hand through the whole process.”

An intimate familiarity with rejection now affirms Eric and Naihma Deady appreciation of the value of acceptance, and informs the way they help their growing community of customers.

Find welcoming support for your biking needs. Contact Eric or Naihma Deady at The Bike Commuter at or (503) 505-9200


Small Business AdministrationServices at Mercy Corps NW is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration (SBA) All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

Smart Tax Advice from the IRS – Just in time.

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Thanks to the Internal Revenue Service, there is a wealth of knowledge available regarding filing the small business tax return. The following abstracts link to excellent articles on a variety of topics.

Beware of Tax Scams: The IRS wants taxpayers to be aware of tax scams. These scams are illegal and can lead to problems for taxpayers including significant penalties, interest and possible criminal prosecution. The schemes take several shapes, ranging from promises of large tax refunds to illegal ways of “untaxing” yourself.

Work from Home? Consider the Home Office Deduction: Whether you are self-employed or an employee, if you use a portion of your home for business, you may be able to take a home office deduction.  See the full article for six things the IRS wants you to know about the Home Office deduction

Read This if you Need More Time to Pay Your Taxes: Taxpayers who owe taxes may be relieved to know that there are some options for those who can’t afford to pay the full amount right away.  See the article for 10 things the IRS wants you to know if you need more time to pay your taxes.

Tax-Time Errors Filers Should Avoid: Mistakes on tax returns mean they take longer to process, which in turn, may cause your refund to arrive later. The IRS cautions against nine common errors so your refund is timely.

Small business health care tax credit video: The small business health care tax credit webinar is now available in the IRS Video Portal. Related link: Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers

Choosing a Tax Return Preparer: Even if the return was prepared by an outside individual or firm, you are legally responsible for what‘s on the return you file with IRS.

Employee Business Expenses: If you itemize deductions and are an employee, you may be able to deduct certain work-related expenses. The IRS has put together facts to help you determine which expenses may be deducted as an employee business expense.

Ten Things to Know about Farm Income and Deductions: If you have a farming business, there are several tax issues to consider before filing your federal tax return.  The IRS has compiled a list of 10 things that farmers may want to know.

Advice from the Oregonian: Get a CSA with MCNW

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo by Juan Carlos Delgado

The Oregonian FOODDay gave Mercy Corps Northwest a mention in their Small Bites series today. We agree, the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription is a steal of a deal. Plus, in addition to a bounty of fresh veggies, you are supporting refugee farmers. To learn more, go here:

Full Oregonian article, excerpted here.

2011 CSA Memberships

Vegetable boxes brimming with squash, peppers and melons might seem like a kale-induced dream about now. But if you want a weekly cache this summer from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, you’ll have to wake up and act fast. Area CSAs are now accepting members, and the more popular ones fill up quickly. In case you’re not familiar with the idea, you sign up, pay for 20-plus weeks of produce, and come May or June, start reaping the bounty of your farm. CSA farm shares have changed with the times, with more growers offering half-shares or extras, everything from wine and cheese to eggs and meat. Most deliver weekly produce shares to farmers markets or pickup points around the city. Among the new farms offering memberships this year is the Growers Alliance CSA, a collective of 10 refugee farming families in the Portland area supported by Mercy Corps Northwest. For more information, contact David Beller, 503-896-5076. For a list of CSA options in Oregon and southwest Washington, go to

— Leslie Cole

“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.

United Way raises $21.13 million (Beneficiaries include MCNW))

April 7, 2011 Leave a comment

“…United Way raised $21.13 million through its 2010-2011 Community Giving Campaign, its primary tool to raise funds through workplace giving.

About half of United Way’s funds go to organizations specified by the donors; the balance supports grants to local nonprofits working to improve the education, health and economic vitality of the community…

…Individual donations, typically by employees through workplace campaigns, accounted for 58 percent of all contributions, a figure that is rising.

“People do know that in these tough economic times every contribution makes a difference,” Carlo said…

…The money raised in 2010-2011 will support 31 projects and 150 partners as they serve 100,000 area residents in the coming year. United Way typically awards three-year grants that range from $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

Some of its current projects include a Mercy Corps Northwest effort to serve former inmates in Multnomah County, Self-Enhancement Inc.’s work to mentor disadvantaged youth, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center’s work to provide medical care to low-income Washington County residents, and Clackamas Women’s Services’ work with homeless survivors of domestic violence…”

read full text here