10/23/14 2:35pm
Samuel L. Jackson's body language is WAY too aggressive for a good negotiation.

Negotiating with Samuel L. Jackson’s is no picnic.

Dear Holly,

I own a small construction company here in Brooklyn. I often sub contract services so I’m constantly negotiating and managing contracts.

I can honestly say that I hate to negotiate, and that it’s probably the most challenging part of my job.

Do you have any advice on how I can become a better negotiator? I know that this piece of running my business is not going away, and I’d like to improve it so that it doesn’t feel like such a burden.

Thank you,

Non-Negotiator
(more…)

09/24/14 5:00pm

Red Hook Winery

Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week she fields a question from Red Hook Winery. 

Hi Holly,

This hasn’t happened recently, but it has happened in the past, and I think it is a growing problem/concern with businesses…the dreaded Yelp review!

As a small business owner, the reviews often feel out of balance or focused on things that can’t always be controlled.  I hear lately how small businesses struggle with this topic.  It seems like consumers tend to write reviews when things are negative, and often they focus on bizarre parts of the experience. There are frequent tangents that may be off base or even just one side of the story.  

Any ideas on how to better address how to deal with Yelp reviews? (more…)

09/11/14 1:33pm

599461_383773011685728_1995640762_nHolly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program.  This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red HookNew York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week she fields a question from the owners of The Good Fork.

Dear Holly,

We’re working on our marketing strategy and trying to refine the tactics we use.  Part of our strategy includes sending out email newsletters.  Our question to you is how often should a restaurant send out an e-mail blast to its list?  We want to stay in people’s minds but we don’t want to pester them!   (more…)

02/26/14 3:00pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,

I’m a freelance writer here in Brooklyn. I was hesitant to reach out and ask you a question, because I’m not sure if I necessarily consider myself a business owner or even an entrepreneur. But, I also don’t have a sole employer so I am very much an independent worker.

My question to you has to do with money. I’m having a hard time setting my rates to earn what I believe I deserve, and on top of that, I have an even harder time collecting payment when it’s due. I get so frustrated with the companies I freelance with and often times it impacts the working relationship.

Writing is my forte, not money. Do you have any advice on what I can do to solve these problems?
(more…)

02/19/14 12:00pm

askhollyhow-logo (1)Dear Holly,

I’m a furniture designer who sells at a lot of the local markets, and recently I was accepted to sell at a major home goods store.  I think if you were on the outside looking into my business, you would say that it’s successful.  People love my products, and to be in a major store surely means that I’ve arrived in some way.   The problem is that I don’t feel successful.  I’m not even sure if I want to continue running my business.

During the recession of 2008, I really got swept up into the “do what you love” idea and started this company.  But, I’m really not loving what I am presently doing.  Yes, I love to create and design furniture that inspires people, but I really didn’t realize what I was getting myself into on the business side.

Do you have any advice on what I should do?  I’m getting pretty close to walking away from all of it because I’m so burned out.

Thank you,

Burned Out On My Bliss

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02/05/14 3:30pm

HollyHowardDear Holly,
I’m tired of my day job and I dream of opening my own boutique.  I don’t necessarily have any fashion design experience nor have I really worked in retail, but I love clothes and everyone tells me I have a great eye.  

My question for you is what are the first few steps I can take to get started?  I’d have to build this while I’m still working my day job, but I honestly don’t even know where to begin.  I’d love to be my own boss someday, but not quite sure what the first few steps should be.   (more…)

01/17/14 9:37am

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Dear Holly,

I’ve recently inherited a family business. It’s a small bookstore that has been around for decades and in the past few years sales have declined quite drastically. I’m not sure how much of that is due to poor management or just the reality for a small independent bookstore. My family recently launched a small online store, but that didn’t seem to change things.

I’m coming to this venture with minimal business acumen. I would like to take over and turn things around, but I’m not sure if I have the knowledge and experience to make that happen.

I’ve got all of the records and past business plans from my family and reviewing them has been helpful. But my question for you is whether or not you have advice for a business that is declining and needs to change direction. Any insight you can offer would be helpful at this point.

Thanks,
Open Book (more…)

12/03/13 9:00am
Small business consultant Holly Howard has helped over 30 businesses and entrepreneurs in Brooklyn to map out their vision and achieve their goals.

Small business consultant Holly Howard has helped more than 30 Brooklyn businesses and entrepreneurs map out their visions and achieve their goals.

Whether you run your own shop, provide a service, or make products with a personal touch, you know that success is more than just turning a profit. You also need to keep looking ahead to the things that will help you grow and stay competitive. And if you haven’t yet mapped out your plans for growth and change this year, there is a boot camp for business owners and entrepreneurs that will help you achieve your business dreams in 2014.


Run by small business consultant Holly Howard, who has worked with more than 30 other Brooklyn businesses, artisans and artists like Red Hook Lobster Pound, Works Manufacturing, and Hello Super Studios, the From Artisan to Entrepreneur Business Growth Program begins this Monday, January 13 and runs for 12 weeks. During that time, you’ll set strategic and financial goals for the next five years; review and set financial projections for five years; create operating systems and implement a marketing plan to achieve those goals; and most importantly, you’ll develop your leadership role. Great strategies and a clear roadmap will get you nowhere if you don’t have the leadership skills to communicate your vision, build committed teams, inspire your customers, and claim your space in the marketplace.

All classes will be held at The Moderns, 900 Broadway at 19th St. in Manhattan, and in addition to class time, Holly will set aside 60 minutes each week for you to call in and go over any aspect of the strategy you need help with. You’ll also be learning alongside other business owners in your community, and become part of a private Facebook group with other class members for access to solutions and support, so you can build relationships to sustain your growth long after class ends. Register now for a spot and take charge of your business in 2014.

If you have any questions, Holly will be hosting an informational webinar this Friday, Jan. 10 at 1pm, which you can access online here or by phone, using the guest pin code 330058# when you dial in to 425-440-5100 or 347-464-3150. (The full list of dial in numbers is here.) And if you can’t make it to the webinar, you can still ask Holly any questions you have about the program or the process at info@askhollyhow.com.

Growing a business takes courage to put yourself out there, and commitment and dedication to make it work. Make it happen, either in Holly’s class, an investment of $1495, or through private sessions. Check out her testimonials, then register online, and follow her weekly advice column on Brooklyn Based for insights along the way.

 

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10/28/13 11:36am

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Dear Holly,

I make leather goods and sell them on my e-commerce shop as well as the markets around Brooklyn.  

I’ve had some success so far, and people like my product. I’ve been doing the markets for about two years now and feel like in a lot of ways, I’m not growing. But, I also feel totally overwhelmed about taking the next step and turning this into a bigger business.  

There are stores that I would love to have carry my product, but I know that means I’d need a bigger team to produce the product, and I’d need to do some serious planning.  

Do you have any advice on what I need to consider before I make the leap to grow? I’m not sure if it’s the right decision for me, and I can’t decide how to proceed.

Thanks,

One Toe In (more…)

10/21/13 11:50am

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Dear Holly,

I run a small fitness center here in Brooklyn. Business is going well, but I’m a little concerned about the last quarter of the year. I do really well after the start of the New Year and through the summer, but when I get to the final quarter, my cash flow takes a nose dive.

How can I avoid being there in the future?

Signed,

Not Working Out

Dear Not Working Out,

This is such a great question! Almost all types of businesses deal with this problem. Most businesses experience what’s called seasonality. That means that there are times of the year when you’re busy and you’re earning money, and there are times of the year when you’re slower and need a cash reserve to get you through. Your seasonality is a repeating pattern that occurs almost every year. (more…)