11/04/14 2:00pm

Small business consultant Holly Howard has helped over 30 businesses and entrepreneurs in Brooklyn to map out their vision and achieve their goals.

Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books.

Dear Holly,

I’m a stylist who’s a partner in an up and coming fashion label.  We’ve had some moderate success and the future looks bright.  I’m having somewhat of a problem when it comes to customer service and complaints.  My partner and I tend to have differing attitudes about how requests and feedback should be handled.  I tend to be overly accommodating and go with the old motto “the customer is always right”, while my partner tends to pull more of an attitude with them and disregard their complaints.   

Do you have any advice on best practices when it comes to customer service?  I’m sure it’s not a one size fits all across every industry, but we have to come to an agreement on how we handle these things or else we’re going to lose our following.   (more…)

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…)

09/24/13 1:00pm

holly-photo-280x290Dear Holly,

I run a small production company here in Brooklyn with about 10 employees.  It is now five years since I started the business.  I think I have a really strong team, but I have a really hard time taking time off.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a micromanager or if it’s because I fear my staff will be upset if I’m not there, but I rarely take a vacation.  It’s really starting to get to me, and I’d like some advice on how I can set myself up to take a vacation successfully and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and everyone feels good about it.

Thanks,

Vacationphobic

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09/16/13 12:00pm

holly-photo-280x290Dear Holly,

I own a restaurant here in Brooklyn that during the first two to three years was always a darling of the press. I got great reviews in every major NY publication, and business was great. I’m in my fifth year now, and I feel like I’m practically old news in this city. I never had to seek attention from the press before, but now I feel like nobody is covering what we’re doing. Do you have any advice about how I can stay relevant even when the media is not beating down my door? I can see that I’m not as busy as I used to be, and I don’t want to fall off the map. What can I do?

Thanks,

Frustrated by Fickle Foodies

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09/09/13 12:00pm

holly-photo-280x290Dear Holly,

What’s your take on using social media for business?  I run a small art gallery here in Brooklyn and I haven’t really invested much time or thought into it.  Lately, I feel like everyone is telling me I’m missing out on a big part of my audience because I’m not engaged in social media. I’m really not all that interested in using it, but I’m wondering if it is hurting my business. 

What’s your best advice on using social media in your business?
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08/26/13 11:06am

holly-photo-280x290Dear Holly,

I’m a designer who recently started manufacturing and selling my own furniture. I’ve spent years engaged in the creative side of things working at other studios. This past year, I finally launched my own business. The biggest problem I have is that I have a seriously poor relationship with money.

I’ve shunned money most of my career never wanting to “sell out” or be “greedy.” I’ve always felt it was more important to focus on creating. Now, I’m starting to realize that my attitude is completely handicapping my business. I never want to feel like I’m driven by money, yet I realize I need to get a grip on my finances or else I’m not going to make it as a designer or build my business.

Is there a way to turn this around and see things in a different light?

Any advice will help. (more…)

08/19/13 10:58am

holly-photo-280x290Dear Holly,

I own a small retail store here in Brooklyn. I know heading into the fall that I’m going to have to increase my staff, particularly around holiday time. It never seems to go smoothly, and I wonder if you have any advice on what I can do to improve my hiring process. I find that because I see my holiday workers as temporary help, I don’t necessarily take the time to train them properly. I’m sure that’s a huge mistake considering that so much of my business happens during this time. I’m sure it’s making a huge impact on my bottom line.

Any quick pointers would really be helpful.
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08/12/13 12:00pm

holly-photo-280x290Dear Holly,

I’ve been running a small magazine for about three decades.  Recently I sold it to a larger media company.  I’ve stayed on board this past year to help guide the transition.  But, as the year end slowly creeps nearer, I realize we are in no shape to fully hand over the magazine to the new owners. 

I created this magazine.  It’s my vision.  The new owners are having a really hard time executing that vision and maintaining the feel and the personality that were the magazine’s trademark. 

Do you have any advice on what I can put in place so that when I leave, I will know that the magazine will continue and not lose it’s feel or the momentum I’ve established?

Thanks,

Floundering Founder

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08/05/13 1:00pm

holly-photo-280x290

Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books.

Want valuable insight into how to grow your business?  Holly hosts FREE 30 minute strategy sessions at The Yard in Williamsburg.  Email her to set up a time hhoward@askhollyhow.com or to ask a question for the next Ask Holly How.

Dear Holly,

I have always dreamed of starting a jam company.  Right now I have a full-time job, but I’m considering launching soon.  I thought I’d take advantage of the fact that I have a steady paycheck right now and do some planning before I take the leap.  

How should I get started?  I know I need to write a business plan, but is there any way to know if this business would really work before I dive into that process? I’d just like a clear idea on whether or not my idea can be turned into a viable business. 

Thanks,

Jammin’
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07/22/13 2:32pm

holly-photo-280x290

Holly Howard runs Ask Holly How, a small business consulting company based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that works with a wide variety of businesses from restaurants to retail to art studios and pretty much everything in between. Her clients report increased income and profit, decreased expenses and a significantly better quality of life. Holly heads up the Small Business Book Club at McNally Jackson Books.

Want valuable insight into how to grow your business?  Holly hosts FREE 30 minute strategy sessions at The Yard in Williamsburg.  Email her to set up a time hhoward@askhollyhow.com or to ask a question for the next Ask Holly How.

Dear Holly,

I’m a photographer who often works with many assistants on the set.  I try to set a relaxed tone in the working environment, but lately I feel like everyone is taking advantage of that.  Professionalism is really starting to slip, and the client is suddenly holding me accountable to a much higher standard.  I feel like my staff is taking advantage of the fact that I’m a “nice” boss and I haven’t laid out a ton of rules.  I fear that it’s going to be a real challenge to change.

It’s stressing me out because the client is not always pleased with the perceived lack of professionalism on set.  Do you have any advice on how I can institute some rules without taking the fun out of the working environment?
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