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Small Biz Focus: State of The Arlington Coworking Market

This column is written by Alex Taylor and sponsored by Arlington Economic Development‘s Business Investment Group.

Over the last decade, coworking spaces and related concepts have taken the commercial real estate sector by storm.

What used to be a niche industry focusing primarily on executive suites and conference facilities quickly became accessible to everyone from tech entrepreneurs and home-based businesses to major corporations looking for short-term, flexible space to service a multitude of different business opportunities.

Each space offers unique amenities tailored to a certain clientele, and while many in the commercial real estate industry remain skeptical of market saturation, others have come to believe coworking is here to stay as an important asset to the business community.

Surprisingly, the Washington, D.C. region has been one of the slowest markets to adopt coworking. In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area only 0.5% of commercial office space is leased by coworking firms, compared to 3.5% in Austin, 3.0% in Seattle and 2.5% in New York City (New Knight Frank). Part of the reason for this is the nature of the entities doing business.

The federal government and its related contractors, lobbyists and law firms still cherish large swaths of private office space for varying reasons, often regarding security. Although the D.C. region has had a slow start in gaining traction for this alternative work environment, demand for coworking space could quickly pick up with the arrival of Amazon and the continued diversification of the economy toward more technical and innovative industries.

Back in 2015, Arlington Economic Development aided in recruiting 1776 and Eastern Foundry, two early entrants into the coworking space, in an effort to foster the growth of early-stage and fast-growing startups in Arlington.

The idea was to create an environment that provided the resources and office stock to meet the budgetary and business needs of the companies that were to be the future of our economy. Arlington’s commercial office market now features 21 coworking spaces, not including offerings like flexible spaces and speculative suites that developers and building managers are introducing to the flexible work environment.

As individuals and companies look to utilize space differently, coworking facilities are offering a convenient alternative to those who find themselves between “starting out of the garage” and signing a long-term lease. The ability to showcase a wide variety of real estate options allows Arlington to recruit the rapidly growing companies which will eventually require larger, long-term spaces and feed Arlington’s tax base.

As Arlington recruits nationally and internationally, coworking stock continues to be an important selling point to companies looking to make soft entries into our business ecosystem. It allows companies to ‘test the market’ while giving themselves time to find a permanent space should they be successful.

As the definition of coworking continues to grow and adapt, the void these spaces fill in the office market continues to be an invaluable asset as we build a more diverse, forward-thinking economy.

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Small Biz Focus: 2019 Trends for Entrepreneurs

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

Want to be your own boss?  Tired of the day-to-day grind? Do you have dreams of launching your invention dancing in your head?

Starting a business is not an easy endeavor.

However, keep in mind these latest trends in 2019, as you prepare to launch:

1. Add Experiential Marketing — Experiential marketing is a small business trend that is growing in popularity. Providing your customers with a unique and fun engagement with your brand helps to instill loyalty. It could be as simple as having your customers interact with the naming of a product or service or interactive social media campaigns. Remember to stay on brand, and not get off message.

2. Provide Excellent Customer Service — Excellent Customer service is key to differentiating your business from the competition. In today’s fast-paced world where everything moves at a lightening speed, many businesses forget to provide the best customer service through each touch with their customers. This trend never grows old. Ensure your staff as well as management is trained on how to provide the best customer service experience.

3. Build Sustainable Relationships — Although there are mobile apps for just about everything, and a ton of transactions occur online versus at the mall — old fashioned relationships where everyone knows your name is priceless. We buy from those we trust. Trust is earned through interaction. Expand your network, and build relationships every day.

4. Encourage Employee Happiness — Unemployment is at an all-time low. How do you retain talent and ensure your staff is engaged at all times? Create and maintain programs to ensure your employees are happy. Studies show that when employees are happy daily productivity is boosted by 10-25%.

5. Incorporate Social Entrepreneurship — Social entrepreneurship is the art of promoting a worthy cause as you build your business. Many small businesses in 2019 incorporate an area of social entrepreneurship whereby they strategize to make a difference in the world. They build social entrepreneurship into their business model. This is a long-term trend, and has no sign of slowing down. Many small businesses are adding social entrepreneurship to their overall strategy as they launch.

6. Understand policies and regulations governing your industry — This trend never gets old. As an entrepreneur before you plan to launch, understand the policies (I.e., national, state and local) that regulate your industry, and could potentially impact the success of your endeavors.

Let’s keep the conversation going! BizLaunch is hosting its bi-annual Starting a Business workshop on Monday, February 11, 2019 at Arlington Public Library, Central. Hear the latest trends in launching a small business, and get all the resources you need to successfully start your endeavors.

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Small Biz Focus: Looking Beyond Amazon… The New Way Forward

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Victor Hoskins, Director at AED. 

It has been two months since Amazon announced its plan to bring its major new headquarters to Arlington.

In that time we have been busily planning and answering Arlingtonians’ many questions about the project. However, here at Arlington Economic Development, we are already looking ahead.

What’s next for Arlington’s economic landscape?

The Amazon effect, as it is being called, has been a game-changer for Arlington’s business community. Not only does Amazon’s decision really cement Arlington as a technology leader on the East Coast, the revenue generated from this company in the coming years will go a long way toward restoring stability to Arlington’s office environment, which has suffered from years of high vacancies.

Amazon will gradually reduce the eight million square feet that currently stands vacant in Arlington. Each one percent of vacant office space that we fill yields $3.4 million annually in new local tax revenues– revenues that help to provide resources and amenities valued by our community.

In a time when we all have faced difficult decisions regarding the County budget, this needed revenue comes at the perfect time.

But by no means is this a time to sit on our laurels. It just changes the conversation a little. In addition to putting a dent in Arlington’s office vacancy rate, what Amazon has truly done is put us on the map as a desired location to do business. That is where the real work begins.

The AED team is always working to find the next innovative company that is considering making Arlington its home. We are focusing on diversifying our economic base. We have come a long way in the last four years, but there is still work to be done to ensure Arlington’s place as a leader in the innovation economy.

The Amazon deal did something else that will also help to propel us into the future. That deal set truly unprecedented levels of partnership between jurisdictions and the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure success, and that partnership around the region is something we only see growing. It is truly a regional economy now, and we need to think that way moving forward.

I look forward to working closely with my colleagues at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership as well as the counties throughout Northern Virginia. In addition, D.C. and Maryland Counties across the river are colleagues I have come to value not just as coworkers, but also as friends.

We have all discovered that by working together, the entire region benefits, and I believe that is the true Way Forward formula that will bring economic success to Arlington.

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Small Biz Focus: 2019 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

What New Year’s resolutions are on your list this year?

Today marks the 9th day of the New Year. Have you stuck to your New Year’s Resolutions for your business? Or are you still working on what you’d like to do for the year?

Planning and executing a strategy at the start of the New Year is a great way to ensure you accomplish your business goals in 2019.

BizLaunch is offering two new workshops this month which can help you to achieve your goals in 2019. Our first event is “Branding Your Biz 2019: Best Practices for Startups,” and the next is our highly popular — quarterly Brunch and Business on, “Raising Capital in 2019.” Marketing and financing are two topics in demand at BizLaunch in 2019.

If your goals are in these two areas we have fast tips for you to think about below:

Quick Tips on Branding in 2019

  • Consistent Use of Your Brand on all Platforms

As a business, develop a clear branding plan for 2019. Implement consistent, almost predictable activities on all online and offline platforms (Think GEICO… all their ads have the same look and feel whether on TV, radio or in print).

Your clients, colleagues and associates should be able to clearly identify your business via marketing initiatives regarding your products or if you are sponsoring an event. Use the same “voice,” of your business even if someone else is producing your materials.

  • Be Seen

If no one sees your business at leading industry events — you do not exist in the marketplace. Identify and attend events, conferences and networking programs where it is both logical and beneficial for your organization to participate.

While being seen at events, do ensure your business cards, promotional and marketing materials are up-to-date with the latest branding. Sponsor events and activities where you can quantify your return on investment.

  • Know Your Customers

What do your customers like and dislike? Which platforms are your clients on? Ask your clients for referrals and build your brand around customer loyalty. Don’t try to please more than your direct target market. It can be costly and too much work. Produce high value to a well-defined audience.

  • Repetition is Healthy

The more you are seen with your brand — the more people equate you with the success of the brand. Repetition and being known in an industry are key tools to a healthy brand. It takes a minimum of 6-8 touches before the brand is recognized by a target market. Therefore, it is important every time a potential client sees your brand your business is using the same imagery.

Top Tips on Raising Capital

  • Find Out Exactly How Much Capital You Need in 2019

If you are presented today with an opportunity, do you have enough liquidity to successfully accomplish the initiative? What types of work will you be undertaking in 2019, and how much will it cost you to execute the proposal?

If something goes wrong, how much will you have to pay to get out of the opportunity? If something goes too well, do you have the cash on hand to respond to the demand?

  • Educate Yourself on Current Financing Trends

How are banks structuring business loans in 2019? Is it possible to get a loan from a bank? Are investors looking for specific qualities from businesses to invest in them? How much does a business need to give up in receiving an investment?

Are investors interested in your industry? There is the opportunity to use crowdfunding to finance business endeavors; however, is this something one can use to underwrite expenses, and if so how much will it cost?

  • Review Current Interest Rates and Identify the Best Options in the Long & Short Term

Will the Federal Reserve increase interest rates this year? What are the current rates offered by banks, and how will this affect the buying power of the business? What are other banks offering, and should an entrepreneur lock in a rate now versus a year from now?

Contact your accountant to see how interest rates, and the recent changes to tax law will impact your business in 2019.

  • Much Talk on Potential Recession in Late 2019 or 2020

Economists are predicting slow economic growth this year or a recession in 2020 based on current activity. How will this impact your buying power and what should you be doing today to plan for a slowdown in the market tomorrow?

Do a fact check of your industry and look for signs of changes in financing trends. A rule of thumb in financing is to go after capital when you don’t need it.

If you have more questions, please put on your New Year’s list to attend a BizLaunch workshop in 2019.  We hope to see you at a BizLaunch program in the New Year! Here’s to a productive and profitable 2019.

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Small Biz Focus: ‘Tis the Season for Nonprofits

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Natalie Monkou, Business Development Manager at AED

I don’t know if there is any correlation between colder weather and warmer hearts, but over the past decade, Americans have shown that they are the most generous towards the end of the year.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the last few months of the year make up what is commonly called the “Giving Season” for the nonprofit community. This underscores the idea that, during the holidays, we operate in a more generous frame of mind — giving our time and resources to both the people we love and people in need.

But giving once each year is just the beginning. Arlington County is home to several nonprofits that contribute significantly to our local community and have a global impact every day.

For example, The Nature Conservancy is an Arlington nonprofit and a world-class organization that addresses issues in our land and water. As noted by Independent Sector, the company has worked to protect Virginia wildlife for more than 50 years.

In the last few months, Arlington has been in the news for attracting a major company to our community. However, you may have also heard about the recent relocation decision of a nonprofit organization from White Plains, New York to Arlington.

Beyond the common reasons companies choose Arlington as a place for business, nonprofits like March of Dimes choose Arlington because they want to be in a location where they can truly partner with the local community — to be in place where “giving season” is the norm.

Leveraging the spirit of the most generous season, I encourage you to consider new and innovative ways to support Arlington’s local nonprofits and finding ways to give all year round.

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Small Biz Focus: Your End of Year Business Tune-Up

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

Are you distracted by sugar plums dancing in your head? Don’t be! There is still time to strategize to ensure a productive 2019. The last 12 days of 2018 provide an excellent opportunity to plan for the New Year (You’ll start to notice this week the emails have slowed as people start to leave on vacation — seize the day!).

Here are 5 quick BizLaunch Tips to ensure you pass your end of the year business tune up:

  • Set Up a Quick Meeting with Your Accountant
    The tax law changed last year. How have the new changes impacted your business? Are there things you can do now to help you manage 2019? Draw up a list of questions for your accountant before the clock strikes 12 on December 31.
  • Dust Off Your Strategic Plan
    When was the last time you reviewed your strategy? What is working and most importantly what is not working? Which areas should you update in the coming year to grow your business? Take a hard look right now and ask yourself tough questions about the direction your business is headed.
  • Audit Your Goals from 2018
    Did you accomplish the goals you set for yourself this year? What should you continue doing and what should you change?
  • How Does Your Desk Look?
    Are proposals scattered around your desk and you can’t find your chair? Now is a good time as ever to refresh and put your files in order. You’ll feel great after you do!
  • Set Up an Appointment with an Advisor
    Mentorship is priceless. Is there an advisor in your life you feel 100% comfortable bouncing ideas off of? If so, schedule a meeting in the New Year. If not, give us a call! You may come up with a plan that you hadn’t thought of in the New Year.

As a business there are still things you can do before the end of the year to be ahead in 2019.

And, yes — we do have *new* events in store for the New Year on Branding and Funding Your Dreams. We hope you will join us. Warm wishes during this holiday season, and we look forward to a wonderful 2019!

The BizLaunch Team

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Small Biz Focus: Fast-Growth Businesses Honored at the Arlington Premiere

Supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and creatives is all part of Arlington’s Creative Economy initiative. With public/private partnerships, growth of these endeavors is an important part of business sector diversity and economic sustainability.

By Sindy Yeh

Kicking off the holiday season last week, Arlington celebrated business success at its Arlington Premier event on November 28 at the new Convene space in Rosslyn. More than 300 business leaders attended the Arlington Premiere reception, which recognizes new businesses in the Arlington community.

For the fourth year in a row, the event also honored some of Arlington’s fastest growing companies — known as the Arlington Fast Four. The winners were formally announced and recognized at the reception.

Entrants for the Arlington Fast Four were privately-held companies that needed to demonstrate year-over-year revenue growth from 2015, 2016 and 2017. Winners were required to provide income statements to show proof of growth and revenue. This year’s winners were chosen in each of four categories (to comprise the Arlington Fast Four).

The 2018 Fast Four Winners are:

Mind Body Health — Under $500,000

Mind Body Health is a private practice of psychologists and dietitians dedicated to providing compassionate, evidence-based care. The experts specialize in providing individual psychotherapy and nutrition counseling for the treatment of chronic medical conditions, depression and a variety of disorders. Mind Body Health is in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington and has been serving clients here since 2014.

Eminent IT — $500k – $1.5M

Eminent IT is a software development company established in 2009 focused on helping organizations and government agencies revamp their business processes and technology. Its clients include the U.S. Navy and the White House. The company has also received the 2015 and 2018 Top Federal Innovators of the Year award.

LiveSafe — $1.5M – $5M

Livesafe offers a mobile two-way safety communications platform and risk mitigation tool used by businesses and universities. It was founded by a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting tragedy. Livesafe’s mobile app allows users to report incidents, share their location and also find and call for emergency services.

The company has deep roots in Arlington; some of its Board members live here and have founded several other Arlington-based companies such as Buysafe and Hungry.

AM LLC — $5M – $50M

AM LLC’s full name is Applied Memetics. Since 2012, AM has supported contracts with the federal government across the Health, Defense and Intelligence markets. The company is growing quickly and hiring data scientists, engineers, and cyber security analysts to work in Arlington and throughout the region at client sites.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Small Biz Focus: Shop! Learn! Explore! It’s All Arlington this Holiday Season

Supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and creatives is all part of Arlington’s Creative Economy initiative. With public/private partnerships, growth of these endeavors is an important part of business sector diversity and economic sustainability.

Mark your calendars for these December Saturdays to find uniquely Arlington made items, learn from the makers and welcome in the season with a festival of lights along Lee Highway! It’s a full-on celebration of all things local and creative in Arlington.

Lee Highway Winter Festival of Lights
Saturday, December 1 from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The Lee Highway Alliance pulls out all the stops on its inaugural Winter Festival of Lights that spans four venues along Lee Highway. Dozens of community partners have come together to celebrate this corridor of Arlington with shops, artists, entertainment and of course lots of lights.

Be on hand to try a craft at the Lee Arts Center, learn local history at the Langston-Brown Community Center, hear music and watch magic at the Lee and Harrison Plaza, and shop local at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire House.

Save some time for a photo with Santa and sample great food all along the corridor!

Click here for more information.

Made in Arlington at Shirlington Library
Saturday, December 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year, make your shopping interactive! In its continued partnership with Arlington Public Library, Arlington Economic Development’s Made in Arlington Initiative takes pop-ups to a new level with a one-day event at Shirlington Library. Curious how baskets are woven or how jam is made? You’ll find a big new array of makers, artisans and entrepreneurs who will be on hand to demonstrate the work that is uniquely Made in Arlington.

Among the many vendors in this market you’ll find Kate Summers handmade and vintage jewelry, Jay Gerard’s knitted scarves and accessories, stained glass artist Maria Illlingworth, leather craftsman Wilfred Lopez and Persimmon Street ceramics.

Click here for more information.

For ongoing Creative Economy listings and opportunities, check here. More Creative economy stories on the blog.

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Small Biz Focus: Virginia Supports Veterans, V3 Certification Opportunity

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Sindy Yeh

In honoring our veterans this past week, we would like to share a wonderful program the Commonwealth of Virginia sponsors in support of those leaving the military seeking employment.

Did you know the Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the most veteran-friendly states in the nation?

Virginia is comprised of the most veteran-owned small businesses in the country. Not so surprising considering Virginia is home to the Pentagon in Arlington and the world’s largest naval base in Norfolk. There are hundreds of thousands of active-duty service members serving within the Commonwealth’s borders and many have chosen to call Virginia home upon leaving the military.

With more than 750,000 veterans located in Virginia, the Commonwealth has had the fastest growing veteran labor force over the past 5 years and is projected to continue to have the fastest growing veteran population over the next five years.

With such a highly skilled and adaptable workforce living here, Virginia recognizes the opportunity to promote veteran talent to the civilian workforce and to help businesses become more successful by focusing on hiring the right people for the job.

One such initiative, the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program, provides education, training and connectivity resources to assist companies to implement nationally recognized best practices in recruiting, hiring and retaining veterans. Virginia companies who have completed all V3 training requirements and have submitted a veteran hiring plan will be recognized as an official “V3-Certified Company.”

Furthermore, V3 qualified companies with fewer than 300 employees may qualify for up to $10,000 in grants, with $1,000 being awarded per eligible veteran that is hired and retained for at least one year.

Several Arlington companies are officially V3-Certified, namely Lunarline, CACI, Cydecor, G4S Secure Solutions, First Division Consulting, Shoulder 2 Shoulder, By Light Professional IT Services and National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association.

We encourage Arlington companies to consider becoming V3 certified to seize the opportunity to find the workforce they need within the veteran community.

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Small Biz Focus: ‘Tis the Season to Celebrate Local Biz

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

Act local. Think local. Let’s Celebrate.

Small Business Saturday is almost upon us! The day after Black Friday is the day to formally celebrate the local businesses where we love to shop. Shopping local keeps our community unique, and what better way to support our independently-owned businesses than by patronizing them on November 24.

According to American Express, in 2017 an estimated 108 million consumers across the United States reported shopping or dining at independently-owned business on Small Business Saturday. These consumers generated $12 billion in reported spending.

Join BizLaunch online for an interactive pre-celebration of shopping local on Monday, November 19. We will visit area retail businesses throughout the day and promote our local shops in Arlington, VA on both Twitter and Facebook. Follow our hashtags as we visit local retail businesses to help you figure out which local shops you should visit on Small Business Saturday.

We invite you to tag your favorite local small business all day. Businesses can also join in on the fun if they’d like to tag themselves. Let’s celebrate our local businesses. Join us on Twitter by following #ShopSmall#ArlingtonVA#SmallBizSat and #ShopArlington.

Another great pre-celebratory event to support our local businesses is the, “Shop Local Walking Tour,” of Crystal City and Pentagon City on Saturday, November 17. BizLaunch is partnering with WalkArlington, Netwalking and the Crystal City BID to host the event.

Enjoy the area’s walkability, hear stories from local business owners and get a jump start on shopping local for the holidays. The event is free but registration is required. More information can be found here.

We hope you plan to #ShopLocal and #ShopArlington this Small Business Saturday!

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Small Biz Focus: Made in Arlington Holiday Pop-Ups

Supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and creatives is all part of Arlington’s Creative Economy initiative. With public/private partnerships, growth of these endeavors is an important part of business sector diversity and economic sustainability.

What better way to stir up an appetite for holiday shopping than sampling handmade pies? And stocking up on artist created greeting cards? And heavenly chocolate?

The Made in Arlington pop-up shop at Courthouse Plaza is back in 2018 with even more weekly artisans and entrepreneurs starting Thursday, November 1 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Find your favorites and welcome newcomers who will make this your go-to for gift giving and indulgence.

Opening day on November 1 features ‘Livin the Pie Life’, rated by Sports Illustrated as the BEST game day Thanksgiving Pie. The 2017 sell-out pie shop pop-up means that showing up early is a must this year! Line up for samples, purchases and info on how to order your holiday favorites. Don’t be left with crumbs!

Right along-side Pie Life will be FastSnail creative greetings and design with cards and prints that both amuse and amaze. Featured in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Marketplace, Fast Snail’s Liz Hutcheson designs cards with local flavor, seasonal character and all occasion whimsical greetings.

Don’t miss these weekly pop-up vendors throughout November:

November 1
Living the Pie Life
FastSnail creative greetings and designs

November 8
Denison Lane
Bakeshop

November 15
Kingsbury Chocolates
Tracy Wilkerson

November 29
Melanie Lee
District Line Clothing

Full Pop-Up Schedule throughout December can be found here.

Supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and creatives is all part of Arlington’s Creative Economy initiative. With public/private partnerships, growth of these endeavors is an important part of business sector diversity and economic sustainability.

Check here for ongoing Creative Economy listings and opportunities. More Creative economy stories on the blog.

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Small Biz Focus: Top Media Tools for Your Business

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

2018. The age of viral videos and shared media posts.

How does it happen? What are the best ways to reach your clients in the short and long term? Does it make sense for your business to engage in certain activities which require the latest media tools? Do you have the right tools in your arsenal to engage successfully with your customers?

In a perfect world, your business should have a detailed (up-to-date) strategic plan in place when it comes to interacting with your customers.

First, you’ll need to answer the most fundamental question: how do your clients best receive information? Once you find out where your clients are the next thing is to understand everything about the platform, and create tools to help you to interact and engage.

Media Toolkit Quick Checklist

Step 1: Website — The content on your web site should be clear, informative and not too wordy. Less is best.

The ultimate goal of success is that all activities (blog posts, tweets, FB and LinkedIn etc.) will lead potential clients to your Web site to purchase your goods or services. This is the “call-to-action,” that your media kit must have, and your Web site is the virtual calling card of your business.

Add analytics to see how well your Web site is performing. Are you on the first page in search engines when people look for you using your industry’s key words? Anything less means your clients may find it hard to find you in search engines.

Step 2: Social Media Presence — Identify which platforms your clients are on, and make sure you are there! Social Media options can range from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more.

Follow key influencers and make sure you ask them to follow you back. Freshen content daily and use different online platforms to help you manage daily content. Many of these social media tools can help you analyze how well your data and information are being opened, clicked on and shared.

Keep in mind — the more active you are on social media (using industry keywords and hashtags where applicable), the higher you can be found on search engines!

Step 3: Use of Photography/Videography — These days almost anyone can be a photographer or videographer on-the-go if you own a smartphone or tablet. The high quality of images can be captured right on your phone, making just about anyone a great photographer, and the opportunities to engage endless.

The use of images and video content on your Web site and social media platforms are critical and help in making your content clickable. The more you can use images and video the more interactive you will make the experience for your clients.

Step 4: Experiential Marketing — Nowadays, many marketing strategies and marketing campaigns include experiential touches. In building a brand, companies engage their customers throughout the process to ensure the success of their product or service.

If a customer feels a deep tie with the business, they are loyal to the brand. A campaign can include customers contributing to the overall look and feel of the business or participating in activities that encourage giving back to a community.

BizLaunch and the Arlington Independent Media (AIM) are pleased to announce they will be offering several business courses next month on how to best use media tools to build your business.

We will launch the first course with making sure you have everything you need in your media toolkit, and then move on to specific instruction on both photography and videography for your business.

For more information please click on the hyperlinks below. We hope you can join us to brush up on your skills or to improve the ones you have!

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Small Business Focus: Got a Great Idea?

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

The summer of 2018 was busy at BizLaunch.

Entrepreneurs opened new businesses at a fast pace and there was never a dull moment. Innovative ideas and solutions were discussed and strategies implemented. New small businesses did not take a break.

In fact, mentorship of new businesses was up by 30% from the prior summer. Entrepreneurs from a wide variety of industries sought assistance to launch their business endeavors. Small business growth is on the rise.

So what do you do if you have a great idea that you’d love to launch? How do you succeed and go on to become the next Shark Tank success story?

Our answer is simple. Use local (FREE!) resources to help you turn your idea into reality.

We’ve got you covered this fall.

The first thing you’ll want to do is research your industry. Understand where the opportunities and threats lie. Identify a well-defined target market and begin to develop your business plan.

Arlington Public Library is a wonderful resource and has several free tools to help you successfully launch. The list of tools can be found here, and the best news is there is a Business Librarian you can meet with to help you navigate the various available tools for you to use.

Better yet — we will be conducting a live Lunch Webinar on October 10 at noon on “Best Researching Tools for Entrepreneurs in 2018.”

Next, we cordially invite you to attend our program on October 25 entitled “Are you Ready to Start Your Business?” At this event you’ll walk through everything you need to know to successfully launch your idea.

We discuss all points of regulations, planning, and resources as you make your decision to go forward or not. Key BizLaunch partners will be in attendance and will be available to answer your questions as well as to network for additional resources.

We hope to see you this fall to keep our business community thriving!

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Small Biz Focus: Put Away Your Crystal Ball

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Tara Palacios

Entrepreneurship is tough.

Entrepreneurship is demanding.

Entrepreneurship is being present at the right time, and at the right place.

Why? Can’t you simply have a good idea and execute? Does entrepreneurship have to be tough, and demanding, and at the right time and place?

Well, an important reason why (and one not explained too often) is because you must be able to predict the future. Yes, your ability to invoke keen foresight is a key skill for an entrepreneur. However, don’t dust off the crystal ball yet.

As an entrepreneur, one must constantly be ahead of trends — whether it is the latest innovation, keeping up with your competition or knowing “exactly,” how the U.S. economy will respond to outside forces (i.e., think trade war). An entrepreneur must constantly be several steps ahead of the market to plan, to prepare, and to mitigate risk to succeed over time.

How does the overall U.S. economy impact the region? Will the trade war impact Arlington businesses, and if so in what way? Unemployment is at an all-time low — but does that mean many people are working? Or are individuals underemployed?

We hope to be able to help your crystal ball predict the future by bringing in experts who are looking at the current trends that may impact your business.

BizLaunch is pleased to announce with our partners the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce our latest Brunch and Business: The 2018 Economy — Navigating Trade Wars and Discovering Business Opportunities.

Join us October 3 at SPACES The Artisphere as you hear from two experts in the field who will address this topic: GMU’s Director of the Center for Regional Analysis, Dr. Terry Clower, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Director for International Policy, Kris Denzel will engage in a dynamic discussion of the 2018 economy and beyond.

The event is free and open to the public. We hope you will be able to join us!

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Small Biz Focus: The Alcove Comes Alive

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

On a recent Thursday evening, The Alcove pop-up space in Rosslyn became an extra dimension for another seminar in the series ROC: Return on Creativity, an Arlington Asset.

The panel of creatives delivered on navigating the changing landscape of publishing, branding, libraries and learning; the Rosslyn BID, Arlington Public Library, Arlington Economic Development and the American Advertising Federation D.C. Chapter brought everything else.

Starting with Greg Kihlstrom’s launch of his newest book, The Agile Brand, library moderator Genelle Schuler led panelists Scott Williams (Newseum), Lisa Nirell (Energize Growth). Geoff Livingston (Livingston Campaigns) and Cynthia Connolly (who doesn’t love Banned in DC?) in a forum that was as lively as the space.

“I really enjoyed the panel discussion… It was great to hear from the panel that self-publishing is a more than viable option its often the better route to go down. I have often had the desire to dig deep on a subject matter and write a book. I think as I go through this period of self-discovery about my brand and purpose I will identify what that will be soon!” – Kat Azima, Denteo Marketing Group

Temporary pop-up spaces are taking on a sophistication — and a new role — that is shifting place-making and retail. If it weren’t for the occasional plywood flooring and the whirring vent fans, visitors to the Alcove would think they’d found a surprising new boutique. A full wall mural greets visitors, a rainbow of fibers floats along the windows and shoppers lounge in a mini living room.

This is way more than decoration.

The Alcove pop-up space is a two month experiential endeavor soon to be occupied by a long term tenant. But from the size of the audience at Return on Creativity, the constant flow of visitors to the book shop and the Etsy pop-up, these prototype spaces are combining consumers’ curiosity with a desire for an Instagram moment.

Supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and creatives is all part of Arlington’s Creative Economy initiative. With public/private partnerships, growth of these endeavors is an important part of business sector diversity and economic sustainability.

Check here for ongoing Creative Economy listings and opportunities. More Creative economy stories on the blog.

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