Columbus (2544)

Monday, 24 February 2014 13:39

2014 Pillar Awards: photos and video

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Medical Mutual 2014 Pillar Award for Community Service

On Jan. 16, 2014, Smart Business and Medical Mutual presented the 2014 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service event to a well-deserving group of honorees.

The evening event, held at the Statehouse, not only recognized corporate philanthropy in many forms and the special relationship between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, but it also award grants to worthy causes.

 

Check out our Facebook album to see who was there

 

“If you aren’t familiar with the Pillar awards, you may view it as another night away from home for people who are already very busy. But that couldn’t be less true,” says Mark Pizzi, president and COO, Nationwide Insurance. “This night is very special. It’s a truly inspirational evening that provides a respite from the often negative and tumultuous news we hear each day. The Pillar awards recognize individuals who make this world a better place through sheer will and commitment. I can’t think of a more satisfying and inspirational evening.”

Nine organizations and seven individuals were honored with Pillar Awards throughout the night.

 

Check out a video about the 2014 nominations

 

For corporate philanthropy in all its forms, The Crane Group, Diamond Hill Investments, Fifth Third Bank, Franklin International, Molina Healthcare of Ohio Inc., OhioHealth, Sequent and White Castle were all honored.

The Medical Mutual SHARE Award for the organization that best represents employee-driven philanthropy went to Delta Energy Services.

The Rea & Associates Nonprofit Executive Directors of the Year are:

The Nonprofit Board Executives of the Year are:

The final honoree of the evening was Tom Feeney, CEO of Safelite Auto Glass, who received the 2013 Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award.

In addition, The Pillar Foundation, established within the past year by Smart Business, reached its fundraising goal of $150,000, thanks to matching a commitment from Medical Mutual. At the event, the foundation seeded a new Pillar Fund at The Columbus Foundation with a $10,000 check, and $3,000 match from The Columbus Foundation.

Medical Mutual also presented a $25,000 grant to YWCA Columbus’ shelter program.


Learn more about the Medical Mutual 2014 Pillar Awards for Community Service

Moody Nolan set up shop in 1982 as one of a few minority-owned architectural firms in the United States. The company started out with loads of confidence in our abilities and a drive to succeed, just as all start-ups do.

Of course, it takes more than confidence to succeed, or every business would. It takes technical skill, the ability to provide a service in ways others can’t, business acumen and an ability to get along with people.

For Moody Nolan, it also required the ability to overcome preconceived notions about what an architectural firm looked like. Consider that, in 1982, the company was a small two-person African-American owned architectural firm; today, we’re the largest. So, the lessons learned as we grew sometimes had to do with race.

As we celebrate Black History Month, it would be shortsighted to focus on those lessons alone. In fact, most of the important lessons I learned are lessons for any time and for anybody who dreams of building a successful business.

 

Lesson 1:  Don’t let anyone talk you out of your passion.

If I had listened to the naysayers, I never would have become an architect. In high school, I paid too much attention to basketball and not enough to my math grades. So, when I told a school counselor I wanted to be an architect, she advised me to be a draftsman instead, adding that “there are no black architects.” Instead of listening to her, I got my math grades up and the rest is history.

 

Lesson 2: Don’t take things personally.

It’s easy to let personal snubs or doubts from others derail your focus. Over the years, Moody Nolan has surprised a number of potential clients who didn’t know until the day of our presentation that it was an African-American owned firm. Some — both white and black — have reacted as if they weren’t sure the company could do the job.

I took it in stride, realizing that if they’d never seen a black firm do the job before I would have to show them. Because each successful project tends to lead to three more, that approach has served us well.

 

Lesson 3: Partner with those who can do something you can’t.

When I decided to start out on my own, I partnered with Howard Nolan, a civil engineer who had been assistant director of transportation for the state of Ohio. Howard’s work in state government had given him extensive connections and relationships around the state.

The lesson is that you sometimes don’t get chosen because you’re the most qualified, but because someone knows you and trusts what you can do. People trusted Howard, and that helped us do business with those who didn’t know me.

 

Lesson 4: Remember who you serve.

Moody Nolan was built on a concept known as “responsive architecture.” The concept is simple: We design what our clients want and need, not what we’d like to see built.

Of course, we have some dream projects that we’d love to see come to fruition. But our first priority is to provide clients with what they need to be successful. This approach is why we’ve continued to grow.

 

Curtis J. Moody, president and CEO of Moody Nolan is an award-winning designer. Moody has been involved in the design of projects that exceed several billion dollars in construction over the past 40 years. A winner of the prestigious Whitney M. Young, Jr. award as an outstanding African American Architect in the United States, Moody’s designs have won nearly 200 design citations, including 30 from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and 34 from the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) — more awards than any other minority architectural firm in the United States.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MNarchitects
Twitter: @MoodyNolan

Ever since I can remember, I knew I wanted to design my own clothing line.

I have always loved art in general. Growing up with two older brothers who are incredible artists may be the reason I have always wanted to design. Since day one, my inspiration for launching my own business has been my love for fashion and art.

It’s a burning passion that follows me through life. Not one moment of experience, but rather a collection of life experiences.

I worked for fashion retailers in New York City for 10 years, and it was then that I began working on my own label. I would work full time for whatever employer I was with at the time, and then I would go home and work on Elise by Elise.

It takes a lot of motivation to keep going after you start something like a clothing line. There are ups and downs, and many that you can’t foresee.

But I wanted to keep the promise I made to myself as a young woman to never give up on my dream and stay on course.

My mom also was a great inspiration to me. She would always tell me that I had what it took to be a good businesswoman. If I ever feel special as a person, it’s because my mom told me so.

Like most designers, when I started, I started small.

My first collection was 10 pieces and I sold it at a trunk show. At one point, I even sold a garment right off a model after a runway show I had. I just wanted to see a woman wearing my label.

Throughout my career, I have discovered there are not a lot of women of color designing in the fashion industry. So, I want to be the face for another young girl of color, her inspiration, her motivation. And my goal now is to be the designer of a trend-setting label.

The process of owning a business has been fun, frustrating, rewarding and more.

I have learned to roll with whatever comes my way. The only way to overcome obstacles is to stay focused on my goal, and not look back. That’s life. There will always be an obstacle.

If there was one piece of advice I could give to someone else it would be to never let go of your dreams, don’t ever give up. Even when you are the only person who believes in you, never give up.

But it’s also important to balance your life. Quality of life is important to me because I am a mom. I want to tuck my two little ones into bed and see them when they wake up, so I never obligate myself to something that will take me away from that.

As my career progresses, I’m sure there will be times when I have to sacrifice, but for now balancing my career with my private life is important.

Kendra Valton, creative director and designer of Elise by Elise, launched her women’s apparel line in 2008. She lives in the Columbus area.

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/kendra-valton/69/14b/a90

In continuation of the “Billion Back” campaign from the summer of 2013, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) has announced additional changes to come this year and in 2015.

“As we begin 2014, it is important for employers to be aware of impending changes and understand how they can further impact the protection of their workers as well as their bottom line,” says Randy Jones, senior vice president of Ohio TPA Operations at CompManagement, Inc.  

Smart Business spoke with Jones about the upcoming changes and their potential benefits to the employers of Ohio.  

What is ‘A Billion Back?’

‘A Billion Back’ is a one-time dividend equating to $1 billion for private employers and public taxing districts. It was made possible because the financially strong Ohio State Insurance Fund exceeded the target funding ratio of assets to liabilities established by the BWC Board in 2008.

Checks were released to eligible organizations in June 2013. For private employers that participated in a group retrospective rating program for the July 1, 2011, policy year, dividends were calculated and paid following the 12-month retrospective refund calculation that occurred in October 2013.

What other program benefits may employers utilize this year?

The BWC has also expanded its safety grant program from $5 million to $15 million to further promote workplace safety, workplace wellness and encourage investment in protecting Ohio’s workers. It has modified the program to be a 3-to-1 match with a maximum grant of $40,000 per employer. The BWC has also expanded the program to allow for various types of previously excluded equipment.  

Now is the time to minimize your out-of-pocket expense for new equipment that may be eligible under the safety grant program. For example, your out-of-pocket cost of $13,333 would be matched with the BWC’s $40,000, which equates to a 300 percent return on your investment in safety.  

According to BWC statistics, every dollar spent on safety equipment equates to a $3 reduction in claims costs.

What can employers expect in 2015?

The BWC will be transitioning to a billing system that will align it with a standard industry practice, enabling them to collect premiums before extending coverage. The transition will become effective July 1, 2015, for private employers and Jan. 1, 2016, for public employers. The BWC has indicated that a change to a prospective billing system could have an overall base rate reduction of 2 percent for private employers and 4 percent for public employers, and provide an opportunity for more flexible payment options of up to 12 installments.

The BWC envisions a few changes as it implements prospective billing, including:

  • Earlier deadlines to sign up for incentive/discount programs. Beginning in the fall of 2014, employers wishing to participate in programs such as group rating, group retrospective rating or other discount programs will have to make those selections sooner.

  • One-time credit. A one-time premium credit will be given in July 2015 to the average private employer to cover its August payroll report, which includes the January to June 2015 premium as well as the July and August prospective premium. Public employers will receive a 50 percent credit for 2015 and a 50 percent credit for 2016 within the March 2016 invoice.

  • A new payment schedule. Private employers will receive their invoices in June and begin paying premiums before July 1. While that’s earlier than in the past, employers will be able to make quarterly payments, with some employers able to choose as many as 12 installments. Public employers will need to pay at least 50 percent of their annual premium for both 2015 and 2016 by May 2016.

  • A true-up process. Since the BWC will be providing workers’ compensation coverage based on estimated payroll, it will ask employers to report their actual payroll for the prior policy year and pay any shortage, or receive a refund for any overage in premium. This begins in August 2016.

  • Employers should contact their third-party administrator for workers’ compensation to discuss the transition process.


Randy Jones is senior vice president of Ohio TPA Operations at CompManagement, Inc. Reach him at (800) 825-6755, ext. 65466 or randy.jones@sedgwick.com.

Insights Workers’ Compensation is brought to you by CompManagement, Inc.

Katie Carter, executive director of the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, hears stories all the time from volunteers about how they or someone in their lives have been touched by breast cancer. But one in particular sticks out.

A Columbus-area woman with young children was struggling with her stage IV breast cancer, undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. She received a drug that was developed in part through the donations of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

“She’s doing well now,” Carter says, “but when you’re talking about a drug that Komen was a part of — that saves someone’s life and continues to make them live longer — that’s what it is really about.”

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which seeks to help find a cure for breast cancer, is the largest non-government funder of breast cancer research in the world, having donated $58 million to research last year.

“We’re here to save lives, but we’re also making an impact from a local level,” she says.

Komen has been involved, at least in some way, in every one of the breakthrough cancer treatment drugs, according to Carter.

“Again, there are lots of collaborations, so you need the researchers, and you need the pharmacy to create it and mass produce it and get it back into the hands of the patients, but it’s a fact that everyone who was a part of that breakthrough helped save her life. And we had a small part in that.

“That’s what really matters, and the impact we make every day in the lives of so many that we don’t hear stories about. We know that we’re continuing to do great work, and we do make a difference.

“But we need help,” she says. “We need to continue to make that help through our community and continue to raise more money, so we can give more to research, and we can give more to our local programming to continue that.”

Such goals and the many volunteers at Komen Columbus helped the affiliate win the Affiliate of the Year award for 2013 from the national organization.

The affiliate strived to diversify funding, increase awareness and expand outreach communication activities to be visible throughout the year. Through the collaboration with corporate sponsors, community support and dedicated volunteers, Komen Columbus was able to fund 20 breast health programs in Central Ohio and invest its 20 millionth dollar toward the organization’s mission — to save lives and end breast cancer.

Here’s how Carter and her staff manage 1,000 volunteers as a team and engage them on the mission of one of the most widely known brands in its field.



Getting in position

One of the keys to keeping a workforce engaged is finding an opportunity for employees to exercise their talents. “Do the work you love, and love the work you do.” is more than an aphorism — it’s the attitude the employees at a successful organization exhibit.

Likewise, Carter finds matching volunteers with a role that makes the best use of his or her aptitudes leads to successful outcomes.

“As long as you place everyone in the right position and in the right seat, you’re going to be successful,” Carter says.

The Columbus affiliate has new people coming in all the time who want to be involved. Carter says they don’t just say, “Great, thanks for joining. Here’s a job for you.”

If they aren’t in the right position, the volunteer might get bored or lose interest.

Instead, a Komen Columbus staff member interviews the volunteer, a procedure that is almost like a job interview, to get an understanding of his or hers passion and why the person is interested in volunteering. Finding out the story is the first step.

“Usually the volunteer has a story — my mom was diagnosed or my aunt or my grandmother or my wife, or I myself am a survivor,” Carter says. “And they say, ‘I just want to give back,’

“Anytime you have a volunteer, they have to be engaged in your mission, and believe in it and entrust in it, and know that they are there to help,” Carter says.

The second matter is asking what the person has done, and finding out about his or her background and interests.

“I think we all know that whether you’re in a job or volunteering, you have to love what you do. And if you don’t, then it’s very hard to motivate someone,” Carter says.

“You want to sit down and ask the right questions, and make sure that it’s a good fit for the organization and that it’s a good fit for that volunteer.”

Although communication skills are helpful because there are a lot of jobs where volunteers interact with other people, there are other ways to make an impact, Carter says. Whatever roles they fill, volunteers, staff members, board members and corporate partners know the strength of the organization’s mission.


Keeping the engagement

The mission and vision statements of a company, when used properly, guide an organization to inspire employees to reach its goals.

But how you maintain inspiration in any organization, for-profit or not-for-profit, where burnout is a concern, may be a large factor in your success.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure allows people to help in many ways, whether by donating money, participating in events or donating their time and talents to make the organization grow and be what it is today, Carter says.

That flexibility keeps the nonprofit strong — as long as it stays true to its vision of a breast cancer-free world.

The affiliate works with volunteers’ schedules, and seeks to let them know that whatever they can give helps.

“As organizations grow, people come and go, and they serve their time. But they are still always connected by it,” Carter says.

“And once you leave, you don’t really leave. It’s one of those things where you’re always connected by Komen or breast cancer,” she says. “So we always say that even though people maybe don’t stay with us every day, they are still with us in spirit, and support the organization.”

For example, the Columbus affiliate’s founders still come to the annual race and are engaged with overall community support, even though they may not be involved with day-to-day operations.

Carter says it’s just like anything else, whether it’s a job or an organization, you’re going to have turnover in terms of people coming and going. As others get involved, however, new ideas and innovation can come out of it.

“That’s OK with us as long as we know that we always have a core volunteer base, as our go-to,” she says. “Then as people move on, they get replaced and that’s OK. It’s good to have change and get others involved.”


Stay true to your mission

There are always potential challenges facing an organization. They can range from financial woes to straying away from the mission. But once you notice a growing challenge, it’s time to execute your response.

“I think everybody always has challenges,” Carter says. “I think you have to adapt, and I think that’s the biggest thing. You have to know why things are changing, whether it’s good or bad.”

The next step is to take an introspective look at the situation.

“Evaluate where you’re at and what needs to happen to make those changes, because in any organization, whether it’s nonprofit or business, things do change,” Carter says. “Whether it’s through financial crisis, the economy has issues, or there are changes in laws, or there are just changes in how people give — you have to adapt.

“Make sure that your vision and your mission are true. It’s the same vision, but the way we’re going to adapt is we’re just going to do it a little differently. But our vision stays the same, and we just adapt and make those changes that we need to make to continue that vision and make sure it goes forward.”

In any organization you are going to have times that are difficult or challenging.

“You just have to make important decisions that go toward that vision,” Carter says. “And I would hope that our organization shows that. We are great stewards of our funds, and we try to continue to say that to the public, and to our sponsors and to everyone that we serve. We do it the right way, and make sure that it goes right to the mission, which is research as well as providing direct service and funding that money here to keep it local.”

 

Takeaways

  • Matching the right person with the right job allows you to succeed.
  • Be flexible, and know that new ideas can come out of change.
  • Adapt, but stay true to your mission.

 

The Carter File:

Name: Katie Carter
Title: Executive director
Company: Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Born: Toledo
Education: Undergraduate degree in psychology from Capital University, and a master’s degree in public administration from Ohio University.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I worked at an IGA grocery store. When you’re young, you’re happy to have a job and finally have your own money, but as you grow you realize those first jobs were stepping-stones that added to the experience of your life. One of the great things about it was interacting with people.

I think that’s what I love about my job now and what I’ve always loved about jobs — the interaction with individuals, whether it’s employees, volunteers or corporate partners.
From every job I’ve ever had, one of the most important takeaways has been treating people with respect.

Who do you admire in the business world? I’ve been surrounded by great board members in our community, and I think from each and every one of them you learn something different. Being here 13 years, I’ve been engaged with probably a few hundred people. So, I would probably have to say they’ve been a big influence on my life — some more than others — but I think you have certain people who you’ve taken more from. They’ve made me grow as a person. How do you repay that? It’s really hard to.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? The biggest advice that I’ve always tried to emulate is to just treat others how you want to be treated; work hard and good things will happen. It’s simple but true.

What’s your definition of success? I think for me, success is if you’re looking around the room, knowing that you’ve got the right people in the right place, and they support you every day. You love working with them, and they love working with you for one common goal — and that is to end breast cancer. It’s not just one person. It’s thousands of people that make it all possible.

 

Learn more about Komen Columbus at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KomenColumbus
Twitter: @KomenColumbus
Instagram: http://instagram.com/komencolumbus#
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/susankomencolumbus

 

How to reach: Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, (614) 297-8155 or www.komencolumbus.org

Elmer’s School Glue is synonymous with education. We all remember buying school supplies in the fall and packing the iconic white bottle with its orange cap in our backpacks.

“Elmer’s has been a staple in schools for many years, and we’ve been asked, ‘How do you make glue?’ many times,” says Terri Brown, director of consumer engagement at Elmer’s Products Inc.

The Westerville-based company understands that students and teachers are one of its core user groups — and to help solidify that relationship between business and consumer, Elmer’s works extensively with the education community.

“Through the Elmer’s Teachers Club, we provide lesson plans, creative classroom project ideas, discussion boards and more. Being a trusted resource for this community helps to solidify Elmer’s as the brand of choice,” Brown says. “Nationwide, school systems have been affected by massive budget cuts. If we want to see students succeed, we consider it a responsibility to provide the resources we can to make that happen.”

Having a two-way conversation

Developing a two-way dialog between your company and consumers not only solidifies brand awareness, it also helps with development.

“Elmer’s has always been true to its desire to be the most trusted school glue in the classroom,” Brown says. “It’s in our DNA to be a part of classrooms, and Elmer’s has been able to accomplish this by providing resources, being authentic and developing beneficial content for parents and teachers.

“The Elmer’s Teachers Club has given us the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with educators. We get to learn their needs and respond to these through the content we develop. The feedback we receive from this highly influential user group is invaluable.”

Educating the future workforce

Reaching out to the education community isn’t just about teachers; it’s about educating students, who are future employees.

The latest interactive lesson plan developed by Elmer’s, “The World of Glue: An Investigation of Adhesives,”  teaches students about the science of polymers and common adhesives. It’s supported with hands-on activities and the award-winning children’s book, “Too Much Glue,” by Jason Lefebvre.

“Now, students can think of Elmer’s glue in a more holistic way from its ingredients to how it makes things stick. Glue is more than the adhesive used to make an art project — it’s science in and of itself,” Brown says. “Glue is fun for kids, and this lesson plan helps students understand how an everyday item like glue actually works.”

Another example is Elmer’s Presentation Ready microsite, which provides parents and students with steps for creating presentations, such as science fair projects, and connects them with the right products to put the assignment together.

“Elmer’s becomes a better company through initiatives like this because we’re providing innovative content that helps advance and educate students, and ultimately our future workforce,” Brown says.

How to reach: Elmer’s Products, Inc., (888) 435-6377 or www.elmers.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Elmers
Twitter: @Elmers
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/elmersproducts/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/ElmersBrands

Thursday, 30 January 2014 19:35

Building Stronger Communities: Tyler's Light

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Tyler’s Light creates its own blueprint for the silent stigma of addiction

Wayne Campbell, the founder and president of Tyler’s Light, knew when he started the nonprofit in 2011 the group needed to be about more than his son’s death, which shocked the Pickerington community.
In order to create longevity, the organization had to become more about the issue than the personal story.

“There are organizations out there trying to do what we’re doing, but they are two-person, five-person operations that were basically the same thing: Born out of a tragedy in a family and community,” Campbell says. “They start with a lot of activity and emotion towards it, and then in a year or two it fades away because the shock is gone, and then funding becomes an issue.

“We’re obviously different because we’ve been here for 2 1/2 years and we continue to grow — going out to more places, reaching more people and collaborating with more organizations,” he says.

Tyler’s Light has spawned other organizations, including an affiliate in Cleveland called Robbie’s Voice. Groups on the West Virginia/Ohio border and in Kokomo, Ind., have expressed interest in starting their own organizations as well.

“It’s almost like franchising. Since we can’t be everywhere, if we can help start other little satellite operations that would make our numbers grow,” Campbell says.

Looking at the bigger picture

Started after Tyler’s death from a heroin overdose two years ago, the volunteer-based grass-roots organization serves as a forum to equip parents and youth with information and resources to help them choose a drug-free life, while providing resources for family members and/or friends who are involved in the battle to defeat drug abuse.

Since its founding, the organization has slowly moved away from being about Tyler. It’s about the issue — all the other faces, the Matts, the Janes, the Marys — children’s lives that have been wrecked by addiction.

Addiction is looked at as a poor choice, bad character or bad parenting. But it’s a disease, no different than cancer, HIV/AIDS or Alzheimer’s — only more prevalent.

Managing and attracting volunteers is extremely difficult, Campbell says. If you don’t have a personal connection, it’s hard to spend the amount of time that’s needed.

“Everybody wants to volunteer for the cancer walks. It’s easy to tell a story about a cancer survivor or fatality,” he says. “But people won’t volunteer unless they feel comfortable with the subject.”
And, according to Campbell, people in high profile positions or with status can’t do it yet. The CEO of a company, the mayor of a town or the owner of a small business may have it in their house, but they can’t tell anybody about it.

The future

It’s getting better though, Campbell says. The governor and attorney’s general office are openly, via the media, taking addiction on. On Jan. 8, Gov. John Kasich’s office came out with the “Start Talking” initiative to try and help communities in seven Ohio counties fight the opiate epidemic.

When those things happen, Tyler’s Light makes more sense. You just need to keep moving forward, Campbell says. You connect dots, and then you keep bumping into new and talented people who can help you.

How to reach: Tyler’s Light, www.tylerslight.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tylerslight/213410115382457
Twitter: @TylersLight
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TylersLight

As anyone in business or sales will tell you, first impressions are everything. Initial judgments are made within four seconds, and finalized within 30.

As business owners, we’re concerned with the image we’re sending our target markets, how employees represent our companies and how potential customers perceive our offices or stores. Studies have shown that first impressions are hard to shake — even if a person’s later experiences with a company contradict it.

Have you thought of your website as a first impression of your business? It’s increasingly becoming the first interaction potential customers have with your business. In fact, 75 percent of Web users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on website design alone.

There are many ways to improve your company’s website and deliver a credible first impression online:


Create visually appealing design

Design matters. The visual appeal of a website has a major influence on a company’s credibility and a person’s first impression. Ensure that the design is consistent with off-line branded materials. Use your brand’s color pallet and typography.

Be sure that the font is appealing and easy to read, and support your message with photos and images. Your website should have a recognizable, organized layout that remains consistent.

Utilize user-friendly navigation

A user needs to be able to easily understand where to find the specific information he or she is looking for. Your website’s navigation should be clear, visible and consistent throughout. You also should incorporate a visual cue that tells users what page they are on.

But, don’t offer too many choices in the navigation bar — this overwhelms users, who will quickly leave. Try to keep it under 10 choices.

Develop quality content

The information on your website should make both search engines and your target audience happy. You have about 20 to 30 seconds to capture users’ attention before they leave the page. Your content should be thorough, concise, current and organized efficiently. It also should be grammatically correct.

To drive more traffic through search engines, use your company’s keywords when they make sense and properly label all images. Remember that search engines typically can’t read text in images or dynamic programming like JavaScript, so avoid placing critical information in those items.

Improve design functionality

About 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. A slow loading time is often because of oversized images. Reducing the file size and compressing the images can fix this.

You also should ensure the website experience is virtually the same on any browser. Today, it’s necessary to have a mobile website compatible on phones and tablets. Mobile searches increased 400 percent over last year, and mobile Web usage is expected to exceed desktop by the end of this year.

Responsive design will arrange your content so it displays nicely — no matter the size of the screen.

Your website establishes a strong and lasting first impression on potential customers. When you incorporate appealing aesthetics, user-friendly navigation, quality content and design functionality, you create a better first impression.

Having a well-designed and well-built website can grow your business. So, make a great first impression and enjoy increased traffic and potential customer leads.

 

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for GREENCREST, a 23-year-old brand development, strategic and interactive marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the U.S. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com or on Twitter @brandpro. For more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/SBN_KellyBorth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GREENCRESTMarketing
Twitter (company): @GreenCrest
LinkedIn (company): http://www.linkedin.com/company/68562?trk=pro_other_cmpy
Blog: http://www.brandproblog.com/

I am fortunate to serve as the president and CEO of one of the nation’s largest United Way organizations, and I spend a lot of time working to inspire and motivate my team.

But I have a much larger role: To help educate the Central Ohio community about huge issues that keep people from thriving, and mobilize everyone to help solve them.

In that role, I engage with a diverse group of leaders from the corporate, education, government and nonprofit worlds to learn from their input and forge working relationships.

Together, we have come to understand that no one organization can provide the improvements we need to create the opportunities that build a prosperous community. We realized that we must take a new approach where all organizations play important roles in advancing the common good. We need to create collective impact.


A shared goal

You may not have heard of collective impact, but it is a concept that more and more people are paying attention to.
At its simplest level, collective impact happens when a core group of people or organizations come together around a shared goal with a common set of strategies and methods — everyone bringing their strengths to the table to solve an issue that cannot be solved alone.

Collective impact moves beyond collaboration. It requires a higher level of commitment — each partner must fulfill the role that best moves the collective work forward. United Way is embracing this new model and is willing to be a convener, catalyst, advocate or leader.


Lessons learned

We are at the beginning of our journey toward achieving collective impact, but some of the guidelines we have learned from our years of effective collaboration are already clear:

  • Trust each other. Every partner that comes to the table has to know that there is a mutual level of trust. We achieve this by being open and transparent, and we expect the same from our partners. To create transformational change will take all of our energy.
  • Get the facts. Like any good business, we collect pertinent data and analyze it to determine the most effective ways to invest our donors’ gifts. In a collective impact model, each partner organization will bring its data and analysis to the table. Together, we can work to determine the root causes of the issues we need to solve.
  • Prioritize the goals of the community-wide effort over those of each partner organization. This may be the most difficult guideline because while every partner is working to strengthen our community, we all accomplish that by focusing primarily on the work of our individual organizations.
  • Maintain a long-term perspective. Creating transformational change takes a long time, and there will be many triumphs and setbacks along the way. Once we have an effective plan in place we have to persevere and support each other.

Uniting a diverse group of leaders to create greater positive impact than anyone could achieve on their own is an ambitious undertaking, but I believe that we can and must do it.

 

Janet E. Jackson is the president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio, one of the largest United Way organizations in the world. Under her leadership, United Way is working to build a community where everyone has the aspirations, resources and opportunities to reach their potential. Reach her at (614) 227-2746 or janet.jackson@uwcentralohio.org. For more information, visit liveunitedcentralohio.org.

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetejackson
Facebook (company): https://www.facebook.com/unitedwayofcentralohio
Twitter (company): @UWCO

In 20 years of dealing with entrepreneurs and investors nearly every day, I have learned with certainty that in entrepreneurship, as in life, there are no absolutes.

On the other hand, I am convinced that one thing comes close to being universally true: Entrepreneurs who learn how to build mutually beneficial business relationships have a much greater opportunity to succeed.


Offer value to all participants

By mutually beneficial business relationships, I mean those that offer something of value to all participants. For the entrepreneur, that value may be advice, information, technology or even investment. For the other party, returns can range from financial gains to the intangible karmic benefit of giving back.

Mutually beneficial relationships are the cornerstone to successful business creation.


Be purposeful with your relationships

Relationships are just as important as product or business development and should be a deliberate element of every business plan.

And, just like the other building blocks of new companies, purposeful relationships don’t happen automatically — even for gregarious entrepreneurs who connect with others easily.

So what are the steps?

1. Develop a networking mindset based on these beliefs:

  • I don’t, can’t and won’t know everything I need to know about building a company.
  • There are plenty of people who have started companies before me. A lot of them know what I don’t know. Many are eager to help the next entrepreneur. That could be me.
  • The way I reach these people is through relationships that provide benefits to all parties involved.

2. Be coachable and open to information and advice. Angels or venture capitalists will tell you that the quality of the management team and its ability and willingness to listen and learn is every bit as important as technology.

3. Learn to listen and to speak. Many entrepreneurs are outgoing, assertive and bold. It’s easy for these folks to meet strangers. Talking about their company, product, hopes and plans is as natural as taking a breath. For other entrepreneurs, relating to people just doesn’t come as naturally as relating to technology.

If you are a talker, take Will Rogers’ advice and, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” If you are an entrepreneur who would rather communicate over email than face-to-face, get over it.

4. Engage in purposeful networking.Form business relationships around your business objectives. Limit your participation in “networking events.”

These functions are great ways to meet other entrepreneurs and to hear expert speakers on entrepreneurial topics, but be careful not to overdo it. No entrepreneur has enough time.

5. Make good use of the pre-built, organized networks in your geography. For example, TechColumbus offers Networked Connections, a series of unique services that connect entrepreneurs directly to people who can help in specific ways.

 

Purposeful relationships with a variety of people through formal and informal structures help entrepreneurs — and their marketing and chief technology officers — create, grow and operate new companies.

And whether a startup has an amazingly profitable exit or has to shut its doors, the entrepreneur who has learned how to build enduring business relationships is in a great position to start his or her next company. Meaningful relationships are assets that don’t disappear.

 

Tom Walker, president and CEO of TechColumbus Inc., has been a leader in entrepreneurship and turning innovation-based discoveries into commercial opportunities for the past 20 years. A seasoned founder and manager of venture funds and entrepreneurial initiatives, he is the author of “The Entrepreneur’s Path: A Handbook for High-Growth Companies,” a step-by-step guide to commercialization for entrepreneurs with big ideas. You can reach him at (614) 487-3700 or twalker@techcolumbus.org. For more information, visit www.techcolumbus.org.

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tomdwalker
Twitter (company): @TechColumbus
LinkedIn (company): http://www.linkedin.com/company/techcolumbus
Facebook (company): https://www.facebook.com/TechColumbusOhio
Blog:
http://www.techcolumbus.org/blog/