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2 Make a Referral Week Giveaway

Like it or not tax time is upon most small business folks. So, it seems like a good time to give away copies of Intuit’s Turbo Tax Business Software don’t you think.

TurboTax As an element of Make a Referral Week I’m going to draw 15 names from the businesses your refer today and send them a copy of Turbo Tax.

Here’s the deal, go Make a Referral here and when you do you’ll also be entering a business you love for a chance to get picked randomly to win a copy of Turbo Tax courtesy of Office Depot.

And, I’ll also pick two businesses you refer to get a Canon SD780 digital camera so they can take pictures of all those new customers they land because you made a referral.

So, what are you waiting for – go Make a Referral and make sure you share their contact information or website so we contact them if they win.

Office Depot

6 Do You Love a Local Business?

Intuit, makers of Quickbooks, wants to know about a local business you love. And that business can even be your business. Cash grants every month too.

love a local businessI think their Love a Local Business promotion is very fun. All you do is go to the program site and nominate a local business and tell them why you love it. Once a month they pick five local businesses to win a $1,000 grant and let the community vote on one of the five to get $5,000 for the month.

You can also nominate your own business for consideration. The site has a pretty cool Google maps integration that allows you to find all the businesses in your town that have been nominated. They also have badges and banners you can run on your site to show off

Oh, and there’s a nice December bonus, every business that applies for a grant in December will receive a free $50 Facebook Ad Credit.

Image credit: qthomasbower

8 QuickBooks 2010 Expends Beyond Accounting

The latest version of QuickBooks is a big step outside the box for the leading small business accounting software.

quickbooks2010Building on Intuit’s Connected Services Strategy announced last year, QuickBooks connects to several new online services that enable small businesses to extend the power of their information already in QuickBooks

QuickBooks Pro and Premier 2010 feature the all-new Intuit App Center, providing users access to scalable, Software-as-a-Service business applications directly from within QuickBooks. Currently more than 25 applications are available, including, Customer Manager, a service that helps track and manage marketing campaigns and sales leads to maximize profits.

By building a CRM like functionality into the accounting tool, Intuit is branching out into much more holistic business growth turf.

QuickBooks 2010 also comes in a Mac version.

13 Obama's Stimulus Package and Small Business

Intuit CommunityAs part of Intuit’s Small Business United campaign, I am participating in a virtual Small Business Town Hall to discuss the Obama Stimulus Package and what it means to small business owners.

Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 3:00 PM Eastern (Noon Pacific time) – Sign in here

Raymond J. Keating, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s Chief Economist, will walk small business owners through key things they should know about the stimulus and the economy.

I will be joined on a panel to discuss the package and Keating’s remarks by Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends and Kelly Spors, small business columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

This is a great way to learn about these important and evolving plans and express your opinions on things like payroll taxes, investment credits and other changes that impact the ability for small businesses to grow.

They are experimenting with a new online platform they call a Town Hall Meeting. Participants can interact with the panel by posing questions in chat or by raising their hand to speak. The entire system is Internet based, no phone, but you must have speakers on your computer to hear and a microphone to speak. If you have a camera you can appear via video as you speak. I’ve tested the system with them several times and it gives a very different feel than typical lecture type conferences. (You can also enter via this Facebook app)

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7 Share Your Story Get a Grant from Intuit

Intuit, maker of Quickbooks among other things, recently announced their intention to award over $300,000 in grants to small business owners.

The contest, dubbed Small Business United, asks you to share a true-life story that happened in your business and include advice or a tip for other business owners. You have until March 23, 2009 to get involved in the first phase of this competition.

The judging process is 40% public opinion and 60% panel of judges so write a compelling story and then let the world know about it. Once you submit your story you will get a unique web page and URL that you can share, blog and tweet about. They have even put together a free “Word of Mouth Toolkit” for you to use to help you spread the word. You can also see the gallery of submitted stories here, but don’t let that warp your creativity!

The grand prize for one lucky business owner is $25,000, but they are running the contest in phases so 50 business owners will be awarded $5,000 and host of goods and services for making it through the first phase.

Intuit has asked me to help them pick that first list of 50, along with Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends, Becky McCray of Small Biz Survival, and Donna Ettenson of the Association for Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC), and I am really looking forward to reading some of your stories. (Note: I’m the only man on the panel so their is a lot of pressure on me.)

Get your best story together and share it here – but remember, March 23rd is the deadline!

10 Incorporation Processing Free for a Day

mycorporationMyCorporation, an Intuit company, takes a lot of the headache and hassle out of legal requirements of forming a corporation.

I’ve used the service over the years to form, admittedly, pretty simple corporations, but it is a great tool and can save you a substantial amount of money. Particularly when it’s free!

On Tuesday, November 11, 2008 from 6am to 6pm (pacific time), MyCorporation is offering FREE FOR A DAY. For one day only, MyCorporation will process a new Corporation or Limited Liability Company for FREE. That’s a savings of $149 off regular service fees (note: document shipping, state fees, publication fees, and additional product fees are additional). To take advantage of this opportunity, just call 1-888-MYCORP-1 (that’s 1-888-692-6771) or visit the website MyCorporation.com and mention code FREE149 to receive the $149 discount.

“We started as a small business a decade ago. We have been able to help more than 125,000 small businesses in all 50 states get started and maintain their corporate entities easily and inexpensively. And we’ve been successful throughout the ups and downs of the economy, so I would like to say ‘Thanks’ and give back to the small business community. MyCorporation wants to inspire entrepreneurs to continue to pursue their dreams. That is what drives our economy, and it will be what helps turn it around.”

Know anybody who needs to incorporate? Pass it on.

23 Intuitive Logo Design?

I’m a big fan of Intuit and all the Quicken and Quickbooks products (yes they also sponsor some DTM initiatives)

About a month or two ago they quietly, in my opinion, rolled out a new logo after 25 years with some variation of the old one.

Intuit LogoI think it’s a pretty nice example of a big company getting a subtle rebranding right. Big, successful companies have lots of equity invested in all of their brand elements and it can be a bit scary changing anything. (That’s why brand consultants get $100,000 or so to come up with green blocks)

I think Intuit has changed, certainly their ideal customer has changed, and to me the new logo represents not only that change, but a pretty deep understanding of it. Nice work gang. (I did quick interview with Intuit founder Scott Cook)

And, in the marketing “how clever is that” category, the two T’s, dotted like I’s to look strikingly like people, nicely bracket the letters U & I. Yes, together we can make the world a safe place for balance sheets to live, work and well, be balanced!

OK, what do you think? Is it too cute or right on the mark for today’s small business customer?

1 What do breakthrough companies do?

The Breakthrough CompanyKeith McFarland, author of The Breakthrough Company, joined me for the most recent episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast to discuss the elements that lead to a company taking off and going to the proverbial next level.

Incredibly, McFarland interviewed the leaders of and reviewed the numbers of 1400 past Inc 500 winners that had found a way to push past the $250 million range and narrow his list of breakthroughs to just nine. What you will find from the list is that while you may have heard of some of these companies they don’t often show up on anyone’s super cool list. It’s mostly basic parts and services done executed brilliantly. Oh, and luck didn’t seem to have much to do with success.

Here’s the list – ADTRAN, Chico’s FAS, Express Personnel, Fastenal, Intuit, Paychex, Polaris, SAS and The Staubach Company.

1 JustStart tour blows into Chicago

JustStartI’m in Chicago today and Friday (Nov 1-2) for a very cool traveling event put together by Intuit.

The JustStart Pop-up event is being help at Union Station and features lots of interactive opportunities along with the chance to register to win $50K in cash and prizes for your business. You can read all about the contest here.

I will be on site and I do believe you can snag a copy of my book. If you’d l will even deface it for you! Come by and say hi.

1 Thinking of starting a business?

Just StartI hear from lots of folks kind of, sort of, maybe wishing, they could start their own business. To them I say, Just Start! There has never been a better time to start a business, period.

In fact, the folks at Intuit just made it an even better time to start a new venture with a national campaign aimed at helping aspiring entrepreneurs get into to business now. The highlight of the campaign is a $50,000 grant awarded to one lucky start-up.

Enter the “Just Start” Contest

Aspiring business owners can enter the “Just Start” contest by submitting a letter or video to www.IWillJustStart.com, or by visiting one of the local “Just Start” events in four major cities. Entrants will describe their business dream, what they need to do to make it happen and how they would use Intuit’s “Just Start” business grant to get started.

Experience the “Just Start” Feeling

Budding entrepreneurs can experience “Just Start” in four busy commuter hubs across the country. At each “Just Start” Lounge, they can enter the contest by sharing their business dreams on video. They can also draw inspiration from local entrepreneurs, obtain expert advice from local business experts and get a free copy of QuickBooks Simple Start.

    Cities include:

  • Seattle – Oct. 24-25, Westlake Center.
  • Chicago – Nov. 1-2, Union Station. (I will be at this event, come by and say hi)
  • New York – Nov. 7-8, Grand Central Station.
  • Boston – Nov. 13-14, South Station.

Visit the I will just start page to get a feel for the types of entries. Scrolling through some of the video entries is a great way to get fired up about your dream.

The contest entries are due by December 15th and the winners will be announced in January 2008. I have been asked to judge the entries, along with Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends and Ramon Ray of Smallbiztechnology.com. We will review the submissions and select five semi-finalists. Those entries will be posted on the site in mid-January, when visitors can view and vote for their favorite.

I can’t be bribed so you must go to the site and just get your entry posted!