From the Ground to the Glass: Small Businesses Making Fine Wine While Going Green

One of my favorite segments on profiles an award-winning California winemaker who is also the first Mexican-American woman to be president of a wine production company in the United States. CEO Susan Wilson Solovic toured Ceja winery and brings us a different view of the fruit of the vines.  You can view it with a click here.

Susan’s interview with Ameilai Ceja is an example of how independent businesses around the California wine industry are a formidable force. Independent vintners and small businesses around the wine industry have helped make California the world’s fourth largest wine producer. 





California also has the most widely adopted green wine growing and wine making program in the world. The California Sustainable Wine growing Alliance, is promoting the earth-friendly business
practices embraced by the independent business owners growing grapes and operating successful wineries.

“Consumers are interested in knowing where and how their wines are grown and made, and the California wine community has responded by becoming a progressive advocate of environmentally conscious practices,” notes Robert Koch, President and CEO of Wine Institute.

At the heart of California’s sustainability movement is the Code of Sustainable Wine Growing, a 16-chapter workbook that lays out best practices to farm and make wine from the ground to the glass. 

For more information about California’s Sustainable Wine growing Program, go to,,, or

Looking for small business news and tips? Please consider following me on Twitter to learn more about small business issues and events to give you a competitive edge.  Just go to and click the “follow” button.


Ten Steps to Success for Women Entrepreneurs with Susan Wilson Solovic

Women business owners are a formidable force and the ranks of female entrepreneurs across the nation continue to expand. The nonprofit National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO) reports that there are 10.6 million women entrepreneurs across the country, generating $2.5 trillion in sales. 

The Women’s Small Business Expo estimates that by 2010, women will hold the majority of wealth in America.

If you are interested in joining these successful women who are controlling their own destiny you should check out an upcoming free online seminar just for women in business: Ten Steps to Success for Women Entrepreneurs with Susan Wilson Solovic CEO Susan Wilson Solovic will be featured in a complimentary Webinar on August 13, 2009.  Attendees can also take advantage of free offer of Susan’s Biz Diva Handbook. Don’t miss this chance to supercharge your entrepreneurial career! 

Solovic is the author of The Girls’ Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business, which is consistently ranked among the top 25 books for women in business on and was listed as a “must read” by Entrepreneur magazine. This is a rare opportunity to learn powerful, actionable strategies from a leader in the industry. Solovic is a regular small business contributor on ABC’s “America This Morning” and MSNBC’s “Your Business,” as well as a featured blogger for Dell,, SCORE and Women for Hire.


You can sign up for the free webinar and take advantage of the complimentary offer of the Biz Diva Handbook by clicking here and looking for the online seminar on August 13, 2009.

Are You Thinking About Your Own Bailout Plan? The Economic Outreach for Sports Fans

A professional sports team in Saint Louis is working to reach out to fans and boost attendance with a plan based on the current economic turbulence.   The NHL Blues have introduced their own “fan bailout plan.”

This week the team announced every remaining Saturday home game beginning Nov. 29, 2008, the Blues organization will call the seat number of a fan and pay that person’s mortgage or rent for four months, up to $4,000 total!   But the marketing move does not stop there; the club is also offering discounted tickets.  And what would the action on the ice be without food and souvenirs?  The team will also continue its Free Food game, where fans can receive some free food when they attend the March 15 game against Minnesota.

Even non-hockey fans are taking note of the new promotions.  Perhaps there is a way your business could demonstrate to established customers and potential clients you are reaching out to help them in the economic downturn.  Could your outreach take the form of a coupon or sweepstakes? Legal Editor Cliff Ennico has some tips on creating coupons.

Contests can be a useful marketing tool to bring attention to your business, attract new customers, and increase sales. They can also be a way to step into legal trouble if you are not careful. Ennico discusses how to keep your small business contests legal in this streaming video segment. CEO Susan Wilson Solovic wrote recently about the popularity of digital coupons and the versatility they offer.

Need some ideas on how to reach those potential customers?  Susan Benjamin, marketing expert and author, discusses innovative marketing strategies to help weather the tough economic times in this video interview.

Some Positive News on the Economic Front—Especially if You Want to Work from Home

The turbulent economy is getting a lot of attention, but there are some bright spots on the business landscape. Prices are declining for several forms of energy and some jobs previously outsourced are returning to the United States. A growing number of companies are bringing back American jobs by using home-based workers linked by technology.  More than 150-thousand customer service professionals currently work from their homes and the number is growing every day.

For example, an electronics warranty service based in Virginia is making plans to expand to the Midwest.  An announcement today forecasts adding as many as 480 work-at-home customer service jobs over the next three years! NEW Electronics Warranty Customer Service Corporation needs employees to work out of their homes, answering calls and trouble-shooting questions.  The warranty company plans to begin hiring early next year in Carbondale, Illinois.  The home-based workers hired will undergo six weeks of training before taking calls.  NEW’s training courses utilize Computer Based Training (CBT), Internet-based training, instructional videos, and a “training toolbox” that includes a variety of training aids. When face-to-face training isn’t practical or needs to be supplemented, NEW utilizes its in-house video production department to produce state-of-the-art training videos, CDs and DVDs.   NEW has opened eleven work-at-home programs for customer service representatives this year alone!  In addition to the work at home training sites, the company has nine contact centers.

A growing number of well-known firms are using some home-based workers including J-Crew, Office Depot and Direct TV.  Home-based call centers have to spend very little on advertising or recruiting because so many potential agents hear about the positions through stories in the news, friends, or their own proactive research.  But small businesses are also tapping the power of a virtual workforce too. In this podcast on you can hear how one enterprise is finding success supplying virtual assistants and other staffers to the businesses who need their help—just click here.

Looking for a virtual worker, customer service staff, or looking for a job based in your home?  You will find a lot of streaming video segments, articles, podcasts and information on about working at home including a Power Lunch program with Susan Wilson Solovic. Legal Editor Cliff Ennico looks at some issues for the home based worker. You will find many more free resources on launching a home-based business or working from home on and check out the websites below. home-based customer service agents – virtual call center provider using home-based customer service agents – links freelancers with employers in IT, graphic design, writing, engineering, translation, marketing, accounting and administrative and legal services – call center company that provides clinical and non-clinical telephone services to health plans, healthcare providers, and care managers nationwide – be a virtual assistant

Why Blogging Works-Even for the NASA Astronauts in Outer Space. What Can Blogs Do for You?

NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus is scheduled to go into space aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour but she will be taking her blog with her. The mission is set to blast off Friday, November 14th, 2008.  The space shuttle will drop Magnus off at the International Space Station for a four-month stay, during which time she will be blogging from space in an effort to get more people; especially children, interested in science.

Magnus, a Missouri University of Science and Technology graduate will be answering some questions submitted by youngsters who attended a recent Aerospace Camp at Missouri S&T.  The questions and answers, along with other commentary from Magnus and interactive NASA links, will be available at .

The primary mission for Magnus and other crew members during this voyage is to install equipment needed to support a six-person crew aboard the space station.

So what does an astronaut blogging from space have to do with you?  It is a great way to connect with people whether for business or on a personal level. Especially in a challenging economy blogs can be a great way to get exposure.  Many public blogging sites are free; while other charge only small frees.  The nature of blogs, derived from the term “web log” means blogs can be frequently updated.

For a business, a blog allows your enterprise to connect with potential and established clients in an informal, no-pressure format.  A blog can highlight new product or service offerings, awards or expertise of your staff, and the new offerings from your firm.  All these things can establish your firm as the best choice in a casual way to inspire customer loyalty.  At the same time, blogs can give you insight into your customer’s needs.  Asking for opinions and feedback allows current and potential customers to collaborate with you to develop new services or products or trouble shoot challenges in your enterprise. Award winning marketer, John Jantsch, known as the Duct Tape Marketer shared some tips on blogging to build business with CEO Susan Wilson Solovic in a streaming video segment.  Click here to view it now.’s Legal Editor, Cliff Ennico wrote this article about avoiding lawsuits in the blogosphere.  Click here to view.

Have you used a blog to promote an event in your life or business?  Do you have a blogging tale to share? Please let me know what you think about blogs and how you use them.