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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Client Profile: Abel & Wright

Safe Shield is only as successful as the clientele we support. And, fortunately for everyone involved, we work with some of the hardest working, most innovative people around.

Today, we talk a little with Amy Marquard, Founder/ President of Abel & Wright, LLC. This brand-new St. Cloud-based agency works to reclaim debt on a business-to-business basis.

Marquard is still settling into her new adventure, but she definitely has a strong idea of what she wants and where she’s heading professionally - but we’ll let her explain it all herself.

Q: So, what does Abel & Wright do?

A: Abel & Wright collects B2B debt while protecting your brand with respect and integrity. We believe companies should be paid on-time and in-full. It’s only right. And we’ll tell that to your customers in the very nicest possible way.

Q: How long have you been in business?

A: We formed on April 5, 2014.

Q: Why did you decide to go into business for yourself?

A: Well, I've always had a desire to build a strong brand and I feel lucky to have the opportunity at the same time that my experience, education and vision are so well-aligned. Business owners are telling me that, while they are profitable, their slow-paying customers cause them to struggle with cash flow. I love that I can provide a very necessary and valuable service in my hometown, with collection strategies focused on customer retention (working under their company name or mine).

Q: What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

A: Doing what I love  - passion motivates me. I hear really painful stories from business owners, detailing the hard work, time and money invested to build solid customer relationships - and then the disappointment and repercussions of having to chase money owed to them. It all really tugs at me. But their customers have struggles, too, so building rapport and collaborating on both ends is very necessary. Truly, what could be better than delivering cash to customers whose hope had been lost? I have the best job in the world.

Q:  Have you faced any challenges with being your own boss? Has Safe Shield made this easier?

A: Some people warned that being my own boss can be lonely and/or stressful. I know I'm in the early stages, but I really haven't found that to be true. Yes, there have been challenges and setbacks, but each presented an opportunity to build my professional network. Safe Shield LLC is a big part of that team and I rely on them to do what they do best.

Q: At what point in your business journey did you start using Safe Shield? What has been helpful about this?

A: I used Safe Shield, LLC to form my entity, so they were one of my first business partners. Using their service allowed me to really relax about something as important as how the company will be formed - and then focus my energy on improved cash flow for my customers. While I originally thought I could just form the LLC on my own, the large stack of documents Safe Shield LLC produced was proof that I would have had no idea what I was doing. I also like supporting local businesses and was happy to have been referred to them.

Q: What plans do you see in the future?

A: I love the idea that, with controlled growth, I will be able to create highly-skilled jobs for the St. Cloud area while solving real cash flow problems for businesses. The St. Cloud area business community has truly embraced Abel & Wright and the future excites me!

Friday, May 16, 2014


Social media is, without a doubt, becoming a major player in the business world. If you need some convincing, consider this: as of last year, around three-fourths of all Fortune 500 companies had an active presence on major social media platforms. These are companies with unlimited resources to spend on advertising, and a huge part of that effort is now participatory and actively being funneled into highly shareable media like Facebook and Twitter.

This strategy is also becoming indispensable for smaller, independently-owned enterprises.

If you’re a small business owner, there are, quite literally, hundreds of reasons to forge a presence on social media. We’ll keep it simple; here are a few of the top reasons to consider.

Going Social is Inexpensive

If you’re new to the business world, the odds are good that you’re operating on a slim promotional budget. Social media is a great way for home-based businesses with limited start-up resources to get themselves “out there.” These platforms allow business owners to deliver targeted messages without having to spend large amounts of money on traditional or print advertising. What’s more, unlike traditional advertising, social media messages are interactive; they have the power to begin a dialogue between your company and potential customers.

Going Social Creates Business Awareness

Many independently-owned new businesses are formed right in a person’s home office or living room - but social media can work around that! Cultivating a strong social image raises awareness of your business’ existence and the services offered. You can showcase your expertise and services with tips and advice through social media and generate a customer base - even from your family room.

Going Social Finds Your Target Audience

Billions of people are on social media…yes, billions. With that volume of users, it goes without  saying that they’re an easy way to find the right customers. By joining different industry-specific groups on social media, you’ll find it’s easier to find people in your target audience and reach out to them. Invite them to learn more about your company - start a social media conversation!

Going Social Increases Your Online Presence

Not only does being social have benefits in and of itself, but if you do it properly, you’ll bring those very same users to your website. Many home-based businesses rely on their website to act as the face of their business - and social media can direct users right to it. The result? A boost in SEO, and greater odds that new business will find you in the future!

Going Social Kickstarts Business Events

Many home-based businesses launch their brand by hosting parties or events to promote their products. Social media is a really easy means for promoting and inviting your friends and associates to join you. Those contacts can, in turn, invite their friends and associates to learn more about your event. After all, the best and most trusted form of advertising is organic promotion from others!

This is a brief list; the reasons to go social with your home or independent business are as varied as there are businesses in the world. Have you used social media to promote your business? What has worked for you? Leave us a comment and let us in on your thoughts!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Client Profile: Guytano Magno Photography

Here at Safe Shield, our business success is reflected perfectly in the successes of our clients. Today, we’re profiling Guytano Magno - the owner and head photographer of Guytano Magno Photography.

Magno has made quite a name for himself - and expanded his business - in a relatively short amount of time. Magno has been shooting weddings for the better part of a decade, but made the decision to create an entity and formalize his photography business three years ago.

Magno cites several reasons for forming his own business. He says he’s always been an adventurous, independent person, so the idea of starting something of his own - something without limitations - has always been very appealing.

“I don’t feel like I have a ceiling…in any capacity,” Magno explains. “The only thing that will hinder the growth of the business is me.”

Magno also appreciates the flexibility that comes with being able to craft his own work schedule.

“I work much harder now, but I have the control to take time off whenever I choose,” Magno says. “This is a huge blessing when it comes to helping my wife raise our beautiful son -  I love slow mornings when the 3 of us get to spend time together at the house.”

This blessing, however, does not come without cost. Magno says, as a business owner, he faces unique challenges all the time - many related to growth.

“If your business never grows or changes, you can stay put in the same structures you’ve always had,” Magno explains. “But, if you are growing and adapting, you will need to figure out how to do that in a way that is right and healthy.”

Magno says Safe Shield has been an integral part of making those growing pains manageable. While he’s only been working with Safe Shield for a few months, Magno says, since then, he’s developed a subsidiary business under the umbrella of the main business, hired a new employee, and remodeled his studio. Magno says Safe Shield's services have given him the structure and support he’s needed during this busy time. “All of these things take planning and structuring. Safe Shield has been invaluable in doing those things well.”

We have little doubt Guytano Magno Photography will continue to boom. The proof is in what Magno told us when asked what the future holds.

“I would like to go to the moon…or anything else equally ambitious.” Safe Shield is very excited to be along for the ride!