#BusinessTipTuesday – Managing #Summer Vacation Schedules

When the winter or summer holidays arrive, staff members are thinking about one thing and one thing only: taking a long, well-deserved break. With summer upon us, the nightmare of planning and managing vacation time is right on the horizon. With a majority of the SBDC staff out of town this past week for a conference, we can’t help but wonder, how do businesses handle employee vacation time? Here are a few tips to help manage this hectic time of year.

Plan Ahead: Ask employees to try to provide as much notice as possible so you can prepare for their absence. Planning for vacations in advance gives you plenty of time to review everyone’s requests and, if necessary, allows employees who have requested conflicting weeks to find alternate dates. Encourage employees to list second and third choices for days off because rejecting a vacation request outright due to overlaps is bad for morale.

Cover the Workload: Before staff members take time off, ask them to address critical duties before they leave or line up some of their colleagues to cover the workload. Be sure they inform their backups of deadlines, client contact information, location of relevant files and other important details.

Temporary Employees: Temporary employees come in handy when you are facing heavy seasonal workloads, so why not use them to cover vacations as well? If you know a large chunk of your staff will be planning vacations during this time of year, it is a good idea to keep a pool of part-timers that you can tap into whenever you know you will need extra help.

Don’t let vacation requests catch you off guard. To ensure that all your bases are covered and you remain sufficiently staffed, plan ahead for your staff’s summer breaks.

Amy Simpson, B.S. Business Administration 2018
University of Scranton Small Business Development Center

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#Business Tip Tuesday – Summer State of Mind

A little late #Business Tip Tuesday… Summer State of Mind

Welcome #summer! While everyone looks forward to carving out some much-deserved break time, summer is also a great time to ponder some #planning coming into the Fall. Some deep thought to your #smallbusiness now to regain your momentum later will be something you thank yourself for! This week, here are my…

Top 5 Summer ‘Thinkables’ for Small Business Owners

  1. #Budgets – With about a ½ year to go in the calendar, now is a great time to take your financial reports to the porch. Consider how well you’re doing at managing your money. Look for big changes in line items, scribble a short list of questions to answer, and set 3 improvement goals for greater net income or better money management. All can be done by the time you finish your ice tea!
  2. #Inventory – Take stock in your stock! If it hasn’t sold by now, figure out why. Pull a list of your purchases since January. Look at individual sales to assess what’s sold. Make a list of your top 5 selling services/products. Is it different than last year? Grab a napkin and pen 3 sales practices you can make a fast change to to try to move underperforming services/products.
  3. #Roadblocks – Everyone has them – Seek clarity in that beach chair by answering “What are 3 roadblocks to success my business encounters on a regular basis?” Maybe your once-great location is now challenged by a change in traffic patterns. Perhaps your big vendor isn’t shipping fast, and it’s holding up your ability to serve your market. Jot 3 roadblocks down and add a “opportunities” column – defining these is half the battle to solving them!
  4. #Growth Opportunities – Part of being a #smallbusinessowner is to be progressive. What are the opportunities or solutions within the roadblocks you just considered? Grab a tablet and check out a new podcast, industry association, or technology related to your service or product. Ask your #SBDC consultant to look at some demographics or buying trends with you. What could you do if you increased your employee base or floor space?
  5. #Culture – Lastly, consider what your day-to-day is really like when you’re not in the throes of it. I like to think of culture as the goods of the business, your employees, and your happiness. It’s what keeps your business running through #1, 2, 3 & 4. What kind of new inspiration can you infuse into yourself, the business and your staff this second half of the year? Sometimes, simply bringing your employees together for a regular Friday lunch picnic can give you some insight. Plan some open-ended time to communicate. Be encouraged by feedback.

Here’s to you and your #smallbusiness being refreshed by the sunshine and results!

Gretchen Kukuchka
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center
(570) 941-4151

Artwork adapted from freepik.com


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#BusinessTipTuesday – #RockyRoadDay June 2

For this week’s #BusinessTipTuesday we look at #RockyRoadDay celebrated on June 2.  As you know, Memorial Day always serves as the unofficial First Day of Summer and when we think about summer, one of the firs things that comes to mind is ice cream ! At the SBDC we have helped many entrepreneurs start their ice cream shops and we have learned a few lessons along the way.

  1. Write a business plan – As with any new business our SBDC business consultants always advise our entrepreneurs to write a business plan to guide them in understand all the steps involved in running a business.
  2. Seasonality – The ice cream business isn’t as simple as it seems. As with any seasonal business , a business owner needs to understand how income and expenses will fluctuate based on the season.
  3. Licenses & Permits – Anyone thinking about selling ice cream should become familiar with the licensing and permit requirements involves in the handling of food related products,  particularly the Frozen Dessert License.
  4. Pricing – Once of the most difficult lessons for a business owner to grasp is how to price their product.  Just because “this is what everyone else charges” doesn’t necessarily mean that price will work for your business.  There are many different items to consider when setting a price for your product.
  5. Staffing – Time and again we here from our SBDC clients that finding good employees is always their biggest challenge. Finding and retaining good employees is essential to any successful business.

For help with these items as well as a number of any other items that pop up when you run your own business, contact The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center.

Keith D. Yurgosky
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center
www.scrantonsbdc.com (570) 941-4150

Artwork adapted from freepik.com


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#BusinessTipTuesday – #BrothersDay, May 24th

The bond between brothers is like no other. Throughout history many great stories and tales have started with a brothers bond; Cain and Abel, Remus and Romulus, Zeus and Hades, etc. Similarly, many great businesses have also started with a brothers bond, think Walt and Roy Disney. However, not all brothers are meant to start a business together. Famously, Adolf and Rudolph Dassler started Adidas together, but ultimately decided they could not work together and Rudolph went on to establish Puma, creating a fierce rivalry.  This is why before getting into business with a partner it is essential to write a partnership or operation agreement. If you are getting into business with a brother, sister, friend, or acquaintance, it is crucial to protect each owner in the case that the business or business relationship does not work out.

A partnership or operating agreement is a legal document that defines each person’s or partner’s roles and responsibilities in the business. It also details the day-to-day operations of the business and what happens in the event that someone dies or the company dissolves. It’s one of the most important things you can do before you start investing time and money into a business. Although partnership or operating agreement are not legally required, we strongly recommend completing one to prevent conflicts within the business.

Here are a few things to consider when crafting a partnership or operating agreement:

  • Responsibilities. Decide who is going to be responsible for which parts of the business.  You should list out any areas that need to be covered and decide who is going to be generally responsible for those areas.
  • Workload. How will the workload be shared? Are partners expected to work set hours? Does one partner plan on working more or less than the other partners? How much vacation is allowed?
  • Contributions. Determine what each partner is bringing to the business in terms of money invested into the business, equipment and intellectual property. Who owns the equipment if the business dissolves? How do you split the businesses assets if the business dissolves?
  • Ownership Split. Once you determine what each owner is bringing to the business, you must decide how the ownership will be split. 50/50. 60/40. 75/25. Is one partner bringing more assets/equipment/intellectual property into the business that warrants a higher ownership percentage?
  • Disputes. Disputes are inevitable in any partnership. The key is to have a mechanism in place to resolve these disputes as quickly and painlessly as possible. If the business is split 50/50, how will you resolve disputes? Does one owner have the ability to break a tie vote? If not 50/50 split, will the owner with a higher percentage have the final say in disputes? Will you use a third party mediator to resolve disputes?
  • Compensation. Do you plan to invest profits back into the business? Will you split profits and losses according to the ownership percentage?
  • Partner Death/inability to work. If one partner dies or becomes unable to work, does that person’s ownership pass to a family member? Does the other partner have to ‘buy-out’ the other partners shares in the business?
  • Partner Exit. What happens if one partner wants to leave? What happens if one partner wants to force the other partner out of the business? You should have something in place in either case.
  • New Partners. What is the process for bringing on a new partner? Do all other partners or owners need to agree?
  • Selling the business. Much like bringing on new partners, what is the process for selling the business? Do all partners need to be in agreement? What is one partner wants to sell and one does not? How do you break the tie? This goes back to dispute resolution.

Creating a partnership or operating agreement is essential to running a business with multiple owners. Every partnership or operation agreement will be different much like every business and every relationship is different. What works for one business or relationship may not work for all. Communication is key for not only crafting the partnership agreement but also running a successful business. This may not be the most fun or enjoyable part of starting a business, but it will save everyone involved from headaches down the road.

Leigh Magnotta
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton SBDC
800 Linden Street
Scranton, PA  18510

Artwork adapted from freepik.com

#BrothersDay #partners#organized #smallbiz #opportunity  #nepa #May24 #scranton #sbdc #smallbiz
#volunteer #entrepreneur #organize #asbdc #business #boss #impact #goals #businessplanning #management #disputes

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A Letter to Our Interns

Dear Graduating Interns,7c563684c4c2460d27e82e2be8206daa

It’s so hard to say goodbye. The experience has been awesome – you’ve learned from us and we’ve learned from you. We’ve solved problems and overcome challenges together, we’ve tackled client projects, we’ve had a lot of laughs. You have returned, semester after semester. We’ve become part of each other’s daily lives. We’ve celebrated and mourned, had bad days and great days – right alongside each other.

It’s hard for us to see you go. We’re sad we won’t get to see you around here all the time, yet we’re so proud of you for all of your accomplishments so far and excited for the opportunities you will find out there. You may doubt yourselves at times, but we know that you’re intelligent, talented, hardworking, and can accomplish anything you set your minds to.

You’re amazing and we are lucky to have had the chance to teach you and learn from you. While in many ways this feels like the end, it’s really just the beginning. Go forth and set the world on fire!

Best wishes,

Lisa and The University of Scranton SBDC Team

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#BusinessTipTuesday – Dance Like a Chicken Day

National Dance Like a Chicken Day on May 14th is one of the more amusing holidays I’ve found on our calendar. It got me thinking about how business owners often feel like a chicken with its head chopped off as they run from task to task day in and day out. Being organized helps all of us feel more in control of our time and our activities.

According to Cena Block, Productivity & Performance Consultant for Mom Entrepreneurs, one of the best ways to get motivated to work is to start first by getting your office organized. In fact, it is one of the easiest and most simple ways to kick off your daily productivity, especially when you’re feeling stuck and unmotivated in your space. If you struggle with productivity at work, it might be time to organize your office.

Starting with learning your natural preferences and what makes you tick will help you stay organized for good since your personality preferences rarely change. Arming yourself with information leads to higher awareness and self-knowledge. Since being productive has a lot to do with how you spend your time and make decisions it always helps to know more about what is natural to you already.  Cena Block, www.SaneSpaces.com

With so much going on in my life, let me share my personal top 5 tips that keep me organized and moving in the right direction, at least most days.

  1. I make a complete list and date it. Once the list is complete, I start to feel more in control by knowing what I need to do. Prioritizing helps, but sometimes being able to check offa few small items gives me the boost to keep going.
  2. Ask for help. Often times just getting a project started makes it easier to jump in and complete it.
  3. Mornings are my best time to get things done. I know not everyone is a morning person, but you know when you’re at your best. Use that time to put a dent in your list.
  4. Music for me is a great motivator. Mozart for working, AC DC for housework. You get the idea.
  5. I take breaks often. Generally, I’ll take a moment when I need one, but at a minimum between tasks.

With some planning and organization there is no reason why you should find yourself running around like a chicken with its head chopped off!

By: Donna Simpson, Consultant Manager

Donna J. Simpson MBA, CGBP
Consultant Manager
The University of Scranton SBDC
800 Linden Street
Scranton, PA  18510

Artwork adapted from freepik.com

#DanceLikeaChickenDay #organized #smallbiz #opportunity  #nepa #May14 #scranton #sbdc #smallbiz #volunteer #entrepreneur #organize #asbdc #business #boss #impact #goals #businessplanning #management

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#BusinessTipTuesday – A Perspective on #Momleaders & #MothersDay

A Perspective on #Momleaders & #MothersDay #May14

Growing up, I busied myself in a #smallbusiness, much like my children will soon do through the summer. I watched my mother sit across from my father, punching away at a big “adding machine”. I’d line up the “deposits” and stamp them “To the order of”. I was expected to stay quiet, so I organized desk drawers, cleaned a bathroom or two, and made pricing posters whenever I was handed a marker and a piece of cardboard. After a diner lunch, I’d resume my duties, waiting for my mom to get off the spiral-cord phone, placing an order with a brewery.

On crazier days, my mom juggled my younger siblings, my expected playdate plans, 2 dentist appointments and what was for dinner… all in between running a fast-growing business. In reflection, I realize spent a lot of time listening and observing how the business ran. How decisions were made and who made them. How my parents came to important agreements, as President and Vice President of a tiny, rural business. And while Dad was certainly the rock foundation, I also clearly learned who served as the cement that held our family together. Mom. This week, we remember #MothersDay and #Momleaders at the #ScrantonSBDC!

Fast-forward to today, when many of us believe we can do it all – be a dynamo professional and a dynamo mom. Whether you’re a woman who owns and runs a company, or a woman who leads, but doesn’t own, you’re still trying to manage everything well –and you probably have the same challenges. I asked Karen Russell, owner of Keystone North Inc. www.keystonewelding.com, a welding and fabrication mainstay in #MansfieldPA, #Tiogacounty, her view on being a business leader and a mother of many years. Here are some resonating highlights for the #Momleaders and the great foundations (family and/or colleagues) who support them:

  1. In reference to perspective: “Our roles as a business owner, community leader, and a mom do not occur in separate silos.  We are constantly juggling multiple responsibilities and obligations.  …by keeping things in perspective–dismissing the things that I can’t control in order to focus on those I can—relieves undue stress and saves a lot of wasted time…”
  2. In reference to family first: “Every time I’ve kept my focus on family first, all other business and community responsibilities have fallen into place.”
  3. In reference to children understanding leadership & hard work: “As adults, they [my grown sons] now have an appreciation for the commitment and hard work it takes to be at your best.  But as children, I don’t think they thought much about what it takes to manage work and family to the fullest.  Personally, I think the real reward is when your children don’t even notice you are doing anything special.  That’s when you know they are the priority.”
  4. In reference to using time wisely for one another: “…involve your children in family obligations—help with laundry, dishes, vacuuming—so you are all free to attend their activities together.  Nobody wants to be the one to stay home to do work and miss our kids’ activities.  When we all play together as a family, the business owner, community leader, or mom will have no regrets.”

and Karen’s final thought… “Keep it all in perspective!”

Thanks, Mom, for those years of perspective. And a #HappyMothersDay to Karen, my mom, Nancy, and all the #Momleaders we serve at #scrantonsbdc! 

Gretchen Kukuchka
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton SBDC

Artwork adapted from freepik.com

#MothersDay #Mom #smallbiz #opportunity  #nepa #May14 #scranton #sbdc #smallbiz #volunteer #entrepreneur #organize #asbdc #business #boss #impact #goals #businessplanning #management #momknowsbest




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#BusinessTipTuesday – Intellectual Property

We’re recognizing #NationalZipperDay celebrated on April 29 for this week’s #BusinessTipTuesday! We are bringing it back to the beginning when the idea of the zipper first came about… which means intellectual property! The zipper was created by Gideon Sundback and originally patented as the “separable fastener” in 1917. According to thought.com, the popular name of zipper came from the installation of Sundback’s separable fastener on a pair of boots by another business, B.F. Goodrich Company.
Now that you know a little bit of zipper history, you may wonder what to do when you have come up with a great idea, like the zipper, that should be filed as intellectual property! Say you did some online research, and it appears that no one else has come up with this great idea either. Now what is the next step? You know you are itching to get this idea started and the idea of intellectual property keeps popping up in your head. Most importantly you are wondering, do I need to hire a lawyer? Well, you are right on track with these thoughts!

When it comes to intellectual property, things can get confusing. Does this need to be registered as a patent, trademark, or copyright? Do I need a lawyer or can I do it on my own? With that being said much research must be put into furthering your idea and starting a business based on that idea.

First, you must understand the basics of intellectual property. In simple terms there are three main components into which it is broken down: patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Patents are for the ownership of inventions whether it is to make, sell, or use. Trademarks are signs that identify products or services. Copyrights secure literary and artistic works.

Now that we know what our idea is categorized as, we must take into consideration the cost when it comes to filing. Without hiring an attorney, costs for patents can extend into the thousands, trademarks in the hundreds, and copyrights up to a hundred dollars. And then when hiring an attorney the fees are obviously increased.

Patents are the timeliest and most in depth when it comes to filing; it is without a doubt the most “serious” of intellectual property filings. If you truly believe you have an idea that is worth spending the time and money to patent, an attorney should be hired to make sure the process runs smoothly and is done correctly. Not to say it cannot be done on your own, but with something like this, leaving it to an expert is best. If you do feel that filing for a patent on your own is something you can handle, by all means go ahead. Extensive research beforehand and documentation along the way is definitely necessary if you are going at it alone. In general a good starting point to figuring out if you are ready for a patent would be to start filing the provisional patent application on your own. If that first step goes well, you may realize that the process is something you can handle and have time for. Or you may realize it is better to leave it to a professional.

Trademarks lie somewhere in the middle in regards to research and application. There are plenty of forms that need to be filled out and things you need to research before going through with the trademark, yet it is not as technical as a patent. Either yourself or your attorney can file the applications. Thus, when it comes to a trademark it boils down to comfort level. This filing may be more doable on your own in comparison to a patent application; however, it may be necessary to consult with an attorney for things you do not understand, research guidance, or dealings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Copyrights are the most simple in comparison to other intellectual property filings. They can be completed through an application online or through mail. The process is not nearly as lengthy as the other application processes. Since the process is not as complex as the others, filing for a copyright would most likely be the easiest to do on your own. However, hiring a lawyer could be helpful for questions on anything copyright related since those specializing in intellectual property are the experts.

Basically, when you ask the question, to hire a lawyer or not, you must think about yourself. The decision should come to what you, as the idea owner and potentially business owner, are most comfortable with! You must think about your ability to research, the timeline you are focused on, the amount of funds that you have, and your knowledge. As well, it is important to remember that Intellectual Property Attorneys deal with all types of filings as a regular part of their job. These professionals are the experts when it comes to “all things IP” and will help you get things done properly and timely.

Although it could be a costly venture, in which you should truly only go forth with intellectual property filings if you have the money and time, hiring a lawyer could be one of the most valuable thing you do. Remember, do not make this decision lightly, do your research, and make the decision best for you!

Danielle Guari, B.S. Entrepreneurship 2017
University of Scranton Small Business Development Center


#opportunity #nepa #April29#scranton #sbdc #smallbiz #ZipperDay
#entrepreneur #zipper #asbdc #business #boss #impact #goals #copyrights #patent #management #intellectualproperty

Artwork adapted by Freepick.com

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#BusinessTipTuesday – The Value of Volunteering

This week we celebrate volunteers on #VolunteerRecognitionDay, Thursday, April 20th. This is a topic near and dear to my heart as I always seem to volunteer for something and I LOVE it! At The University of Scranton I have volunteered to chaperon more the 12 service trips. It has been the most eye opening opportunity for not only me, but the more than 100 students I’ve traveled with.

So you may wonder, why would an employer encourage volunteerism by their employees?

According to Andrew Troop in his piece “How a Corporate Volunteering Program Benefits Everyone,” research consistently shows that employees are the happiest and most likely to stay at companies that are innovative, align with personal values, offer opportunities for growth and development, cultivate and encourage collaboration and teamwork, and foster an environment where employees feel inspired and play an integral role in making a positive impact in the world.

In other words, inspired and engaged employees equal happy employees. The idea of developing a strong company culture and increasing employee engagement efforts to attract and retain top talent is nothing new to HR professionals. Be it flexible work schedules and environments, unlimited paid time off, education subsidies, mechanisms to spotlight great work and provide praise and everything in between, organizations are focusing their efforts on the overall wellbeing and engagement of their employees. That said, according to Gallup’s U.S. employee engagement numbers for June 2016, only a third of workers are engaged with their job.

To read the entire article go to http://resources.microedge.com/corporate-social-responsibility/how-a-corporate-volunteering-program-benefits-everyone

Volunteering has helped me grow as a person. I’ve visited SBDC’s in other areas and I learned about the communities I’ve visited. In one way or another I’ve brought my new insights back to share. It’s been a win-win.

Whether you pick up trash, paint a house or travel the globe you are helping others and thus helping yourself become the best version of you.

Donna Simpson
Small Business Development Center
Consultant Manager

#opportunity #nepa #April20 #scranton #sbdc #smallbiz #volunteer #entrepreneur #organize #asbdc #business #boss #impact #goals #businessplanning #management #VolunteerRecognitionDay

Artwork adapted by Freepick.com

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#BusinessTipTuesday – #Siblings in Small Business

According to wikipedia.org, “In the United States, 80% of all children have siblings.” National #SiblingDay is Monday, April 10th. “The holiday is intended to be a celebration of the relationship of brothers and sisters.” (wikipedia.org)

Let’s look at siblings through the lens of small business. We meet many siblings at the SBDC who are making go of a business. Reflecting back on them, here are some #BusinessTipTuesday tips:

  1. Successful #smallbusinesssiblings attempt to separate business from the dinner table. Pat Nasser, co-owner of #BackyardAleHouse, #Scranton, says this is key for him and his brother Bill, and has kept things on an even keel between them. The Nasser brothers even have two other business partners who are good friends! Pat’s best practice of Family Comes First reminds us to take a breather and enjoy the company of one another, without mention of business to-do’s or obligations. This is critical for good sibling relationships! So, if you’re the family member who wants to ‘talk shop’ during dessert, refrain and set a Reminder!
  2. Recognize roles and brains. Honestly, this may take set-aside of martyrdom and pride for some. Entrepreneurs are a strong breed – and a sibling pair can be a formidable gene pool to add to the mix! Know that at various times in your business, your sibling(s) will be better at something than you. Whether it’s taking care of a certain customer account, managing an employee, or making a key growth decision, acknowledging and passing the torch on this is key to reaching the next business goal together – and with respect.
  3. Know and accept each other’s limits. Each sibling may be a heck of a loyal team when it comes to protecting and growing the business… but each may inherently have a limit they reach or can commit themselves to. These human limits (such as putting cash or personal time into the business, decisions in a business) should align with business goals. If a decision can’t be reached, maybe your sibling has reached his/her limits for the day. Allow time to for individual thought so your synergy can build later. This may also include building some individual office space or staggered work schedules.
  4. Meet, talk, and then plan… in this order. Daily dynamics of #smallbusiness can be a total grind. Rattling off important priorities by cell at 10pm to one another becomes an easy habit to get into when relation/business lines are blurred. I always recommend holding weekly meetings to my clients. Old school, but effective. Use these meetings to talk about what’s working and what’s not, short/long-term goals and happenings, role changes, and money. Highlight something great in the business and stick to a schedule. Allow non-family key employees to be part and use this time to NOT make assumptions, but to clarify and plan.
  5. A hammered-out agreement can save most conflicts– or worse yet, family wars. Keep it official. Partnership agreements define responsibilities, timelines, and most importantly, exit strategies. While no one ever wants to talk flight plans when they’re in the newlywed stage of business start-up, it’s critical. Many agreement examples are online, and a good hour spent with a business attorney who can be a neutral advisor for your sibling team is worth much.

These #bestpractices of #siblingbusiness take just small efforts to implement. Try them out and consult your #UniversityofScrantonSBDC for assistance. And much like any other relationship, remember the reasons why you chose to get into business together in the first place! Be grateful for the chance and build in some fun! #NationalSiblingDay #April10 www.scrantonsbdc.com

Gretchen Kukuchka
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center
(570) 941-4151

#sbdcday #sbdc #shopsmall #nepa #opportunity #nepa #April10 #scranton #sbdc #smallbiz #entrepreneur #family #asbdc #business #boss #impact #goals #businessplanning #management #startup #startingyourbusiness #businesstiptuesday #tuesdaytip #organize #siblingsday #siblings 

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