Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, May 26, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 17



 Mountain Views News Saturday, May 26, 2012 


The latest on Business News, Trends and Techniques

By La Quetta M. Shamblee, MBA



When I started writing this 
weekly column, the first 
thing I did was ask my Facebook 
network for topic suggestions. 
Why? Because they are people who use 
social media and they know what frustrates them 
and what has been helpful to know. They were 
full of great ideas that I will be using. 

Market research can be expensive to a business. 
Why not use your social media tools to learn 
more about what people want, who they are and 
what's important to them. As a business owner, 
isn't it our job to know our customers and continue 
to learn about their needs? Here are some 
ideas for Facbebook, Twitter and LinkedIn:

Have you ever asked your friends on Facebook 
what they thought about something you are 
working on? One of our customers who is starting 
a dive company in Palau (Palau Dive Adventures) 
asked his fans on Facebook what their 
favorite Palau diving spot is. Almost 20 people 
piped in on his post with really great ideas. He 
gained valuable information for his new business 
from their answers. People love to feel like they 
are a part of something. It makes them feel part 
of a community. And, if you ask the right questions, 
the answers might give you great ideas for a 
project you are working on or a new product line 
you are launching. 

Have you ever asked Twitter to do some market 
research for you? Say you own an ice cream store 
in Monrovia and you want to see if there has been 
any "ice cream" talk within a 15 mile radius. You 
can use the advanced search tool on Twitter (see 
screen shot below) and it will pull up all the posts 
of what people are saying about ice cream within 
a 15 mile radius. There are all kinds of filters you 
can give to Twitter to narrow your search. You 
could choose to follow some of these tweeters 
or you could use the information as part of your 
market research to gain valuable insight into what 
people think, want and chat about a certain topic. 

Do you use "Ask and Answer Questions" on 
LinkedIn? Once you sign into LinkedIn, select 
"More" from the menu bar and then select "Answers" 
(see screen shot). In this area, you can 
choose to ask a new question as part of a "Discussion" 
or you can lend your expertise by answering 
questions from others. The person who asks 
can even select who gave the best answer and 
give them an "Expert" ranking. LinkedIn posts 
a weekly list of top experts based on this ranking. 
This is a great way to establish yourself as an 
industry thought leader. 

Next time you need to do some market research, 
try your existing social networks. Their response 
just might help you solve a problem, generate 
new ideas and help you think outside of the box. 

About MJ: 

MJ and her brother David own HUTdogs, a creative services 
business. They are known for eye-catching graphic 
design and web solutions but, that's not all they do! They 
teach businesses and nonprofits how to master the basics 
of online social media marketing tools. They have 
a knack for walking clients through the steps needed to 
feel comfortable with the full range of on-line social media 
tools, especially seasoned business owners who don't 
quite know where to start or what to do. 

Upcoming learning opportunities:

Learn how a local business, Grand Slam Sports 
Center, is leveraging Social Media and email 
marketing in their business. 

Social Media Marketing Made Simple at Grand 
Slam Sports Center in Monrovia (no fee)

Tuesday June 5, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM 

The Power of Email Marketing and Action steps 
for your next email campaign at Arcadia Chamber 
of Commerce (no fee) Wednesday, June 6, 2012 
11am – 1pm, Arcadia Chamber of Commerce

Sign up for these events at:

Unfortunately, some non 
profit organizations operate 
as if their do-gooder 
missions to address worthy 
causes provide them with 
an exemption when it comes 
to adhering to ethical and 
legal business practices. 
This article is the first in an 
ongoing monthly series that 
will take a look at real life 
examples throughout 2012. 
The names of organizations 
have been withheld, but each 
article presents a factual 
nonprofit scenario. 

Several years ago I was 
driving past the facility of 
a nonprofit organization 
in Los Angeles that I had 
been responsible for as a 
program officer of a major 
regional funding source. I 
had recently left to work 
on an 18-month contract 
with another organization 
and thought it was odd that 
the building appeared to 
be vacant. Just two months 
earlier, a co-worker and I 
had conducted an annual 
site review and program 
audit for a three-year grant 
that still had at least one 
year remaining. I knew the 
agency had been having 
some challenges and we had 
discussed their upcoming 
fundraising activities and 
other plans to get back on 

Their executive director 
never disclosed they were 
facing eviction although 
she continued to send 
monthly reports along 
with invoices that always 
included a reimbursement 
request for rent. Their 
originally approved grant 
budget included a line item 
for rent that covered at least 
fifty percent of that expense 
each year. Since I knew the 
details of the grant, I called 
a colleague who still worked 
for the funder to ask if she 
was aware that the agency 
had moved. In a matter of 
seconds, she checked the 
records in the computer and 
informed me that the funder 
had just approved another 
invoice that included rent for 
the, now vacant, location.

The nonprofit had relocated 
to a smaller, more affordable 
building. That was actually a 
reasonable decision, however 
they had never informed 
the funder. Even worse, the 
executive director continued 
to submit invoices and accept 
funds for the larger, more 
costly building. This action 
was clearly misleading and a 
blatant violation of the terms 
of the grant agreement. The 
executive director had the 
opportunity could had just 
as easily approached me 
months earlier to discuss 
a modification of both the 
program and the budget, 
as was noted in the written 
grant agreement.

In her attempt to juggle funds 
to keep the agency afloat, she 
crossed an ethical and legal 
line that has relegated the 
nonprofit to a permanent 
“do not fund”: status. As 
a member of the Southern 
California Grantmakers, 
a professional association 
for institutional funders, 
they share these types of 
experiences with their peers 
to ensure that no one else 
gets “burned” by an agency 
that doesn’t play by the rules.

When nonprofits agree to 
accept grant funds that have 
restrictions, they are legally 
obligated to spend the funds 
accordingly. This approach 
raises the question, “If an 
agency can’t be truthful with 
one of its major funding 
sources, how truthful are 
the wonderful reports 
they’re presenting to the 
general public?” Tax-exempt 
organizations are held to 
very high ethical standards, 
and those who do, deserve 
our financial and volunteer 

Those that don’t, should not 
expect a free pass on violating 
professional standards and 
written agreements in the 
name of a worthy cause.


Small Business Persons 
of the Year Ada Chan 
and Amanda Ma

Fresh Events Company, 
– Pasadena, CA.

Fresh Events Company 
creates winning events 
with a constant eye towards 
quality, creativity 
and producing measurable 
results. Ada Chan and 
Amanda Ma, principals 
and co-owners, founded 
the company in 2006. For 
the past six years, Chan 
and Ma have grown the 
company into a million-
dollar business with 200 
percent projected growth 
in 2012. Fresh Events 
Company employs five full-time employees and over 60 contractors annually. The company has been 
instrumental in developing its contractor and subcontractor base, which are likewise small business 
owners. Training is also important to Chan and Ma, who have integrated a successful internship training 
program for students looking for career development and opportunities in event planning. Also, 
the Fresh Events Company team have donated over 1,200 service hours, $20,000 of in-kind products 
and $20,000 in monetary donations to community organizations as part of the co-owners’ commitment 
to giving back.