What is your favorite Skokie business? Nominations are open!

You can nominate your favorite Skokie store, service or business for 2014 Merchant of the Year. Ballots are available online at:

Paper ballots also are available in the April edition of NewSkokie. All nominations are due May 15, 2014.

Previous winners include:

  • 2011 Village Inn and Sweety Pies
  • 2012 Golan’s Moving
  • 2013 Aw Yeah Comics

The Consumer Affairs Commission will tabulate and review the ballots to determine the winner. The Merchant of the Year will be honored at a Village Board meeting in early summer. Merchants who finish in second and third place will also be recognized. For more information, contact Terry Oline, Consumer Affairs Commission staff liaison at 847/933-8223.

Down to Business Recap: Delivering the Ultimate Customer Experience

This week our new quarterly business book club Down to Business met to discuss Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hseigh, CEO of online retail giant Zappos.

True to its title, this book delivered. It is an entertaining memoir of a born entrepreneur willing to take chances in exchange for a big payoff (and one that doesn’t sacrifice a happier work life). Plus, you get a history of Zappos that keeps you on the edge of your seat even if you already know the story has a happy ending. Hsieh’s corporate philosophy of customer service, empowering employees, and spreading happiness clearly works. It sure made me happy to read it, from my head to my Zappos shoes-covered toes. Here are some key takeaways from the book:

1. Don’t pour all your energy into social media. Personalized customer service (to build business and rapport) still is crucial. Social media can be important, but it serves a different purpose (such as transparency and expressing core values).

2. Think relationships, not transactions. Some of the discussion participants  talked about moving toward concierge service, because competing on price is very difficult. This fits Zappos’ WOW philosophy of customer service, which touts having an authentic interest in the person who seeks your services.

3. Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. Hsieh learned many lessons from playing poker that he applies to business. The idea that it is OK to change tables when your table has gone cold resonated with business owners at the discussion. (But everyone agreed it take a lot of effort to figure out which table you should play next).

Want to chat with fellow professionals about the best business and career books? Down to Business meets again on Thursday May 29 at 7pm to discuss Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Pick up your copy at the Readers Services desk on the Library’s first floor.

SBA Hosts Twitter Chat for Young Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting a Twitter Chat for young entrepreneurs in recognition of National Entrepreneurship Week (February 15-22). If you’re already a young entrepreneur or want to become one, this chat is for you. Learn how to turn your business idea into a reality, the steps to starting a business, and the know-how needed to help businesses succeed.

 SBA Twitter Chat on Startup Advice Young Entrepreneurs Love
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
3 pm - 4 pm (ET) Hashtag #sbaEweek

Participants will hear from SBA’s associate administrator for Entrepreneurial Development Tameka Montgomery. She will provide keen advice for young entrepreneurs to help them start, build and grow their small businesses from SBA’s Twitter handle, @SBAgov. Participants will also get advice from Bridget Weston Pollack with the SBA resource partner SCORE. She will help answer questions and give valuable insight on starting a business. Her Twitter handle is @SCOREmentors.

You can also hear from genuine young entrepreneurs who have knocked down the hurdles to success. No registration is needed to take part in the chat, but you must have a Twitter account.

Want to get started now? Check out the free SBA online course Young Entrepreneurs – An Essential Guide to Starting Your Own Business. It will help you understand the steps you need to get started and to be successful. SBA’s Small Business Learning Center has a full listing of self-directed online courses to help with your business needs. (SBA.gov)