When in doubt, blog!

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Picore must learn not only to delegate but also to train clients to accept a deputy for all but emergencies. Delegate as much administrative work as possible to Beristain, Nasatir adds, and consider hiring a part-time CFO. And to impose discipline on the young, growing company, she suggests reviewing the books with a financial pro on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Later that afternoon Hank Shaw, 50, roars up to company headquarters on his motorcycle, a bit disheveled after a half-hour dodging freeway traffic. He is chief marketing officer of the Phelps Group, a Santa Monica marketing and communications agency. "Your Web site needs work," he says bluntly.

Designed five years ago, picore.com is cluttered with gimmicks popular in the early days of the Internet. On the home page, the cursor features a flame and a rising pillar of smoke; a gallery displays children's art as Vivaldi plays. Other pages use slow-moving Flash animation and tired stock photos.

Shaw starts with first principles. The most effective business Web sites are those that fit into a comprehensive marketing campaign that educates potential clients.

"An unsophisticated site is a big liability - especially for a company that wants to be known for its sophisticated service," Shaw says. His advice: Lose the hokey stuff. Simplify the site, especially the navigation. And above all, describe the firm's services concisely.

In the world of security, Picore Worldwide stands out as a woman-owned company in an industry largely controlled by men. Picore asks Shaw if she should market the firm accordingly.

Several years ago she undertook the time-consuming process of getting certified as a woman-owned business by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council and the Small Business Administration. In some instances, those certifications can help women win government or corporate contracts under diversity programs. On the other hand, Picore confesses, she isn't sure whether the distinction is an asset or a liability in her industry.

She does see a promising market in providing security for wealthy foreign families who visit the U.S. - especially for women and children. (A German businessman recently hired Picore's firm to provide unarmed chaperones for his two teen daughters while they shopped in L.A. He was so happy with the service that he tipped Picore's female agent $500.)

Corporate clients aren't likely to hire Picore simply because it's a woman-owned business, Shaw says. But gender could be a selling point in pitches that target women.

"You can sell yourself as a gun-toting BFF," he grins, referring to preteen girl talk for "best friend forever." "That's a great niche. You can be the experts in security for women."

He urges Picore to pitch women's organizations, especially those for traveling business-women. She might write a column for the organization's newsletter, or lecture on safe travel practices at its convention.

And when in doubt, blog! "Security is a hot topic," says Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of Good Inc., an integrated-media company that publishes Good magazine and its Web site out of Los Angeles. Greenblatt, 37, urges Picore to capitalize on her high visibility: She is often featured in the media as an expert commentator on school shootings and workplace rampages.

Blogging regularly could boost traffic to Picore's website and enhance her image as an international security expert, he says. To attract more wealthy clients, Greenblatt recommends she contact local private schools and offer presentations on family security to their PTAs.

Two weeks after the Makeover, Picore seems energized by the experts' frank advice. Picore's website has undergone its own makeover. Picore is looking for a part-time CFO and devising a guard-certification program. Her firm just landed a million-dollar contract to provide security for a chain of stores in Southern California.

We'll watch this gun-toting BFF, and report on her progress.  To top of page

The experts have had their say - now have yours. Tell us what you advise for Picore.

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Could your business use a makeover? In general, successful Makeover candidates are profitable small companies with at least $1 million in annual gross revenues. To submit your firm for consideration, e-mail the FSB makeover editor here. Please describe your business briefly, provide your most recent and projected revenues, and explain why you think your company would benefit from a Makeover.

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