What is Important to small businesses across the United States now?

Marketing is probably one of the most important aspects of having a successful business nowadays, especially if you are a business selling directly to the customer.

Depending on what type of business you have, the need to market it can vary considerably.  Not long ago, the prospect of having a website to market your business was a daunting experience, especially if you wanted it professionally done and serviceable.  Now, with the advances in technology, the prospect of NOT having a website means you are losing business or are not getting any business through a medium that can be very profitable for you.

What are then some of the best ways to market your business, get more customers, and establish a web presence for you and your business?

  1. Social Media – Whether you want to advertise using Facebook, Google Ads or any other type of social media, go ahead and do it, but why not try using social media without spending too much in the beginning. Test the waters first, then dive in if you think it may be more beneficial to pay for advertising. Make sure you measure the benefits.  If you are spending too much and getting too little, perhaps that is not the best use of your marketing budget.
  2. Website – If you don’t have one, then you are not taking advantage of one of the most beneficial ways to market your business.  You do not need to know how to code to have a professional looking website, and you do not need to be a giant business to market your business online. There are many websites dedicated to helping you have a website that will market your business.  Even your Local Chamber of Commerce office can have a suggestion or two about managing your website .  Give them a call.
  3. Local Advertising – If your customers are local, it makes sense to advertise in your community first and expand to other places later on. This will also give you an idea about the best way to maximize your marketing budget.

One of the most important factors that as small business owners we tend to forget, is the consistency required to market your business. Having a website, in the beginning, might be monumental for you, but leaving it sitting there with no constant effort on your part is worthless, and relying solely on having a website to market the business is not going to be very beneficial for you.  Marketing your business well requires more than having a website and a Facebook page.  We recommend you invest some time reading about marketing trends that do not require a huge budget.


Small Business Owners Challenges

According to the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), a small business is defined as an independent business with less than 500 employees, and according to them 99.7% of the United States economy is comprised by small business.

Every year, there are thousands of new business in this country in every industry, but there are many others that go under as well. Whole industries are being created thanks to the innovations and smart decisions many entrepreneurs make every single day, and the capacity of many of these entrepreneurs to think smartly and make decisions that impact their business favorably is outstanding.

But, as with everything else, small business owners make mistakes that can impact their business and profits and can leave them with many unanswerable questions. Sometimes, they can catch those mistakes and move forward with their business, but other times those mistakes can be too costly and cannot be solved quickly enough.

One of the biggest mistakes 90% of owners make is not knowing or understanding the importance of their numbers.  They don’t know if or which of their customers generate a profit, nor do they know how much a profit it is.  They don’t understand a fundamental concept — if you don’t have a profit margin, you can’t sustain a business.

The margin is simply how much out of every dollar a business earns it actually gets to keep.  For example: $1.00 (earned) minus $.90 (expenses) equals $.10 (profit).  The profit margin is 10%.  Many owners keep investing money, not understanding this straightforward tenet, hoping to “get the company on its feet”.  However, there’s no reasonable, mathematical way for that to happen if there’s no profit (margins can be either positive or negative). 

Owners should always know their margins if they’re positive or negative at the very least because the volume of a business doesn’t give an accurate picture of its financial health.  A company with $5 million in revenue can actually be losing money if it has a negative margin.

Another of those mistakes that small business owners do not take into consideration, is their competition.  Every business in the country and around the world has a competitor. Not thinking about the competition can leave a small business owner wondering where it went wrong while leaving their competitor reaping the benefits of their mistakes.

As a small business owner, you do many of the tasks your company or small business needs doing, and the responsibility to have them done come to rest at your desk.  Knowing when you need to hire extra help, and hiring the right people for the job can become an invaluable asset for your business.

It is never too late to start the business of your dream.  Knowing ahead of time that it will be extremely difficult and stressful, but giving you the rewards you always wanted.


Small Business Issues for 2018

What are some of the issues, small business owners have to be aware of this 2018?

Business Optimism: According to many analysts, business owner’s optimism should stay steady this year, following the high level carry over from 2017.  If the economy and stock market remain as robust as it has been, business owners are bound to stay optimistic.  And although their optimism about the economy has not translated in an increase in hiring, with the new tax laws breaks many analysts believe this can change.

Taxes and Accounting: The new tax bill should benefit many businesses across different sectors of the economy.  Whether you are a small business owner, have a partnership or a corporation, there are bound to be many tax breaks that you can take and that can alleviate the tax burden this year.

For these tax breaks, you need a tax accountant that has an understanding of your business, your financial situation, and an understanding of the new tax laws in order to take all the tax credits that your business is allowed.

Having a knowledgeable accountant can help your business lift or ameliorate the tax burden your business faces while helping you create a path to a healthier one. Accountants can possibly help you save thousands of dollars in fines from the state or federal government if you are not filing the right forms at the right time.

Sexual harassment: A movement that needed to happen long ago, has taken flight and it does not seem to stop. For many businesses across all areas of commerce, sexual harassment has become an issue owners and management cannot ignore anymore.  Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace has been around businesses for many years now, but doing something about it it’s what’s different now.  Training, informing and having an open conversation with all employees in your organization is too important to ignore, and if you haven’t  done anything about it yet, you must prioritize and make it happen now.

Health Care: Many organizations begin the year by reviewing the health care coverage and retirement plans the business has.  Is it important to do it now?  Health care coverage premiums can skyrocket from year to year, and if your business is not shopping around for better rates and coverage for its employees, then you might be paying more for less coverage this year.

Retirement plans are also an important part of the incentives many organizations employ to retain and to attract talent in their business.  The retirement incentives can make a great employee choose to work in your business because of those extra perks they are getting apart from their salaries. 


Is The New Tax Bill Favorable To Your Business?

With the ups and downs of small business optimism index this year, October saw a small upward trend again and once again small business owners believe now is the time to expand, and hire.   They believe sales will keep increasing and the economy as a whole.

The retail industry sees an increase in sales due to the holiday season, and as a small shop owner, sales do increase dramatically.  The question now is whether the sales will keep up after the holidays are over and Americans settle to their business as usual, or whether they will again go back to the normal pre-holiday sales. The index may again adjust itself to reflect the normal optimism before this holiday rush.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


8 small business losers under Republicans’ tax bill

If you’re a small business owner hoping to get a tax cut under the proposed Republican tax reform, pay close attention. While there will be a few small business winners, most owners will see no benefit, and you might be one of the many losers.

While both the House and Senate bills are still subject to revision, both contain a provision directly aimed at small businesses. And it’s got a whopper of a bait-and-switch.

Whenever you hear them talking about lowering the rate on “pass through” income — the kind almost all small business owners report — remember this: It won’t lower taxes on at least 70% of the money you make. It won’t help the overwhelming bulk of small businesses.

How did we get here?

During the Presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump promised to lower business taxes.   But he meant “corporate” taxes — with a new lower rate applicable only to “C” corporations, generally the largest businesses.


NFIB Small Business Survey: Index Inches Up In October

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for October came in at 103.8, up 0.8 from the previous month. The index is at the 93rd percentile in this series. Today’s number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 104.2.

Here is an excerpt from the opening summary of the news release:

More small business owners last month said they expect higher sales and think that now is a good time to expand, according to the October NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism, released today.

“Owners became much more positive about the economic environment last month, which suggests a longer-run view,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “In the nearer term, they are more optimistic about real sales growth and improved business conditions through the end of the year.”

The first chart below highlights the 1986 baseline level of 100 and includes some labels to help us visualize that dramatic change in small business sentiment that accompanied the Great Financial Crisis. Compare, for example, the relative resilience of the index during the 2000-2003 collapse of the Tech Bubble with the far weaker readings following the Great Recession that ended in June 2009.


Modified House tax bill hits right notes for small businesses

The House is expected this week to pass the most comprehensive tax reform in more than 30 years. The measure is aimed at boosting the U.S. economy, mainly by reducing taxes on businesses. The Senate introduced its plan last week, which leaders expect to pass before the end of the year.

The respective versions will have to be reconciled, and potential obstacles remain, but the elusive goal of tax reform is within reach. Every American has a stake in the success of this effort, for no other public goal is possible, including national security, better public education or a modernized infrastructure, without stronger, faster economic growth.


 

Small Business Optimism and Security

Many small businesses and big corporations are at risk of cyber attacks daily.  Companies like Target that spend millions of dollars on cyber insurance and other security measures, do not spend enough to make the cybersecurity risks less probable.

For small businesses that do not have the finances to spend protecting themselves against cyber attacks, the risks are always present.  And although cyber attacks may not be directed against them quite as often, protecting the personal and financial information of their clients should be one of the primary priorities of any business.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


A Decline In Small Business Optimism

On Tuesday, NFIB reported the September Small Business Optimism Index results, and they showed the Index fell 2.3 points to 103, which was below the lowest consensus forecast. In spite of the decline, the index remains at a high level, as can be seen in the below chart.

A larger percentage of the index components declined in September as the report noted:

“Six of the 10 Index components dropped in September. Three improved, and one remained unchanged. The bright spot last month was inventory plans, which gained five points as more business owners anticipate a strong 4th quarter.”

Below is a table showing the component changes from August.


Half of All Small Businesses Use WiFi Technology Almost a Decade Old

Small businesses are using older WiFi that doesn’t fit their needs on several fronts. A new Linksys sponsored survey says half of the small businesses polled are using WiFi technology that’s over eight years old. Beyond not being able to keep up with mobile expansion, business owners are concerned over the lags in security and speed.

Problems with Small Businesses Using Old WiFi Tech

These findings are important to small businesses still using older WiFi technology. Smaller enterprises that work online need to be both flexible and fast to respond to changing client needs. Your download and upload speeds are the flux to beat the competition to sales. Beyond that, they make for quicker networking with everyone from visitors to mobile employees.


House approves bill to bolster small business cybersecurity

The House on Wednesday approved legislation that would require the federal government to produce and disseminate guidance to help small businesses with cybersecurity.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, passed by a voice vote.

The legislation would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a nonregulatory standards laboratory housed in the Commerce Department, to produce cybersecurity resources for small businesses.

NIST produces and updates cybersecurity guidance for the public and private sectors that businesses can choose to use. President Trump signed an executive order on cybersecurity earlier this year ordering federal agencies to abide by the NIST framework.


 

Small Business and Funding

When the time comes for small business owners to finance a part of their business through a loan, things can get quite complicated.  Many banks – especially for small businesses- look into your personal finances to see if you have the credit and trustworthiness to hand you money. Personal credit scores and ending balances for the month in your checking account means something for the banks, and being aware of that fact can make your chances of getting a loan much greater.

For this and other stories, follow the links below.


The GOP says its business tax plan will help workers and small businesses. It won’t.

Instead, it’s a gift to people with lots of capital.

To understand the business tax provisions in the Trump tax proposals, begin with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s insight that the rich are different from you and me — they have more money.

In particular, they have more capital. (Ever polite, economists call piles of money that have been invested “capital.”) Business tax reform really is an exercise in how we should tax capital income — that is, returns on investments. And because the rich have lots more capital than do you or I, the benefits of the multitrillion-dollar business tax cuts proposed by the Trump administration’s tax “framework” necessarily will be vacuumed up by the most affluent Americans. Business tax reform has only a modest connection to the economic future of working stiffs, and the small connection that does exist is a second-order effect.


Small business jobs hurt as hurricanes close retailers

NEW YORK — Hurricanes that swept the southern U.S. last month shut many retailers and put hiring on hold at small businesses.

That’s the finding of payroll provider ADP, which said Wednesday that its small business customers cut 7,000 jobs during September. Many small and independent retailers in Texas and Florida had to close before and during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and many suffered significant damage from wind, rain and flooding. That slowed hiring, and employees at some stores were laid off. The Labor Department reported a jump in applications for unemployment benefits following the storms.

The hurricanes also curtailed overall hiring, ADP said, counting 135,000 new jobs at companies of all sizes, the smallest gain in nearly a year. Without the storm, hiring would likely have been closer to the average monthly pace of 185,000 for the last two years, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which helps compile the ADP reports.


7 Things About Funding Sources that Small Business Owners Don’t Know — But Should

Getting funding for your small business is essential but not always as straightforward as you might think. Here are 7 things about funding sources you might not know about but should.

Small Business Funding Facts

You Need to Keep a Positive Ending Balance

Hanna Kassis works for Segway Financial. He says a small business should not only have money in a bank account before they apply for a loan, but a specific amount at month’s end.

“Lenders want to see that you’ve got a positive ending balance,” he says. “Say you’re anticipating needing a merchant cash advance at the end of the month, go put $500 dollars in your bank account.”

Your Personal Credit Score Affects Your Business Financing


 

Small Business and Your Employees Health

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIH), more than 90 Americans die daily due to an overdose on Opioids. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this tragic epidemic is costing the American people  $78.5 billion a year which includes addiction treatment, health care, and the lost productivity these employees are costing the businesses in the United States.   For a small business owner, are you worried or experiencing difficulty with these situations? How are you coping? To read more about how small businesses in the United States are tackling these issues, follow the links below.


Small businesses forced to deal with drug epidemic

After a troubled youth himself, Phillip Cohen made it a practice to hire people at his woodworking business who have also struggled with addiction and mental health issues. But when an employee died from a drug overdose, he adopted a zero-tolerance policy.

“I think I have saved lives,” says the owner of Cohen Architectural Woodworking in St. James, Missouri — an area hit very hard by the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. Opioids range from prescription pain medicine like oxycodone to illegal drugs like heroin.

Cohen still hires former drug addicts, felons and people who have been traumatized in life. One person, now a top employee, was hired right after he finished drug rehabilitation. Another used to sell illegal drugs. Still, Cohen says, if a worker fails a periodic random drug or alcohol test, “we’ll fire them on the spot.”

The epidemic of drug use — a report from the surgeon general last year said that 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder — is forcing many small business owners to think about what they would do if they suspect an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol.


Health benefits vanish at small businesses

Only half of America’s smallest businesses now offer health coverage to their workers because many say steady cost hikes have made it too expensive to afford a benefit that nearly all large employers still provide.

The Kaiser Family Foundation said Tuesday only 50 percent of companies with three to 49 employees offered coverage this year. That’s down from 59 percent in 2012 and 66 percent more than a decade ago.

“There’s just not as much money around for compensation, including benefits,” said Gary Claxton, a Kaiser vice president and lead author of the nonprofit health policy organization’s annual health benefits study.

Employer-sponsored coverage is the most common form of health insurance in the U.S., covering an estimated 151 million people under age 65, according to Kaiser. The federal Affordable Care Act requires all companies with 50 or more full-time employees to offer it.


Quitter Talk: 5 Things That Are Stopping You and Your Small Business

Perseverance isn’t always a good thing. There are some situations where quitting is entirely appropriate, especially when you’re running a small business. Not everything needs to be a figurative fight to the death. Here are a few things that you should stop doing if you want to succeed:

  1. Procrastinating: Procrastination is the silent killer. Taking a few minutes out of your work day every now and then to take a look posts from your friends on social media seems harmless, but it could be costing you and your small business hours of productivity each week. Putting things off means delaying things that could be pushing your agenda. The sooner you stop procrastinating, the sooner you get important things done. I remember focusing on work for a little while and immediately getting distracted watching a YouTube video. This is a productivity killer — be careful.

 

Customer Service and Your Business

Customer service has been an important part in the success of any business in the United States and around the world.  An increase in technological advances has made it possible for companies  to do business not only across states , but across the globe as well.

Unless you are a local mom and pop shop servicing a small town or city, globalization for you doesn’t mean much, but for many businesses, expansion seems like an obtainable goal they are trying to achieve.

Doctors, dentists, optometrists and other types of small business rely very much on customer service.  They are facilities that are specialized and serviced their communities, and rely on giving excellent customer service. But are they?

The front of your practice or the front of your retail store are the first welcoming sights customers see as soon as they enter the premises.  Great customer service begins there and then.  Many small businesses forget how important those first moments are when customers enter the store or  their private business. 

In the retail industry, research has shown how important customer service is for the prevention of shoplifting.  For many other industries where services are provided, great customer service means keeping your current customers and adding some more.  As a doctor, optometrist, dentist or other health care provider, the front office is as important as the service the health care professional is providing.

Do you have a private practice? Have you checked lately how the people in the front office greet and interact with your customers? Is that something that as the owner you find acceptable?

The front office of your private practice is a small window into the care customers might be expecting when they visit your practice.  Loud, obnoxious, and tactless front office personnel cannot be an acceptable choice for your practice even if they are great at paperwork.  If you find yourself questioning whether the way the front office employees behave while doing their job is appropriate, it might be time to relegate them to the behind the scenes office.  You might find that even though,  you as a doctor are providing excellent care, customers are unwilling to come back to your practice.

Adding new customers to your current list means good business.  Are you adding them or loosing them?  Do you know the reason why you are losing them?

Providing excellent customer care every single day, and not only providing good service but making sure you go beyond what is expected, is one of the ways some businesses across the globe are thriving while the competition is shrinking.


   

Employee happiness and Business Success

Regardless of what you hear from Congress or any other politician in Washington, American workers are not the best in the world.  As a nation, we are lacking in skills ranging from math, and problem-solving to literacy. The study done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, shows the American labor force is not only not comparable to other equal nations, but we are falling behind.  The skilled workforce needed to fill basic job positions is not longer there, and hasn’t been there for many years now.

Finding and keeping talented employees has become a struggle for many businesses, and the perks these businesses are willing to offer to entice talented people are a sign of the shortage of skilled employees.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Keeping employees happy a key to business success

Business owners may want to pay attention to more than how many widgets their employees are making.

They also should consider how happy those workers are while making them.

Experts – and a boatload of research – agree that satisfied employees tend to work harder and smarter, which in turn can boost a company’s bottom line.

“An engaged employee who feels valued and fulfilled is more likely to go all in and be far more productive,” said Evren Esen, director of workplace analytics for the Society for Human Resource Management.

“They also are more likely to stay with an organization longer, which reduces turnover costs,” she said.

That might sound like common sense. But finding out what makes an employee happy and then doing things to engage them is not an exact science.

Most workplace studies and surveys concentrate on two main areas: tangible gains, such as salary and health care benefits, and intangible bonuses, such as respect and job security.


Good businesses, even universities, invest in their employees

If higher education truly wishes to help solve the world’s complex problems, it is essential that all voices get a seat at the table, including those of graduate student workers. At Washington University, we need to do more to ensure graduate student workers don’t have to choose between academic success and personal well-being.

We are “privileged to be here,” we graduate student workers are so often told, and we shouldn’t question issues of compensation if we are truly passionate about the work we do. But as long as Washington University insists that we are students only, graduate student workers receive none of the protections afforded to employees under the law, even while we are compelled to remain in this tenuous position in order to complete our degrees.

While Washington U. is ostensibly committed to its role as a beacon of higher learning in the St. Louis community, it is in fact run as a business — and an incredibly lucrative one, at that. But good businesses invest in their employees. By promoting the well-being of the whole employee, Washington U. stands to benefit from higher graduation rates, better job placement, better academic and teaching work, and a healthier spirit of collaboration between students and their faculty advisers.


Family philosophy behind Marlex Pharmaceuticals’ success

Savar Patel, president of Marlex Pharmaceuticals, believes employees go the extra mile for him and his brother Samir because of loyalty.

That mindset stems from Samir and Savar’s father Amrish, Marlex’s founder, who the brothers say was an employee-centric boss who never wanted to treat people badly.

“We’ve just continued on with that philosophy,” Savar Patel said.

That philosophy has landed the New Castle-area-based packaging and distribution company on The News Journal’s list of Top Workplaces four years in a row.

Marlex Pharmaceuticals was ranked first among small businesses in The News Journal’s annual Top Workplaces survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics of Exton, Pennsylvania.

The company engages in the distribution and packaging of pharmaceuticals. All products are made in the United States and distributed nationally, with access to every hospital, pharmacy and nursing home across the country.


 

Happiness and Company Culture

Small businesses have many positive things going on for them.  The owners have total control of what’s going on in their business and take care of things personally and quickly.  Many of them do not look for ways to pass the blame onto others, they are the owners after all. The business succeeds or fails because of them.  If they plan carefully and consider the advantages of having a team around them, then the chances of success increases.

The beginning of any business is hard.  Lots of hard work, and maybe loss of income can become quite a strain for many small owners.  That is some of the reasons a third of the small businesses that start do not make it past the first two years according to the Small business administration.  And half of those businesses do not make it past the 5th. year.

A business plan before starting a business, and a financial plan to weather the first years should be a necessity for many small owners.  The difficulties that you will encounter the first years of the business are always unexpected. You know you will have difficulties but don’t know what they are.  Later on, the good and bad experiences you encounter will give you the experience and the forbearance to weather the storms.

There are millions of small businesses across the United States.  Some grow to become great, powerful companies, and a lot of them do not.  What is it then that makes some companies thrived while others go under?  For many people great companies show a handful of characteristics that makes them great, but as always great or good means something entirely different for people.

But for  companies to succeed, the first thing to remember is that employees play a crucial part in the success of any business.  Employees that understand that they are working for a company , and that they are supposed to be a team, not sole individuals with different purposes, make a better company.  They as a team, have a more happy, positive company culture, and research has shown time and again that employee’s happiness plays an important role in the success of the company.  Happy individuals that know the company’s philosophy, and are on board, will make the company a better place all around.