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. 


The Small Business Owner and The House’s Tax Reform Bill


Well, there you have it, folks.  The House’s tax bill, if it passes will indeed benefit the small business owner. If you are indeed a small business owner, this is good news for you.  According to many analysts and bipartisan groups, for the average American taxpayer, the bill changes very little or none at all. But, according to them, the small business owner does have something to look forward to if the bill passes.

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


Two big reasons the House’s tax reform bill benefits small businesses

The House tax reform bill passed last week is really not much, if any, of a middle-class tax cut. Even the Joint Committee on Taxation — a bipartisan congressional group — concluded “the vast majority” of Americans (92 percent) will either pay less or see little change over the next five years and after that, only 40 percent of Americans will pay less taxes.

But then again, this bill was never really meant to benefit individuals. It was meant to benefit businesses. And to that end, it succeeds. Big corporations should be very happy with its passage, and so should small firms like mine. Why? Two big reasons.

According to the Tax Foundation, 90 percent of small businesses are pass-through entities . . . like mine (meaning the income produced by the business is accounted for in the owner’s personal tax filings). Research from 2010 has shown that the typical small business owner makes anywhere from $35,000 to $75,000 per year — reasonable numbers even today considering that the vast, vast number of small businesses are merchants, restaurateurs and operators of very small mom-and-pop firms, freelancers and independent contractors. The House bill will (after some last minute changes) allow most of these business owners to take advantage of a tax rate of 9 percent on their first $75,000 of income with a cap of 25 percent on the rest.


7 Marketing Automation Tools That Could Change Your Small Business

As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).

The best way to overcome the limitation of time is by automating some of your processes — and marketing is one area ripe for automation. The key for small businesses is finding a tool that can automate many components of marketing at once, and these seven platforms take different approaches to automating marketing processes to make entrepreneurs’ lives easier.


Small Business Saturday

Greensburg Square Merchants urge shoppers to ‘Give us a chance’

GREENSBURG – Saturday, Nov. 25 is “Small Business Saturday.” As the kick-off weekend to the 2017 holiday shopping season begins, retail merchants all over the world prepare to greet the throngs of customers whose shopping habits will either make or break their yearly sales goals. In a tough economy, big “box” stores prepare to happily accept almost any form of payment in exchange for those lofty sales figures so important in determining their futures.

Jeff Emsweller, executive director of the Greensburg Chamber of Commerce was asked about Small Business Saturday. “It’s a great program that was started about three or four years ago by American Express.


 

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 Tools For Business

In today’s global market, the small business owner wants and is able to compete with the big companies around the world. By effectively using the marketing tools and management software available to them, they can reach customers across the globe to provide the goods and services that make their business a success.

Marketing and business tools that enable the small business owner to compete in a global market are available to them as well as the big guys.  The difference is the scale and availability of the talent around them.

If you have talented tech people around you, the business dealings you need to do will not be postponed because you need to deal with computers, marketing or software that you may not know anything about.  The talented people you hire to do the technical jobs  are there to make that part of your job a bit easier and hopefully a bit more enjoyable.

Some of the business tools small business owners can use to make their job a bit more enjoyable are internet marketing software that allows you to produce;

  • Email software that allow you to monitor the recipients opening rates, and personalized the emails to reach your intended target.
  • Blogging tools that allow you to produce content in an easy to use manner while keeping the quality to a high standard.
  • Lead generation tools that enable you to reach more customers while keeping in contact with the existing customers you have.
  • A CRM that allows you to keep your customers and the relationships you have formed active while keeping their data centralized.

Nowadays, the relationships the small business forms can be the difference between a successful business or one that is barely making it. Yes, there are many businesses out there offering the same  goods and services your business is offering, sometimes cheaper and some times better, but unless the difference is pronounced, the relationship you have formed with that client will keep their business with you because they have come to trust you and perhaps like you.

The small business tools you need are out there  to help you and make your business a bit easier to manage, choosing the most expensive ones is not always the solution, you just need to know what you need and research it a bit to see if that is what you need.


 

 

Small Business News

Facebook advertising has proven to be the way to go for some small businesses.  There are others that swear the ads don’t work. The only thing that most online users agree is the fact that if you have a small or big business, or if you are in the spotlight, politics is the last thing you want to be promoting.

As a small business owner providing goods or services to many clients, the last thing you want to do is promote one political view over another.  Stick to business.  Remember that we want clients to spend money with us, regardless of their party affiliation.

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


Small Business Saturday: Big, and getting bigger

It’s not yet Halloween, but for many small businesses, planning for the holiday season has started in full force. If you own a small business, it’s time to start getting ready for one of the most important days of the year.

In all my years working with entrepreneurs and writing about entrepreneurship, Small Business Saturday — falling this year on Nov. 25 — is the most transformative campaign for small businesses I have ever seen.

Since its inception in 2010, this special day — the Saturday after Thanksgiving— has become the biggest sales day of the year for many small companies. For the big day last year, an estimated 112 million Americans shopped at small businesses and independent restaurants, spending about $15.4 billion, according to American Express. That’s about one-third of the American public buying at small businesses and a whole lot of cash infused into local economies.


What Not to Do on Your Facebook Small-Business Page

More entrepreneurs are tapping into the world’s largest social media network: There are more than 70 million businesses now on Facebook, up from about 18 million in 2013, according to chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg during a recent investor call.

Facebook gives businesses a platform to showcase new products and services, promote specials and provide customer service. But with these benefits comes the potential for mistakes that can damage your brand.

Here are five common small-business mistakes to avoid on your Facebook business page.

1. Don’t post too often

Most industries should aim to post no more than once or twice a day to avoid overcrowding followers’ news feeds, says Cheryl Friedenberg, president of High Key Impact, LLC, a small-business marketing consulting firm.

There are exceptions, though. For example, it’s appropriate for restaurants to post frequently about food specials, happy hours or live music events, or for medical businesses to post about recent health studies, Friedenberg says.

“I don’t think people mind seeing more of those types of posts throughout the day,” she says.


Survey: Small businesses’ appetite for financing weakens

Small businesses’ appetite for financing has weakened in the second half of the year, along with their revenue outlook.

That’s the finding of a survey of small companies released Wednesday by researchers at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. An index compiled from the survey that measures companies’ demand for capital has fallen more than 10 percent in the third quarter, registering at 36.2 versus 40.4 in the second quarter.

The survey, which questioned 1,176 businesses, is in line with other recent indicators of slowing activity at small businesses. The payroll provider ADP reported this month that its small business customers cut jobs during September. While that was due in part to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, companies have generally slowed their hiring.


 

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.


 

Marketing Your Small Business The Smart Way

We all probably heard the saying” Think outside the Box” and for marketers and small businesses, that means finding creative, smart and financially achievable goals without spending too much time and money.  Marketing your small business doesn’t mean writing big checks for companies to market your business, or promote your services.  Creativity nowadays is something every small business owner can do without breaking the bank.

Follow the links  below for more news about small business


Think Small Business To Help America’s Middle And Working Classes Win Big

 In spite of a rebounding and more robust economy, many in the lower middle and working classes remain anxious and concerned about their futures. There has been low and slow wage growth and, as we discussed in our last blog, the changing nature of jobs, the middle class and the American Dream have pushed a large part of the workforce toward a gloomy perspective.

There have been various proposals to make the economy work better for America’s workers. The Trump administration suggests that a restrictive skills-based immigration bill (the RAISE act) that considerably reduces the number of immigrants will increase the chances for more and higher paying jobs. The Administration has also asserted that cutting corporate taxes will stimulate job creation and wage growth.


Small businesses expand, invest despite gridlock in Washington

Small business owners are tired of sitting on their hands while Washington dithers.

Despite lingering uncertainty over tax and health care policy, U.S. entrepreneurs are moving ahead with investment and expansion plans that could juice economic growth.

Thirty-two percent of small businesses are planning capital outlays in the next three to six months, the strongest reading since 2006, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’s August survey. And 27% say the next three months is a “good time to expand,” the largest share in 13 years.

A September survey of economists by the National Association for Business Economics, out Monday, predicts that business investment overall — by small and larger companies — will grow 4.4% this year, up from their 3% median estimate in December. Businesses that expand, buy new equipment or build new structures typically hire workers to operate the machines or occupy buildings, while the factories that make the products generally need to staff up as well.


Huge List of National Holidays for Marketing in a Small Business

National Kick Butt Day is coming up. Bet you never heard of that one, did you? Today it seems as if there are national holidays, a national day or national month for everything. In fact, there are over a thousand national holidays, national weeks and national months. Add bank holidays and major religious holidays, and you have one crowded calendar!

National days of observance have become trendy and popular in part because companies have learned to use them for marketing. Just look at social media. Judging from the hashtags for various food days, people days, pet days, medical condition days, military days or industry days — it seems like every single day is a national holiday or national day of observance on Twitter and Instagram.

If you’ve ever wondered, “what national holiday is today?” — we’ve got you covered. Our hand-picked list of national holidays for marketing appears below. But before we get to that list of national days, we have some advice.


 

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.