What are the benefits for a small business owner during this technological age?

The amount of technology used nowadays allows many small business owners to keep up with the business world more easily and allows them to gingerly explore ideas before committing themselves fully.

Online tools and services that allow them to ease the burden of doing business are ubiquitous, and the effort to find the technology that is right for their business may very well be the difficult part.

The financial commitment to find the right technology for them is an expense the small business owner cannot afford. Time and perhaps manpower are assets a small business owner uses to capacity, and there is no wasted time if they can avoid it.

According to many small business owners, Facebook now plays an important role in doing business for them.  Using Facebook, small and medium-size businesses have been able to market their products globally, and selling to customers they were not able to reach before. Their ability to reach customers across the globe has been a change in the way they conduct their business today.

Online payroll services have been a change small business owners were eager to welcome and the benefits for them have been financially beneficial. By helping them file tax forms either quarterly or yearly, online payroll services can do that by keeping track of all the information regarding employee tax information, benefits, insurance and  retirement deductions, disability, etc, and the accuracy and responsibility of filing forms and submitting them to the government agencies are the payroll company’s job.

Hiring platforms that allow the business owner to hire prospective employees and screening them before meeting them in person have saved time and money for them.  The number of employees fitting the required specifications can be a time saver for many small business owners, and financially cheaper if those employees are hired and kept for a long period of time.

Online tools that keep information ready to access at the click of a button and communications with clients that can easily be monitored are tools that many companies and small business are using to their advantage today.

When Hiring An Employee

The challenges small business owners face are a bit different from the challenges the big guys deal on a daily basis. 

The small business owner has the capability and the luxury to meet and know the employees that work for them.  Some of the challenges a small business owner faces when dealing with employees are whether he/she is challenging their employees and keeping them interested in remaining with the company. 

A bored employee that is not being challenged, or is not utilized well looks for a company that will challenge him.  Research has found that Millennials are one of the groups that expect to be challenged and is not afraid to voice their discontent with the status quo if their skills are not being used. If an employee is happy working for your company, don’t be afraid to ask them for any input as to improvements you can make to the internal culture of the business even though he is happy working there.  If an employee is leaving the company, make it your job to find out why and whether there was anything you could have done differently.

Many companies have great salaries and incentives to lure top talent to their business, and although a great salary is one of the incentives you can use to attract them to your company,  it’s not enough to keep them.

There is a lot of research out there that mention the idea of group collaboration and state the fact that many employees prefer and enjoy the challenge of being part of a team.  While this may be true for many startups, every company is different and the goals they want to achieve are not those of a startup.  As a small business owner, the possibility of change is easier for you.  You can implement change in the company and see it through without looking for approval from the top guys, or even input if the changes are working.

As a business student, you learn that company culture is one of the hardest changes to make, and one of the things hardest to monitor.

Having the right company culture begins by hiring the right people.  It is no longer enough to have the computer skills needed for a job, good interpersonal skills have become a prerequisite for many companies for any position within the organization.

As a small business owner, there are many challenges when hiring employees.  Fortunately for you, the power and control are yours.

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.


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.


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.


The State of Small Business Borrowing


A loan pre-approval offer for your business to expand, invest, or cover payroll may not be on the table any longer. Small businesses are dealing with a lot of rejection this time around when looking for a small business loan, and banks seem unwilling to go forth with loans that were pre approved only a few month ago. “The loan is no longer available to us because that was a special offer a few months back, and the bank is not offering it now.” A small business owner claimed. The companies that are struggling to pay past loans are high, and that can be an indication why banks are unwilling to acquire more debt int he form of loans made to small businesses.

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

U.S. small business borrowing falls, delinquencies rise

Borrowing by small U.S. firms slipped in September, and the percentage of firms late on repaying existing loans rose to its highest in nearly four years, data released on Tuesday showed.

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index fell to 128.9 from a downwardly revised 132.8 in August. Measured from a year earlier, it was the fourth straight monthly decline, with the index at its lowest point since January.

Companies also struggled to pay back existing debts, PayNet data showed. Loans more than 30 days past due rose in September to 1.64 percent, the sixth straight monthly increase and the highest delinquency rate since December 2012.

Bank turned down your small business loan? Now it must offer an alternative

From today, the UK’s nine largest banks will be legally required to help entrepreneurs find funding elsewhere, thanks to the bank referral scheme

Katrin Herrling felt she had nowhere to go when, in the midst of the financial crisis, her bank suddenly changed its lending terms. She had inherited a dairy farm and needed support with her cash flow during the four months of the year the cows weren’t producing milk. “Nothing in our position had changed but the banks felt they had to rebuild their balance sheet,” she says. “I didn’t know where to turn … I [knew] that just going to another bank where I didn’t have an established relationship wasn’t going to solve the issue. Outside of banks, I had no idea.”

From today, entrepreneurs should not find themselves in Herrling’s position. As part of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, the UK’s nine major banks will be legally required to refer those SMEs they refuse to finance to an alternative provider, under the bank referral scheme.

Study: Women Small Business Owners Being Shut Out of Major Government Contracts

Jane Campbell

Jane Campbell is the director of the National Development Council’s Washington office and president of WIPP.

When Komal Goyal started her IT company, 6e Technologies, in 2003, she knew she had what it takes to run a successful business. She’d made a name for herself in the IT services space and had a robust list of contacts in the commercial arena. What she didn’t have was a hefty government contract—something that could propel her business to new heights—so she set her sights on locking one down. Thirteen years later, she’s still trying to nab one of the large umbrella contracts with the federal government that could double the size of her business in just a few years.

The problem is that most of these super contracts—the kind many federal agencies favor because they create a pre-approved list of businesses that can supply unlimited goods or services during a specified period, of up to 10 years—have requirements to allow various socio-economic groups to compete, but not for women.“The contracting officers putting together a list of possible vendors must ensure certain groups have access to these contracts,” Goyal said. “If women-owned businesses aren’t one of those boxes to check off, we don’t even get the chance to compete.”


How To Avoid Business Mistakes

business (2)Retirement plans for the small business owner is probably one of the most important issues they face every year. Retirement accounts are  not something small business owners offer their employees, but even for themselves is not something that is widespread nor considered at all. Hiring an outside firm to oversee those financial aspects for the business is costly, and many small businesses cannot afford such an expense. Does your business need a loan? Are you making too many mistakes in your business and don’t know what to do? Do you need to set up a retirement account and don’t have any information?Follow the links below for more information about these topics.

Why online lending will take off with small business owners

At a minimum, banks are perfect partners in the new game.

Earlier this month, the momentum behind the online lending industry was in full view at LendIt—an industry gathering that didn’t exist four years ago, but grew from about 700 attendees last year to more than 2,500 this year. What was clear is that it’s no longer a question of whether these disruptors will change the game in small business lending, but how quickly.

In fact, in his remarks at LendIt attendees in New York City, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers predicted that online lenders could eventually capture upwards of 70% of the small business lending market. That may be an overly optimistic prediction, but one thing is clear online lending is a welcome innovation in the small business sector.

Small Business Retirement Plans in the Hands of Lobbyists

 Financial advisers will be lobbying Congress this week on 401(k) plans for employees of small businesses.

The 401(k) accounts many rely on now are complex, require an outside administrator, and as a result are not cost-effective for some small businesses to set up for their workers.

Tom Iorio, an Edward Jones financial adviser in Rantoul, Ill., says they’re lobbying for a program for small companies.

“There are several bills out there in Congress that are trying to incentive small businesses to more easily get into what we think of as the traditional 401(k) market, like a small 401(k) or a ‘simple 401(k)’ is really the term that they’re using,” he says.

In a 401(k) program, employees may make tax-free contributions and select their investments within a plan that is administered on behalf of the employer. Employers also can contribute to employees’ accounts.

Avoiding Small Business Blunders

Entrepreneur Reva Minkoff aims to stop small businesses from making the same mistakes over and over.

Common mistakes account for too many small businesses wasting an average of 25 percent of their pay-per-click advertising budget each month. After identifying the same basic mistakes in 95 percent of the accounts she consulted on, Reva Minkoff started the award winning-website DigitalGroundUp in the summer of 2012 to train small business advertisers and over 300 students in successful digital marketing through short, hands-on online courses.

The company has since collaborated with major companies such as Facebook, while Minkoff herself wasinvited to the White House to live tweet the arrival ceremony of new British Prime Minister David Cameron. I recently interviewed Minkoff by email.

What are the worst mistakes small businesses make in advertising?

Not tracking their results. It drives me nuts when companies don’t know what’s happening on their website, what the results of their marketing are and how both are factoring into their bottom line. If they’re spending money on something, they should know what they’re getting out of it, and if they don’t, their agencies and developers should be working with them to help get them that information.

What are the most common pieces of advice you give students?

I remind students to focus on the overall concepts and not the interfaces. The fundamental digital marketing concepts haven’t changed from day one. As long as students understand them, they’ll be able to adjust to any other changes that may come their way and make the right decisions when faced with a new concept.

Can Lousy Managers be Changed?

business (10) There are a lot of lousy managers, everyone has met them, worked with them and worked for them.  They can create havoc in a workplace, particularly in a small business where their impact is profound.   Many businesses have closed due to incompetent managers.  Because of their influence it’s vital for their supervisors to take responsibility and evaluate the situation – can they be turned into good managers?  The answer is yes, maybe and no.

Yes – some lousy managers can be turned into good ones.  Their poor management skills are usually not their fault.  They were never taught how to be effective and are doing the best they can.   They’re eager to learn, motivated to grow and respond to training and mentoring.  They can be good managers, they can be changed.

Maybe – some lousy managers can be turned around.  These managers know that they’re not doing the best they can.  But, they don’t change because they haven’t been told directly and honestly that they’re doing a poor job, subtle hints don’t work.  Nor, have they had to suffer the penalties of being a lousy manger.

Unfortunately, human nature is such that many people give the least amount of effort until they are forced to do otherwise.  The longer they’re allowed to get away with harmful behavior the more they’ll do it.  When appropriately confronted with facts and consequences, they’ll respond and change with direct supervision, training and an action plan.

No – some lousy managers can’t be saved.  They were unsuited to or ambivalent about being a supervisor from the start and never committed to the position.  Or they may have been adequate at one time, but now don’t care.

No matter the reason, no amount of supervision, training or disciplinary action will help them be a good manager.  No one can make them care about themselves, the company or the employees.  They’re either unwilling or unable to change and have to be let go.

Lousy managers will always be around and some will change, others might change and a few won’t change.  It’s up to their supervisors to recognize which type they’re dealing with and take the appropriate action.  After all, it may save the company.

Does your Business Need Mentoring?

business (3)The value of mentoring for entrepreneurs has invaluable benefits to them according to research. Many businesses and young entrepreneurs have acquired insights through mentorship, and have learned from their mentors’ mistakes business acumen that will help them with their business and endeavors.  Business people coming out of an MBA program can benefit the greatest and make fewer mistakes by having a mentor that can guide them and direct them to the right path.

Ohio River Bridges Project means big business for local contractors

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The Ohio River Bridges Project means big business for some local companies.

Major progress on the Ohio River Bridges Project and the reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction is taking place. Cranes are up and cement is mixing. Four major components of the bridge project are: ready mix concrete, structural steel, aggregates and asphalt paving.
Advance Ready Mix is working on both the Downtown and East End Bridges. Business has been so good with this project, the company says it’s hiring more truck drivers.
“What percentage of your business is the Bridges Project?” WDRB’s Valerie Chinn asked.
“I’d say right now it’s 10-20 percent of ours,” said Chad Deters, sales manager for Advance Ready Mix. “We still have a lot of other work.”
“It came at a really good time when the economy was down,” Deters added. “It really kick-started our year last year and kept on rolling.”
The company was not working on the Bridges Project when a woman was killed in the crosswalk on the Louisville side of the Clark Memorial Bridge at Second and Main by an Advance Ready Mix truck.

Business mentoring franchise expands to serve Springfield, northwest Ohio

A business mentoring concept has opened a second location to serve northwest Ohio and the Springfield area.

The Alternative Board — a concept of business advisory and executive business coaching boards — is forming another franchise based in Russia (Shelby County), which will serve the northwest of the state. Ed Miller, a longtime consultant, is the owner of The Alternative Board of Northwest Ohio.

“The fact you’re dealing with decision makers and CEOs in this concept, it appeals to the intellectual and academic side, this type of concept,” Miller said.

The board will likely attract businesses in the manufacturing and professional services industries, but its goal is to bring in business leaders from multiple industries to provide many perspectives similar to a board of directors for smaller companies in the $1 million to $8 million revenue range that might not have an established group of mentors.

Support for minority businesses costing Ohio taxpayers

Consumers know you pay more when you buy a product through a middleman who must mark up the price to make a profit.

State government, by its own design, is spending hundreds of thousands of additional taxpayers’ dollars with middlemen as part of its quest to support minority businesses.For many years, when state purchasing officials needed software from Microsoft, they placed orders with two of the company’s authorized resellers.

Now, state agencies buy software through three middlemen created by a contract through which they resell the resellers’ software to the state, an investigation by The Dispatch finds. The minority-business enterprises (MBEs) relay orders to the resellers while tacking on fees of 3 to 4.75 percent of the cost, increasing the expense to the state.

Are You In The Right State To Start A Business?

business (8)The small business sector has been for many years an employment power in the United States, it accounts for more than half the jobs generated in this country since 1995. There are approximately more than half a million businesses generated each month and although of those businesses only 7 out 10 will make it past the 2 year mark, the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans is well deserved. The question now to ask is whether you are in the right state to start a business, or you need to think about the pros and cons of starting your business where you are.
Read more about this topic by following the links above.

Here’s where Ohio ranks on small business friendliness

A national small business advocacy group says Ohio ranks among the top 10 for its tax code’s friendliness toward business.

The anti-tax Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council ranks Ohio No. 8 for its tax system’s overall friendliness toward small business. Ohio’s neighbors, Indiana and Kentucky, ranked 11 and 32, respectively.

The “Small Business Tax Index 2014” looked at 21 different measures to determine a state’s tax friendliness. Those include the top personal and corporate income tax rates, top capital gains and dividends tax rates, property taxes, additional taxes on S-Corporations, unemployment taxes, and whether a state has a death tax.

“When it comes to state and local taxes – as well as levies at the federal level – the direction that policy should be pointed is clear. Keep the overall tax burden low. Preferably, do no [sic] tax income at all,” the group writes in its report.

Dayton No. 66 among best cities for small business

Dayton trumps Detroit, Las Vegas, Birmingham and many others when it comes to the best city to work for a small business.

The Miami Valley ranks No. 66 in the U.S. for small businesses, according to a new ranking from Wallethub.

Cities were evaluated by several metrics, including the number of businesses with fewer than 250 employees per 1,000 inhabitants, industry variety, net small business job growth, average monthly earnings for new hires and average number of hours worked.

Columbus was the top-ranked Ohio city at No. 23.

The top city on the list was Minneapolis, followed by Salt Lake City and Miami.

Stockton, Calif. ranked last.

NBC4 Investigates: Why Does Ohio Owe Businesses $1 Billion?

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As Ohio’s economy begins to recover, the state is clearly focused on jobs, and numbers show some growth, but did the state actually harm more businesses in the past?
An NBC4 investigation reveals how one state agency allegedly crushed thousands of small businesses.

While the jobs picture in Ohio is rebounding, a huge shadow is being cast by the past – and the bureaucracy in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC).

Small businesses can’t operate without worker’s comp insurance, and in Ohio, they can only get that from BWC.

Unlike other states that carry private insurance, Ohio’s BWC is a monopoly.

In 2006, Ron Foreman owned a successful contracting company, which used to be located near downtown Ashville, and employed 40 people.

Freeman’s family, including his two sons at West Point, was prospering. His small business was a model of what state leaders say they want in Ohio.