Best Business Practices

For a small business owner, scaling a business can be a dream and a challenge.  Having the proper foundation can be rewarding and can prove to be an asset for your business. If you are thinking about  branching out, having a team around you can prove to be an incredible asset you cannot do without.  Having the team know the goals of the company and what is expected of them has been proven to be essential for the growth of any small business.  The accountability that is expected of every member of the team can impact the growth and profits of the company, make sure every member of your team knows the expectations and the accountability when working for your business.

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


Best Practices For Marketing Your Small Business On Twitter

Twitter has come a long way since its 2006 launch, becoming a top player for business marketing, where even small business owners can grow their presence using Twitter’s comprehensive strategies. Twitter for Businessexplains how small business owners can seize the potential of Twitter to build business influence and growth. Be smart and gain savvy knowledge through the Best Practices for B2B Marketers on Twitter e-book, as even small businesses should look to foster relationships through social media beyond the consumer level. Try these five best practices to begin marketing your small business on Twitter.

Keep it short and simple

It may seem distinctive to have a Twitter handle that stands out and is unique, but no one will remember an overly complicated handle with numbers or special characters, especially if it doesn’t define your businessor location. A short Twitter handle that’s a logical right fit makes your business easy to find.


The 9 Essential Email Marketing Best Practices You Need to Know

Since the first email was sent in 1971, the medium has become the prime form of communication for most marketers.

Say what you want about social media or good old-fashioned sales calls – email as a marketing method has proven time and time again that it is simple, fast, affordable, and effective.

Though email marketing has been around for years, it has continued to evolve, with marketers looking for small tips & tricks they can use to boost their open and click-through rates.

Often, however, it’s best to go back to basics.

In this article, I’ll share with you the pillars of email marketing best practices, ranging from simple foundational advice to more technical tricks you can implement.


Best business practices from 7 leading businesswomen of today

The world of business has changed immensely. For the present generation, it’s not surprising to see their mothers take work trips, sleep off with the laptop’s light intensifying the stress lines on their face, or perhaps even miss birthdays and other celebrations. Is woman the new man? If she is, then is she the kind of man who was frowned upon barely a generation ago for being too left-brained? In the world of active feminism, it’s a tough question to ask, but one that must be raised nonetheless. The answer must be found objectively and individually. For now, let’s learn the definition of success, work-life balance, and more from some of the best female business leaders today.

On Work-life balance – Sheryl Sandberg, CEO | Facebook

“You know, there has never been a 24-hour period in five years when I have not responded to e-mail at Facebook. I am not saying it’s easy. I work long hours. I am saying that I was able to mould those hours around the needs of my family, and that matters. I really encourage other people at Facebook to mould hours around themselves too.”


 

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 United States Unemployment Rate

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website gives you a clear idea of the United States unemployment rate in this country.  Certainly, it is the lowest unemployment rate for the last ten years in the United States and many economists predict the economy still has room to grow.

So, if employment is not an issue for many workers, what are some of the perks you can offer to attract and keep quality employees for your business?

Businesses across the globe understand that employees can make or break a business, which one do you want to be? What are some of the benefits you can include in hiring an employee for your business?

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


The Smaller the Small Business, the Bigger the Insurance Discontent: J.D. Power

Not all small businesses are the same when it comes to customer satisfaction with their commercial insurance. There are actually widening satisfaction gaps among small businesses of different sizes, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Small Commercial Insurance Study.

The study found that the gaps in overall satisfaction among micro- (fewer than five employees) or smaller-size (five-10 employees) small businesses and larger-size (11-50) small businesses have never been wider. While there has been significant year-over-year improvement in overall satisfaction among customers in the larger-size group, there have been sharp declines in satisfaction among customers in both smaller-size groups.

“The small business market has been the best growth area for property and casualty insurance carriers in a stagnant, soft cycle marketplace,” said Greg Hoeg, vice president of U.S. insurance operations at J.D. Power. “Our data shows that the small commercial market is still ripe for competition. While looking at the small business market in aggregate shows relatively steady levels of customer satisfaction year over year, the serious gap between very small businesses and larger small businesses could present an opportunity for those carriers that get the small business formula just right.”


What Kind Of Small Business Employees Do You Need To Grow Your Company?

Many small businesses benefit from hiring employees. At some point, you may decide that you need more hands on deck at your company. When that time comes, you might not know where to start. You want individuals who will make a difference in business operations. What kind of small business employees do you need to grow your company?

Knowing what to look for in a candidate is not as easy as it might seem. After 30 years in entrepreneurship, I’ll be the first to admit that looking for employees to hire can be tough. When hiring an employee, you need to know what characteristics to look for.

What Kind Of Small Business Employees Do You Need To Grow Your Company?

There are many different types of employees in a business. Companies have leaders, followers, go-getters, and employees who do the bare minimum.

You will have employees who struggle from time-to-time or lose motivation. Highs and lows are inevitable in life. But with the right attributes, your employees will use their skills to grow your company.

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or ready to give a pep talk to your current workforce, consider the following characteristics.


 

Small Business and The Market Place

Depending on what news outlet you read or watch, you are going to learn how the economy is booming or businesses are disappearing. The fact is that small business owners in the United States face many challenges through out the lives of their business.  The many challenges they face spring from government legislation or economic changes they have to face every year. This week many small business owners that sell through Amazon learned that the items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.  Unlike big companies that can offset this return policy change, many small business owners are thinking differently.

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


Amazon’s new refunds policy will ‘crush’ small businesses, outraged sellers say

Amazon sellers are up in arms over a new returns policy that will make it easier for consumers to send back items at the merchant’s expense.

Marketplace sellers who ship products from their home, garage or warehouse — rather than using Amazon’s facilities — were told this week by email that starting Oct. 2, items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.

That means a buyer will no longer need to contact the seller before sending an item back, and the merchant won’t have the opportunity to communicate with the customer. If a consumer is returning an electronic device because it’s difficult to use, for example, the seller won’t be able to offer help before being forced to pay a refund.


Ransomware attacks hit small businesses the hardest

It’s just one of the grim findings in Malwarebytes’ new ransomware report.

If it seems like reports of ransomware attacks — malicious software that holds data hostage unless a ransom is paid to the person or organization behind it — are increasing, Malwarebytes agrees with you. The company released its Second Annual State of Ransomware Report recently. Among the findings is that 22 percent of small business that were hit with ransomware attacks were crippled to the point they had to cease operations immediately.

It’s a somewhat staggering figure, but it makes sense once you think about it; large corporations often have the resources to work around (or, let’s be real, pay off) these types of attacks. Small businesses, especially ones that rely on day-to-day operations to function, can’t cope in the same way. “To make matters worse, most of them lack the confidence in their ability to stop an attack, despite significant investments in defensive technologies,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, in the press release. The survey also found that small business owners and operators are less likely to pay a ransomware demand.


Survey: Small business optimism reaches highest point in a decade

Small business optimism continues to climb in the third quarter as business owners said they are the most optimistic in more than a decade, according to findings from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, conducted July 10–14.

In the quarterly survey, which measures the optimism of small business owners, the overall Index score jumped to 106 in July – an 11-point increase from 95 in April and the highest since 113 in April 2007. The increase in optimism was driven by several factors, including:

  • Strong financial situation – Seventy-six percent said their current financial situation is very good or somewhat good, up from 73 percent in April.
  • Healthy revenues – For the second quarter in a row, almost half (46 percent) said their business’s revenue increased over the past 12 months, up from 41 percent a year ago.
  • Ease of obtaining credit – Nearly half of small business owners (48 percent) said credit will be somewhat easy or very easy to obtain over the next 12 months.
  • More hiring – Twenty-one percent said the number of jobs at their company increased over the past 12 months, up from 19 percent in April.

 

Small Business and The Senate’s Health Care Bill

As a small business owner, do you offer health insurance to your employees?  Many businesses do not offer health insurance for their employees, and small business owners specially feel the pinch when offering health care coverage to them.  The Senate Health Care  Bill-if it passes-would alleviate some of the burden these small businesses feel, keeping in mind though that some other people would have to pick up the tab for it.

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


Senate’s Health Bill Would Make Life Easier For Some Small Businesses

Some small-business owners burdened with high health care costs would get a break via an obscure provision in the health bill proposed by the GOP Senate. The provision would offer less regulation, more bargaining power and better prices.

But those benefits could come at a cost to others.

The clause, included in the proposal advanced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last month, would exempt insurance policies sold through “associations” from most Affordable Care Act mandates and state regulations. To be able to offer these plans to their employees, small businesses join an association, which may be loosely based on certain types of professional, trade or interest groups that offers insurance to members.


New Senate Healthcare Bill Slams Small Business Owners And Savers

Senate Republicans today released version 2.0 of their Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

This version of BCRA is a major lurch to the Left from the original BCRA and conservatives supporting this process have some things to think about.

A Tax Hike on Small Businesses and Savers

The major departure from the original BCRA is that v2.0 fails to repeal the 3.8 percentage point Obamacare surtax on capital gains, dividends, and other savings (the “net investment income tax,” or NIIT). It also fails to repeal the 3.8 percentage point tax bracket for the self-employment tax and the payroll tax ostensibly earmarked for Medicare

In failing to do so, v2.0 of BCRA raises taxes by over $230 billion over a decade relative to v1.0 of BCRA.


US small-business optimism dips in June, remains near high

A gauge of U.S. small-business confidence fell in June as business owners expressed frustration over gridlock in Washington, according to a National Federation of Independent Business report released on Tuesday.

The group’s Index of Small Business Optimism fell to 103.6 last month from 104.5 in May, although it remains near its highest level in more than a decade. The index surged following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president last November, and in January hit its highest level since December 2004.

The rise was largely attributed to business owners’ optimism surrounding Trump’s promises of deregulation, tax breaks and infrastructure spending.

But Congress’ inability to deliver on those promises has muted confidence as business operators grow wary of political infighting over the health-care reform legislation, and prospects for tax reform are uncertain.


 

3 Reasons Why People Succeed

54642287There is an old saying; “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it” (Mark Twain). The same can be said about success – everybody talks about it, but very few people do anything about it. They rarely do anything about it because everybody has faults that keep them from achieving their goals, dreams and desires.
But, successful people persevere in spite of their faults, while others fail because of them. There are many reasons why some people succeed when others, who’re just as smart and talented, don’t. Below are 3 of the reasons why people succeed.
They take personal responsibility – Two of the most common defense mechanisms are rationalization and denial. Successful people work to minimize both behaviors; they don’t make or accept excuses from themselves. They take responsibility for and are always learning from their constructive and unconstructive actions.
They’ve learned that when they’re accountable they’re also in control. When they’re in control they can keep their attention on what’s really important – spending resources on finding solutions. People who expend their limited resources (time, money and energy) on making excuses and justifying their behavior aren’t people who look for solutions.
They don’t blame outside circumstances – The lack of time and money is a universal issue for individuals when they’re trying to achieve their goals, as is the drain of energy due to too many outside demands. These situations are nothing new or unique for anyone.
The difference between successful people and everyone else is that they don’t blame these circumstances for their difficulties. Their answer to these problems is a resounding – “so what”. They understand that adversity is a given in trying to get ahead and never a good reason to give up.
They have high standards – Unsuccessful people accept mediocre behavior from themselves. They cut corners, take shortcuts and are believers in “good enough”, which produces work that has to be apologized for, redone or fixed and compensation made.

In addition, the successful know mediocre behavior is short-sighted and it leads to distrust and broken relationships. They hold themselves to a higher standard where exceptional work is the only acceptable way. They understand that focus, dedication and hard work are the only things that lead to their dreams.
The definition of success is a very personal one. It’s unique to each individual and only they can know if they’ve reached it. Unfortunately, most people say they haven’t attained it. A final word from Mr. Twain, “There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.”


Health Coverage For 2015

business (7)Many small businesses look into their health care plans at the end of the year to look for a new insurance carrier, coverage for new employees, or new health coverage plans for the entire business.  Rising prices in health coverage are making small business look at other alternatives, and although reports suggest that the number of insured American is increasing, businesses still need to look into the different health coverage options they have. To read more about this and other news follow the links below.


Small businesses dropping insurance coverage due to Obamacare

Another unintended – but not unexpected – consequence of Obamacare is being felt as the program enters its second year.

More than 20 million Americans who work for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees are covered by employer insurance.  The 50-employee number is significant because if you work for a small business with more than 50 workers, your employer is mandated to cover your health insurance.

But with insurance rates rising, many small businesses of fewer than 50 employees are opting to drop their coverage and have workers purchase their insurance through the Obamacare website.

If employees qualify for government subsidies, like the managers who switched from Italian Oven’s corporate insurance to individual Obamacare coverage, everybody can win.

Owners don’t have to pay premiums, meaning they can give workers raises, invest in equipment or add to profits instead. And employee take-home pay can rise if subsidies — available even to families with middle-class incomes — are worth more than what a company was contributing.


Will You Finally Start Your Own Business? The 3 Stages Of Choice

It could be argued that our lives are nothing more than a series of decisions strung together by contemplation, emotion and sweat. When your decisions involve others – especially those close to you – choosing a path can be mind-bending.

Entrepreneurs face tough calls every day, says Sebastian Bailey: psychologist, author, Forbes contributor and co-founder of consulting firm Mind Gym. “(Entrepreneurs) are faced with decisions around how they assess opportunities, how they make entry decisions, how they’re going to exploit opportunities, how they make exits.”

Each new business owner must search within him or herself to make the tough calls and some entrepreneurs might find that their own spirits stand between them and the right decision in an important moment.


Being Vulnerable in Business Can Be a Good Thing

When it comes to business we have been led to believe we can’t be vulnerable, show our weaknesses or discuss our challenges. Most of us fundamentally believe if we show this side of ourselves, our clients, employees and partners won’t want to work with us and our business will be seen as a failure.

This is completely and utterly untrue.

We live in a world where bravery is often only seen as a physical thing, such as jumping out of a plane or saving an injured wild animal. We forget that being vulnerable, where you are prepared to discuss your weaknesses and failure, is intensely brave and powerful.

Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you relationships are essential to business success and the strongest relationships are made when there is an emotional connection. This emotional connection can only be built with honesty, where two people are brave enough to share their stories of failure and success.


Reasons Never To Neglect Existing Customers While Pursuing New

business (10)There is a danger that lurks in the relentless pursuit of new customers. With performance measurement so often geared toward new customer acquisition, many, from the CEO to the individual relationship manager, might be tempted to shift focus from an existing book of business. This can even take place subconsciously. Rest assured, however, customers will ascertain the level of service that is being delivered. To keep from drifting away from stellar service and neglecting customers, here are some points to consider;

1) Remember the cost of acquisition. Of course, every customer you have comes with a cost, and many businesses have this defined down to the cent. It is helpful to think of the process of acquisition as well. How many introductions, meetings, lunches and proposals did it take to earn the customers’ business? What effort was put forth in the onboarding process? Contemplate this the next time you are tempted to skip that quarterly review or to decide that a thank you note really isn’t necessary.

2) In many industries, the best source of new business is your business. Think of your best customers. Would you like to have more of them? Would they recommend you and/or your company? Many would agree that the answer to that question will go a long way toward determining your ultimate level of success. Still, some struggle with asking for referrals. This could stem from a lack of confidence. Really, would you hesitate to ask for a referral when you are truly proud of the way you have taken care of a customer?

3) Finally, constantly remind yourself that your top 10 customer list is someone else’s top 10 prospect list. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that whatever good or service you are providing is simply not to be obtained elsewhere. This is rarely the case. Neglecting customers leaves the door open to your competitors, and you may not even realize it.

Your overall business will not grow unless you can obtain and retain customers. Keeping these principles in mind can help you do both.


Taxes, Penalties And Your Business

business (9)The cost of starting a new business depends on the business model or the industry you are entering. A home based, consulting home business or free lance is much cheaper that opening offices some place, and buying office furniture, installing new phones, electric, insurance, etc. The cost of starting a home based business could be only a few thousand dollars, compared to the figures of the small business administration a few years back that estimated the opening of a new business as $30,000.  The cost associated with opening and running a small business is high, but there are many expenses that you may be able to postpone or even get by without worrying too much about it.  One of the expenses that you can absolutely not postpone is getting an accountant that will take care of the taxes and government filings your business needs to do to avoid penalties that you could incur otherwise.

Read more about this topic by following the links below.


Small Business Owners Have a $4.5 Billion Payroll Tax Problem

Every month, employers across the U.S. send money to the IRS to cover payroll taxes—levies drawn from employee pay to cover Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance. Many botch the process. The IRS issued 6.8 million penalties totaling $4.5 billion related to these employment taxes for the year ending last September, according to recently published data from the IRS (PDF).

Those numbers are down from 2009, when the IRS issued 7.9 million penalties for $7.1 billion. The government doesn’t say what share of the fines were handed out to small businesses, but large employers are generally better equipped to stay current on ever-changing tax rules.

Why are businesses incurring enough in annual penalties to pay for a new Navy destroyer?

As companies get bigger or smaller and hire different types of employees, the rules they must follow can shift. Tax collectors often change rules on their own accord, meaning a business that paid payroll taxes on a monthly basis one year might be expected to pay every two weeks in the next. “There are so many little rules for a small business owner to stay on top of,” says David McKelvey, a New York-based partner at accounting firm Friedman.

McKelvey advises his clients, which generally have at least $1 million in annual sales, to outsource payroll services. Companies such as ADP (ADP) and Paychex (PAYX), to name two of the largest payroll firms, have the resources to stay current on tax rules and in many cases will guarantee customers against payment of IRS penalties, McKelvey says.


Small Businesses in Limbo Again on Tax Breaks

Small businesses are in limbo as they wait for Congress to make decisions that could save them a lot of money.

Bills in Congress would extend tax deductions widely used by small businesses making equipment or property purchases. One, known as the Section 179 deduction, has shrunk to a maximum $25,000 this year from $500,000 in 2013. Another, called bonus depreciation, expired at the end of last year.

The deductions are a big deal for small companies, saving them thousands or even millions of dollars on capital investments. But because Congress decides every year how big the deductions will be, owners can’t plan their equipment budgets until lawmakers vote. And in recent years, worried about the ballooning federal deficit, Congress has put off those votes, sometimes until late in the year.

The annual uncertainty hurts small businesses looking for a break when their combined federal and state tax rates run as high as 40 percent, says Doug Bekker, a certified public accountant with the firm BDO in Grand Rapids, Mich. They don’t know if they should make the purchase in the current year or defer it. And as the economy gets stronger and businesses are more profitable, they’re concerned about tax bills.

“If you talk to the typical small business out there, there’s a very high level of frustration,” Bekker says.


It’s getting cheaper to buy a small business in Baltimore

The cost of buying a small business in Baltimore has dropped by more than 11 percent during the last year, according to BizBuySell.com.

The website reports that the median asking price of  businesses for sale in Baltimore is $255,000, a $33,000 decline (11.6 percent) from the end of the first quarter in 2013.

Meanwhile, small businesses are generating more revenue than they were a year ago. BizBuySell reports business had median revenue of $496,654 during the first quarter, up from $480,000 during the first quarter last year.

BizBuySell compiled its numbers based on listing data from 248 businesses.


Your Goals Make a Difference

Goal setting for a business is as important as setting goals in personal life. The common denominator in all the self-help literature and books is the importance of goal setting. We’re told to set long-term goals, short-term goals, lifetime goals and personal goals. Often it isn’t easy.

 

There are many reasons why we don’t achieve our goals. Sometimes the goals we set are unrealistic. New Year’s resolutions are typical examples. Suddenly, we expect to change the way we eat, or the way we exercise just because the calendar changes. It’s like expecting a child that’s never ridden a bike to suddenly jump on and go, or to run a marathon without months of training. These goals are based on illusion with little regard to natural growth. You must be able to crawl before you walk.

 

So, how do we set and achieve goals for a business? Stephen R. Covey says it best in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

 

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is vital to being successful in the goal setting process. The benefits of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results orientated, Time-framed (S.M.A.R.T) goals have been written about in self-help books for years. So, it follows that goal setting is obviously a powerful process.

 

Ralph Berge, an Ohio business coach says It is about ‘eating the elephant, one bite at a time’ and of turning vision into achievable, actionable things. It’s the common denominator of successful individuals and businesses.