With a Digital Presence, Small Businesses Can Grow Global


©iStock/metamorworks

Jersey Business is expanding its presence from local – mechanics, hairdressers and electricians – to an off-island customer base that enables them to thrive, globally.

A number of our [says Alexia McClure, head of operations, Jersey Business] successful stores have a digital presence, particularly on social media, which allows them to sell to the UK and further afield. These sales enable our favourite outlets to be financially sustainable and, as a result, we, their local customers, benefit from their ability to maintain a vibrant offering.

It is a fact:  Many of these businesses think internationally right from the start.

McClure goes on to say:

“I think the breadth of Jersey’s existing exporting success has only just come to my attention because it is only in the past 12 months that we have really started to develop our support for businesses selling internationally.”

Why limit your ambition when the world is there at your feet?

For Jersey and NY business owners, feel free to register for an export seminar on 7/18 that helps you develop a digital presence.

Ambitious Women Are Unleashing Their Potential by Starting Businesses


©iStock/jacoblund

Foreign correspondent Tanzeel Akhtar talks to successful female entrepreneurs from Nigeria and South Africa to find out about their achievements and discover what motivates them.

Female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa is rising rapidly, with a number of ambitious women defying the odds, going solo and unleashing their potential.

There are also a number of global initiatives supporting and propelling female-run businesses on the continent but the fact remains that there are still challenges women need to overcome.

For example:

In sub-Saharan Africa, at least 40% of the labour force is female, according to the Pew Research Centre.  However, 74% of women’s non-agricultural employment is informal, in contrast with 61% for men.

Read more about the wonderful stories of women who dare to dream.  Be inspired.

Free-of-Charge Cybersecurity Toolkit for Global Small Businesses


©iStock/Traitov

When it comes to cybercrime the risks are great, especially for small businesses that are the lifeblood of the global economy.

The statistics, according to the World Economic Foum (WEF) show that 58% of cybercrime targets small businesses, with the global cost of cybercrime standing at $600 billion in 2018.

What many people don’t know, however, is that small businesses are often the easy way into larger enterprises. Attackers will, for example, gain access to the credentials of a small business in the supply chain of a large enterprise as a pathway into the larger company, and the breach will often go unnoticed until after the attack has been carried out.

Read more about how helping small businesses fight cybercrime benefits the global ecosystem.

Tip of the day:  The GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit for Small Business enables smaller firms to navigate the confusing array of advice free of charge, to help them shore up their cyber defenses and reduce their cyber risk.

Let’s all work together to fight cybercrime on a global scale!

6 Steps Small Businesses Can Improve Cyber Security


05/13/2019
Smart companies are not just those that have intelligent leaders. They also have systems, tools and proper planning in place that allow every department or function to run together seamlessly. To become a smart company, you need to integrate smart ideas into every facet of your business. Here are some tips from members of the online small business community.

Manage Your Website Effectively
Your website is one of the most important tools your small business has. To manage it effectively, you need access to the right tools. In this WP Buffs post, Brenda Barron provides a full explanation and walk-through of GoDaddy Pro, so you can see if it may be helpful for your business.

complete article

05/10/2019
SBDC Centers offer free consulting and free or low-cost training. (Find yours here.) Their results speak for themselves: SBDC clients grow sales by an average 18.1%, which is 4.3 times the national average. March 20th is SBDC Day, and to celebrate, we assembled some tips from their experts.

complete article

05/08/2019
Small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger companies because they often do not have sophisticated and comprehensive systems to protect themselves from hackers, viruses, malware and whats called ransomware. And owners who are focused on customers and employees may not ensure that their defenses are up to date.

But there are things small businesses can do to improve cybersecurity.

complete article

05/06/2019
Whether you are an entrepreneur plotting to launch a startup or a CEO strategizing where to put another office, knowing where the next hot city is would be a game changer. Should you expand to Raleigh? Would you attract better talent in Austin or Atlanta? With the new Surge Cities Index, Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome crunched the data to score and rank the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. on seven key indicators–from early-stage funding metrics to job creation. Finally, here’s the smartest way to answer the age-old question: Where should you go next?

complete article

05/03/2019
We are creatures of habit. Everything we think, say and do is a result of deep-seated habits etched into our minds through years and years of repitious behavior. Those very same habits either help to propel us forward or to hinder our progress in life. In fact, the state and quality of our lives right now is a direct reflection of our daily habits.

Habits are an undeniably powerful part of life.

complete article

05/01/2019
Big companies often have big perks. That is especially true in the technology Opens a New Window.  space, where free meals, gyms, and even day care are quite common. Even more traditional large companies that do not offer those kinds of benefits still have things that smaller businesses Opens a New Window. do not — there are more opportunities for advancement, more training opportunities, and maybe even the option of transferring to another location.

complete article

04/29/2019
The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees.

This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce sites to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do  the heavy lifting.

Some small businesses have already created a digital presence. And the job of sales and marketing generally goes to in-house staff. This job often goes to employees with the necessary skill sets or to someone learning on the job. But remember how important these positions figure in the company’s growth.

complete article

04/26/2019
Billing your customers is, of course, vital — but even more critical is getting paid for those bills. Thanks to the ongoing evolution in the payments industry, there are more payment tools and platforms to choose from to help find the perfect option for your business based on how many payments you receive, the type of business you have and your budget.

complete article

04/24/2019
Ever wonder how people get chosen to speak at TED? Well, it is curator Chris Andersons job to weed through the thousands upon thousands of possibilities and choose who will appear on the events prestigious main stage. Clearly, the guy is amazing at separating the wheat from the intellectual chaff.

Which is why TED fans (or anyone looking to make themselves smarter and more aware in easily digestible 20-minute chunks) should pay attention to Andersons picks for the 10 best TED talks of 2018. Touching on topics ranging from astronomy to social justice to artificial intelligence, they are guaranteed to change how you think about the world.  

complete article

04/22/2019
Switching careers can feel intimidating, but you have got to make some moves if you’re spinning your wheels at your current job. Tech industry jobs are hot right now, and you can make great money once you’ve got the know-how to compete with other tech candidates. Here’s a breakdown of the fields with the best opportunities.

complete article

04/19/2019
What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person? Which is the best retirement plan for a small business owner? More importantly, which is the right retirement plan for you – as a business owner and / or a self-employed individual? Choosing the best retirement plan for you and your personal financial goals will depend on a few factors. Those include how much you can save into a retirement plan, whether or not you have employees and when you are setting up the retirement plan. Is it during the tax year or when filing taxes? To name a few.

complete article

04/17/2019
Here are 15 examples of great integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content, digital and website marketing, with traditional marketing methods like PR.

complete article

04/15/2019
Here are three popular things that are actually not mandatory for all small businesses:

1. Aggressive Marketing

It is easy to go overboard with marketing. With so many tools available, your gut instinct is to try anything with the slightest potential. Even if you stand to lose money, you want the assurance of knowing you are doing everything you can to gain the interest of your target audience. And it is difficult to ignore a marketing tool that has worked marvelously for other small businesses. If they had to do it all over again, these businesses would likely spend 10% of their time developing their products or services and 90% marketing them.

complete article

04/12/2019
So what sets those who actually take the plunge from those who only dream? What pushes a keen hobbyist or excellent amateur into actually becoming a business owner? A recent study of more than 400,000 people out of MIT came to decisive answer, and it is not the one you are probably expecting.

complete article

04/10/2019
Many successful entrepreneurs were inspired to start their businesses after noticing a hole in the marketplace that needed to be filled, whether it was Bill Gates creating an operating system for home computers, Pierre Omidyar starting an online auction site, or Elon Musk building a reliable electric car.

But what happens when you want to jump feet first into a marketplace thats already crowded? We spoke to the entrepreneurs behind a wide-ranging group of successful companies in some of the most competitive digital spaces — from butchers to home brands to eco-friendly cleaning products — to get their insights into what makes a business that lasts.

complete article

04/08/2019
Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

complete article

04/06/2019
Now, I do not want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense, because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Mil

complete article

04/04/2019
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included a bevy of changes that will affect the 2018 federal income tax returns of many small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. As tax return time approaches, here are the 10 changes that are most likely to affect your business or you as an owner.

1. New flat 21% tax rate for corporations
Before the TCJA, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15%, 25%, 34%, and 35%. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that beneficial rate applies to PSCs too. So the tax cost of doing business as a profitable C corporation is greatly reduced, and this favorable development will show up on 2018 corporate returns. Enjoy.

complete article

04/02/2018
When done correctly, a tagline can become synonymous with a brand. A good tagline should communicate your companys message quickly and effectively, helping your target customers understand how you can help them in a way that’s easy to remember.

Since it is something that will likely appear in all of your companys marketing materials and may stick with you for years, your team should put a lot of care and consideration into crafting your tagline.

complete article

03/29/2019
A business plan is a written description of your business future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities.

complete article

03/27/2019
Very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background. Here are four tips to ensure your small business is achieving profitable growth.

Most small business owners start their own business because they have a passion for something, a new idea, want to be their own boss or are seeking more financial stability and/or earning potential. However, very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background.

complete article

03/25/2019
The standards for small business success have unquestionably gone up. Todays small businesses must do a lot more to stay competitive than their predecessors. Myriad businesses, however, take this notion a bit too far. Once they discover yet another resource or strategy with the potential to elevate their success, they jump all over it. This is partially due to the many online articles urging business leaders to devote more effort to virtually every element of their businesses.

complete article

03/22/2019
Many small businesses start out with a single location or product offering and grow over time. Expanding your business is a good way to increase your long-term profitability and reach a wider audience.

But while growing your venture might be something you’d like to do eventually, now might not be the ideal time to dive in. Here are four reasons you might choose not to grow your business, and instead stick with the status quo.

complete article

03/20/2019
Get out your pink paint. Or your coral, or yellow or teal. By the time you finish reading this column, you’re going to be painting one wall of your small business a color that will pop on Instagram.

Why? Because Instagram is today’s powerhouse social media site for consumer businesses. And if you give customers an inviting way to post to Instagram, they’ll advertise your business for free.

A few years ago, if you wanted to reach retail consumers, the social media site of choice was Facebook. While it may still work for reaching certain demographics, many consumers – especially female Millennials – love Instagram.

complete article

03/18/2019
A new report is saying that almost half of people recently hired (41%) used an online job board to find work and 61% flagged automatic job alerts as helpful. What is more, a full 14% found their present job using social media. The findings from How Do People Find Jobs? published by the B2B research firm, Clutch, highlights how today’s candidates are connecting with small businesses and vice versa.

complete article

03/15/2019
How did life lead you to entrepreneurship?

I have been in the technology industry for 25 years. I am a business-facing technologist, which basically means I have a background in finance and business. However, I stumbled into being a software engineer early on in my career. This resulted in a passion for data and solution creativity.After hitting the 20-year mark of working for enterprise-size organizations, I decided I needed a change. I experienced some life-threatening health challenges–all while taking care of my two sons with their own unique needs. A culmination of it all really made me stop and reflect on what I really wanted to do on a daily basis and the people I do it with.

complete article

03/13/2019
Step 1: Set meaningful goals.
People do nott achieve goals unless the goals are meaningful to them. Sure, every seller has a quota for this year, but so what? If you want to maximize your motivation to achieve the goals, you must know why achieving it is important to you. To do that, go beyond your one-year quota-focused goal.

complete article

03/11/2019
Are you making big changes to your small business?

Whether you’re entering a new market, eliminating services that your clients love but no longer work for you, or changing the structure of your business entirely, follow these three tips to shake up your small business without losing revenue or hurting your reputation.

complete article

03/08/2019
Most working class Americans are employed by companies that either require or offer retirement savings options in the form of a 401(k), 403b), or pension plan. Because these contributions are automatically deducted from the employee’s paycheck, saving for retirement tends to be a rather painless process. Over time, the cumulative effect of regular monthly contributions leads to a nice sized nest egg that can be used in the retirement years.

But for entrepreneurs, the story is a little different. With no steady paycheck or employer-sponsored plans, many of these hardworking individuals forgo retirement contributions.  And though it may not seem like a big deal in the early years, this misstep can prove to be dangerous and irresponsible as entrepreneurs age.

complete article

03/06/2019
Crowdfunding has become a viable form for funding a venture, project, cause, event and much more. For small businesses looking to bypass traditional sources of financing such as bank loans, angel investing or venture capital, it is now a great option.

If you have been thinking about starting a campaign, it is important to note there are different types of crowdfunding. And this does not mean the platform or portal such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others.

The confusion stems from clumping crowdfunding under one umbrella, when in reality there are different types or models. Depending on your project, choosing the right model for your small business is critically important to ensure the success of your campaign.

complete article

03/04/2019
Being a leader can be a difficult, and sometimes thankless, job. You work long hours, make tough decisions, and try your best to make your employees and your customers happy. But things don’t always work out the way you hope.

Every leader can use a bit of inspiration and humor every once in a while. Adding some fun to your day can make it all come together and, at the same time, perhaps even put a smile on your face.

The next time you feel down, here are 17 funny leadership quotes to perk you up.

complete article

03/01/2019
Procrastination is an odd compulsion. Everyone has experienced it, but the underlying reasons can be tough to pin down.

After all, procrastination delays the very activities that bring people closer to their goals — whether that is building a thriving business or stronger triceps. So why do not humans just sprint toward that brighter, fitter future?

The science.
Scientific studies of procrastination have spiked over the past 20 years. Researchers once considered the issue a basic time-management problem, but they now view it as a complex and highly individual phenomena.  

complete article

02/27/2019
Not every step you take to move your business forward will be a big one. But sometimes, even small steps can make a large impact on your future. Here are some recent tips and insights from members of the online small business community about big and small steps you can take to really make an impact on your business.

complete article

02/25/2019
Like departments and agencies throughout government, the Air Force is tuning its acquisition methods to get closer the speed of technology, and will be holding its first live pitch day in March, with an available funding pool of $40 million.

The Air Forces Small Business Innovation Research program has issued a call to start-ups and small businesses—those with fewer than 500 employees—to offer pitches on innovative technologies for secure communications, down-range battlefield operations and digital technologies.

complete article

02/22/2019
I am pleased to bring you my top five tricks for disconnecting – and at least temporarily escaping the job stress.

1. Make the business case.

Taking time to recharge is not just good for your mental and physical health — it is the smart thing to do for your business. Studies have shown that increased stress leads to reduced productivity, while decreased stress levels lead to increased productivity.

complete article

The Coca Cola Company Is Proof That Small Businesses Can Go Global


©iStock/ClaudineVM 

For a business that was started as a concoction experiment and has survived different strategic transitions, one can say that The Coca Cola Company is a testament that small businesses can go global.

In 2018, The Coca Cola Company raked about 31.9b dollars in revenue. Recognized as a top ten private employer, providing a means of livelihood to more than 700,000 people. 

In your quest to expand, founders should not neglect virtues like persistence and patience because the journey is an adventure. Even The Coca Cola Company realized this.

Read more about how small businesses still go global.

How to develop an entrepreneurial culture and more small businesses in your town

How do you get an entrepreneurship culture started in your town? Start them young. Photo via Norfolk County, Ontario.

As Deb Brown and I drove away from the small town we had just visited, we talked about something that the town was missing. It wasn’t one specific business or an amenity. It was a characteristic. It was hustle.

We didn’t see that entrepreneurial drive we’d both noticed other places. There were businesses and entrepreneurs in town, yes, but there were opportunities for a lot more.

We started brainstorming the businesses we didn’t see, ones we could imagine working there. We could imagine cleaning services and concierges, preparing and stocking visitors’ cabins before they arrive, or cleaning up and winterizing after they leave. While some people are hunting or fishing, there are bound to be some family members who’d like other activities, like maybe yoga, tours, or outdoors skills classes. Visitors take their dogs into the National Forest, so surely dog washing would be popular before people make the long drive home with a dirty dog. Then there were all the opportunities around the emerging bike tourism trend…

We came up with a dozen more ideas during the drive. Why weren’t locals trying these ideas plus all the ones they could see that we didn’t? Where was the hustle?

I talked with a local person about this. She felt it went back to the heavy industry jobs that used to be there. The ethic was to find a good job, and it would take care of you. As those jobs left, people encouraged their kids to get an education and get out. Probably a lot of towns have had a similar pattern.

Sending your kids away makes sense if you think the town has no future.

Today, any small town can choose to have a future. We all have the technology available for our towns to survive, if we decide to.

Once you decide to survive, you look around to see what you have available. If all you have is the dirt under your feet and the sun in the sky, then you start there. This place has National Forest, an existing tourism base and the emerging rails to trails project. That is a huge base of assets and opportunities to build on.

Could they develop or redevelop an entrepreneurial streak here? I think so, and I think it starts with youth entrepreneurship. A local group is working on that, supporting entrepreneurship training in the schools. They also developed a tiny business village, so pop up businesses would have a place to start.

Another thing that might help is starting conversations around the many opportunities and unmet needs. Start online conversations, hold brainstorming events with locals and visitors, and share stories of the hustle that you see when you visit other places. Any way you can think of to get more people looking around and talking about what could be.

It’s a long process to develop an entrepreneurial culture. But it’s your best bet for a prosperous place in the future.

New to SmallBizSurvival.com? Take the Guided Tour. Like what you see? Get our updates.

About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

25 Payment Tools for Small Businesses, Freelancers and Startups


05/13/2019
Smart companies are not just those that have intelligent leaders. They also have systems, tools and proper planning in place that allow every department or function to run together seamlessly. To become a smart company, you need to integrate smart ideas into every facet of your business. Here are some tips from members of the online small business community.

Manage Your Website Effectively
Your website is one of the most important tools your small business has. To manage it effectively, you need access to the right tools. In this WP Buffs post, Brenda Barron provides a full explanation and walk-through of GoDaddy Pro, so you can see if it may be helpful for your business.

complete article

05/10/2019
SBDC Centers offer free consulting and free or low-cost training. (Find yours here.) Their results speak for themselves: SBDC clients grow sales by an average 18.1%, which is 4.3 times the national average. March 20th is SBDC Day, and to celebrate, we assembled some tips from their experts.

complete article

05/08/2019
Small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger companies because they often do not have sophisticated and comprehensive systems to protect themselves from hackers, viruses, malware and whats called ransomware. And owners who are focused on customers and employees may not ensure that their defenses are up to date.

But there are things small businesses can do to improve cybersecurity.

complete article

05/06/2019
Whether you are an entrepreneur plotting to launch a startup or a CEO strategizing where to put another office, knowing where the next hot city is would be a game changer. Should you expand to Raleigh? Would you attract better talent in Austin or Atlanta? With the new Surge Cities Index, Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome crunched the data to score and rank the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. on seven key indicators–from early-stage funding metrics to job creation. Finally, here’s the smartest way to answer the age-old question: Where should you go next?

complete article

05/03/2019
We are creatures of habit. Everything we think, say and do is a result of deep-seated habits etched into our minds through years and years of repitious behavior. Those very same habits either help to propel us forward or to hinder our progress in life. In fact, the state and quality of our lives right now is a direct reflection of our daily habits.

Habits are an undeniably powerful part of life.

complete article

05/01/2019
Big companies often have big perks. That is especially true in the technology Opens a New Window.  space, where free meals, gyms, and even day care are quite common. Even more traditional large companies that do not offer those kinds of benefits still have things that smaller businesses Opens a New Window. do not — there are more opportunities for advancement, more training opportunities, and maybe even the option of transferring to another location.

complete article

04/29/2019
The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees.

This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce sites to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do  the heavy lifting.

Some small businesses have already created a digital presence. And the job of sales and marketing generally goes to in-house staff. This job often goes to employees with the necessary skill sets or to someone learning on the job. But remember how important these positions figure in the company’s growth.

complete article

04/26/2019
Billing your customers is, of course, vital — but even more critical is getting paid for those bills. Thanks to the ongoing evolution in the payments industry, there are more payment tools and platforms to choose from to help find the perfect option for your business based on how many payments you receive, the type of business you have and your budget.

complete article

04/24/2019
Ever wonder how people get chosen to speak at TED? Well, it is curator Chris Andersons job to weed through the thousands upon thousands of possibilities and choose who will appear on the events prestigious main stage. Clearly, the guy is amazing at separating the wheat from the intellectual chaff.

Which is why TED fans (or anyone looking to make themselves smarter and more aware in easily digestible 20-minute chunks) should pay attention to Andersons picks for the 10 best TED talks of 2018. Touching on topics ranging from astronomy to social justice to artificial intelligence, they are guaranteed to change how you think about the world.  

complete article

04/22/2019
Switching careers can feel intimidating, but you have got to make some moves if you’re spinning your wheels at your current job. Tech industry jobs are hot right now, and you can make great money once you’ve got the know-how to compete with other tech candidates. Here’s a breakdown of the fields with the best opportunities.

complete article

04/19/2019
What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person? Which is the best retirement plan for a small business owner? More importantly, which is the right retirement plan for you – as a business owner and / or a self-employed individual? Choosing the best retirement plan for you and your personal financial goals will depend on a few factors. Those include how much you can save into a retirement plan, whether or not you have employees and when you are setting up the retirement plan. Is it during the tax year or when filing taxes? To name a few.

complete article

04/17/2019
Here are 15 examples of great integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content, digital and website marketing, with traditional marketing methods like PR.

complete article

04/15/2019
Here are three popular things that are actually not mandatory for all small businesses:

1. Aggressive Marketing

It is easy to go overboard with marketing. With so many tools available, your gut instinct is to try anything with the slightest potential. Even if you stand to lose money, you want the assurance of knowing you are doing everything you can to gain the interest of your target audience. And it is difficult to ignore a marketing tool that has worked marvelously for other small businesses. If they had to do it all over again, these businesses would likely spend 10% of their time developing their products or services and 90% marketing them.

complete article

04/12/2019
So what sets those who actually take the plunge from those who only dream? What pushes a keen hobbyist or excellent amateur into actually becoming a business owner? A recent study of more than 400,000 people out of MIT came to decisive answer, and it is not the one you are probably expecting.

complete article

04/10/2019
Many successful entrepreneurs were inspired to start their businesses after noticing a hole in the marketplace that needed to be filled, whether it was Bill Gates creating an operating system for home computers, Pierre Omidyar starting an online auction site, or Elon Musk building a reliable electric car.

But what happens when you want to jump feet first into a marketplace thats already crowded? We spoke to the entrepreneurs behind a wide-ranging group of successful companies in some of the most competitive digital spaces — from butchers to home brands to eco-friendly cleaning products — to get their insights into what makes a business that lasts.

complete article

04/08/2019
Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

complete article

04/06/2019
Now, I do not want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense, because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Mil

complete article

04/04/2019
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included a bevy of changes that will affect the 2018 federal income tax returns of many small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. As tax return time approaches, here are the 10 changes that are most likely to affect your business or you as an owner.

1. New flat 21% tax rate for corporations
Before the TCJA, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15%, 25%, 34%, and 35%. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that beneficial rate applies to PSCs too. So the tax cost of doing business as a profitable C corporation is greatly reduced, and this favorable development will show up on 2018 corporate returns. Enjoy.

complete article

04/02/2018
When done correctly, a tagline can become synonymous with a brand. A good tagline should communicate your companys message quickly and effectively, helping your target customers understand how you can help them in a way that’s easy to remember.

Since it is something that will likely appear in all of your companys marketing materials and may stick with you for years, your team should put a lot of care and consideration into crafting your tagline.

complete article

03/29/2019
A business plan is a written description of your business future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities.

complete article

03/27/2019
Very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background. Here are four tips to ensure your small business is achieving profitable growth.

Most small business owners start their own business because they have a passion for something, a new idea, want to be their own boss or are seeking more financial stability and/or earning potential. However, very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background.

complete article

03/25/2019
The standards for small business success have unquestionably gone up. Todays small businesses must do a lot more to stay competitive than their predecessors. Myriad businesses, however, take this notion a bit too far. Once they discover yet another resource or strategy with the potential to elevate their success, they jump all over it. This is partially due to the many online articles urging business leaders to devote more effort to virtually every element of their businesses.

complete article

03/22/2019
Many small businesses start out with a single location or product offering and grow over time. Expanding your business is a good way to increase your long-term profitability and reach a wider audience.

But while growing your venture might be something you’d like to do eventually, now might not be the ideal time to dive in. Here are four reasons you might choose not to grow your business, and instead stick with the status quo.

complete article

03/20/2019
Get out your pink paint. Or your coral, or yellow or teal. By the time you finish reading this column, you’re going to be painting one wall of your small business a color that will pop on Instagram.

Why? Because Instagram is today’s powerhouse social media site for consumer businesses. And if you give customers an inviting way to post to Instagram, they’ll advertise your business for free.

A few years ago, if you wanted to reach retail consumers, the social media site of choice was Facebook. While it may still work for reaching certain demographics, many consumers – especially female Millennials – love Instagram.

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03/18/2019
A new report is saying that almost half of people recently hired (41%) used an online job board to find work and 61% flagged automatic job alerts as helpful. What is more, a full 14% found their present job using social media. The findings from How Do People Find Jobs? published by the B2B research firm, Clutch, highlights how today’s candidates are connecting with small businesses and vice versa.

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03/15/2019
How did life lead you to entrepreneurship?

I have been in the technology industry for 25 years. I am a business-facing technologist, which basically means I have a background in finance and business. However, I stumbled into being a software engineer early on in my career. This resulted in a passion for data and solution creativity.After hitting the 20-year mark of working for enterprise-size organizations, I decided I needed a change. I experienced some life-threatening health challenges–all while taking care of my two sons with their own unique needs. A culmination of it all really made me stop and reflect on what I really wanted to do on a daily basis and the people I do it with.

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03/13/2019
Step 1: Set meaningful goals.
People do nott achieve goals unless the goals are meaningful to them. Sure, every seller has a quota for this year, but so what? If you want to maximize your motivation to achieve the goals, you must know why achieving it is important to you. To do that, go beyond your one-year quota-focused goal.

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03/11/2019
Are you making big changes to your small business?

Whether you’re entering a new market, eliminating services that your clients love but no longer work for you, or changing the structure of your business entirely, follow these three tips to shake up your small business without losing revenue or hurting your reputation.

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03/08/2019
Most working class Americans are employed by companies that either require or offer retirement savings options in the form of a 401(k), 403b), or pension plan. Because these contributions are automatically deducted from the employee’s paycheck, saving for retirement tends to be a rather painless process. Over time, the cumulative effect of regular monthly contributions leads to a nice sized nest egg that can be used in the retirement years.

But for entrepreneurs, the story is a little different. With no steady paycheck or employer-sponsored plans, many of these hardworking individuals forgo retirement contributions.  And though it may not seem like a big deal in the early years, this misstep can prove to be dangerous and irresponsible as entrepreneurs age.

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03/06/2019
Crowdfunding has become a viable form for funding a venture, project, cause, event and much more. For small businesses looking to bypass traditional sources of financing such as bank loans, angel investing or venture capital, it is now a great option.

If you have been thinking about starting a campaign, it is important to note there are different types of crowdfunding. And this does not mean the platform or portal such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others.

The confusion stems from clumping crowdfunding under one umbrella, when in reality there are different types or models. Depending on your project, choosing the right model for your small business is critically important to ensure the success of your campaign.

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03/04/2019
Being a leader can be a difficult, and sometimes thankless, job. You work long hours, make tough decisions, and try your best to make your employees and your customers happy. But things don’t always work out the way you hope.

Every leader can use a bit of inspiration and humor every once in a while. Adding some fun to your day can make it all come together and, at the same time, perhaps even put a smile on your face.

The next time you feel down, here are 17 funny leadership quotes to perk you up.

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03/01/2019
Procrastination is an odd compulsion. Everyone has experienced it, but the underlying reasons can be tough to pin down.

After all, procrastination delays the very activities that bring people closer to their goals — whether that is building a thriving business or stronger triceps. So why do not humans just sprint toward that brighter, fitter future?

The science.
Scientific studies of procrastination have spiked over the past 20 years. Researchers once considered the issue a basic time-management problem, but they now view it as a complex and highly individual phenomena.  

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02/27/2019
Not every step you take to move your business forward will be a big one. But sometimes, even small steps can make a large impact on your future. Here are some recent tips and insights from members of the online small business community about big and small steps you can take to really make an impact on your business.

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02/25/2019
Like departments and agencies throughout government, the Air Force is tuning its acquisition methods to get closer the speed of technology, and will be holding its first live pitch day in March, with an available funding pool of $40 million.

The Air Forces Small Business Innovation Research program has issued a call to start-ups and small businesses—those with fewer than 500 employees—to offer pitches on innovative technologies for secure communications, down-range battlefield operations and digital technologies.

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02/22/2019
I am pleased to bring you my top five tricks for disconnecting – and at least temporarily escaping the job stress.

1. Make the business case.

Taking time to recharge is not just good for your mental and physical health — it is the smart thing to do for your business. Studies have shown that increased stress leads to reduced productivity, while decreased stress levels lead to increased productivity.

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What a Federal Minimum Wage Increase Would Mean for Small Businesses

Employee wages are typically a business’s largest expense category. That means the effects of a minimum wage increase on small businesses could be substantial, and business owners should keep a watchful eye.

A bill proposed by Democrats in the House of Representatives would raise the current federal $7.25 minimum hourly wage with annual increases, topping out at $15 in 2024, according to CNBC. Whether the bill becomes a law or not, sooner or later you can expect a higher federal minimum. Meanwhile, many state minimum wages have been increasing regularly. Today, more than half of the 50 states (30, to be precise) have a minimum wage that’s higher than the $7.25 federal rate. Fourteen of these states have a minimum wage of $10 or higher.

So what can you do to manage the effects of a minimum wage increase on your business, whether the increase is coming from the federal, state or even your municipal government?

Calculate the Effects of a Minimum Wage Increase on Small Businesses

The first step is to measure the impact of specific increases. The larger the proportion of your payroll goes to minimum wage earners, the larger the impact you’ll see. You can run a few scenarios to project the initial financial impact; the math itself isn’t complicated. For example, if you have three employees earning $7.25 who work 40 hours a week, and the federal minimum wage increase is $1, your basic increase in wage costs will be $1 x 40 x 3 = $120 per week.

It’s not quite that simple, though. First, your share of employees’ FICA and other payroll taxes will also possibly inch upward if they’re pegged to the wage rate. Similarly, if you need to pay overtime wages to any of those employees, the time and a half rate will be disproportionately higher. At a $7.25 wage, time and a half is $10.88. At $8.25, it would be $12.38 — that’s a $1.50 hourly increase on those overtime wages, not just $1.

Grocery clerk ponders effects of a minimum wage increase on small businesses

Be Prepared to Address Wage Compression

There’s another possible impact of a minimum wage increase: “wage compression.” That’s when the gap between some employees’ wages and those of others shrinks. Suppose, for example, that one of your more experienced employees earns $9.25 an hour and a new employee’s wage increases from $7.25 to $8.25 on account of a $1 per hour federal minimum wage increase. Result: The gap in pay between those two employees has narrowed. While technically you’re under no obligation to give a raise to the employee earning $9.25, you might eventually feel some pressure to do so from an equity standpoint. You might also decide to raise the experienced employee’s rate because they expect it and ask for it, and you don’t want to lose that employee.

Take Steps to Offset a Minimum Wage Increase

Once you’ve calculated some financial projections on how a minimum wage increase may affect your business, you can formulate a plan. Here are some steps you might take, particularly if you would face a cash flow crunch:

  • Look for ways to offset the higher wage expense with higher revenue and possibly expanding your small business. How long has it been since you increased any of your prices? While competitive considerations limit how much you can raise prices, some cost increases have to be recouped in higher prices if you’re going to stay in business. Also, chances are your competitors will be in the same boat and may raise their prices, keeping you in the same relative competitive position.
  • Make sure you’re optimizing your employees’ time in the best way possible. You may have to review work schedules to ensure you have enough staff scheduled to keep things running smoothly, but aren’t overstaffing in areas that don’t warrant the extra hand.
  • Do a top-to-bottom assessment of the productivity of your employees. Are there any who would need to produce more to justify paying them a higher wage? Though it’s always a tough decision to make, it might be time to make a change or two, to find new employees whose contribution to your business will be worth the higher wage you will be required to pay.

Whether or not you sympathize with the aims of elected officials who are pushing to raise the minimum wage, higher required wages are likely to become a reality eventually. It’s better to be prepared with a game plan that works for you.

5 Things Businesses of All Sizes Can Learn from Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo’s name is on everyone’s lips these days. Thanks to her book The Lifechanging Art of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and popular show on Netflix, Goodwill centers all over the country are overflowing with donations as housecleaning becomes a national phenomenon. But although my pantry now looks spectacular, Kondo’s wisdom isn’t just for spring cleaning the home; there’s much we can take from her Konmari method of tidying up to help us run businesses of all sizes better.

Start with gratitude

Before she starts tidying, Kondo begins by thanking every new house for providing a home and shelter to its inhabitants. This is a moment of silence in which she “communes” with a house. This action sets a tone that establishes the value of even the messiest house and resets the relationship its inhabitants have with it. For small businesses, it’s also important to take time to reset. Frustration with coworkers? Take time to think of some reasons you’re thankful they’re on your team. Gratitude is an easy way to bring things back into perspective. While some work relationships require a full-scale reboot, others are fixable if you look deep enough for new ideas and inspiration.

Focus on what’s “important”

The premise of the Konmari method is that we should keep only that possessions that “spark joy.” For your business, it’s important to have the same level of focus; but instead of keeping the things that spark joy, you keep the things (or activities) that drive business results. At small businesses, where every minute counts and every project can be a make-or-break deal, focus is especially important. Kondo followers understand that it’s important to not allow yourself to be pulled in a million directions or to fill your calendar with clutter. Retain focus on what’s important — what sparks “business joy” — and you will be primed to reach your goals.

Simplify and streamline

Kondo believes the best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t. This advice works great in your closet, but its metaphorical lesson is a great one to apply at work too. Are there items in your office you’re holding onto for no reason? Employees who aren’t bought into the vision? Systems that overlap? Streamline your business to help it run more efficiently, identify areas that need improvement, and set up your business for growth.

Thoughtfully organize

One of the things Marie Kondo is best known for is the way she folds and organizes t-shirts. This level of organizational rigor works well for businesses too. It’s easy for a company — especially a small one where everyone wears lots of hats — to get overwhelmed by “stuff,” whether it’s physical files, sales leads, or customer data. Simple things like file structures and common naming conventions make a huge difference. You’ll also want to use a  CRM like Salesforce Essentials to manage your customer information and connect all your systems on one platform.

Do what’s right for you

One piece of advice for which Kondo has received negative feedback was her suggestion that you should get rid of books that you aren’t going to read or reread. For most book lovers that’s blasphemy! Many of us love a cozy room full of books, and the feeling of being transported back in time when we can pull our copy of The Great Gatsby off of the shelf and see notes from high school in the margins. However, when Kondo was pushed by journalists for a comment, she suggested that everyone should just “do what’s right for you.” And that’s always great advice. While leaders are right to examine their business from all angles, there’s no need to fix something that’s not broken. Do what’s right for the business.

Marie Kondo has inspired me in so many ways. Not only is my pantry neat and organized, but her wisdom sparks joy for me at the office too. I hope these Konmari lessons will also inspire businesses of all sizes to find ways to learn from her.

Photo via Salesforce

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Why Some Businesses Fail So Quickly (and How to Avoid These Pitfalls)

By James Grieco

This is a sponsored post by MightyCall.com, a virtual phone system provider that helps small businesses organize and manage their customer communications.

People get wrapped up in the misrepresented hopelessness of starting a small business. Random apocalyptic figures are thrown around (50% close in the first year! 90% in the first five years!) but in reality, the chances of any individual small business not just surviving, but making a profit are quite reasonable: about 80% of businesses with employees survive their first year, and around 50% make it through year five. Specific industries have different survival rates, but the broader numbers hold true.

Per SmallBizTrends, 40% of small businesses turn a profit and another 30% break even, offering even more hope to those dreaming of making the jump into entrepreneurship. Even better? We have over 25 years of data that suggests these numbers are steady, and thus, largely irrespective of larger economic trends and patterns. 

Still, even 20% of businesses bowing out within 12 months represents thousands and thousands of businesses and jobs. While it may actually be better to fail quickly and reduce overall losses in the long-run, the reasons for businesses going under—whether in five months or five years—remain the same.

Here we’ll analyze a few of the prominent reasons why small businesses fail and how you can make sure your company doesn’t get dragged under by them.

1. You Have Cashflow Problems

Cashflow problems cover most parts of a company’s finances, from pricing and cost issues to lack of investments or simply running out of money.

Kabbage, a financial services and data platform, interviewed 600 “thriving U.S. small business owners” and discovered that 33% of them started with less than $5,000 and 58% started with under $25,000. It’s important to note survivor’s bias in these figures as well—plenty of entrepreneurs start with thousands of dollars but still end up closing their doors. 

How could a small business burn through anywhere near $25,000 in a year? Well, that’s the problem, as failed business often don’t know because they didn’t adequately monitor their cash. Running out of money should never come as a surprise to a business, but rather a trend you see coming and can react to months in advance.

How to beat it: While banks traditionally were a primary source of small business loans (and still offer plenty of different business loans) many entrepreneurs in recent years have started their business with their own personal money or borrowings from friends and family, bypassing interest rates and paperwork. 

However, banks typically require thorough business plans and models before giving individuals loans, which forces entrepreneurs into creating a roadmap for their company. As the old adage goes, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” It may seem like an inconvenience, but banks do this for a reason—they want to stand a good bet to get their money back, otherwise they’d just as well throw cash into the ocean.

Even if you aren’t going to borrow from a bank, take a page out of that playbook and make a thorough business plan covering at least the beginning two-year trajectory of your company to show anyone you ask for money—even if it’s your mother. 

In your business plan, it is important to do two things: 1) Do not expect your company to make a profit off its products/services for years, as this is actually the norm even for companies that do eventually “make it.” 2) Overestimate costs across the board; you’d much rather be surprised by savings than by unexpected costs.

2. You Didn’t Do Your Homework (or Enough of It)

The most common response to the CB Insights startup failure poll was “No market need.” That is also the most inexcusable answer listed. Another 19% said they were “outcompeted,” almost equally as egregious.

You don’t need to be a veteran of an industry to start a business, but you should know what’s going on there like the back of your hand. No matter how great an idea you might have, the minute it seems fully-formed, you are still light years away from being ready to launch that business. 

How to beat it: You need to treat every aspect of the industry your business will enter as its own separate college course—and not the introductory 101 courses either.

Firstly, make sure you know who the target audience is and then get out there and talk to as many of those people as you can about every detail you can, big and small. Having experience in the industry will help you focus your efforts on how and where to reach customers, although again, that experience isn’t strictly necessary to get a feel for the market.

Most hobbies, industries and communities have some kind of message boards online, and it’s always useful speaking face-to-face with customers. Opening a restaurant? Go to local markets and restaurants and strike up conversations with people. Want to get into healthcare? Go find doctors and medical professionals and go speak to people living in nursing homes.

Step out of your comfort zone to make sure you get a wide range of answers. Small sample sizes aren’t going to help much. And frankly speaking, if you’re having trouble finding customers to talk to, that’s a bad sign about your company’s future prospects.

Secondly, get to know your competitors inside and out. What makes them unique? What is their brand? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How will they react to another competitor appearing?

I mentioned above that you need to write out a thorough business plan before getting started. Well, you should be able to sit down and write out your competitors’ business plans too. If you research the market and can’t figure out what an entrenched company is doing, then you haven’t learned enough about the market to launch a successful business.

You absolutely mustn’t copy or try to imitate what your competition is doing either, but fully understanding existing approaches will let you properly define a space within the market that will make your company unique and valuable to the customers therein.  

3. You’re Not Organized

Whether this is lacking a proper business model, not gathering the right team, or not executing a pivot or growth correctly, your ducks need to be in a row if day-to-day operations are going to go smoothly.

Organization is about having the skills and ability to lead your company and make it a place where every employee knows their role and is provided with an environment that maximizes their chances of flourishing in said role. 

How to beat it: Don’t be afraid to get or look for help.

Running a business takes a tremendous amount of time and energy; entrepreneurs often work considerably more than normal workers, and some of the most successful entrepreneurs would even urge you to work 12+ hours a day

You need to centralize and simplify facets of your business to be able to stay on top of things. Luckily, in 2019, there are thousands of different programs to help you do this.

From the multitude of CRM (customer relationship management) software to accounting software to cloud services that help you manage customer communications, spending a little extra per month to automate grunt work will mean more time for you and your employees to actual use that information to better your business.

It’s entirely possible and affordable for a small business to be running multiple “quality of life” services for less than $150 a month, and in some cases, even under $100. You should incorporate these into your cost estimates from the second you open for business, as there is no such thing as retrospective organization.

Your company is either organized from the beginning or it’s in trouble. If it costs a bit to ensure operations run without a hitch, don’t cheap out. After all, you get what you put in—whether that’s time or money. 

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James Grieco on Twitter
James Grieco
James Grieco is a content marketing manager at MightyCall. When he isn’t trying to explain VoIP and its benefits to people, he watches sports or binges detective novels. You can follow him for random and irregular thoughts: @LackingAFilter.