With the end of the year approaching, small business owners are preparing to spend time with their families, tie up their taxes, perform reviews and continue to fight for their share of holiday sales. Another activity many will be engaged in is creating a list of goals and resolutions that they plan on carrying into the New Year with the aim of improving the health and competitive ability of their companies. When setting a business resolution, as with a personal resolution it is tempting to aim for a radical change, such as giving up a certain guilty pleasure food or promising yourself to give up a vice cold turkey. For this reason, a large number of resolutions never make it more than a couple of months into the year before being forgotten and repackaged for next year. In order to create a set of resolutions that can work for your business, you must think about the goals you can reasonably achieve and how to build

E-commerce is a growing market, with more and more Americans making purchases online. This holiday season’s digital sales are predicted to be the largest ever, and increasingly, mobile is opening up a new platform for e-commerce that is set to expand the amount of online shopping Americans participate in by orders of magnitude as the tech is fine tuned. As digital becomes a more pressing concern for businesses both large and small as they try to stay relevant and competitive, making the most out of digital sales funnels through analysis and fine tuning should be something that all business owners take time to pursue. Beware of cart-abandonment. In an article on the subject from the Washington Post, cart abandonment was cited as costing online merchants an estimated four trillion in lost sales in 2014. One suggestion for combating shopping cart abandonment from the article was retargeting, or tracking customers who navigate away from a full cart in order to increase the odds that they will double

Along with the introduction of the plural generation, mobile payments and pre-election year politics, 2015 also promises more development of the “internet of things”, a concept that small business owners may or may not be already familiar with. According to a Wired.com article on the IoT, the name refers to the increasing spread of networks as well as the proliferation of “smart” devices capable of using the internet to receive and collect information, bridging the gap between the internet and the physical world. How does the internet of things relate to small business? There are many ways that businesses both large and small could be changed by the increasing connection between the web, interenet enabled devices and people in the next few years. Here are a couple that business owners should take into account. Mobile payment technologies. The news that Apple will be moving into the mobile payment space brought the possibility of widely adopted seamless payments back into focus, as the challenge of balancing retailer concerns

Each year, certain “must pass” bills are pushed through Congress with the goal of providing funding for essential government functions. One such bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, is an annual bill aimed at funding the military. Over the past few years, according to the Washington Post, the bill has also harbored ride along bills aimed at boosting small business, especially where it comes to awarding them their fair share of government contracts. Given the importance of passing key budget acts, they are often used as a way to get things done where smaller bills might otherwise get swept up in partisan politics and have a much diminished chance of making it into law. Among small business bills riding the NDAA, the Women’s Small Business Procurement Policy Act was announced for 2015. In a report from seacoastonline.com, detail was given on Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H) announcement that this year’s defense bill would include a rider aimed at providing female owned contractors with better chances for procuring

In an article by Jared Shelly on bizjournals.com, some quotes were shared from Labor Secretary Thomas Perez’s recent visit to Philadelphia. All in all, they paint an optimistic picture for the future growth of the economy, as well as some insights for small business owners looking to add longer term strategy into the preparations of their business plans for 2015. Some stats on the economy from Secretary Perez: The economy is improving, albeit slowly, with 57 consecutive months of job growth and last month the third best out of all of them. While growth statistics may be skewed by larger corporations and tech startups, small business confidence readings continue to show a desire for growth and belief in a stronger recovery to come. Whether or not all small business owners are for wage increases, Perez reports “upward pressure”, in particular where top level talent is concerned, although debates related to minimum wage increases are listed by Perez among “unfinished business” of the recession. Job competition

While retail businesses are entering a time when they need all hands on deck, not every small business requires the physical presence of their staff during the holidays, and in fact may benefit in terms of improving employee loyalty and morale from implementing a more flexible work schedule that can allow their employees to spend more time with their families and loved ones. The balance between personal direction and freedom and productivity is one that small business owners need to think about directly, as more freedom can lead to retaining better talent, but too much lenience can create the issue of insufficient communications and missed deadlines. Create a structured process for taking time to work remotely. Provided that your employees aren’t going on vacation, but are committing to working from home during part of the holiday season, you should think in advance in order to define the priority of assignments that you give them and make steps towards allowing them to be both flexible and accountable.

Small business owners reported feeling more confident in November by a margin that surpassed economist predictions, with the NFIB’s index reading 98.1 after a two point gain. In a Fortune.com article on the increase, it was reported that this level of confidence hasn’t been reached on the index since 2007, a positive sign that indicates small business owners believe in the potential for continued economic recovery. Despite this encouraging news, the indicators that brought about this spike in confidence were all soft indicators, while hiring and spending didn’t budge, which indicates that while business owners are prepared to believe in a stronger economy, they have been conditioned by the capriciousness of temporary gains and costly regulations to look before they leap in terms of spending on expansion. Holiday sales important to small businesses looking to end the year on a high note. The success of Small Business Saturday this year is a promising sign that may have prompted an increase in feelings of confidence, as Black

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, small business owners are preparing to take a survey of the time that has passed and use the information they gather to improve going forward. For some, budgets need to be balanced in order make room for growth, hiring employees, obtaining new equipment or opening new locations. For others, a dip in profitability means that hard questions need to be asked regarding what went wrong, and how to fix it going forward. Revenues and expenses must be balanced in order to ensure that your business will not only be able to work in the short term, but adjust to growth as well. Your business should be looking to grow in the new year, and with technology playing a large role in how small businesses are tapping into broader markets, the tools are being developed or already exist that can allow you to do so. Getting acquainted with trending technology such as mobile and e-commerce as well as mobile

  Revelations as to who is getting funded by the SBA are raising critical voices around the organization’s activities.  What do luxury car dealerships, exclusive resorts, and boutique cosmetic surgery clinics all have in common? According to an article contributed to Forbes by Adam Andrzejewski, they are all among businesses aimed at serving the needs of the very wealthy that are recipients of subsidized SBA loans, supported by taxpayer money. The SBA does not directly provide business loans, rather it guarantees the loans against tax payer money, with the intent of providing subsidized rates for small businesses that need capital to grow, but are wary of taking a loan from a private bank carrying a rate that they can’t afford, or simply can’t get approved for a typical loan without a government guarantee provided by the SBA. However, in the cases that are pointed out in the Forbes article, luxury businesses that could most likely get a loan from a wide number of private financial institutions

A large number of independent business owners employ either dedicated web developers on their staff or a team of remote developers to manage the creation and upkeep of their websites. Learning how to effectively work and negotiate with web developers is an important skill to develop in the event that you are not going to be directly managing the coding of your website. But apart from managing the creation of the site from a technical perspective, small business owners should also be aware of the need to test drive the customer experience of their sites as well in order to guarantee that they are providing the means to effectively access the core services your business provides. What pages are entry points to your website? In order to begin to appreciate what your site feels and looks like from the standpoint of your customers, identify using your analytic suite what pages are the main landing pages that customers enter the site from. Usually this will be your

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