As the credit market for small business lending continues to feel the aftereffects of the great recession, small businesses are still struggling to obtain loans from the traditional banking establishment. In a recent article that appeared on INC.com, former SBA Chief Karen Mill’s Harvard Business School paper was cited revealing just how tough the recession was for smaller businesses, as well as the resulting “credit crunch” on the part of banks whose after-effects are still being felt today. The paper revealed the thought processes behind banks deciding to move away from smaller loans, since within traditional banking the costs of underwriting a hundred thousand dollar loan are comparable to the costs of underwriting a million dollar loan, but with a lower profit margin for the bank. Alternative capital allows these markets to be served quickly and effectively. One of the reasons why alternative capital represents the potential for introducing major change to the way banking works is that within the industry, a different approach to

Onboarding is an important component of the client experience, and every small business should spend time optimizing the way in which new customers are introduced to their brand as well as appraised of customer support information. The same way that you make efforts to integrate new employees so that they can make the maximum Making a positive impression as a brand can pay dividends through the length of a relationship, making it easier to interface with clients who trust in the professionalism and experience behind your business. Create an automated onboarding email. There are a few ways that your business can set up an automatically triggering onboarding email. If you are using a lead form on your website, programming an email welcoming a new customer to your service is a decent idea. Aside from this, you can also create steps that will automatically generate an email in CRM suites, such as SalesForce. An onboarding email should include relevant information for new customers, for example: A brief introduction

  The SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard has announced an increase in the average pay of small business employees by 0.2 percent in July. Marketwatch reports that this increase is the first increase in 2014, spurred by a profitable first half of the year for small businesses. An increase in employee pay can have beneficial effects throughout both local and national economies, with more cash going into circulation as consumers are paid more. Ideally, higher paying small business jobs can stimulate a local economy, which in turn leads to growth on the part of the original small business. Should you give your employees a raise? Small businesses that have seen their sales increase leading to a more robust cash flow may choose to re-invest some of that liquid capital into their employee retention efforts. In particular, employees who demonstrate the potential to grow into leadership roles should have efforts made to retain them. An increase in salary is one of the most effective ways of keeping an

In a recent article on MarketWatch, a Google statistic was cited stating the 80% of consumers use local search when trying to learn more about businesses in their area, and half of those who did that search on their phones will wind up walking in to the business within the following 24 hours. The same article goes on to point out the large number of business owners who aren’t taking advantage of their local search potential and essentially leaving money on the table or allowing other businesses the chance to win it. Business owners need to realize that the internet is the new main street. Where businesses used to be discovered only in the physical world, our society is rapidly turning that metric on its head. At this point more and more consumers will go to the internet first when they want to figure out what to buy. Consumers can even be spooked when they don’t find a business website. In many areas, it has become

  Positive reviews for your business are pretty much always a good thing. The question remains, however, how much of a good thing? Depending on the venue that your customers choose to give feedback, the value of their reviews may be lesser or greater, as they will be more or less visible in SERPs, or in App directories. A review that is posted on a site that gets next to no traffic (or literally no traffic, as the case may be) isn’t really worth that much to a small business. The most powerful reviews are positive reviews that appear on popular directories or high in search results. While you can’t necessarily move a review from where your customers write it, it is possible to direct their reviews to the areas where they will be most useful. G+ business pages are great for collecting positive reviews. The reason that G+ in particular is good for hosting reviews is because when a business is looked up using Google,

  Time is the one resource that can never be replaced once it is used up, so business owners should always be on the lookout for easy ways to save it. One of the biggest time sinks out there is writing and reading emails, especially from people who you would rather not remain in contact with. One technique for managing emails and cutting down the time it takes to sort useful correspondence from junk is adopting a better organized email filtering system that will automatically separate your mail into more easily scanned categories. This will only help when it comes to reading emails that you personally receive, so on the other side of the coin, creating some handy email templates can cut down the hours spent typing up letters in order to respond or reach out to business connections. While you may have to edit your templates before sending them out on a case by case basis, it is still much easier than sitting down to

  Etiquette is an interesting subject, especially in regard to business. While some industries observe relatively rigid dress codes and have high expectations surrounding the way people should behave, others are extremely casual bordering on entirely informal. However, regardless of the industry in which a business owner works, a certain level of etiquette should be observed when meeting partners and creating connections as a matter of appearing professional. In 2014, dress code isn’t as important as appearing put together. A formal dress code nowadays isn’t generally a given when it comes to small businesses. The standard idea of business casual has crept beyond the confines of “casual Friday” and taken over the everyday modes of dress for many. For others, there isn’t any type of dress code in their business, and every employee is able to wear what they choose. Instead of focusing on wearing something specific, business owners should make sure that they appear put together and not sloppily dressed. Maintaining a clean and collected

A business’s customer service department is its first line of defense when it comes to reputation management, customer retention and gathering customer feedback, so it is important that the reps within the department are a match both for the organizational needs of the position as well as the company culture as represented by its branding. For this reason, hiring customer service representatives can be  a much more time consuming process than one might originally expect. Still, it pays to be thorough when interviewing prospective employees, and for an important client facing position like customer service, breaking up the hiring process into a few more steps than you might otherwise take is a prudent measure. When looking at resumes, look for customer service experience as well as experience that matches your small business’s environment. Looking at a pile of resumes for customer service positions can be more difficult than, for example, an accounting position. When looking for someone to work with the books, most of the experience

A mobile website is a very strong investment for small business owners, since mobile traffic on the internet continues to increase year over year. Smallbiztrends.com even suggests businesses gear up their mobile marketing now in anticipation of peak sales during the Christmas season. But what if a business is simply not able to invest in a mobile site for whatever reason? Are there ways that they can still attempt to profit off of the increasing important medium of mobile web traffic? Here are a few suggestions for putting a brand in the public eye via mobile marketing even without a site that is optimized for mobile. 1) Take advantage of mobile apps that allow business profiles. Claiming all the listings that are open to your business is a good first step towards gaining mobile exposure without a website. Examples of sites that can help businesses appear on mobile are Yelp and Foursquare, as these allow businesses to create profiles that have the potential to show up

The distinction between talking to someone and at someone is a big one to take into account in all forms of communication, from marketing to management. When talking at consumers, brands put out their message in a way that is simply there and not able to be commented on or interacted with in a way that meaningfully includes that brand. By contrast, most digital marketing nowadays strives to initiate a two way conversation between customers and the brand, jump-started by their original message and content. Things that businesses can begin to think of as “fire and forget” marketing tools, for example a company newsletter, should be revisited with the goal of making them easier to engage with. Even mediums of advertising that are non-digital still have the potential to incorporate the beginnings of a conversation that can be moved to digital media through incorporating calls to action, questions, polls that can be voted on and other enticements customers react to. Why is fostering dialogue important? As

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