With disruptive technologies, start-up culture, the rise of mobile and the unfolding battleground of mobile payment technologies set to be major influences on the business world in 2015, small business owners need to be prepared to adapt and stay up to date on what matters most; that being what it is that their customers want. Shifts in consumer habits are being influenced by the increasing integration of technology into the ways that people look for and purchase goods, and should business owners ignore these persistent trends, they do so at their own peril. Be mobile friendly. Your customers are going to become more mobile-oriented as time goes on. The power of smart-phones continues to increase, and as a result, a larger percentage of the population is turning to mobile apps in order to locate stores within their areas when they want to make purchases. Review apps such as Yelp can also decisively affect customer perceptions of small businesses before they even set foot in a store,

Come the holiday rush, the usual staff of a small business may no longer be enough hands on deck to support the surge of demand created by increased consumer spending. In order to make the most of the season (and the most profit possible) small business owners may have to take on some temporary staff members in order to keep their operations running smoothly. The biggest challenge small business owners will face hiring temporary workers is competition and a smaller pool of candidates. With major retailers also in the game looking to hire temporary workers for the holidays, small business owners are going to have to think beyond traditional hiring channels in order to come up with the volume of workers they need in time to service the holiday rush. In an article that appeared in the Long Beach Post, it was suggested that business owners should branch out their hiring ads into their more immediate networks in order to get a more direct message out

  Small businesses are often labors of love, with one of the primary reasons entrepreneurs become self-employed being that they value the freedom it affords them to manage their time and pursue their passions. In fact, according to a Manta survey, slightly over half the respondents listed independence as their number one job perk. This independence can be a double edged sword, however, since it is up to business owners to sustain their own enthusiasm for what it is that they are doing and not let themselves become discouraged Learn to perceive and contextualize your successes. One problem that can get in the way of small business owners moving forwards is a perception that they aren’t doing as well as they should be, often stemming from self critical and perfectionist tendencies that can be common among those who chose to manage their own livelihoods. One way to manage expectations and feelings of success is to become adept at creating and managing the realization of goals in

Start-up culture has taken the business world by storm, with stories of scrappy app developers and industry disrupting technologies tempting many into entrepreneurship who would have otherwise been content to pursue careers in the world of established corporations. That said, not every business is aiming to disrupt an industry or revolutionize the way people think about their products. Even in the case of a business that adheres to a more or less standard business model, there is room for taking some of the more successful aspects of start-up culture and applying them to business growth. Embrace the ability of technology to streamline your business processes. Business owners can no longer afford to ignore the positive roles technology can play in their processes, since if they refuse to integrate tech, they will be giving their competitors an advantage that is almost certain to widen into a serious gap over time. You don’t have to be a computer genius to utilize new technology in running your business, in

  In an article from Fox Business, tips were shared from author T.D. Jakes on how business owners can create a more successful mindset for themselves. One of the tips in particular mentioned that business in the modern day should no longer be considered from a single perspective, instead business owners should strive to think of how to extend the reach of their business past their own social norms and into a truly global arena. Your social island is comprised of the circles that you keep, and if you are unable to move past the social boundaries that you have set for yourself, whether consciously or unconsciously, How can you grow your perspective past the familiar? Business owners seeking to apply a wider perspective to the development of their businesses have a multitude of options for gaining more information and insight. For one thing, by using free tools such as Google Alerts, small business owners can begin to broaden their base of influences and stay tuned

Linkedin is a social network for professionals, and thus is mostly devoid of the purely social content shared on Facebook, with the predominant focus being on sharing relevant perspectives and expertise related to business. For entrepreneurs, it  can be a great tool for meeting influencers and establishing a positive reputation as a knowledgeable member of your industry. One tool for sharing expertise on Linkedin is their long form posting tool, which allows business owners to share more detailed articles than through posting a status update alone. What are the benefits of long form posting as opposed to sharing a blog post? When you post a long form article to Linkedin, there are a few unique benefits that make it a viable option as opposed to simply sharing a post that you wrote on your business blog. According to Linkedin’s page on long form posting, a long form post doesn’t expire, rather, it is displayed as a link on your profile, meaning that it has a lot

This Thanksgiving, what does your business have to be thankful for? If you said customers, then you are on to something. Don’t simply assume that your customers know how grateful you are for their business, prove it to them by focusing on increasing loyalty for your business this November. Loyalty building is a part of branding that can really give you bang for the buck, since loyalty programs take your best customers and increase the business that they give you both themselves and from the strength of the referrals that they bring in to your business. Shout out your superstar customers. When you have a few amazing customers who make up your regulars, it can be worth it to go the extra mile when rewarding them. One way to do so is to to shine the spotlight on them via your business’s native blog or social media profiles. When you highlight your great relationship with customers, it indicates to other potential buyers that you are very

Branding is one of those concepts that is theoretically simple, yet more difficult to effectively put into action. The way that your brand is perceived on a number of factors coming together, from customer service and the quality of your marketing to the shape, color and sizes of your packaging or functionality of your services. Branding is an area that small business owners might associate more with larger corporations, but the reality is that business owners are able to pursue branding just as, if not more effectively than larger companies because of the higher degree of intimacy they can create in their customer relationships. Business owners can build their brand by internally promoting the values that they stand for and encouraging their employees to serve as brand ambassadors, but ultimately when they want to know how their branding campaigns are being perceived, they need to turn their lens in on themselves from the outside. Gather outside perspective on your brand from customers. If you aren’t sure

A recent article on CoinDesk.com announced the integration of Bitcoin into the mobile payment giant NCR’s point of sale products for small business owners. The move is a big step forward towards a wider acceptance of Bitcoin, a digital currency that is the internet’s answer to the dollar, with secure packets of information standing in for the physical presence of paper money in what is known as cryptocurrency. According to the CoinDesk article, NCR provides payment solutions technology to a wide range of international clients, meaning that their recognition of Bitcoin is a powerful statement recognizing the validity of non-traditional currencies. Greater Bitcoin acceptance comes at a time when the strategic importance of mobile payments is growing. The news of wider Bitcoin acceptance coincides with much media hype surrounding the roll-out of Apple Pay, the mobile payment app native to IOS 8. Apple’s payment app attacks some of the most persistent challenges standing in the way of greater acceptance of mobile payments, namely security and utility

According to the Biz2Credit small business lending index, approvals for small businesses from big banks fell in October, the first decline in 7 months of growth, dipping by 0.2% from 20.6% in September. The slight decline still reflects some of the strongest numbers since the beginning of the Great Recession, and as business confidence continues to increase (although not necessarily the perception of success), both hard and soft indicators of economic recovery seem to be moving in the right direction, albeit at a sluggish pace. Business owners may be more wary about debt now than at the beginning of the recession. One factor that may effect loan volumes is the fact that small business borrowers have been reticent about taking on debt, with many only seeking financing when it comes time to make capital improvements that are simply outside of the reach of their normal cash flows. For some with bad credit, seeking bank financing has been a relatively fruitless endeavor, with the alternative being seeking

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