We’ve already discussed the tangible benefits participating in follow Friday (#ff) can have for small businesses, and in that vein, throwback Thursday (#tbt) also deserves a mention. For business owners, the level of comfort they possess using social media can vary greatly depending on their age, the nature of their businesses and whether or not they use social media in their personal lives or not. Sure, to many social media “days of the week” seem silly, but there is nothing silly about a simple hashtag that has the ability to greatly increase the reach of your business. Throwbacks allow your followers to engage with the story of your brand. The great thing about a throwback is that it allows you, the owner of your business, a chance to step back from the pressures of your present situation and reflect on all that you have accomplished to be where you are. This in and of itself would make a compelling reason to participate, but on the other side

A message in this context refers to a purpose that, while business related, has a higher level of social awareness driving it forward. A big brand example of a super successful campaign is (Red), which boast participation by some of the world’s most well known brands, all helping to raise money for HIV and AIDS research. Not only is the (red) campaign for a good cause, it has become widely popular and associated with a hip message. Whenever a branding technique enjoys global success and recognition, small business owners should sit up and take note of what it is that is driving the success. In this case, it is the positive message and charity aspect itself that in turn makes the products so successful. Find a good cause for your business to support. Local charities or positive influence organizations are a good place to start, since for local businesses the added value of improving the surrounding community compounds on locals inherent desire to purchase local products.

  People are amazingly unpredictable, with the ability to exceed expectations, or conversely to plunge well below them. It is this unpredictability that is simultaneously a great X factor for small business as well as a source of potential problems. For some business owners, managing conflict is a challenge that they relish, but for others the idea of having to be the bearer of bad news or chastise someone for a problem that they caused is a source of major anxiety. Still, letting things slide in business is a recipe for disaster. It is always better to fix an outstanding issue before it grows into a major problem. What is the issue? Determine who is responsible. Before you confront anyone over the problem at hand, you should have as solid an understanding as possible so that you can act appropriately and not randomly assign blame. For people who don’t like conflict in the first place, getting as clear a picture of the events which transpired will

  Social media management not only allows small businesses access to a potentially limitless audience, it’s also fun to use and a great venue for demonstrating creativity and a flair for marketing.  Within the process of managing accounts, the question of how to attract followers is one of the most pressing ones for business owners who may not truly be familiar with social media etiquette in terms of who to follow and who to not. In truth, there isn’t really such a thing as a predefined social media etiquette, and profiles tend to simply reflect the personalities of the people involved in managing them. For this reason, when business owners find other social media users that they feel like they click with it can be a good idea to not only follow them back but a more mutually fruitful cross promotion. One of the most popular and well known of these promotions is follow Friday. Follow Friday is probably most common on Twitter, but other

  Business owners need customer perspectives in order to move their businesses forwards. Without feedback from their target market, their marketing efforts can’t be based on anything stronger than sales data and conjecture. Leverage your customer service department to collect data on customer preferences. There is a reason why hiring customer service reps isn’t as simple as one might think, and the reason is not only should they be able to effect positive resolutions for customer issues, but they also need to be able to manage collecting and organizing customer feedback into usable formats. Engage as many methods as possible for capturing feedback. There are plenty of ways to gather customer feedback, so why not use more than one to get as much usable data as possible? Physical mailers- a physical survey either sent in the mail or distributed person to person can be sent back in exchange for a customer reward. It is usually a god idea to provide an incentive for returning a request for

  In a press release from CDC Loan Experts, three strong reasons were put forward for business owners owning their storefronts. Firstly, purchasing a piece of commercial real estate is a long term investment that can be turned around for profit later, rented out, or kept as a business location without the obligation of rent. Secondary to this is the fact that payments for rent may be contingent on market prices and therefore subject to fluctuation. Businesses that would be forced to move in the event of a rent increase will pay the same payment for the property they are purchasing, making buying a good strategy for those looking to stay in a location for the long term. Lastly, a purchase payment may be less expensive than rent would be in the first place, with the bonus of eventually owning the piece of property. Should you invest in purchasing your location? If business owners are planing on staying in their physical location for the next ten

Customer loyalty has the ability to make or break a business, but then again, so does the loyalty of a business’s employees. While performance is at the core of an employee- employer relationship, business owners should also value the human element of the relationship, which goes beyond the metrics of their business, yet can palpably add value to it. Reducing turnover and creating a culture of accountability can increase organizational efficiency, stop losses created by employees leaving and help avoid the costly process of hiring and training. A “birthday budget” is a small pool of cash set aside for honoring employee birthdays. Covering the cost of a cake and a small break to celebrate on employee birthdays is not only low cost when the costs are spread over the entire year, but also a nice way to say thank you to long term employees, and even to make relatively new hires feel welcome should their birthdays occur soon after they join your staff. Another benefit of honoring

  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

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