The 15% growth reported around Small Business Saturday in the US provides independent business owners with some encouraging news at the kickoff of the busy holiday shopping season. Contrasting with an 11% decline in Black Friday sales, it seems like an indicator that consumer feelings towards small businesses are warm in comparison to attitudes around corporate big box retailers, and that the efforts to promote the day on the part of American Express are beginning to pay increasing dividends as social media and word of mouth have contributed to year over year growth. Not just a US phenomenon. As Small Business Saturday has grown, it is following in the footsteps of other commercial days of significance, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, days where retailers and e-commerce players respectively slash prices in bids to entice high volumes of customers. According to a Forbes article, these shopping season promotions have already been embraced in the UK, and now Small Business Saturday is following suit in the second

Saturday last weekend gave small business owners all over the country another reason to feel thankful, with increased attention and business from consumers in recognition of Small Business Saturday. The day was first popularized by American Express and has been gaining recognition across the country each year, with this year’s events serving as a foil to a Black Friday that saw less activity than anticipated. According to Bloomberg, Black Friday sales fell an estimated 11% compared to last year’s numbers, a sharp decline that means today’s Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday have become more important challengers to the former dominance of Black Friday among holiday shopping days. Small Business owners need to keep their efforts sustained to win the business they need to this month.  The poorer Black Friday statistics don’t necessarily need to alarm business owners, since Saturday saw many independent businesses all across the country opening doors to eager customers. The lower numbers last Friday suggest to some analysts that consumers don’t feel

Like the lethargy that comes with big meals, or the cringe you get from unwrapping yet another pair of socks, holiday returns are an unpleasant part of the holidays that are largely overshadowed by all the good that come along with them. for business owners, dealing with returns is something that is usually only as bad as you allow it to be. If you are unprepared to handle them, or have not explicitly stated a return policy that your customers can adhere to, the ensuing customer service issues that can occur have the potential to pile up to the point of costing you customer loyalty and vital time that you need to manage your business during your busy season. Ensure that your return policy is clearly accessible to your customers. Your return policy is something that your customers should not have to search for, it should be as clear as possible to avoid confusion and the potential for backlash against your business that can occur when

In a great article from business2community.com, some stats were shared regarding sales figures for Cyber Monday, revealing that annual sales on the day have grown from $1.3 billion to $2.29 billion in only three years. But what is Cyber Monday exactly, and where does it fall in relation to Black Friday and Small Business Saturday? It is the Monday after the latter day, and while according to its Wikipedia page it has only been around since 2005, the fast growth of online commerce makes it a force that is hard for small business owners to ignore, but then, why would they? Provided that they have adequately planned and promoted for it, Cyber Monday can be yet another prime sales day for creating a cushion of profits and revitalized cash flows going into the start of 2015. Anticipate higher than normal traffic and orders on your website. This is pretty much the point of Cyber Monday after all, but if you have a strong website set up,

The holidays are a time when business owners are often at their most busy, as commerce picks up and many Americans spend the most that they will spend all year. While this trend hasn’t changed for years, the ways that people are shopping for goods and services have been, to the point that this year might very well be the biggest year for E-commerce to date. Last year, holiday spending via desktop e-commerce clocked in at a record $46.5 billion dollars, representing a 10% growth over 2012, with the biggest percentage growth being a 21% increase in the amount spent on Thanksgiving day from 2012 to 2013. Additionally, last year had a few extra challenges that made it less of a number posting year, for one thing because of a smaller number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for another because of the icy polar vortex and reduced discretionary income among many consumers. In the face of these challenges, the growth numbers posted for online

As a small business grows, a lot of questions are created that don’t always  have clear black and white answers. One of these questions is whether or not the business is able to work with clients outside of a certain area. While it is tempting to define a limit and then exclude any clients that fall outside of it, if the business is lucrative enough then it could have you reconsidering the boundaries that you have set. Why define a range for your small business to work within? It’s usual for businesses to serve customers only within an area that will allow them to create profit when transportation and other logistical costs are added up. But a boundary can also be defined for other reasons. Even if there is potential profit to be made outside of a local area or in other states, small business owners in the process of growing may find that they lack the infrastructure required to manage clients from distant parts of

A business’s inventory is not only part of its overall value, it is also what allows it to pursue larger contracts or orders with confidence that client demand can be met. While having excess inventory on hand is a waste, having too little inventory puts business owners at a disadvantage when trying to expand. If they approach larger clients hoping to secure the business they need to grow, they may all of a sudden be asked to handle orders that are much larger than they are accustomed to processing. If they are not stocked with the inventory they need, without a means of rapidly acquiring it they could lose the business they worked so hard to win. Bad credit business loan alternatives offer a solution. While a traditional small business loan requires a lengthy process of due diligence, alternative capital providers generally require less information and therefore are able to approve and fund accounts in a much shorter period of time, often within the 48 hours

Tablets are more than just high tech toys, and in fact can have many applications for small business owners who choose to integrate the technology into their business models. The wonderful thing about them is that, thanks to downloadable apps and other tweaks they can be applied to a huge range of different tasks with a little programming and imagination. Here are a few ways that business owners are already utilizing tablets to help streamline their operations. Mobile sales platforms. The more places you can make transactions the better, especially if you plan on taking your products on the road. Many businesses use tablets for this, as with simple sales management software they are able to catalog transactions as well as process credit cards and log digital signatures. Some adventurous business owners even use tablets to log transactions using bitcoins, but whether your business is ready to use cryptocurrency or just wants to branch out how and where it can accept payment is up to you. Collecting and

Many will point out that altruism is it’s own reward, and that is certainly true. The value one gets out of helping another person is truly the unique and special feeling that it brings. That being said, there are plenty of other good reasons why a small business should consider ways of giving back to their communities, not all of them solely based on the positive moral quality of those who help others. These benefits include positive PR, networking and . There are as many ways of making a positive community impact as there are businesses, so finding a way to participate that you are comfortable with can be done with just a little thought and a few helpful suggestions. Do you run an artisanal business? If this is the case, consider holding a weekend craft demonstration. Inviting a group to check out your creative processes is a wonderful way to give back, especially to younger generations in order to inspire the next skilled craftsmen who will

We have often said that relationships are the key to successful business. Creating strong alliances with people who you can trust to be there for you makes doing the tough job of managing an enterprise that much easier. Keeping things easy is only one aspect of what makes relationships important, however. Small business owners should also consider the fact that they can actually save money by promoting stable long term  relationships with their vendors. The vendors who supply your business with the essential products that it needs to function should be considered to be more than just people who sell you things you need. Look at your vendors as an extension of your business. Just like the equipment you use to be productive and the employees you coach to perform their best, the vendor relationships you have should be actively maintained. Stronger vendor relationships save time. For one thing, it takes time to shop around. Comparing and contrasting pricing, product quality and customer support all take time and

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