This week marks the final countdown to a trio of sale days that small business owners have already been preparing for for the past month. Potentially the most significant of these days for many small business owners (particularly those without a stake in the e-commerce bonanza of Cyber Monday) is Small Business Saturday, a day of recognition for small businesses and their contributions to their local economies and culture. Businesses that have been planning promotions for the day are busy gearing up for the busy holiday shopping season to follow, but in particular need to have everything in place beforehand in order to smoothly greet and serve an influx of customers that can greatly exceed the normal volume their businesses are used to. Prepare to follow up. One of the strongest aspects of Small Business Saturday for business owners apart from the potential for sales numbers that are higher than normal is the ability to create the beginnings of a relationship with a much larger number

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,

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

The economy is showing signs of improving, and while it is a rocky road, it’s still improving during a time when the global economy has been doing even worse. Add to that improving stats in almost every area, according to a recent Small Business Trends article, and you would think that self confidence would be on the rise. This is not the case, and as the article goes on to cite, a 6% drop in self designations as “extremely” or “very successful” has taken place since 2009. This is alarming, considering that if there was ever a time for business owners to feel like they are doing well, it should be as they persevere through an economic down turn and begin to see faint light at the end of the tunnel. Part of feeling successful is being able to perceive your achievements. While small business performance indicators are returning to pre-recession levels, business owners are apparently not perceiving themselves as successful, potentially because of their innate

Alright, so maybe laziness isn’t a characteristic that people value, so much as they may assume that it is a quality which comes along with their personality, like a spare tire on the back of their otherwise efficient lifestyle. The reality is that, while different approaches to productivity work better for different people, laziness is not so much an innate virtue as a habit which it is easier for some to fall into than others. With that, getting rid of the perception of being lazy and taking steps to squeeze more productivity out of your day can be an exercise that has many positive benefits across your business and personal life, as well as serving to improve the balance between the two. First, stop saying you are lazy. You may not realize just how much power your internal monologue has over your general thought pattern and mood. It can be very tough to break out of a negative cycle of thought once you are in one,

Halloween is here, and at Horizon we’re celebrating, as well as our small business customers. It’s a great holiday, and for business owners there are a whole lot of reasons to love it. Here are five that business owners can embrace as they enjoy the special day. 1) It’s the beginning of the holidays. The holiday season is generally the start of retailers strongest sales months, and Halloween is just the beginning, with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, not to mention last minute shopping days all on the horizon. 2) It’s a chance to lay the groundwork for future sales. The positive impression you make during Halloween selling is a chance to lay the groundwork for a relationship that matures during the holiday shopping season! That’s one of the reasons why business owners should relish the chance to take part in the spooky fun of the holiday, and make the experience of Halloween in their communities that much more memorable. 3) You can

We love our family and friends, but when it comes to running a business, the stress of the situation has the potential to throw a serious monkey wrench into important relationships. If you are sure that you want to go into business with someone who is close to you, making sure that you take pains to minimize the risk and mitigate the potential for disputes down the road is of the essence, lest you find yourself short of both a business and your business partner. The good thing about having someone you are close with on your team is that you already have a strong rapport, trust each other and share passion that can be explosive behind the right idea. Whether your intention is to turn your business into a family business that can last for generations, or to turn a longtime dream you’ve shared with a friend into a reality, make sure that you cover yourselves against every chance of conflict. While you will

Halloween is rapidly approaching, and if you don’t enjoy the season now, then it may quickly pass you by. Having fun at your small business should not overshadow budget management or productivity, but engaging in some Halloween activities within reason can give your team a boost of morale and bring you closer together, increasing your ability to work effectively. Here are five low budget ideas that can get your team in the spirit of Halloween in the next couple of weeks. Bring in some special snacks. A special treat in the break room is always something that is well received, and you can choose the level that you want to take this idea to from simply buying some snacks to preparing them yourself. You might also want to involve your employees, allowing them to volunteer to bring something in so that there is more to go around for everyone. Have a costume day. Casual Friday is an old business trope, but you can take it further this

  Small business owners may not fully appreciate the advantages that they have because of their size and their ability to directly control the entirety of their business operations. Aside from the often touted control of their schedules this affords them, they can also enjoy the benefits of much more personal branding, creating relationships with their customers that have the potential to be much more significant and long lasting than those that their corporate counterparts are able to build. Personality is something that, unlike mass produced content, can’t be boiled down to a formula, thus making it a powerful X factor in the hands of a business owner willing to share some with their customers. What is the personality of your brand? Your brand probably already has a certain personality associated with it by your customers. Finding out how they view you is a good start when deciding how to go about building your brand image, so you may want to simply reach out to your customers

In the wake of a string of major shootings over the past few years, the issue of gun control and what constitutes an appropriate level of restriction has been at the forefront of national discussion. On the frontlines of the argument are business owners, either for or against gun control, who have been brought into the thick of things by open carry advocates who earlier this year made news by rallying at, and subsequently getting banned from Chipotle restaurants. While Chipotle is a chain restaurant, business owners in states where firearm laws allow for open carry are in the midst of an environment where unless they make their preferences known they may have firearms within their business, brought in by gun carrying customers. Adding to the complexity of the issue is the polarizing nature of the debate, such that either by openly supporting or going against open carry laws, businesses may alienate segments of their markets in ways that can be detrimental to their business’s

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