Small business Saturday, falling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is the small business answer to slashed prices at big box stores created by American Express in an effort to boost awareness of local businesses and their contributions to the economy. Local business owners should take advantage of the social media campaigning that Amex invests in to promote Small Business Saturday, which continues to grow nationally. When combined with a positive forecast for this year’s holiday spending, both in brick and mortar locations and online, business owners would do well to remember the date, November 29th this year, and prepare for it by rallying their neighborhoods and other local business owners to get on board. Plan a promotion. A discount is what your customers will be expecting, so get ready now preparing a door-buster that will bring business to your location. Think of something that is popular and can be discounted without your business taking a loss, since this item may be the purchase that inspires your

  A new customer is usually full of enthusiasm for your business, without knowing exactly how our service or product will stack up in general they are ready for the best even if experience tells them to be prepared for the worst. There is something about a new relationship that is still undefined which carries the feeling of limitless possibilities. Smart business owners will realize that during this special time they have the greatest ability to shape the perceptions that their customers have of their brand, and should act accordingly to put their best foot forward during the onboarding process. One simple, yet highly effective way to do this is to remember the way that you would act in any normal exchange; say thank you. A thank you reminds your customers that you care about them and the success of your relationship. While setting up a thank you package is actually pretty simple, and if you are using crm tools can actually be automatically triggered as

Social media is a dynamic tool that business owners can get much value out of, from mining new prospects, networking, and soliciting constructive feedback that they can use to shape the direction of their policies. This last activity can be particularly beneficial, giving you the benefit of direct, undiluted customer feedback that has the potential to shape the way that you grow and shift the priority of goals, but hopefully not before doing your due diligence. Just because a customer suggests something via social, that does not mean that suggestion represents the wishes of your entire market. Business owners still need to look before they leap when it comes to the way they handle and react to customer suggestions. While a single customer may have a good idea, in another, just as likely scenario, they may have an individual preference or opinion that is not widely shared by the rest of your customers. The good news is that testing the popularity of a proposed change to

Financing is an often mentioned yet poorly understood aspect of running a business. In addition to being vital when looking for business loans or bad credit alternatives, it’s important to understand in terms of pricing and time in the course of the day to day. In an Entrepreneur.com article, BlueVine CEO and Founder Eyal Lifshitz offered some perspective on common financing errors made by small business owners, with the last point focusing on discounts related to expediting collections. The article points out that when a discount is offered in order to get paid faster, financing comes into play. A 10 percent discount for up front payment would seem advantageous, until compared with a scenario wherein financing is obtained for the month at a 4% rate for the month, allowing for cash on hand to last the month, with the full collection amount being gathered in the 30 day term. In the end this strategy saves the business owner 6% of what they would have lost

The art of communications is exactly that; an art form, and one that deserves to be practiced in multiple mediums as opposed to ignored and addressed only when it is convenient. Being attentive to incoming communications, as well as proactive in order to keep key relationships strong is something that every business owner needs to be able to handle, but what about those times when you want to go a little bit further? Old school communication, meaning a face to face meeting, a physical letter, or an actual phone call, are a lot less glamorous than the slew of digitally based communication technologies that are now available to small business owners, but in a pinch they can show that you are really invested in the health of a relationship that means a lot to your business. A physical thank you note sends a strong positive message. Even more so if it written by hand. The reason is because it is a gesture that implicitly communicates that

What’s Your Friday Habit?

Friday, 22, August , 2014 by

Friday is the most popular day of the week, since for many it represents the beginning of the weekend and a much needed break. However, because of Friday’s boisterous reputation, it can be difficult to get things done when your mind has already clocked out. There are probably things that you could be getting done at the end of the week that you don’t get around to because of a loss of focus. In fact, even when you are seemingly busy at the end of the week, it can be incredibly easy to get drawn into working on tangential tasks that are really just time sinks. In order to get more out of the end of the week, business owners may want to consider creating a new habit for themselves that an help them get things done without the need to mentally scramble to figure out what they should be doing, which can help them to keep sight of long and short term goals. What

No two workdays are the same while running a small business. Some can fly by while things almost seem to get themselves done, while other days it can be a struggle to remain engaged despite the fact that there is still no less to do than before. It is on these days that working in an environment that offers limited distractions becomes important. While there are general things that business owners can do to remove distractions from their environments, they should also be cognizant of what their particular weaknesses are. Some people may be able to concentrate while listening to music, for example, while other people may wind up getting distracted by a pair of headphones. It is important to know what type of setting allows you to work your best. Keep a to do list handy and go from task to task. Multitasking often leads to unnecessary distraction, and can drag out both of the processes being worked on to longer than it would have

Small business owners live in a digital age, one that has practices that have lasted hundreds of years being replaced or fundamentally changed by the addition of new technology. However, in the midst of this change there remains a wealth of business knowledge that remains just as important today as it ever was. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is an ancient piece of advice, but small business owners will probably recognize the truth in it. While this is not saying that there are no good deals out there, if something comes up that seems aberrant from a rule of thumb, for example a service that claims to offer the same functionality as other products but is half the price, then doing a very thorough due diligence before acting on the offer is in your best interest. If you are being heavily pressured to take what seems like an amazing deal, that should raise a red flag. A bird

Increasingly, the reach of a small business extends far beyond the confines of a town or city thanks to the internet. The ability of a business to be found thanks to websites, social media accounts, reviews and local directories means that they can significantly increase their exposure and the amount of business they are able to do via online channels. Going beyond digital marketing, there are many applications that businesses rely on that are now integrated or completely dependent on the internet, and the speed of a business’s network can either accelerate or throttle the productivity of a team of employees. In the media, Google Fiber and the attempts by up and coming cities across the US to be chosen as participants in the first releases of the service highlight the fact that many business owners are still unsatisfied with the speed and reliability of their internet service. While some of the issues that can cut into a business’s productivity can be solved or mitigated by

It’s the last day of the month, and in New York, it’s raining, with grey clouds shifting across the sky like gridlocked cars. Despite the inconvenient weather, there is an overwhelming sense of relief in the Horizon office, since May is so close to being here. May is associated with the definitive change of the seasons and the arrival of reliably warmer weather, a welcome shift for business owners across a diverse range of industries. Still, finally shaking off the polar vortex doldrums calls for a true acknowledgment of the potential this new month holds. Here are some ways that your business can mentally prepare for the arrival of May. Celebrate your Winter high points.  You’ve worked hard to get through the Winter, and it’s likely that you had to enact some pretty clever fixes to keep things running smoothly. Yes, you should have your primary focus set on the promise of the near future, but you should still take the time to give your

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