September’s numbers are in, and the unfortunate results indicate a confidence level from small business owners that has slipped, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. The government shutdown, concerns about the debt ceiling, worries about profitability and the future of the economy all weigh heavily on the minds of small business owners in the US. Despite these real and pressing problems, small business owners have a few reasons to project a more confident outlook in the next few months, and the confidence that they project can help inspire some positive results. The biggest sales months of the year are approaching. Many small businesses have bee eagerly awaiting the Holiday season. In fact, according to National Retail Federation data from 2012, holiday season purchases can make up to 20-40% of annual sales. Take the time now to get your small business’s finances in order, obtain external capital if need be, prep your paperwork and be ready to make as much profit as possible during the

The government shutdown currently underway threatens the slow economic recovery that has been progressing since the Great Recession. Small businesses, which are among the main drivers of job creation in the US, have been put in hot water by the failure of the government to compromise and reach a budget decision. All government programs considered to be non-essential for the safety and order of the nation have been put on hold, meaning that the many small businesses that have contracts with the government will be unable to be paid and resume their contracts until after the budgeting issues are resolved and congress can reach an agreement. Another large problem for small business is the temporary closure of the Small Business Administration, or SBA. A quote from Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) featured in a recent story on thegrio.com warns of the problems a lack of SBA operations could represent for minority entrepreneurs, stating, “Black businesses are impacted at a higher number than the general population.”

In a recent article on Fox Business, a case study of a failed bakery is examined. Despite having quality products and a loyal following, there were a few key mistakes that allowed the place to go under despite what should have been a strong market for its products. Almost all the major problems that the business had were due to a lack of market research that could have told the business owner what was not working. One aspect of doing market research that is particularly important to small businesses is loaning the time to understand competitor pricing. If your competition is selling a comparable product at $10, and you are selling at $6, unless your cost of production is much lower, than there is no reason why you should undercut by that much. Creating a positive cash flow is one of the most important things that business owners can do. Not only for the obvious reason that making a profit is what a business is

There are many different responses from the American public about the advent of the Holidays. On the one hand, the first signs of seasonal marketing can stir up the latent spirit in those who have been waiting all year for their favorite celebrations. On the other hand, rolling out your season’s greetings too early can elicit eye rolls and make it seem like you are too eager to profit off of the holiday rush. Regardless of when you decide to roll out your marketing plans, it always pays to loan time far enough in advance so that they can be changed as needed. Some will tell you that it is smarter to wait before committing to a plan, and that creating strategies too far in advance is an oversight. This argument should be taken with a grain of salt, as creating the framework of a marketing game plan far in advance will allow you to have a fully developed and situationally appropriate game plan going

While recent reports that banks are lending more now than they did in 2008 may provide business owners with a stronger sense of optimism about the overall health of the economy, many small business owners still remain locked out of the lending uptick. Banks are finally seeing considerable positive signs of growth since the financial crises, including higher profits and more stable balance sheets. The FDIC reported a rise in earnings of 23% since the previous year among commercial banks. This has translated to increased lending among banks and larger to mid-size businesses, but small businesses are continuing to have a difficult time securing credit. It is perplexing to think that small businesses, businesses that make up 99.7% of the employers in the United States, are failing to secure financing. However, since the Great Recession, large banks and traditional lenders are more risk adverse than ever before. Coupled with rigorous application requirements, and the economic shape of the real estate sector, small business owners with

Your small business’s location is not only the heart of your business, where customers go to access your products and engage with your brand, it is also a great way for you to market to your community. A great window display will draw customers in and give them something to look at as they pass by your location. Done right, your window displays can even draw groups of admirers, bringing you more business and increasing the bond your community has with your business. Creating an ok window display is easy, but making a real masterpiece takes a little bit more work, as well as a basic understanding of some visual principles that will loan you the ability to catch customer attention and direct it towards your highlighted products. Here are a few tips that will give you a more firm understanding of how to start creating window displays that will draw your customers in. Keep things fresh with a story. Your windows should tell a story,

Small business owners have a lot on their plates constantly, juggling the various responsibilities that keep them occupied throughout the week. For this reason, many small business owners will hire accountants and separate themselves from their business financing situation. In a recent article from the Daily Herald, Dave Gay speaks on small business owners, saying that one of their biggest problems is an aversion to the numbers behind their business, as well as a lack of clear planning for the future when it comes to their retirement and the next stages of their business. Business owners who remove themselves from their financial situations, even in the name of spending more time running other aspects of their business, are doing themselves a disservice and potentially driving their business into hard times down the road. Here is a short list of things that small business owners should do in order to loan themselves a clear understanding of their financing situations. Have a meeting with your accountant, lawyer,

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