Historically, the months surrounding the new year are some of the biggest in retail and consumer spending, as the holiday rush to purchase gifts, book vacations, and spend a little extra on one’s self prompts a surge in consumer spending that, according to the National Retail Federation, can represent 20-40% of a business’s annual sales. That’s a massive percentage, which means that the holidays are a critical time for small businesses and making sure that they are running effectively before the advent of the real shopping season begins is imperative.  This year, small business owners have been reeling from a combination of factors. One of the biggest hits taken by business owners as 2013 has been coming to a close was the government shutdown. The closure of the Small Business Administration, a government agency that secures 3rd party loans to small business owners, set back the plans of many businesses who were waiting on capital in order to pursue expansion projects. According to a New

There are many ways to increase the bonds that small businesses share with their best customers, from rewards programs, to community events. When it comes to deciding how to stay in contact and deepen your rapport, it’s important to factor in the financing aspect for your small business, balancing your ambitions and you cash flow and ensuring that you get a good ROI on the money that you do spend while keeping your customers happy. One of the best principles that small businesses can espouse is taking what you already have and making it work more for your business. A perfect illustration of this concept can be found in the creation of a newsletter. So your small business has a social media presence? It’s also got a blog? Great! Then you already have everything that you need in order to put together a newsletter that can boost both your site’s traffic and the size of your social media presence. Here’s how it can work for you. Step 1:

While not every small business will be engaged in activities where an employee or customer could potentially get hurt, outdoor businesses, restaurants, factories and other, more physically oriented business models have an inherent risk of injury associated with them, even if it is only a small amount. If an injury occurs at your business, it is better to be more rather than less prepared for treating it. CPR is a set of techniques for caring for injuries or medical emergencies that can save or prolong the lives of victims as emergency health professionals are contacted and arrive at the scene of an accident. CPR is easy to learn and get certified for, and the potential to save a life is invaluable for businesses where there is a risk of injury, from major bodily harm, to minor accidents like choking. Here’s what small business owners should know about preparing their employees and themselves for emergencies with CPR training. What can business owners do to prepare for

  In today’s busy world, winning a larger share of your market can come down to one simple factor: are you more or less convenient than your competition? One way to ensure that you can serve your customers in a way that works for them is by taking your business model on the road. Increasingly, businesses have been going fully mobile, ditching a brick and mortar location in favor of a van from which they can run their operations. While this may seem like a drastic step, in reality, there are some serious benefits that are associated with going mobile. For one thing, it turns your location into a mobile advertisement. By having a mobile workstation, you are able to advertise your small business all over the neighborhood, literally, as you will be driving around from place to place in the course of your day. Taking steps to customize the appearance of your vehicle can turn your mobile business station into a local legend; the more outlandish

As a business owner, your cash flow is like your pulse. At all times it should be kept strong through a knowledge of responsible spending as well as a cohesive plan for obtaining capital should the need for expansion, wage payments, or other pursuits that require liquid cash arise. The economic climate of the last few years has been a tough one for many businesses; bad credit, devalued property and assets and increased requirements on the part of banks have made small business lending into one of the most hard-hit parts of the financing world. The ability to easily apply for credit from banks used to allow small business who wished to grow the option to access capital at will. Today, when a business owner goes to those same banks, they are much more likely to be turned away. An additional problem that faces many business owners goes beyond the increased lending requirements that they face. High risk industries as designated by banks include some

Yesterday President Obama signed into law a bill that ensures any official sleep apnea testing ordered on commercial trucking firms be subject to Federal regulations as opposed to guidelines. The significance of this is that guidelines have the potential to be much more confusing and less regimented than regulations. Another factor in the decision, which was applauded by trucking organizations including the American Trucking Associations, is the fact that regulations require much more due diligence and testing before they are able to be put into place. The annual costs to the trucking industry associated with the sleep apnea testings could potentially be as high as $1 billion annually, a not insignificant amount of expenditure. The requirement for formal regulation means that it will now be much more difficult to put mandated testing into place, which may save the trucking industry much money. The dangers of drivers on the road with sleep apnea are real as well, however. The requirement for formal regulations also makes it

The Truckers Ride for the Constitution, scheduled with much ado for today, Friday the 11th, has seemingly caused no actual traffic on the Beltway highway in Washington. The protest was organized by a handful of personalities, including an internet radio host and a trucker named Ernest “General” Lee. While the Facebook page for the event boasts impressive numbers, with thousands pledging their digital support, the Washington Post reports that only around 30 trailers and pickups actually manifested to press their cases against the government. While traffic was reported on the highway during the morning, it was attributed to rain and not the mass of truck drivers, who apparently spread out into smaller groups traveling at the speed of the traffic around them. A single instance of the truckers blocking all four lanes and slowing to 15 mph was broke up by warning from traffic police, with no arrests made or tickets given. While this morning did not cause any interruptions in commuting, the organizers of

Small business owners are constantly being encouraged to engage in new marketing techniques by the macrocosm of internet business gurus. While many of the techniques pushed by the small business experts are indeed powerful, small business owners need to get a realistic sense of the costs associated with these techniques before they can incorporate them into a marketing strategy that accounts for the total cost of their investments and ROI. What makes this equation more interesting is the fact that, when it comes to certain marketing techniques, there are many different levels of quality that can be reached depending on the amount of resources businesses are wiling to loan to their projects. in 2010, the estimated starter cost of a corporate video commercial was $2,000.00, but in the past three years, the quality over price ratio has tipped in favor of content creators. With HD video shooting available on a much wider range of devices, creativity and a sense of DIY ingenuity means that the cost

The “shale revolution” refers to the growing natural gas business within the US. As the search for alternatives to fossil fuels intensifies, the trucking industry is becoming more and more attuned to developments in natural gas as a viable alternative to diesel. In March, Shell, the energy corporation, announced plans to create two new natural gas for transport corridors through North America. This indicates just how much the development of these non-imported fuels could represent an advantage for American trucking. For an in-depth look at some of the benefits of natural gas, which include vehicle performance comparable with that of fossil fuels and the ability to be produced domestically, interested readers can visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center’s page on the fuel source. In addition to this, lower emissions from this fuel source mean that it’s use could be beneficial for the environment and the reduction of our carbon footprint. Some concerns over the process of the fuel’s extraction, known as “fracking” have environmental groups up

Small business owners and employees in the commercial trucking business have show support for a proposed bill to create a report on industry cost analysis for sleep apnea testing, as well as official regulations for the testing as opposed to guidance. Commercial trucking financing the tests is a concern, but more importantly, the issue of driver safety is at the heart of the proposed legislation. With driver fatigue representing one of the most covered issues around the trucking industry of late, more and more regulations have gone in to preventing fatal accidents blamed on excessive hours and fatigue. The reason why trucking groups have called for formal regulation rather than simple guidelines is because of a mistrust of not adequately defined rules. If trucking companies would fail to comply with the guidelines and then an accident occurred, they could be sued for non-compliance. The possibility that non-compliance could result as an accident due to misunderstanding would be much higher without a formally defined procedure surrounding

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