A startling revelation reported on by MarketWatch reveals that according to data from last year, 1 in 10 small businesses had employees working under the influence of drugs or other judgement impairing substances. The report emphasized the dangers posed by prescription drugs in particular, which, while legally available to those who need them due to medical conditions, nonetheless have a potential for abuse that can lead to addiction and serious health consequences, and even death by overdose. The dangers posed by an impaired employee will vary depending on their job, proximity to heavy machinery or weapons, and their level of intoxication, but in reality any case of inebriation on the job represents more than just a danger to the employee and their coworkers, and should be viewed as a serious lapse in discipline and professionalism. Social stigma aside, any substance that impairs an employees ability to do their job effectively should not be consumed before or during work hours. There are social and personal issues that

Small business owners may or may not be aware of the phenomenon of cryptocurrency, which in plain English is the use of digital currency that is unregulated and exists purely in a digital form, usually encrypted in some manner to protect against hacking and other forms of fraud.  Bitcoin is the first, and most prominent of these currencies, and has received much media attention as it’s prices have fluctuated wildly, with peak values of the cyber money reaching an impressive $1,200 a piece. The increasing prominence of Bitcoin enters the small business picture as some bold small business owners have begun to accept the cryptocurrency as payment. As reported in the Oneida Daily Dispatch, multiple NY businesses are making sales with the digital dollars, with one business reporting that a full 8% of its sales were made in Bitcoins. The payments are made using an app, and customers can buy more bitcoins through ATM like kiosks, which appear in some business locations. Aside from being another

BYOD, or “bring your own device” refers to the business practice of allowing your employees to use their own technology in the office, usually in an attempt to conserve capital and reduce the expenses related to purchasing computers and other devices for strictly company use. In principle, a bring your own device plan sounds like it can bring a lot of upside to small businesses. They conserve funds that they would otherwise have to allocate to purchasing and maintaining their own technology, and allow their employees to use technology that they are already comfortable with and proficient in troubleshooting (at least on a basic level). That being said, like many good ideas that don’t turn out to work as well in practice, a BYOD policy has the potential to put small business owners into uncomfortable situations that they may not have even thought of as a possibility when creating their policy. Forbes has put out an article on the dangers of BYOD. One of the primary issues

As the minor improvements in the approval rates of small business loans have been reported on, one less happy trend has also gained some media scrutiny: the dip in loan volumes approved for african american owned businesses. While this may partly be due to a tightening of credit and collateral requirements on the part of banks issuing small business loans, the fact remains that both female and minority entrepreneurs face greater challenges when it comes to obtaining financing for their businesses. Female and minority owned small businesses are a vital source of economic renewal, especially considering a growing population of business owners would contribute to the creation of more jobs in the small business sector, which is widely regarded as one of the most powerful engines of the recovering US economy. These business owners should consider searching for guidance from sources such as local business development centers, SCORE programs, and finding the right mentors that can help them achieve and push forward more business development.

As the internet becomes increasingly vital for people to do their jobs in a wide range of industries, small business owners can no longer afford to wing it when it comes to their employees use of the internet. Since it is likely that at least one of your employees will regularly use a computer to do part of their job, the time that they spend using the computer should be regulated by an internet policy in the interest of maintaining productivity and keeping your business and your employees safe. You can use a template, but be sure to edit it for specifics. Drafting the language of your internet policy from scratch isn’t always necessary. Instead, you can use a free template such as this template posted on spiceworks.com and then edit it to account for the specifics of your business. Obviously you will want to edit in relevant information such as the name of your company, but things to look out for and be sure to

High growth start-up companies are hugely popular and trendy at the moment, most of them based around technology, many featuring a deep integration with mobile platforms and other new technologies that make them highly viral and of huge interest to already established corporations. These small, yet nimble companies are often responsible for major disruptions in already established markets, and the fact that they are willing to think big can yield high level rewards for those involved. Whatever small business owners feel about these trendy young companies and their ability to create influence beyond their size, they can appreciate what is able to work for them and apply the best aspects of their strategies to their own businesses in order to grow in fresh and productive directions. Add a twist to a familiar product or service. Many high growth companies are able to achieve fast acceptance by eliminating steps surrounding an already widespread service, or by taking something that they know people like and adding a twist

While written content is of vital importance for SEO purposes, and small business owners engaged in digital marketing should be creating engaging and readable material, a lot of the time a simple picture can say a whole lot about their brand and create a lot of engagement on the right platforms. Social media seems to be increasingly moving towards more visual mediums, with breakout apps like Vine  proving the allure of even a few seconds of looped video to content hungry viewers. Why are visual mediums so interesting to consumers? The answer most likely lies in the fact that video and images are extremely simple to consume, not requiring even the effort of reading a few lines of copy. Video and images are also much more dynamic to look at then text, explaining why a single vine or instagram post has the power to attract many repeat viewings. In fact, a Moz.com article demonstrated through analytics data a marked drop in time on site when they removed a

The title of this article is seemingly obvious; of course small business owners offer training to their employees, right? Well, according to a recent study by Kurlan & Associates, around 75% of sales people are not able to effectively do their jobs and one of the major reasons is that they don’t get enough training. While in general, recognizing a problem employee is better than allowing a staff related issue to persist, it’s better to simply take the time to hire talent and be thorough the first time around. Outside of the hiring process, however, even a talented and motivated employee needs to be brought up to speed on your company culture, the nuances of their specific position, and the techniques that they should be using to manage the tasks they have. Coaching can be one on one, or in groups. The point of hands on instruction is to give a finer level of detail and nuance to the way your employees perform their jobs by

Twitter ads have not seen as much participation from small businesses as other forms of paid social media promotion, such as promoted posts on Facebook, but there may be more movement towards this medium as Twitter has announced that its advertising plans are getting cheaper, and will most likely continue to do so. Smallbiztrends.com reported on the drop in cost, which is potentially due to fine tuning of the algorithm that Twitter uses to manage digital impressions, one of the main ways that digital advertising is priced, as well as a re-evaluation of who their core advertising demographics will be in the future and how to meet their price points. While small business owners might want to evaluate where to begin digital marketing, twitter ads can be a powerful tool when applied by a marketing team with focus and data backed strategy. Finding the right value for your small business. Whether you are excited by the prospect of advertising on twitter or not, a word of caution must go with

  Credit can play a major role in shaping the way small business owners expand their operations. A bad credit business loan or alternative is a different product from a traditional small business loan, and depending on which product is being used, strategies will need to be tweaked or abandoned and replaced accordingly. In the interest of saving time, knowing what options your business will qualify for and which are a stretch is important, but that’s not the only reason that small business owners should know the strength of their credit scores before they apply for financing. Bad credit isn’t the only thing that can show up on your reports. For small business owners who have bad credit, when their reports are pulled they should understand that other financial issues they may have had in the past will also show up. Depending on the service being used to report on them, things such as tax liens, foreclosures, open balances and bankruptcies can show up as well

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