With the end of the year rapidly approaching, small business owners are preparing to take a survey of the time that has passed and use the information they gather to improve going forward. For some, budgets need to be balanced in order make room for growth, hiring employees, obtaining new equipment or opening new locations. For others, a dip in profitability means that hard questions need to be asked regarding what went wrong, and how to fix it going forward. Revenues and expenses must be balanced in order to ensure that your business will not only be able to work in the short term, but adjust to growth as well. Your business should be looking to grow in the new year, and with technology playing a large role in how small businesses are tapping into broader markets, the tools are being developed or already exist that can allow you to do so. Getting acquainted with trending technology such as mobile and e-commerce as well as mobile

  Revelations as to who is getting funded by the SBA are raising critical voices around the organization’s activities.  What do luxury car dealerships, exclusive resorts, and boutique cosmetic surgery clinics all have in common? According to an article contributed to Forbes by Adam Andrzejewski, they are all among businesses aimed at serving the needs of the very wealthy that are recipients of subsidized SBA loans, supported by taxpayer money. The SBA does not directly provide business loans, rather it guarantees the loans against tax payer money, with the intent of providing subsidized rates for small businesses that need capital to grow, but are wary of taking a loan from a private bank carrying a rate that they can’t afford, or simply can’t get approved for a typical loan without a government guarantee provided by the SBA. However, in the cases that are pointed out in the Forbes article, luxury businesses that could most likely get a loan from a wide number of private financial institutions

A large number of independent business owners employ either dedicated web developers on their staff or a team of remote developers to manage the creation and upkeep of their websites. Learning how to effectively work and negotiate with web developers is an important skill to develop in the event that you are not going to be directly managing the coding of your website. But apart from managing the creation of the site from a technical perspective, small business owners should also be aware of the need to test drive the customer experience of their sites as well in order to guarantee that they are providing the means to effectively access the core services your business provides. What pages are entry points to your website? In order to begin to appreciate what your site feels and looks like from the standpoint of your customers, identify using your analytic suite what pages are the main landing pages that customers enter the site from. Usually this will be your

When you are building a business, the case may be that the only think you think about is growth, and where the business can be if your planning and hard work pays off. Rarely does the idea of an exit strategy cross the mind of business owners who are in the midst of building a business that they feel passionate about, but that may be a mistake that they wind up paying for in the event that they build their business around themselves and find that they are in an irreplaceable role in the future when they begin to think about retirement and turning the reins over to someone else. Do you know what kind of buyer would look at your business? If you aren’t sure what type of person would buy your business from you, you should do research to find out. Odds are that a competitor, a skilled person looking to purchase a business of their own, or a company looking to acquire new

In a study released by Magid Generational Strategies, marketers were introduced to the newest American generation, now officially recognized as different from the Millennial generation currently entering the workforce. In 2014, the last Millennial will turn 18, marking an important milestone and signifying the formation of a new generation called the “Plurals” for their diverse ethnic backgrounds and open attitudes towards issues including immigration, gay marriage and equalization of traditional gender roles. As the Millennials enter the realm of adulthood, with the increased purchasing power and political influence that entails, the Boomer generation will enter into their 50’s, again a significant shift in demographics that will see a shift of targeting and message through the media channels that target the 18-49 year old demographic with the most significant impact on purchasing in the US, as the golden years, according to the analysis, are characterized by staunch brand loyalty and moderate spending habits. What are the Plurals like? Changing technology, parenting strategies and legislation in the US

The 15% growth reported around Small Business Saturday in the US provides independent business owners with some encouraging news at the kickoff of the busy holiday shopping season. Contrasting with an 11% decline in Black Friday sales, it seems like an indicator that consumer feelings towards small businesses are warm in comparison to attitudes around corporate big box retailers, and that the efforts to promote the day on the part of American Express are beginning to pay increasing dividends as social media and word of mouth have contributed to year over year growth. Not just a US phenomenon. As Small Business Saturday has grown, it is following in the footsteps of other commercial days of significance, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, days where retailers and e-commerce players respectively slash prices in bids to entice high volumes of customers. According to a Forbes article, these shopping season promotions have already been embraced in the UK, and now Small Business Saturday is following suit in the second

With the holidays here, small business owners aren’t only making sales; some are making purchases of gifts for staff, business partners and mentors. When it comes to picking a perfect, business appropriate gift, there are a few elements that should influence the type of gift that you get, those being the level of familiarity you have with the recipient, their relationship to you and your business, and how much you know about their personal preferences. Giving a gift during the holidays, even a small gift, demonstrates your commitment to a successful relationship and can be a nice way to show your partners that you value them. The gift you get should reflect your relationship with the recipient. The more time you spend with someone, the more you start to pick up on their personal preferences. When it comes to buying gifts, you can use all that you have observed to help you purchase a gift that reflects their tastes on a deeper level. When you work

  Slumping Black Friday sales need not have worried small business owners, as numbers positive numbers have been reported by the National Retail Federation and American Express, the sponsor of the growing day of recognition for small businesses and the vibrancy they bring to their communities. In an Inc. article on the growth of Small Business Saturday, NFIB numbers were found to clock in consumer spending on Saturday at around $162 on average, an 11% decline from last year, but in keeping with broader economic trends that predicted shrinking retail numbers, potentially as online commerce grows in significance and volume. Small Business Saturday got a boost from social media. Awareness of the day has been helped along by social media campaigning both on the part of Amex and the small businesses that participated in the day. Amex provides resources to small business owners looking to get involved, and Inc. reported that over 126,000 tweets related to Small Business Saturday were sent out on the day of

The holidays are a time when business tends to pick up, with some small businesses making large percentages of their yearly sales in the months leading up to the New Year. Because of the higher concentration of sales being made as well as the heightened traffic web pages experience, the holiday season represents a great time for business owners to gather and analyze data on the effectiveness of their landing pages. Whether it is figuring out which pages convert the most, or A/B testing to fine tune the appearance and functionality of their e-commerce pages, taking advantage of this busy time to improve processes is in the best interest of business owners who are serious about having the best sites possible. Get acquainted with Google Analytics. Setting up Google Analytics can help your business with a great amount of insight on traffic patterns and the rate of conversions that your business can expect. Conversion tracking can tell you not only how many sales you’ve made, but

The holiday season is one that can be bittersweet for small business owners. While it represents one of the best times of year for sales, and can be the difference between make or break to a business owner’s bottom line, there is no debating whether or not all that pressure can add up to some major stress, not only on business owners themselves but on their staff as well. While it’s not a time to turn back the dial unless you are truly trying to do way too much, in which case hiring some temporary workers might be in order, that’s not to say that you should ignore the signs of stress you and your employees are feeling and push ahead without making an effort to manage it. Start the day with a reminder of your goals as a team. While every staff member is working on getting what needs to get done taken care of, people’s moods can start to rise and create the fuel for

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