With the end of the year approaching, small business owners are preparing to spend time with their families, tie up their taxes, perform reviews and continue to fight for their share of holiday sales. Another activity many will be engaged in is creating a list of goals and resolutions that they plan on carrying into the New Year with the aim of improving the health and competitive ability of their companies. When setting a business resolution, as with a personal resolution it is tempting to aim for a radical change, such as giving up a certain guilty pleasure food or promising yourself to give up a vice cold turkey. For this reason, a large number of resolutions never make it more than a couple of months into the year before being forgotten and repackaged for next year. In order to create a set of resolutions that can work for your business, you must think about the goals you can reasonably achieve and how to build

While retail businesses are entering a time when they need all hands on deck, not every small business requires the physical presence of their staff during the holidays, and in fact may benefit in terms of improving employee loyalty and morale from implementing a more flexible work schedule that can allow their employees to spend more time with their families and loved ones. The balance between personal direction and freedom and productivity is one that small business owners need to think about directly, as more freedom can lead to retaining better talent, but too much lenience can create the issue of insufficient communications and missed deadlines. Create a structured process for taking time to work remotely. Provided that your employees aren’t going on vacation, but are committing to working from home during part of the holiday season, you should think in advance in order to define the priority of assignments that you give them and make steps towards allowing them to be both flexible and accountable.

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 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

  In an article which appeared on Entrepreneur.com, Jim Joseph related an unfortunate incident where, walking into a small business and seeing something he liked, was unable to get any information, even a price, on the object from the employee in the store at the time. Having no choice but to leave, the employee in question neglected to even offer a follow up with the information at a later time, not only losing the sale, but also leaving a very poor impression of the business in question, precluding any chance of the author going back at a later time. What small business owners should take away from this unfortunate incident is the high importance of communicating their expertise to their employees, in particular their sales associates, but really extending to every member of the business, all of whom play a crucial part in ensuring it operates with efficiency. View skill sharing as an opportunity to increase the value of your business. When you neglect to pass

Vision refers to something that goes beyond the ability to plan for the next month, and far beyond the normal day to day routine of your business. It’s the ability to project the values and role of your business in your community into the future, and knowing what those values are. Successful businesses are often able to grow not only because of the practical business knowledge put into their development, but also because the vision behind the business is big enough to grow beyond being important to a single entrepreneur and involve a whole team, then eventually a whole community. Even if your vision is to simply create a place in your neighborhood that will be there for future generations to appreciate, that vision should factor in to the way that you manage your business and set goals in the short term. What is the vision that you have for your business? Where do you see yourself in five years from now? If the answer is

The Fall season continues on, with the specter of colder temperatures ever approaching and the memory of last Winter’s polar vortex fresh in the minds of many small business owners all over the country. While the thought may be grim to some, business owners have no choice but to prepare as best they can to meet with unpredictable business patterns ranging from glacially slow to unpredictable boom. In an article on northjersey.com, a few case studies were looked at, from an auto-body shop preparing for a surge in accidents on icy roads, to a gym planning on opening new locations as well as a home healthcare service planning for sever weather in advance. Business owners need to account for the possibility of greater demand, or on the flip-side being forced to remain productive while snowed in. Review the numbers from last Winter. What happened last Winter is a likely indicator of how things stand to go this year assuming that there is a similarly enduring cold

  People are amazingly unpredictable, with the ability to exceed expectations, or conversely to plunge well below them. It is this unpredictability that is simultaneously a great X factor for small business as well as a source of potential problems. For some business owners, managing conflict is a challenge that they relish, but for others the idea of having to be the bearer of bad news or chastise someone for a problem that they caused is a source of major anxiety. Still, letting things slide in business is a recipe for disaster. It is always better to fix an outstanding issue before it grows into a major problem. What is the issue? Determine who is responsible. Before you confront anyone over the problem at hand, you should have as solid an understanding as possible so that you can act appropriately and not randomly assign blame. For people who don’t like conflict in the first place, getting as clear a picture of the events which transpired will

  Business owners need customer perspectives in order to move their businesses forwards. Without feedback from their target market, their marketing efforts can’t be based on anything stronger than sales data and conjecture. Leverage your customer service department to collect data on customer preferences. There is a reason why hiring customer service reps isn’t as simple as one might think, and the reason is not only should they be able to effect positive resolutions for customer issues, but they also need to be able to manage collecting and organizing customer feedback into usable formats. Engage as many methods as possible for capturing feedback. There are plenty of ways to gather customer feedback, so why not use more than one to get as much usable data as possible? Physical mailers- a physical survey either sent in the mail or distributed person to person can be sent back in exchange for a customer reward. It is usually a god idea to provide an incentive for returning a request for

Customer loyalty has the ability to make or break a business, but then again, so does the loyalty of a business’s employees. While performance is at the core of an employee- employer relationship, business owners should also value the human element of the relationship, which goes beyond the metrics of their business, yet can palpably add value to it. Reducing turnover and creating a culture of accountability can increase organizational efficiency, stop losses created by employees leaving and help avoid the costly process of hiring and training. A “birthday budget” is a small pool of cash set aside for honoring employee birthdays. Covering the cost of a cake and a small break to celebrate on employee birthdays is not only low cost when the costs are spread over the entire year, but also a nice way to say thank you to long term employees, and even to make relatively new hires feel welcome should their birthdays occur soon after they join your staff. Another benefit of honoring

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