Social media is a dynamic tool that business owners can get much value out of, from mining new prospects, networking, and soliciting constructive feedback that they can use to shape the direction of their policies. This last activity can be particularly beneficial, giving you the benefit of direct, undiluted customer feedback that has the potential to shape the way that you grow and shift the priority of goals, but hopefully not before doing your due diligence. Just because a customer suggests something via social, that does not mean that suggestion represents the wishes of your entire market. Business owners still need to look before they leap when it comes to the way they handle and react to customer suggestions. While a single customer may have a good idea, in another, just as likely scenario, they may have an individual preference or opinion that is not widely shared by the rest of your customers. The good news is that testing the popularity of a proposed change to

In a recent article from the Motley Fool, five different small business insurance policies were looked at. Business insurance can be important as a stop-loss when things go wrong, helping to protect the capital invested into the business which may represent all the assets to a business owners name, depending on their level of investment. Part of making smart decisions regarding small business  coverage is making sure that you possess a real understanding of the risks facing your particular business. Every small business is unique, and will face different challenges based on location, the strength of its sales, as well as what kinds of products it provides. Before you make final decisions regarding the insurance that you purchase for your business, sit down and analyze where you stand in terms of risk, and how you can balance the types of coverage that you purchase to offer protection from the potential negative events that can befall you as well as remain affordable. Historical data on the types and

Additional technology training isn’t always necessary for small business owners. Even if they are considering picking up a new program in order to broaden their ability to handle digital projects, a lot of the time they can get by through online lessons or simply searching for answers to issues when they become constraints. The drawback of a DIY approach to software learning, however, is the fact that it can take a lot of valuable time that business owners could otherwise spend improving business processes or pursuing new avenues of growth. Generally speaking, the more features and nuances present in a software’s interface, the more likely it will be that investing in a professional training program is worthwhile. Case in point, Photoshop. Why is Photoshop useful in a small business context? When people think of photoshop, their first thoughts might be more along the lines of funny edited pictures and less towards the potential uses that it brings to a business. That said, photoshop’s usefulness in a

  Small business advice can come from many different places, but books are one of the best. Literature can teach life lessons in every area, and business is no exception. Here are a few classical literary moments, as well as some lessons that savvy business owners can take from them and apply to their management strategies. Don’t assume something is impossible. See for yourself. This principle is demonstrated in the Shakespeare favorite, Macbeth. Told by a troop of prophesy speaking  witches that he will reign until the Great Birnam Woods come to Dunsinane Hill, Macbeth assumes that he will be safe since moving trees are impossible, or so he thinks. In the end, his castle is overrun by the forces of his enemies, disguised by the branches of the trees he thought immobile. While, unless you are in landscaping, moving trees will most likely not concern you, the principle that is at work here is important for small business owners to understand. The person who claims

Business owners are, in most cases, comfortable moving quickly on projects and while developing new ideas. The entrepreneurial stereotype is  a person willing to spend long hours and sacrifice certain creature comforts in order to make sure that things get done, and quickly too. This can be a great thing, meaning that their businesses are able to grow and adapt to changes in their markets much faster than bigger companies where bureaucracy and indifference on the part of employees can get in the way of improvements. However, the old adage “patience is a virtue” holds true in many situations in the business world, where rushing something too much can actually cause more harm than good. When to be patient. Patience can be a boon when dealing with third parties in particular. Many small business owners hire outside contractors to handle tasks that they are not comfortable taking care of themselves. Common examples are accounting and web design. Why is patience useful in these cases? It’s because

Chances are, if you have a small business blog you are already familiar with using tags to classify your posts, some more than others.  Still, you might also have wondered if your were using them effectively and whether or not the tags you chose for your posts are the right ones to pick. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this article, you will have a better idea of how you can use tags in a way that is both effective for your SEO as well as for the readers of your content. Tags should always relate to the content you are writing about. When you are thinking of tags to put on your posts, first think about the category that the post falls into on your blog. If you categorize the post in the general folder of “marketing”, then you don’t need to include that word as a tag. Instead, think of the specific points that your article addresses that make it relevant to marketing,

While there are many things that differ from industry to industry, and even from business to business, there are a few things that remain constant for every business owner. One of these is the need for a formal business plan. A business plan is required for everything from applying for a loan from a bank to recruiting business partners and top level employees, so it pays to have one that is both up to date and up to industry standards at all times. This isn’t a one time thing either. As your business grows and the markets you are in change, you are going to need to reflect this in your business plan with edits, additions and omissions. Something as simple as one key piece of information that is either wrong or outdated can make your business plan look bad no matter how clean the rest of it is, so keeping this document tuned up and ready to be looked at is a wise strategic

Navigating the financial landscape that comes with running a small business is often difficult, and it’s made even more tough by the presence of certain potholes and mirages. One common scam that small business owners should be aware of is the grant scam. How does a grant scam work? This type of scam is kept alive by a simple misdirection. Business owners will either stumble across or otherwise be made aware of a grant that their business is able to apply for, which, should they receive it, will give them what essentially amounts to free money. This should be the first logical red flag, but many business owners are willing to take the existence of grant programs at face value as fact. Once the business owners are sold on their grant applications, the next phase of the scam kicks in. You will be sold (or attempt to be sold) an expensive audit of your business plan, additional help filing your request, a one time fee, or

One of the greatest advantages small business owners have is their ability to quickly adapt to changing industry standards and marketing techniques, picking and choosing what works and what doesn’t much more effectively than a larger brand which usually has more inertia when it comes to making strategic decisions. An arena that small business owners are competing in very successfully is social media. Given the strong relationships that many small businesses are able to build with their customers and the either free or cheap costs of running a social media profile, even bad credit business owners are able to loan attention to the powerful source of business it represents. One of the newer offers in the social media marketing  landscape is Snapchat. Snapchat is a unique messenger service, sending messages in the form of pictures or videos that delete themselves after a preset viewing period of a few seconds. Snapchat is popular among millennials in particular, but also sees use in other age groups. What makes Snapchat

Many small business owners want to expand the techniques they use to market to their clients and build loyalty, but don’t have a huge budget to play with, or a lot of time to tinker with fine tuning something. Enter the newsletter, a simple concept that has stood the test of time thanks to its effectiveness and ability to increase engagement with a brand’s key customers. Small business owners in any industry can benefit from the creation of newsletters, and some businesses may wish to have more than one mailing list in order to run the gamut from enthusiastic clients to industry partners. Putting together a mailing list is a lot more simple nowadays thanks to CRM tools like Mailchimp and ConstantContact. You have the option of building a template for your newsletter that is simple to copy and edit to change out content on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Take the time to build a nice looking template. If you can’t, consider purchasing

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