Wednesday, July 31, 2019

US Parents Get Digital After Dark

Article by Lucy Koch
From eMarketer

After the children are tucked in, most parents probably intend for that time to be quiet and interruption-free. But relaxing after the kids are asleep typically involves media consumption—which can also be an opportune window for marketers to reach those parents.

The No.1 post-bedtime activity for both mothers and fathers is watching TV or movies, according to an August 2018 survey by Brigham Young University and Deseret News. Mothers are more likely than fathers to use this time for interaction with people outside of the household. And more respondents in both groups said those interactions took place on social media, rather than on phone calls or texts.

Parents aren’t on their devices before bed just for entertainment purposes, they’re also shopping. In the OpenX/Harris Poll survey, 46% of parent respondents said they use their phones in bed at night to research purchases more than once a week, and 20% said they transact in-bed purchases by phone that often.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Future of Your Workplace Depends on Your Purpose

By Jennifer Robison
From Gallup


In his annual letter to the leaders of companies that his asset management firm invests in, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink wrote, "Profits are in no way inconsistent with purpose -- in fact profits and purpose are inextricably linked."

Leaders can be left with no doubt: Increasing profit and share price are the basics. Advocating for purpose to be an integral part of an organization's culture defines successful leadership.

Astute leaders increasingly understand the effect purpose has on business outcomes. But purpose can't be limited to just a slogan. To advance, inspire and unite a company, purpose must be actualized in the day-to-day work. Gallup data show businesses have a long way to go on purpose -- but Gallup analytics show leaders how to get there.

Friday, July 26, 2019

What the Best Small Business Websites Have in Common

By Beth Thouin
From Web.com

Consumers are now doing more research before they buy, so making an investment in your small business website is an absolute must.

With 56% of online shoppers and 45% of brick and mortar shoppers reading reviews before purchasing, their expectation is that they’ll be able to self-serve and get many of their questions answered during their research phase.

This means your website needs to be modern and give consumers what they want — information to qualify their buying decisions.

The most essential part of your business is its purpose and similarly, your website has to clearly express this purpose. Your business and your website need to thoughtfully address the needs of your visitors, and the best small business websites have this practice down from the start.

Before you buy your domain, make sure it was never used in the past for purposes you don’t want to associate your business with. Some domains already have a bad spam score once purchased, and only the best websites know to avoid these blunders. Once you’ve found your domain, do a quick Wayback Machine search to see if it was ever used before.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The FIVE MANDATORY Things You Need if You Want to SELL Your Business

By Wayne Rivers
For the Family Business Institute

[Here are] five mandatory things you have to have if you're going to attempt to sell the family business. And this is important because all of us dream one day of exiting the business, and we'd like to do it with a few nickels in our pocket and we'd like to do it while we still have enough health to travel and enjoy life a bit. And we know there are only four ways to dispose of a family business.

You can close the doors and walk away from it; well, we're not going to do that. You can give it to your kids, that's a whole lot less common than it once was. Or you can sell it, and you could sell it in two
ways. You could sell it to insiders, you could sell it outsiders. We all dream of selling the business for big dollars to some outsider...

Every one of those businesses was dependent on one or two or a tiny handful of people for everything. If they were going to buy those businesses, they were actually buying the individuals that ran them, and that's not what they wanted. A buyer wants to buy a business with all the things in place it needs to run, whether the head guy shows up or not. So that's the fatal flaw that kills most family business transactions right there. Number one...

They want to see that you have a unique niche in the market. If you're in the commodity business, providing a commodity service, and let's face it, most of us are, then there's really nothing to distinguish you for a buyer. So, if you're a construction company out there doing hard dollar bid work the way you've been doing it since the '60s or '70s, why would I want to buy your company?

With a little bit of capital, which I have as a buyer, I could just come into town, open an office of my own, and guess what? I can do hard dollar bids just as easily as you can. Same thing with a manufacturer or wholesaler: if you're just in a commodity business and you don't have a unique niche somehow in the marketplace that you can easily identify, then that makes you a lot less valuable to a potential purchaser.




Monday, July 22, 2019

Direct Mail is Hot Again. Here’s How to Use It

By Rieva Lesonsky
From the Small Business Administration

From Glossier to Quip, a variety of hip new companies is targeting millennials with...mailers? From postcards to catalogs, “hot, digitally savvy, direct-to-consumer” brands including Casper, Harry’s, Wayfair, Rover, Quip, Away, Handy, and Modcloth have all started targeting customers via direct mail, Vox notes.

Here’s why direct mail is hot again and how your business can use it effectively.

Why Direct Mail Is Hot
Why is direct mail so hot? One reason is a higher trust factor. Younger consumers don’t associate direct mail with “junk mail” the way older consumers do. They’re more likely to attach that label to email.

Direct mail can be more effective. While direct mail and email marketing campaigns get similar response rates, a recent study found direct mail campaigns generate purchases five times larger than email campaigns. Combining email with direct mail led to the best results of all: purchases six times larger than email alone generated.

Direct mail stands out. Young people get hundreds of emails a day but only a few pieces of actual mail, notes one marketer quoted by Vox. In the same way digital-first companies such as Warby Parker and Glossier have begun opening physical stores to create a special experience, sending physical mail is a way to stand out from the crowd.

Direct mail is more shareable. Unlike email that goes to one person, physical mail goes to a household. RetailWire reports 88% of key purchase decisions for retail, financial and automotive categories are discussed at home, and direct mail pieces give recipients a reason to talk over the offer.

Direct mail has a longer lifespan. Email has a lifespan of just a few seconds, RetailWire reports, while direct mail’s average lifespan is 17 days.

Making Direct Mail Work
If you want to get started with direct mail, you have several options, including postcards, catalogs or catalog-like booklets. There are even group mailers that combine several companies’ offers in an envelope. (Vox cites one company, Share Local Media, that’s targeting millennial Brooklyn hipsters with the type of mailers their parents used to get full of ads for mini blinds or power washing services.)

The option you choose will be based on your budget (direct mail isn’t cheap) and your goals. Once you’ve made a decision:

Start with your existing customers. If your direct mail isn’t relevant to the recipient, it will hit the circular file. More than two-thirds (68%) of consumers immediately throw away mail from a brand or retailer they haven’t heard of. However, 76% will discuss mail from a brand or retailer they have purchased from in the past.

Target your mailings. Focus your mailings on people who have expressed interest either in your business or your category. Two-thirds of consumers will discuss mail from a brand or retailer they’ve never heard of if the category is of interest to them; 54% will discuss mail from a brand/retailer they have heard of, but not purchased from. You can target customer demographics using the USPS Every Door Direct Mail program, buy or rent mailing lists from companies like InfoUSA or DirectMail.com, or create your own house mailing lists.

Style it right. If you’re trying to attract millennial consumers, think of your direct mail pieces as physical Instagram posts. Keep the text brief, the layout streamlined and the photography eye-catching.

Make worthwhile offers. Email offers for discounts are a dime a dozen, clogging up the average millennial’s mailbox. But a glossy postcard or catalog with a special offer can catch the eye. Make it worth the customer’s while, not just a few dollars off.

Create landing pages for your direct mail. Three-fourths of people who use direct mail to make purchasing decisions also consult online sources for more information, so drive them where you want them to go. If you’re sending out a direct mail piece promoting a sale on your store’s athletic shoes, for instance, include a URL that goes to a landing page for that specific offer.

Don’t overload them. Direct mail is special precisely because your customers don’t get a lot of it. Carefully limit how often you send direct mail to avoid it becoming “spam” and eroding the recipient’s trust. For example, you could send direct mail with a special offer for a customer’s birthday, or after somebody makes their first purchase.

Combine direct mail with email. Media Post suggests starting with direct mail and following up a week later with email. It also recommends sending two emails for everyone piece of direct mail. You can make direct mail part of your automated marketing campaigns by setting up triggers to send direct mail after a prospect takes certain actions, just as you would with a drip email campaign. Both the email and the direct mail piece should use the same design elements and messaging to reinforce your brand and your offer.

Track results. Use landing page visits, coupon codes, and redemption rates to see how well your direct mail campaign is working.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Why SWOT Analysis Belongs in Your Business Plan

By Tim Berry
From Bplans

We divided the discussion into four parts, opened it up, set the tone as brainstorming—no bad ideas, and no taboos—and had good discussions about all four elements: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, as they related to our financials and key metrics, the business climate in our industry, and the work we were doing together to grow our business.

The goal of a SWOT analysis is to develop actionable insights—you want to catch opportunities and pitfalls sooner. It’s one way to minimize risk when you’re starting and growing your business.

It was in one of these sessions that somebody suggested that I should change my focus a bit and deal more with the large picture than the specific code. It was also in a SWOT session that we realized we needed to make our product downloadable on the web (back in 1998, when we were among the first). In another session, we realized, as a group, that our key differentiator was the know-how and how-to built into our software.


Friday, July 12, 2019

5 People You Should Talk With Before Starting a Business

By Lisa Furgison
From Bplans
You’re probably mulling over a business idea. It’s probably something you’ve been thinking about for a while. And you’re probably ready to turn your business idea into a reality.

As part of the planning stage, you’ll want to gather information, do research, and make sure that your business idea is viable. During this information-gathering stage, there’s a small list of people you should talk with before you move forward with bigger steps like applying for a bank loan or looking at commercial space.

One of the first people you should talk with about this new venture is your spouse. It sounds like a no-brainer, right? But some people get so caught up in their business idea that they don’t have a real sit-down conversation about how the business could impact their relationship, finances, and free time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

TV Viewers Browse Online While Watching Their Favorites

By Blake Droesch
From eMarketer

In this modern age of entertainment, one screen is no longer enough to satisfy most.

We forecast 180.8 million US adults will be two-screen viewers in 2019—meaning that 70.1% of the adult population will use a computer or mobile device to browse online while watching either digital video or traditional TV.

And even the most compelling film and TV content can’t grab the full attention of nearly half of US adults, according to a March 2019 report from CivicScience.

Forty-eight percent of adults in the US engage with a second screen (smartphone, tablet or laptop) while watching their favorite shows and movies on TV, compared with 38% who do not. The remaining 13% either don’t watch TV, don’t own a smartphone, tablet or laptop, or they watch video only on mobile devices.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Why Small & Mid-Size Manufacturers Need to Automate

By David Mantey
From ThomasNet

Small and midsize manufacturers need to automate if they’re going to compete. That's according to industry insider Bob Doyle who discussed the state of the automation industry in a recent interview leading up to Automate 2019 in Chicago.

According to Doyle, that’s one of the biggest myths about automation, that robots take jobs. He says that it not only creates jobs, but it creates higher paying positions. The investment in technology also helps companies become more efficient and subsequently hire more workers to keep up with growth.

In February, the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) announced that robots shipped to North American companies increased by seven percent in 2018. What was particularly interesting is that shipments to non-automotive companies are up 41%. Most of the growth came from the food, consumer goods, plastics and rubber, life sciences, and electronics industries.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Top 10 Business Credit Terms Small Business Owners Should Know

By Marco Carbajo
From the Small Business Administration

As a small business owner, it is important to have an understanding of business credit terms. Similar to personal credit, business credit determines whether your company can be trusted by the way it manages money. Like personal credit, business credit is a reflection of how well your company manages money.

Why is business credit important?

The Nav American Dream Gap Survey, 2015 revealed of small business owners surveyed, 45% did not know they have a business credit score, 72% did not know where to find information on their business credit score and 82% didn’t know how to interpret their score.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a financial expert to negotiate the world of business credit. By knowing some key terms and definitions surrounding business credit, you can earn lenders’ trust and make your way to successful funding.

Here are the top ten business credit terms you should know:

1. Accounts Receivable – Also known as A/R, accounts receivable refers to the money owed to your business by others for products or services provided.

2. Business Credit Report – A business credit report is a detailed report of a company’s credit history prepared by a business credit reporting agency. The information contained in a business credit report provides crucial details needed to make informed credit decisions.

The data in a small business credit report is vital to getting the funding you need to successfully run and grow a business.

3. Business Credit Score – While a personal credit score is a number that represents an individuals credit history; a business credit score represents the credit risk of a business itself. Each business credit reporting agency has a different type of scoring model with scores ranging from 1-100.

4. Cash Flow – This is the cash that flows in and out of your business in a month. The cash coming into the business can come from customers & clients. Cash going out can be from expenses such as rent, payroll, taxes, etc.

5. Collateral – Any assets used to secure credit or a loan for the business is collateral and can be tangible or intangible. When you pledge an asset for collateral, it becomes subject to seizure by the lender if the business defaults on the terms.

6. Gross Profit – After deducting the costs it takes to make and sell your company’s products or services, the gross profit is the money that remains. The gross profit shows up on the company’s income statement.

7. Line of Credit – A line of credit for a business is an account opened with a bank, credit union or lender that lets you borrow money when needed, up to a preset borrowing limit. Each issuer has its own unique underwriting criteria, guidelines and terms.

8. Net Terms – This is a specific type of trade credit offered to businesses which require payment in full in a short period of time after a product or service is purchased. The typical net terms are net 30 and net 60 days.

9. Personal Guarantee - A personal guarantee is a written promise from a business owner to accept responsibility in the event the business fails to pay.

10. Profit & Loss Statement - The profit and loss statement (P&L), also known as the net income statement, shows if your company is making money, breaking even or operating at a loss.

Having access to business credit is the lifeline for a small business. It enables you to obtain the cash you need to grow, cover daily expenses, buy equipment & inventory, hire additional employees and so on. With a knowledge and application of business credit, you are well on your way to creating an important safety net for your bu

Monday, July 01, 2019

What to Do if You're Surrounded by Yes-People

By Jane Smith
From Gallup


Do your best to make everyone who reports to you, directly or indirectly, feel heard. Specifically ask, "Is there something I could have done better in that situation?" or, "What do you need from me?"

Depending on your role, schedule team feedback sessions or company town halls with time dedicated to open Q&A.

Hearing the true state of things can be jarring, especially if the culture at your company is for leaders to be cheerleaders for an initiative or change. You need to know how those changes affect people down the line.

People want to do what you hired them to do. They also want to know that you depend on their expertise -- that their role is important, and you trust them.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Are Marketers Being Realistic About Their Customer Experience?

Article by Lucy Koch
From erMarketing

Marketers and consumers feel differently about the delivery of an excellent customer experience. To reconcile this, marketers should turn their attention to consumers’ top concerns, such as privacy and personalization.

In the US, almost half of marketers think they’re delivering an “excellent” customer experience, according to January 2019 research from The Harris Poll. But fewer than a quarter of consumers felt the same.

Privacy, the concern emphasized most in the study, received 4.1 fewer points from consumers than from marketers. Additionally, 60% of respondents said they’d be less likely to shop or use services in the future if a company sent their personal information to other companies.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How to Get Past the Fear of Buying a Franchise

By Joel Libava
From Small Business Administration

Before I share my ideas on how you can get past your fear of buying a franchise, I need to address this issue:

It’s perfectly normal to have feelings of fear when you’re thinking about buying a franchise. Let’s see if I can help alleviate some of these fears for you.

Transition Fears

You’re probably worried about the transition you’ll be making if you decide to move forward with the franchise opportunity you’re interested in.

The transition I’m referring to is from employee to employer. And it’s a big one.

The reason it’s so big is because of all the responsibilities you’ll have as the owner of a franchise. You’ll be responsible for things like:

Hiring
Payroll
Inventory
Marketing
Operations
Business Development
Expenses

And part of your fear has to do with the fact that you may not know how to do all of those things.

The good news is that when you’re a franchisee, you’ll receive formal training on every aspect of your franchise business. It’s part of what you’re paying for.

In essence, by the time you’re done with training, you’ll have the knowledge and the confidence you need to run your franchise business. As a result, your transition from employee to employer will be much smoother, and less scary.

Financial Fears

Investments can be risky. That includes an investment in a franchise business.

The fact is, you can lose your money in a franchise business. That’s because franchising isn’t perfect.

That’s why it’s important to:

A. Make sure you can afford the franchises you’re investigating

B. Choose and research the franchises you’re interested in carefully and methodically

Doing those two things can help you lower your risk, but I guarantee you’ll still be fearful about losing money.

The best way to walk through your fear is by doing everything you can to minimize your financial risk, like doing great research and staying within your budget.

Fear of Failure

This fear tends to rear its ugly head right when you’re about to make your yes or no decision on the franchise opportunity you’ve been investigating. But don’t kid yourself; this fear has been a part of your psyche ever since you had your first call with franchise headquarters.

That said, what if you do fail? What will happen?

First off, unless you’re able to sell your business before you close it down, you’ll be out the money you invested up-front. You’ll also be out the money you’ve been putting into the business since it opened.

Secondly, you may owe money to vendors, your landlord, and the bank where you took out your small business loan.

Admittedly, what I just described is very unpleasant in every respect. No one wants to lose money. But there’s something else.

When you fail at something, it affects you on the inside. You may feel like a failure.

In addition, it’s possible that you’ll feel like you’ve let others down, the ones who were rooting for you, your family and your friends. But things don’t have to go that way. You just have to be smart.

The upshot of all this is that while there’s a chance you’ll fail if you go into business as a franchise owner, there are specific things you can do to insure you’re making a good, well-thought out decision. Here they are:

1. Take the time to learn everything you can about franchising.

2. Make a commitment to only look at franchises you can afford.

3. Only look at franchises that offer an opportunity for you to use your top skills.

4. Do good research. That includes talking to 10 or more franchisees.

5. Write a thorough and realistic business plan.

6. Hire an experienced franchise attorney who will look out for your best interests.

7. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed into anything.

8. Make sure those closest to you are on board.

In conclusion, while it can be scary to become your own boss, using the suggestions I included in this article will go a long way in lessening your fears, and may even increase your chances of success.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Best Side Gigs to Make Money (Without Public Interaction)

BY MELANIE LOCKERT
From The Balance:

If you have an introverted personality, you might shy away from some jobs that require a lot of face time or public interaction.

There are numerous jobs and side gigs that are perfect for introverts, allowing you to make extra money without having to deal extensively with other people.

How much you make depends on what you’re selling and how much time you’re willing to put into it — this can be a side hustle to make you a little extra money​ or a full-time business that can make you thousands of dollars a month.

Also:

Are you an introverted small business owner? You are not alone: Networking and social gatherings
By Wayne Fowler
For the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce

Friday, June 21, 2019

How Will Climate Change Impact the Supply Chain?

By Kristin Manganello
From ThomasNet

Although “climate” is often used interchangeably with “weather,” the two are related but different. “Weather” refers to day-to-day atmospheric conditions and precipitation, whereas “climate” refers to the larger pattern of weather. Earth’s climate system consists of five components: the atmosphere (air), the hydrosphere (all fresh and saltwater), the cryosphere (ice), the lithosphere (solid land), and the biosphere (all living plants and animals).

Although weather and natural disasters have always been unpredictable to a certain degree, climate change has made it more difficult to predict the timing and severity of these events. This means that managing supply chains has become more challenging on several fronts.

These recent events serve as a reminder that warehouses, roads, railroads, power plants, and other critical facilities are extremely susceptible to the elements. “Extreme weather events can have a catastrophic effect on the production and transit of goods, thanks to phenomena such as excess rainfall, drought, wildfire, heat waves, and drought, to name a few,” Jake Rheude, director of business development and marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, told Thomas.