Wednesday, September 30, 2015

An Offer from MailChimp

$100,000 Scholarship Program

In April, we started partnering with Skillshare on a series of educational classes about email marketing. It’s been fun and effective, so we’re excited to help Skillshare with a new project to further empower small businesses. Together, we‘ll be awarding $100,000 in annual scholarships granting small business owners access to Skillshare’s full educational catalog. Skillshare offers hundreds of business courses with experts like Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, and Lisa Congdon—plus 4 courses from MailChimp all about email marketing. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or a marketer, investing in education is a great way to grow your business, and Skillshare can help.

Nearly Two in Three Millennials Block Ads

Ads are sometimes relevant, but often still blocked Ad blocking has been around for a long time, but digital advertisers and publishers are seeing it as an increasing problem. Research suggests that a solid majority of internet users ages 18 to 34 are now blocking ads when they view digital content Read more at Emarketer

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Build a Brand in 5 Days

You’ve validated your business idea, you’ve done your market research, and hopefully you’ve registered your business name. Now it’s time for the fun stuff. If you’ve ever wondered how to build a brand for your business, you’ve come to the right place. Work through these exercises each day and in less than a week, you’ll have a good sense of not only how you are uniquely positioned to compete with others, but also how to convey your brand message to the world. If you know you have to build your brand but aren’t quite sure of the reasons why, it’s worth reading our article on 4 Reasons to Brand Your Business, as well as Want Customer Loyalty? Build Your Brand. Now you know that branding really is a necessary step to starting a business, you can get to work. The infographic below is intended to be worked through as you might an exercise. Originally we ran it as a five-day challenge; if that’s how you’d prefer to read it, you can find each of the challenge days here. Read more at Bplans

Monday, September 28, 2015

Baby Boomers Not Fans of Mobile Ads

7.9% say they are likely to purchase products advertised on mobile Mobile shopping and advertising have caught on quickly in the US. While younger mobile users appreciate the convenience of smartphones for shopping, baby boomers are less sure. And they're a lot more sure they don't like ads on their devices. Read more at: emarketer

Friday, September 25, 2015

10 Tips on How to Start a Consulting Business

Considering becoming a consultant? Here are 10 tips: 1. Take it seriously Do it right. Stay mindful of the old adage about a consultant being somebody who is between jobs. Avoid making that impression. Have a website and business cards. Establish a social media presence as a consulting business. Don’t let your clients or potential clients doubt you. Read more at bplans

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Are You Marketing, or Spamming?

From the outside, we know spam when we see it: links in comments that have nothing to do with conversations, emails that we didn’t ask for and aren’t interested in, and constant, high pressure attempts to sell, sell, sell. But from the inside, it can be harder to tell if the marketing we’re doing is spammy or responsible. Oh, sure, there are some easy clues. If you’re copying and pasting the same comment on a dozen websites, you definitely need to take a long look at the integrity of your tactics. Just to have a profile or post random things on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn is not marketing. But if you’re truly not sure, how do you determine whether or not you’re spamming? Read more at Bplans

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How to Keep Your Spam from Killing Your Business

It may not sound exciting, but it is important, especially if you’re taking your business’s marketing into your own hands. It’s also important to note that there are differences in terms of what laws apply between sending out a physical mailer to a mailbox, and sending an email. Most of the requirements of U.K. and U.S. anti-spam legislation will be met if you follow these two guidelines: Don’t mislead your customers, and make sure that you are collecting your customers’ private information legally. But, there are a few more things you need to keep in mind, so let’s begin. In the U.S., general advertising laws apply, but there is no specific legislation for the content of direct or mail marketing. Read more at Bplans

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

5 Reasons Why A Social Media Content Calendar Is Important For Your Business

Advice on managing social media content from hootsuite.com:

Creating a plan, a template, or a calendar simply means that you make all the necessary information available to all the relevant stakeholders in one place. It takes in all your channels and resources and organizes them in a way that makes it easy to access information you need when you need it. What is a social media content calendar? A social media content calendar should organize the way you curate and create content, and help develop your editorial strategy. A social media calendar cuts extra time out of your content marketing strategy and helps you allocate your resources wisely, to help ensure your brand consistently publishes high-quality, well-written, high-performing content pieces.

Read more at hootsuite

Monday, September 21, 2015

Kickstarter is now a Benefit Corporation

From Kickstarter:

Kickstarter Inc is no more. We’re now Kickstarter PBC — a Public Benefit Corporation. We’re thrilled to share this news, and we’d love to take a minute to tell you exactly what it means.

Until recently, the idea of a for-profit company pursuing social good at the expense of shareholder value had no clear protection under U.S. corporate law, and certainly no mandate. Companies that believe there are more important goals than maximizing shareholder value have been at odds with the expectation that for-profit companies must exist ultimately for profit above all.
Benefit Corporations are different. Benefit Corporations are for-profit companies that are obligated to consider the impact of their decisions on society, not only shareholders. Radically, positive impact on society becomes part of a Benefit Corporation’s legally defined goals.

Kickstarter is excited to join a growing list of forward-thinking organizations — like Patagonia and This American Life — that have taken the big step to become a Benefit Corporation. While only about .01% of all American businesses have done this, we believe that can and will change in the coming years. More and more voices are rejecting business as usual, and the pursuit of profit above all.

If you want to see what we think is important, you can find a link to our Benefit Corporation charter here. We’ve spelled out a specific list of values and commitments we’ll live by: We renew our longstanding commitment to arts and culture. We declare how we plan to conduct ourselves in situations that are often swayed by profit motives. And we newly commit to donate 5% of annual post-tax profits to arts education and organizations fighting inequality. Every year, we’ll release an assessment of how we’re performing on the commitments we’ve made.

There was not a single dissenting vote by a Kickstarter shareholder to re-incorporate as a Benefit Corporation. We’re once again grateful for the support and partnership we’ve had from this group of friends, investors, and current and former team members. Thank you all!

From Kickstarter’s inception, we’ve focused on serving artists, creators, and audiences to help bring creative projects to life. Our new status as a Benefit Corporation hard-codes that mission at the deepest level possible to guide us, and future leaders of Kickstarter.

To all the creators and backers who have helped make Kickstarter what it is today — we’re excited to keep working with you, and helping new creative projects come to life as Kickstarter PBC.

From the News York Times: Kickstarter Focuses Its Mission on Altruism Over Profit

Friday, September 18, 2015

How to Define Your Target Market

What’s my target market? What should it be? How would I know? Here’s a list of five things that will help you figure it out. 1. Don’t try to please everybody Strategy is focus. Say you’re running a restaurant; which of these three options is easier? Pleasing customers 40 to 75 years old, wealthy, much more concerned with healthy eating than cheap eating, appreciating seafood and poultry, liking a quiet atmosphere. Pleasing customers 15 to 30 years old, with limited budgets, who like a loud place with low prices and fast food. Pleasing everybody. Read more at bplans

New Census Web Tool Helps Business Owners Make Data Driven Decisions

Census Business Builder
New Census Web Tool Helps Business Owners Make Data Driven Decisions
 The U.S. Census Bureau released Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition, a new Web tool that allows business owners and entrepreneurs to easily navigate and use key demographic and economic data to help guide their research into opening a new business or adding to an existing one.
The Census Business Builder was developed with user-centered design at its core and incorporated feedback from customers and stakeholders, including small business owners, trade associations and other government agencies.
The tool combines data from the American Community Survey, the economic census, County Business Patterns and other economic surveys to provide a complete business profile of an area. Business statistics include the number of establishments, employment, payroll and sales. American Community Survey statistics include population characteristics, economic characteristics and housing characteristics.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cash Flow 101: Growing Your Business

Now that you’ve solved your cash flow problems, it’s time to figure out how exactly you want to approach growing your business. Unfortunately, since the needs and strengths of every organization are different, there isn’t really a cookie-cutter approach you can take to ensure your business will expand effectively. As such, it’s important that you do your due diligence prior to investing your capital. After all, you don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed with cash flow problems right after you’ve solved them. 1. Expand to new locations Whether you’re running a retail shop, a medical practice, a restaurant, or even a business-to-business tech company, you may be able to generate higher profits by expanding your organization to new physical (or even digital) locations. But, it’s important to remember that you can’t expect to simply open a second location, sit back, and watch your bank account get fatter. Believe it or not, the success of one location doesn’t really have any bearing on the success of another one. So prior to branching out, you need to consider a host of factors. For starters, before you can think about opening another location, you need to make sure your existing ones are operating like well-oiled machines (i.e., they’re profitable and both customers and employees are happy). You then need to find the right piece of property—geographically or digitally—and make sure you have the right people in place to make it a winner. Read more at bplans

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

3 Questions to Help Build Your Business Strategy

As someone that has started several small businesses over the years and advised many small business owners, one challenging area for a lot of people is the idea that you need to set a strategy. Business owners need a strategy that will enable them to understand the value that they bring to the market, and to ultimately target an audience of buyers that will need and buy their products and services. Setting your strategy Like most challenges we face as business owners, the challenge of strategy comes down to one of focus. Not so much focus on achieving activities or doing so many things, but focus when it comes to understanding the key drivers that will propel your business forward. Read more at bplans

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How to Pitch and Get Funded

Get expert pitch advice from an entrepreneur who raised close to $1 million. Caroline Cummings shares her pitch secrets, techniques, and tools in this free eBook, “How to Pitch and Get Funded.”

What you will learn:

  • The purpose of the pitch
  • The importance of mentors and advisers
  • How to deliver an elevator pitch
  • How to deliver a video pitch
  • How to deliver a one-page pitch


Read more at Bplans

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Difference Between Benefit Corps and Certified B Corps (And Deciding What’s Right for Your Business)

Most people start a business with one key objective in mind – making a profit. Yet some companies seek out not only to profit but also to provide a tangible benefit to society and the environment. These companies, depending upon a few specific criteria, are classified as Benefit Corporations or Certified B Corporations.
Confused by the difference between the two? Didn’t even realize there was a difference? You’re not alone – it’s one of the most confusing aspects of a recent movement for companies focused on giving back. Benefit Corporations and Certified B Corporations have a lot in common, but there are a few key differences. 

Benefit Corps

To date, 31 states (including New York)  as well as Washington, D.C. have passed laws creating a new type of corporation – the Benefit Corporation (often referred to as “Benefit Corp”).  Benefit Corporation status involves a separate process available to companies in every state. These companies pledge to think about people and the planet in addition to profit (most are committed to a specific social mission), but Benefit Corporations voluntarily work against standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Business Startup Checklist

Starting your own business may sound like an undertaking of epic proportions. The truth is, it’s not. Yes, you’re going to have to work hard, and commit to working on it at all hours of the day, but actually getting set up is simply down to making sure you’ve “checked all the boxes,” which is exactly what this business startup checklist aims to help you do. 1. Find a good business idea A good business idea isn’t just one that turns a profit. It’s one that’s a good fit for you personally, for your target market, and for your location. You’re going to be in business for the long haul, so you really should pick something you can live and breathe. Identify your strengths and weaknesses Conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself Come up with a business idea that caters to your strengths Define what success looks like for you Do your research: What are popular businesses today? Read more at bplans

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Buying A Franchise? First Impressions Count

First impressions. They’re worth so much.
In franchising, the first impression you get when you start to look at a specific franchise opportunity, dictates how far you’ll go with your investigation.  These days, it’s the franchise company website* that is often where people who are looking at franchises get theirs.
According to website conversion expert Peep Laja*, website visitors form their first impression in about 50 milliseconds. That’s not a lot of time.
And, once you do get interested in a franchise opportunity, franchisors have to keep you interested. They do this in a number of ways. And, your impression of how they do it is crucial.

Ways To Keep You Interested

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Technology Transfer Days September 29-October 2

the Technology Transfer Days program is coming to the Brooklyn SBDC. If you are developing technology that may have military applications, check out the information about this event.

This is an opportunity for people to speak directly with folks from the Department of Defense and get funding. Deadline for registration is 18 September. Participants must participate in a technology that pertains to the Communities of Interest (COI) that is listed below.

• Autonomy
• Advanced Electronics
• Biomedical
• Command, Control, Comms, Computers & Intelligence
• Cybersecurity
• Data to Decisions
• Electronic Warfare
• Energy & Power Technologies
• Engineered Resilient Systems
• Human Systems
• Materials & Manufacturing
• Space

For more information, go to Technology Transfer Days.org. Contact: info@technologytransferdays.org or 646-543-2009

Upcoming SBA Webinars


Recover From the Most Likely Disaster: Power Outage

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 | 2:00 to 2:30 PM ET
  
Nearly 70% of businesses in the United States will lose power sometime in the next 12 months. Most businesses are unprepared to withstand such an event, and recover from it quickly. During this webinar we’ll discuss strategies to mitigate this threat and best practices for a swift and efficient recovery. 
  


Webinar | Q&A Session with Small Business Mentors: Get Your Questions Answered 


Tuesday, September 15, 2015 |  2:00 PM ET

Do you have questions about the best way to market your new or existing small business? Join the Small Business Administration (SBA) and AARP during a free hour-long webinar on September 15 to learn about: 
  • Developing your business idea and plan 
  • Securing financing 
  • Marketing 
  • Getting a mentor, and more! 
  

Webinar | How Small Businesses Can Leverage the Small Business Payments Toolkit 

Friday, September 18, 2015 | 1:30 - 2:30 PM ET
  
Relying on checks is risky for small businesses. During this free webinar hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis small business owners will learn how to leverage the Small Business Payments Toolkit to help improve payments processing, how to avoid being victimized by payment fraud, and obtain practical tips on how to adopt electronic payments, with an emphasis on Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments. 
  
  

Webinar | Payments Fraud Trends and the U.S. EMV Card Migration: What You Need to Know 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 | 2:00 PM ET 
  
Financial institutions and their customers are targets of ever-evolving fraud schemes. This is a concern for small businesses seeking to protect their organization's payment transactions. In this webinar you will learn: 
  • Payment instruments that are most vulnerable to fraud schemes 
  • Methods and risk management services financial institutions are using to sharpen defenses against fraud attacks 
  • Payment fraud trends 
  • Fraud-fighting methods and tips to avoid victimization from fraudsters   

The Affordable Care Act 101 Webinar Series 

Find out how to navigate the changes and opportunities in health care through the Affordable Care Act 101 webinar series. Registration is free, but required.   
  
The webinar takes place every other Thursday at 2 PM ET
The Affordable Care Act 101 in Spanish takes place once monthly on Tuesdays at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT. 
For more information on what the health care law means for small businesses, check out www.sba.gov/healthcare

Restricted or Prohibited Words and Phrases in the name of a Business Corporation

The use of the following words and phrases are restricted or prohibited by statute* in the name of a Business Corporation (“BC”), Not-for Profit Corporation (“N-PC”), Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) and/or Limited Partnership (“LP”):

academycooperativeinstitutepreschool
acceptancecooperationinsuranceredevelopment
"America Espirito Sport Fraternite"councilinvestmentsavings
annuitydoctorkindergartenschool
arboretumeducationlaborsecondary
assuranceelementarylawyerstate police
attorneyendowmentlibrarystate trooper
bankexchangeloansurety
benefitfidelitymortgagetenant relocation
blindfinancemuseumtitle
board of tradeguarantynursery schooltrust
casualtyhandicappedOlympiadunderwriter
chamber of commercehistoricalOlympicunion
"Citius Altius Fortius"historical societyPan-AmericanUnited Nations
collegehistoryParalympiaduniversity
community renewalincorporatedParalympicurban development
conservatoryindemnitypartnershipurban relocation
corporationindustrial organizationprekindergarten

More information from the NY Department of State, Division of Corporations

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

How to Get Out of a Business Rut

Do you feel stuck in your business? Have you hit a plateau and you can’t seem to turn things around?

Then check out Carmen Sognonvi's interview with Brian Young, founder of Home Painters Toronto. Brian overcame 15 straight years of decline in his business to triple his revenues in the last three years. And what did it take for that to happen? Getting punched in the face by a customer.

More from Carmen Sognovi.

Monday, September 07, 2015

From "Invented in America" to "Made in America"

Note: This post originally appeared on the White House blog. It is authored by Jason Miller, Deputy Assistant to the President and the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.
Summary: We applaud new legislation that's helping startups scale up production in the United States. 
The story of American manufacturing is one of grit and resilience. But it’s also the result of investments across the public and private sectors in skills and cutting-edge technologies to lay the foundation for a new period of manufacturing growth and resurgence. Over the past five years, we’ve added nearly 900,000 new manufacturing jobs, the fastest rate of growth in decades. Manufacturing production has increased by almost a third since the recession, and the number of factories operating in the United States is growing for the first time since the 1990s.
Right now is a moment of opportunity for American manufacturing that we cannot allow to pass us by. North America is becoming the epicenter of energy. We have the greatest research universities. And we have a legal system that adjudicates claims fairly and protects intellectual property.
But there is more work to be done to help our small manufacturers, makers, and entrepreneurs grow.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Most and Least Liked Industries in America

The computer industry is the most liked business sector by Americans, according to a recent report from Gallup. The report was based on data from a Gallup poll conducted in August 2015 of a random sample of 1,011 adults....

Some 69% of respondents say have a positive view of the computer industry, and only 10% say they have a negative view. Other industries with high net scores (positive rating minus negative) are the restaurant, Internet, grocery, farming, travel, accounting, and retail sectors.

The federal government is the least liked sector (-29 net score), and the oil and gas industry is the second least liked (-13).

Read more Marketing Profs


Friday, September 04, 2015

Build Your Brand by Separating It From Product

Sometimes the hardest thing—conceptually—for marketers to do is to separate their brand from their product.

"Product is king."

"All people really care about is the product."

"Price and product—that's it."

"Our brand is our product—they're one in the same."

I've heard it all before, and from some very successful people. But it's all an illusion. None of it is true. When people choose brands, they are projecting an extension of themselves onto the brand. The brand augments their identity, just as their choice of friends, music, and fashion does.

Consumers will literally brand themselves by identifying with your brand. It's personal. It's emotional.

Here's what a brand really does

To develop a brand, you need to understand how it works and what it does. You need to separate your brand from your product, and think of it as its own entity.


Read more from MarketingPros

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Do All Small Businesses Aspire to Grow?

Although conventional wisdom may suggest the answer is yes, the short answer is, not always.

There are many factors that determine the size of a business. Such factors include access to finance for key investments, costs of doing business, health of the overall economy, and industry-related trends. Although these can be important constraints for growth, entrepreneurial motivations also matter. Some entrepreneurs just do not want to make it to the big leagues.

In fact, survey data has shown that scaling up their business model is not the top priority for small business owners in the United States. Instead, they value a business that is a size they can manage by themselves or with the aid of a few employees. This is particularly true for necessity-driven entrepreneurs, for whom starting a business often responds to scarce high-quality employment opportunities.

More from AIER

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Choosing a Business Name: 5 Interesting Things to Know

There’s plenty of advice out there about choosing a business name, such as the need to do a name search in your state, a trademark search, register the name, and other key legal issues.  Those are all important factors to consider as you choose a business name.
But I’d like to focus today on five considerations you should also be thinking about. These five things may be overlooked when choosing a business name (or thinking about a re-branding of your business):

Dot Com Domain Names Still Rule

Today’s small businesses depend on Web presence to generate leads.  Prospective customers are researching businesses online before they buy, so being findable online is crucial. 
Before you settle on a choice for a business name, go to your favorite domain registrar, and search to see whether the .com URL is available.  The “dot com” version of a name is still the go-to address that most of the public thinks of automatically.  So whenever possible, try to get the dot com version of your chosen name. 
Otherwise, you may end up like me – buying that dot com extension at auction on the secondary market later –for thousands of dollars. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tips for Marketing Live Events in the Era of SMAC

Today, four technologies are driving live-event marketing: social, mobile, analytics, and the Cloud—"SMAC."

SMAC technologies provide myriad new ways to get to know your fans, reach them at the right time through the right channel, and measure results to ensure you spend your precious event marketing dollars wisely.

The days of spreading the word about concerts or other live events with fliers and radio spots have all but disappeared, laid to rest alongside the cassette tape and the Discman in the graveyard of Music Industry Past.

Here are four ways that live event promoters and venues can use SMAC in their digital marketing.



Read more from MarketingProfs