Friday, September 22, 2017

Startup Firms Created Over 2 Million Jobs in 2015

From the US Census Bureau:
 In 2015, the nation’s 414,000 startup firms created 2.5 million new jobs according to data from the Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics. In contrast, this level of startup activity is well below the pre-Great Recession average of 524,000 startup firms and 3.3 million new jobs per year for the period 2002-2006.
Other highlights include:
· Job creation in the United States totaled 16.8 million with job destruction equaling 13.7 million. Job creation minus job destruction equaled net job creation of 3.1 million in 2015.
· Young firms (those less than 6 years old) accounted for 11 percent of employment and 27 percent of job creation.
· Old firms (those more than 25 years old) comprised 62 percent of employment and 48 percent of job creation.
· The job creation rate for young firms, excluding startups, was 20 percent in 2015. This rate is above the Great Recession low of 15 percent in 2009, and it has recovered to its average level of 20 percent during the period 2002-2006.
· The net job creation rate for establishments in metro areas was 2.7 percent. For establishments in nonmetro areas, the rate was lower at 1.2 percent.
· States with the highest net job creation rates in 2015 — 3.4 percent and above — are in the South Atlantic, Pacific and Mountain divisions. There were significant differences in net job creation rates at the state level, ranging from about 5 percent to just below 0 percent.
The Business Dynamics Statistics are based on Business Register data, which covers all employers in the U.S. private nonfarm economy. The Business Register is based on administrative data combined with data from the Report of Organization (formerly known as the Company Organization Survey).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Small business owners file class-action suit against Equifax

From BizJournals:

An Atlanta firm filed the first class action suit brought against Equifax on behalf of 28 million American small businesses. The suit, filed on Sept. 19 by the Atlanta division of The Doss Firm LLC, claims that small business owners were disproportionally affected by the breach, as the availability of small business credit is often directly linked to its owners’ creditworthiness.

The suit notes that “about 60 percent of small businesses use loans to finance their operations… from maintaining cash flow to purchasing equipment,” making the loss of credit of particular concern to these individuals and their businesses.

From the lawsuit:

Many of the 143 million individuals whose PII [personally identifiable information] was hacked are also owners of small businesses that heavily rely on personal and business credit to operate and provide for families across this country. Any business with fewer than 500 employees is generally defined as a small business – a definition adopted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Reserve and the Small Business Administration.

There are about 28 million small businesses in America representing more than 99% of all American companies. Indeed, small businesses employ half of the private sector work force, and since 1995, small businesses have created about two out of every three net new jobs – 65% of the total job creation in the United States.

Business loans and credit have historically been critical for small businesses to survive because, unlike large firms, small businesses lack access to public institutional debt and equity capital markets. According to the Harvard Business School Article referenced in footnote 4, in 2012, over 85% of small businesses reported to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (the “NFIB”) that their primary financial institution was either a large or community bank.

In addition, according to the NFIB, about 60% of small businesses use loans to finance their operations, and use the loan capital for a variety of purposes, ranging from maintaining cash flow and working capital to purchasing equipment and financing real estate purchases.

How you can sue Equifax and be part of a lawsuit

Amazon's War on Small Business

From Inc:

Amazon's recent purchase of Whole Foods has spawned much speculation about the company's ultimate intentions. Probably the most perceptive and comprehensive is a recent article in the Harvard Business Review. Here's the money shot:

What Amazon will now study in the brick-and-mortar world - and more importantly, what it learns and how it applies the insights - can transform consumer retail in the United States. By buying Whole Foods, Amazon gets virtually limitless possibilities to test products and services, test price points and assortment interactions, redefine the price perception for organic and healthier foods, merge offline and online shopping experiences, and perhaps test home delivery or store pickup with ideal early adopters.

If that's true..., the acquisition is very bad news for the grocery giants, which may end up going the way of Borders, the once-huge chain that Amazon's original business model ran out of business.

However, if Amazon is planning what the HBR is predicting, it's even worse news for small businesses in the food production industry, like local farms and specialty food manufacturers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How to Find Anyone's Business Email Address

From Marketing Profs:

If you live in the world of marketing, you've likely wanted to find someone's contact information but had no idea where to start looking. Whether you're trying to cold-call a lead, pitch an investor, email a press release to an editor, or strike up a conversation with a potential employer, there are plenty of reasons to dig up contact information.

Email is one of the best ways to reach someone you're trying to connect with for the first time. It's less intrusive than a phone call and gives the recipient a chance to chew over whatever you're proposing.

Knowing where and how to look for information is the first step in finding critical contact information. In 2017, there's no better tool for finding information than Google—which processes over 40,000 search queries every second (see this nifty Google search counter ).

With the help of a few tools, you'll be able to find just about anybody's email address.

Most users don't realize that Google has search operators built into its engine that allow you to get more specific with your searches—and find what you're really looking for more quickly and with fewer searches.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Customer Service Issues That Annoy Consumers Most

From The Customer Service Issues That Annoy Consumers Most:

Consumers say the customer service issues most likely to make them stop doing business with a company are uninformed agents and long wait times, according to recent research from The Northridge Group.

The report was based on data from a survey of 1,000 consumers in the United States age 18 and older.

Respondents rate uninformed agents as the customer service issue most likely to result abandoning a company; long wait times to reach an agent ranks second, followed by unfriendly agents and difficult-to-use automated systems.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The DNA of an Entrepreneur Report

From Hiscox:
A study released this month by Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, reveals a confident and promising growth trend among US small businesses, with 72 percent of respondents reporting increased top-line revenue in the past year – the highest amount of any country surveyed. As both investment spending and export activities surge, profits are also on the rise, with 31 percent of US respondents reporting growth in the double-digits.

Now in its ninth year, The Hiscox DNA of an Entrepreneur report is a global study that surveyed more than 1,000 small and medium-sized US business owners about the financial pressures, stresses, opportunities and challenges they currently face.

Millennials Hitting Their Stride

This year’s findings show younger entrepreneurs are finding success and confidence as business owners. In fact, 56 percent of respondents under age 30 said their personal financial situation is better now than it was a year ago; 59 percent of respondents ages 30-39 also agreed with this statement. These age groups are also the most optimistic about the future – 73 percent of respondents under age 30 and 86 percent of their counterparts ages 30-39 shared positive sentiments about the future of their business over the next 12 months.

Who Feels Better Off? Depends on Your Gender and Age

Asked about their personal financial situation, more than half of US men running small businesses (51%) say they feel better off than a year ago. The figure for women is just 40 percent. There is also a pronounced age bias in the results. Nearly three out of five (58%) of those under 40 feel better off. At the over-50 level, the figure falls to 35 percent.

Attitudes Toward Government Improving

US small business owners are starting to change their attitude when it comes to government. In this year’s report, 46 percent of respondents said government policies were supportive of entrepreneurs, an increase from 34 percent in 2016. Interestingly, there was also an increase in the number of respondents saying political instability is having an impact on their business (31% to 36%).

Serial Entrepreneurs Driving Innovation

Despite already juggling the many facets of running one business, 26 percent of US small business owners currently operate more than one small business. They are a dynamic group, as 36 percent of these entrepreneurs are planning to develop a new product in the year ahead.

Overdependence on One Customer is a Concern

For the first time, we asked firms to tell us what proportion of their revenue was accounted for by their leading customer. Seventeen percent of small businesses are dependent on their largest customer for half or more of their revenue. The average figure for US firms is approximately one-quarter (27%) of their revenue. This a vulnerability many small businesses live with every day.

Embracing Non-Traditional Sources of Financing

Small business owners in the US are actively embracing non-traditional sources of financing, finding alternatives to bank financing. For example:

23 percent have borrowed funds using a credit card;
14 percent have turned to family and friends;
11 percent have brought in equity investors;
10 percent have used crowdsourcing; and
9 percent have raised money by remortgaging their house.
Cyber-attacks Cause Serious Loss

Technology has also introduced new challenges for small businesses, with 16 percent of respondents reporting that they have suffered a cyber-attack. Of those respondents, 61 percent cited the attack resulted in a serious loss to the company. Despite the damage a cyber-attack can do to a small business, only 10 percent of US small businesses reported having insurance that covers cyber risks, such as cyber-attacks or data breaches/loss.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Instant Gratification Nation: The Impatient American Consumer

From MarketingProfs

Many Americans say technology has made them more impatient today than they were five years ago, according to recent research from Fetch and YouGov.

The report was based on data from a survey of a YouGov poll conducted in May 2017 among 2,489 US adults age 18 and older.

Some 41% of respondents say technology has made them more impatient than they were five years ago. Among Millennials, the proportion is 45%.

Only 26% of respondents say they would wait longer than 30 minutes for takeout food, and 41% of consumers say they would not wait longer than 15 minutes for a ride requested via a mobile app.

Check out the infographic for more findings from the poll...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Eliminating A 3D Printing Risk

From ThomasNet:

As is the case with many technological advancements in the industrial sector, attention must always be paid to factors impacting the operational environment. So, in addition to “green” planning and regulatory compliance, employee safety is an obvious concern.

Recently, studies have shown that bits of carbon from the plastics and resins used as 3D printing materials can be released into the air during printer operation. When inhaled, these can present significant health concerns. The relatively “new” application of 3D printing within mainstream manufacturing also means no research had previously examined these potential safety concerns or devised safeguards against them.

Enter Chungsik Yoon and his colleagues from the Department of Environmental Health and Institute of Health and Environment at Seoul National University.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Latest Estimates for US Proximity Mobile Payments

From eMarketing:

Over the past few years, the use of mobile devices for financial activities has expanded from simply checking an account balance to include other types of transactions, such as proximity payments and peer-to-peer (P2P) fund transfers.

Millennials have pioneered the adoption of both mobile banking and payments, but adoption is also rising among older adults, according to eMarketer’s latest report, “US Mobile Banking and Payments: eMarketer’s Estimates for 2016-2021.”

eMarketer estimates the value of US proximity mobile payment transactions will total $49.29 billion in 2017, up 78.1% from last year. Though the growth rate will remain in double digits through the forecast period, it will slow down to 23.9% in 2021. That year, US consumers will use their mobile phones to pay for $189.97 billion worth of goods and services at a physical point of sale (POS).

The average annual spend per proximity mobile payment user in the US will reach $1,026 in 2017, surpassing $1,000 for the first time. That figure will continue to grow through 2021, when it will reach $2,646.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Practical Guide to Killing (or Saving) Your Corporate Blog in 100 Days

From MarketingProfs

You did it. You built a solid hub of corporate content.

You turned to the abundance of advice available out there—on how map out the content strategy, create newsroom-worthy content, build a following, and engage with users—and you did it.

But now what? You've got a well-planned behemoth of a content machine, but is it sustainable? Will it thrive? Will it survive a year, two years, five years later? Or a few months, even?

Unless all the sweat equity you put into building it continues at the same intensity and pace after it's built, likely not.

Fact is, your blog is destined for a sad end if it's not carefully nurtured and fed engaging content that changes with its readership. It takes more time, attention, and resources than it took to build it. It demands a long-term strategy and an invested team. And without those things, you'll destroy the very thing you worked so long and hard to create.

Here's what happens when a good blog goes bad, and gets killed before it gets a fighting chance to thrive.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cybersecurity Is Standard Business Practice for Most Large Companies

From PR Newswire:

Over 90% of large US companies with 500+ employees have a cybersecurity policy in place to protect them from both real and anticipated threats, according to a new survey from Clutch, a leading B2B ratings and reviews firm.

Clutch surveyed over 300 corporate IT decision-makers about what to include in a cybersecurity policy and found that security software, data backup and storage, and scam detection are the most common areas cybersecurity policies cover.

Phishing attacks are the cybersecurity attack large companies most commonly experience: 57% of IT decision-makers said their company experienced a phishing attack in the past year.

Over 80% of IT decision-makers surveyed say they proactively communicate their company's cybersecurity policy, policy compliance, and training to employees. However, only two-thirds (66%) of these decision-makers enforce their company's cybersecurity policy.

Friday, September 08, 2017

The power of employees' personal brands

From Entrepreneur:

When brand messages are shared by employees on social media, they get 561 percent more reach than the same messages shared by the brand’s social media channels.

Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when posted by an employee versus the brand’s social media channels.

On average, employees have 10 times more followers than their company's social media accounts.

Content shared by employees receives 8 times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.

The bottom line is that we trust people more than we trust brands, and we engage with people more than we engage with brands. If you don’t get your employees involved on social, you’re absolutely losing out to companies that do.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

5 steps to get started with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies


You’ve probably heard about the fast rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies this year.

We’ve seen a rise in bitcoin from $954.71 on December 28, 2016 to a new high of $4,455.97 on August 15 of this year, according to coin market cap.

Some have been calling it a bubble. While that is possible, today we’re seeing major countries and corporations around the world devoting resources to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. You don’t want to take the attitude of those who dismissed major trends like the internet or social media.

So how do you get started with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies?

A great place with a simple, easy-to-understand starting approach is That website shows you step-by-step what to do...

A digital wallet is an app. This app holds your digital coins. Usually these wallets are free, and there are many available.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

What I learned about business from a Girl Scout cookie entrepreneur

From the Small Business Administration:
By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator

When I was a Girl Scout, selling cookies meant dragging a wagon full of boxes door to door in my North Carolina neighborhood. I didn’t have online tools or a marketing plan or even a real strategy.

But Julia Vieira Reis, a 12-year-old Girl Scout from Manchester, Connecticut, certainly did. She sold more than two thousand boxes. Her entrepreneurial success earned her recognition as one of the nation’s top cookie sellers of 2017.

I got to meet Julia when she interviewed me about how my Girl Scout experience prepared me for my career in business. She wondered what she and other Girl Scouts could learn from my advice. Turns out, she also had a lot of her own wisdom to share with me – and other entrepreneurs – about what it takes to succeed!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

New York State’s New Paid Family Leave Program

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Notice 17-12

The State’s new Paid Family Leave program has tax implications for New York employees, employers, and insurance carriers, including self-insured employers, employer plans, approved third-party insurers, and the State Insurance Fund. The Department of Taxation and Finance has reviewed the New York statute, implementing regulations, and applicable laws, case law and federal guidance and has consulted with the Internal Revenue Service regarding the appropriate tax treatment of family leave contributions and benefits under the New York program.

Based upon this review and consultation, the following guidance:
• Benefits paid to employees will be taxable non-wage income that must be included in federal gross income
• Taxes will not automatically be withheld from benefits; employees can request voluntary tax withholding
• Premiums will be deducted from employees’ after-tax wages
• Employers should report employee contributions on Form W-2 using Box 14 – State disability insurance taxes withheld
• Benefits should be reported by the State Insurance Fund on Form 1099-G and by all other payers on Form 1099-MISC

The department hopes this guidance is helpful to you as you move forward with implementation of this new program. However, it is the responsibility of each employee and employer/insurance carrier to consult with its tax advisor.

Monday, September 04, 2017

No One Should Work in Unsafe Conditions


If you're working in unsafe conditions, don't just put up with the danger to yourself and others— file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A new online tool is available to help you file a whistleblower complaint and put a stop to working in dangerous conditions.

OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than twenty whistleblower statutes protecting employees who report violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, and securities laws. Rights afforded by these whistleblower protection laws include, but are not limited to, worker participation in safety and health activities, reporting a work-related injury, illness or fatality, or reporting a violation of the statutes herein.

Learn more about whistleblower protections.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Five Steps to Your Hurricane Harvey Recovery

By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator
Published: September 1, 2017
Over the past week, as the people of the Gulf Coast deal with the unprecedented effects of Hurricane Harvey, we have seen heartbreaking moments of tragedy, of lives lost, homes destroyed and neighborhoods left in ruin, as well as remarkable acts of heroism and compassion as the first responders and people of Texas and Louisiana help each other survive. I have visited Texas twice in the past week and want to extend to the Gulf community my thoughts and prayers, as well as my commitment to help them get their lives back in order through the resources available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. While FEMA addresses immediate needs like food, water and shelter in the aftermath of a declared disaster, the SBA is your partner for long-term recovery.
Experts say Hurricane Harvey will pose one of the longest and costliest post-disaster rebuilding efforts in U.S. history. If you’re a homeowner, renter or business owner facing the overwhelming task of cleaning up water-logged debris and starting over again, I’d like to share these first steps that are important in making your recovery a little easier:
  • Register for federal assistance with FEMA online at, or call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  This gets you quickly connected with a  variety of recovery resources available from our federal partners, which includes housing assistance, grants and SBA disaster loans.
  • Check out SBA’s Hurricane Harvey page, where you can get information about how to apply for low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private nonprofit organizations. 
  • The SBA is offering loan deferments on existing loans to businesses and individuals in the counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. Read this policy noticeDownload Adobe Reader to read this link content for more details.
  • Beware of scams!  If someone tells you they’ll help with your SBA disaster loan application or other forms of federal recovery assistance “for a small fee,” they’re running a scam. Federal assistance programs are available to the public at no cost. Ask for identification. Protect yourself from fraudulent building contractors by asking for appropriate licenses and local references.
Now the real work begins. The SBA is committed to standing by Gulf Coast residents and businesses for the long haul. We are committee to restoring the local economy over the long term and laying a strong foundation for future growth.

Friday, September 01, 2017

The Man Who Wrote Those Password Rules Has a New Tip: N3v$r M1^d!

From the Wall Street Journal:

The man who wrote the book on password management has a confession to make: He blew it.

Back in 2003, as a midlevel manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Bill Burr was the author of NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A. The 8-page primer advised people to protect their accounts by inventing awkward new words rife with obscure characters, capital letters, and numbers—and to change them regularly.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Manufacturing Day - October 6, 2017

From the Census Bureau:
Observed on the first Friday in October.
Key Stats:
Source: Annual Survey of Manufactures. This infographic contains statistics indicating that manufacturing establishments show gains in receipts, but lower employment over time.
Manufacturing Day
Source: 2014 Annual Survey of Manufactures. 
More Stats:
Source: Census Library.
Source: Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, & Orders.
The Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, & Orders (M3) survey provides broad-based, monthly statistical data on economic conditions in the domestic manufacturing sector. The survey measures current industrial activity and provides an indication of future business trends.
Source: Industry Statistics Portal, Business Data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

From the Department of Homeland Security:
USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive.

Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Most Important Attributes of Effective Online Influencers

From MarketingProfs:

Consumers say they are most likely to trust online influencers who come across as credible and who appear to have actually used the products/services incorporated into their posts, according to research from IZEA.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in 2016 of 1,000 consumers age 18-70 in the United States who use social media.

Some 67% of respondents say the credibility/believability of an influencer is highly important in making sponsored posts effective; and 64% say it is very important that the influencer seems to have actually tried the product/services incorporated into posts.

Less than half of consumers say an influencer's popularity/follower count makes sponsored posts more effective.

Monday, August 28, 2017

79% of customers expect an immediate response

From Zendesk:
Two-dimensional customer service is a thing of that past. Customers are pushing brands harder than ever to earn their loyalty. They want the personal attention that comes from dealing with a human, but the speed and accuracy associated with automated systems.

This newly released report details the findings of a consumer survey, with 89% of respondents agreeing that brands need to offer a consistent customer service experience across all channels to retain their loyalty. See the numbers for yourself and as we examine the emerging trends of 2017.

Zendesk recently commissioned research firm, Loudhouse, to explore this important and perplexing challenge. The research conducted illuminates four key trends of which important conclusions can be drawn:

This report explores these key areas further, providing deep insight for businesses keen to stay ahead of their competition through improvements in their customer service strategies.

Friday, August 25, 2017

'Psychologically scarred' millennials are killing countless industries

From The Independent:

Millennials' preferences are killing dozens of industries.

There are many complex reasons millennials' preferences differ from prior generations', including less financial stability and memories of growing up during the recession.

“I think we have got a very significant psychological scar from this great recession,” Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger told Business Insider...

“Millennial consumers are more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly, in fast-casual or quick-serve restaurants,” Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith wrote in a letter to shareholders earlier this year...

Beer penetration fell 1% from 2016 to 2017 in the US market, while both wine and spirits were unmoved, according to Nielsen ratings.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My 5 Worst Productivity Mistakes

From Brooks Digital:

A few years ago I was in a serious battle with overwhelm at work.

I was constantly feeling stressed about all the different projects that needed to be moved forward. While my inbox tugged me in five different directions, I had this ever-present feeling of guilt about the things I knew I really should be doing, but kept putting off.

And even when I wasn't working, the stream of notifications, emails, and texts kept me half-present with my friends and family.

It was exhausting. I knew there had to be a better way.

So I set out to find the root of the problem and learn how to get more of the right things done without my responsibilities having an iron grip over my mind 24/7.

And while I'm still not perfect, I've grown tremendously. I’m in control of my schedule, can be more present with my friends and family, and I’ve canned the nagging guilt...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Automation and technology can create jobs, not just take them

From LinkedIn:

Robots are going to take our jobs, they say. I say, "Only if that's what we ask them to do!" Technology is the solution to human problems, and we won't run out of work till we run out of problems. Entrepreneurs need to set their sights on how we can use big data, sensors, and AI to create amazing human experiences and the economy of the future, making us all richer in the same way the tools of the first industrial revolution did.

Yes, technology can eliminate labor and make things cheaper, but at its best, we use it to do things that were previously unimaginable! What is our poverty of imagination? What are the entrepreneurial leaps that will allow us to use the technology of today to build a better future, not just a more efficient one? Great entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are using technology to do more, not just to do the same thing more cheaply. That is the secret both to business success and to making the world more prosperous.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

“To keep silent is to jeopardize the reputation of the company.” .

From the New York Times:
After Nazi-saluting white supremacists rioted in Charlottesville, Va. and President Trump dithered in his response, a chorus of business leaders rose up this past week to condemn hate groups and espouse tolerance and inclusion. And as lawmakers in Texas tried to restrict the rights of transgender people to use public bathrooms, corporate executives joined activists to kill the bill.

These and other actions are part of a broad recasting of the voice of business in the nation’s political and social dialogue, a transformation that has gained momentum in recent years as the country has engaged in fraught debates over everything from climate change to healthcare...

“In this maelstrom, the most clarifying voice has been the voice of business,” said Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation and a board member at PepsiCo. “These C.E.O.s have taken the risk to speak truth to power.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

How to Deal with Angry Customers (According to Science)

From ImpactBnd:

As the outward face of the company, a customer service representative (CSR) is one of the most important players on your sales team.

If those on the frontlines have poor judgment when it comes to working with the people that perform end-purchasing, even the most stellar business plan or innovative product can be undone.

Anyone who works with customers knows a single negative interaction with a client can overshadow the effects of even dozens of positive ones.

It’s the same on the receiving end. If you consider customer service experiences, chances are you recall the time a meal took forever, when it came out it was wrong, and the manager refused to apologize and spilled sauce on you, rather than the scores of times your dinner went without a hitch.

Why? Because great customer service is seamless and meant to look easy.

However, like a bad magic act, when the tricks fall flat, audiences start to walk out in droves, and the consequences of poor service do not end with just one disappointed client.

Friday, August 18, 2017

12 ridiculous phrases smart people avoid at work

From The Ladders:
“Datafication.” “Operationalize.” “Let’s parking lot this.”

These are just a few of the workplace phrases and words that people found “most ridiculous,” according to recent research.

The American Express OPEN ‘Get Business Done’ Survey, released recently, shows that some employees are just spewing words in the office without really grasping what they mean.

“Have you ever heard a coworker say something like, ‘It ladders up to our overarching framework and optimizes the impactfulness of our deliverables,’ and wondered, ‘HUH?’ You’re not alone,” American Express says, comfortingly.

We are all part of the problem: the research found that 88% of respondents said they use jargon without understanding it, and 64% reported using words and terms like this “multiple times” weekly.

Make no mistake: you do have to break the habit. These words make you look silly.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How to Use Your Business Plan to Create an Awesome Company Name

From Bplans:

Everyone knows that a business name is important. It is the single most used aspect of your future brand. Ideally, yours will be mentioned by reporters, shared by referrals, and hopefully remembered by customers when the need for your solution arises.

A great name like PayPal can introduce your company, hinting at what makes it unique and interesting. PayPal is a payment solution with an upbeat brand and uniquely easy user experience—their name brilliantly captures this value proposition.

An intriguing name like Uber can help build buzz, causing people to wonder, “What is that?” An emotive name like SalesForce can resonate deeply with potential customers, lending a sense of authority.

Naming is often one of the first business activities where the rubber meets the road—where an idea becomes a reality...

We have discovered that a great name evolves from an excellent business plan. A company that has gone through the process of defining their business by writing a business plan generally has a greater sense of self-awareness than a company that hasn’t.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Sweeney’s Market

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Binghamton SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Al Fargnoli
Sweeney’s Market
Binghamton SBDC

The Binghamton SBDC became aware of the New York Healthy Food & Healthy Communities (HFHC) Fund administered by the Low Income Investment Fund, which provides financial resources for rural grocery stores to upgrade their store equipment and improve the offerings to their community. 

Advisor Ken Homer consulted Tioga County Economic Development to identify rural grocery stores that might benefit from the program. Al Fargnoli, second generation owner and operator of Sweeney’s Market, was one of those with the potential to benefit from a grant. Sweeney’s Market supports its community’s local rural population, which includes low income, food stamp recipients, WIC recipients (women with children) and senior citizens. With Advisor Homer’s assistance, Al prepared a list of equipment to update his vegetable, dairy, and packaged meat display cases. He also included standalone display cases for fruits and vegetables. It took a year for verification of the business’ customer base, financial stability, and verification of equipment and installation costs. 

At the end of the tedious process, Al was finally awarded a grant for $72,752, which enabled him to purchase the display cases and increase the products he could offer to his customers. In addition, Al invested $60,392 to remodel the store. He installed laminate flooring, painted the facility, added new shelving end caps for display, and expanded his office space. The new equipment, remodeling and refurbishing of the store into a modern and attractive retail space resulted in a 16% increase in sales, and Al added six part-time employees. His store was the largest potential grant recipient in Tioga County to receive approval.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reasons Your Business Should Be on Instagram

From MarketingProfs:

People remember 80% of what they see, 20% of what they read, and 10% of what they hear, according to an infographic by Instagram service provider Gramlike.

So it's no wonder than Instagram is a popular social media platform, and not just for consumers but for brands as well.

With 90% of Interbrand's "Top 100 Global Brands" on Instagram, and 53% of Instagram users following their favorite brands on the social network, according to the infographic, it's clear that the platform can be valuable when it's used well.

The infographic gives tips on how to accomplish exactly that, such as noting that posts with location tags drive higher engagement than those without, and images with faces receive 38% more likes than those without.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Leveraging Webinars To Build Your Powerhouse Personal Brand

From Forbes:

From talking to fellow coaches, clients and business leaders, it’s clear that we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in the way "careers" are built.

Professionals have enthusiastically embraced the power of personal branding to distinguish themselves in their fields. The traditional resume is far less important than it used to be; recruiters now scour LinkedIn to find potential candidates. And as the 9-to-5 corporate mindset gives way to a more gig-focused mentality, it’s less about who you work for and more about building your own personal brand.

Many of these new platform-savvy thought leaders are embracing public speaking as a powerful way to land new clients. In fact, look at any list of the top names in a particular niche, and you’ll likely find one thing in common: They understand how to use public speaking to strengthen their personal brands...

While live public events can be great, there are some definite drawbacks. Yes, there’s the time commitment and travel expenses, for the speaker as well as the attendees, but don’t forget that in-person events often draw a limited audience for smaller immediate exposure potential. It’s no wonder that the leaders I’ve been talking to about this are huge fans of the power of live and on-demand webinars as guest speaking opportunities.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spending Hasn’t Been This High in Almost a Decade

From eMarketing:

US consumer spending levels are nearly back to where they were before the global financial crisis in 2008, according to new survey data from Gallup.

Those polled spent an average of $109 per day in July, excluding spending on normal household bills and major purchases, such as a home or car. That was the highest figure reported by Gallup since May 2008, when the average hit $114 per day.

Daily average spending by consumers in the US fell precipitously soon after, thanks to the Great Recession.

The new data is something of a contrast to Gallup survey data released in May of this year, which found that 60% of financially worried consumers said they preferred saving to spending.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Twenty Percent of Global Commercial Email Fails to Reach the Inbox

From Business Wire:

One in five commercial emails worldwide fails to reach its intended target, according to the 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report from data solutions provider Return Path. This new research reveals that just 80 percent of email is delivered to the inbox, while the remainder—a full 20 percent—is diverted to spam folders or gets blocked altogether.

The report’s findings are relatively consistent with the company’s 2016 and 2015 benchmarks, which reported a 79 percent global inbox placement rate. While this rate has improved slightly in the past year, the significant percentage of filtered messages means that marketers are still missing out on a valuable opportunity to drive meaningful revenue from the email channel.

"Email remains the most popular and effective channel available to marketers, so it’s more important than ever to get it right. If your emails aren’t reaching the inbox, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build relationships and generate ROI," said Return Path President George Bilbrey. "But email filtering continues to evolve, as mailbox providers apply increasingly sophisticated algorithms to deliver only the content their users truly want."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

UPS offers retailers a way to simplify returns

From eMarketing:

In retailers’ fight against Amazon, it looks like there will soon be a new weapon that could help level the playing field against the online retail giant.

UPS said it will introduce UPS Returns Manager, a free online tool that allows e-commerce retailers, especially less well-resourced small- and medium-sized merchants, to not only customize their own shipment rules but also manage return shipments without having to integrate their own IT systems.

For consumers, who in the past had to go to a retailer’s website to print a return label or use a label retailers include in package boxes, the feature allows them to now print a return shipping label directly from’s tracking page both on desktop and mobile devices and through email alerts. Consumers can also print return labels at The UPS Store locations at no additional cost.

The service will be available in the US Aug. 14 and 43 other countries from the UK to Brazil two weeks after that.

Why is this relevant?

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Baruch SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

Josh Schaffner
Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions
Midtown Manhattan SBDC

Ninth Planet Beverage Solutions packages beverages for small and medium-sized producers, specializing in beers for craft breweries. The company was created to provide a reliable and affordable packaging service to small growing producers who don’t want to sacrifice quality control or presentation in the growth of their product to additional sales outlets. Ninth Planet are the first counter pressure filling canner that goes to the customer! 

Josh Schaffner is not new to the industry. He has been a professional advocate for craft beverage producers since he launched NY Craft Beer Week in 2008. When he saw the canning problem faced by micro-brewers he had his “aha moment.” Believing that small brewers have a right to quality canning services without the huge upfront costs of purchasing the machinery, Josh got to work with a team of engineers to create a mobile canning unit. 

With help from Business Advisor Jesse Karasin at the Baruch SBDC, Josh came up with a plan to can for breweries at their locations. Jesse was there throughout the lending process to work with Josh on everything from the financial modeling to the loan documentation. Jesse helped him obtain a $250,000 loan from NYBDC. Together with his team, Josh is currently canning for brewers in the five NYC boroughs, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. He and his team want to be a profitable business that responsibly cares for its employees and the broader business community.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Millennials Most Willing to Use Online-Only Stores for Groceries

From eMarketer:
Nearly half of US millennial grocery shoppers polled earlier this year said they have shopped for some groceries in an online-only store, a dramatic change from just two years ago. And they're not alone.

The finding mirrors a trend of consumers across all age groups increasingly getting their groceries among internet pure plays, although at a more modest level.

A February 2017 survey by food industry research firm Food Marketing Institute (FMI) found that 43% of millennial respondents shopped for groceries at online-only retailers at least occasionally, a rate almost 80% higher than in 2015.

Consumers ages 39 to 52 shopped for groceries at online-only retailers at about half the rate of millennials

Monday, August 07, 2017

Technology, Immigrant Entrepreneurship Fuel Growth

From Forbes:
As the immigration debate continues, a new study indicates that immigrant entrepreneurial zeal and technology are fueling much of the small business growth in America.

New York City is the Big Apple for small business, according to Biz2Credit’s 2017 study of the Top Small Business Cities. New York improved to the top spot after registering the highest average annual revenues, credit scores and length of time in business. The city's growth has been fueled by the booming real estate market, the construction industry, banking and finance, a thriving technology sector, and immigrant-owned service and food businesses.

The annual ranking of the 25 cities is based on a weighted average of data from 30,000 companies with fewer than 250 employees and less than $10 million in annual revenues that applied for financing last year. It looks at the health of small companies in each metro area, the rate of small-business creation, and the economic ecosystem for entrepreneurs, including the cost of doing business, tax climate and local talent pool.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Hot retailers include both 'bricks and clicks'

From BizJournals:

Subscription meal kit company Blue Apron, which has delivered more than 150 million meals since it was founded five years ago, is No. 1 on the Hot 100 Retailers list.

The list appears in the August issue of the National Retail Federation's STORES magazine and was compiled by research firm Kantar Retail. It’s based on sales growth in 2016 over 2015, and ranks both public and privately-held retail companies by U.S. domestic sales, with a $300 million threshold for inclusion, according to NRF.

Blue Apron saw annual sales grow 133 percent to $795.4 million in 2016, according to the list.

STORES Hot 100 Retailers' annual list: There is a distinct lack of big-box general merchandise retailers on the chart this year, while there are plenty of businesses that exhibit differentiation in the marketplace, innovative merchandising and an appropriate value proposition for the intended customer base.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

41 Wisconsin Company Employees Have Microchips Implanted

From Mediapost:

A Wisconsin company had its planned ‘chip party’ Tuesday and 41 employees had microchips implanted into them.

Those employees, all who volunteered to have an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip implanted between their thumb and forefinger, now can use their hand to unlock doors, log on to computers and pay at kiosks or terminals that take credit cards.

“It went really well and was a lot simpler than I thought,” Tony Danna, vice president of international sales at Three Market Square, said. “It hurts more when pinching the skin than the syringe implanting the chip. It takes about two seconds.”

There were about 20 employees in the company who did not want them and no one, either those who initially did or did not want them changed their mind, Danna said.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Winter Is Coming: What Retailers Can Do to Prepare for the Holidays

From MarketingProfs:

Retail marketers say developing content and promotions well ahead of time is the most effective thing that can be done to prepare for the winter holiday shopping season, according to recent research from Campaigner.

The report was based on data from a survey of 100 retailers who are Campaigner clients.

Some 62% of respondents say early development of marketing content and promotions is the most helpful approach for preparing for the holiday season.

One-third of retailers who began planning before last September say they had a successful 2016 holiday season; only 22% of retailers who began planning in September or later say they had a successful 2016 holiday season.