Showing posts from June, 2017

The 'World Wide Wait' Is Still a Thing in Retail

From eMarketer:
The promise of online sales and traffic has got retailers across the board focused on investing more money online, but many retailers are still falling short in some of the basics of digital.

According to a study by Retail Systems Research (RSR), retail websites take an average of 9.5 seconds to load on mobile devices, and 16.6 seconds for desktop. The study of 80 major retail sites was conducted in April and May and was commissioned by Yottaa, which helps retailers speed up loading of their pages.

Among the reasons for slow page loads were digital bells and whistles: live chat, product recommendations, and personalized offers, to name just a few. Retailers in the study used an average of 70 third-party e-commerce applications, and waiting on them takes up as much as three-quarters of the time required to load a page, the study found.

Another speed block is images. The RSR study found that 55% of site content is images, many of which simply wouldn’t load.

Choose Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for Your Business

From Bplans:
So, you know by now that having a presence on social media is important for your business. Not only that, you’re interested in the potential benefits of social media marketing, and you’re getting a sense of what marketing on the various social media platforms entails.

Maybe.. marketing your small business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube...

The trouble is, you can’t do it all. Unless you are planning on creating a position within your business for someone to take charge of your social media accounts, focusing on any social media marketing is going to come out of your time. As a small business owner, that time is precious, so it’s important to put it to good use.

Ultimately, you’ll have to choose which social platforms to focus on—you won’t be able to do it all. While you may intuitively know right away that some are a good bet and that there are others you’d rather avoid, I’ll go over a few questions to ask yourself before you pick.

Leveraging the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for your business

From Complete Payroll:

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a tax credit the federal government provides to employers for hiring people who typically struggle to find employment. We're going to go over how WOTC works, the types of people employers can hire to become eligible for the credit, how the credits are calculated and how employers can apply for WOTC.

To become eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, an employer would have to hire a qualifying member that meets at least one of the following criteria...

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients
Food stamp (SNAP) recipients
Designated community residents (living in Empowerment Zones or Rural Renewal Counties)
Vocational rehabilitation referrals
Supplemental Security Income recipients
Summer youth employees (living in Empowerment Zones)

For more details on each of the target groups, and how to determine if an employee is eligible, check out this page from the United States Department…

35 Great Ways to Fund A Small Business

From Bplans:
When it comes to funding, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on where you’re at in your business, what type of funding you are seeking, and the amount you need, where you’ll look can vary widely. We’ve compiled a list from a variety of places to help you research and narrow down the options that are best for you...

Alternative lenders are institutions that provide loans or lines of credit as an alternative to traditional bank loans or the government... Venture capital is really only an avenue if you fit the specific criteria...

Depending on what kind of business you’re starting or running, there could be funding from an industry-related fund or organization.

Three Customer Feedback Myths That Deserve Busting

From MarketingProfs:
What if we thought about customer feedback the way we think about interior design?

Around the middle of the last century, the "it" aesthetic was a clean, open look. Free of the ornamentation that ruled other eras—when the value of a building was literally weighed in gold, marble, and limestone—mid-century modern was about airy spaces, natural light, and beauty through simplicity.

That aesthetic is having a moment again among design fans, but its lessons can be applied beyond showroom floors and furniture studios.

Take customer feedback, for example. Today, marketers can add more flourishes than ever to surveys. They can ask customers questions at the cash register, the online shopping cart, in an email, or via text—or in all these places. They can also pile on as many questions as they want... They have the technology to do it, so why not?

As it turns out, there are many reasons why less is more when asking customers for their input. The "decoration&…

FTC Announces First Economic Liberty Public Roundtable

From the Federal Trade Commission

Roundtable info

The Federal Trade Commission announced that its Economic Liberty Task Force will host a roundtable in Washington, DC on July 27, 2017 to highlight approaches that make it easier for workers in state-licensed occupations to offer their services across state lines or move between states.
Most occupational licenses are not portable, meaning that workers who move to a new state often face financial or administrative burdens of applying for a new license. Restrictions on the portability of occupational licenses are especially hard on military families, who move often.
The July 27 roundtable, which will take place from 2 p. m. to 4 p.m., will be the first public event held by the FTC’s new Economic Liberty Task Force. Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen established the Task Force earlier this year as her first major policy initiative for the agency. The Task Force is considering how occupational licensing reform could reduce barriers to entry, …

Alan Alda on the Secrets to Better Communication

From Entrepreneur magazine:

The fact that he’s a famous actor is probably the least fascinating thing about Alan Alda these days. A likable and inquisitive guy, Alda spent 11 years interviewing scientists for the documentary show Scientific American Frontiers.

The experience of trying to understand brilliant minds doing important work inspired him to partner with Stony Brook University to establish the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, which teaches scientists strategies for conveying their ideas to laypeople.

It also inspired him to launch a deeper investigation into how people -- scientists, teachers, businesspeople, dentists and so on -- communicate. The fruit of that research is his surprisingly useful new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating.

Entrepreneur: I was surprised to learn you used to work in sales.

Alan Alda: Yeah. I had to do something as a young actor to support my f…

5 Mid-Year Tax Planning Strategies

From the Small Business Administration at

By BarbaraWeltman, Guest Blogger For many small business owners, thinking about taxes occurs only twice a year … when returns are being prepared and perhaps at the end of the year. This is a mistake. With half of 2017 over, now is a great time to assess where you stand and to take action that will be helpful to your 2017 tax bill. 1. Meet with your tax advisor The vast majority of small business owners use CPAs or other tax advisors to prepare and file their returns. These tax pros can also serve as business advisors throughout the year, providing guidance on what the business can to do to optimize profitability while minimizing taxes. If your tax preparer doesn’t provide this service, consider finding one who will. Schedule a meeting with your advisor to review your profits or losses, and to craft a tax plan that you can implement going forward. 2. Assess your profitability If 2017 is shaping up to be a good year for you, consider strategie…

Your overview of Paid Family Leave coming to New York

From Complete Payroll:

New York’s Paid Family Leave program is designed to provide wage replacement to employees for a variety of family and/or medical reasons, including maternity/paternity leave, caring for a close relative with a serious health condition and relieving family pressures when someone is called to active military service.

The program also guarantees that employees are able to return to their job and keep their health insurance, provided they continue to contribute their portion while on Paid Family Leave.
The law was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on April 4, 2016 and will begin the first of four phases of implementation on January 1, 2018.

Just like the payroll deduction is mandatory for all New York employees, it's mandatory for all New York employers to set up the payroll deduction and offer Paid Family Leave for all the employees that qualify.

That means businesses must work with their payroll provider, insurance broker/carrier and HR person to create the writ…

Validate Your App Idea Before You Build

From Bplans:

Almost on a weekly basis, I meet new aspiring entrepreneurs looking to execute on their ideas.

Some believe in the all-in approach to product development: build an advanced app. If it works, they’ll hit it big, and if it doesn’t, they’ll make some changes and do it again. Others believe in the start small, grow strong approach: build a small version of the app, test user demand, and then take it from there.

In both scenarios, it seems that startup venture initiation and idea validation are strictly dependent on the app...

Early stage idea validation can be accomplished without building an application. It’s possible to simulate user experience through existing, lower-tech resources.

Sample Business Introduction Letters

From SampleTemplates:
Commerce Introduction Letter serves as an introductory piece for getting into the business world. The main aim behinds its writing is conveying all the essential details related to any firm or product/service to the potential clients. It ensures the correct understanding of clients about the company’s businesses. It helps in seeking client’s attention and being noticed. You can even customize such letter in your own way so as to meet certain requirements or needs as well.

See also, from Template Lab, 40+ Letter of Introduction Templates & Examples

Amazon Patents Tech to Block In-Store Comparison Shopping

From PC magazine:

Amazon may have started as an online-only experience, but today the company is very much blended into real-world retail. This week, the company was granted a patent for technology that can prevent in-store shoppers from comparison shopping online. The patent - for "Physical Store Online Shopper Control" - is pretty self-explanatory.

If you're in a store and logged on to that store's Wi-Fi, the network will see if you navigate to a rival's website to compare prices. The store can then block you from doing so, offer up a discount to purchase in-store, or even send a store employee over to persuade you to make that purchase.

Amazon is expanding its brick-and-mortar presence so this technology could be deployed at its own stores, but it could also make a pretty penny licensing the tech to rivals. Call it augmented retail.

Apps for Small Business: Being productive

SBDC Staff Training seems like a long time ago already, and we left with the plan that I would share my presentation on Best Apps for Small Business. In the time between then and now, I've dabbled in even more apps that I'd like to share in case you might find them useful for yourself or your clients. I'll be making posts on the different categories of apps with a great deal of crossover.

Calendars, Lists and To-Dos

 For Chrome users, this is my actual favorite for a to-do product and it's actually for the desktop. I had been reading an anecdote about the Ivy Lee Method for achieving peak productivity which you may be familiar with. The gist is that at the end of each day, you write down the most important things to achieve the following day. Write down 6 items, but only 6. Prioritize those 6. Tomorrow, concentrate on completing the 1st item. Don't move to the next until that item is done. Carry on in this fashion for the rest of the list. Repeat daily.

I am the Qu…

How Much Businesses Pay To Get On Those Big Blue Exit Signs

From Jalopnik:

Drive down any major interstate in the U.S., and you’ll see big blue signs decorated with business logos near most exits. Here’s who decides which businesses make it on the signs, and how much it all costs.

Called interstate logo signs or specific service signs, these ubiquitous big blue billboards are godsends to weary travelers searching for gas, food, or lodging close to the highway. Unsurprisingly, the signs aren’t solely there to help out motorists, as they also provide monetary benefit to businesses and, crucially, to the state.

Roadside advertising programs are administered by individual states, though specific service signs... tend to be farmed out to contractors. One of the biggest of these contractors is a company called Interstate Logos, which works with transportation agencies in 23 states to not only install the huge blue panels, but also to work with businesses to run the programs.

If you own a business that falls into one of these groups—attraction, pharm…

Postcard Marketing

From Business Knowhow:

Postcard marketing articles, tips, and advice. Get new ideas for marketing with postcards.

Some examples:

Creative Marketing with Postcards
Most business owners don't use postcards as a marketing tool and those that do, use them infrequently and haphazardly, with no strategy involved. Yet they are extremely cost-effective and are six times more likely to be read than a direct mail letter.

High Response Marketing with Low-Cost Postcards
Postcards can drive a huge amount of traffic to your website, generate a flood of new sales leads or produce a surge in any business activity you want. And you don't have to spend a lot of time or money on them if you apply these four little-known postcard marketing secrets.

10 Common Postcard Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
Postcards are the least expensive form of direct mail today, are easy to create, and typically generate a high rate of response.

Manufacturing Unemployment Rate Dips To 17-Year Low

From ThomasNet:

After holding steady at 3.9% for March and April, the unemployment rate for manufacturing declined to 3.2% in May – its lowest point since June 2000. Meanwhile, the 0.7 percentage-point drop represents the largest improvement in the unemployment rate since June 2016, when the unemployment rate fell a full percentage point, from 4.7% to 3.7%.

The number of unemployed persons within the industry fell from 620,000 to 504,000 – the lowest it has been since at least 2000. However, the number of people employed within the industry fell by 1,000 workers.

Many durable goods sectors experienced job growth in May, including the Machinery sector, which added 3,700 new jobs – the most of any sector in the industry.

Social Media Response Flow Chart for Small Businesses

From Bplans:
Have you ever discovered a mention of your business on social media and thought, “How should I respond to that?”

If the post is negative, you may be especially anxious to answer that question. Should you delete negative comments, respond with a counter-argument, or ignore them altogether?

The flow chart [at the link] offers a helpful way to evaluate social media posts, and provides a response strategy for each. Remember, what goes online stays online, and your response to posts on social media should positively reflect the mission and values of your small business. Before you respond to any negative post, use the flow chart as a quick reference to help cooler heads prevail.

Above is another response chart, not from the article.

Resources To Help You Create a Safe Workplace

By Joshlyn Ross, Contributor
From the Small Business Administration

When was the last time you’ve revisited your workplace safety plan? Not only is it the law, but it also can ensure that you and your employees are always safe. In honor of National Safety Month, we would like to highlight four resources that will help you identify unsafe behaviors, create opportunities for improvement and  help you (and your employees) make well-informed safety decisions on a daily basis. 1Ensure your business meets legal requirements with OSHA Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards as well as providing training and education to business owners. Check out OSHA’s handbook to ensure that your small business meets the legal requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. 2. Find the Workpla…

The Dangers of Being Too Political on Social Media

From MarketingProfs:
The other day, a friend of mine put her job and professional reputation at risk. Sadly, it wasn't for anything as significant as standing up for human rights or even bunny rights.

No, it was a Facebook post: a shared image that was intended to be a funny political meme but, instead, offended many of the people who saw it.

Should she have shared that post? Could she have lost her job? Might the issue have been avoided? Were people just being overly sensitive? Let's explore those questions—and others.

So that we're all on the same page, let's start with what I mean by "political post." To my mind, there are two kinds: implicit and explicit.

5 Signs That a Company Will Be a Great Place to Work

From Glass Door:
Oftentimes, it’s easier to identify a bad company to work for than a good one. Red flags like a pattern of not-so-great Glassdoor reviews, rude interviewers, and a high turnover rate stick out like sore thumbs, indicating that you might want to steer clear. But what happens if a company doesn’t exhibit any of these common warning signs? Does that mean you’ll enjoy working there?

Fortunately, you don’t have to go into the decision-making process blind. In addition to the glimpse into a company’s culture that Glassdoor reviews, salaries, and interviews provide, there are a number of factors you can look out for during the interview process that will hint at whether or not you’ll enjoy working at a company. We reached out to a handful of career experts to get their thoughts on what makes a great place to work — here are a few of the top signs that you’ve picked a winner.

Report Sheds Light on Veteran-Owned Businesses and their Owners

The Office of Advocacy has released a report on veteran-owned businesses. The report gives a detailed profile of this robust business population based on the latest available data, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Small Business Owners.

• In 2012, the United States had 21.2 million veterans, and 2.52 million businesses were majority-owned by veterans.
• Almost all of veteran-owned businesses (99.9 percent) were small businesses.
• Veteran-owned firms had receipts of $1.14 trillion, employed 5.03 million people, and had an annual payroll of $195 billion.
• These firms represented 9.1 percent of all U.S. firms.
• The three states with the most veteran-owned businesses were California, Texas, and Florida.
• The three states with the highest percent of veteran-owned businesses in their populations were South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

The report is called Veteran-Owned Businesses and Their Owners: Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. It is one o…

Facebook is the most popular social media platform to reach online shoppers

From eMarketer:
An April 2017 survey by Campaigner, an email marketing platform, explored consumer interactions with brands. More than half of US digital buyers said they followed a brand on Facebook, which was significantly higher compared with any other social platform. It was even more common among millennials: Fully 65% of this cohort said they followed a brand on Facebook.

But social networks are not necessarily the top choice for interacting with brands. As a whole, only a quarter (24%) of digital buyers in the survey said they preferred “to interact with their favorite brands” via social media. Instead, in-store and in-person communication was the most commonly cited channel (65%), followed by company websites (58%) and email (44%). Respondents could site multiple choices.

6 Unwritten Rules Related To Business Etiquette

From the Small Business Administration:
Many of you are familiar with etiquette when it comes to dining. However, did you know that there was a thing such as business etiquette?

Similar to dining etiquette, these unwritten rules of behavior can help you not only close the deal, but also leave a great impression on potential partners/customers. From web communication to interpersonal communication, being aware of unwritten rules can help you represent yourself as professionally as possible.

So in honor of National Business Etiquette Week (June 4th – 10th), we would like to highlight 6 unwritten rules that will help you excel in all business settings as a small business leader.

State of Small Business Report

Courtesy of: Wasp Barcode Technologies
For the third year, Wasp Barcode Technologies conducted a survey to identify how small business owners felt about their growth, confidence in the economy, employment, technology use, marketing tactics, and government impact.

The State of Small Business Report research is based on a random online sample of 1,127 U.S. small business owners/managers with companies with five to 499 employees. The anonymous survey was conducted via the Internet by Survey Monkey from November 10-18, 2016. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 at the 95% level of confidence. Sikora Associates provided statistical analysis.

Half of Millennials Plan to Start a Business in the Next 3 Years

Study Conducted by America's SBDC Reveals Insights into the Entrepreneurial Mindsets of Different Generations of Americans

America's SBDC partnered with the Center for Generational Kinetics to better understand how different generations view and approach entrepreneurship. The findings reinforced previously held beliefs such as a strong entrepreneurial inclination among millennials, while challenging preconceived notions about their motivations for starting a business.

Generational Perceptions

Small Businesses play a huge role in the lives of Americans. One-third of Americans (34 percent), have worked in a small business in the past and nearly a quarter (24 percent) of both Millennials and Gen X own or have owned a small business.

The study found that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well with 41 percent of Americans saying they would quit their job and start a business in the next 6 months if they had the tools and resources they needed. This number is higher for Mille…