Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Lower Tips Offset Higher Minimum Wage for Servers

From the Census Bureau:

Several states and municipalities across the United States have been raising the minimum wage well above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, a trend studied by many economists.

Less attention has been paid to workers who rely on tips for part of their earnings. Recent research by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that rising minimum wages may increase server employment, but do not always result in higher pay for tipped workers.

“My research shows

Monday, October 30, 2017

10 Digital Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners in 2017

From Fundera Ledger
Online marketing is vital for any small business hoping to stay competitive. But what online marketing tactics should you focus on in your limited time is a busy entrepreneur?

 Here are 10 essential digital marketing tips for small business owners. 1. Start with Your Website “Make sure you have an updated, mobile-friendly website that is easy for users to navigate across all devices and has a modern, clean design.” —Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation.com

 By choosing the right keywords and narrowing your target audience, you can hone in on those prospective customers who are most likely to want what you sell. By following these digital marketing tips for small business owners, you’ll see your sales and profits grow.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Stale Office Air Is Making You Less Productive

From the Harvard Business Review:

How often do you consider the air quality in your office and how it affects employees and their productivity? Chances are it’s not often.

There is a tendency to assume that, as long as commonly used standards for air quality are met, it won’t be an issue. But these standards aren’t very high. One common international standard that governs how much air is brought in from outside, “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Quality,” does not even purport to assure “healthy” air quality.

In the 1970s, efforts to conserve energy in the U.S. included tightening up buildings and reducing ventilation rates so buildings didn’t have to bring as much fresh air inside. This inadvertently led to a buildup of indoor pollutants and the birth of a phenomenon known as “sick building syndrome,” a set of symptoms such as eye irritation, headaches, coughing, and chest tightness that is still an issue today...

We found that breathing better air led to significantly better decision-making performance among our participants.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

12 Ways Small Businesses Can Improve Their Social Media Presence

From Forbes:
Social media provides a powerful tool for outreach: Companies can share stories, talk about events or offers, or discuss services or solutions with interested customers or potential clients. But not every small business has set aside the time and money to establish an online strategy or presence.

12 Forbes Agency Council members share their top tips for small companies to improve their social media presence.

Utilize the little time you have on social media to understand your customers and address their needs, not to promote your product.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Industry roundtable: Women in the workplace throughout generations

From Albany Business Review:

Law firm Hodgson Russ and the Albany Business Review hosted a panel discussion with seven women in various stages of their careers to answer these questions.

Teal Vivacqua, director, marketing communications at Plug Power; Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, executive director, Girls Inc. of the Capital Region; Kathleen Godfrey, president, Godfrey Financial Associates; Julie Clancy, director of admissions, Emma Willard; Dawn C. Doherty, partner, BST; Carmen Duncan, CEO and founder, Mission Accomplished Transition Services; Kendra Hart, business development manager, Martin Electric

Cindy Applebaum, Albany Business Review publisher and market president, moderated the discussion.

What’s the importance of having a mentor?

What potential do you see in the younger generation?

How do you approach and explain issues facing young girls?

What barriers do you see for women taking on leadership roles?

Are men always the obstacle?

How often do you find yourself the only woman in a room? And how do you deal with that?

What is the value of women-only professional associations? Do they help women work through challenges?

Are younger women aware of the challenges previous generations have faced and the challenges that remain?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A 30 Point Checklist for Your Startup

From Small Business Trends
So you want to start a business – congratulations! Once you get over the initial excitement, it’s time to break down the process of launching your startup into manageable chunks. You might get overwhelmed with the sheer number of items on your to-do list. But not to worry; I’ve broken down this startup checklist into the primary tasks you need to do now, and those that you can defer until later.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Small Business Owners Are Retiring, And Millennials May Not Fill The Gap On America's Main Street

From Forbes
A local hardware store in Worcester, Massachusetts recently announced that it was going out of business. This wouldn’t be big news, except Elwood Adams Hardware has been around since the Articles of Confederation. Dating back to 1782, it is (or was) one of the oldest hardware stores in the United States—continually open for 235 years under various owners.

 The store’s employees, most of whom have worked there for decades, gave multiple reasons for the business’s closing. First, the pressure of Internet competition; second, and related to the first, a lack of loyalty from younger customers; and finally, the owner was ready to retire, and couldn’t find anyone to whom he could sell the business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 48% of national employment in the United States. In number, they represent 99.7% of all businesses in the country. Small business owners, some with staffs of 500 employees, others toiling alone in a home office, and plenty more in-between, are the stewards of an enormous segment of the American economy.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Why you're not making friends at work

From the Harvard Business Review:

Connecting with others is at the heart of human nature. Recent research emphasizes that the power of connections can help us be creative, resilient, even live longer. But we can easily overlook the importance of these bonds.

As popular writer and researcher Adam Grant has noted, the pressure of tight deadlines and the pace of technology mean that fewer Americans are finding friendship in the workplace. In fact, many of us are further disconnecting from the people we work with: we’re more stressed out than ever, and half of us regularly experience incivility in our jobs.

How can we create possibilities for connection in what is sometimes a hostile atmosphere? We believe there needs to be more compassion.

We define compassion as a 4-part experience of noticing someone’s distress or pain, interpreting it as relevant and important, feeling concern for that person or group, and acting to alleviate their pain. Acts of compassion can span from grand and coordinated to small and personal.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Small Business Work Environment

From RocketLawyer
Hiring employees who fit in with the environment of your work place is a key element to your success. A bad or even hostile working environment can lead to high turnover, which is a costly and hurtful situation that you can avoid by paying careful attention to the personalities and work ethics of people you interview for a job. Hire Employees Who Fit Your Work Environment Start by examining your own attitude at work. Are you critical? Supportive? Willing to invest time and energy into helping your employees grow and take the lead in solving problems? Employers can set the tone for the environment workers encounter-either positive or negative.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPUS) remains a challenge

From eMarketing:

More than half of retailers in North America offer buy online, pick up in-store (BOPUS) service. But BOPUS is widely seen as a significant challenge, according to a new survey of retailers.
According to an August 2017 survey by JDA, a supply chain software company, roughly three-quarters of US store managers said they have faced difficulties in implementing BOPUS. The ability to accurately track inventory is a major concern, it found.

Perhaps not surprisingly, then, only about one-third of the US retailers surveyed said that they offer discounts for consumers who buy online and pick up in-store.

The benefits of BOPUS for retailers are well-known. In-store pickup means that customers are, by definition, in the store and more likely to make additional purchases.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Brands Need to See the Affluent as They See Themselves

From Yougov.com:

Driving brand loyalty among the affluent has never been more challenging. New brands, new options, and new products are competing for the devotion of your customers. What’s more, the majority of the global elite don’t feel personally connected to many brands, even though they say that a personal relationship factors into their loyalty.

A new study from YouGov on affluent shoppers worldwide reveals that most just want brands to show them their loyalty is appreciated. Indeed, 72% said they felt that way.

Monday, October 16, 2017

How to Pick the Right Location for Your Exhibit Booth

From MarketingProfs:

For more than 50% of CMOs and marketing directors, space and location on the exhibit floor are most important in maximizing ROI.

And that makes perfect sense.

With an accessible location and a major source of foot traffic nearby, a booth is likely to attract a lot of attendees. The higher the number of visitors, the greater opportunities for a business to raise awareness, get leads, and build relationships.

The location selection process, however, can be complicated, with various factors at play—from budget, to space requirements, to traffic flow and more. So here, in this handy guide, are all the important factors you need to take into consideration.

Quick Tip: Reserve Your Spot Early

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Robot Makes a Mean Caesar Salad, but Will It Cost Jobs?

From the New York Times:

Salad bars are magnets for bacteria and viruses. Even if the sprouts and ranch dressing aren’t tainted, the serving utensils may be.

The Silicon Valley start-up Chowbotics has devised what it says is a partial solution. Its device, which it calls Sally the Salad Robot, is aimed at reducing the risk of food-borne illness by assembling salads out of pre-cut vegetables stored in refrigerated canisters.

Diners use a touch screen to place their orders, choosing from a menu of recipes or designing their own salads. The machine calculates the number of calories per salad and drops the veggies into a bowl in less than a minute. There is less human contact with the food.

But as a growing number of food- and drink-slinging robots have begun interacting with diners in the San Francisco Bay Area, Deepak Sekar, the device’s inventor and the founder and chief executive of Chowbotics, has faced questions about whether his machine will put people out of work. He denies that that will happen.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Seven business continuity strategy planning mistakes

From Search Disaster Recovery:

Developing a business continuity strategy is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Organizations must gather and validate massive amounts of data and develop and validate procedures to keep data available and protected at all times.

Employees must be trained on the business continuity plan, as well as their roles and responsibilities when a disruptive incident occurs. Senior management must be aware of the plan and be involved with its development.

Given the comprehensive nature of business continuity planning, mistakes can happen. Explore some of the most common errors to avoid before a disaster hits.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

25 Best Apps for Small-Business Owners in 2017

From NerdWallet:

Problem solver. Communicator. Financial whiz. Running a small business involves wearing a lot of hats. If you’re looking to increase productivity and organization — or just make your life as an entrepreneur a little easier — a good app might be just what you need.

To help you navigate the seemingly endless sea of business apps, we’ve compiled a list of our favorites. These 25 can help you stay organized and in charge, no matter which hat you’re wearing.

They are arranged in these categories:

Finance and accounting


Time management



In a league of their own

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Your Own Employees Can Boost Your Marketing Content

From MarketingProfs:

Imagine you just invested a lot of time and resources in your next content masterpiece. You did third-party research, interviewed industry experts, carefully crafted the copy with your target persona in mind, and pulled out all the stops to design a visually compelling piece.

You then released it into the wild through all your Web and social channels and sat back, waiting for it to become the next viral sensation.

But then the unthinkable happened: No one shared it (gasp!).

What happened?

Even the greatest content sometimes needs an early boost to gain traction in social media. Paid promotion and influencer marketing can certainly help, but those can be costly. Fortunately, virtually every organization has a captive audience that's willing—and even happy—to share content with their networks for free...

Look to your left, look to your right, look at Bob in accounting: I'm talking about your fellow employees (bet you didn't know Bob has 3,000 Twitter followers).

Increasingly, marketers are turning to employee advocacy to solve their content-promotion woes.

With organic reach now more elusive than ever, structured employee advocacy programs help brands connect with audiences in an authentic way by using their own employees.

No budget? No problem. You can build an employee advocacy program for free or at a very low cost—especially compared with paid social promotion or influencer product placement.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Industries Most Affected by Cybercrime

From IBISWorld:
The disruption caused by the rise of the internet and popularity of web-enabled devices is indisputable; industries have been completely flipped upside down as new, online businesses offer consumers products and services that were once unimaginable.

As life is moving to the cloud, however, so are the criminals. The US Justice Department estimates that more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred each day since the beginning of 2016, meaning hackers engineer software programs that prevent employees from accessing their computer systems until a ransom total is paid.

In 2016, about 72.0% of large companies and 20.0% of small to midsize companies were targets of cyberattacks, according to CNBC and Microsoft, respectively, boosting demand for products and services protecting against cyberattacks. IBISWorld expects the US Security Software Publishing industry to grow 2.6% in 2017, to $12.0 billion.

However, while companies are increasingly investing in defending against cyberattacks, large attacks still occur. In fact, just this week, news broke that a cyberattack on credit-reporting agency Equifax Inc. claimed social security numbers and other sensitive information on more than 140.0 million Americans. Equifax is hardly alone; the following four industries and companies have been hit hard by cybercriminals over the past five years...

The challenge of cybersecurity remains colossal and is only expected to grow; while total internet traffic volume grew an annualized 20.2% over the past five years, it is expected to accelerate to an annualized growth of 21.7% over the next five years. In 2022, nearly triple the amount of data will be transferred on the internet compared with today, increasing the risk of cybercriminals looking to steal Social Security and credit card numbers, creative content and other pieces of sensitive information.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Be Honest: Are You the Office Bully?

From Entrepreneur magazine:

Last year [Ross McCammon] was a guest on an NPR call-in talk show to discuss workplace etiquette. Most calls were about shaking hands, conducting meetings, asking for a raise...

It was light and funny until one caller asked for advice about being shunned by her co-workers. They would gather near her desk, talking about work she was involved in without asking her to weigh in. They never invited her to lunch or after-work drinks. When she brought up her feelings, her colleagues dismissed and mocked her. She felt unimportant and ostracized. And she sounded deeply distressed.

I felt ill-equipped to answer the question. I stammered out a reply. I made a joke. (She didn't laugh.) The show's host suggested that she record these instances and, if they continued, alert a supervisor. The host labeled the behavior as “bullying.” Which at first struck me as infantilizing.

I hadn't felt bullied since middle school.

And I certainly had never felt bullied at work. And I certainly had never bullied anyone at work. (Note: Never believe anyone who uses italics to deny something.)

Or had I? The major problem with the word bullying is that it seems more tied to the playground and, these days, social media (which is a metaphorical playground)... But what about rolling your eyes every time a colleague speaks in a meeting? Gossiping? Raising your voice? The things we've all been guilty of doing?

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Improving the Public Perception of Manufacturing

From Rodon Group:
Friday, October 6th is National Manufacturing Day.

According to the MFG Day website, "MFG DAY addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after MFG DAY, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry. Supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers, MFG DAY is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges."

Census Bureau data

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Small business can compete with Amazon

From BizWomen:

Small businesses and startups can survive the so-called Amazon effect by being creative and innovative, said U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon.

McMahon was in Denver Sept. 28 for the sixth annual Denver Startup Week, a week of free panel discussions, workshops and networking events for entrepreneurs in all stages.

Metro Denver has recently attracted the eye of Amazon.com The e-commerce giant opened a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in suburb Aurora this month and has broken ground on a 2.4 million-square-foot fulfillment center in nearby Thornton, expected to open in August 2018.

Now, the Seattle-based company is on the hunt for a city in which to build its second headquarters, expected to be a $5 billion project and employ as many as 50,000 people. Colorado and metro Denver leaders plan to bid on the facility.

But it’s in no way doomsday for small businesses, McMahon said. “There is no way for a small business to compete against an Amazon that has not only product development but its online services and distribution,” she said.

“But what small businesses have to do is focus on what they are doing -- what is their niche, where do they fit in, how can they be their own entity in a world that is changing?”

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Hurricane response jobs at the SBA

From the Small Business Administration:

The Small Business Administration is hiring temporary employees to assist with disaster relief efforts this hurricane season from September 1st to December 31st, 2017. Bilingual language skills a plus.

Jobs include:

Damage Verifiers (Nationwide)
Lawyers, Paralegals and Legal Assistants (Sacramento, CA, Dallas, TX, or Buffalo, NY)
Loan Specialists (Sacramento, CA, Dallas, TX, or Buffalo, NY)
Program Support Assistant and Call Center Specialist (Sacramento, CA, Atlanta, GA, or Buffalo, NY)
Customer Service Representatives and Public Information Officers (Nationwide)
Customer Service Representatives (Atlanta, GA, Buffalo, NY, Sacramento, CA)
Customer Service Representatives, Bilingual (Orlando, FL)
Information Technology Specialists - Customer support (Nationwide)
Construction Analysts -Loss Verifiers (Nationwide)
Administrative Support Assistants (Herndon, VA)

Monday, October 02, 2017

Exhausted Employees Costing Companies Millions

From ThomasNet:

Recently unveiled during the National Safety Council’s Congress and Expo this week, are findings showing how a lack of proper rest is hurting the competitive efforts of U.S. companies. The research was conducted by the National Safety Council and Brigham Health Sleep Matters Initiative.

The report’s findings show that a company with 1,000 workers stands to lose $1.4 million annually due to absenteeism, diminished productivity, and healthcare costs stemming from tired employees. A key point of the survey is the growing number of these individuals with undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders. These conditions contribute significantly to the $80 million in fatigue-related costs that can accrue on an annual basis for the average Fortune 500 company.

Additional data can be obtained by utilizing an online resource correlating with the research, entitled the Fatigue Cost Calculator for Employees.