Wednesday, July 31, 2019

US Parents Get Digital After Dark

Article by Lucy Koch
From eMarketer

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

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

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

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Future of Your Workplace Depends on Your Purpose

By Jennifer Robison
From Gallup

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

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

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

Friday, July 26, 2019

What the Best Small Business Websites Have in Common

By Beth Thouin

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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

By Wayne Rivers
For the Family Business Institute

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 22, 2019

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

By Rieva Lesonsky
From the Small Business Administration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Why SWOT Analysis Belongs in Your Business Plan

By Tim Berry
From Bplans

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

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

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

Friday, July 12, 2019

5 People You Should Talk With Before Starting a Business

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

TV Viewers Browse Online While Watching Their Favorites

By Blake Droesch
From eMarketer

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 05, 2019

Why Small & Mid-Size Manufacturers Need to Automate

By David Mantey
From ThomasNet

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Top 10 Business Credit Terms Small Business Owners Should Know

By Marco Carbajo
From the Small Business Administration

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

Why is business credit important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 01, 2019

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

By Jane Smith
From Gallup

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 28, 2019

Are Marketers Being Realistic About Their Customer Experience?

Article by Lucy Koch
From erMarketing

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How to Get Past the Fear of Buying a Franchise

By Joel Libava
From Small Business Administration

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

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

Transition Fears

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

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

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

Business Development

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

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

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

Financial Fears

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

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

That’s why it’s important to:

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

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

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

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

Fear of Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Write a thorough and realistic business plan.

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 24, 2019

Best Side Gigs to Make Money (Without Public Interaction)

From The Balance:

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

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

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


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

Friday, June 21, 2019

How Will Climate Change Impact the Supply Chain?

By Kristin Manganello
From ThomasNet

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

WhatsApp Beats Instagram, Twitter Among US Hispanic Users

By Lucy Koch
From eMarketer

We estimate that more than half of the US Hispanic population will use messaging app WhatsApp at least monthly this year. The platform’s US Hispanic user base of 32 million is growing because of its data cost savings, messaging encryption capabilities and popularity in Latin American countries.

WhatsApp is more popular among US Hispanics than Instagram or Twitter, with those platforms seeing 34.3% and 21% user penetration, respectively. For greater context, that means there are 10 million more US Hispanics on WhatsApp than Instagram, and almost triple more than Twitter. 

Much of the platform’s popularity is driven by its high use in Latin American countries. Older US Hispanics who wish to communicate with friends and families in these countries can do so via the app. Younger people use the platform to stay in touch with relatives in the US and Latin America because of the easy-to-use interface.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A conversation about the future of work with Katie Burke

By Anna Auerbach
From LinkedIn

HubSpot was one of Werk’s earliest supporters, which put me in the orbit of Chief People Officer Katie Burke, who recently joined me the first installment of “Looking Forward.”

She shares my passion for flexibility solutions—even the kinds that don't make headlines or annual reports.

"Some of the most important work that we do is not measured in revenue but in the trips that aren't taken, in the hours and minutes that people get to spend at home with their loved ones, and in the trust that we build when we create space for people to have those types of connections with their families or with their lives or with things that matter most," she told me.

Millennials get a bad rap for demanding a lot of flexibility, but I think the reality is they just demanded what everyone in the workforce actually wants. Gen Z, millennials, Baby Boomers—I actually think everyone wants flexibility at work.

And so I think we'll continue to see that advance with Gen Z, which is to say, they don't necessarily just want flexibility when they become a parent or when they have a longer commute — they want it as part of their social contract with their employer. And I think, to be honest, they're going to ask for and demand for employers to be more amenable than we currently are on that front.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Shady Numbers And Bad Business: Inside The Esports Bubble

By Cecilia D'Anastasio
From Kotaku

The mainstream narrative of esports has been lovingly crafted by those who benefit from its success. There’s big money in esports, they say. You’ve heard the stories. Teenaged gamers flown overseas to sunny mansions with live-in chefs. The erection of $50 million arenas for Enders Game-esque sci-fi battles. League of Legends pros pulling down seven-figure salaries. Yet there’s a reason why these narratives are provocative enough to attract lip-licking headlines in business news and have accrued colossal amounts of venture capital. More and more, esports is looking like a bubble ready to pop.

“I feel like esports is almost running a Ponzi scheme at this point,” Frank Fields, Corsair’s sponsorship manager, told an audience at San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference last March. He smirked. The crowd laughed uncomfortably. The smile dropped from Fields’ face as he continued. “Everyone I talk to in this industry kind of acknowledges the fact that there is value in esports, but it is not nearly the value that is getting hyped these days.” Later, Fields would clarify that this value, and future value, “as of now, is optimistic at best and fraudulent at worst.”

Fields is not the only longtime esports veteran who is worried the industry is a bubble, or more accurately, an industry comprised of several bubbles. Seventeen other experts on the North American esports industry shared similar concerns with Kotaku, some describing it merely as “inflated” and others as “completely unsustainable.” Several spoke on the controversial topic because they love esports and want to see it succeed organically, in a sustainable way. There is, of course, a genuine love shared by thousands of people for playing games competitively. Right now, many who spoke to us for this story said, the stuff that makes the esports industry seem like a tantalizing investment rests on unsubstantiated claims—or blunt-force lies.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

How 'service with a smile' can lead to problem drinking

By Caitlin Mullen
From BizJournals

[Researchers'] findings? Heavier drinking after work is more likely for those who routinely fake smiles, seem happier than they are or suppress the urge to roll their eyes — called “surface acting” — while on the job.

It’s more than job stress that leads people to drink, researchers found. The more workers had to maintain control over negative emotions at work — suppressing their actual emotions in front of customers or the public — the less able they were to control their alcohol intake at the end of the day. In other words, they’ve exhausted self-control by the time they’re done with work.

It was most apparent in impulsive people whose jobs involve one-time service encounters with customers — like coffee shop baristas or call center employees — rather than workers like nurses or teachers, who build relationships with patients or students, the study, published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, discovered.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Empire Center Compiles Latest Census Population Data

From the Empire Center

Tables summarizing the latest Census Bureau population estimates for towns, cities, and villages in New York State have been posted in the Data section of the Empire Center’s website.

The tables are sortable by county, name of the locality, population totals, changes and rate of change. They can also be downloaded by users.

The tables are:
City and Village Population Change 2017-2018
City and Village Population Change 2010-2018
Town Population Change 2017-2018
Town Population Change 2010-2018

Monday, June 10, 2019

7 Small Businesses You Don't Want to Start

From The Balance: Small Business

The title of this article is a bit misleading. These aren’t the absolutely worst ideas for starting businesses. They were fine ideas for starting a business in their day, as were film developing, video stores, dial-up internet services, and horse-drawn carriages.

But for some, that day is gone and these are no longer necessarily good choices. Some are no longer good choices because their potential markets have been saturated. You can still start a business in a saturated market, but if you do you’ll have to find a specific niche you can target and/or have especially strong skills.

For others, times have changed and no matter how talented you are or how much you love the idea are, your new business is unlikely to be profitable.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Mobile Web vs. Mobile App: Where Do Shoppers Spend Time and Money?

Article by Lucy Koch
From eMarketer:

In 2018, total worldwide app revenues grew 63% year over year, according to a March 2019 report from app commerce company Poq, based on data from the company's platform clients. Global time spent in shopping apps on Android devices grew to 18 billion hours in 2018, up 45% from two years prior, per a January 2019 report from app analytics platform App Annie.

In the US, mobile shopping sessions grew 70% from 2016. Amazon's app ranked third for number of active users per month across both iPhones and Androids in 2018. The ecommerce powerhouse was the only retailer to make the top 10 apps in the US, trailing Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

According to App Annie, time spent by US consumers in shopping apps and increasing digital sales had a strong positive correlation of 0.97 between Q1 2014 and Q3 2018—further exemplifying the importance of the user experience.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Valuation: Is Your Small Business as Priceless as You Think?

By Jim Moran
From Bplans
After spending years building your small business, it can be hard to quantify the time and energy you’ve poured into it and the sacrifices you’ve made to get where you are now. Your company probably seems priceless to you, but there inevitably will come a time when you must calculate precisely how much your business is worth.

The value of your company is subjective. Buyers and sellers don’t always agree on what’s valuable and what isn’t, which is why hiring a valuation consultant or a CPA who has experience valuing businesses is a good idea. That said, it’s not overly difficult to come up with a reasonable ballpark valuation on your own—you’ll just need to avoid some of the common misconceptions first-time sellers have.

In nearly every case, small businesses are bought and sold based on the cash flow they produce—with prices adjusted up or down to reflect other qualitative features. Rather than focusing only on cash flow, however, most intermediaries use a figure called “SDE,” or seller discretionary earnings, as the core data point of valuation.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Paper or Paperless, Consumers Want Convenient Coupons

Article by Lucy Koch
From eMarketing

From their mailboxes to their mobile phones, shoppers look for coupons everywhere, but convenience is a must.

For marketers, it’s important to provide consumers with discounts that are easy to find and use.

Consumers across the board use physical and digital coupons, according to the survey, but a deeper dive into shopper behavior reveals nuances.

Coupons—paper and paperless—are most popular among millennial parents (96%) and parents in general (95%). The general population of Gen Xers (93%) was close behind, followed by millennials (92%).

Younger shoppers are more likely to use paperless coupons, with 88% of millennials indicating use vs. 83% of Gen Xers and 64% of baby boomers.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Know Your Industry Before You Start Your Business

By Tim Berry
From Bplan
Picture from Pixabay

Industry analysis is part of good management. That’s not just for the business planning, but rather for business survival, beginning to end. Most of the people who successfully start their own business have already had relevant business experience before they start, most often as employees.

Although all business owners need to know their industry, the documented details and explanations are mainly for when you’re writing a business plan you need to show to outsiders, like bank lenders or investors. You’ll need to do some industry analysis so you’re able to explain the general state of your industry, its growth potential, and how your business model fits into the landscape.

And if your business plan is more of an internal strategic roadmap, you should still be very sure—whether you have to prove it to others or not—that you know your market, even if you don’t do a formal industry analysis. Whether you’re a service business, manufacturer, retailer, or something else, you want to know your industry inside and out.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Is It Time to Break up with Your Business Partner?

By Rae Steinbach
From Funding Circle:

People start new businesses with their friends or families for a variety of reasons, but this can lead to a unique set of problems that most conventional businesses don’t encounter. This approach makes it easy to share successes, but mixing your personal and business lives can get complicated very quickly.

If you’re concerned about your business—or more specifically, your business partners—it can be tough to know when to walk away. These are some of the biggest red flags to look out for if you’re worried about your ability to stay in business with people close to you.

Difficulty Maintaining Separate Roles

Businesses typically have very defined roles for each member of staff, making it easy to create a reliable chain of command and distribution of duties. When working with friends, on the other hand, it’s easy for these lines to become blurred over time if you don’t assign clear responsibilities in advance.

If one of your colleagues starts to overstep their boundaries, you should always talk to them openly and honestly before doing anything rash or irreversible. On the other hand, if there are differences between you that don’t seem resolvable, the best decision may be to simply walk away.

Your Family and Friends Think Something Is Wrong

It’s often easier for us to believe that everything is ok than it is to convince the people closest to us. Comments from your friends and family may be the first sign that your job is causing mental, physical, or financial stress in your life. Instead of brushing off their concerns, understand that they want what’s best for you.

A difficult stretch at work isn’t always enough of a reason to walk away entirely, but you may reconsider your position if this continues for a longer period of time. Try to be open about these issues with your family and friends and get their input if you’re thinking about making a change.

You’re Putting Too Much Money into the Company

What exactly is too much money obviously varies from person to person, but a constant need for new investment usually isn’t a good sign. This can be an especially messy situation in businesses between friends, as personal dynamics can play a major role.

If your company is spending money with no clear return on investment, try to right the ship and look for ways to budget more effectively. Without a clear plan of action and a realistic path to viability, you may not see a future with your current business.

Starting a company with friends or family can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared for some of the most common challenges people face in this situation. If you’ve noticed any of these concerns in your own business, it may be time to reconsider your current operations and take a closer look at your company’s future.

Rae is a freelance editor at Funding Circle. She is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. Rae is passionate about "business law, international marketing, and writing (of course)." The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New York SBDC or Funding Circle.

Monday, May 27, 2019

9 Proven Online Businesses For 2019

By Jann Chambers
From UK Web Host Review

With so many different opportunities to choose from it is easy to suffer from “shiny object syndrome” and fleet from one idea to the next. I’m sure you have a ton of amazing business ideas. However, it is important to stick to one area and be consistent before expanding into other areas...

The main thing about your blog is being consistent in creating content. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to get organized (wink-wink) you can easily schedule both your blog posts and social media posts to advertise your articles. So if you’re like me and like to get everything done in one go – you can...

An eCommerce business is basically the same as starting any shop/ store, the only key difference is that people don’t normally visit your warehouse in person. When you ship the products you’ll need to ensure that this is handled professionally and the chosen company are competent and cost-effective. Additionally, the postage and packaging, tax and other costs must be considered when deciding on a price for your products.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Friday, May 24, 2019

In-Store Checkout Needs to Be Quick and Easy

Article by Lucy Koch

A simple and seamless checkout experience still tops shoppers’ list of in-store must-haves, because ain’t nobody got time ... to stand in long lines.

When location platform GroundTruth asked US consumers in June 2018 about what made in-store shopping better than digital, more pointed to a quick checkout experience than any other factor, at 81%.

But in-store shopping has its drawbacks—half of respondents to the GrouthTruth survey noted crowds and long lines as the biggest pain points. And these inconveniences can hinder consumers’ paths to purchase.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

WiFi Marketing Can Help Restaurants Boost Customer Loyalty

By Allen Graves
From Bplans

In today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, restaurants have the challenging and sometimes unenviable task of making their brand stand out from all the others. For newer businesses, it can be even more difficult due to a smaller budget and fewer loyal customers.

In comparison to online retailers, brick-and-mortar businesses are typically short on what has become the most important component of marketing today—actual customer data.

Customer data—the kind you get through market research—is essential to understanding who your customers really are, where their interests lie, and how they prefer to spend their money. It also helps businesses assess the feasibility of new products, services or menu items before putting them on the market.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Let's Not Kid Ourselves: The Real Reason for Employee Turnover

By Roberta Chinsky Matuson
From LinkedIn

I received a call last week from a CEO who was concerned about the sudden increase in employee turnover in his organization.

He couldn't understand why anyone would leave his firm. He then went down a laundry list of perks he recently added, that would have made even Google envious...

I see companies spending a ton of money trying to outdo one another in terms of perks and crazy office designs that few appreciate. Tales of kegs being opened at all hours of the day or exotic snacks that are making employees fat seem to be all the rage. Yet, here we are. Employees are less engaged today than back in the sixties when a steady job was the key to engagement.

You can access my employee turnover calculator for free. That's right. I won't see the results unless you decide to send them to me, nor will I hound you with follow up email automatically spewed out by some contact management system. All I'm asking here is for you to take an honest look at what it costs your company every time someone leaves your organization.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Here's Why Stores Still Matter in the Digital Age

Article by Caroline Cakebread
From eMarketer

With retail e-commerce sales growing rapidly in the US, it can feel like online buying is taking over the world. But for consumers, brick-and-mortar shopping is still important. They’ll spend almost 90% of their retail dollars in person this year, and a large portion of that foot traffic will come from webrooming.

Webrooming, or researching a product online before buying in a physical store, has helped boost in-store traffic for a few retailers in particular last year...

The Home Depot also saw increased in-store traffic last year, something CEO Craig Menear credited to BOPUS (buy online, pick up in-store). “These online shoppers see the relevance of our stores...” Like Ulta Beauty, the company plans to expand its footprint in 2019, something it hasn’t done in several years.

Image by Trang Le from Pixabay

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How to Find Out if Your Password Has Been Stolen

By Eric Ravenscraft
From PC magazine

Data breaches are a regular occurrence these days, but have hackers been digging around in your personal information?

These tools will help you figure out if your online accounts have been hacked, and your email addresses and passwords stolen.

Large data breaches happen with uncomfortable frequency. It has never been more necessary to secure your online accounts with a password manager and two-factor authentication, where available.

But what if a service you use is hacked? The following tools can help you determine if your accounts were caught up in a breach.

Monday, May 13, 2019

How to Build Business Credit on a Shoestring Budget

By Marco Carbajo
From the US Small Business Administration

Many businesses start on a shoestring budget so it can be challenging to build the business credit you need to expand your business. But every business has to start somewhere and building your business credit can be done with the right action plan to guide you.

In this article we’ll cover how to build business credit without cash flow coming into your business.

The first place to start is with your existing operating expenses. Did you know the payments you already make on a monthly basis for expenses such as your business phone line, internet and utility accounts, can be reported to a business credit reporting agency? Unfortunately, many of these service providers do not report your company’s monthly payments to the business credit reporting agencies, so you don’t get the benefit of paying these bills on time. s

The good news is there are data reporting services that allow small business owners to link their eligible accounts and have the payment history automatically report to a business credit reporting agency. This allows you to have this information reported to one or more of the business credit agencies which will build and improve your business credit reports.

As you know an established business credit report and score may lead to better rates and terms for business credit cards, lines of credit or loans from banks, card issuers and lenders.

By starting with your operating expenses, you can start establishing business credit history for payments you’re already making every month but never get credit for. It’s alarming how many small business owners don’t realize that utility accounts and other operational expenses such as these never get reported.

It’s important to note that this can only be accomplished if the business phone line, internet and utility accounts are set up in the company’s name. This is obviously an essential part of establishing a separation between you and your business. As you know, keeping all aspects of how you structure and operate your business completely separate also helps you manage your taxes more efficiently.

Failing to separate your personal and business accounts leads to an accounting nightmare during tax time. To protect your personal assets, it’s critical to separate your personal accounts, funds, expenses, and debt from those of your business, or you may surrender the legal protection that an entity structure offers.

Here are several operating expenses that can help build business credit:

Business phone line – There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to setting up an ideal phone system for a business. Whether a mobile phone, VoIP or other type of phone service, be sure to establish the account in your company name.

Printing & Copying – Do you use print & copy services on a regular basis? Did you know you can set up a corporate account with a printing service provider? Many office supply companies offer net 30 accounts which can be a useful trade reference on future business credit applications.

Web hosting – Paying for web design, webhosting, domain names, and other services related to your company’s online presence should be purchased in the company’s name. Web hosting is an ongoing expense that can be used as a valuable trade reference.

Marketing & Advertising
– Promoting a company’s products and/or services via advertising is a sizable expense that is incurred by every business. Many advertising companies offer special financing terms for major promotions and monthly billing options.

Building business credit with low cash flow doesn’t have to be a difficult process if you take advantage of your existing expenses and ensure the business gets credit for it. It’s simply a matter of taking action, setting up accounts in the company’s name, and linking those accounts with a data reporting service.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Friday, May 10, 2019

What Is a Franchise?

By Joel Libava
From Bplans

A franchise is a type of business that is owned and operated by an individual (franchisee) but that is branded and overseen by a much larger—usually national or multinational—company (the franchisor). Many of the stores and restaurants that you see every day are franchises: Subway, 7-11, The UPS Store, Ace Hardware, Pizza Hut, Hilton Hotels, Molly Maid, and thousands more.

When you buy the rights to open this type of business, you’re buying the rights to use a proven business model and system, with proven prices, products, and marketing techniques. You’re also buying the rights to a brand: You get full access to the company’s trademarked materials including logos, slogans, and signage—anything that has to do with the brand...

In addition, you may be given an exclusive geographical territory to cover. Information about territory is always spelled out in your franchise agreement, as is the time period for which you own your franchise business. Typically, this sort of contract lasts between 5 to 10 years in length and you usually have the right to renew them.

From the FTC: A Consumer's Guide to Buying a Franchise

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Essential Ingredients for an Effective Onboarding Program

From Gallup

Unfortunately, a common, fatal flaw organizations tend to make is to treat onboarding as a "new employee orientation class" or "the first 30 days," rather than a year-long process that helps employees get up to speed in their job and integrated into their new team and organization.

In our experience, it takes 12+ months for most people to get "up to speed" in most jobs. This ramp-up time is when employees learn their role and with the intention of being fully capable of performing all critical functions at a high level...

Often, organizations lose one-third to two-thirds of new hires within their first 12 months on the job. Naturally, this varies by role, as about half of all hires for senior positions leave within 18 months, and half of all hourly workers last just four months.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Do People Actually Want Personalized Ads?

Article by Ross Benes
From eMarketer
The belief that consumers crave more targeted, personalized ads has become a digital advertising mantra. But it’s not entirely true...

Adlucent found that seven in 10 consumers yearn for personalized ads. IAB presentations state that consumers want fewer, but more personalized ads. Epsilon found that four-fifths of consumers are more likely to make purchases when a brand gives them a personalized experience. In a Segment survey, 71% of consumers were frustrated that their shopping experiences were too impersonal. The consumer demand for personalized content is at an all-time high, according to Adobe.

But when consumers are asked about the data collection practices that empower personalized ads, they tell a different story.

Friday, May 03, 2019

5 Myths About Payroll Taxes

By Barbara Weltman
From the Small Business Administration
If you want to grow your business, you probably need to hire employees to help you. Becoming an employer and expanding your staff entails many responsibilities, one of which is seeing to payroll taxes. Unfortunately, there are many myths about these taxes. Here is the reality:

1. Myth: Transforming employees into independent contractors to save on payroll taxes is easy

Reality: You probably know that it costs less to use an independent contractor than to have an employee on staff. The reason: the cost of payroll taxes, along with insurance and benefits apply only for employees. But don’t think you can simply reclassify a worker who’s been your employee as an independent contractor. The IRS, as well as other government agencies, are on the lookout for just such action.

The classification of a worker depends on many factors, most of which boil down to a matter of control. Essentially, if you have the right to say when, where, and how work gets done, you’re likely dealing with an employee. The IRS uses three categories of factors to assess the degree of control: behavioral, financial, and type of relationship. Many states, including California, use an ABC test:

The worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with performing the work
The worker performs work outside of the usual course of the hiring entity’s business
The worker is usually engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity

2. Myth: All tax-free benefits are exempt from payroll taxes

Reality: Receiving tax-free fringe benefits means that employees do not have to pay income tax on what they receive. However, it does not mean that employers are off the hook for payroll taxes. For example, 401(k) contributions made by employees through salary reductions are still subject to FICA. And adoption assistance is exempt from income tax withholding because the benefit is tax free to employees but is still subject to FICA and FUTA taxes. You can find a list of various fringe benefits and their tax treatment for employment tax purposes in Table 2-1 in IRS Publication 15B.

3. Myth: You can pay employment taxes with your quarterly employer tax return

Reality: In general, you must deposit federal income taxes withheld and both the employer and employee share of FICA with the U.S. Treasury using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Also, deposits are required for FUTA tax for the quarter within which the tax due is more than $500.

4. Myth: Outsourcing to a payroll service provider relieves you of liability

Reality: Rather than handling payroll in-house, many businesses use an outside payroll service provider to handle the chore of computing payroll taxes, withholding them from employees’ paychecks, remitting payroll taxes to the government, and filing employment tax returns. What happens if a payroll provider fails to remit your money to the government? Or it fails to timely file employment tax returns? Unfortunately, you’re still on the hook for these obligations. You may have a lawsuit against the payroll service provider for theft, breach of contract, or other bad action. You can even file a complaint with the IRS on Form 14157Download Adobe Reader to read this link content if you suspect your payroll service provider of improper or fraudulent activities regarding the deposit of your taxes or the filing of your returns. But it doesn’t relieve you of your obligations to the government.

5. Myth: Incorporating relieves you of liability for unpaid employment taxes

Reality: You may think that having incorporated your business or formed a limited liability company (LLC), you have complete personal liability protection. You don’t. If you are a person responsible for withholding, accounting for, or depositing withheld employee taxes (their income tax withholding and their share of FICA) and you willfully fail to do so, you can be held personally liable for all of these taxes, plus interest. This is called a trust fund recovery penalty and it can be applied to business owners even if they have corporations or LLCs.

Final thought

In addition to any federal level payroll tax obligations, you may also have state-level employment taxes to consider. Find out more about federal employment taxes from the IRS. Check with your state tax or revenue department to learn about your obligations on the state and local levels.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

This Fixable Problem Costs U.S. Businesses $1 Trillion

From Gallup

Here's how it breaks down for an individual organization:
*The annual overall turnover rate in the U.S. in 2017 was 26.3%, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
*The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary -- and that's a conservative estimate.
*So, a 100-person organization that provides an average salary of $50,000 could have turnover and replacement costs of approximately $660,000 to $2.6 million per year.

Fifty-two percent of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.

You may assume their manager did everything they could to make things right, but statistically, that's probably not the case. Over half of exiting employees (51%) say that in the three months before they left, neither their manager nor any other leader spoke with them about their job satisfaction or future with the organization.

Monday, April 29, 2019

US Household Spending Breakdown by Income Group

From Money magazine via Engaging Data

One of the key factors in the financial health of an individual or household is making sure that household spending is equal to or below household income. If your spending is higher than income, you will be drawing down your savings (if you have any) or borrowing money. If your spending is lower than your income, you will presumably be saving money which can provide flexibility in the future, fund your retirement (maybe even early) and generally give you peace of mind.

We can see that on average, those in the lowest quintiles may be borrowing or drawing down on savings to live, while those in the highest quintiles are saving money. This fairly high level of borrowing/drawing on savings from the lowest quintile households may be deceptive because it includes seniors who are drawing down savings that were built up specifically for this purpose, and college students who are borrowing to go to school. These groups generally don’t have significant incomes.

The main thing is to understand where your money is going. Once you’ve done this you can be more conscious of what you are spending your money on, and then decide if you are spending too much (or too little) in certain categories. Having context of what other people spend money on is helpful as well, and why it is useful to compare to these averages, even though the income level, regional cost of living, and household composition won’t look exactly the same as your household.

Friday, April 26, 2019

How to Hire for Diversity without Compromise

By Lou Adler
From LinkedIn

"When companies continue to use job descriptions listing skills and experiences surrounded by generic competencies and highfalutin statements about culture, diversity hiring implies making compromises."

I went on to say that this type of hiring process compromises more than diversity. It eliminates the most promising people from consideration before they even get a chance to be considered. These are the people who achieve more with a different mix of skills and experiences. These are people who get promoted more frequently.

These are the people who are assigned stretch projects early in their careers. These are the people who are assigned the toughest projects or volunteer for them at every stage of their career. These are people who are assigned to important multi-functional teams or volunteer to be part of them or are asked by other team members to join.

The sad part is that traditional job descriptions prevent these people from consideration unless they are referred or already known by the people making the hiring decisions.

However, there is one technique that opens up this diverse pool of high performing talent without making any compromises: Eliminate traditional job descriptions and shift to a performance-qualified approach for attracting and assessing talent.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Census Bureau Releases 2017 Census of Governments Data

The U.S. Census Bureau is releasing two products: the official count of state and local governments for the 2017 Census of Governments and the Individual State Descriptions report.
The 2017 Census of Governments release consists of data from the Organization component that reflects an enumeration of active, in-scope governments in the United States. These counts are presented by government type, state, population-size groups, function, and school systems.
The Individual State Descriptions report for the 2017 Census of Governments provides information about the legal organization of state and local governments. There is a separate summary for each state and the District of Columbia. The summaries cover authorized county, municipal, township, school district, and special district governments, as well as noteworthy state and local dependent governments.
The Census of Governments is a three-phased program that collects state and local government data every five years as a part of the Census of Governments in years ending in “2” and “7.” Between censuses, comparable employment and financial activity data are produced from intercensal quarterly and annual sample surveys.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

5 Things Startups Can Learn From Angel Investors

By Tim Berry
From Bplans

Startups and high-growth businesses can learn a lot from angel investors, regardless of whether you’re seeking funding to grow your business or not. And if you pitch and get turned down, their feedback can be really valuable in helping you think about what you need to do next to meet your funding goals.

I’ve seen this over and over in my dealings, both as an angel investor on my own and as a member of a local angel investment group. Most angel investors don’t just reject startups—we explain why. And we don’t just say yes either; we explain what else is needed...

Angel investors are individuals willing to invest their own money to fund new startups. Most of them have made money with startups; they’ve been through the wringer, they’ve succeeded, and they are in a position to share. They can teach you a lot. So if you’re a startup, always focus on listening first.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Are Advertisers Coming for Your Car?

By Anna Wells
From ThomasNet

There are some new car options that have been a little lumpy in their rollout – and none more so than the “infotainment system.” Car makers have been continuing their push towards the biggest and most functional dash screens, but a recent report in the Wall Street Journal asks us to pause and take stock of where we’re at with infotainment… and where we’re headed.

The Wall Street Journal is calling your car’s infotainment system “the last unconquered screen” and suggests a battle is brewing over how they can be used in the future to market new products and services.

Currently, this screen is considered to be the only one where advertisers can’t really reach out – but that, of course, is about to change. A January report on The Drive introduced us to Telenav, a wireless services provider, that’s launching a platform that can deliver location-based ads to a vehicle’s infotainment system. These can be tweaked based on time of day or route but might look like this: you’re approaching a fast food joint around lunchtime, and an ad with a coupon pops up.