Tools To Help Your Small Business Succeed

Small business owners are notoriously hard workers with long hours every single day of the week. Software tools and applications that make their business a bit easier have become more readily available with the current technology.  Documents, appointments, on line calendars and applications they can access through their phones or other devices have become commonplace.  Their business can truly travel with them, and can provide the much needed time to spend doing other more enjoyable things.

To read more about new business applications and other small business topics, follow the links below.


3 Financial Documents Every Small Business Needs

Columbia, S.C. (WLTX) – Happy Money Monday to our entrepreneur viewers. Today we’re covering the basics to help you understand the financial health of your business.

Here are 3 financial documents every small business needs:

1. Balance Sheet – This is a great way to provide a financial overview of your business. If you’re a visual person, this financial report will be easier for you to understand as it’s displayed as a chart. The left side shows what your company owns (aka your assets), while the right side will show you your expenses and equity.

2. Cash flow Statement – Similar to your budget for your personal finances, the cash flow statement shows how money comes and goes for your business. This helps you understand how your business is operating on a day-to-day basis and will help you answer the question, “How much is my business truly making?”


What is Yext and Can It Help Your Small Business?

It you’re looking for a way to automatically sync your business information across 50+ directories such as Google Maps, Yelp and Apple Siri, Yext presents itself as a possible solution.

Last week, the New-York based company filed paperwork with the US securities regulators to raise as much as $100 million in an initial public offering.

What is Yext?

Yext is a data management tool that is designed to keep track of your business’ location-related information on multiple directories. The software allows you to sync your:

  • Business Name, Address and Phone Number;
  • Business hours, products and services, holiday hours, photos and videos, staff bios, menus, and calendars;

Why your small business needs a mobile app

Many small businesses are unsure whether they need a mobile app, many believing that their mobile website is enough. Are you staying relevant?

Are you app-solutely missing the boat?

These days, we carry our smartphones everywhere. People are using them to play, order food, make purchases, do research, communicate, check reviews, read books, find love and generally get by day to day. Some people are even running their business from their phone! In fact, many of you probably prefer using apps over your desktop when it comes to things like checking emails, updating your social media accounts or checking your online banking.


 

Information You Must Know For Your Small Business

If You Think Education Is Expensive, Try Ignorance – Famous quote

And, for many small business owners, knowing the rules and regulations concerning their business can save them a lot of money they can then invest in their business.  Tax incentives, or other type of changes that affect how they do their business, are opportunities they cannot pass up. 

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Medicare rules differ for small business owners and employees

They must enroll when they turn 65 or face lifelong penalties.

Financial advisers who work with owners or employees of small businesses that employ fewer than 20 workers should be aware of a special rule that affects these clients: They must enroll in Medicare when they turn 65 or face lifelong penalties.

Normally, workers age 65 and older can delay enrolling in Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for people 65 and older and certain people with disabilities, if they continue to have group health insurance through their employer or through their spouse’s employer.

If the employer has 20 or more employees, the group health plan generally pays first, according to Medicare.gov. But the rules are different for small businesses and the self-employed. In this case, Medicare is the primary payer and if you don’t sign up for Medicare at 65, it will be as if you have no insurance at all, warns the Medicare Rights Center.


Avoid Business Burnout: 10 Real Small Business Owners Share Their Coping Secrets

Let’s face it: nobody starts a small business so that they’ll work less and have more free time. One thing I’ve heard consistently over the years from small business owners is how much harder it is to run a business than it is to work for one. In fact, many of them describe business ownership as a job that means working from morning till night, seven days a week. A friend of mine who owns a small café recently admitted to me that he hasn’t taken a single vacation in the seven years since he opened!

All of this sounds like a surefire recipe for serious “business owner burnout.” So I decided to ask 10 real-life small business owners how they stay energized. How do they cope with those moments when they feel overwhelmed by the constant pressure, the lack of time off, and the worries that come with being in business for yourself? This is the question I posed to them: “What tactics do you use to re-energize yourself and reinvigorate your passion for your business?”


10 Reasons Why Marketing Training for Small Business Owners is Essential

It’s no secret, at the core of business success is marketing. For small businesses, marketing goods, services and their brand, is essential in reaching customers, selling products and services and generally staying afloat. Though as with any discipline, marketing is achieved more effectively when you have the knowledge and expertise about the most effective forms of advertising, promotion and public relations, hence why marketing training can prove invaluable for many marketing-naïve SMEs.

If you run a small business and your marketing efforts are either non-existent or aren’t getting you very far, it could be worth investing in marketing training. Take a look at the following 10 reasons why marketing training for small business owners is essential.

Open new doors

Being up-to-date with the latest trends, innovations, technology and developments in the world of marketing, can help open new doors for your business. You will be able to implement such innovations into your own marketing strategy, and by doing so, grow your businesses organically by reaching out to new and existing customers.



 

Is Online Advertising Working For You?

For some small business owners, online advertising seems to be a no brainer.  You can use Facebook ads to advertise your business or products, you pay the fees, and you wait for the results to start coming. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  Facebook advertising takes work.  You must consistently test what is working for your particular business, before you can actually get any results.  It is true that for some businesses you do not have to do too much for the ads to work, but for the majority of small businesses, testing your ads to see if they are reaching the right audience, seems to be the only way to go. 


62 Percent of Small Business Owners Say Facebook Ads Don’t Work

Are Facebook ads ineffective, or is the problem user error?

In January 2017, Small Business Trends released the results of a survey of over 2,600 small-business owners, revealing that 62 percent of them believe Facebook ads are ineffective. With complaints of little-to-no ROI, these entrepreneurs say they will not use Facebook advertising again. Some experts, however, challenge this viewpoint, saying that properly targeted Facebook ads do indeed provide results.

“When businesses don’t see the results they hope for, it’s usually because they haven’t done enough testing on their ad copy, visuals, and the ideal combination of information to target the right audience,” says Vitruvian Digital Advertising founder Kristie McDonald.

Jeanine Blackwell, founder of The Launch Lab, agrees, saying that marketers aren’t asking themselves the right questions to determine an effective target market for their ad campaigns. “The problem is that most advertisers only use the simplest of criteria to let Facebook know who they want to see their ads, such as gender, age, and income,” says Blackwell.


The Best Accountability For Small Business Owners

When Beth Savage became the owner of PQ Systems, the first thing she did was put together an outside board. “Why not have a board that is there for the sole reason of helping you and your team succeed?” says Beth.

Many business owners are reluctant to create an outside board. Some believe that their company is unique, and a board of outsiders wouldn’t work for their company.

Others rationalize that they already get enough advice from employees, family members, and paid advisors—such as their attorney, accountant or bankers. Still others can’t see the purpose, and they want to hold on to what they see as their autonomy.


Abrams: Sexy small business start-ups

Looking for a small business start-up idea? You might want to look to the bedroom. Because, and I know this may shock you, sex sells.

Romance has been around since, well, Adam and Eve. Businesses related to romance continue to do well and are increasingly mainstream. This past Valentine’s Day, even Burger King got in the act. For a very limited time and only in Israel, the fast food chain included a sex toy in an “Adult Meal.” The story spread like wildfire on social media because who can resist anything to do with sex?

While most sex-based businesses are small businesses, they typically seem seedy and are, often, exploitative. But here are some sex and romance-related small business ideas you that can still tell your grandma about and that won’t land you in jail:

1. Online dating site profile writer. Ask people how they met their partner, and the most frequent response you’ll hear is “online.” But few people know how to write appealing dating site profiles. My senior editor, however, met the man of her dreams on OKCupid. “Before we write anything at work, we research,” she said. “I thought I better do the same thing.” So she figured out how to write a witty, quirky profile, which attracted her perfect match. Friends then started asking her to write their profiles. “This could be a full-time business.” If your customers break up, they need to update their profiles, which means repeat business.


 

Small Business News

News about the high optimism of small business owners  regarding the economy across the US, seem to be a hot topic of conversation. Despite the incertitude of many of the issues affecting the small business community, the optimism according to media outlets seems to be high. The promise of a quick repeal to Obamacare has some small business owners wondering whether this is going to be a good move for them.  For more about this and other stories affecting the small business community, follow the links below.


Small-business owners are full of questions and regrets about the end of Obamacare

With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act likely but its replacement uncertain, small-business owners are weighing their options for the future.

More details may come Tuesday evening when President Trump makes his first address to both houses of Congress as commander-in-chief.

Trump took executive action on January 20 to “ease the burden” of the Affordable Care Act and formally announced the administration’s policy to “seek the prompt repeal” of the law. However, doing so with any speed has proven difficult. The president told a meeting of the nation’s governors on Monday, “Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.”

Dirk Bak is simply hoping for cost controls. His business, SDQ Janitorial in Minnetonka, Minn., has been family-owned for 34 years and had been offering its nearly 200 full-time workers coverage even before the ACA became law.

A great majority of our nation’s small business owners are old, white men

Two weeks ago the Kauffman Foundation, a well-regarded nonprofit group that specializes in entrepreneurism, released its annual State of Entrepreneurship report — and at least in one respect, the news is encouraging. The report found that, despite still being below the peak that preceded the Great Recession, private enterprise is rebounding and entrepreneurs are driving a resurgence of business activity in America.

However, most of those entrepreneurs are still mostly old, white men.

Even as the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, the changes in the composition of our entrepreneurs is not reflecting these changes: 80.2 percent are white and 64.5 percent are male (other reports have put the average age of a small business owner at around 50 years old). The Kauffman report found that minorities own half as many businesses as non-minorities and their businesses start smaller and stay smaller mostly due to capital challenges. Women are also half as likely as men to own employer businesses.


79 Percent of Small Business Owners Remain Confident, Xero Report Says

With unprecedented economic uncertainty in the US and UK, you would expect small businesses would be more pessimistic about the future. Yet, according to the second annual Make or Break 2017 report from Xero (NZE:XRO), small business owners are irrepressibly optimistic going into 2017. Both small business owners (79 percent) and accountants (84 percent) feel more confident about 2017 than 2016.

Make or Break 2017 Report from Xero: Highlights

The optimism was especially true for young businesses with 94 percent of one-year-old and 84 percent of two-year-old businesses saying that they felt more confident going into 2017 than they did in 2016. Over three quarters (79 percent) of small business owners professed confidence in their businesses’ survival in 2017. While nearly a fifth of businesses going through a tougher time said they expected 2017 to be a turnaround year for their business.


 

Tax Deductions and Small Business Surging Optimism in The Economy

Receipts during this time of year become increasingly more important as small business owners prepare for tax filing.  If you have no receipts that prove your expenses then, you may be out of luck.  But, some of the tax deductions for your small business will be at the hands of your accountant.  Make sure your accountant knows and has all the documentation to give your small business the deductions it deserves.

For more about  this and other news, follow the links below.


5 overlooked small-business tax deductions

Failing to claim all the small-business tax deductions you’re entitled to is like flushing money down the toilet. Deductions are a legal way to reduce the amount of business income that is subject to tax.

Failing to claim all the small-business tax deductions you’re entitled to is like flushing money down the toilet. Deductions are a legal way to reduce the amount of business income that is subject to tax.Keeping good records is key to backing up the deductions, says Barbara Weltman, author of “J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2017.”

“Keep receipts, invoices and other documentation,” she says. “If you don’t have the proof, you could be out of luck.”

 


Small business owners are excited about the US economy – and they’re giving Trump the credit

Small business leaders say they’re more enthusiastic about the US economy, according to a new survey from JPMorgan.

The 2017 Business Leaders Outlook found that small business executives from across the US are more optimistic about the global and national economies and think that the Trump administration will be a positive for the country.

The bank surveyed roughly 1,400 executives, and 80% said they were optimistic about the national economy. That’s up nearly 41 points from the 2016 edition of the survey.

About 68% said they were encouraged about the outlook for their local economies, an 18 point increase from the year before. Only 3% and 5% of these executives were pessimistic about the national and local economies respectively, according to JPMorgan.


Small-business optimism surging, surveys show

Small business owners’ view of the economy is surging and giving them an incentive to hire.

That’s the finding of surveys released last week by two advocacy groups, the National Small Business Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The number of owners who believe the economy is doing better than it was six months ago has virtually doubled from a survey released during the summer, according to the NSBA survey. Forty-three percent of the 1,426 owners questioned had a more upbeat assessment, compared to 22 percent in the summer.

The survey is in line with others showing owners more upbeat after the election and at the start of 2017.

Looking ahead, 54 percent expect the economy to grow during the next year, up from 29 percent.

The more upbeat view is a reason for owners to add jobs, a shift from the recession and its aftermath, when owners said hiring was too much of a risk. Forty-three percent of the owners surveyed by the NSBA said they expect to hire in the next 12 months, up from 33 percent.


 

From Retirement Accounts to the Federal Rate Hike Affecting the Small Business Owner

Are you thinking about  filing your taxes already?  While there is still time to do so, re-evaluating your current retirement plan, health plan or other benefit plans you currently have for your employees with your accountant, financial advisor, or human resources person might be a good idea.  While changing plans may carry a small increase in prices, some of the benefits with a new plan do make up for the small price difference.  Retirement accounts you may want to set up this year for your employees, or for yourself can be done with the help of a financial advisor.  Before making any changes that affects your business, talk to your accountant or financial advisor.

For more about this and other small business news, follow the links below.


Inexpensive retirement plans for small-business owners

You’ve built your own company from the ground up, and now it’s time to start thinking about a retirement plan for yourself and your employees.

Does Your Small Business Need a Whistleblower Policy?

As business owners, we hope to never have need of a whistleblowing policy. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly important for protecting ourselves, our businesses and our employees.

Whistleblowing policies are put in place to ensure employees they are protected if they feel there is a topic or problem that needs to be discussed. It also helps you as a company identify what complaints actually constitute whistleblowing and to put guidelines or consequences in place if false allegations are made against the company.

If you don’t have a whistleblowing policy for your company, here are a few of the main reasons why you need to consider creating one, and what you should have in mind while creating your policy.

What Is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing happens when an employee — the whistleblower, or “relator” (the technical term used for a whistleblower) — brings a concern, misconduct or questionable act within the company to the public’s attention. When a whistleblower decides to speak out about a certain instance of misconduct within the company, they are doing so because they believe it should be public knowledge.


Will Fed Rate Hike Mean Easier Access to Small Business Loans?

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate Wednesday for only the second time since the 2008 recession, citing falling unemployment and low inflation as key factors in its decision.

According to Fed Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen, the country has seen sustained economic growth over the past few years, including nearly 2.3 million net new jobs (PDF) in the previous four quarters alone, and an inflation rate running at a low two percent.

The rate increase is nominal — 0.5 to 0.75 percent — a number that the Fed feels will support sustained growth by encouraging borrowing.

Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit, an online marketplace for small business funding, and an expert on small business finance, said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends that the rate hike could be a good thing for small companies if it spurs financial institutions to make more loans.

He expressed concern, however, that banks, reluctant to lend to small businesses since the recession, may continue to keep their pocketbooks closed.


 

Social Media For Your Small Business

By now, millions of small businesses have been using social media to boost their sales, their recognition, or their brand awareness.  Many of those businesses are very successful and continue to promote their business and engage their customer base using social media platforms to accomplish their goals.  Are you using social media to your liking?  Are you comfortable engaging and answering questions from customers using Facebook or other media outlets?  For more about this topic, follow the links below.


How to Use Facebook Live for Your Small Business

Should you be using Facebook Live for your business? Is it worth your time and effort? According to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), videos (live and otherwise) are viewed more than four billion times per day. And with Facebook giving priority to live videos in the news feed, you certainly may want to consider this service for getting your business message out.

So how can you make use of Facebook Live to engage with the platform’s over 1.1 billion active daily users, or at least those users who are likely to be customers? Here are a few tips.

Ways to Use Facebook Live for Your Small Business

Give an Inside Look at Your Business

As with Instagram Live or Periscope, you can use Facebook Live to give your customers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and how it works.

You can also use the service to focus on an aspect of your business that your audience would be interested in.


Small Business: How do you become a ‘Social Media Maven’?

Stephanie Boyette Nelson, owner of SBN Marketing, calls herself a “Social Media Maven.” She is highly skilled in social media and search engine optimization (SEO). We met at Earl’s Grocery to talk about how keyword-rich contents help match people to a business. SBN Marketing capitalizes on the algorithms used by Google and other search engines to rank websites.

Nelson, 41, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from UNC Chapel Hill. After graduation in 1997, she started in a sales position with Philip Morris tobacco company, but quickly realized that it was not for her. She moved through several positions in corporate America, all the while developing her marketing skills through seminars and hands-on experience. Nelson noticed how the marketing world was changing from the traditional hard copy mailers to online platforms.


2 Ways Small Business Owners Can Reclaim Time Through Technology

It’s common knowledge that small business owners wear multiple hats. It’s part of the excitement and challenge of building your own business. But while it’s fun and rewarding to develop a strategy, work with clients, carry out marketing plans, improve your offerings, and track finances, it’s also time-consuming. Sure, most entrepreneurs can move mountains, but the last time I checked, there were still only 24 hours in a day.

Finding enough time in the day to check off important tasks is a huge challenge for small business owners. Prioritizing and trusting your intuition to determine what needs to be done (and when) is a constant juggling act. Still, even the most intrepid, energetic entrepreneurs can’t keep all those balls in the air forever. Sooner or later, they realize that there’s too much work to be done and not enough time to complete it.



 

Productivity In The Workplace

Small and big businesses regardless of what industry they are in, try to boost productivity in the workplace to achieve their goals.  Whether they are offering financial incentives, recognition across the company, or extra vacation days, companies will go to extra lengths to reach or boost workplace productivity.

Every company has employees that are super stars and their productivity is unparalleled.  But, as every company have super stars, they have the super “duds” in it as well.  When looking into improving the productivity in your company, you have to take into account that all your employees have to be accountable for the work they do or are supposed to do.  The superstars can only take the team up to a point. Dragging the employees that are falling way below their potential is exhausting and mentally exhausting for everyone else.

Metrics that help you measure the productivity of your employees and yourself are widely available for businesses.  Every employee believes he is productive, but remember that productivity is a very subjective concept for many of us. We do not measure time or productivity equally.  Reading and answering all emails in your inbox may seem like you are productive, even if you do nothing else.  For other people answering all those emails is only the beginning of their day.

When measuring the productivity of your employees-and yourself-take into consideration that employees respond differently to what management or they owner tells them.  For many employees a job performance review and an unsatisfactory review at that, can be more harmful that no review at all.  You have to get to know your employees before handing out advice.  Sometimes a pat on the back, or a nice word at the beginning of the day are for many employees enough to continue working hard for you.  Recognition that they are doing a good job and that you are aware of it, can increase the productivity of many of your employees.

Most workers across the United States have a life outside work. Families, other jobs, elderly parents, financial problems and a myriad of other issues, are a constant reminder that we are humans and have a limited time of hours every day.  Expecting the employee to be a happy and responsive human being every single day is expecting too much.  When asking an employee for X, Y and Z, think before and ask yourself if it is too much.  I do not believe that you have to hire a slacker and let it be, just think that a happy employee will be a more productive employee for you and your company.

Small Business News For February

The United States Department of Labor said last week that claims for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000.  That means that the unemployment benefits claims in the United States fell down more than 8% from last year. The unemployment rate is 4.7 and according to economists that can be considered full employment, making it a nine-year low in the United States.

For more about this and other news, follow the links below.


Small Business Ombudsman ‘fed up’ with banks refusing to change their ways

Australian banks have plenty of critics, and now they can add the Small Business Ombudsman to that list.
Kate Carnell, who has authored a report released today into banking practices, has found lenders are not being fair when they enter into contracts with small and medium-sized businesses.

“Across the board the contracts that were in place between banks and small businesses [were] simply unfair,” she told AM.

“Banks have all the power and the small businesses have no power at all and there need to be some change.”

The ombudsman’s report into banking practices has been released today by the Government.

It found that there is an unequal relationship between the banks and small and medium-sized businesses that borrow from them.


Local restaurants joining the coalition of Small Business United Against Hate

Mike Sherwood of Pizza Nea calls it “coming out of the closet for caring.”

Small business owners have a conundrum that cuts both ways: They don’t have the money or the clout to change laws or legislation the way big business does. All they have are their voices. But if they use their voices, certain customers could turn against them.

“It’s a big risk,” says Sherwood, who came out as proudly anti-Trump on his business social media pages early and often. “Minnesota is 50/50 [politically].”

But, as another small business owner put it in a grassroots meeting on Tuesday night, “Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.”

John Sugimura owns PinkU, the modern sushi restaurant that recently opened in northeast Minneapolis. He chose the name, which means “pink” in Japanese, because in that language, it also has connotations of “peace” and “democracy.” He wanted to always gently remind himself of where he came from. Sugimura is a longtime social advocate and activist, but his recent conversion to restaurant owner has taken him out of his usual circles.


Hiring Rebound at Small Businesses in January, ADP Says

HIRING REBOUND: Small businesses more than tripled their number of new jobs in January, adding 62,000, according to payroll provider ADP. That’s up from 18,000 in December, and in line with the average of more than 62,000 per month in 2016. ADP counted the number of jobs at its small business customers, those with up to 49 staffers.

Small businesses were part of an overall trend of stronger job growth last month. ADP reported that businesses of all sizes added 246,000 jobs last month, up from December’s 151,000.

WHAT IT MEANS: The figures suggest that employers are hiring again after scaling back their payroll expansion in the second half of last year. The arrival of the Trump administration, which was welcomed by many small business owners, may have encouraged them to take some more of the risks they’ve been avoiding since the recession, including expanding their staffs. Many owners have said in surveys they’re not willing to hire unless their revenue is strong enough to justify the added expense.

WHAT ELSE TO LOOK FOR: Employment reports later this week from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Labor Department will give different perspectives on job growth, but will nonetheless help reveal owners’ sentiment about their companies and the economy. The NFIB surveys its members, while the government report will look at hiring across the private sector. It will not break out figures by company size.


 

Small Business News For This Coming Tax Season

There are not many relationships in business as important as that of an accountant or tax advisor and a small business owner during this time of year.  During the months ahead, when many small business owners are already thinking about taxes, the advice these people offered them can be a tremendous financial relief for their business. Small business owners try to minimize as much as possible the amount of taxes they pay every year. The advice a CPA  gives them can save them hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Talk to a tax advisor soon, prepare papers and other proper documents to take to him/her and beat the rush.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Tax season is here with rising stress levels, headaches for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) – With the start of tax season, stress levels are rising at many small businesses.

Even owners who are organized, keep good books and stay in touch with their accountants can find compiling returns to be a painful process. One reason is that tax laws change often, says Rosamaria Bravo, a certified public accountant with the firm MBAF in Miami. One of this year’s big differences: Partnership returns must be filed by March 15, a month earlier than in the past. And companies known as C corporations have a filing deadline of mid-April, after having a March due date in past years.

“It’s very hard to stay on top of all the information,” Bravo says. “The average business owner is more worried about their day-to-day operations.”

Here’s a look at some lessons small business owners learned:

USING SOFTWARE WISELYWhen Christina Divigard started an advertising agency, she bought accounting software and began keeping the company’s books herself. When tax season arrived, she discovered that out of inexperience, she’d incorrectly entered some information and misclassified some types of deductions. It took two weeks to get her books in order.


The $83,000 Question: How Much Do Regulations Really Cost Small Businesses?

How much does it cost the average small business to comply with government regulations? One recent survey, released just in time for Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, dropped this eye-popping number: at least $12,000 a year. And you don’t even want to know what a start-up spends on regulations in its first year. However, I’ll tell you anyway — a whopping $83,019.

These figures come from the first-ever Small Business Regulations Survey, conducted by the National Small Business Association, which of course makes it its business to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. Among other conclusions, the survey found that 44 percent of businesses spend at least 40 hours a year dealing with federal regulations, and 29 percent spend at least that much on state and local rules. Three-quarters of business owners say that they have spent time reading proposed rules at least once, and of these, not quite two-thirds discover that more than half the time, the rules they’ve read wouldn’t apply to them. About 40 percent of respondents claim that they have held off making a new investment because of a regulation at some point in the past.


Facebook’s Creative Shop: What Can It Do For Small Businesses (And Itself)

The service helps companies spruce up their ads in order to engage more with the platform—and also keep Facebook ahead of its competitors.

Baked founder Matt Lewis never thought about hiring an ad agency to help boost holiday sales at his three bakeries in New York City, but he did want to run some kind of campaign this year to get people to preorder pies for Thanksgiving.

A former ad man himself, Lewis thought he was capable of making social media content that was good enough to draw in some customers. In the past, he’s hired photographers and considered hiring a design agency to spruce up the Baked website. But the costs are high. A photographer would cost him $1,500 a day, and a video shoot, about $3,800 a day. “We don’t really have those funds,” says Lewis, whose warm smile and calm demeanor might lead you to think he’s a yoga teacher, not a baker. “There’s no return, or the return would be so small after you’ve paid everybody out. It wouldn’t be worth it.”