Small Business News

Facebook advertising has proven to be the way to go for some small businesses.  There are others that swear the ads don’t work. The only thing that most online users agree is the fact that if you have a small or big business, or if you are in the spotlight, politics is the last thing you want to be promoting.

As a small business owner providing goods or services to many clients, the last thing you want to do is promote one political view over another.  Stick to business.  Remember that we want clients to spend money with us, regardless of their party affiliation.

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


Small Business Saturday: Big, and getting bigger

It’s not yet Halloween, but for many small businesses, planning for the holiday season has started in full force. If you own a small business, it’s time to start getting ready for one of the most important days of the year.

In all my years working with entrepreneurs and writing about entrepreneurship, Small Business Saturday — falling this year on Nov. 25 — is the most transformative campaign for small businesses I have ever seen.

Since its inception in 2010, this special day — the Saturday after Thanksgiving— has become the biggest sales day of the year for many small companies. For the big day last year, an estimated 112 million Americans shopped at small businesses and independent restaurants, spending about $15.4 billion, according to American Express. That’s about one-third of the American public buying at small businesses and a whole lot of cash infused into local economies.


What Not to Do on Your Facebook Small-Business Page

More entrepreneurs are tapping into the world’s largest social media network: There are more than 70 million businesses now on Facebook, up from about 18 million in 2013, according to chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg during a recent investor call.

Facebook gives businesses a platform to showcase new products and services, promote specials and provide customer service. But with these benefits comes the potential for mistakes that can damage your brand.

Here are five common small-business mistakes to avoid on your Facebook business page.

1. Don’t post too often

Most industries should aim to post no more than once or twice a day to avoid overcrowding followers’ news feeds, says Cheryl Friedenberg, president of High Key Impact, LLC, a small-business marketing consulting firm.

There are exceptions, though. For example, it’s appropriate for restaurants to post frequently about food specials, happy hours or live music events, or for medical businesses to post about recent health studies, Friedenberg says.

“I don’t think people mind seeing more of those types of posts throughout the day,” she says.


Survey: Small businesses’ appetite for financing weakens

Small businesses’ appetite for financing has weakened in the second half of the year, along with their revenue outlook.

That’s the finding of a survey of small companies released Wednesday by researchers at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management and Dun & Bradstreet Corp. An index compiled from the survey that measures companies’ demand for capital has fallen more than 10 percent in the third quarter, registering at 36.2 versus 40.4 in the second quarter.

The survey, which questioned 1,176 businesses, is in line with other recent indicators of slowing activity at small businesses. The payroll provider ADP reported this month that its small business customers cut jobs during September. While that was due in part to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, companies have generally slowed their hiring.


 

Small Business Optimism and Security

Many small businesses and big corporations are at risk of cyber attacks daily.  Companies like Target that spend millions of dollars on cyber insurance and other security measures, do not spend enough to make the cybersecurity risks less probable.

For small businesses that do not have the finances to spend protecting themselves against cyber attacks, the risks are always present.  And although cyber attacks may not be directed against them quite as often, protecting the personal and financial information of their clients should be one of the primary priorities of any business.

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


A Decline In Small Business Optimism

On Tuesday, NFIB reported the September Small Business Optimism Index results, and they showed the Index fell 2.3 points to 103, which was below the lowest consensus forecast. In spite of the decline, the index remains at a high level, as can be seen in the below chart.

A larger percentage of the index components declined in September as the report noted:

“Six of the 10 Index components dropped in September. Three improved, and one remained unchanged. The bright spot last month was inventory plans, which gained five points as more business owners anticipate a strong 4th quarter.”

Below is a table showing the component changes from August.


Half of All Small Businesses Use WiFi Technology Almost a Decade Old

Small businesses are using older WiFi that doesn’t fit their needs on several fronts. A new Linksys sponsored survey says half of the small businesses polled are using WiFi technology that’s over eight years old. Beyond not being able to keep up with mobile expansion, business owners are concerned over the lags in security and speed.

Problems with Small Businesses Using Old WiFi Tech

These findings are important to small businesses still using older WiFi technology. Smaller enterprises that work online need to be both flexible and fast to respond to changing client needs. Your download and upload speeds are the flux to beat the competition to sales. Beyond that, they make for quicker networking with everyone from visitors to mobile employees.


House approves bill to bolster small business cybersecurity

The House on Wednesday approved legislation that would require the federal government to produce and disseminate guidance to help small businesses with cybersecurity.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, passed by a voice vote.

The legislation would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a nonregulatory standards laboratory housed in the Commerce Department, to produce cybersecurity resources for small businesses.

NIST produces and updates cybersecurity guidance for the public and private sectors that businesses can choose to use. President Trump signed an executive order on cybersecurity earlier this year ordering federal agencies to abide by the NIST framework.


 

Marketing Your Small Business The Smart Way

We all probably heard the saying” Think outside the Box” and for marketers and small businesses, that means finding creative, smart and financially achievable goals without spending too much time and money.  Marketing your small business doesn’t mean writing big checks for companies to market your business, or promote your services.  Creativity nowadays is something every small business owner can do without breaking the bank.

Follow the links  below for more news about small business


Think Small Business To Help America’s Middle And Working Classes Win Big

 In spite of a rebounding and more robust economy, many in the lower middle and working classes remain anxious and concerned about their futures. There has been low and slow wage growth and, as we discussed in our last blog, the changing nature of jobs, the middle class and the American Dream have pushed a large part of the workforce toward a gloomy perspective.

There have been various proposals to make the economy work better for America’s workers. The Trump administration suggests that a restrictive skills-based immigration bill (the RAISE act) that considerably reduces the number of immigrants will increase the chances for more and higher paying jobs. The Administration has also asserted that cutting corporate taxes will stimulate job creation and wage growth.


Small businesses expand, invest despite gridlock in Washington

Small business owners are tired of sitting on their hands while Washington dithers.

Despite lingering uncertainty over tax and health care policy, U.S. entrepreneurs are moving ahead with investment and expansion plans that could juice economic growth.

Thirty-two percent of small businesses are planning capital outlays in the next three to six months, the strongest reading since 2006, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’s August survey. And 27% say the next three months is a “good time to expand,” the largest share in 13 years.

A September survey of economists by the National Association for Business Economics, out Monday, predicts that business investment overall — by small and larger companies — will grow 4.4% this year, up from their 3% median estimate in December. Businesses that expand, buy new equipment or build new structures typically hire workers to operate the machines or occupy buildings, while the factories that make the products generally need to staff up as well.


Huge List of National Holidays for Marketing in a Small Business

National Kick Butt Day is coming up. Bet you never heard of that one, did you? Today it seems as if there are national holidays, a national day or national month for everything. In fact, there are over a thousand national holidays, national weeks and national months. Add bank holidays and major religious holidays, and you have one crowded calendar!

National days of observance have become trendy and popular in part because companies have learned to use them for marketing. Just look at social media. Judging from the hashtags for various food days, people days, pet days, medical condition days, military days or industry days — it seems like every single day is a national holiday or national day of observance on Twitter and Instagram.

If you’ve ever wondered, “what national holiday is today?” — we’ve got you covered. Our hand-picked list of national holidays for marketing appears below. But before we get to that list of national days, we have some advice.


 

Small Business and Your Employees Health

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIH), more than 90 Americans die daily due to an overdose on Opioids. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this tragic epidemic is costing the American people  $78.5 billion a year which includes addiction treatment, health care, and the lost productivity these employees are costing the businesses in the United States.   For a small business owner, are you worried or experiencing difficulty with these situations? How are you coping? To read more about how small businesses in the United States are tackling these issues, follow the links below.


Small businesses forced to deal with drug epidemic

After a troubled youth himself, Phillip Cohen made it a practice to hire people at his woodworking business who have also struggled with addiction and mental health issues. But when an employee died from a drug overdose, he adopted a zero-tolerance policy.

“I think I have saved lives,” says the owner of Cohen Architectural Woodworking in St. James, Missouri — an area hit very hard by the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. Opioids range from prescription pain medicine like oxycodone to illegal drugs like heroin.

Cohen still hires former drug addicts, felons and people who have been traumatized in life. One person, now a top employee, was hired right after he finished drug rehabilitation. Another used to sell illegal drugs. Still, Cohen says, if a worker fails a periodic random drug or alcohol test, “we’ll fire them on the spot.”

The epidemic of drug use — a report from the surgeon general last year said that 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder — is forcing many small business owners to think about what they would do if they suspect an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol.


Health benefits vanish at small businesses

Only half of America’s smallest businesses now offer health coverage to their workers because many say steady cost hikes have made it too expensive to afford a benefit that nearly all large employers still provide.

The Kaiser Family Foundation said Tuesday only 50 percent of companies with three to 49 employees offered coverage this year. That’s down from 59 percent in 2012 and 66 percent more than a decade ago.

“There’s just not as much money around for compensation, including benefits,” said Gary Claxton, a Kaiser vice president and lead author of the nonprofit health policy organization’s annual health benefits study.

Employer-sponsored coverage is the most common form of health insurance in the U.S., covering an estimated 151 million people under age 65, according to Kaiser. The federal Affordable Care Act requires all companies with 50 or more full-time employees to offer it.


Quitter Talk: 5 Things That Are Stopping You and Your Small Business

Perseverance isn’t always a good thing. There are some situations where quitting is entirely appropriate, especially when you’re running a small business. Not everything needs to be a figurative fight to the death. Here are a few things that you should stop doing if you want to succeed:

  1. Procrastinating: Procrastination is the silent killer. Taking a few minutes out of your work day every now and then to take a look posts from your friends on social media seems harmless, but it could be costing you and your small business hours of productivity each week. Putting things off means delaying things that could be pushing your agenda. The sooner you stop procrastinating, the sooner you get important things done. I remember focusing on work for a little while and immediately getting distracted watching a YouTube video. This is a productivity killer — be careful.

 

Customer Service and Your Business

Customer service has been an important part in the success of any business in the United States and around the world.  An increase in technological advances has made it possible for companies  to do business not only across states , but across the globe as well.

Unless you are a local mom and pop shop servicing a small town or city, globalization for you doesn’t mean much, but for many businesses, expansion seems like an obtainable goal they are trying to achieve.

Doctors, dentists, optometrists and other types of small business rely very much on customer service.  They are facilities that are specialized and serviced their communities, and rely on giving excellent customer service. But are they?

The front of your practice or the front of your retail store are the first welcoming sights customers see as soon as they enter the premises.  Great customer service begins there and then.  Many small businesses forget how important those first moments are when customers enter the store or  their private business. 

In the retail industry, research has shown how important customer service is for the prevention of shoplifting.  For many other industries where services are provided, great customer service means keeping your current customers and adding some more.  As a doctor, optometrist, dentist or other health care provider, the front office is as important as the service the health care professional is providing.

Do you have a private practice? Have you checked lately how the people in the front office greet and interact with your customers? Is that something that as the owner you find acceptable?

The front office of your private practice is a small window into the care customers might be expecting when they visit your practice.  Loud, obnoxious, and tactless front office personnel cannot be an acceptable choice for your practice even if they are great at paperwork.  If you find yourself questioning whether the way the front office employees behave while doing their job is appropriate, it might be time to relegate them to the behind the scenes office.  You might find that even though,  you as a doctor are providing excellent care, customers are unwilling to come back to your practice.

Adding new customers to your current list means good business.  Are you adding them or loosing them?  Do you know the reason why you are losing them?

Providing excellent customer care every single day, and not only providing good service but making sure you go beyond what is expected, is one of the ways some businesses across the globe are thriving while the competition is shrinking.


   

Happiness and Company Culture

Small businesses have many positive things going on for them.  The owners have total control of what’s going on in their business and take care of things personally and quickly.  Many of them do not look for ways to pass the blame onto others, they are the owners after all. The business succeeds or fails because of them.  If they plan carefully and consider the advantages of having a team around them, then the chances of success increases.

The beginning of any business is hard.  Lots of hard work, and maybe loss of income can become quite a strain for many small owners.  That is some of the reasons a third of the small businesses that start do not make it past the first two years according to the Small business administration.  And half of those businesses do not make it past the 5th. year.

A business plan before starting a business, and a financial plan to weather the first years should be a necessity for many small owners.  The difficulties that you will encounter the first years of the business are always unexpected. You know you will have difficulties but don’t know what they are.  Later on, the good and bad experiences you encounter will give you the experience and the forbearance to weather the storms.

There are millions of small businesses across the United States.  Some grow to become great, powerful companies, and a lot of them do not.  What is it then that makes some companies thrived while others go under?  For many people great companies show a handful of characteristics that makes them great, but as always great or good means something entirely different for people.

But for  companies to succeed, the first thing to remember is that employees play a crucial part in the success of any business.  Employees that understand that they are working for a company , and that they are supposed to be a team, not sole individuals with different purposes, make a better company.  They as a team, have a more happy, positive company culture, and research has shown time and again that employee’s happiness plays an important role in the success of the company.  Happy individuals that know the company’s philosophy, and are on board, will make the company a better place all around.


The United States Unemployment Rate

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website gives you a clear idea of the United States unemployment rate in this country.  Certainly, it is the lowest unemployment rate for the last ten years in the United States and many economists predict the economy still has room to grow.

So, if employment is not an issue for many workers, what are some of the perks you can offer to attract and keep quality employees for your business?

Businesses across the globe understand that employees can make or break a business, which one do you want to be? What are some of the benefits you can include in hiring an employee for your business?

To read more about this and other stories, follow the links below.


The Smaller the Small Business, the Bigger the Insurance Discontent: J.D. Power

Not all small businesses are the same when it comes to customer satisfaction with their commercial insurance. There are actually widening satisfaction gaps among small businesses of different sizes, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Small Commercial Insurance Study.

The study found that the gaps in overall satisfaction among micro- (fewer than five employees) or smaller-size (five-10 employees) small businesses and larger-size (11-50) small businesses have never been wider. While there has been significant year-over-year improvement in overall satisfaction among customers in the larger-size group, there have been sharp declines in satisfaction among customers in both smaller-size groups.

“The small business market has been the best growth area for property and casualty insurance carriers in a stagnant, soft cycle marketplace,” said Greg Hoeg, vice president of U.S. insurance operations at J.D. Power. “Our data shows that the small commercial market is still ripe for competition. While looking at the small business market in aggregate shows relatively steady levels of customer satisfaction year over year, the serious gap between very small businesses and larger small businesses could present an opportunity for those carriers that get the small business formula just right.”


What Kind Of Small Business Employees Do You Need To Grow Your Company?

Many small businesses benefit from hiring employees. At some point, you may decide that you need more hands on deck at your company. When that time comes, you might not know where to start. You want individuals who will make a difference in business operations. What kind of small business employees do you need to grow your company?

Knowing what to look for in a candidate is not as easy as it might seem. After 30 years in entrepreneurship, I’ll be the first to admit that looking for employees to hire can be tough. When hiring an employee, you need to know what characteristics to look for.

What Kind Of Small Business Employees Do You Need To Grow Your Company?

There are many different types of employees in a business. Companies have leaders, followers, go-getters, and employees who do the bare minimum.

You will have employees who struggle from time-to-time or lose motivation. Highs and lows are inevitable in life. But with the right attributes, your employees will use their skills to grow your company.

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or ready to give a pep talk to your current workforce, consider the following characteristics.


 

Small Business and The Market Place

Depending on what news outlet you read or watch, you are going to learn how the economy is booming or businesses are disappearing. The fact is that small business owners in the United States face many challenges through out the lives of their business.  The many challenges they face spring from government legislation or economic changes they have to face every year. This week many small business owners that sell through Amazon learned that the items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.  Unlike big companies that can offset this return policy change, many small business owners are thinking differently.

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


Amazon’s new refunds policy will ‘crush’ small businesses, outraged sellers say

Amazon sellers are up in arms over a new returns policy that will make it easier for consumers to send back items at the merchant’s expense.

Marketplace sellers who ship products from their home, garage or warehouse — rather than using Amazon’s facilities — were told this week by email that starting Oct. 2, items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.

That means a buyer will no longer need to contact the seller before sending an item back, and the merchant won’t have the opportunity to communicate with the customer. If a consumer is returning an electronic device because it’s difficult to use, for example, the seller won’t be able to offer help before being forced to pay a refund.


Ransomware attacks hit small businesses the hardest

It’s just one of the grim findings in Malwarebytes’ new ransomware report.

If it seems like reports of ransomware attacks — malicious software that holds data hostage unless a ransom is paid to the person or organization behind it — are increasing, Malwarebytes agrees with you. The company released its Second Annual State of Ransomware Report recently. Among the findings is that 22 percent of small business that were hit with ransomware attacks were crippled to the point they had to cease operations immediately.

It’s a somewhat staggering figure, but it makes sense once you think about it; large corporations often have the resources to work around (or, let’s be real, pay off) these types of attacks. Small businesses, especially ones that rely on day-to-day operations to function, can’t cope in the same way. “To make matters worse, most of them lack the confidence in their ability to stop an attack, despite significant investments in defensive technologies,” said Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes, in the press release. The survey also found that small business owners and operators are less likely to pay a ransomware demand.


Survey: Small business optimism reaches highest point in a decade

Small business optimism continues to climb in the third quarter as business owners said they are the most optimistic in more than a decade, according to findings from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, conducted July 10–14.

In the quarterly survey, which measures the optimism of small business owners, the overall Index score jumped to 106 in July – an 11-point increase from 95 in April and the highest since 113 in April 2007. The increase in optimism was driven by several factors, including:

  • Strong financial situation – Seventy-six percent said their current financial situation is very good or somewhat good, up from 73 percent in April.
  • Healthy revenues – For the second quarter in a row, almost half (46 percent) said their business’s revenue increased over the past 12 months, up from 41 percent a year ago.
  • Ease of obtaining credit – Nearly half of small business owners (48 percent) said credit will be somewhat easy or very easy to obtain over the next 12 months.
  • More hiring – Twenty-one percent said the number of jobs at their company increased over the past 12 months, up from 19 percent in April.

 

Ohio Small Business News

For small business owners, tax breaks come as a way to help them stay afloat, and in some other  circumstances to use that money to invest it in their business. 

With Ohio’s legislative leaders appointing a panel to take a serious look into the state’s tax breaks, we wonder whether they will look into the tax breaks granted to special interest groups only, or whether this action will cause the small business owner to be left out.

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


Small Business Cybersecurity Insurance Is Vital, House Panel Told

The nascent cybersecurity insurance market can play an important role for smaller businesses, which remain a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals, witnesses and congressmen said at a House Small Business Committee hearing July 26.

Larger corporations have already begun to learn to shift and mitigate cybersecurity risks through insurance, but smaller companies need to get on board, they said. Companies should also follow federal cybersecurity guidance and understand that they must control cybersecurity risks when acting as third-party vendors to larger companies, witnesses said.

Large-scale cyberattacks, such as Petya and WannaCry, made larger companies take note of the need for insurance, witnesses and lawmakers said at the hearing.


Home is where the heart is

There’s no place like home.

That’s the theme of this piece on VentureBeat.com written by Cleveland native Robert Hatta, a partner at Columbus-based VC firm Drive Capital. The headline: “Why Midwesterners leave Silicon Valley and go home for better opportunities.”

He begins with a focus on Travis McCleery, who earlier this year left Netflix, where he led interactive product design, to move back to Columbus to lead product design for Root, an insurance company that uses data collected from drivers’ smartphones to more fairly price and sell auto insurance.

From the piece:

When Root first contacted him, he was skeptical. He left Columbus for a reason, after all. “In Silicon Valley, everyone is trying to invent the future – it’s in the DNA,” he told me “You’re surrounded with all of these brilliant, driven people. It’s hard to resist the call. I just couldn’t find that here in Columbus a few years ago.”

His first questions were about the quality of the team and the size of its ambition, and what he learned convinced him that it was time to return. “Here’s this super-scrappy, talented team trying to completely disrupt the $200 billion auto insurance industry. And they weren’t messing around. They had built an impressive technology platform in a short time.” So he moved his young family back to Columbus.


Editorial: Time to look at those tax breaks

Ohio’s legislative leaders have finally appointed members to a special panel that is supposed to take a critical look at the many state tax breaks granted to special interests. That would be a lot more encouraging if they hadn’t so obviously been avoiding it.

Ohio’s legislative leaders have finally appointed members to a special panel that is supposed to take a critical look at the many state tax breaks granted to special interests. That would be a lot more encouraging if they hadn’t so obviously been avoiding it.

Ohio’s tax credits, deductions and exemptions divert about $9 billion from the treasury every year. Some no doubt serve a worthy purpose, but just as surely many others are unjustified giveaways to powerful interest groups or well-meant ideas that don’t actually work.


Taking Your Business To A Better Place

After a holiday break or vacation break, we do come back to our business ready and inspired to do better.  We look for ways to improve, and we try to make less mistakes.  Not always, but a break from any business is a good motivator to come back stronger.  As you look into your business, can you see what things to improve and what things to let go? Are you inspired to try something new? 

Read more business news by following the links below.


U.S. factory orders fall; core capital goods orders revised up

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – New orders for U.S.-made goods fell more than expected in May, but orders for capital equipment were a bit stronger than previously reported, suggesting the manufacturing sector remained on a moderate growth path.

Factory goods orders dropped 0.8 percent, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday after a revised 0.3 percent decline in April. It was the second straight monthly decrease in orders.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders falling 0.5 percent in May after a previously reported 0.2 percent drop in April.

Factory orders were up 4.8 percent from a year ago.

Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, is losing momentum after gaining steam since mid-2016 amid a recovery in the energy sector that led to demand for oil and gas drilling equipment.


How to take your business from small to big

Q:  I have owned two small businesses and am ready tostart another. I am wondering about growth. My businesses have always stayed fairly small. This time, I want to create something that can scale big. But how? So far, it’s not in my wheelhouse. — Manuel

A: In my book The Big Idea, I looked at people who had unique ideas for businesses and examined how they took that nugget and turned it into a brand  —  things like the Xerox machine, Velcro, Kitty Litter,the cell phone.

While that book looked at breakthrough, innovative products, the idea here is the same, namely, how do you create growth?

Let’s note up front that luck plays a factor, just as it does in life.

When George de Mestral went for a walk one day, he never expected that he would end up with burrs in his sock. But as luck would have it, he did, and decided to look at them under the new microscope he (luckily) had recently purchased.


Ask Doug & Polly: What causes most small businesses to fail?

QUESTION:  What most often causes small businesses to fail?

ANSWER: We’ve heard a lot of people say that the inability to get funding is the thing that causes small businesses to fail.

On the one hand, this may be true. If small businesses had access to an unlimited source of funds, they would never fail.

These businesses also might never make a profit, but as long as they could continue to go back to the well for more funding, they could stay afloat.

We would argue that failure to obtain funding is usually a symptom of a more fundamental problem, but not in and of itself the cause of business failure.

The more fundamental problem is that the business owner has not adequately answered the first question that every business must answer: Why should a prospective customer buy my product or service rather than a competitor’s?