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Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983 and took effect three years later. It is fitting and proper that we as a country, and we as individuals, use that day to not only reflect on a great man’s life and legacy, but to observe our own lives in relation to the values Dr. King promoted.

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What values are those? Equality. Justice. Brotherhood. Teamwork. Non-violence.

 

So it may seem odd, as we celebrate Dr. King, to consider how his message can be translated into business, but let me suggest that he has much to teach all of us, entrepreneurs included.

 

Consider the following:

 

1. Leadership matters: One of the lessons of history is that it is easy, especially in retrospect, to look at an event and consider it “inevitable” because, well, it happened. But there was nothing inevitable about the civil rights movement, no guarantee of success. Indeed, considering both the institutional and private animas towards African Americans at that time, that Dr. King undertook the battle he did is an act of bravery rarely seen.

 

How did the movement succeed then? For starters, it required leadership. Dr. King was but an unknown preacher in a small Baptist church when he accepted the personal calling to make a difference. But he was willing to be brave and bold and do what he thought right.

 

And no, of course what we as entrepreneurs do is not akin to the work of Dr. King. However, it is analogous. As an entrepreneur, it is incumbent upon you to lead, to be brave and bold, and to encourage your team to be its best. As Dr. King said,

 

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

 

2. Getting people to buy into your vision matters: Great leaders see things others often do not, and with words and action, they can inspire people to accept their vision and bring it to life. Dr. King envisioned a country where people are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. That vision inspired millions to join him on his quest for justice and equality for everyone.

 

Your job is not dissimilar.

 

As an entrepreneur, you too need to have a vision for your enterprise and engage people to believe in it so much that they will invest in it, or will work for it, or will buy from it. It is your vision that carries the enterprise forward.

 

3. Empowering your team matters: There is no leader without a follower. One of the geniuses of Dr. King is that he empowered everyday people to believe, to act, to follow, even when that meant that they were risking their lives. Dr. King had successfully engaged them about his vision for peace, equality and justice – and in turn they were inspired to commit extraordinary acts of non-violence that changed history. Dr. King led, but his team believed and took action to achieve his dream.

 

The great entrepreneur similarly enables his or her team to do and be their best – but greatness is usually accomplished through mission, vision and purpose. Better known as the M.V.P. trifecta, which Dr. King amplified in every action and is a unique skillset entrepreneurs should strive to master. Educate your team on your enterprises mission, inform your team on your vision and empower your team with purpose.

 

4. Being in service matters: As Dr. King’s inspiration, Mahatma Gandhi, said,

 

“Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing the service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.”

 

A great business doesn’t sell, it serves. Service matters. Service gets noticed and rewarded. As the life of Dr. King proves, it is service that can make a difference in your life and others.

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Instead of writing a typical New Year prediction piece I will focus on what you should be doing as a small business owner this year, based on what’s going on in the economy and beyond.

 

As a disclaimer, keep in mind I am not a psychic and I do not play one on TV, so I do not guarantee the outcome of these predictions.

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Guarding Their Valuable Employees

The labor market has gotten very tight, with unemployment hanging around just over 4 percent. This means that it has become an employee’s market, giving them more choices and options when it comes to employment. And, with no clear economic catalysts to immediately derail the economic or labor trains, I predict more employees will be looking for new opportunities.

 

This leads me to further predict that savvy small business owners will pre-empt their best and brightest employees from leaving. This means raising wages, offering more competitive benefits and perks, and of course, giving employees clear opportunities to take on more responsibilities within the business.

 

Related article: 6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Spending Quality Time with Their Tax Advisors

The end of the year saw the passing of tax reform and while it is touted as simplifying taxes, for small business owners, it actually makes things more complicated. If you have a C-corp, you will have new tax rates. The same goes for pass-through entities, but with all kinds of complications depending on if you are a service provider (and what service you provide), what you pay as W-2 wages to other employees and overall, how much you earn (again, varying on whether you file by yourself or with a spouse).

 

With that, savvy small business owners will head to their accountants early and often this year to make sure they are making tax-efficient business choices. As accountants are just getting up to speed and there are a lot of specifics related to small business in particular, business owners will want to check back often throughout the year to make sure things are on track and there are no surprises come tax time.

 

Use this tax guide to help inform conversations with your tax professional and advisor

 

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Locking in Low Interest Rates on Loans

We have had an extended period of low interest rates, moderate growth and low inflation, the latter courtesy of our Federal Reserve (aka the “Fed”). However, as growth continues, I predict the Fed will continue to raise interest rates at an accelerating pace either directly and/or indirectly. Directly, they will raise rates through votes during their Fed meetings. Indirectly, as they unwind their multi-trillion-dollar balance sheet, the effect will be upward interest rate pressure.

 

So, with rates potentially going up, I further predict that small business owners will engage in a last hurrah and lock in low interest rates on business loans, whether that be for working capital, equipment or otherwise, while rates remain at lower levels.

 

Find the right financing for your business here.

 

Prediction: Small Business Owners Will Be Using More Cloud and AI-Based Technology

The democratization of technology continues and more and more high-level technology is becoming accessible to small business owners at affordable prices. While the cloud reigned supreme in 2017, many small business owners have yet to harness its power, and I predict they will do so in 2018 to help run their businesses more efficiently.

 

I also predict that AI (aka “artificial intelligence) will become more important for small business owners who will begin to embrace it for tasks ranging from chat bots to voice assistants to help with tasks that currently human assistants perform (like maintaining calendars, booking travel and reminders). Technology is providing immense opportunities for small business to do more with less and I believe with the economy on solid footing, 2018 will be the year that more small business owners start to harness that power.

 

So, those are my 2018 predictions. If you are a small business owner, consider getting ahead of your competition for the year by seeing how my insights might help you accelerate your growth in the twelve months ahead.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake

the world as in being able to remake ourselves.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

If there is one thing we can be assured of in business – and life – it is that things might change. Strike that. It is that things will change.

 

One day, a potential big client shows up – hooray! That budding prospect then becomes an existing client for a few years. Great. And then, for whatever reason, that once-promising new client is a sad-to-see-you-go old client. Boo hoo.

 

Change happens.

 

That’s why what Gandhi says above applies perfectly. Our greatness is not in our ability to remake the world – clients come and clients go, change happens – but in our ability to remake ourselves such that we can better deal with inevitable change.29204641_s.jpg

 

So, change is headed your way. The question is: how will you deal with it?

 

Fortunately, business people far smarter than I have given this topic a lot of thought. What do they say, what is it you are supposed to do and what is the best way to handle the inevitable change that will affect your business?

 

One word: Pivot.

 

You maybe have heard of that word in a business context before. It was first utilized in the great Eric Ries book, The Lean Startup. Ries uses it to discuss a strategy whereby, when a new startup faces an unexpected change, event, or fork in the road. What should they do?

 

Pivot.

 

It’s just like in basketball. In basketball, an offensive player at some point will stop and hold the ball. An opponent will then come at him. The offensive player may then pivot away from the defensive player into a new spot. If another defensive player comes at him there, he will pivot again to another new spot. Instead of getting flustered or frozen by the oncoming, unexpected defensive player, the shrewd offensive player simply pivots away from the problem into a (hopefully) safer spot.

 

In business, this is the same idea. What Ries and other business people have realized is that the pivot is the best, quickest, most economical way to deal with the unexpected. But what does that mean exactly? It means, ‘This isn’t working, try that.’ Or, ‘That isn’t working, try the other.’ Don’t fall for the analysis paralysis trap. Instead, notice the upcoming change and quickly pivot to a new, better course correction.

 

Here are some famous examples:

 

For 100 years, Nintendo made playing cards in Japan. In 1959, they struck a marketing deal with Disney, but then, a few years later, our friend Change knocked and the bottom fell out of the playing card business. Noticing the success their partner was having with toys and animation, Nintendo pivoted to that area.

 

Starbucks started out in 1971 selling only espresso machines and coffee beans. Later, Chief Marketing Director, Howard Shultz, went on a buying trip to Milan and saw people sipping espresso drinks at cafes throughout the city. Convinced that this change would soon come to America, he compelled Starbucks to accept this necessary pivot. How? By buying the company.

 

The point is, change can be big or brief. Pivots can be large or little. The trick to handling the inevitability of change is to notice it, to remake ourselves – as Gandhi suggests – and not get frozen by it. Finally, make the bold choice to pivot, and head in a new direction that harnesses change in your favor.

 

Related Articles:

1. Great Entrepreneurs Start Small – Consider Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart

2. Great entrepreneurs start small – Consider Howard, Ray and Amadeo

3. Great Entrepreneurs Who Started Small (Part III)

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Through some top-secret contacts, I was able to snag a rare chat with St. Nicholas himself, good ‘ol, Kris Kringle, yes, Santa Claus!

 

Strauss: Santa, I know it’s your busy time of year so thanks so much for being with us today. How’s business?

 

Santa: Well, thank you very much, Steve! How’s business? Business is booming, I tell you, booming! You know, every year I make sure to make a list and check it twice. I want to find out who’s been naughty, and who’s been nice. I am happy to report that there have been a great many nice boys and girls.

 

I can’t say that’s true for all adults, but they are outside of my target market.Steve-Santa.png

Strauss: So, what’s your secret Santa? How did you get to be so popular?

 

Santa: You know Steve, I am a big believer in the motto, “Ask them what they want, then give them what they want.” That’s as true in my business as it is in yours, or that of your readers. I really listen to those little boys and girls, and then I make sure to deliver.

 

And by the way, I don’t just “deliver,” but I deliver on time. And that’s another thing. If you want success like mine, keep your promises to your customers. For me, I have a hard and fast December 25th deadline, and believe you me, that gets a bit exhausting. But I deliver!

 

Strauss: How do you do that all on your own?

 

Santa: Are you crazy Steve? That’s one of my secrets too – you need a great team around you. I have Mrs. Claus, and the elves, and my reindeer, and lots of loving moms and dads helping me to make Christmas a special day.

 

Let’s underscore that last point, dear Steve. You must share the limelight if you want to succeed in your endeavor, whether that’s bringing presents around the world or selling to folks in your neighborhood. Do I care if some of the kids think that it’s really their parents who deliver their Christmas toys? No, ho ho! We’re all in it together, Steve. Get a clue!

 

Strauss: Thanks, Santa, I will try. Any other management tips?

 

Santa: Well my boy, I think it’s a pretty darned good idea to trust your staff. They are more capable than you know. Take Rudolph for instance. Everyone always made such fun of that poor kid, but look what happened when I gave him a chance. That nose of his turned out to be a bonus. Lemons into lemonade Steve, that’s what I always say, lemons into lemonade! Ho, ho, ho!

 

Strauss: Santa, how is it that everyone came to know about you anyway? As recently as the 1800s, few people had ever heard of you.

 

Santa: Well, that just goes to show the power of marketing and branding, dear Steve, don’t you think? Do you ever see me without my red suit on? Of course not! People get a good feeling when they see me in that suit. That suit is my brand. I use it consistently to get my message of good cheer out to everyone.

And, if you haven’t noticed, I also have a great tagline – “Ho, ho, ho! Merrrry Christmas” I never fail to use that line. That’s a good idea for your readers too, Steve. Having a tagline gets your brand across in an instant, in fact, faster than you can say ‘Ho, ho, ho!”

 

Strauss: Thanks for your time today Santa. Any last words?

 

Santa: Well, I would like to steal a line from my friend Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one.”

 

Originally published in USA Today; reprinted with permission of the author.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                        

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

For many small businesses, the beginning of a new year is slow. Your customers are digging out from under holiday bills and recovering from an excess of eating, drinking and celebrating. To attract new customers in the New Year, you’ll need to be creative. Here are eight ideas to get you going.

 

1. Do good. In January, people clean out their closets to make room for their new holiday swag. Collect donations of used products from your customers in exchange for a discount on your products or services. For example, a clothing store could give everyone who brings in an old pair of jeans 20 percent off a new pair. The same concept works for used toys, books, kitchen appliances or any products people are likely to offload this time of year.41392789_s.jpg

Read more on doing good: Evaluating Charity Requests? Four questions to ask

 

2. Try a daily deal. While not as hot as they once were, daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial can still be an effective way to attract new customers. Plus, the discounts appeal to budget-conscious consumers still paying off holiday bills. Deal sites will help you craft a deal that’s worth your while.

Related article: The Importance of Timing Your Promotions

 

3. Tap into the power of influencers. Bloggers, media and even local celebrities like a popular Little League coach are all potential influencers whose opinions affect your target customers. You can spread the word about your business to a whole new audience by reaching out to appropriate influencers and ask if they’ll review or otherwise mention your products or services.

Learn more about influencers: Boost Sales with Influencer Marketing

 

4. Give away gift certificates. Percentage-off coupons are a dime a dozen, but how often do consumers get a no-strings-attached gift certificate? Mail or email $10 gift certificates valid for any purchase of $10 or more, and prospective customers won’t be able to resist checking out your wares. Almost two-thirds of gift card users spend more than the value of the gift card, making this a win-win situation.

A few other ways to boost sales: 10 Easy Ways to Quickly Boost Sales

 

5. Hand out free samples. If your business is in an area that gets lots of foot traffic, giving away free samples is a foolproof way to attract new customers. In fact, three-fourths of consumers say free samples influence them to buy. The free sample concept works for service businesses, too. For example, a yoga studio or fitness club can offer a week of free classes, then give customers a discount on membership if they sign up at the end of that week.

Related article: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

 

6. Host an event. In-store events can draw new customers for all types of businesses. From an art show at a coffeehouse to live music at a record store from a book signing at a bookstore to a fashion show at a clothing boutique, the possibilities are endless. Try holding a teaching event that shows customers how to use what you sell while whetting their appetite for buying it. If you own a cookware store, for instance, hold a free cooking class and give everyone who attends 20 percent off anything they buy that day.

Learn how to host a live event: Using Live Events as a Marketing Tool

 

7. Partner with complementary businesses. Find a business that targets the same customers you do, but with a non-competing product or service. For example, a fitness club and a sporting goods store could partner up to offer each other’s customers discounts – linking to your partner business on your website will help drive traffic, too.

Think about bartering with another business: Bartering May Ease Cash-Flow Crunch, But Follow These Rules

 

 

8. Hit the road. Branded business vehicles serve as nonstop advertisements for your business and work especially well for companies that make deliveries or travel to customers’ homes or businesses. One business in my neighborhood has a fleet of hot-pink vehicles with a logo, website and phone number in huge letters on all four sides. You can get your vehicles “wrapped,” which is sure to capture attention – search online for “vehicle wrapping” to find services near you. Park your vehicles on busy streets and in other high-traffic areas to maximize visibility.

More ideas on how to get publicity: How to Get Free Publicity for Your Small Business

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

If you have been around the Small Business Community for any length of time, you may have noticed that I make it a habit to collect small tips, strategies and hacks.

 

Here are 10 of my favorites for small business owners:

 

1. You need multiple profit centers. This is probably my favorite piece of advice and one I have shared several times over the years, and for good reason. It comes from Barbara Winter in her great book, Making a Living Without a Job.35722669_s.jpg

 

Here’s the hack: Just as Starbucks started out selling only coffee but now also sells food, music, Frappucinos and more, so too should you add additional profit centers to your business. Having multiple profit centers mitigates risk and evens out your business cycle.

Learn more about multiple profit centers: The Magic of Creating Multiple Profit Centers

 

2. Big business wants to help you succeed: This site is a great example. There is a lot of big business assistance out there once you start to look. Large companies spend significant sums of money to create products, tools and services with small businesses in mind; it would behoove you to take advantage of them.

Learn about the Bank of America Supplier Diversity program: BofA's supplier relations: vendor management

 

3. If you want to grow, team up: By the same token, just as there are big businesses who want to help you, there are also other small businesses who can help you. Creating a strategic partnership extends your reach into areas and customers where you typically would not have any. Finding businesses that complement (but do not duplicate) is synergistic, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Consider bartering: Bartering May Ease Cash-Flow Crunch, But Follow These Rules

 

4. There are three types of customers, and to grow, you need to juggle all three:

    • New customers
    • Existing customers
    • Exiting customers

 

Customers leave for all sorts of reasons, both good and bad.. As such, you need to create a constant funnel of new customers who become existing customers, so that they can replace the exiting customers. Cultivate and nourish all three.

Learn more about your customers: Understanding Your Ideal Customer

 

5. Market your business, and then market it some more: How do you find those new customers to replace existing customers? You know the answer. Marketing. Whether it is real world networking or online social networking, marketing your business is the key to keeping the customer pipeline going.

Visit our sales and marketing section to see the best advice on marketing your business

 

6. Be a great boss: The best small businesses – the ones with solid profit, low turnover, good morale, great products and happy customers – are the ones where the owner creates a great culture. Happy employees create happy customers. The key is to be a good boss.

 

And while you are at it, don’t forget to be a good boss to yourself, too.

Follow these tips to be a great boss: Want to be a Great Boss? Develop these Traits

 

7. Play defense: Most entrepreneurs like playing offense – finding customers, selling, being creative, doing that part of your business that you love to do. But great small businesses also know they need to play defense – they incorporate, have adequate insurance, save for a rainy day, etc.

A few more tips to managing your business

8. Understand little changes can create big results: Change can often seem big and difficult. In fact, small changes are the ones that often create big results. Add a new product or service, tweak a marketing campaign, make a great new hire.

Thinking of a little change, look into offering these employee perks: The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think

 

9. Work on your business, not just in it: Michael Gerber’s famous piece of advice from his book The E-Myth remains as true today as when he first wrote it: By stepping back and looking at the big picture you get perspective, insight and you can figure out what changes – little or big – are needed.

Related article: Are you an Optimist or Pessimist? Why Your Perspective Matters

 

10. Say yes: People love small business because we can say yes.

 

      • “Can you stay open a little later so I can get down there?” Yes.
      • “Could you possibly get this to me by tomorrow?” Yes.
      • “Can I have an afternoon off this week?” Yes

 

Yes is one of the things that makes small business special. Use that to your advantage.

Related article: What’s your secret sauce?

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                          

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

“…Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

 

- Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

 

While we certainly are not living in the go-go, high-flying, greed-is-good ‘80s any longer, there is still a belief in some quarters that many business people remain quite Gekkoish –selfish,  materialistic and looking out only for themselves.

 

In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth, and I am happy to report that the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR) agrees. Twice a year, my friends at Bank of America survey 1,000 small business owners across the country. The SBOR always contains fascinating insights, and this latest one is no different.

 

What I love about the Fall 2017 SBOR is how it busts several common myths about small businesses and their owners, including the one that business owners are greedy and selfish.

 

For instance, according to the report, 60% of small business owners participate in a big way in charitable giving during the holiday season, including:Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 6.00.07 PM.png

 

  • Giving money to a charity (nearly 50%)
  • Giving employees bonuses (35%)
  • Giving employees holiday gifts (33%)

 

Here’s another busted myth: Or Millennials are the most cynical and jaded of all generations. Maybe not. Guess who the SBOR found to be – by far – the most optimistic of all small business owners? You bet, it’s the Millennials.

 

According to the SBOR, “When looking across generations, millennial small business owners have a significantly more optimistic outlook compared to Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers and senior entrepreneurs.” Here’s an example of just how enthusiastic they are:

 

  • 81% expect to make more money next year, as opposed to 60% of Gen Xers and only 45% of Boomers
  • Almost half of Millennials surveyed expected to hire more employees next year, as opposed to only 25% of Gen Xers and 11% of Boomers

 

Here is another great small business myth busted by the Small Business Owner Report: it turns out that social media is not all that important to the small business bottom line. If you do any reading about small business—in fact, if you are simply alive and part of the Internet culture today—you well know the importance of social media. But consider this amazing statistic from the survey:

 

67% of small business owners said that social media had no effect whatsoever on the bottom line of their business. Not only that, but half of those surveyed said that online ratings had no effect on the success of their business.

 

One last myth buster. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, right? Apparently not, at least not when it comes to running a business. While men in the survey generally were a tad more optimistic than the women, it was practically statistically insignificant. For instance, almost half of men anticipated revenues to increase over the next year. A little more than half of women said the same thing. Similarly, 16% of men said they planned to hire next year while  16% of women said that, too.

 

As I said, the Small Business Owner Report always contains a lot of great information, and this one delivered in spades – busting, as it does, myths about small business owners that deserved to be busted.

 

Read more from small business expert Steve Strauss

Related article: Nine Reasons Why Millennials are Important to your Small Business

Related article: Women small business owners see gender equality in the workplace on the horizon

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                        

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

The Fall Small Business Owner Report (SBOR) from Bank of America shows that while small business owners are generally optimistic, there’s a downward trend of individuals who expect to grow their business – even from just this spring.

 

This trend may not be surprising given the heated political environment and the concerns that, despite the rhetoric about the importance of small business in the economy, policies to help small businesses thrive rarely follow suit.

 

In the SBOR, the two biggest economic concerns impacting business owners weren’t things like consumer spending or even credit availability—no, the top issues were healthcare costs and corporate tax rates, with the latter at a slight increase from just a year ago.

 

Not entirely coincidentally, those issues have been at the heart of important yet stalled legislation over the past year. This means that government could, with the right focus and guidance, truly help small businesses create more optimism and, ultimately, growth. Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.58.45 PM.png

 

While most small business owners will tell you that they’d just prefer government to get out of the way, here are a few of the top ideas government could implement to address those top small business economic concerns, as concisely laid out in the SBOR:

 

Free Market Approach to Healthcare: I’ve said many times that the solution to fixing healthcare is to address the costs via transparency and choice. In terms of healthcare insurance, we need coverage that’s available to all, that’s cost effective, and ensures quality care. This requires a free market approach to healthcare where individuals and families can buy nationwide. It also means reducing the burdens on business. You shouldn’t have to depend on an employer to get great insurance, and you—as a small business owner—shouldn’t fear growth because you will be inundated with extra costs.  These fixes will allow small businesses in particular to focus more on growth and hiring.

 

Give All Small Businesses a Real Tax Break: Small businesses outnumber big business by a huge margin (around 28 million vs. less than 15,000), but the big businesses are in for the big tax breaks. And, recent proposals that theoretically offer a small business tax holiday come with a big asterisk in the form of so called “guardrails.” Millions of professional service providers and solopreneurs could face no tax break and also lose deductions. Treat the small businesses as the real economic and hiring engine that they are and more growth will be the obvious outcome.

 

Create Small Business Tax Hiring Incentives: Not only should small businesses get a tax break, but creating an incentive—such as tax holidays for a new employee’s salary for the first year—would take the risk out of hiring and allow small businesses to get the personnel required to grow. If just 5% of the small businesses in this country were to hire their first employee, that would be one million new jobs available!

 

Keep Creating Pressure to Lighten Regulations: Finally, make it easier for small business owners to be in business. While much of the red tape is at the local level, everything from confusion over independent contractor definitions to having to get worker’s compensation insurance for work-from-home employees in some states makes it hard to be a business owner. Let business owners focus their time on running their businesses – and growing.

 

Although the these changes would be ideal for small businesses and perhaps increase owner's optimism in business growth, it's important to remember change doesn't happen over night. For now, I suggest learning a few ways to grow your business.

 

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Related article: Four Things Small Business Owners Should Consider Before Offering Employee Healthcare

Related article: Top 10 Overlooked Tax Deductions for the Self-Employed

Related page: 5 helpful tips for tax season

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss

What We Are Thankful For

Posted by Steve Strauss Nov 24, 2017

With the Thanksgiving holiday wrapping up and the holiday season upon us, I am reminded of the things that small business owners and their employees have to be thankful for this year and every year. In no particular order:

 

Being in business: Needless to say, the economy has been tough the past few years, so it is no small feat that you have stayed in business. There is much honor in the hard work it takes to navigate these uncertain times. Your business pays the bills and feeds the family, and provides people with the goods and services that they need.

 

While there may be a few bumps in the road, I don't know any entrepreneur who would trade her gig in for a different one.  We should be thankful for the opportunity to wake up each day and follow our dreams.

 

Our customers: Customer loyalty is almost an oxymoron these days, so to those customers who stay with us year in and year out, we should give them a big “Thank you!” If not for them, we would not get to live the entrepreneurial dream — in all its pain and glory.


Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Our staff: No one can do it all alone. We should be incredibly grateful for our people – those who buy into our plans and help carry them out. Whether it's a part-time virtual assistant or a staff of 50, employees make it all possible. We are thankful that they help us so much and that we can afford to keep them on. I bet most of us wish we could do even more for them.

 

Our family and friends: By the same token, it is practically impossible for an entrepreneur to create and run a business without the love and support of his familNov 27 Pull Quote.pngy and friends. They put up with our long hours and listen to our crazy schemes. Tell them how much you appreciate it. If you’re like me, than the support of family and friends means more than they know.

 

Our partners: Whether it's a supplier who extended terms to make things easier this year, or the banker who said yes, we typically have an extended network of people for whom we are very thankful and lucky to know. They are the folks who help us stay in business, and for that we are grateful.

 

This great country: Yes, the election was grueling, but in the end, once again we had a peaceful and democratic resolution to who gets to wield power. And while there are

plenty of problems we need to solve, is there any other place you would rather live and run a business? Nope, me neither.

 

This is an incredible country, especially for entrepreneurs. I just heard a stat yesterday that said more foreign-born entrepreneurs choose to come to America to start their businesses than any other country. And we all know why:

 

  • We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. That is, we allow people the opportunity to take a chance here, and succeed or fail of their own merits. We not only encourage entrepreneurial risk-taking, we celebrate it.
  • We have a great history of entrepreneurship here. We love entrepreneurs. They are our modern-day rock stars.

 

So we are thankful that the American Dream applies to us all, no matter where we began.

 

Small businesses in this country have much to be grateful for. I know I do. Thank you so much for visiting our site and reading my column. A happy holiday season to you all. You make it possible.

 

What are you thankful for? Please share below.

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                         

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Black Friday is almost here, with Cyber Monday right behind. But did you know that the day after Cyber Monday is now called “Giving Tuesday?”

 

It makes sense. After all of that eating and shopping and clicking and buying, Giving Tuesday is a chance to count our blessings and show our appreciation in a meaningful, tangible way to those for whom we are grateful. And there is no doubt that small business people have much to be thankful for. Between great employees, supportive spouses and partners, our beloved customers, a business we (usually) love, and the community that supports us, entrepreneurs and small business people are fortunate indeed.

That is why it is so important to remember the people who make the dream possible. Here are a few ways give back to those who give you so much:

 

Participate in holiday food drives: Down the street from me is a great little restaurant that annually adopts a family in need. They donate the food, and then solicit funds, dry goods, and other needed items from the community to donate on Christmas Eve. It is a fantastic way to both help the community, and engage the community, all at once.49023134_s.jpg

 

Adopt a school: Along the same lines, most public schools are looking for help, whether it be school supplies, library books, or what have you. Your giving could be as simple as donating office supplies or as complex as helping to build a new playground structure. Either way you know that that kind of giving would be much appreciated by the students, the teachers, the community, and yes, your customers.

 

Donate: Pick a local charity and earmark a portion of all sales for that good cause. Or, simply put a donation jar next to the cash register and give the money to the group when the time is right.

 

Give in your customer’s name: Instead of sending out gifts to favorite clients this year, why not take the opportunity to recognize your customers by giving donations in their name to their favorite charity?

 

Shop at Goodshop Give: Goodshop Give is the world’s first-ever “shopfunding” site. First, tell the search engine who you want to support. Then, when you shop at thousands of participating online stores, a percentage of what you spend will be donated to that cause.

 

Sponsor a youth sports team: Undoubtedly, there is some local team in your neighborhood that could use new uniforms or equipment. Giving them some seed money and putting your name on the back of their jerseys is sure to make everybody happy.

 

Volunteer together: Spend some time with your team batting around ideas and come up with a charity for whom you would all like to volunteer. For example, you might want to work together on a Habitat for Humanity house, or maybe you would like to volunteer to feed the homeless during the holidays. There are so many options because there is so much need.

 

Thanking those who are so generous to us is what it’s all about. Happy Holidays!

 

Related Article: Evaluating Charity Requests? Four questions to ask

Related Article: Charitable Giving: How to evaluate and support good causes

Related Page: Support communities globally and locally

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                          

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Not too long ago, taking your business global was a daunting prospect requiring massive amounts of work, resources and expertise.  Now, it’s just a few clicks away. 

But while it’s possible to ‘go global’ simply by running an international Facebook ad or translating the copy on your website into a few other languages, in order to be successful with international expansion, it’s important to have the right strategy in place.

 

Just like your current online marketing plan, your international strategy needs to touch every facet of digital marketing. Here are a few points to consider for each.

 

Your website

You likely have stumbled across websites with the option to switch to other versions in different languages. And while making your content accessible to non-English speakers is a minimum requirement for going global, it’s important to realize  simply translating the copy most likely won’t bring the results you’re seeking.

 

Even if you hire native speakers to translate your site, some things just don’t translate – and the same goes for marketing tactics. What comes across as appealing and persuasive in one culture can seem off-putting or even offensive in another, so it pays to do your research and create customized versions of your website for each international market you enter. From the content you include to the images, graphics, and even the colors you choose, each version should reflect your research into that culture’s values and sensibilities.

 

      More from Small Business Expert Shama Hyder

 

SEO

Similarly, customize your search engine optimization efforts for each international market. SEO keywords aren’t just single words – they’re the complete phrases people use to search for things on Google and other search engines. So once again, familiarity with the culture and its idioms is key for optimizing your site, creating content and running paid ads.34361668_s.jpg

 

Another important consideration is the search engine itself. While Google holds a position of prominence internationally, it’s not on top everywhere. In China, Baidu is the search engine of choice, and in Russia, it’s Yandex. If those are your target markets, some research into those engines’ algorithms is called for.

 

Social Media

Marketing internationally via social media is another area where research  into cultural norms and preferences is needed. From the images you use on posts to the kinds of posts considered appropriate, in-depth research - or even help from a local - is recommended to ensure you make the right choices for each audience. And in order to make each of your social media pages as welcoming as possible, have one in each different language of your target markets. Wading through a page where only every other post is understood gets old quickly.

 

Social media advertising presents another sticky international situation, since laws and regulations for advertising differ from country to country. Be sure you’re clear on what’s allowed and what’s not before you create your first international ads.

 

By doing research into your international target markets, getting help from locals, and then customizing each aspect of your online marketing strategy for each culture, you’ll enjoy much more success from your efforts. While some things remain a constant – your website as marketing hub, the importance of SEO, and the effectiveness of social media marketing – the way you approach those tools will differ from culture to culture. Tapping into those differences is what will help you stand out from your competition, and make a splash on the international stage.

 

Related Article: Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

Related Article: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

Related Article: The Social Media Time Suck: How to Pick Your Platforms

 

About Shama Hyder

Shama Hyder Headshot.png

Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group–a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015.LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.

 

Web: www.shamahyder.com or Twitter: @Shama.

 

You can read more articles from Shama Hyder by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Shama Hyder to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Shama Hyder is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Shama Hyder. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

It’s that time of year boys and girls. Time to make a list and check it twice? Yes, that too, but for the small business owner, more importantly, it is time to gear up in earnest for the holiday selling bonanza.

 

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American plans on spending almost $1,000 on holiday goods this year – for presents, decorations, food and so on. Forty-one percent have already started shopping while the total amount expected to be spent during this holiday season is $678 billion.

 

That said, there will be more competition than ever for those Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping dollars. But don’t fret. Here are a dozen ways to jump to the front of the holiday shopping line:

 

1. Spruce up the stores, physical and virtual alike: With the influx of traffic that will soon be visiting your online and offline stores, it is incumbent upon you to make a great impression. Online, add new content and products. Offline, deep clean, add new displays, and so on.

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2. Utilize your e-newsletter: Your opt-in list is amazing because it is a list of people who literally give you permission to market to them, who want to hear from you. The secret is to not abuse that privilege, especially before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The old 80-20 rule comes in handy here: 80% of your content should be things that help your holiday customers and 20% should be your own marketing and advertising.

 

3. Check out retargeting: How many times has this happened to you? You go to a site, check out some shoes (or whatever), and then for the next few weeks, all you see online are ads for those shoes. That is retargeting. It is a simple, affordable advertising cookie. By some estimates, only 2% of website visitors convert on the first visit. Retargeting is an inexpensive way to target that other 98%.

 

4. Have a contest: There will be sales galore in the next few weeks and you should definitely partake (see below), but it would also behoove you to get in the holiday spirit and use your e-newsletter and Facebook page to promote a holiday-themed contest. Have a “guess the weight of the giant pumpkin” contest or maybe a pie eating contest. The winner could get free products, or a donation made to their favorite charity.

 

5. Show your appreciation: Have an invitation-only sale or event for your best customers to say thank you.

 

6. Have a different kind of sale: Everyone will be having Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. You should do something different. How about a Terrific Tuesday sale or a Wacky Wednesday sale? Be different to stand out in a crowded market.

 

7. Create a loss leader: A loss leader is a product you sell at or below cost to attract attention and customers. It gets people in the door. You take a loss on that item but it leads to other sales.

 

8. Sell gift cards: Did you know that gift cards have become the most popular gift in America? The National Retail Federation study indicated that 6 in 10 people would like to receive a gift card as a gift, so you need to sell them online and off. Bonus: Gift cards are great word-of-mouth advertising as it is one customer telling someone else that you have great merchandise.

 

9. Show Amazon who is boss: People shop at Amazon for low prices. But what you can do that the online giant cannot is offer a physical experience. Create a kid space in your store. Serve hot cocoa. Offer parents a free gift-wrapping station.

 

10. Team up: Team up with other local businesses in the area for mutual success. You can cross-promote each other, have a joint event, offer discounts to each other’s business, that sort of thing.

 

11. Give: Donate to a local charity. Give employees time off to volunteer. Earmark a portion of all Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to a good cause. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to let people know what you are doing.

 

12. Schedule time off: Find out when your staff would like some time off – to shop, for family commitments, and so on. Similarly, you should schedule some time off for yourself. Even though this is likely the busy time of year for you, don’t be a turkey – we all need a break, especially during the holidays.

 

Related Article: A Small Business Guide to Thrive – and Survive – the Holiday Season

Related Article: Myths Busted: Content Marketing is Not Optional for Small Businesses

Related Article: The 4 Most Important Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners

Related Article: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

Related Article: How to Enjoy Vacation and Keep Your Business Humming

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                            

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

You see them each month in the news. Politicians throw them around as a measure of success; or the opposing party points to them as a failure. But what do the federal jobs numbers really mean for your small business?

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Employment Situation Summary of national employment data the first Friday of every month. It also releases the Current Employment Statistics, a related survey with data on workers who are on payrolls. Finally, state and metro area employment data are released monthly, too.76154429_s.jpg

These reports measure several things:

  • Unemployment rate
  • Number of new jobs created
  • Wages: Did they increase or decrease?
  • Workforce participation: What percentage of the total adult population is either actively looking for work or employed?
  • Underemployment: What percentage of people are working part time even though they would rather be working full-time?

 

Employment numbers are considered a “lagging indicator,” which means they reflect things that have already happened rather than predict the future. However, they are useful in making short-term decisions and, when you look at the long term, some jobs numbers can be used to make forecasts.

Here are some things to consider when you look at the jobs report:

 

  • Do the numbers meet expectations? If the jobs reports diverge significantly from what economists have predicted, it can be either a positive or negative sign—depending on whether they’re higher or lower than expected.

 

  • Is it an employer’s market or an employee’s market? When unemployment is low, jobs are easier to find—so businesses, especially small ones, have a harder time finding qualified workers. You may need to offer higher salaries, better benefits or otherwise make your jobs more appealing in order to attract employees.

 

  • What are the long-term trends? Blips in jobs data from month to month are typically not that significant. It’s more important—and useful—to look at the long-term trends.

 

  • Don’t forget underemployment. In recent years, “the gig economy” has become more prevalent, and many Americans who want full-time jobs with benefits can only find part-time work. That means the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

  • Wage growth is a double-edged sword. As an employer, rising wages means you’ll need to pay more to attract and retain employees to remain competitive. But wage growth typically makes consumers more willing to spend—which is good news for small businesses.

 

  • Don’t forget state and local jobs numbers. If your business caters to local customers, these are often more important than national trends. For example, hurricanes in the United States affected jobs reports in September. While this depressed the overall statistics, it won’t really affect businesses in other states unless they have a lot of customers in areas affected by the hurricanes.

 

  • What industries are growing and shrinking? Note which industries are gaining or losing jobs. One industry’s loss can be another’s gain—for example, if retail establishments in your area are losing jobs, some of those employees might be candidates to work at your restaurant.

 

  • Workforce participation can indicate long-term trends. Currently, workforce participation is around 62%. As the U.S. population ages, more and more Americans will leave the workforce. In the last U.S. Census, the population aged 65 and older grew at a faster rate than other age groups. For businesses, this means it will get harder to find workers, and retirees (often on fixed incomes) are likely to spend less.

 

Reading the jobs numbers alone won’t tell you much. Combine them with other key economic indicators, such as new residential construction, consumer spending and international trade, to get a fuller picture. The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are two sources of good analyses that can help you get the gist of jobs numbers and other economic indicators quickly.

 

 

RELATED ARTICLE: The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think

 

RELATED ARTICLE:  Is the Gig Economy right for you? Some things you should consider.


RELATED ARTICLE: Small Business Owners Damaged by Hurricanes Eligible for Tax Relief

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Economic Confidence, Revenues Surge for Small Businesses

 

SBOR-Chart.gifSmall business entrepreneurs are confident revenues for 2017 will top last year and that 2018 promises to be even better, according to the Fall 2017 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report (PDF).

 

In the semi-annual survey of 1,000 business owners, nearly three-quarters say 2017 year-end revenue will surpass last year’s figures. Similarly, economic confidence is strong heading into 2018 as nearly half of business owners expect their local economy and the national economy to improve.

 

  • 71% of small business owners are optimistic that their 2017 year-end revenue will surpass 2016 business revenue
  • 16% plan to hire more employees, 70% of which plan to hire full-time employees

 

For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the Fall 2017 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report here.

Small Business Saturday is on November 25th. Is your business prepared? Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year, Small Business Saturday launched in 2010 as a day to support small, local businesses nationwide. The event has snowballed since then: In 2016, 112 million consumers spent an estimated $15.4 billion at independent businesses on Small Business Saturday.

 

The special day isn’t just for retailers, despite it being sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (This year, it's on November 25.) Any local independent business—restaurants, spas and salons, home services businesses and more—can profit from this day. Even independent e-commerce businesses can leverage Small Business Saturday.

 

U.S. consumers love shopping with independent businesses. In a recent survey by Ask Your Target Market, 49% of respondents say they prefer to patronize small businesses over large ones; 34% even go out of their way to do so. But that doesn't mean you can sit back, relax and expect customers to pour into your business on November 25. Here are six things you can do to prepare for Small Business Saturday.

 

1. Staff up: Be sure you have enough staff scheduled on Small Business Saturday to serve customers. Hopefully, you’ll be getting a lot of first-time visitors, so their experience with your business must be a positive one.

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2. Stock up: Make sure you have plenty of inventory on hand. No business wants to attract a crowd of customers and then run out of what they want to buy.

 

3. Team up: Small Business Saturday is a neighborhood affair. Talk to other local business owners in your area to see if they're planning to participate. The more businesses get involved, the more awareness you’ll generate—and the more customers you’ll attract. Your local Chamber of Commerce, business owners’ organization and even City Hall can help put together a Small Business Saturday marketing push. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, from each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, 2 to 3.50 times that recirculates in the local economy. That’s something every local government can get behind! Community organizations and chambers of commerce can even become Neighborhood Champions of Small Business Saturday.

 

4. Speak up: Let the local media know about Small Business Saturday and what your community is doing to promote it. Local newspapers and bloggers are always looking for holiday-related stories. If this is the first year your city or town is participating, educate the media about what this day means to local small businesses and the community.

 

5. Spruce up: Get ready to put your business’s best face forward on Small Business Saturday. Make sure your location is looking good, and take care of any needed repairs such as burned-out light bulbs or heating malfunctions. Plan your holiday store decor, too.

 

6. Keep it up: Small Business Saturday raises awareness of independent local businesses—and hopefully, you can keep capitalizing on consumers’ newfound awareness of your business year long. Plan to: collect email addresses; sign new customers up for loyalty programs; encourage reviews on rating sites; engage on social media and otherwise stay in touch with them throughout the holidays and all year long.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of

America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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