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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

Last night I went out to dinner with my family, and the restaurant we visited was unusually packed. When I asked the waitress what was up, she said that the restaurant was giving out a free dinner to all veterans this month in honor of both their service and the upcoming Veteran’s Day holiday on November 11.

 

We were happy to wait.

 

It reminded me of a great story I heard a few years ago about a sergeant named Robbie Doughty. Doughty was 32 when he lost both legs in a bomb blast in Iraq. USA TODAY did a story about the sergeant and soon after he received a phone call from Michael Ilitch, the owner of the Little Caesars Pizza chain (and the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.) Ilitch just wanted to thank Doughty for his service, but the call ended with Ilitch offering Doughty his own Little Caesars Pizza franchise. Today, Doughty is a successful entrepreneur in his hometown in Kentucky.

    

              Related: See how Bank of America shows its support and commitment to veterans and their families

 

It’s not surprising that entrepreneurship resonated with Doughty. Indeed, if you think about it, there are many reasons why veterans make great entrepreneurs, and why almost 10% of all small businesses are veteran-owned:

  • Vets understand the idea of teamwork and uniting behind a bigger mission
  • They not only take direction well, they are also well-versed in leadership
  • Creatively solving the problem is what they do

 

Given this, and the fact there are so many veterans since 9/11, I am happy to report there are a lot of great programs designed to help veterans start and grow their own businesses.

 

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The Small Business Administration: The SBA has a lot of resources for the veteran small business entrepreneur. For example, the SBA has a program called Operation Boots to Business. The program’s goal is to provide business training to military service personnel who are in transition to civilian life.

 

Another great SBA program is the Veterans Business Outreach Center. The VBOC is a “one-stop-shop for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses looking to start, purchase, or grow a business. Located nationwide, VBOCs provide transition assistance programs such as training, counseling and mentoring, and resource referrals.”

 

The Veterans Administration, Veteran Entrepreneur Portal: Part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, this site offers a plethora of programs to help veteran entrepreneurs, everything from starting to financing to growing a business.

 

The National Veteran Owned Business Association: NaVOBA is a private, non-profit association that acts as a gathering place and resource for veteran small business owners.

 

The V-Wise IGNITE Program: IGNITE is operated by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) and the SBA. Designed especially for female veterans, IGNITE is a one-day entrepreneurship training event offered in cities across the country.

 

The program is open to women veterans, active duty service women, and women military spouses/life-partners interested in small business ownership.  The program features nationally acclaimed speakers, expert instructors, local and military friendly business resource providers, and successful veteran women and military spouse entrepreneurs.

On this Veteran’s Day, it is great to see that “thank you for your service” is not just a phrase, but is being backed up by so many great organizations looking to help veterans transition into small business ownership.

 

       CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

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

Women entrepreneurs are a power to be reckoned with. According to the 2016 State of Women Owned Businesses report, in 2016 the 11.3 million U.S. businesses owned by women employed nearly 9 million people and generated over $1.6 trillion in revenues.

 

More good news: revenues of women-owned firms are growing faster than revenues of businesses overall—increasing by 35% since 2007. But there’s still a “glass ceiling” when it comes to revenues: NAWBO reports that just one in five businesses with annual revenues of $1 million or more is woman-owned.

 

   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Of course, some women-owned businesses have lower sales simply because they aren’t trying to become the next Starbucks. Many women (and men) entrepreneurs just like the flexibility of being their own bosses and aren’t driven by visions of world domination. But if you're one of those women entrepreneurs who does dream of being the next Mark Zuckerberg—or Martha Stewart—here are three things to help get you there.

 

1. Delegate. Women-owned businesses are less likely than businesses owned by men to have employees, according to the State of Women Owned Businesses report. But a one-person business can only grow to the limits of your abilities and available time. What’s more, solopreneurs get so bogged down in daily details and administration they have less time to devote to important daily tasks and long-term strategizing.

 

You don’t have to hire employees to delegate. Using independent contractors or freelancers can deliver many of the same benefits without the costs or headaches. But don’t assume you can't afford to hire, either. Assess your current workload, the potential for growth and how quickly an employee’s salary would recoup itself in new business. You may be surprised at how fast the investment in staff pays off.45163950_s.jpg

 

2. Don’t fear debt. You’ve got to spend money to make money. If you don’t have the money to spend, you may need to borrow it. Many entrepreneurs try to avoid debt like the plague. However, just like in our personal financial lives, when it comes to running a business, there’s good debt and bad debt. Taking out a mortgage to become a homeowner is good debt; charging your credit card up to the limit eating at fancy restaurants is bad debt.

 

When used wisely, business debt can be a valuable tool that helps you grow your business by purchasing inventory, equipment or assets you otherwise couldn’t afford. Before taking on debt, be sure you know what you’ll use the money for and the expected return on that investment. Also shop around for the best loan terms you can find. 

 

     RELATED ARTICLES: Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs

 

3. Partner with other businesses. Teaming up with other businesses in a strategic partnership lets you add new capabilities to your offerings. Look for a complementary business that provides products or services your customers want. For example, my content development business partners with a couple of website design firms. Since businesses in the market for website design often need content, and vice versa, partnering lets both our businesses access new customers and offer existing customers new services.

 

You can form a long-term strategic partnership or a short-term partnership focused on one project or serving one client. Make sure you trust your partner and the quality of their work. For each engagement, put a contract in place to clearly define the terms of the relationship, including potentially contentious issues like responsibilities, deliverables and compensation.

 

Make It a Million

Whether you want to grow a million-dollar business or simply boost your current sales, the three tactics above will help you achieve your financial goals.

 

 

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

Veteran_Resources_body.jpgby Robert Lerose.

 

Military veterans who are either starting their own small business or already running one are in a unique category. Their training, service, and discipline are highly regarded by prospects and clients. The government also regularly awards a significant number of contracts specifically to businesses owned by veterans.

 

The following list of selected resources can provide information, assistance, and services to military veteran small business owners. Some of these overlap in their coverage of topics, so check them out thoroughly to find those that can help you best.

 

Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization: A comprehensive resource run by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that promotes small business participation in VA procurements.

 

VetBiz: Run by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, it provides information about the verification process to qualify for VA contracts.

 

Veteran_Resources_PQ.jpgService Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses: The Small Business Administration resource that provides contracting support for veterans and service-disabled veterans, with information on how to qualify for veteran contracts.

 

Office of Veterans Business Development: Operated by the Small Business Administration, it provides help on availability, applicability, and usability of administration small business programs for veterans, reservists, and their families.

 

National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA): Advocacy group that fights for more opportunities for military veteran business owners. Offers a registry for consumers looking for veteran-owned businesses, a magazine covering the veteran-owned business movement, webinars, and an index of "Buy Veteran" companies.

 

V-WISE: A program operated by the Institute For Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University that provides women veterans with tools and resources to start and grow their own businesses.

 

Hivers and Strivers: An angel investment group that supports start-up companies founded and run by graduates of the U.S. military academies.

 

These and many other resources are there to help military veterans succeed in the marketplace. Take advantage.

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Is it too early to say Ho, Ho, Ho? I HOpe not!

 

Yes, even though it’s only mid-October, if you own a retail business it is time to get ready for the holiday season. Indeed, there are several parts of your business that likely need attention now if you are going to be successful the rest of the year.

 

Get your store ready: With the influx of people who will be coming into your space, you will want to spruce the place up – fresh paint, deep cleaning, making it shiny – you know the drill.

 

Beyond that, and probably more importantly, you want to think about how you can make your store a holiday destination. These days, the competition from online shopping is real and drop-in comparison shopping is a threat. As such, the savvy entrepreneur will make sure that the physical experience of coming into his or her shop is something that can’t be matched by pointing and clicking.

 

There are plenty of things you can do in this regard:

 

  • Set up a free gift-wrapping station for customers
  • Serve hot cocoa and cookies
  • Have Santa come to your store each week

 

Get your displays ready: The time is now to pull out the holiday decorations and displays to see what kind of shape they are in and what might need replacing.

 

    RELATED ARTICLE: 8 Cash Flow Tips to Season-Proof your Seasonal Business

 

Get your supplies in order: Will you need extra packaging, gift wrap, boxes, supplies?

 

Get your online presence ready: There are two parts to this.

 

First, update your social media presence. Freshen up your Facebook page and add new content, videos, etc. And what about launching on a new platform like Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram?

 

Also, be sure to interact and engage with your social media tribe. For example, you can offer small gift cards or coupons to customers who post photos or otherwise share their positive shopping experience at your store.

 

Second, make sure your website is up to date. Your About page should be up to date, contact info and hours should be current, and content across the website should be fresh.

 

               CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Get your staff ready: When thinking about holiday staff, there are two things to consider:

 

The first is your regular employees. It is a good practice to check in with them, see what their schedule constraints are, see when they may and not be available, and schedule around that to the extent possible.

 

Additionally, now is a good time to start looking for holiday help. Finding the right people, training them, scheduling them – it all takes time. Find people who are enthusiastic, communicative, friendly, and flexible.

 

Get your marketing ready: Now is the right time to noodle on some creative holiday marketing ideas, and even take a few out for a test drive. Maybe you are considering a special promotion, or new product, or new price point. Test now and see what works.

 

When it comes to marketing, it is also a good idea during the holidays to do the expected – have a sale, reward special customers, create events, and so on.

 

And finally, make sure that you build in some time off for yourself. After all, you’re the boss.

 

Don’t be a Grinch.

 

About Steve StrausSteve 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

By Jill Calabrese Bain

 

Bank of America has a long history with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) – both with the national chapter and more than 50 local chapters from coast to coast – and has been the presenting sponsor of its annual conference for the past five years.

 

Jill-Calabrese-Bain-NAWBO.pngFrom Oct. 15-17, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join fellow Bank of America teammates at NAWBO’s annual conference. More than 800 women gathered in Minneapolis to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of an organization that is the voice for more than 10.1 million female business owners nationwide. During an empowering and inspiring few days, we heard from notable speakers such as Erin Brockovich and SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, as well as a diverse and knowledgeable group of business owners.

 

This year’s conference theme of ‘together we dare’ really stuck with me. We know that it takes tremendous heart to be a woman business owner. You must dare to follow your dreams. You must dare to be bold and take risks. And, my favorite, you must dare to fail. Above all, you must dare to succeed.

 

We know that women are succeeding! Women have made significant strides in the upward climb toward equal opportunity in the workforce and in business. We’re slowly but surely chipping away at the gender pay gap. And, according to our latest Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight study, women business owners are feeling more optimistic that we’re on track to level the playing field in the next 20 years when it comes to these four things: pay equity, executive leadership, representation in the STEM fields and, yes, small business ownership.

 

During the conference, I met with women from the United States and around the globe – daring women linked by their willingness to blaze their own trails and strive for excellence. One of my favorite breakout sessions focused on “daring leadership,” and we heard from women entrepreneurs who have annual revenues exceeding the $1 million mark. The four panelists hailed from a wide range of organizations – a staffing company, niche cookie company, law firm and international branding/multi-media company. Despite their varied backgrounds, their advice was the same – engage experts, stay true to your core strengths (even if it means watching business walk out the door), always trust your intuition, and don’t be afraid to take risks.

 

It was amazing to see such extraordinary women daring to succeed each day by being leaders in their businesses, communities, and role models for future generations of female entrepreneurs.

 

I’m beyond proud of Bank of America and my teammates who support women entrepreneurs day in and day out. And that was really at the heart of NAWBO’s annual conference. We are all here to support the missions of all women who have dared to dream… dared to be bold… and dared to succeed – despite the odds.

I don’t believe in the phrase “work-life-balance.” I think it sets us up for failure, because it’s impossible to achieve—at least for an entrepreneur. Balance implies 50/50 and no business owner can succeed only devoting 50 percent of their time to building their companies.

 

The reality of growing a business demands more than that, especially at startup, when a new business is nearly as needy as a new baby. (If you've ever been, or met, a new mom, you know their life isn’t exactly an example of “balance”).

 

As your business grows and you add employees, things get easier, akin to the relief moms feel when their kids grow beyond the toddler stage and they can finally take a shower in peace. But no matter what stage our businesses are in, women business owners—especially those with significant others, children or aging parents  — rarely feel balanced. “When I'm at work, I feel guilty I’m not at home with my kids,” one woman entrepreneur told me. “When I’m home with my kids, I feel guilty I’m not answering client emails or working on proposals.”

 

34215801_s.jpg   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Since the burdens of running the household usually fall on women (still!) even if they work outside the home, work-life balance has long been viewed as a “women's issue.” In recent years, however, the desire for work-life balance has become widespread. As technology intrudes into our lives 24/7, even men and millennials are yearning for less work, more life.

 

Is there an answer? While I believe the likelihood of any woman business owner finding true work-life balance is about as likely as finding the Holy Grail, I do think we can all find a more satisfactory way of managing our lives.

 

Here’s what it takes.

1. Accept you’ll never find balance. Instead, you’ll be seesawing up and down between priorities (see #3). Learn to enjoy the view, wherever you are, and savor the ride.

 

2. Give up the guilt. Easier said than done, I know. As women, we are raised to put others first and be people pleasers. If you want to succeed as a business owner without losing your grip, you’ve got to let some of that go.

 

3. Learn to prioritize. Your priorities will change every day—sometimes several times a day. It’s all about learning to triage what matters most to you—both at the moment and in the long term? If your biggest client is experiencing an emergency only you can handle, you might have to miss your daughter’s softball game. If your client just wants to have a routine conference call, tell him you have a previous appointment, schedule the call for tomorrow and go cheer your daughter on. Or start delegating some responsibilities.

 

4. Get help. Remember the old cliché, “Behind every successful man is a woman.” What could you accomplish if you had a “wife”? Stop trying to be Superwoman and think of ways you can buy time to focus on your priorities. For instance, maybe you need to hire a housecleaner, order dinner in every night or put your teens in charge of more household chores.

 

     RELATED VIDEO: Women Entrepreneurship in a World of Change, Moderated by Susan Solovic

 

The bottom line: listen to your gut. Yeah, you know that every day you should make time to get plenty of sleep, exercise, meditate, socialize, etc., etc. Do all of those things ever happen in the same day? Not if you’re like most women business owners.

 

Instead of beating yourself up about it, check in with yourself at the end of every day and see how you feel. Maybe you feel on top of the world even though you just worked 16 hours straight. If you’re happy, great; if not, think about how you can make tomorrow a better day.

 

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

In a recent series of posts, I have been looking at great entrepreneurs who started small (part 1 and part 2), people like Richard Branson, Martha Stewart and Howard Schultz. What is amazing about entrepreneurs like these is not just how big their enterprises are (companies like Starbucks and Virgin). Rather, it’s  how small they started, how much they overcame and how far these entrepreneurs travelled.

 

          RELATED ARTICLE: Great Entrepreneurs Start Small – Consider Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart

 

55625037_s.jpgTake Oprah Winfrey for example. If you are looking for the quintessential rags-to-riches story, look no further. Yes, Oprah comes from incredibly humble roots, and that makes her rise and business skills more impressive. Oprah was raised by a single mom on welfare, was the victim of childhood sexual abuse and grew up in so much poverty that the kids in school made fun of her for wearing dresses made of potato sacks.

 

But, while we all know that Oprah is a gifted broadcaster, that is not what made her a billionaire. Lots of people have hosted talk shows, but what sets Oprah apart is her entrepreneurial chops, first evidenced when she negotiated the ownership and syndication rights to her show. That move allowed her to create her own production company and made her a millionaire by the age of 32 when her show went national.

 

Today, Oprah Winfrey is worth $3 billion.

 

steven-jobs-9354805-2-402.jpg

Another billionaire, Steve Jobs, was raised in less than ideal financial circumstances as well. Jobs grew up in a lower middle-class family, the adoptive son of a homemaker mother, and a father who was a self-described “repo man.”

 

Jobs was only at Reed College for a year before he had to drop out due to floundering familial finances. He continued to audit classes at Reed, ate for free at the local Hare Krishna temple, and returned soda bottles for change to get by. In 1974, Jobs moved to India and lived in an ashram for seven months before moving back to the Bay Area and living in his parents’ toolshed.

 

What grounded and motivated him throughout these tough, early years was a fascination with the nascent computer revolution. It was in 1975 that he and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer in the Jobs family garage. Apple, as we all know, was a hit from the start, but did you know that Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded less than a decade later? But he was nothing if not resilient. When later discussing his firing from the company he loved, he said:

 

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

 

When he died of pancreatic cancer in 2011, Steve Jobs was worth $8.3 billion.

 

               CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Walt_Disney_1946.JPGAnd if ever there was an entrepreneur who started small and overcame adversity, it is none other than Walt Disney, survivor of bankruptcy, lawsuits and more. In 1922, Disney started his first animation company, “Laugh-O-Gram,” where he and his partner made short advertising films and Walt attempted to create his first animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Unfortunately, a distributor soon cheated Disney and his partner in a big deal, causing Disney to declare bankruptcy and lose the rights to Oswald in the process.

 

Disney started all over, in a new city, and created another new company. Then he decided to create a character to replace Oswald.

 

A little fellow he named Mickey Mouse.

 

Entrepreneurs of great enterprises and companies started from humble and often extremely adverse backgrounds. Regardless of their beginnings, they all achieved incredible success. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down by losses as small business owners, but reminding yourself that every business and entrepreneur had their ebbs and flows can help keep your head up.

 

 

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

I think of myself as an entrepreneur, not a “woman entrepreneur.” That said, there are things women tend to do as they approach business ownership that often hold them back from being even more successful. 

 

Here are some of my top tips to leave the qualifiers behind so women can become more successful entrepreneurs.

 

1. Remember, Entrepreneurship is a Meritocracy. When you are the boss, you are the boss, and your potential is unlimited. You have every ability to pursue an opportunity in the same manner as anyone else, so don’t psych yourself out and create self-doubt that holds you back. Only you stand in the way of your own success.

 

2.  Think Big. Women tend to take on less risk than men. This, again, is not because of some rigged system as much as women holding themselves back from going really big. Whether it’s concern over disappointing someone or a fear of failure, you need to be able to lean into risk and uncertainty to be successful.

 

It’s also often just as difficult to start and run a small business as it is a big one, so why not really reach for a crazy goal? It’s ok to take calculated, educated risk. If you don’t fail at least part of the time, you aren’t pushing yourself enough.

    

     CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

55497765_s.jpg3.  Delegate, but Don’t Abdicate, Responsibility. Generally speaking, women are often detail oriented. And the strengths of being good at the details also means you can get bogged down in running your business, instead of growing your business. 

 

You need to create systems to teach other people to do tasks that aren’t the best use of your time or the best service to the business. While others may not be as good as you are at a task, if it is good enough for customers to be happy, go with it.

 

4.  Watch Your Language. Women don’t realize how often they portray themselves as non-entities or minimize their value. They apologize where there’s nothing to be sorry for, they draw attention to items that nobody needs to know and they downplay accomplishments. Often, women feel badly about talking about their work and business for fear of coming off self-promotional.

 

Use powerful language, own what you do and don’t offer irrelevant information that detracts from what you are accomplishing. That language informs your attitude, which informs your success. And remember that if you aren’t willing to promote yourself, it’s not likely that anyone else will either. People follow the cues you set for them.

     

     RELATED ARTICLE: 20 Inspirational Quotes for Entrepreneurs

 

5.  Expand Your Network. While it may be comfortable to network with people just like you, it will never get you to the next level. Go outside your comfort zone, approach and mingle with people who are where you want to be and let that inspire you to move up to their level.

 

6.  Set Your Own Goals. Lastly, it’s important to note we all have different definitions of success. For some people, family accomplishments are more important than professional ones and deserve extra focus. There are also some that judge contributions to a team and seeing projects succeed as more important than individual compensation or overall business growth. There are others that frankly don’t want the stress and responsibility that comes with trying to pursue an eight-, nine- or ten-figure business.

 

All of this is ok, as our individual success should be measured by our own goals and objectives. There may always be a differential in the types of businesses each individual pursues and how they approach them. If you are pursuing something based on your own measure of success, that’s not anyone else’s business to judge.

 

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

Yes, you want to stand out in what is becoming an ever-crowded marketplace, but no, you certainly do not want to shout and be obnoxious to get attention. Given that, is it actually possible to stand out, and if so, how?

 

The answer is yes, you can, and even better, doing so does not include yelling. I’ll tell you the secret in a moment, but first, a story:

 

Not long ago I went with my wife to an idyllic, small little fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico where the locals were kind, the beach perfect and the vibe just right (sorry, its name will remain a secret, amigos!) Many mornings we found ourselves at the same great little restaurant for breakfast.

 

           CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Did we keep coming back there for the delicious huevos rancheros? That was part of it. Was it because of our wonderful waitresses? Yes, but that was not the main reason. Even though there were tons of restaurants and bars in this town, we – and plenty more people – crowded this place every day. Why?

 

Free WiFi.

 

I54758428_s.jpgn a town where getting online was a challenge, free WiFi kept us coming back. Throughout the town there were little posters that said nothing more than “Free WiFi!” and the name of the restaurant. That was their X Factor to stand out in a crowded market.

 

Isn’t that true of your favorite businesses, the ones you frequent time and again? Don’t they offer something unique and out of the ordinary?

 

  • There is a bookstore in the Pacific Northwest called Powell’s World of Books. World of Books indeed. The store engulfs one full city block and is four stories high.
  • In Los Angeles, there is a fun sushi bar on the Westside. I don’t recall its real name because all anyone ever calls it is “Reggae Sushi.” Yep, reggae music all the time, mon.

 

These are X factors. These businesses have figured out something special to hang their hat on to distinguish themselves from the competition. So, the question you should ask yourself is – what is yours? What is it you do that is unique, different and special that you can tout that will make your business more memorable?

 

Here’s another example: Not long ago I was in Erie, Pennsylvania, giving a speech for the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Every year, the SBDC honors local businesses with a banquet, the culmination of which is the presentation of “Business of the Year” awards in various categories. I was fortunate enough to get to give the keynote at the banquet and meet these exceptional entrepreneurs. As I think back upon the award winners, each one had their own unique, memorable characteristic.

 

          RELATED ARTICLE: Is Your Small Business Ready to Go to Mars?

 

But my favorite was a company called Frontier Pharmacy. At a time when large drug store chains are putting local pharmacies out of business, Frontier Pharmacy is easily the busiest pharmacy in the area, routinely filling thousands of prescriptions a week. When I asked the owner what his secret was, he told me about the usual suspects – a great staff, loyal customers, and so on. Then he mentioned what I now see was his X Factor:

 

Free delivery.

 

Every day he has two full-time drivers do nothing but deliver prescriptions to his customers for free. “And I only hire retired gentleman,” he told me. Given many of his customers are ill or even invalid, it’s a brilliant idea.

 

So that is the answer. You don’t have to yell or be obnoxious to get noticed. You have to be different and better. What is your business differentiator? Figure it out, tout it and customers will find you and frequent your business more often – if not for the huevos rancheros then definitely for the free WiFi.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve 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 Success. © Steven 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 holiday shopping season is almost upon us, and for retailers, 2017 has the potential to be a very good year. Consumers plan to spend an average of $728.40 each on gifts and other holiday purchases, according to The International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey, which projects a 3.8 percent increase in retail sales this holiday season. Deloitte forecasts e-commerce sales to rise by 18 to 21 percent over last holiday season. There’s no need for brick-and-mortar retailers to worry, though: The vast majority of sales still happen offline, and more than 90 percent of shoppers plan to visit a physical store this holiday season.

As you gear up for the holidays, plan for success by avoiding these common holiday preparation mistakes.

 

1.  Waiting too long: Two-thirds of consumers plan to start shopping before Thanksgiving, according to the ICSC, and 27 percent started in August. That means your planning should already be underway, too.

 

          CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2.  Not hiring enough staff: Customers’ expectations for quick service are higher than ever before. Plus, competition for seasonal workers is stiff so it's important to make sure you’re adequately—and professionally—staffed. It's not too early to review scheduling and start hiring.

 

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3.  Selling old-fashioned paper gift certificates: Paper gift certificates give the impression your store is out of date. They also take more time to issue, since they have to be filled out by hand, and consumers are more likely to lose them or discard them by accident. Plastic gift cards are easy and affordable for even small retailers to offer, and are predicted to be the most popular holiday gift this season: ICSC says two-thirds of consumers plan to buy them. If you’re still offering paper gift certificates, moving to a plastic gift card program can really boost sales.

 

4.  Not updating your website: A whopping 85 percent of shoppers plan to research online before buying a product in a brick-and-mortar store, according to the ICSC study. Prepare your store’s website with a holiday makeover, including holiday-themed images, gift ideas and special offers. Add as much information as you can about the products you sell. The more detail you provide, the better.

 

5.  Not optimizing your website for local search: When consumers go online to find local stores, your business needs to show up in the search results. To do so, make sure your listings on local search directories are complete and consistent, with your name, address and phone number spelled exactly the same way in each place. Update your listings with information about holiday hours, holiday promotions and hot products.  While you’re at it, make sure your essential business information—your store’s location, hours and phone number—are prominently displayed on your website’s homepage.

 

6.  Not advertising online: Given that 85 percent of consumers start their holiday shopping online, according to the ICSC, investing in digital advertising should be a no-brainer. Create pay-per-click ads using keywords relevant to your store or to popular products you carry.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Tips for Hiring Seasonal Employees Ahead of the Holiday Rush

 

7.  Getting careless with the bottom line: Yes, consumers are projected to spend more this holiday season than last season. However, with increasing competition from online, offline and multichannel options, retailers are also expected to offer plenty of promotions. Don’t try to compete with Walmart or Target on Black Friday deals: Carefully calculate the costs and benefits of any promotions you offer, and stay on top of your profit margins throughout the season.

 

8.  Running out of inventory: Take advantage of your inventory management system’s features to project inventory needs based on last year’s sales and this years’ outlook. Stay on top of inventory on a daily basis so you don’t get caught short, or set alerts or automatic reorders when stock runs low.          

 

Make no mistake: By following these tips, you’ll be well prepared to enjoy success and reap the benefits of the holiday season. Happy selling!

 

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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