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Women small business owners are feeling more optimistic about annual revenue and growth expectations than their male counterparts, according to the inaugural Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, a study based on a survey of 1,000 small business owners across the country, focusing on the aspirations and pain points of women business owners.

 

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Click here to download a PDF version of this infographic.

 

 

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Small Business Checking

One summer, I was interning at a law firm in San Francisco hoping to impress the partners enough that they would offer me a job after I graduated the next year. This was back in the day, when law firms really wined-and-dined their potential associates.

 

Man, I loved that summer.Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

They took us river rafting, we had drinks at partners’ homes overlooking the bay, we were invited out to fancy dinners, and we even went hot-air ballooning one day. Oh yeah, we did a little work too. Needless to say, I really wanted to work for these folks. “They really know how to treat their employees well!” I thought.

 

  1. Ha.

 

I thought wrong. What they knew was how to recruit well. It actually turned out to be a terrible place to work, and in that sense is was a lesson in reverse. What employees want and what makes for a happy workplace and great culture is treating employees right – not only right from the start, but all along the way.

 

The savvy business owner knows this. Indeed, one of the smartest things you can do, especially this time of year, is to take advantage of the natural rhythms of the season and treat employees to some summer fun.

 

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

 

Here are a few effective ideas:

 

1. Flexible work hours: I saw a survey not long ago stating that 45% of entrepreneurs surveyed said that they reward their staff with flexible hours and/or they let them work from home. While this used to be a far-fetched idea, it is now easy and commonplace today. Between the cloud, smart phones, apps, and laptops, anyone can work anywhere, anytime.

 

So let them.

 

Especially during the summer, it makes sense to give employees some extra flexibility, some time to enjoy the nice weather and get work done at a time that’s maybe more convenient. They will appreciate it and reward you with their loyalty and hard work.

 

2. Amenities like free lunch, massages, etc. When you see a television segment about successful Internet companies like Google or Facebook, one thing that is very noticeable is the amount of free (or subsidized) things available, like food, massages, foosball and so on.

 

For the small business, you might consider installing a basketball hoop in the parking lot or offering free, healthy snacks like fruit and water. Affordable, and appreciated.

 

3. Team building events: Especially in the summertime, when everyone is thinking about a lot more than just work, a fun event together, away from the office, is often just what the doctor ordered. Whether it’s going to dinner, a game or concert together, a team-building event, well, builds the team.

 

4. Encourage break time outside: One easy, affordable way to recharge the troops is to encourage them to take breaks outdoors with coworkers. Encouraging health and well-being is always appreciated by employees, especially in the summer.

 

5. Mix up the routine: Changing up daily routines reduces stress, boosts morale, and keeps people engaged. Try having a ‘bike to work’ day.

 

6. Unexpected freebies: Have a spontaneous contest and give the winner a pair of seats to a sporting event. Buy gift cards and hand them out. Give everyone an unannounced afternoon off.

 

This is the time of year when people like to take advantage of the outdoors. Let them. You will all win.

 

About Steve Strauss

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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GreatLogo_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

 

McDonald’s golden arches. Coca-Cola’s script. Nike’s swoosh. Each of these logos is synonymous with its company name, no other identifier needed. Says Laura Wallis, an online marketing consultant at Webnavigatorgal.com: “A logo is an extension of your branding, and as the key image of your business, it sets the tone for who you are as a company.” Here are five key elements a small business owners should consider when developing a logo:

 

1. Appropriate for your audience

You want your logo to speak to your target market, to let them know your company is for them, says Jessica Lyon, senior designer at Pivot Group, a full-service marketing and advertising agency in Portland, Ore. One exercise she recommends is attributing descriptive adjectives to your key audience and comparing them to the qualities of your logo. For example, a retailer primarily serving tween girls might say its target market is youthful, trendsetting, playful, creative and feminine. “If you compare those qualities to their logo, it would be fair to say they match up well,” says Lyon.

 

2. Thoughtful color choice

Limit the logo to three or fewer colors for design simplicity, Lyon suggests. Also, consider the associations behind color choices. “There are basic attributes we ascribe to most colors, and we’ve learned to make assumptions based on them,” says Lyon. For example, red is associated with passion and power, and blue with peace and loyalty. “It can be helpful to use those complex psychological associations to your advantage when choosing colors for your brand and logo,” she says. If your logo uses more than one hue, make sure they work well together.

 

GreatLogo_PQ.jpg3. Reproducible/functional

The logo should work well in color versions as well as black-and-white, and should be usable in any format and size. “With the advent of mobile, it's very important to test how a logo will look online in thumbnail size,” Wallis says, noting that logos are now consistently viewed at a much smaller size than when they were primarily used in print advertising or on signs.

 

4. Fresh

“Even well-designed logos can look out-of-date eventually,” Lyon says.  So although you may have a design you love, consider updating it occasionally to keep up with visual trends, without being so trendy that it quickly becomes obsolete. A great example of a recent logo refresh is Google, which updated its typeface and other elements.

 

5. Professionally designed

Feeling overwhelmed by the elements described above? Most small business owners quickly discover that professional design assistance can make all the difference. “We often work with clients who have tried to develop a logo too quickly and have moved forward with design work without fully considering their ideal audience and how they can differentiate their company in the marketplace,” Wallis says. “I see so many logos that have been designed by the brother of someone in the accounting department, and it usually doesn’t go well,” adds Lyon. “A professional can apply overall design principals and make sure the result is both functional and aesthetically pleasing,” she says.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. 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.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss

The B Word

Posted by Steve Strauss Aug 5, 2016

I have a question for you: Would you ever get in your car, put a blindfold on, and drive away?

 

Well, of course not.

 

With a blindfold on, you would never know if you were headed in the right direction. You would be unable to see if a red warning light popped up on the dash. You wouldn’t even know if you had enough gas to get where you are headed; you would be completely lostSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png.

 

The reason I bring this up is because this is exactly what happens to small business owners who run their businesses without a budget. Doing so is akin to driving with blinders on. Are you headed in the right direction? Who knows? Do you have enough cash flow to get you there? Maybe. Is there a warning sign of which you should be aware? Hope not. If you don’t have a budget, you just won’t really know – until you crash.

 

Oh, I get it. You don’t want to create a budget. Join the club. People start their own business for all sorts of reasons – epiphanies, freedom, passion, boredom, bosses – you name it. But I think it’s fairly safe to say that one reason is not because they love budgeting (unless of course you are an accountant).

 

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

 

The fact is, there are two parts to any small business: what you love to do (the designer is great at web design, the jeweler makes stunning jewelry) and then everything else (the legalities, budgeting, marketing, and so on.)

 

Unfortunately, the “everything else” is crucial. The jeweler cannot just make rings. Those other parts must be mastered because they are what allow him to do that thing that he loves to do. Without marketing, he won’t have any customers. Without incorporating, he opens himself up to personal liability. And without budgeting, he can run out of money.

 

For many small business owners, the financial part of the business is not their strong suit, yet it’s almost more important than the more glamorous parts of running a business. Getting a loan, forecasting cash flow, having enough money set aside for quarterly taxes are the mundane tasks that are critical to the success of a small business.

 

This begs the question, is there some way to make these less glamorous parts of running a business easier? You bet.

 

Part of the problem is nomenclature; for many people, the word “budget” has negative connotations. A budget is a strict set of restrictive rules and guidelines that dictate certain actions and forbid others. It is a constricting, unforgiving formula.

 

No wonder people don’t like budgets.

 

And that is why I would like to suggest that instead of the word “budget,” you try using the word “plan” instead, because really, that is all that a budget is. It is your plan for how you can best use your money. Instead of thinking of a budget as a restrictive covenant, the better choice is to think of it as a permissive plan.

 

Would you like to spend more money on pay-per-click ads this year? Great, then do so. Look at your plan, decide how much you want to spend on pay-per-click, and then decide how to pay for it. If that means less for independent contractors this year, then so be it. You decide what your priorities are.

 

So go ahead, take the blindfold off. It’s OK. It is your plan after all.

 

About Steve Strauss

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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MultipleLocations_Body.jpgBy Erin O'Donnell.

 

When your small business expands beyond its original location, consistency and communication are key to continued success. We spoke with Los Angeles-based management consultant Ray McKenzie, founder of Red Beach Advisors, about the best practices for managing a small business with multiple locations.

 

Duplicate success

McKenzie says the first thing a business needs to do before it expands is to determine what already works, and make that the template. In addition, small business owners must be clear on their company culture so that they can duplicate it easily. "They need to make sure that whatever location they branch out to or build, it needs to be exactly like the one they've been successful with so far," McKenzie says. "Use the formula that works. Have a concrete mission, values, and culture."

 

Use consistent systems and processes

And, make sure those processes work for the remote locations. If you have a cabinet full of physical customer files, how will your satellite managers access them? If your business is not already using a digital system for filing, orders, invoices, and the like, it's time to adopt new technology. Then, train all employees to use them the same way. McKenzie says to make sure all managers are reporting on the same metrics at the same intervals. That way, you as the owner or founder can get an overview of the company quickly and make intelligent comparisons about performance.

 

MultipleLocations_PQ.jpgBe present

High touch is critical in the beginning. When your new locations launch, McKenzie says it's important for owners or founders to spend at least three days in person with the new manager and staff. While getting everyone up to speed on your systems and processes, you are also infusing them with your energy and culture, he adds. Going forward, small business owners must be prepared to spend more time with satellite locations than at headquarters. If that gives you pause, it could be a red flag. "You don't ever want to expand if you don't have the home office running smoothly," McKenzie says.

 

Standardize reporting

Plan a weekly one-on-one meeting with each location manager, McKenzie recommends, to assess performance. Then have a meeting or call with all site managers at least once a week. This will give you a chance to give each location individual attention and allow them to discuss common concerns as a group. Be sure to give them clear guidelines on the types of information you want to know: sales reports, client growth or loss, progress on goals and projections, staff issues, customer feedback, and so on. And make sure all managers follow the same standards for their reports. Cloud CRM services such as Salesforce or Domo, or even QuickBooks, can help streamline this, McKenzie suggests.

 

Remain accessible and supportive

Hire managers you can trust with the day-to-day details and resist any urge to micromanage. But make sure they have direct access to you as the business owner whenever they need it, and communicate this clearly. "You can pass along energy from headquarters to the satellite offices," McKenzie says. "They're on remote islands, and you want to close that gap as much as possible." In addition, be clear with your home office staff that the new locations need their full support, and encourage your new staff to ask for help when they need it. "Everyone needs to understand that, for us all to be successful, we have to do whatever we can to help the satellite grow as much as possible."

 

With consistent practices, clear expectations, and robust communication, your new locations will be well prepared to carry on your brand and grow your business.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. 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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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A very nasty computer virus that can destroy all of your files called “Cryptolocker” has been in the news a lot recently:

 

“Cryptolocker partially shuts down Pinal County, Ariz. government network” (SC Magazine)

 

and

 

“Internet ransom a booming business for hackers.” (Toronto Sun)

 

and if that’s not enough, this one should really get your attention –

 

“Major Sites Including New York Times and BBC Hit by Cryptolocker” (The Coin Telegraph)

 

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Cryptolocker is a form of ransomware that does exactly as advertised by its very name: It encrypts, locks, and then holds your computer hostage until you pay a ransom.

 

The specific way this happens is unfortunately quite easy (but also quite easily prevented, see below):

 

Usually the bad guys send out what seems to be a legitimate and innocuous email and hope you open the infected attachment. Alternately , they may send you a link to an infected website and hope you click on it.

 

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

 

Either way, once the malware gets into your system, you are in trouble. The virus will go through your entire hard drive and begin to infect various file extensions, like .doc (Word documents) and. xlxs (Excel files), among many others. A popup will then inform you that you have 72 hours to pay a ransom (usually between $300 - $500) or all of your files will be deleted.

 

Many businesses decide that they would rather pay the ransom than deal with the problem. Obviously, a far better step would be to prevent getting infected in the first place.

 

Here are my top 5 ways to prevent a “Cryptolocker” attack:

 

1. Invest in a security software suite: You need to find a cloud-based comprehensive security solution that includes a firewall and anti-spam filter. The software needs to cover all of your computers, tablets, as well as mobile devices.

 

2. Update your software regularly: The bad guys are always trying to figure out new ways to get ransomware on your computer. If you use a cloud-based security solution as suggested, your software will always be up-to-date. You need to also keep your operating system and o

ther vital software current as well.

3.  Create security policies: You need to become educated as to how cybercriminals operate. Then you need to create standards, protocols, and policies for your business with regard to emails, attachments, suspicious sources, software updates, and the like.

 

4. Teach your employees well: Once you have a process and proper policies in place, you need to teach your employees what is and isn’t acceptable. Educate them on how to spot cyber-threats. Let them know what safe computing looks like for your business.

 

5. Back up, back up, back up: It is imperative that you back up all of your data in the cloud on a regular (i.e. at least daily) basis. This will give you a clean backup should you ever unfortunately need one.

 

The reason I suggest you do all of this is that ransomware attacks on business are on the rise, small business owners get this (according to the most recent Small Business Owner Report, almost one in five respondents cited cybercrime as a major issue), and finally, you don’t want to be like the business in this final headline:

 

“Ransomware takes files at attorney's office hostage.” (KPHO Broadcasting).

 

About Steve Strauss

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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A few months ago, a colleague wrote to me asking if I knew of anyone who could edit a book she was writing. Immediately, I thought of my middle daughter, Sydney, who was getting ready to graduate from college at the time. As an English major, Syd didn’t really know what was next for her. What she did know is that she loved to write (and does it very well, says the proud papa) and was planning to go to Europe this July with her boyfriend.

 

So I asked her whether I should recommend her for the gig. She was nervous:

 

“I’ve never really edited a full book before, Dad.”

“Well, do you think you could do it?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“I think so too.”

She said, “OK, I’m willing to try, especially if I could do it part-time.”

 

Long story short, she got the gig, just finished editing the book, and with some money in the bank she is now getting ready to head off to London.

 

Sydney had unknowingly stumbled upon exactly what employers are looking for these days in prospective employees: people who can work part-time and who have skills. According to the most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), these are two things small business owners want when looking to make a new hire these days.

 

A detailed look at the survey can actually be seen as a roadmap on how recent graduates can get hired in this tight and competitive jobSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png market. Here is what I mean:

 

For starters, according to the Small Business Owner Report, here is the breakdown of the type of worker entrepreneurs are hiring:

 

  • Part-time: 54%
  • Full-time: 51%
  • Freelance: 26%

 

As you can see, part-time is at the top.

 

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

 

In addition, the general preference amongst small business owners is to hire Gen X employees (47%), more than a quarter of the small business owners surveyed (26%) said that they prefer to hire Millennials. Additionally, it also turns out that, despite conventional wisdom, you don’t need to be a STEM major to get a job (science, technology, engineering, and math). You know the drumbeat of course – STEM majors are supposedly the most sought-after grads out there.

 

Except when they aren’t.

 

According to the SBOR, a knowledge of STEM was the least important hiring criteria (10th of 10 categories.) Only 3% considered education level to be the most important factor when evaluating job applicants. What is far more important actually are these three things:

 

  • Skill level (49% said it was most important)
  • Fitness with company culture (24%)
  • Experience (24%)

 

Sydney is a perfect example of this. While she had little experience editing an entire book by herself, she did have the skills to do it. Being young and inexperienced actually worked in her favor; the author was able to get her for much less than it would have to hire a more experienced editor.

 

And that is what small business owners are looking for upon careful consideration of the SBOR. What they want are hard-working, trustworthy people whom they can afford, who can adapt and fit in, and who are coachable.

 

If recent grads have the right attitude and are flexible, that elusive post-graduation job can be theirs.

 

And with that I say, congratulations on graduating, good luck, and happy job-hunting!

 

About Steve Strauss

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

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Small business advocate Carol Roth and an expert panel, including the Small Business Administration’s Nick Maduros, the Small Business Majority’s Rhett Buttle and Georgetown Cupcake’s CEO, Stephen LaMontagne engage in a resources briefing and discussion on the latest news, trends and policies relevant to small businesses.  Ealier in the video, Bank of America Head of Small Business Sharon Miller also provides an overview of the Spring 2016 Small Business Owner Report research.

 

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Click to view the video on YouTube.

The most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report is filled with lots of interesting information, but to me it all points to one singular trait that any small business owner needs to have if he or she is to be successful. I’ll get to what that trait is in a moment, but some background about what the report found is necessary:

 

For starters, the report found that economic optimism is down across the board. Compared to last year especially, small business owners are less optimistic about the local, national, or global economies faring well. As we’re in an election year, 2/3 of those surveyed said thSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngat they expected the presidential election to impact their business “somewhat” to “a lot.”

 

That is a lot of uncertainty, and amidst all of this, small business owners are adjusting their growth and hiring plans:

 

  • While almost half said they were planning on hiring new staff last year, that number went down to 22% this year.

 

So, what does all of this point to? What is that most necessary trait that any small business owner needs to have to be successful? There are many traits that make a successful entrepreneur, for example, initiative. Certainly one requirement of entrepreneurship is that you have an idea and are willing to try it out and see it through. Entrepreneur Seth Godin says, “The only thing worse than starting something and failing, is not starting something.”  Initiative is important, but I don’t think it’s the number one trait.

 

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

 

There’s also perseverance. Said none other than Steve Jobs: “I am convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

 

Maybe it is follow through. Says Guy Kawasaki, “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.”

 

A lot of people, myself included, think that one central tenant for business success is confidence. It certainly is true that it takes a huge leap of faith and belief in yourself and your abilities to leave the comforts and stability of a job and strike out on your own. As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.”

 

But I am not sure that even confidence is the key to long-term success.

 

No, especially when I look at stats like those in the Small Business Owner Report, it seems clear to me that if you want to stay in business for the long haul, the one trait that is needed is... flexibility.

 

How do you go from planning on hiring new staff to not being sure whether the economy and the results of the election will sustain it? By being flexible. How do you deal with the thought that a national election could have ripple effects to your small business? By being flexible. Being flexible means being able to pivot when you lose a big customer or when a competitor steals your marketing strategy. For the small business person, flexibility is confidence and perseverance and follow-through all rolled into one.

 

And in that vein, I will leave you with one final quote, from the one and only Richard Branson:

 

“You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn to walk by doing and falling over.”

 

Getting up, learning a lesson, being flexible, and trying again is what enables the best small business owners to keep walking. 

 

About Steve Strauss

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Finding time to take a vacation can be difficult for many small business owners. But statistics show that time off can make you happier and healthier, as well as help you achieve a better work/life balance. In our new infographic, we have some helpful tips on how to run a business and find the time you need to take a break from the office.

 

Taking-Time-Off-Infographic.gif

 

Click here to download a PDF of the infographic.

 

 

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Should you invest in commercial real estate or lease space for your small business? The answer depends on the nature of your business and how long you plan to stay in one place. Take a look at these pros and cons to figure out the best option for your growing firm.

 

Buying-vs-Leasing-Property-740px.gif

 

Click here to download a PDF of the infographic.

 

 

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Small Business Checking

New small business owners often look for experience when hiring a new employee. When you are new to business and have a need, or a position that needs to be filled, it makes sense that you might initially look for someone who has done this kind of work before.

 

But the interesting thing is that after a few years in business, for most entrepreneurs, experience becomes much less important. Indeed, according to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, experience comes in at a distant second in terms of importance when looking to hire.

 

So, what is number one? I will get to that in a moment, but let’s first consider why seasoned small business owners find experience to be less than a great marker for a potentially great employee.

 

There are two things that are inherent drawbacks to hiring for experience:

 

  1. It limits your pool of applicants.
  2. And it pigeonholes the applicants you receive.

 

Sure, experience is helpful, but making that the focal point of a job search means that other things, for example, growth potential, cultural fit, skills and smarts are less important. It also means that you, as the recruiter, may miss out on some really good people; people who won’t apply because your post said, “3 years’ experience necessary” and they don’t have that (yet). Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

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Experience is nice, but limiting.

 

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see that, according to the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, the characteristic that is far more important in the hiring process for the business owners surveyed is “skill level”. According to the report:

 

  • 49% of the small business owners surveyed said that the most important thing they look for when hiring is someone’s skill level
  • 24% said it was fit with company culture, and
  • 24% said it was work experience

 

That certainly is true for small business owner Jamie Glassman. For Glassman, owner of JAZ Condominium & Property Management in Washington, D.C., personality is most important when looking to hire.

 

Glassman, one of the small business owners interviewed by Bank of America for the report, says that what he looks for are people who will be a great fit with his company; “people who are personable, smart, articulate and customer-service oriented.” Glassman says that those types of qualities are far more important than finding someone with a lot of experience and a long resume. “That’s not necessarily that important,” he goes on to say.

 

Why is it that small business owners like Glassman look for fit and skills instead of experience? The answer lies in what makes for a great business. Businesses are not monolithic. They are made up of people – people who do business with other people. As such, the best businesses tend to have employees who are versatile – folks who can not only do the job they were hired to do, but who can think on their feet, interact well with customers, take the initiative, and so on. Skills are transferable, and that is why experience in a particular job matters far less to these small business owners.

 

Find people who fit your culture and have transferable skills and you are set.

 

About Steve Strauss

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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Early summer is the traditional time when we as a nation honor moms with Mother’s Day and dads with Father’s Day. However, in the small business world we know that if we were creating holidays, there would be one more person we would want to acknowledge: Spouses. Husbands. Wives. Girlfriends and boyfriends. Partners.

 

My dear old Dad was the first and best entrepreneur I ever knew. But he didn’t do it alone, just like you and I don’t do it alone. Dad had a great, and sometimes to outward appearances silent, partner: Mom. But I didn’t know it at the time. Back then, when I was growing up, I remember my Mom saying how she and my Dad had created that businesses and grew it together. Being young and arrogant, I always humored Mom when she said that. I knew it was really my Dad who built that business.

 

That is, of course, until I grew up.

 

I have this pet theory: I think every great cuisine has a ‘secret ingredient’ that gives that food its unique flavor. For Chinese food, it is sesame oil. Mexican food? Cilantro. What I didn't know when I was a young kid is that a spouse, be it a husband, wife, or significant other, is the secret ingredient in the recipe that makes for a great small business.

 

This is true for all sorts of reasons.

 

First of all, the vast majority of small businesses are run by intrepid solopreneur, self-employed people. These may be sole proprietors or freelancers, but whatever the case, it is usually a situation where one person wears a lot of hats, and that is where a mate comes in. If the good news about working alone is that there is no one to report to or to bug you, the bad news is that you end up in a vacuum where it is hard to get perspective. For many people, it is their spouse who becomes their trusted advisor and sounding board.

 

Another reason partners are so important to the small businessperson is that they can be more frank with you than probably anyone else. Is that idea as great as you think? Maybe, but maybe not, and certainly your spouse will tell you why. Additionally, the advice you get from th

em will likely be unique: While mates may not know your businesses as well as you do, that can also be a

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

blessing. By discussing business issues with a ‘layman’, you get a perspective that can at times be invaluable.

 

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

 

Additionally, needless to say, spouses also often help out in the business by picking up the slack, handing the books, shipping a package, and more.

 

Of course, your partner keeps the home fires burning too. We all know that starting and running a small business is a major commitment. Having a supportive teammate can make things easier by taking care of some extra household duties, especially in the first few years of the business when the time commitment to the business is usually the hardest.

 

Finally, a great mate can help boost morale when it is needed, and cheer you on when things are going well.

 

So, although my dear, sweet Mom is no longer with us, I would still like to say, “You were right, Mom. You did help build that business.” And to all of the great spouses and partners out there, we would like to thank you very, very much. We couldn't do it without you.

 

About Steve Strauss

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 listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

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.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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Employees are the lifeblood of every small business. An adroit loyal workforce can help small business owners build a successful enterprise efficiently and profitably. So it’s no surprise that acquiring and retaining the best talent is among the most important ongoing tasks for an entrepreneur. Earning a decent wage is a perpetual concern, but new issues have also become part of the employment negotiation, such as paid family leave and opportunities for employees to develop their skills. As you search for and try to hold onto top talent, consider these hiring strategies.

 

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Sources:
1. Using Social Media for Talent Acquisition—Recruitment and Screening. Society For Human Resource Management Survey. January 7, 2016.
https://www.shrm.org/research/surveyfindings/pages/social-media-recruiting-screening-2015.aspx

 

2. Talent Acquisition: Recruitment and Selection. Society For Human Resource Management Survey. April 18, 2016.
https://www.shrm.org/research/surveyfindings/pages/talent-acquisition-recruitment-and-selection.aspx

 

3. 5 Tips to Attract, Keep and Motivate Your Employees. Business Know-How.
http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/attractworkforce.htm

 

4. Employee Recruitment Strategies: How to Attract (& Retain) Top Talent. Huffington Post, December 29, 2015.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-jacoby/employee-recruitment-stra_1_b_8885714.html

 

5. Small business advice: How to attract and retain loyal millennials. The Washington Post, July 21, 2015.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-small-business/wp/2015/07/21/small-business-advice-how-to-attract-and-retain-loyal-millennials/

 

6. 5 Secrets to Retaining Great Employees. Small Business Trends, January 22, 2016.
http://smallbiztrends.com/2016/01/retaining-good-employees.html

 

7. What Attracts the Best Employees to a Company? Gallup, February 16, 2016.
http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/189212/attracts-best-employees-company.aspx

 

8. 7 Compensation Tactics To Help Retain Employees. CNBC, January 12, 2012.
http://www.cnbc.com/id/46045960

 

9. 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Attract and Retain Talent. SmallBizClub, July 26, 2013.
http://smallbizclub.com/run-and-grow/human-resources/5-ways-small-businesses-can-attract-and-retain-talent/

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only.
Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license.
The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc.
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. ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

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Payroll Best Practices for Your Small Business.

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ProductiveMeetings_Body.jpgBy Heather R. Johnson.

 

Of all the hours small business owners spend in meetings, how much of that time is productive? Late arrivals, tangent-talkers, and disorganized agendas can easily turn a 30-minute meeting into an hour-long discussion. Follow these tips to make your meetings more efficient for everyone.

 

Do you really need to meet?

Andrea Driessen, “Chief Boredom Buster” of No More Boring Meetings, says to meet only when there is a problem to solve. “This helps eliminate some of the standard meetings we get stuck in,” she says. If there isn’t a problem to solve during your regular Tuesday meeting, maybe you don’t need to meet.

 

Prioritize the agenda

Organize the agenda in order of priority, with the most important item first. “Everything else can follow,” says Driessen. Move lighter topics to the end, when people are more mentally fatigued and tend to watch the clock.

 

Streamline the agenda

Reasonably estimate how many topics you can cover in 30 to 60 minutes. “If it requires dialog, problem solving conversation, or negotiation, keep it on the agenda,” says Driessen. Otherwise, check it off the list.

 

ProductiveMeetings_PQ.jpgPrepare

Hosts and guests alike should arrive to the meeting prepared. Hosts and attendees can distribute reading material, background information, and reports in advance of the meeting. That way, you can use meeting time for questions and conversation rather than reviewing paperwork.

 

Arrive on time

Much to the irritation of the punctual, latecomers delay and disrupt a meeting. Respect your colleagues—arrive on time and start your meetings on time. If you have a habitually late guest, author Jon Petz suggests a game of “pass the pad.” Give the last person to arrive a notebook or electronic device and delegate them the meeting note-taker. If someone arrives later, the pad gets passed to him. “This results in quick behavior changes with little effort,” says Driessen.

 

Cut the tangents

Driessen suggests that meeting hosts designate a “tangent officer” that can politely interrupt the rambler. The tangent officer then offers to either add the topic to the end of the agenda or save it for another meeting.

 

Invite the right people—and keep them accountable

Only invite people that have a stake in the meeting topics, Driessen suggests. This naturally keeps the meeting to a reasonable size and helps to avoid tangents from people unfamiliar with the topics.

 

Often meetings involve lots of discussion but no action. To ensure that ideas move forward, Driessen suggests a Post Program Pair-Up. Match participants with an “accountability buddy.” Ask guests to record at least one goal related to the meeting that they can complete by a certain date. The accountability buddies check in with one another to make sure they meet their goals. This buddy system, or something similar, will help you get stronger results and measurable accountability from your meetings.

 

With advance planning, you and your colleagues can hold and attend productive meetings. With fewer, but more purposeful, meetings, you can create more space in your day and enhance your business’s productivity.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. 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.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

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