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2017

Small business expert Carol Roth shares her biggest piece of advice for female entrepreneurs and asks a question that’s crucial to business growth.

 

 

If you have questions for Carol, please scroll down and ask in the comment below.  Carol will do her best to respond.

 

 


 

About Carol Roth

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

Shama Hyder Headshot.pngIf you happen to take a stroll around Manhattan anytime this month, you might just notice that a new neighbor has taken up temporary residence next to the famous Wall Street bull statue – a bronze statue of a little girl, hands on hips, standing strong as the wind whips her hair and dress while she defiantly faces down that bull.

 

Commissioned by State Street Global Advisors - the third largest asset manager in the world - this little statue carries a weighty message to the companies held in its index funds and beyond: Put more women on your boards, or your place in our funds will be at risk.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT SHAMA HYDER

 

With so many company boardrooms being dominated by all male or mostly male boards, this message could open up a myriad of opportunities for the women who are well-positioned to take their places in those leather chairs.

 

Women already in positions of leadership should work to keep this positive momentum going, and help to inspire both the women currently in the workforce and the next generation of women, to continue to reach for these new heights.

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Here are three concrete ways you can make a tangible difference in the advancement of women, too.

 

1. Mentor someone. As you worked your way up into a leadership position, there was most likely someone who helped you on your way— through encouragement, advice or simply by example. Be that person for someone else. Find a go-getter in your company or an ambitious young woman still in school, let them know you see their passion, and give them tips from your experience to help them on their way. You could even join a formal mentoring group to be matched with someone for a more structured give and take – or start one within your own company! That personalized attention and support can mean the world to a woman determined to make it to the top.    

 

2. Share your story. Stories fire up the imagination and there’s nothing more inspiring and energizing than hearing the story of someone just like you who overcame the odds and reached the same goal you’re striving for. Call local high schools and colleges and offer to speak to groups of young women…join local women’s business organizations and volunteer to give talks…you could even sign up to speak at major national women’s conferences.  By sharing your own success story with other women, you’ll be letting them know it’s possible and giving them a guide to success they can tweak to fit their own situations.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: RECIPE FOR SUCCESS: FAMILY, COMMUNITY GROW HISPANIC SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM

 

3. Sponsor school events. Unfortunately, entrepreneurship and business leadership are not subjects taught very often in schools. But you can help to remedy that by contacting your local middle and high schools and offering to sponsor a girls’ business leadership workshop. Host a group of specially chosen girls in your offices, invite speakers, and let them do some hands-on activities to spark that passion and get them thinking about all the possibilities open to them. Being a part of such a unique program is certain to place those girls firmly on a path to leadership.

   

As women business leaders, we lead incredibly busy lives. But by taking just a little time every so often to give back and offer a helping hand to those women just beginning to climb the ladder, we’ll be making a difference not just in their lives, but also in our society. 

 

About Shama Hyder

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

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngFor whatever reason, we’ve all experienced an unhappy customer. While this can be a frustrating experience, I’m here to tell you it’s not only possible to defuse angry customers, but you can turn them into raving fans of your small business.

 

Here are my top 10 tips:

 

1. Put your ego aside. When faced with conflict, it’s human nature to become defensive or angry in response. You need to put these urges aside and focus on the customer’s feelings, not your own.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Let the customer vent. Most angry people just want to be heard. Like a boiling kettle, your customer needs to let off steam—if you get in the way, you’ll get burned. 

 

3. Listen actively. While the customer vents, pay attention. Don’t think about what you’re going to say in response, interrupt or offer solutions (yet). Try to understand why the customer is so upset and what feelings are behind the anger.

 

4. Clarify the reason the customer is angry. Paraphrase what he or she said and ask if you’re understanding correctly. Repeat, if necessary, until you get it right.

 

5. Apologize for the problem. Don’t just say “I’m sorry”—be empathetic. “I’m so sorry the gift you ordered for your daughter didn’t arrive on time. That must have disappointed you and the birthday girl.” 

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 FRESH WAYS TO BOOST YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

 

6. Take ownership of the problem. Tell the customer you will personally make sure the issue is resolved. Coming from the business owner, this means a lot and often diffuses the situation.

 

7. Suggest a solution and get the customer’s buy-in. To give the customer some control of the situation, present a solution and ask if that would work for her. Or offer two options and ask the customer which she would prefer.

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8. Solve the problem as quickly as possible. Often, you can do this on the spot; other times, it may take longer. For problems that require more time, keep the customer updated about progress so they don’t feel forgotten. 

 

9. Go above and beyond solving the problem. Customers will be satisfied if you fix the problem, but they won’t be thrilled enough to become raving fans. To get them there consider offering a discount, additional service, free gift or other item of value at the same time you resolve the issue. Better yet, offer something the customer can share with friends. “I’m so sorry you weren’t happy with your steak. We’ll bring you another one on the house. Also, please accept this gift certificate for two free entrees. We hope you’ll come back to visit us again.”

 

10. Follow up a week after resolving the problem. “Hi, Mr. Rodriguez. I’m calling to make sure the replacement part we installed last week is working properly for you.” This shows the customer that their problem isn’t “out of sight, out of mind” and that you care about them in the long term.

 

Diffusing an angry online confrontation is more challenging, since you can’t “read” a person’s body language or tone of voice. Ask the customer to “go offline” and talk by phone; then follow the steps above.

 

Afterwards, go online to update others on how the issue was resolved. If the customer wrote a negative review, post a response explaining what you did, or ask the customer if he’d like to do so. After you’ve gone above and beyond to make them happy, most customers will revise the review on their own.

 

If the issue is an ongoing problem rather than a one-off, be sure to thank the customer for bringing it to your attention, and tell them what action you’re taking going forward. “Thank you for letting us know our technician didn’t get your approval before performing the work. We’ve talked to all our technicians and changed our system so this won’t happen again.” 

 

Listening to customers and treating them with respect helps turn ranters into raving fans.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

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

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngThe first time I walked into my mother-in-law’s home, I saw a sign that read, “Mi casa es su casa,” meaning in English “my home is your home.” And boy, that was the truth. Irene was a wonderful woman who made everyone feel special. Her outlook on life is that family always came first and hard work was expected. She’s strong, devoted, smart, funny, loyal and she passed her values down to her kids, including my wife Maria.

 

When I met my wife, she was a single mom who had just started her own small business. She worked incredibly hard and was 100% committed to her daughter, her family, and her business. She was (and is!) an enthusiastic whirlwind.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

She is not alone. I was not surprised, indeed was heartened, when I was able to review a sneak peek of the inaugural Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Spotlight. The Spotlight surveyed 348 Hispanic small business owners from across the country on a range of issues and tells a story of business ownership not unlike my wife and not unlike her mom.

 

It tells a story of confidence, commitment, and community.

 

Not only are Hispanic entrepreneurs one of the fastest growing segments of all small businesses, they are also among the most optimistic. According to the Spotlight:

 

  • 71% of the Hispanic business owners surveyed expect their revenue to increase in 2017
  • 76% plan on growing their business over the next five years, and
  • More than half plan on hiring new staff this year

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Like all small business owners, Hispanic entrepreneurs are concerned about a wide range of business issues. Twenty-three percent say achieving work-life balance is a top challenge, 19% report finding qualified employees to be their biggest concern, and 11% find day-to-day operations to be their biggest issue.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY YOU NEED A BUSINESS PARTNER

 

But one place where Hispanic small business owners seem to be unique, and one of the most interesting aspects of the Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Spotlight, is when it comes to family and community. It turns out that community is vital to the success of Hispanic small business owners.

 

This shows up in three ways:

 

  • Hispanic business owners are much more likely to turn to family for business support. This is especially clear with regards to financial, operational and emotional support – and most (93%) reported turning to family for such support.
  • Community plays a huge role in the success of Hispanic small businesses. Whereas less than half of non-Hispanic business owners indicated that community support was key to their success, almost three-quarters of Hispanic entrepreneurs say it is. And by the same token, just about the same number say that they give back to the community that supports them.
  • Finally, and this one does not surprise me at all when I look at my own extended family, the Hispanic small business owners in the Spotlight report by more than a two-to-one margin that they plan on passing their small business on to a family member. Only 18% of non-Hispanics indicate they would, compared to 42% of the Hispanics surveyed.

 

It’s almost as if the sign in my family’s house could have said “Mi negocio es su negocio.”

 

My business is your business.

 

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 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

Ebong Eka Headshot.png“Dear Mr. Eka,

 

We received your tax return. Please confirm the following information so we can process your refund.

 

Sincerely,


The IRS”

 

If you ever received a letter like this from the IRS, you may want to celebrate your coming refund. Unfortunately, it had the opposite impact on me: I had not yet filed a tax return for 2015, so I should not be expecting a refund.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT EBONG EKA

                                                                                      

That's when I realized someone filed a fraudulent tax return with my information and social security number. If you are a small business owner, identity theft and tax fraud are increasing and could be problematic for you and your business. Every year, the IRS releases a list of currently prevalent tax scams. Here are 2017’s top seven tax scams and how to protect yourself against them.

 

1. Phishing. Still the most popular trick because it keeps working. Crooks and scammers send a fake email directing you to a website to enter your information. They then steal your information to either file false tax returns or file false tax refunds. If something does not look right to you, don't click on the link in the email.

 

2. Phone scams. As a small business owner, my office phone number is readily available. As a result, I receive phone calls from people claiming to be IRS officers. The caller may threaten to have you deported, seize your assets and property, or threaten criminal prosecution and a variety of other things. If you receive a phone call from the IRS and it doesn't sound right to you or they're trying to receive information from you, hang up and call the IRS back by going to the IRS.gov website to find more information and then see if actually you were called. The IRS doesn't normally call you. If it's a first time, they will send you a letter in the mail.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: FIVE IRS-APPROVED IDEAS TO MINIMIZE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS TAXES

 

3. Identity theft. It is important to be aware about identity theft during tax time. I felt violated when it happened to me. I received letters from the IRS and from the state that I filed tax returns asking me to confirm whether I filed the tax returns. The IRS aggressively pursues criminals that file fraudulent tax returns using somebody else's Social Security number so contact them if you may be a victim of identity theft.

 

4. Return preparer fraud. One of the biggest problems that reputable tax return preparers like myself and others is the number of unscrupulous tax preparers who mislead tax payers. These tax preparers try to encourage tax payers to falsify expenses and deductions so they can receive credits they may not be entitled to.

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5. Fake charities. Some scammers pose as a fake charity so you can donate money with the hopes that you can get a tax deduction for your donation. You should receive a receipt after your donation which you must keep for supporting documents. Visit the IRS.gov website and search for eligible charities that have been registered with the IRS that allows you to get the tax deduction for donating funds to that particular charity or for any contributions.

 

6. Inflated refund claims. If you're a taxpayer, beware of any tax preparer who offers you inflated refunds, including those who promise to get you a large refund or ask to be paid based on the size of your tax refund. People who are either CPAs or enrolled agents are required by law not to get paid on contingency.

 

7. Falsely padding deductions on return. Taxpayers should avoid the temptation to falsify deductions or expenses on their tax return in order to pay less than they owe or to receive a larger refund. It's never worth it. The extra $100, $500 or even $1,000 you may receive is never worth the effort and the headache you would get if caught by the IRS. If caught, you and the tax preparer may be subject to interests and penalties.

 

It's imperative for you to pay close attention and not put yourself in those situations so you can continue running your business and not worry about getting scammed.

 

About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

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

Carol Roth Headshot.pngAs a deal maker with a couple of billion dollars of completed deals, and at least hundreds of millions worth of deals that fell apart for some reason, I know firsthand that deals are a big business.

 

Given that business growth is often via new customers and that finding new customers is a big component of that, turning to your network can be a great source of small introductions and big deals.

 

If you want to enhance getting such referrals, or perhaps if you have a strong network to be monetized, you may want to formalize giving or getting finder’s fees. However, the structuring of finder’s fees is both an art and a science. Here are some things to keep in mind to make your referrals and finder fee initiatives more successful.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

What is the opportunity?

 

I am usually happy to pay a finder’s fee if it’s a business that I would not have been able to get to on my own and the nature of the finder’s relationship adds significant value to my business. I also request finder’s fees in the opposite capacity.

 

However, not every lead is worthy of a finder’s fee. If there isn’t a substantial pre-existing relationship with the lead (i.e., you don’t have a strong or long-term relationship) or if the introduction is more of a lukewarm lead (i.e., a non-exclusive introduction or one that the party being introduced has to compete substantially for over lengthy periods of time), then asking for a fee may not be appropriate. I also often don’t ask for a fee if the value of the customer or deal isn’t that substantial in size.

 

Also, if the person you are referring to or who gave you a particular lead is a contact that you trade leads with on a regular basis or someone who has brought business to you in the past, you may decide to forgo fees and instead just engage in doing your best to send each other business on a go-forward basis.

 

You further need to consider whether the person who is providing the lead is a finder or deal maker as a part of their businesses. If they regularly get compensated for being a finder or deal maker, this sets up more of a case to compensate that someone who does not usually get compensated in such capacity.

 

Additionally, if it’s a relationship where they won’t accept a finder’s fee or it’s not appropriate, consider sending a small token of your appreciation when you receive payment from your new client or customer, such as a gift card, as a way to acknowledge and appreciate the referral.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY YOU NEED A BUSINESS PARTNER

 

What is your role?

 

The reality is that a deal usually has many steps, ranging from identifying many leads to contacting them to putting together materials to structuring and negotiating a deal. A typical “finder’s fee” means you hand-off the lead and you are done, so you are only providing partial value to the process. That being said, there are instances where it makes sense to check-in and see if you can provide some minor value or assistance.

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The bigger your role and the more value you add should be reflected on both sides.

 

Put it in writing

 

Being very clear about agreements upfront almost always serves both parties well. You can keep it simple, but be clear on role (if it’s just an introduction or if there is more work being done), whether the introduction covers one specific project or all projects over a period of time and how fees are calculated.

 

Calculating the finder’s fee

 

The question I get asked more than any is “what’s an appropriate finder’s fee?” My answer: “it depends.”

 

While the value of leads in many industries can span widely, there are benchmarks from 5-35% and higher. For a customer-based introduction, I typically do 10-20% of the net revenue (revenue minus any direct costs) that the provider receives if I am not involved at all or just minimally with some upfront strategy. Sometimes, I ask for a bit less if I have a strong pre-existing relationship, as well.

 

If it is a deal-based finder fee, I would typically ask for 10-20% of the fees an investment banker would charge for the transaction. So, if they charged a 5% fee, my fee would be 10-20% of that.

 

There are many that suggest using the “Lehman formula” as a benchmark. In my opinion, that formula is meant to determine the payment schedules for M&A business advisors for significant transactions and is not appropriate for a finder’s fee. You would only, as noted above, get a fraction of that for being the finder. As a side note, I also think that it’s generally a good idea to proceed with caution with anything named after a company that is no longer in business!

 

In addition to the percentage charged, you need to figure out what to base it off of and for what time period. For a customer-fee, as noted above, I based it off of the net revenue they receive, usually over just a couple of years, as it’s very cumbersome to keep track of that indefinitely, and while being a finder has value, it’s not invaluable, so to speak.

 

The bottom line is that both parties need to feel comfortable that the fee reflects the value of the referring person’s brand and is an appropriate amount for the receiving person to spend for what is, in effect, a sales lead.

 

So, whether you want to be paid as a finder or use them to grow your own business, be clear and thoughtful with the above advice for guidance – and remember there’s never a wrong time to be helpful to someone else.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

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

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngFor the small business, I always say that it is better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. Your chances of standing out are a lot better if the pond is smaller, right?

 

The problem is finding a smaller pond is not easy these days. Between local competition, online competition, a global marketplace and social media, getting heard and seen (and bought) above the din is challenging. This is why I am so excited to share this remarkable stat with you:

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

According to the United States Department of Commerce, only 1 percent of the 30 million businesses in the United States export.

 

1 percent!

 

Consider what a golden opportunity that is. Indeed, as the Department of Commerce website Trade.gov says, “exporting is good for your bottom line.” They provide five reasons why:

 

1. Access: Access to worldwide markets is easier than ever due to the Internet, improvements in trade finance, etc.

2. Demand: More than 70 percent of all markets are located outside the U.S.

3. Profitability: “On average, sales grow faster, more jobs are created, and employees [of exporting countries] earn more than in non-exporting firms.”

4. Competitive advantage: U.S. goods are admired and desired worldwide.

5. Less risk: Selling in more markets reduces the risk of business fluctuations.

 

So, how do you jump on the export train? Here are the steps:

 

1. Analyze your competitive advantage: What is it you can offer to a global audience that is unique, different or special? Maybe you have international contacts, or experience? Do you sell a product that could prove to be popular overseas? Do you know a foreign language? Are there countries or foreign companies that need what you offer?

 

RELATED: TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT YOUR PRICING STRATEGY

 

Your business idea or product should capitalize on your strengths, and on your unique attributes. 

 

2. Do your homework. Make no mistake, exporting takes work. This is true all along the path – from inception through sale. And that means, especially up front, you need to do your homework and make sure your idea or product is viable. Taking time at the beginning will save you time, money, effort and headaches later on.

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There is a lot of help available where you can do this research. Check out:

 

 

The point of this research is to discover whether or not there is an international market for what you want to sell and if so, where. It will also help to show what doing business there would be like, and whether you would like it. 

 

3. Get your website ready. You may need a version of your site in a different language, or you may need a new site altogether.

 

4. Create the foundation: Selling internationally requires jumping through some hoops:

 

  • You will need to handle export compliance – licenses, certificates, etc. This site can help
  • Payments and sales will need to be considered – the currency you will use, how to handle refunds and returns, etc. 
  • Exporting will also require a knowledge of, and appreciation for, language and cultural differences
  • An export management company (EMC) represents many different exporters, finds business, and can handle logistics, financing, and more

 

You can find export intermediaries at international trade shows, by doing an online search, or by contacting the National Association of Export Companies (www.nexco.org).

 

The bottom line is that exporting affords you a great opportunity because, among other things, there is less competition. The bad news however is that it takes time and effort to get started. But, if you do it right, exporting your goods should offer you a nice profit center for years to come.

 

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 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

 

 

Is your retail store turning customers off? According to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngconsumer satisfaction within the retail industry as a whole is declining.

 

While consumers’ expectations are rising, retailers are cutting budgets, doing less maintenance and laying off staff. But what drives shoppers the craziest (and might be driving them out of your store)?

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Here are the 5 deadly sins of retailing.

 

1. Not enough salespeople: While no one likes to be hounded by sales associates, shoppers do want knowledgeable help when needed. However, in a survey by MindTree, 40 percent of shoppers say they can’t find a sales associate when needed during the typical shopping trip. Staffing adequately is well worth the cost.

 

  • Customers who interact with a sales associate are 43 percent more likely to buy something, 12 percent more likely to become repeat customers, and make purchases with 81 percent more value than those of shoppers who don’t interact with a salesperson.

 

2. Poor online reviews: Most shoppers (64 percent) check with two or more sources before deciding whether to patronize a business – and at least one of them is likely to be a review site.

 

If your store has negative online reviews or ratings, 52 percent of shoppers won’t consider visiting, a survey by YP.com reports.

 

  • Make sure your business has a critical mass of reviews (most customers don’t read more than 5 or 6) and that they are primarily positive.
  • If you receive a negative review, act quickly to respond and resolve the customer’s concerns.

 

THE 4 C’S OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO GROW BUSINESS (VIDEO)

 

3. Not providing personalized service: A TimeTrade study estimates failing to provide personalized customer service costs brick-and-mortar retailers $150 billion in potential revenues last year.

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As a small retailer, you probably know many of your regular customers by sight. But with the variety of digital loyalty programs available today, why not go one step further?

 

  • Create a frequent shopper program and collect data on what your regular customers buy, how they prefer to pay and what types of promotions get their attention.
  • Use this information not only to target your marketing messages, but also to streamline their checkout process.

 

4. Return hassles: The growth of online shopping has made consumers more comfortable with returning merchandise. In some categories, such as clothing, it’s common for customers to buy items in store, take them home to try on and then return those they don’t want.

 

  • If your return process is complicated or limiting, or salespeople aren’t familiar with how it works, you’ll have problems.
  • A smooth return process is especially important if you also sell products online: in a study by Omnico Group, 40 percent of consumers want to be able to return products bought online in a physical store.

 

5. Inconvenience: Online shopping is on the rise because it’s fast and convenient, and shoppers expect the same from physical retailers.

 

In a survey from Deloitte, eight of the top 10 factors that keep customers from shopping at a physical store relate to convenience—including “long lines,” “slow checkout” and “inconvenient store hours.”

 

Anything that slows the shopping process, whether it’s a long checkout line, confusing signage or a struggle to find a salesperson, contributes to customer frustration. All of the previous factors contribute to inconvenience, making it the overwhelming sin your store can commit.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky:

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.

 

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