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2018

There are many instances where declining business can be beneficial to the growth of a small business. In her latest video, Carol Roth details three circumstances where saying no is saying yes – to a healthy bottom line.

 

 

Transcript:

 

Hey it’s Carol Roth, and I want to talk to you today about the best time to turn away business. Now, as an entrepreneur you are probably always chasing that almighty dollar, but unfortunately, chasing cash is not a business strategy. So if you want to grow your business, here are the times that you should say no and actually turn away business.

 

The first time is when somebody won't pay you what your worth. You obviously have a rate that you’ve set based on what you think your value is, what the market thinks your value is, your time, your experience, your skill set, your network. If somebody is not willing to pay you, especially as an established business, anywhere near what your rate is then feel free to walk away. It gives you that opportunity and that time to go find clients who will pay you what your worth.

 

The next time you should turn down business is when somebody is asking you to do something that isn’t core to your mission and strategy. You should have a goal and a benchmark for everything that you do. And certainly sometimes clients offer cash to do other things, but if that’s not aligned with what your business is doing or where you want it to go, then again say no in order for you to have that opportunity to grow your business.

 

And then the last time you should say no is when something turns out to be a time suck, or at least when you assume it will be a time suck, even if somebody is willing to pay your rate. If you know that it is going to take you ten times as long as it would take you with another client to do the same thing, well, that is probably on a per hour basis and is not the right dollar amount for your time. Something is going to be so time consuming and so painful for you as a business owner, then again, just say no.

 

Now, I know it’s hard as a business owner to turn down business, but if you want to make room for those new opportunities, you have to learn to just say no. So, join me in turning down the things that aren’t relevant and start pursuing the things that are.

 

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.

Successful entrepreneurs know that the ability to adapt to challenges is key to their success. There may be no better example of successfully pivoting your business than that of my friends, Wally and Adam Rizza.

 

It started in 1995, when a branch from my next-door neighbor’s tree broke my window. The family sent one of their sons, Wally Rizza, a quiet 20-year-old, to do the repairs.

Wally asked what I did. I told him I was the editor of Entrepreneur magazine. Several weeks later, Wally asked me to help him apply to open a kiosk selling sunglasses at one of the country’s first entertailment (yes, that’s what they called it) complexes, the Irvine Spectrum, in Irvine, Calif. 29349553_s.jpg

 

By November 1995, he’d started a company, Sunscape, and opened that kiosk. A week later, Wally’s 15-year-old brother, Adam, started working there—for free. Within the month, Wally made the high schooler a partner. A pattern emerged: Wally scouted new locations and opportunities, and Adam managed the kiosks.

 

In just a few years, they had 23 kiosks across Southern California, at hot spots like Universal City and Downtown Disney. Sales were good; profits were so-so. One reason: Wally was buying products from middlemen in Los Angeles. I told him they’d never make real money unless they went to China to buy direct.

 

Despite having no connections and little access to information (this was early in the age of the internet), Wally headed to an eyewear trade show in Hong Kong, where he heard about Wenzhou, an “eyewear town” in China. He immediately headed there, checked into an “Americanized” hotel, where he met Sunny, whose job entailed hanging out in hotel lobbies, waiting for entrepreneurs to check in. Sunny connected him to a factory where Sunscape still does business today.

 

“China is [now] much easier for competitors to access,” Adam says, recalling that initial journey. “Anyone can be an importer these days. You don’t even need to go to China. You can find suppliers online, using resources like Alibaba.com.”

 

From Retail to Wholesale

Importing directly from China improved Sunscape’s margins and profits. Then came 9/11. As the retail market started collapsing, the brothers realized they had to pivot to survive, and they began exploring wholesaling.

 

One day in 2002, the three of us visited a local mall to scope out stores catering to the junior market. “You need to be in every one of these stores,” I told them. “I have no idea how to make that happen, but you need to figure it out.”

 

They met a broker specializing in junior chains, and she got them into Claire’s, a store for tweens and teens. Other clients quickly followed, including well-known brands such as Urban Outfitters, Limited Too (now Justice), and Hot Topic. Directing all their efforts towards wholesaling fashion-forward, affordable sunglasses for teenagers, Wally, now chairman, and Adam, now president, got their products into Tilly’s, PacSun, and Nordstrom.

 

A Vision for Success

In 2008, the Great Recession created another speed bump: Teens weren’t spending as much. Pivoting yet again, the Rizzas targeted the military, getting their products on PX bases around the world. They also realized that while fashion sunglasses are never a necessity, reading glasses are. In 2012, they began targeting the 40+ market, selling readers into mass market stores like CVS and to the U.S. military.

 

In 2013, Adam said, “We realized we needed to diversify and added tech accessories, such as phone cases, cables and chargers to our merchandise mix.” But the following year, just as the tech side of the business was taking off, a longshoremen’s strike shut down Los Angeles Harbor. Sunscape products sat on ships with no personnel to unload them. The strike lasted through the lucrative holiday shopping season, preventing Sunscape from delivering $500,000 worth of seasonal merchandise. They later had to offload the goods at deep discounts.

 

For a small company, losing a half million dollars in sales is devastating—and demoralizing. But you have to soldier on. For 2018, their initial goals were to focus on the B2B market, and sell to club stores like Costco. But, as true entrepreneurs, Adam says, “We realized we needed to pivot again. When you max out your distribution channels, you need to create new ones.”

 

Instead of abandoning the B2C market, they embraced it, launching Sunbox, a “sunscription” company, where consumers can subscribe and get a reusable box of sunglasses or readers delivered monthly. “As the population ages,” Adam says, “readers will become a bigger part of the business.”

 

Eyes on the Horizon

Although they ship 3 – 5 million units a year, Adam says, “that’s still not enough.” For years their online presence has been minimal. Though Sunscape has an active Instagram account, they plan to build a better website and create a presence on Amazon. 

 

Though he’s a Gen X’er, the 38-year-old single dad thinks like a millennial. Social causes are important to him. “My long-term goal is to build a solid brand and give back to the community. I plan to work half my life and spend the rest giving back.”

 

Despite the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial life, Adam says, he wouldn’t change a thing. “There’s nothing more exciting than being an entrepreneur,” he says. “As Reid Hoffman [cofounder of LinkedIn] says, ‘We jump off a cliff, and build a plane as we’re falling.’ What could be better than that?”

 

Read more interviews of small business owners:

NAWBO CEO, Jen Earle, Leads the Way to a New Era of Opportunity for Women Business Owners

6 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the NFL’s First Female Coach

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Is your business in an area that attracts a lot of summer tourists? Lodging and car services aren’t the only businesses that can benefit from tourism. Almost any entrepreneur can market to out-of-town vacationers—the secret is advance planning. Here are eight steps to prepare your business for a profitable tourist season.

 

1. Create a forecast. Review last tourist season’s sales, and research economic and tourism trends in your area – among your target tourists. For example, the U.S. Travel Association’s monthly U.S. Travel Outlook says the majority of travelers looking for hotels are planning to stay in the Southeast and West — good news if your business is in Florida or California. If your region typically attracts foreign tourists, a favorable exchange rate for them could mean more visitors for you. With these estimates in hand, you’ll be better able to budget and plan for tourist season. 37517958_s.jpg

 

2. Schedule staffing. When targeting tourists as customers, you only have one chance to make a good impression. If you expect to be busier than normal during tourist season, be sure to plan for adequate staff—or expect tourists to head for your competitors instead. Start advertising for temporary tourist season hires, or work with a temporary staffing agency to get staff on board and up-to-speed before the season hits in earnest.

 

3. Plan your marketing campaign. Based on your target customers, identify the best places to put your marketing dollars, and create a detailed marketing calendar. Start with monthly activities, and then break it down into weekly and daily activities (such as number of social media posts per day). This calendar will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities to promote your company, no matter how hectic business gets.

 

4. Get social. Engage with social media travel influencers that your target tourists follow. If they share or retweet your social media posts, their audience just might check you out. Writing or sharing blog posts about fun things to do in your city is another great way to attract travelers’ attention.

 

Related: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

5. Review your reviews. Online ratings and reviews are major factors in tourists' decisions. If your business is listed on Yelp, TripAdvisor or local review sites, check your reviews to make sure they’re current, and respond to any poor reviews. It’s also a good idea to acknowledge positive reviews, as well. If you’re not on these sites, now is the time to get listed and encourage reviews from regular customers to build your reputation among travelers.

 

Related: How to Boost Positive Online Reviews for Your Business – And Deal with Those Pesky Bad Ones

 

6. Update your local search listings, website and online presence. What’s the first thing you do when you visit a new city? Chances are you grab your smartphone to look up the best restaurants, bars, tourist sites and stores. Make sure your business is listed on local search directories, with current and accurate information. Add any information that will especially appeal to tourists, such as local menu specialties at your restaurant, or guided tours of local sites. Using location-related keywords in your website content, online ads and search listings helps your business show up in online searches.

 

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

 

7. Check the calendar. Do big events in your area draw lots of tourists? Check a calendar of upcoming events and reach out to the organizers to see how you can get involved. Whether you sell products at a booth, sponsor the event or give out free samples, you’ll find plenty of ways to promote your business.

 

8. Partner up. Joining forces with other businesses that benefit from the tourist season, such as hotels, restaurants, shuttle services or guided tours, exposes your business to their tourist customers as well. Create a mutually beneficial marketing plan that you and your partner businesses can employ to boost everyone’s sales.

 

Taking these steps now will hopefully lead to a more profitable tourist season this summer. Do you own a retail business? Check out my top hacks for retailers to profit from summer tourists.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

2017 was a thrilling year for Jonathan Webb, founder and CEO of AppHarvest, an agricultural startup in the Appalachian region of Kentucky. Webb managed to start, grow and raise the necessary capital to make AppHarvest a reality. He secured an investment from AOL cofounder Steve Case’s seed fund, Rise of the Rest, in addition to funding from other major players in the agriculture industry.

 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Webb to learn more about his company and his desire to economically revitalize the Appalachian region.

 

1. What is AppHarvest? 

 

AppHarvest is an agricultural startup that will soon break ground on its first $60 million greenhouse. We selected Pikeville, Kentucky, due to its location and access to nearly 70% of the U.S. population within a day's drive. Utilizing revolutionary growing techniques, AppHarvest will supply sustainable produce to consumers nationally.

 

2. Why do you believe there is a need for AppHarvest in Appalachia?

 

Eastern Kentucky has experienced crippling economic decline due to the decline of coal. The unemployment rate is nearly double the national average. The workforce is rooted in faith and grit, and it will persevere. As a result, several major political figures have partnered with us to bring jobs back to Pikeville.

“We are planting seeds of innovation and hope in Eastern Kentucky with home-grown engineers, like AppHarvest, leading the way as we strive to bring Silicon Valley to Silicon Holler,” said Republican U.S. Representative Hal Rogers. “We are developing a high-tech workforce for high-tech enterprise in the Appalachian region to elevate our competitive edge for jobs and economic development. The resiliency and sheer talent of our people are the very reasons why we are able to diversify our economy and advance incredible ideas, like these high-tech greenhouses, in one of the most rural parts of the country.”

 

 

3. How did you get started in the agricultural sector? Why agriculture instead of the existing job landscape?

 

My background is in large scale solar development. I believe high-tech agricultural is like solar development 10 years ago. We will see a spike in the development of high-tech greenhouses and indoor farming because we can compete with conventional farmers, and consumers are demanding local/regional produce that is higher quality and without pesticides and non-GMO seeds.

 

4. In a short time, you've managed to bring all sides together (politics, local governments, business leaders etc.) to make AppHarvest become a reality. Why was this necessary for the success of AppHarvest?

 

Partnering with a community and state was a critical part of our strategy. Eastern Kentucky wanted to pursue this with us and together we will make the region the high-tech greenhouse capital of the U.S.

 

5. You've raised funds and partnered with industry titans like Steve Case and J.D. Vance. Investors believe in your vision for the region. Why?

 

The agricultural system in the U.S. is broken and many winners are going to help fix it.  AppHarvest will be one of the many winners. Here’s how we differentiate ourselves:

 

      • No pesticides: Our integrated pest management system removes harsh chemical pesticides from the equation.

 

      • Non-GMO seeds: What we grow is what you get – no health-harming genetic modifications necessary.

 

      • 80 percent less water: Our greenhouse will operate using 80 percent less water than that typical open field agriculture.

 

      • Diesel fuel use reduced by 75 percent: Our location positions us to use one-quarter of the transportation fuel compared to produce shipped cross country from the U.S. West Coast and Mexico.

 

6. What advice would you give entrepreneurs or small business owners that need to raise capital for their business?

 

Find a community that wants to work with you and partner with that community. Cities across America would love to work with entrepreneurs. I encourage folks to get out of the four or five major markets and go back home or into a city that wants you.

 

It all starts with the groundbreaking

 

The idea for your business is important. One of the most helpful pieces of advice Webb shared was the importance of finding partners in cities that want you. In other words, you must build relationships in your quest to start or grow your business.

Visit www.AppHarvest.com, if you want to learn more about Jonathan Webb and his company’s efforts to change the financial landscape by bringing jobs and opportunity back to Eastern Kentucky.

 

Related articles and resources:

Get answers and information about business financing

Find the right financing for your business

Read about how Bank of America is invested in a cleaner planet

 

About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

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.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

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

Small Business Profile: Sweet Beginnings

While the economy is improving, certain communities remain behind the curve in terms of employment and opportunities.  For example, while national unemployment hovers at just over 4 percent nationwide, in Chicago’s North Lawndale community, unemployment is around 23 percent.

 

However, in every challenge there is opportunity. Brenda Palms Barber, the CEO of Sweet Beginnings, LLC, decided to take things into her own hands.  “As a frustrated leader of a nonprofit with a mission to improve the earnings potential of the North Lawndale community through innovative employment initiatives, I knew I had to provide our participants with the second chance they so desired and greatly needed,” she said. “If the employers in North Lawndale would not be willing to hire our program graduates, then it was in my and my team’s own hands to create a way.”

 

Palms Barber helped create Sweet Beginnings as a social enterprise that trains the formerly incarcerated for jobs in manufacturing, food service, customer service, hospitality, retail and more. They do this in part through their beelove® brand of certified, natural urban honey and honey-infused skincare products. As they say on their website, the company is “where your purchase transforms lives.” Sweet Beginnings’ growth allows them to employ traditionally difficult to train individuals, and to empower them with financial and life skills to help build independent and more meaningful lives.

 

Employees at Sweet Beginnings start with job readiness training, which is provided by Sweet Beginnings’ non-profit parent company, the North Lawndale Employment Network. Currently, Sweet Beginnings has eight employees, all of whom spent time in prison.

 

Sweet Beginnings beelove products don’t just provide opportunity, they are fantastic natural products that are beloved – no pun intended – by locals and celebrities alike. The company says that due to the support of married entertainers Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, who recently talked about the company’s products in People magazine, their most popular product is currently their beelove nourish & smooth body cream.

 

Having a small business dedicated to teaching skills to former prisoners has had a tremendous impact in North Lawndale. , “When communities are ravaged by poverty and violence, generations of families suffer as neighborhoods are drained of their primary wage earners, investment from local business owners and a tax base which can support community social resources,” Palms Barber said.  Now, between beekeeping (which Sweet Beginnings does to make their honey-based products), harvesting and selling honey and honey-infused products, they provide transitional jobs for those returning to the workforce, while developing important and tangible skills the participants can use to become more competitive in the job market.

 

The results speak for themselves. Sweet Beginnings says that more than 75 percent of those who complete their program will go on to secure permanent positions with other employers, start their own business or enter into post-secondary education. Fewer than 8 percent will return to prison.

 

As in any small business, Sweet Beginnings employees learn a number of skills.  The company says their employees learn manufacturing, sales, inventory, quality control, customer service and digital literacy, which transfers to positions in a wide variety of industries.

 

Sweet Beginnings has a goal to provide transitional employment to at least 60 citizens returning from incarceration and other hard-to-employ jobseekers in the next three years. To do so, the company is expanding distribution. In addition to selling products via their beelove website, they also sell in all Mariano’s Fresh Markets, Hudson’s at O’Hare and Midway International airports and other Chicago-based retailers. They are looking for other retail partners.

 

If you are looking to make a social impact with your small business, Palms Barber has some additional tips to share.

 

  • “First, it is important for a social enterprise to be in clear alignment with the mission of the nonprofit organization. I also learned it’s wise to listen and embrace your critics’ feedback because they will lift up critical gaps in your business assumptions that you may be blind to address, resulting in a stronger business model. One thing about Sweet Beginnings is clear – we have done nothing traditional or conventional. Be open and willing to carve a new path and create a new direction for the business. Not every social enterprise will fit into a neat box.”

 

  • “Another key piece of advice is the importance of engaging and retaining professional legal counsel. Invest in legal counsel upfront because they will guide the legal structure that supports your long-term vision.

 

  • “Finally, I have to say that everything takes longer then you think it ever, ever, ever will. It takes time to grow a messy idea to a profitable business!”

 

Everything worthwhile takes time, and it is clear Sweet Beginnings’ time invested is really paying off.

To learn more about Sweet Beginnings’ beelove products and mission, visit their website.

 

Bank of America's related social efforts:

Learn how Bank of America supports formerly incarcerated individuals operating mission –driven organizations.

Bank of America helps neighborhoods in need get access to critical funding and assistance.

Bank of America is deeply involved in community development work related to affordable housing, small business lending and neighborhood revitalization.

 

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.

Spring is in the air, and optimism is in small business owners’ hearts and minds—at least, according to the Spring 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. The semi-annual study reports some of the highest levels of optimism among U.S. entrepreneurs since the survey began in 2012.

 

Economic Confidence

Confidence in the national economy as well as the respondents’ local economies is at a near-record high. More than half (54 percent) of respondents believe the national economy will improve in the next 12 months, while 56 percent believe their local economies will improve.

Small business owners are also feeling good about their businesses’ futures. Six in 10 expect revenue to increase in the next 12 months, compared to 48 percent last year, while 69 percent plan to expand in that time period and 22 percent plan to hire.

Bumps in the Road

Despite the optimism, concern is growing over a number of economic issues, including:

  • Healthcare costs: 75 percent are concerned, up from 64 percent last year
  • Interest rates: 51 percent are concerned, an increase from 37 percent last year
  • Commodities prices: Half of entrepreneurs are concerned about rising commodities costs, up from 36 percent last year
  • Consumer spending: 45 percent are concerned, compared to 42 percent last year
  • Corporate tax rates: 44 percent are worried about tax rates, up from 39 percent last year
  • U.S. and/or global stock market: 43 percent are concerned, up from 34 percent last year
  • Credit availability:  A concern for 32 percent of respondents, compared to 25 percent last year

 

Tax Policy: a “Game-changer”

Small business owners are also optimistic about recent changes to tax law. More than seven in 10 expect to see savings as a result, and 63 percent say the changes make them more positive about their business outlook. Here’s how they’ll use the savings:

  • 34 percent will increase profits
  • 21 percent will reward employees with raises/bonuses
  • 14 percent will hire new employees
  • 14 percent will expand operations
  • 12 percent will pay off a loan
  • 12 percent will make capital improvements

 

Related Content: Business Income from Pass-Through Entities: The new 20% deduction

 

Technology: Opportunities and Threats

Nearly four out of five respondents update their technology at least annually; 17 percent make technology updates quarterly, and 12 percent do so monthly. Technology is making small businesses so efficient that one in 10 respondents has eliminated positions as a result.

What technology are small business owners using or exploring?

  • Internet of Things: 24 percent
  • Data analytics: 15 percent
  • 3D printing: 11 percent
  • Artificial intelligence: 7 percent
  • Virtual reality: 7 percent
  • Drones: 5 percent
  • Robots: 2 percent

 

Small business owners also embrace smartphones, with 89 percent using them for business operations including online banking (41 percent), social media updates (38 percent) and digital payments (29 percent). More than half (52 percent) of business owners believe that within five years, all payments will be digital, and almost two in 10 expect to accept cryptocurrency as payment within that timeframe.

 

But while technology has meant many positive changes for small business owners, it also means greater vulnerability. Over three-fourths (77 percent) of entrepreneurs describe their businesses as “dependent” on technology. Although only 8 percent of respondents were affected by a data breach in the past year, many of those suffered significant consequences, including compromised business information (48 percent), financial losses (42 percent) and compromised customer data (27 percent).

 

Related Content: Learn more about payment security, and get fraud tips to help protect your small business

 

One stat floored me: Only 59 percent of the entrepreneurs in the survey have a business website. The report suggests business websites have become less significant as the internet has become part of our daily lives, but I’d argue it’s exactly the opposite.

 

Of those who do have websites, 60 percent use them to share information, while only 31 percent use them to drive sales. With so many ways to get prospects to your website via online advertising, social media and search engine optimization, if you're not using your website as a sales tool, you’re leaving money on the table and missing out on a huge opportunity. (I wrote more about this here.)

 

How do the survey respondents’ habits, outlooks, and attitudes compare to yours?

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

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This week on the Post Some Love podcast, Steve Strauss interviews David Warschawski of Warschawski, a full-service, award-winning boutique marketing communications agency. Listen to his story and the importance of positive online reviews.

 

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Post Some Love: Warschawski Podcast Transcript

 

Intro music

 

Steve Strauss:              David, I'm wondering if you could expand a little bit on that moment when you started the business and went off on your own.

David Warschawski:    Do you mean that time in my life when all my friends thought I was crazy?

 

Steve Strauss:              That time, exactly.

 

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Steve Strauss:              Hi, I'm Steve Strauss, USA Today's senior small business columnist and author of The Small Business Bible and you're listening to the Post Some Love series on the Bank of America's small business podcast.  This is the series where we speak with small business owners about their journey and share some of their great customer reviews.  On this episode of the Post Some Love series, we're speaking with David Warschawksi of Warschawski, a national full-service marketing communications agency and a Google-certified agency partner that provides personalized care for every client.  The company has been named the U.S. Small Agency of the Year for three years in a row, including this past year, has won more than 200 industry awards for its work and, for ten years in a row, has been named one of the top U.S. agencies to work.  Warschawski was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Baltimore.  It also has offices in New York City and Washington D.C.  Warschawski delivers the experience and expertise of a large firm coupled with the personalized attention and care of a boutique agency.  David himself was recognized as Maryland's most admired CEO by the Maryland Daily Record.  He's a published author whose works have appeared in numerous publications and who has provided expert commentary from media outlets ranging from CNBC to NPR. He also serves as a visiting professor for the Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business and has coauthored the book Building Customer Relationships through Public Relations.  David, great to have you on the show.

 

David Warschawski:    My pleasure.  Thanks for having me, Steve.

 

Steve Strauss:              So, let's start at the beginning.  How long have you been in the PR/media world and how did you get started?

 

David Warschawski:    Sure.  I cut my teeth in big agencies in New York City and, throughout that experience, I always felt I wanted to do it differently.  So I decided to go out on my own.  It's been over twenty years at this point and, thankfully today, we've established ourselves very nicely with lots of national awards, including the ones you so kindly mentioned: being named Small Agency of the United States for three years in a row, including this past year.

 

Steve Strauss:              Very impressive. So, what’s your secret?

David Warschawski:    I think a lot of it has to do with the culture that you create.  In our industry, having great people who really know what they're doing and allowing them to work hand-in-hand with the clients, the secret and part of that is why I left big agency life.  I wanted to be able to offer something different.  I wanted to be able to offer what I felt was the best of two worlds, the large agency experience and expertise but coupled with the boutique agency service and care that you get from senior folks throughout your experience with the agency.  Thankfully, we've been successful in doing that and I do think, in large part, that's part of our secret sauce.  I would say we have a second ingredient.  It is we really want marketing communications to focus on generating real, tangible business results.  Too many folks in the marketing communications industry are creating fluffy or feel-good or “looks nice” results.  That's fine but, for us, the question is what was the business goal and can we help you achieve it and that's why, whenever we sit down with a client, our first question is: what's the business goal we're trying to achieve here and how are we going to measure it, and then let us help you build a marketing communications approach that will help you achieve that business goal.

 

Steve Strauss:              So, that's really impressive.  I used to practice law.  I came to my senses many years ago.  I don't practice it anymore but I did do the big firm.

 

David Warschawski:    You're reformed, huh?

 

Steve Strauss:              Exactly and I did the big firm thing and then I went off my own and started a small boutique agency, small law firm, but it is hard to offer the personalized service that you want to give someone, that you can give them when you have a small business but give them the expertise of the large firms.  So the fact that you've been able to couple those two, I think, is really quite unique and so let me read one of these reviews, in fact that, we found about you and have you comment on it.  So this says ‘the Warschawski agency just gets it.  We’ve spent years bobbing around, looking for the attention that you get from a small agency that has a big agency experience without the New York City price tag.  The Warschawski agency does it all from branding to PR, design web packaging to digital and social media.  The creative team really seems to understand who we are and who our consumer is.  They have successfully perfected our brand’s rather complicated positioning and messaging.’  So that's, I would think, the kind of review and online love that you're wanting to achieve, right?

 

David Warschawski:    100%.  That's great validation that we're living our brand values, our clients are experiencing exactly what we're trying to put out there, and also we're helping them create business success.

 

Steve Strauss:              And that second point that you brought up about achieving substantial and specific and tangible business results, it's not always easy in your world.  So the fact that you focus on that, I think probably is very attractive to your clients.

 

David Warschawski:    100%.  Look, I'm a business owner, number one.  I also am an investor and owner of some other businesses.  So getting real business results, I know it matters and we're not doing marketing communications as a vanity project.  It is a true business function that has to move the business needle.  Otherwise the [PH] C suite is going to say it was very nice, looked good, felt good, but what did it do for us.  Was the money well spent?  And, especially in today's bottom line-driven world and also in our constantly [PH] on-world, you really have to focus on generating real, tangible business results that are measurable, that you can share with your clients

 

Steve Strauss:              Did you grow up in a small business or entrepreneurial family?  When did the entrepreneurship bug strike you?

 

David Warschawski:    I was very fortunate.  I grew up in a household where my father was a top-level business management consultant, very entrepreneurial, encouraged me throughout to learn about all different facets of business, and, when I decided to go out on my own, he and my mother were two of the biggest supporters I had in that endeavor.

 

Steve Strauss:              David, I'm wondering if you could expand a little bit on that moment when you started the business, when you left the big firm and the security the big firm and the nice paycheck every two weeks and the benefits and all those things and went off on your own. What went into that decision and what was it like for you, personally to become an entrepreneur?

 

David Warschawski:    You mean that time in my life when all my friends thought I was crazy?

 

Steve Strauss:              That time, exactly.

 

David Warschawski:    So, I was a young guy under thirty and I worked in the number one large agency in New York City working on some of the highest profile pieces of business but, in my gut, I had that feeling. I wanted to do things differently and the gut beat out the rational part and I would tell most entrepreneurs, if you're a good entrepreneur, listen to your gut.  It knows.  You can use rationalization to make almost anything sound good but you have to live with yourself.  Listen to your gut.  So, when I decided and began having these conversations, most of my friends said, you are just out of your mind.  Why in the world would you want to do this at this point in your career?  I will say that my parents were incredibly supportive and said, we're behind you.  Go ahead and do this.  I am, now in retrospect, didn't know this at the time, wasn't married, didn't have kids, was under thirty, had a tremendous amount of energy.  It's actually a great time in your life, if you're entrepreneurial, to start a business.

 

Steve Strauss:              The perfect time.

 

David Warschawski:    As other things take up your time, you realize, and I see some of my peers at their point now in life, trying to start up businesses when they have families and children and little league to contend with.  It's tougher for them.  I will, however, say, you know, on the personal side, it was a big risk.  I was incredibly nervous.  I worked like a dog. I think most entrepreneurs who are listening to this know, you’re everything.  You're doing everything from answering the phones to being the bookkeeper to doing the account work to doing the research to cleaning the place up after you leave and, with time, obviously, that hard work has paid off and I've been able to delegate some of those things away.

 

Steve Strauss:              You know, a wise man once told me that an entrepreneur is someone who takes a risk with money to make money.  They take a risk with money to make money and so entrepreneurship is, by definition, a risk, as you just said and as we all know.  That said, one thing I've also learned is that the best entrepreneurs really strive to reduce that risk to the extent possible.  For example, starting a business when you're 25 or 28, much easier than when you're 45 or 48, when you have a lot more responsibilities and the stakes might be a little bit higher.

 

David Warschawski:    100%.  I didn't know that at the time and, certainly, it was tough going against some of the advice of my good friends at that point in my life but now, in retrospect, it turns out that it worked out just perfectly and beautifully.

 

Steve Strauss:              You worked in a big firm for how long before you started your own agency?

 

David Warschawski:    So, overall, I worked in big firms about 6-7 years in New York City.  I worked in two different ones.  One is called the Dillon-Schneider Group and my last stop was at the largest agency in New York City, at that time called Edelman.

 

Steve Strauss:              Oh, Edelman. They're both big firms.  Edelman, I worked with myself.  Very, very impressive.

 

David Warschawski:    Well, we never got to work together.

 

Steve Strauss:              No. Not yet, right?

 

David Warschawski:    Right.

 

Steve Strauss:              I'm wondering how you then built the business and built the brand.  What were the bricks you had to put in place to create a foundation that eventually allowed you to open a second shop and then open a third shop in New York and, obviously impressive?  How did you do that?

 

David Warschawski:    I think of it like building a pyramid.  You've got to start at the bottom.  You're laying the first brick and, sometimes, laying that first brick in the hot sun is lonely but you do it really well and you build a foundation with one client win after another and proving to them that you are capable of doing just the same level of work that they may be getting from a full service agency, as opposed to one person shop at that point and you grow from there and then you win the next piece of business and then you have to hire a couple people and then you win the next piece of business and you're hiring even more people and, thankfully, from both a culture standpoint, internally, it enabled us to hire continually great folks who could do great work and also it allowed us or gave us the legitimacy that larger and larger clients were saying, wow.  Look at what they're doing and the attention that they're going to give us and even the cost, at that point, was such an appealing proposition that, over time, it continued to grow and to expand to where we are today, thankfully.

 

Steve Strauss:              You’re listening to the Post Some Love series on the Bank of America podcast.  I'm Steve Strauss and I'm speaking with David Warschawski of Warschawski, a boutique marketing communications agency on the East Coast. So, tell me a little bit about how your business has grown.  Which of your three cities you start in?  How small was it and how big is it now?

 

David Warschawski:    It really has been a great ride and it's been a step-by-step process and, as you mentioned, thankfully today, we have an office in New York, an office in D.C., and an office in Baltimore. Baltimore was really the headquarters after I left New York City agencies.  I cultivated some business in New York but my family was based here in Baltimore, decided it would make sense to come back to this region.  We certainly have, and early on, worked with major national and international clients.  In fact, when you talk about how has our business grown, we were very fortunate early on, a couple of years into our lifecycle, to win some very prominent pieces of business, including being named the agency of record for the United States for the Adidas brand and that created validation for us and allowed us to win lots of other large, national, or international clients.  So it was a step-by-step process and now the sort of next step in that process has been really focusing on creating a great digital marketing capability in-house.  Today, we were very honored that Google recently named us a Google certified agency partner and today we have ten Google certified analysts on staff and we are doing a ton of very high-end and sophisticated digital marketing, which is really changing the game in marketing communications.

 

Steve Strauss:              You know, I obviously don’t need to tell you that branding is so important for a small business. That's what you do for a living but people who listen to this show may need to know that, as a small business, I think, and I'd love to hear your opinion, obviously, you need to have a brand every bit as strong as your larger and big competitors because there's so much competition out there for a small business. There's thirty million small businesses in the United States.  I'm wondering if you can give us your thoughts on small business branding and marketing and what you think of it.

 

David Warschawski:    It's so key to helping you set the foundation. We talk about branding as being the cornerstone or the foundation for the house that you're going to build and, if you don't build a great foundation, anything you build after that is somewhat shaky. So you have to, early on as a business, really clearly define what your brand is, what you want people to feel when they interact with you, and who your primary, secondary, and tertiary target audiences are.  The sooner you do that, the sooner you codify that, the easier life will be because, all of a sudden, there's now a North Star for making business decisions.  I've got two candidates in front of me who I could hire.  Well, before, you may have looked at sort of the logistics of who would be better but now, all of a sudden, you can say, who’s a better fit for our brand.  Or, when something goes wrong or right and you need to make a business decision, that decision’s much easier when you have a clearly-distilled and put-down-on-paper brand.

 

Steve Strauss:              And, in your case, you've clearly gone out and gotten some very impressive industry awards and that's got to do a lot to build your brand and create some word-of-mouth for your business.

 

David Warschawski:    100%.  It creates validation.  One of the things I'm proud of is, you know, we've put in the hard work and we have a fantastic team who's made it possible to get these accolades. So, yes, it's validation.  It helps us grow as a business and get bigger and better and more exciting clients.  Those are wonderful things but, because of our culture, it really excites me for the team when we get that kind of recognition because it's a pat on the back for everyone that says we're all pulling in the right direction and we're special.  We're doing something different and unique from all the other agencies that are out there.

 

Steve Strauss:              Well and, in fact, let me read one of your reviews along those lines.  ‘Warschawski is a talented team doing impressive work for prominent clients.  I’m impressed by this agency's ability to quickly produce any and all marketing communications work at the highest quality.’  So, your team is your business.

 

David Warschawski:    100%.  In marketing communications, you've got to have great folks, and today more so than ever.  There are so many disciplines that need to be covered when you have a good, integrated marketing communications firm.  You have to be good at advertising.  You have to be good at marketing.  You have to be good at branding.  You have to be good at P.R.  You have to be good at social.  You have to be good at web development and, perhaps most importantly today, you need to be good at digital marketing.  We recently, in addition, just opened up a virtual reality and an AI capability within our firm.

 

Steve Strauss:              Well, one thing is true about small businesses and that is, you have to, especially these days, stay up and keep learning and, for good or ill, and as challenging as that can be, it's kind of part of the fun too, I think.

 

David Warschawski:    All the digital marketing has kept me very young at heart because this changes every day.  Our industry, overwhelmingly, has always been an industry of change and movement and latest trends but, no time like today, have I seen such a need to stay on the cutting edge of digital technologies and how they can be best leveraged for your clients.  They're changing all the time.  You have to be expert.  You have to be able to explain it to the client and then you need to be able to implement it.  Thankfully, our head of digital marketing was just named one of the top seven digital marketers in the country.  He's been really able to help our clients understand and capitalize on how you can do digital marketing in ways that create outstanding ROI for them and, in many cases, it's beating the ROI of traditional advertising, marketing, and P.R. approaches.

 

Steve Strauss:              Now, we are getting branding and marketing jewels from an expert.  I mean, just that you're able to say that your digital person got another award, that is how you really can build a brand.  If you're a small business, just and any way you can associate yourself with that kind of branding, I think really makes a big difference.

 

David Warschawski:    Thank you and I think so much of that, Steve, has to do with hiring the right people.  When you're a small business early on, and I certainly remember these days, you did everything yourself and you had to wear so many hats. You get to a point in the life of a small business where you need to find great people and I would tell anyone who asks, if you're in a small business, invest a little extra money.  Invest a little extra time in training because those people are your biggest assets and you rather they're great than either mediocre or poor.

 

Steve Strauss:              Absolutely.  I'm wondering what challenges you've faced along the way.  Clearly, staying up with the digital as you just mentioned is something that you've done but what other challenges do you find you've faced growing your business.

 

David Warschawski:    Sure.  So you definitely mentioned probably the biggest ongoing challenge we face, which is, across all of these marketing communications disciplines, staying on the cutting edge and sometimes ahead of the cutting edge is a very difficult task.  It's an ongoing challenge and it requires people, including myself, who’ve got to be hungry to learn those things and finding those people can sometimes be a challenge.  And the second, I think, ongoing challenge we face is we have a very clear set of brand values and we live our culture out loud and to find the superstar, rock star standouts who embody what our brand values are all about and also can really bring a high level of expertise and experience to the table, that's a challenge. They're not easy to find. Thankfully, we've been able to find them but that is always a challenge we face.

 

Steve Strauss:              So what values do you find important in your business and why have you chosen these values to stress, whatever they are?

 

David Warschawski:    Sure.  So we have specific personality approaches to things like staying hungry and relentless that are very important to us.  They embody the type of people we want to find and, at the end of the day, when we live all of the various brand values that we have, the end emotion we want people to understand about Warschawski is: we so badly want to thrill you as a client.  We want you to be working with us and, hopefully, give us the kind of rave reviews you've just shared with your audience and I want the client to say, wow.  That's really different than any other marketing communications experience I've had in the past.  The other is: we want people to get a sense of personalized care, that this is not a business equation for us.  We care about your business.  We're in bed with you.  We want to understand how we can help you grow and we take it incredibly personal to ensure that we're delivering the best results.  So the embodiment of those ideals and making people experience that, you've got to find the right people who really are capable of that.

 

Steve Strauss:              So that really begs the question: how important are reviews for you in your business.

 

David Warschawski:    Well, I'd argue it's not just for us.  I'd say they're incredibly important to everyone.  It's a way that you shape your reputation in the industry and the markets that you serve.  It's validation.  If I have a choice between, today especially, I'm looking online for three different service providers in the same vertical and one has 4.5 stars and the others have 3 stars in their rating and the 4.5 has multiple positive reviews, it's a no brainer.  I'm going with the higher-reviewed company and choosing them to be my partner.  So today, probably more so than ever, reviews and anything you can bring together online, that's where you want people to hopefully validate and say the things that you want them to say about you.

 

Steve Strauss:              Well, as you said, this digital revolution is changing everything and it’s changing word of mouth advertising.  It’s changing everything about business.  Do you read online reviews?

 

David Warschawski:    Sure.

 

Steve Strauss:              You seek them out?

 

David Warschawski:    I’m not online everyday looking for reviews, if what you mean, but, certainly, they get shared with me when I do see them and, when we get the kind of reviews that, thankfully, we do get, they certainly make us all feel good because we put so much into trying to create those results.  So, to hear it brought back to us that we've accomplished what we put out into the world, that's wonderful validation, both on a personal level but, also, on a corporate level for building our brand.

 

Steve Strauss:              Do you ever look to get reviews?  Do you speak with clients about it or is that not, you just are happy if you find them happening organically?

 

David Warschawski:    For the most, they happen organically but, certainly, we've had clients who, after we did a specific project or some work with them, they're raving to us about the experience they've had with us and we'll say, would you be so kind as to put that down on paper or, in this case, digitally, on any of the social media platforms and share your feelings about how we interacted with you.  So, yeah.  That happens from time to time.

 

Steve Strauss:              And I think it works. I know it works from personal experience.  I'm an author.  I've got a lot of books on Amazon and I will do what you do, which is: if I hear from someone and they like my book or they didn't like my book, even, I'll say, hey, if you would just go on Amazon and give me a review, I would very much appreciate it and, most times, people are happy to do it and I have one book has been reviewed 50 times and I have one book that's been reviewed 4 times and the one that sold, you know, 50 reviews sells a little better than one with 4 reviews.

 

David Warschawski:    I bet.  I bet.

 

Steve Strauss:              I have a follow-up question about reviews.  Obviously, they are great for getting more business.  People go online.  They find a review.  They like the review, as you said, and they might hire that person or go shop at that store or go to that restaurant but what about the use of reviews in attracting talent.  I mean, we are now in a market where labor is pretty tight and attracting and keeping top talent is a challenge for some people.  Do reviews make a difference there?

 

David Warschawski:    100% and, Steve, I agree with the premise of your question and I would argue that online reviews of what it's like to work in your workplace are more important than what clients have to say about your workplace.

 

Steve Strauss:              Wow.

 

David Warschawski:    Because you have to find and bring in the best people to create the best work and they have to be a cultural fit and, if you're not thought of as having a great workplace and a great culture, it makes it much harder to recruit those folks.  We're very fortunate.  Culture is king with us.  We put so much time, money, energy, love into creating the kind of culture and environment that we hope people just want to stay with us forever and are having a great time and we always tell folks, we don't believe creating great results and having a great time are two separate concepts.  We actually think they work better when they're in coordination.  You can have a great time while doing great work. So you need the reviews to find the kind of people who fit that bill.  And the second part that I would say is: anybody who's looking at an agency gets a holistic picture, whether that's a client or that is a possible employee, and the only way they're going to get that holistic picture is, that's a positive picture, is if what people are saying about you internally matches up with what people are saying externally about you.  When the internal word of mouth is not so good but some of the clients are quite happy, that sometimes a picture that potential clients or potential employees tend to run away from.  So, at the end of the day, I'm incredibly proud that we probably have one of the highest Glassdoor rankings in our industry.  I think we're around a 4.8 out of 5 and that's what our folks are saying about us and about the environment that we've created and they all help foster.

 

Steve Strauss:              Additionally impressive and, for people who don't know, why don’t you just tell us quickly what Glassdoor, a Glassdoor ranking is.

 

David Warschawski:    Glassdoor is a forum online that allows employees to give comments and feedback and rate their employers and 5 is the highest score you can get.  So, most agencies are somewhere in the 3-4 stars’ range and we're very proud. Some of the better ones are a little bit higher but we certainly are at the cutting edge there or at the bleeding edge with a 4.8 out of 5 and, for me, that's just as important as winning new clients because what that means is: all the hard work we put into creating a culture that people should love to come in and participate in and, by the way, that I love to be a participant in.  I have to go to work every day and I've got to love the folks in the environment where I work.  So it tickles me when other people feel like we've created that kind of environment.

 

Steve Strauss:              And you bring up a really good point.  When small business owners think about ratings and reviews, we tend to think about something written about us on Facebook or Yelp but this idea of Glassdoor is not insignificant, that you your employees are out there ranking your business and you've got to be cognizant of that as well.

 

David Warschawski:    Yeah, and you had brought up the issue of branding.  Today, and if we were having this conversation ten years ago, I would have told you external branding is much more important than internal branding but, today, that's flip-flop because organizations and companies are so transparent and people are working or interacting with your representatives so much more frequently.  If you don't hire for your brand and your brand values, you don't train, and you don't reward, you are not going to be able to create a sustainable brand.  It's got to start internally today and then, secondarily, you want to do the external branding.

 

Steve Strauss:              What has surprised you about your journey as an entrepreneur?

 

David Warschawski:    I think the thing that's been, or has changed the most for me is, early on in my career and in the life of Warschawski, there was the thrill of the hunt, of winning the next big client, taking on the next big project, and creating [PH] wowing results for them. There's a tremendous amount of excitement that goes into that.  I still have that excitement but, today, I've really transitioned where I get the most excitement out of mentoring and teaching the next generation.  There's so much to learn in our industry and, sadly, in our industry often mentorship is not a norm which leads, at the end, to some bad marketing communications.  So the chance for me to be teaching the next generation from what I've learned, that's what probably gives me the biggest kick today and seeing people who started their careers with me, for example our COO who's been with us for twenty years, grow from an account executive to becoming an incredibly successful businesswoman, that's more exciting to me than winning the next big client.

 

Steve Strauss:              So, David, what is next for you in your business?

 

David Warschawski:    So I don't want to say it's next. I think it's happening today and that's really the digital revolution because our business today is really, fundamentally changing, and, when I say our business, I'm not talking about Warschawski.  I'm talking about the industry and there are a lot of people who just aren't, at this point in their career, willing to put in the time, the energy, and the effort because it is a lot to learn all the new things and become truly expert at them and I think that's going to be a make-or-break for many agencies over the next couple of years.  Those who really are at the cutting edge of understanding digital marketing, of understanding how to measure results, those are the ones who are going to survive and succeed.  The ones who are staying to some of the more traditional-only platforms, I'm sorry to say, I think they're going to fall by the wayside with time.  So I think when we look forward is: we're constantly trying to evolve and grow on the digital side.  That means we're getting better at web development every day, at app development. We just created a virtual reality expertise, which I think will definitely have a big impact in the marketing communications space and we shortly will be opening up an Amazon capability as well to do marketing specifically on the Amazon platform.

 

Steve Strauss:              Well, I love how forward-thinking you are.  I'm sure your clients love how forward-thinking you are.  David, if people want to learn more about you and your agency, where should they go?

 

David Warschawski:    Easiest is go online to https://www.warschawski.com/  and, certainly, people can feel free to email me directly at dw@warschawski.com

 

Steve Strauss:              David Warschawski, so great having you on this show today and good luck and continued success.

 

David Warschawski:    Thank you. It's a pleasure talking to you, Steve.  Take care.

 

Steve Strauss:              Bank of America is committed to helping small business owners achieve lasting growth and is now asking everyone for their support in helping small businesses grow by asking them to Post Some Love.  We know that positive online reviews views help drive small business success.  So we’re encouraging everyone to do just that. Choose your favorite small business and write a positive online review.  Bank of America does not endorse or guarantee the perspectives, the advice, or the products or services sold by any business referenced within this podcast. Copyright 2018, Bank of America Corporation.

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Using the visual sales pipeline, you can see all your deals in one place, resulting in better control of the process. Pipedrive also has a mobile app that allows you to access both your deal and contact information from anywhere. The software integration, innovations and automation grant you all the information you need before a call or meeting. Also, through Pipedrive you can capture the performance of your team in one easy location.

 

Zoho

Zoho comes with many options that you can tailor for your business needs. This CRM tool is intuitive, easy-to-use and pocket-friendly. Small businesses easily build a tailor-made CRM solution through Zoho’s Marketplace, as the adoption process is natural. It offers a set of instructions to install extensions.

 

Insightly

Insightly is made to help you establish deep customer relations and expand your business fast. It allows you to build relationships through discovering links, and it provides relationship maps to guide users.

 

Through automated lead capture and distribution, the tool matches the right lead and representative at the right time – ultimately, to generate faster sales. You can also use Insightly to set up workflow automation and on-time delivery. Insightly starts with a free standard plan that can be upgraded as the business expands. It is a scalable solution that is simple but grows as your company grows.

 

Hubspot

Hubspot gives salespeople more time to find deals and close sales, instead of spending time on data entry. Since interaction tracking is automatic and deals are featured on one dashboard, visibility is improved without any extra work. Hubspot offers storage of up to one million users, regardless of the size of your business. Keeping your activities organized is always a challenge for small businesses. Hubspot helps businesses get organized effortlessly by displaying your entire sales funnel in one place.

 

Hubspot may help to improve your productivity, since it synchronizes with your inbox. Increased productivity makes selling and closing deals a lot easier because now you can create and measure mail templates, send personalized sequences and get notifications when a prospect opens a mail or download you sent. Why does this matter? It makes following up with your prospect easier and more comprehensive.

 

More on this topic:

Shopping Around For Customer Relationship Management Tools

 

 

About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

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.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

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

We all know it takes a certain kind of person to run a successful business. One must be enterprising, hard-working, resourceful, creative, optimistic and smart, and that's just for starters. Now let's think about what it takes to start and run not only a successful business, but one based on a complex and demanding profession like law.

 

It takes all those traits, and a whole lot more.

 

As you may know if you have spent a little time here on the Small Business Community, I am a non-practicing lawyer. I started out in a big firm in the big city making the big bucks and then went on to open my own law office a few years later. I don't practice anymore because, as I like to joke, “I came to my senses.”

 

While this is a good laugh-line for a speech, the fact is I was good at the business side of that business (hence this gig), while the legal stuff interested me less because, frankly, I wasn't as good at it. As I said, it takes a unique individual to be successful at his or her profession and running the business, too.36497960_s.jpg

 

That's one reason why Scott Snyder of Scott Snyder Law impresses me so much. Scott and I have a lot in common – we both grew up in L.A., we have season tickets to our local NBA team about six rows from each other, and we share a mutual love of Bruce Springsteen (even if Scott's selfie with Bruce beats anything I could boast).

 

But where we diverge is that Scott is a much better and more successful lawyer than I ever was. Not only has his firm thrived for almost 20 years (an accomplishment in and of itself for any business), but Scott has distinguished himself as an excellent attorney.

 

Like many of us, Scott started his business because he wanted to be his own boss. “I didn't want to be subject to the whims of change in management and so I figured it would be better for me in the long haul to start my own firm,” he told me. Corporate America's loss was his clients' gain.

 

Almost 20 years in and his dance card is full with clients who need and appreciate him. As a result, not only has his firm grown, but it has enabled Scott Snyder Law to become an integral member of the community in which we both live. As Scott explained,

 

“One thing I am proud of is that my law practice has served numerous individuals and businesses on a reduced fee or pro-bono basis to help defray their cost of legal services. Additionally, I have often provided my mediation services on a volunteer basis, and I additionally am able to offer my services to local non-profits on a volunteer basis as well.”

 

Great lawyer, great businessperson, community asset – that's an impressive three-fer in anyone's book.

 

So it wasn't surprising when Scott told me that what he loves about the law is that, while of course it pays well, far more important was it allowed him to help people solve problems. “It may sound corny, but I believe we can almost always find a good and fair outcome for everyone concerned, and that is what I am committed to, the win-win outcome. I like being a trusted adviser, and I take that role very seriously.”

 

And isn't that what you would want from your lawyer? A super smart guy who is committed to creating great outcomes and helping out in the community (and who loves Bruce to boot?). Now that's my kind of counsel.

 

Related Article: Fighting is Expensive.  What to do if You Are Sued.

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

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

 

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

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