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2019

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As a small business owner, you will have problematic employees from time to time. Do you have the skills to steer a contentious situation to a productive conclusion? Steve Strauss shares his three-step approach to dealing with difficult employees on this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com. Here's your host, Gregg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Welcome to ”The Heartbeat of Main Street” brought to you by ForbesBooks and Bank of America. Steve Strauss joins us to talk about how to deal with a difficult employee. Steve is USA Today's Small Business Columnist and the author of 17 books including the best-selling, Small Business Bible. Steve thank you for joining us.

 

Steve Strauss:           Great to be here, Gregg, and thanks for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Steve you own a small business, and in your capacity as USA Today's Small Business Columnist and also as a Small Business Community influencer for Bank of America, you also talk with a lot of small business owners, and today you are going to give us a three-step approach to dealing with a difficult employee. What's step number one?

 

Steve Strauss:           Well the first thing I think you need to do is listen. What you don't want to do is tune the bad employee out, which is I think what a lot of us might want to do, or maybe prefer to do. But what I know is that the best managers try and understand the disgruntled employee, get their point of view and try and see what can be changed. Then what you have to do is give some clear feedback and direction and expectations, and if I could put my lawyer hat on, you also need to document. So, listen, give correction, but then document. All three of those things are critical for sure.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Okay. So that's step number one. Step number two is…?

 

Steve Strauss:           Well you don't want to become part of the problem. You don't want to poison the well.  What that means specifically in this context is: don't gossip. As the manager, as the owner, as the boss you have to set an example, and you do the opposite of that by talking about the person, talking about the problem to other employees. My dad used to say, I'm your father not your friend, when I would get really sassy. And you know my dad was a great guy, but he was setting a clear demarcation point, right. There has to be some respect, and so I think that's true in the office as well. You need your employees to know that you are the boss not just another co-worker, and you do that by not gossiping about the problem employee.

 

Gregg Stebben:         In our conversation about how to deal with a difficult employee what's step number three?

 

Steve Strauss:           Well finally you want to make sure that you get to the core issue, so that it doesn't happen again. Now think about a giant ocean liner, how does that ocean liner change direction? Well you think the captain turns the rudder, and turns the wheel, the wheel turns the rudder, but actually there's a little mini rudder on the big rudder called a trim tab. So the captain turns the wheel, the wheel turns the trim tab, the trim tab turns the rudder, and then the rudder turns the ship. You have to get to that trim tab thing. What is the problem in your business specifically that you ended up with a problem employee. Now maybe it was you. I once hired an assistant, and the problem was me. It wasn't the assistant, it was that I didn't do a good job in my hiring process, and that was when I figured, okay I have to do better at that. So you have to look at your processes, your people, and figure out what the core issue was that allows it to fester and get out of control, and then fix that problem. We fix that problem and then you shouldn't have at least that issue ever again.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I want to try to recap what you just said. If you're dealing with a difficult employee three steps to try to manage the situation. Step number one, listen, try to understand, give clear feedback, and document what is going on.

 

Steve Strauss:           Correct.

Gregg Stebben:         Step number two, don't become part of the problem. No gossip to other employees, and always remember you are the boss, not a friend. Correct?

 

Steve Strauss:           Yep.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And step number three, get to the core issue and think about how an ocean liner changes course.It's big but there's some tricks like what Steve called the trim tab. And think about the processes that got you there including things like your hiring processes. How'd I do?

 

Steve Strauss:           Well what we want to do is hire people like you who are such good listeners, Gregg.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And good note takers, by the way.

 

Steve Strauss:           There we go.

 

Gregg Stebben          Steve where can our listeners go to find out more about you and get more of your great advice for small businesses?

 

Steve Strauss:           Sure you can always find me on my website, which is mrallbiz.com or go to USA Today, find my column, Ask an Expert. I've got a couple of tips and hints there too, I think.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And I will also just remind folks that you are the author of 17 books including the best-selling, Small Business Bible. And for more great tips from Steve and lots of other small business experts check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc.

 

Narrator:                    Thanks for listening to ”The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

When Julia Harper, Ph.D., M.S., OTR/L, talks about her business, TheraPeeds Family Center, you can hear the passion in her voice and see the joy she gets from her work.

 

In her words, she was born to do this work. Born prematurely in Trinidad and Tobago and “sent home in a shoebox to die,” Harper instead not only survived, she thrived.  She believes she was ‘saved’ so that she could be an agent of change.  “I love change with everything inside of me.”

 

 

Harper, a Ph.D., began TheraPeeds in Brooklyn, New York, in 1999 and moved it to FL in 2004. At that time it was a one-person practice and her focus was to change the lives of children with processing disorders such as learning disabilities, attention problems and autism spectrum disorders. These disorders are caused by a deficiency in a person’s ability to use information gathered by their senses and can cause a plethora of issues including low self-esteem and social withdrawal.

 

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“I set out to change the outcomes kids were getting,” she said.  Twenty years later, she has over 55 employees and TheraPeeds attracts clients from around the world, mainly via word-of-mouth.  Instead of just treating children, now the TheraPeeds team treats the entire family and adults with processing disorders across the lifespan.

 

Her business has experienced spectacular growth, continually running out of space.  In March 2019, TheraPeeds relocated to a new 30,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Davie, FL.  Harper tells you her business isn’t expanding so they can treat more clients, they’re expanding so they can treat their clients better.

 

Today, Harper is not only an occupational therapist but also a wife, mother of two, business owner, psychologist, life coach, mentor, speaker and writer. Her work and personal presence is an inspiration to her social followers, but most importantly to the lives of those she touches every day. You can get your weekly dose of #VitaminJ by following @JuliaHarper_phd on Instagram.

 

 

 

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Video transcript:

 

[Julia Harper] When you’re coming in this door. You’re coming in this door to change. We make sure that our clients leave with an outcome that is both functional, and life-changing.

 

[On screen copy] Julia Harper, PhD, MS, OTR/L. Founder and CEO, TheraPeeds Family Center  Bank of America Customer

 

[Julia Harper] My name is Dr. Julia Harper and I am the founder of TheraPeeds Family Center.

 

TheraPeeds is a center where we create change in the brains of people so that they learn to function better in their lives.

 

What I do as an occupational therapist is I focus on the entire life of a client. They get better motor skills, in their communication skills, in their cognitive skills, and their social-emotional behavior skills. Families come into this door functioning one way, and they leave functioning better.

 

So my intention was never to start a small business. I intended to be a therapist that did great work. The fact that a business grew up around me is still stunning to me today.

 

So we really think of this business as an individual with a life of its own. We think about it and we say, “what do we want this business to grow in to?”

 

I first met Marianela, my small business banker, when she walked into this door, because she wanted to see what we do here.

 

[On screen copy] Marianela Martinez, Small Business Banker, Bank of America

 

[Marianela Martinez] What makes Bank of America unique, is that we can come to our clients, to their place of business, to their environments, and bring the bank to them.

 

[Julia Harper] Marianela brought to the table the business perspective that I didn’t have.

 

[Marianela Martinez] So we partnered up with Julia, to help her forground-up construction for her new facility.

 

[Julia Harper] What I’m interested in doing now is providing deeper care to the entire family.

 

I love the fact that I’m in a sisterhood. That she’s a strong woman that showed up for another strong woman, to say yes, let’s do this.

 

The children, the families that we treat here, our people that need to know that they matter. And that my bank turned around and did the same for me meant the world.

 

[Marianela Martinez] As a mother, and thinking that she is helping families all over the world, it’s pretty amazing.

 

[Julia Harper] I have the power to be a change and help others change themselves.

 

[On screen copy] What would you like the power to do?

 

[On screen copy]

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You’re not unique. Whatever you do, someone else is doing the same thing—or something very similar.

 

That’s how it should be. If your business really were the only one in its field, there would be a reason for that, and that reason is likely everyone else already discovered it’s a bad idea. When an idea is good it always has competitors.

 

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That truth is why hundreds of companies churn out almost identical glass and metal devices for making phone calls and connecting to the Internet. And although there is no shortage of car companies, it’s why they all offer similar solutions to the same transportation problem. And it’s why when venture investors hear an entrepreneur say they don’t really have any competitors, investors roll their eyes, shut their wallets, and assume the founder hasn’t done the research.

 

Everyone has competitors.

 

Successful businesses know how to stand out from their competitors.

 

One way to do that is to know your unique selling proposition (USP) —and make that USP clear to everyone else. When prospective customers think of your company they should know what you do, what your competitors do, and how you do it in a different way.

 

In the smartphone industry, for example, Apple has managed to brand itself as the company that pays the most attention to design. It even has its own app store and its own operating system so it can retain control over the way the phone looks and behaves. Samsung? Well, that’s the non-Apple in the market. Its phones are also well designed—its curved edges and equally high prices make that clear. But it’s not dependent on Apple’s software or user experience, and it offers a look that’s just different from Apple’s well-known branding. Mi is best known for its low prices, and Blackberry is still touting its business-friendly keyboard.

 

Those differences aren’t huge. All of the devices made by these companies largely do the same thing. But Apple’s USP of “better design” is enough to help differentiate the company, and it’s consistent in all the company’s products. Whether someone buys an iPhone or a Mac, they know they’re getting that same emphasis on design and functionality.

That quality helps the company stand out, and it encourages consumers to choose Apple over competitor brands.

 

A set of features only does part of the work helping a company’s products stand out, though. It’s what happens when you put those features together that has the biggest effect.

 

That’s what creates the company’s voice.

 

One of the most prominent effects of social media marketing has been the deepening of the relationship between brands and customers. People now see marketing messages from businesses mixed in with updates from their friends. They hear their friends talking about their trip to the beach, then they hear a restaurant talk about their new menu item. Those messages need to fit that casual environment.

 

Even if your product is made by 20 other companies, you should be able to identify a set of characteristics unique to the products your company makes. They could be an element of your design, the warmth of your customer service, your emphasis on low prices, or anything else that sets you apart. No one business can do all of those things. Apple can’t be cheap and luxurious. Blackberry can’t be professional and fun. There’s always room for your business to carve out a strong USP.

 

One way to think about this is that you should know what those characteristics would sound like if you were to put them together in a person. You should know how your brand would speak, how it would dress and what it has planned for the weekend.

 

When you can give your products a unique experience and combine that experience with an authentic voice, you’ll have a company that has a real relationship with customers, and that stands out in a crowd like a friend.

 

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About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

March 8, International Women’s Day, is a daycelebrating women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements around the world. But it’s also a day to take action to build a more gender-balanced world.

 

This year, IWD’s theme is #BalanceforBetter. Creating a better balance at work pays off for more than just the women involved. A global study by Accenture found that when women advance at work, men are more likely to advance, too. (Check out Pixar’s short film Purl for a humorous look at how diversity makes a business a better place to work.)

How can your small business help strike a better balance at work by putting more women in positions of power?

 

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  • Make gender diversity a priorityin your business. A balanced business doesn’t happen by accident. Create a plan for achieving gender balance with specific, measurable goals. Do you want to increase the percentage of women in management roles? Achieve pay equity (according to the Department of Labor, women still earn on average 78 cents for every dollar earned by men)? Attract more women to IT jobs in your business? Share your plan with your employees to hold yourself accountable. Then share your commitment on social media to celebrate International Women’s Day. Download IWD selfie cards, posters, event packs and other tools at the IWD website.

 

  • Be sure your hiring practices are balanced. Your hiring policies may be inadvertently turning women off from applying for jobs at your business. According to a study from researchers at Cornell University, women and minorities generally won’t apply for a job unless they meet every single requirement for experience, skills and qualifications. Instead of saying “5 years minimum experience as accounting manager required,” say “Successful candidates will demonstrate significant experience in a senior role in accounting.” You’re likely to get a wider range of candidates applying. Cornell’s research also found that using male-oriented words like “ninja” or “rock star” in your ads tends to discourage women from applying.

 

  • Implement policies that support women. Child care and elder care responsibilities still fall disproportionately on women. Many women don’t climb the workplace ladder because the long hours or frequent travel required by leadership roles don’t fit their family needs. Offer flexible hours and remote work options that make it easier for women to advance while handling family responsibilities.

 

  • Consider off-hours activities, too. A friend of mine worked at a company that routinely invited male executives to golf outings, paintball battles, sky diving and other “manly” pursuits on weekends. Female execs at the same level didn’t get invitations and were excluded from the chance to build relationships with co-workers and clients. While this is a blatant example of bias, you could be unintentionally biased if activities that help people advance at work are held outside work hours, when many women can’t attend due to family issues.

 

  • Prepare women employees for advancement. Identify women with leadership potential and provide mentorship, training and encouragement to help them develop their skills. For instance, you can enroll them in professional organizations or send them to leadership development and training programs.

 

  • Educate your employees. Bias against women is sometimes so ingrained we don’t recognize it. Lean In has partnered with IWD to offer free ready-to-use presentations, like the workshop “50 Ways to Fight Bias,” which offers specific examples to help participants identify gender bias. The presentation is sure to spark conversation, and also provides research-backed recommendations for how to remedy gender bias. You can also browse Lean In’s library of expert talks, discussion guides and resources.

 

The 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign doesn’t end on International Women’s Day—it runs all year long. Keep your commitment to a better-balanced business going, and you, your business and your employees all stand to benefit.

 

 

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About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

According to the third annual Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight (HSBOS), 79 percent of Hispanic business owners plan to grow their business over the next five years, a full 24 percentage points higher than non-Hispanic entrepreneurs (55 percent).

 

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According to the HSBOS:

 

Hispanic entrepreneurs are significantly more optimistic than their non-Hispanic counterparts when it comes to both their business and economic outlooks. Similarly, Hispanic business owners report greater confidence in the direction of the national economy, as well as their local economies.

 

The stats bear this out. When asked about their outlook for the next 12 months,

 

  • 87 percent of Hispanic business owners said they plan to expand (vs. 67 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs)
  • 74 percent said they expected revenue will increase (vs. 57 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs), and
  • 51 percent said they planned to hire more (vs. 26 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs)

 

So yes, that is a lot of optimism!

 

One of the things I love about the Bank of America Small Business Owner Spotlight is not just that it is full of headlines, but it actually digs deep to give reasoning and context for the news it always seems to break.

 

In this case, what was so interesting is why Hispanic entrepreneurs are so optimistic. If I could sum it up in one word, it would be community and family. (OK, you got me, that’s two words, three actually, but you get the idea.)

 

The bottom line is that Hispanic small business owners are buoyed by their families around them, both actual and extended (and in that, there is a vital lesson for the rest of us. Read on.)

 

  • It’s a family investment: 23 percent of the non-Hispanics surveyed planned on passing their business onto their children. But among Hispanic small business owners, that number is almost double since they see the business as a familybusiness, making it both a motivator anda creator of optimism.
  • The community is involved: Survey participants stated that their community is another influential participant in their success, with 86 percent saying community support is an important part of their success and motivation. Furthermore, and significantly, 22 percent of the Hispanic entrepreneurs said they became a business owner specifically in order to make a difference in their community (compared to only 17 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs.)
  • Employees make a huge difference: And an amazing 91 percent of survey respondents indicated that their employees are critical to their ability to achieve their goals.

 

All of this begs the question: Does all of this optimism make a difference, and if so, how? The answer is an unequivocal yes. While entrepreneurs are optimistic by both nature and vocation, that optimism eventually needs to rest on something real, lest it becomes just so much hot air.

 

In the case of these Hispanic small business owners, their optimism is tied directly to not only a strong economy but to an even stronger family and extended support network. This gives them the ability to take smart, calculated risks and grow their businesses.

 

Example: One interesting takeaway from the HSBOSis that the entrepreneurs surveyed are clearly more inventive and creative when it comes to hiring. The Hispanic entrepreneurs surveyed say they have had to refine their hiring and recruiting approach to better compete in this ultra-competitive job market. How?

 

  • They have turned to social media in far greater numbers than other groups to find and recruit talent (32 percent vs. 23 percent of non-Hispanic business owners)
  • They have begun to offer a more flexible work culture (27 percent vs. 25 percent of non-Hispanic business owners)
  • And maybe most indicative, they are paying higher salaries (26 percent vs. 17 percent of non-Hispanic business owners)

 

As I mentioned, there is a critical lesson in here for the rest of us: By involving one’s family in the business, by getting even more involved in one’s community, and by engaging with and rewarding that extended community, you can create the sort of safety net that simultaneously reduces your risk while increasing the likelihood of your success.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

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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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Small Businesses should leverage social media marketing to grow sales. Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith offers two essential tips all business owners should use in the latest podcast episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com and Bank of America at bankofamerica.com. Here's your host, Gregg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” brought to you by ForbesBooks and Bank of America. Mari Smith joins us with two essential social media tips you can quickly put to work in your business today. Mari is often called the queen of Facebook marketing. IBM says she is one of seven women who are shaping digital marketing and she is a Forbes perennial top social media power influencer. Mari, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Mari Smith:                Thank you Gregg. I'm delighted to be here.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Mari, you are the author of The New Relationship Marketing and Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day, and you are also a columnist for Bank of America. So you talk with small business owners about social media marketing every day. What are the two most essential social media marketing tips all small business owners should put to work in their businesses, literally today, right now?

 

Mari Smith:                Right now, I tell you what Gregg, the number one thing that I see small businesses doing incorrectly is not having crystal clarity on their target audience. So that's number one. When you get super, super clear on who you're wanting to reach, who your customer avatar or avatars are, that will go a long way to inform the type of content that you create, and your messaging, and then definitely your ad targeting. When you're doing your Facebook and Instagram ads, you want to be able to know who am I speaking to, what are their interests or demographics and so forth. Really, really critical.

 

                                   I would say number two is to focus on creating roughly 80% of your posts for Facebook as video content. Facebook is really favoring video content, and the good news is you don't have to be on camera if you don't want to. You can use tools and repurpose and reuse different videos and different formats and use them across other social channels. My favorite video tool is simply called wave.video. That's wave.video.

 

Gregg Stebben:         We know that if we go to your website, and to your Facebook page, and if we go to your Twitter account, we're going to see great examples. Tell us where we should go, your website address, your Twitter handle, your Facebook name, so we can come find you and learn more.

 

Mari Smith:                 Thank you so much. Absolutely. I'm marismith.com. On Facebook, it's facebook.com/marismith. Twitter is @marismith, and Instagram I'm @mari_smith, and as I like to say, just Google me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         By the way, just to add a fine point to that, Mari is M-A-R-I, Smith, S-M-I-T-H, Mari Smith. Mari, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Mari Smith:                My pleasure.

 

Gregg Stebben:         For more great tips from Mari and other small business experts, check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc.

 

Narrator:                    Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com and the Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

 

 

Learn more about video marketing. Visit these articles on the Small Business Community.

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