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Authenticity is what can take "that shop down the street" to a go-to spot. Small Business Community contributor, Chris Brogan shares his thoughts on how small business owners can achieve an authentic voice 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. And here's your host, Greg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm here with Chris Brogan. He's the president of Chris Brogan Media. They offer business and marketing advisory help for mid-to-larger sized companies. If you're not a big company, he also helps small business owners through classes and webinars at Owner Media Group. Chris Brogan Media is at chrisbrogan.com, Owner Media Group is at owner.media. Chris is also a New York Times bestselling author, and his 10th book is coming soon. It's called Dented, Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age. Chris, welcome.

 

Chris Brogan:             Thank you so much for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Chris, we're going to talk about brand building today, and focus very specifically on one word. It's the word “authentic.” And you're the perfect guy to do this, because you do a lot of work with brands, like Disney, and Coke, Google, GM, Coldwell Banker, Titleist, Humana Health, Cisco, Sony. I could go on, and on, and on. This must be something you think about a lot, because people talk a lot about the word authentic.

 

Chris Brogan:             Well, it's one of those pet peeves of mine. I think that the word authentic is thrown around a lot from marketing types, and I think it's one of those things where ... I had a friend a long time ago talk about marketers and say, "This is why we can't have nice things." I think that the basic term of “authenticity,” taken away from marketers just means you do what you say, and you say what you do, and what you come to the table with is who you really are.

 

                                   What happens in technology, and marketing, and all that sort of thing, is we come away with this sort of weird space-aliens-pretending-to-be-humans kind of version of this. And we're like, "What can we do to seem like a human?" And it's so pervasive right now, especially as more and more digital tools allow us to automate everything.

 

                                   And while I'm not saying, “Don't use digital tools,” while marketing automation is a really important part of business these days, I would say that trying to engineer how to be human is a lot different than helping people better interpret how to bring their real self to their customers at a distance, the way we're so comfortable doing across the counter at a store in a small town.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Again, you're the guy with the upcoming book called Dented, Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age. So, if authenticity should not be the goal, what should small business owners aim to accomplish when interacting with their customers and prospects?

 

Chris Brogan:             I guess it's not that it's notauthenticity, but I guess the real focus, if you're really worried about that, the real focus comes in two directions at once, which is looking at yourself and making sure you feel comfortable bringing your whole self to the picnic. I use the analogy “picnic” to mean anywhere where you're wondering what you bring. So, if you are coming to work at a company, you want to know what your skills and qualifications and capabilities are. If you're working with clients, you're going to make sure that you've got that thing that they need.

 

                                   And so, on the one side, as the business side of things, you're saying, "What am I going to do that's going to be of use and service to the people that I hope to do business with?" and also be thinking about those people I hope to serve say, "How do I stay clear on seeing the whole person? And really seeing very specific people?"

 

                                   We want to buy from people who have similar, shared values. There was this stat out there somewhere, and I'm making this number up, high 70's or 80%, saying that we want companies, we believe in some way that it's a company's responsibility to be out there doing things that support our shared value. If you think about that, it's a little crazy.

 

                                   If you're a local, small town hardware store, how much are you going to deal with climate change? However, you can. You could say, "We're not gonna do this kind of packaging. We're going to make it super important that we don't sell you little tiny disposable plastic bags." There's all these things that help endear you to the needs of your customer and the people you hope to serve.

 

                                   What we used to think we had to do is look perfect, look shiny, look like the best of everything we've ever been and maybe even if we have a few dents, a few scars, a few marks, maybe we could still show up and be of service. And I think that if we acknowledge instead of ignore or hide those things, that's what we get to when people say they want authenticity.

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of the things I'm getting from all that you just said, it seems to me that business owners would be really smart to think about the thing they do that provides usefulness and service, and think of that separately from who am I? So the who am I part, can be dented. You are dented, I think you would say and otherwise you wouldn't write a book called Dented, Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age. So, who you are is who you are, dents and all, right?

 

Chris Brogan:            There's so many ways to implement this. In my mind, sort of leaving our flaws and foibles behind for a quick second. I was out with my two kids yesterday, and we were having lunch at a Japanese place, and they wanted sushi. And so we were talking amongst ourselves about a big event, a trade event for video games, and the server who is standing very nearby came over and just sort of politely said, "Oh, are you talking about the E3 conference?" And he became part of our conversation.

 

                                   Well, most companies, most owners and whatnot, try to dissuade people from adding their personal touch to things. And there are definitely times where it's useful and times when it's not. But I think that in the process, in kind of accepting that we're not all perfect, we're being asked to go faster than we've ever gone. We're being asked to collaborate and in a lot of times we're being asked to be forced extroverts.

 

                                  People are blown away when they hear that I'm an introvert, but I am. It's kind of a weird role to be a keynote speaker, an advisor consultant, that sort of a thing, to be out on the public stage and also be not necessarily the first person to want to touch other people and connect. So, I tell people, in a world where we all have to be visual now, in the world where we have to be brief, we have to use video, the mobile devices are taking over the world, et cetera. Well, we still have to bring who we are to that.

 

                                   And if that means accepting that we're too whatever we think we shouldn't be. We're too fat. We're too old. We have a stutter or whatever. Where our big problem is, we have to find a way to bring that. The second part of what you said about worrying about delivering perfect service, we don't necessarily want to make mistakes that impact our customer. That hasn't changed. That'll never change. It's all fine that someone's, quirky and whatnot, but if you ordered a salad and they bring you a hot dog, it's not the right thing.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Or a salad of wilted lettuce.

 

Chris Brogan:             There you go. So we need to protect for that, but it seems like the past version, it looks... salad and wilted lettuce. Someone brings out the salad. It looks terrible. You look down and go, "Oh my gosh, I didn't even notice that." In the old days, the way companies would tend to do something about that is they would either just say, "We didn't do that." They'd brush it off. Nothing like that happened. It's like Jedi mind trick. These aren't the salad leaves you're looking for. And it doesn't work that way anymore. It's too public. Everything's too visual. It's never that we should have been deceptive, but now the tools all point to, "You darn well better do what you say."

 

Gregg Stebben:         Chris, I want to ask you one last question. I'm talking with Chris Brogan. He's an author, keynote speaker, and business advisor. His website is chrisbrogan.com. He works with mid to larger sized companies. He also has another company called Owner Media Group that works with small business owners. Owner Media Group is at owner.media. The last question I want to ask you, because we've been talking about this whole phenomena of the appropriate and misappropriated use of the word authentic. Have you heard of other words like authentic that set off alarms for customers?

 

Chris Brogan:             Oh my goodness. So I think at this point with all the... I think customers, by the way, customers are so tuned to catch BS. And I think we have this weird thing when it comes to marketing or promoting our own company, that we always forget that if we wouldn't want to receive it, why would we think it would be effective to send out? They say, when you send it, it's a well-crafted business letter designed to really drive value to someone else, and when you receive it, it's called junk mail.

 

                                   And I think that when it comes to authenticity, we've just had so many examples of companies not doing what they say or not treating us well, etc. Every single day it seems you can read a new version of what Facebook may or may not have done, or that your wireless carrier is selling your data without your permission, etc., etc.

 

                                  Trust is just at an all-time low. And sort of circling back to my first book about trust agents with Julien Smith, we wrote that saying, there's such an opportunity to really connect with people and to earn their trust and to be open. And where it gets scary for everybody is that to be open means to be a little bit more vulnerable. And I would say going with the word authenticity, the other word is vulnerable. We know this even with a significant other. We could have a conversation, but sometimes we have to let our guard down and if we don't, it's just not going to go the way we need it to go. And it's not going to work for the mutual appreciation of everybody around us.

 

                                  These are not the kinds of things you think about when you run a small HVAC company or something like that. If you're a plumber putting in piping systems, you don't normally sit around thinking, "Am I vulnerable enough to my customer?", but maybe there's some places where we have to think about that, and maybe there are some places where if we're going to try to reach and earn the kinds of customers we most want to sell and serve, then we're going to have to open the kimono a tiny bit.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Well said. He is Chris Brogan. His company is Chris Brogan Media at chrisbrogan.com. That is really targeting mid-to-larger size companies, offering business and marketing advisory services. For smaller companies, he is also the owner of Owner Media Group. They offer classes and webinars there. It's at owner.media and Chris is on Twitter @chrisbrogan. Chris, where can our listeners find out more about your book, Trust Agents, your new book, Dented, and get more of your great marketing tips for small business?

 

Chris Brogan:             If anyone wants, swing by chrisbrogan.com. And I always say the same thing. The little newsletter sign up that pops up. That's the best thing I do every single week. You can always hit reply and talk to me directly, and I think that you get a real fast taste of whether or not you want to connect with me further just from that.

 

Gregg Stebben:         That's great. And for more great tips from Chris and other small business experts, check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community. It's at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Chris, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Chris Brogan:             My pleasure. Thank you.

 

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

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As a small business owner, effective cash flow management can empower you to accomplish long-term success. Ensure you’re carefully budgeting and keeping an eye on your big picture goal with these tips from Ryan Larison, Bank of America SVP and Small Business National Sales Performance Executive.

 

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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. And here's your host, Greg Stebben.

 

Greg Stebben:           We're really excited to welcome Ryan Larison here. He's the SVP, Small Business National Sales Performance Executive at Bank of America. Ryan, welcome.

 

Ryan Larison:            Well thanks, Greg. I really appreciate the invite and the ability to talk to everybody today. Thank you.

 

Greg Stebben:           Well, thank you, because we're going to talk about something so important to small business owners. In a sense, it's kind of a refresher course for many people, but I think this is the kind of information that is worth hearing and rehearing and reviewing often as a small business owner. We're going to talk about cash flow management. Everyone who owns a business knows what cash flow management is, because if you own a small business it's something you're thinking about all the time. But there are probably some very important aspects of cash flow management that many business owners miss, and I'm hoping you can educate us.

 

 

Ryan Larison:             Absolutely, Greg, and effectively managing that cash flow can really empower you to accomplish a few things that will contribute to a long-term success of your business. It does a few things for you. For instance, it allows you to plan for any shortfalls that you might have due to any type of drop in sales or any type of emergency that came up with your business.

 

Ryan Larison:            So we always recommend to save about six to 12 months of reserve cash. That's a real good rule of thumb. It's also a part of careful budgeting, which includes predicting payables and your receivables and accurately tracking changes in your business, because we all know it can be tough at times and requires consistent attention to detail, but it can ultimately be the difference between success and failure.

 

Ryan Larison:             And finally, effectively managing your cash flow, it helps you see the big picture of your business and emphasizes your focus on your profits. Ultimately, you need to know what your break point is, and that really gives you a big-picture goal as to what you're working towards, and then you can effectively manage your cash flow to get to that break point and beyond.

 

Greg Stebben:           It's so interesting, Ryan. In what you just described, it in a sense is very focused on, well in a sense, your relationship with you and your bank account, right? I mean, if I'm planning for shortfalls, I'm setting money aside or making sure that we have money there for if there's a problem. If I'm budgeting, again, it's my small business and my budget. If I'm focusing on profits, again, it's looking at the accounts, talking with the accountant, maybe talking with the bookkeeper.

 

Greg Stebben:           But there's a whole other side of managing cash flow that is also very important. It's the part of managing your cash flow that involves customers. Because customers are king, customers are queen, but sometimes these relationships can get a little tricky to manage, and you want to make sure those long relationships stay and continue to be great, profitable relationships, and you want to manage relationships with new customers. What are some strategies we can employ to help manage the customer side of cash flow?

 

Ryan Larison:            That's a great question. And listen, we always want to keep our customers happy, but if the payments are not coming in or they're coming in sporadically, it really can impact your business negatively. So a couple of the strategies that we advise our small business clients to consider include establishing clear terms in your invoices, so you can't fault the customer if they're not paying you if you haven't expressed the terms correctly.

 

Ryan Larison:            One area you can utilize is maybe some late fees in order to get a great way to spur them to actually start paying off their amounts. Another great way is to accelerate receivables, so by meeting the needs of your most busy customers, one great way is to get a lockbox. We have lockboxes that we utilize that you can mail your payments in and they have faster processing. Or even my favorite, which is an electronic payments portal that is the quickest and easiest way in order to get that payment over to us.

 

Ryan Larison:             And then finally, this is probably the most important. I like this a lot better than late payments. It's to engage the customer and maybe even have some discounts or rewards for referrals as well as many ways to pay the invoices. So maybe you offer a discount on invoices paid immediately or even allowing your customer to pay via credit or debit card. That's a quick and easy way to get those payments over to you and get those into your hand in a very fast manner.

 

Greg Stebben:           I love those ideas, especially the idea of incentivizing, as you said, engaging customers and incentivizing them to pay faster, either making it easier for them to do that or even using incentives like discounts and things like that. Because you never know when your customers might also find that as a benefit, and if you don't ask, you'll never find out that that actually could be a great way for you to help manage cash flow.

 

Greg Stebben:           So Ryan, I want to ask, are there other tips you would want to give small business owners who are nervous about their cash flow? Are there other things you've learned from working with small business owners that might be helpful to our listeners today?

 

Ryan Larison:             A few more things. So one thing that may not actually come to your mind as a business owner is you can actually creatively schedule your own payables as well. You can negotiate 60 or 90-day payments that may give you a little bit of breathing room when things slow down. And so maybe you have a cycle that's a little bit different than everybody else, and so you just have and communicate with your vendors around a different payment schedule.

 

Ryan Larison:            Or you can…It can also be helpful to explore options when determining how to handle payables and recurring expenses. So if there is a shortfall, you can keep information like, such as with your loans and lines of credits and utilize those in order to help you through your cash flow.

 

Ryan Larison:             And of course, we do this at our bank, and I'm sure you do it as a small business owner. It's really important to make sure that you forecast wisely. So when you think about where you're going and what that will mean for upcoming budgets and inflows and outflows, and just be realistic with where you think your business will be and just make sure you forecast correctly, because a good plan can always get you through those tough times.

 

 

Greg Stebben:            And I would guess, and I think anyone who owns a small business can identify with this, being surprised is always putting yourself in the worst possible place when it coming comes to managing your cash flow.

 

Ryan Larison:            That's correct. You want to try to figure out what could come your way and have the best plan possible for those incidences that happen, that just typically will put you in a bad spot, and just have a couple of plans of attack in order to go after it. And communication is always key. In talking with your vendors and talking with your clients, that communication piece can really help you get and utilize cash appropriately.

 

Greg Stebben:           Well, that is really great advice. He is Ryan Larison. He is the SVP, Small Business National Sales Performance Executive with Bank of America. This is “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. And for more great small business tips, check out Bank of America's online small business community at bankofamerica.com/sbc.

 

Greg Stebben:           Ryan, thank you so much for joining us.

 

Ryan Larison:            Thank you, Greg. I appreciate it.

 

Speaker 1:                 Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

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Make sure your small business leverages to right influencers to reach your desired target audience. Small Business Community contributor, Joel Comm, shares his influencer insights 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. And here's your host, Gregg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I am here with Joel Comm. His website is joelcomm.com Joel is J-O-E-L. Comm is C-O-M-M, dot com. He's on Twitter and Facebook @JoelComm. Joel was a true internet pioneer and he's been creating profitable websites, software, products, and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995 and he calls himself the functional futurist. He doesn't just see the future. He gets there first.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And in addition to being the functional futurist, he is also an author, speaker, consultant, and podcaster. So Joel, one of your books is called The Fun Formula: How Curiosity, Risk-Taking, and Serendipity Can Revolutionize How You Work. Welcome and I hope we can talk about this and things like influencer marketing because influencers are supposed to be fun, too.

 

Joel Comm:               Oh, I hope they are. But the most important thing is that influencers are supposed to be influential and there's a lot of people that call themselves influencers, but they don't actually influence anybody to do anything. That is not an influencer.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And certainly not one you should hire or pay.

 

Joel Comm:               Right.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Can you define influencer marketing for us?

 

Joel Comm:               Well, it's basically working with the brand to bring awareness of that brand to their target market in the hopes that it will bring results, right? So, an influencer is typically somebody who will use, represent, a product or service to their audience in order for that audience to say, "Hey, this person approves or likes or uses this. Maybe I should too."

 

Gregg Stebben:         Hmm. So, it's endorsement marketing or what we might have called endorsement marketing at another time in media history.

 

Joel Comm:               Sure. I think that it really is the same thing only now instead of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, being the ones to do the influencing, a new realm of micro celebrities, micro influencers, that are not nearly as well-known as some of these major celebrities, which also means you don't have to pay the same multimillion dollar celebrity fees, but also have a more personal connection with their audience.

 

 

Joel Comm:               So as a tech influencer, the people that, the companies which hire me to influence, they know me already. I have a relationship with them. It's not that, "Oh, they've seen me play sports or that they've seen me in movies." Many of them have actually met me or has engaged with me already on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or YouTube or Twitter or anywhere. And so, there's a greater likelihood that those people will be responsive to an influencer that they're more connected to.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So if I'm a small business owner, why might this be a better way for me to spend my marketing dollars than to pay for traditional paid advertising?

 

Joel Comm:               Well, that's a great question. Paid advertising, you're targeting a market, but the messaging is coming directly from you as the merchant. And so, you might not have any relationship with the people that you're trying to reach. Whereas if you secure the services of an influencer, it is a third-party endorsement, right?

 

Joel Comm:               People are…there's a reason people go to third-party review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor, or that we read reviews on amazon.com assuming that what we're reading is legitimate—and we know that there are reviews that are planted and that some people game the system—but assuming that those are legitimate, we trust the input and advice of other people more than we trust the messaging that comes directly from the merchant themselves.

 

Joel Comm:               And if it's somebody that we know that we already trust, that endorsement is exponentially more influential, and so it makes sense rather than just go and buy ads that go direct to the consumer to say, "Hey, here is somebody who has some clout that is influential. They already use my product or my service. What if I pay them to tell their target market about what we're selling?" And it's highly effective when done right.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm talking with Joel Comm. He's an amazing guy. He's an internet pioneer. He's been around the Internet and social media since the beginning. He calls himself the functional futurist. One of his books, one of his 15 books, is called The Fun Formula: How Curiosity, Risk-Taking and Serendipity Can Revolutionize How You Work. One of the things you mentioned, well you mentioned some big name athletes as potential influencers, and we all recognize this because we see celebrities as influencers. We know that this is part of what they do, but I'm a small business owner. Is it possible that there are influencers in my world that can make a difference for my business because I surely can't afford a movie star or an all-star athlete?

 

Joel Comm:               Sure, of course there are. And the key to that is finding one of your customers that has an audience. That's really the key right there. Somebody who already buys your socks and wears them and enjoys them. Somebody who eats your baked goods that has an audience that has perhaps a local audience that they could reach, go, "Mm, that is one good cupcake. Go over to Cupcake Heaven over there and try one of these." And they post a video. I mean that would be me. If there was a cupcake place I loved and they're going to say, "We're going to pay you in cupcakes, Joel." I would be like down there and I would shoot a video of myself eating this delicious cupcake and I would post it on Instagram perhaps. And then people that know me here locally would go, "Oh Joel, that looks amazing. I've got to go try one of those." It's that simple.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And I trust Joel. So if Joel says it's the best cupcake, it's gotta be the best cupcake.

 

Joel Comm:               Right. And he really appears to be enjoying that cupcake. I mean, him and that cupcake should probably get a room. They're having such a good time. So, this is influencer marketing at its most basic, and it really is basic. This is not rocket science. Which is good because I am not an engineer and a rocket scientist. But I do know what I like and I do know that I enjoy telling other people what I like and by demonstrating how much I like a brand for their product or their service, I'm communicating to those who follow me, "I think this is worthy of your attention. Here's why. Want to check it out? Here's how."

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         So in this cupcake scenario, Joel.

 

Joel Comm:               Now I'm hungry.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yeah. Well you're going to just have to wait a few minutes. Sorry about that. But I'm the cupcake shop owner and I know you love my cupcakes and I know you have a good audience and people trust you. So, you seem like a really good influencer for me and my cupcake shop. Am I going to get away with just offering you all the cupcakes you can eat in exchange for you tweeting and Instagramming, Snapchatting and Facebooking and did I mention tweeting my cupcakes? Or might I have to pay a little bit more than that?

 

Joel Comm:               Yeah, I would probably ask you to pay me as well and then I would ask you to pay for my doctor bill because I'd become huge and unhealthy from eating too many of your delicious cupcakes. But I've done all kinds of influencer deals. I've worked with big brands. Most recently I did some influencer work for Alibaba as a consumer electronic show. I've worked with IBM and just a lot of other brands and I've worked with smaller brands and sometimes it's just that, "You know what? If you'll send me that piece of electronic hardware that you created or your software. Let me try it. If I like it, I'll take a picture, I'll send a tweet." Sometimes I've actually had people send me socks because people know I like fun socks and I'm in the crypto currency space because my podcast is all about bitcoin.

 

Joel Comm:               It's called the Bad Crypto Podcast and I've had people that are making these fun crypto currency socks, send them to me, unsolicited, and that that's a good way, by the way, to get an influencer to do something without paying them is just sending them a gift. Don't expect anything in return, but if it's something that they like, then odds are they're going to be, "Hey, I got this cool coffee mug or this gift basket or whatever from so-and-so." And they'll often tag you and sometimes that is the most cost-effective way to get influencer marketing and word of mouth that you could possibly do.

 

Gregg Stebben:         You actually bring up a really important point here and that is there have been some issues with the FTC about influencer marketing, right? I mean if you are paid to be an influencer, you are supposed to, in some appropriate and legal way disclose, that you're being paid, and we need to be conscious of that.

 

Joel Comm:               Oh yes you are. Yeah, you are. And so the hashtags that you are to use, if it's sponsored in any way, and that could mean payment or that could mean that you received goods or services of some value. You're supposed to use one of these three hashtags: either #ad #sponsored or #promoted, and that is what the FTC is looking for. As long as you have labeled, you don't have to have this long disclaimer, you just need to have one of those hashtags. And that is what is commonly understood as full disclosure.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And so when someone sends you socks or I send my product to a celebrity hoping he or she will use it or wear it or eat it and take a picture of it, are they because they got it for free, supposed to use one of those three hashtags?

 

Joel Comm:               You know, I am not a lawyer and I've never played one on television. I think a gift is a gift and I don't know that it's necessary. Now, if an agreement was made, right, I think that that's different. If there was a contract, whether verbal or written, I would probably default to, "Hey, if you'll send me the ..." If somebody was trying to negotiate with you, what would it take to do this? Send me these. You know, it's a sticky area. I don't really know. I'm not going to give legal advice.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Where do I….Do you know where I would go to find out more? Is that the FTC website?

 

Joel Comm:                Yeah, I would probably do that. I would go use a search engine and just ask that question.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Okay. The last question really quick is if I am engaging with an influencer, what kind of metrics should I be looking at to know if that influencer is really creating results for me and these are actually a return on investment?

 

 

Joel Comm:               Yeah. You want to look at their engagement. It's not about the number of followers they have. It's about the engagement that they have. There are micro influencers, people that are very influential in small communities. They might only have a thousand followers on Twitter, but then you'll see 20 or so reactions, which is a lot for just having a thousand followers. So look at how many followers they have and then look at the metrics for what type of engagement, what kind of comments are people leaving? Are they retweeting and sharing this content? And then you'll know whether or not this person is truly influential or has the reach to get the job done.

 

Gregg Stebben:         All right. He is Joel Comm. It's J-O-E-L C-O-M-M. Joelcomm.com,on Twitter and Facebook @JoelComm. I mentioned one of his books, he's written 15 but one of them is The Fun Formula, How Curiosity, Risk-Taking and Serendipity Can Revolutionize How You Work. Full disclosure for Joel, he's also, I believe, an influencer for Bank of America, correct?

 

Joel Comm:               That is correct. I was going to leave that to you to bring up.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yeah. So, for more great tips from Joel as one of Bank of America's influencers and other small business experts like him, check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community bankofamerica.com/SBC. Joel, thanks for joining us.

 

Joel Comm:               You bet. My pleasure.

 

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

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The Department of Labor has made changes that could impact your Small Business payroll. Listen to Erron Stark, an ADP Executive, share insights on what the latest Labor Department rule changes mean for your Small Business in 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.comand Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com. And here's your host, Gregg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm here with Erron Stark. He's the Division Vice President SBS Channel Sales for ADP. Erron, welcome.

 

Erron Stark:               Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm really excited to talk to you as well because there's a lot going on within the Department of Labor, as far as them proposing some big changes when it comes to minimum salary requirements, particularly, if I understand it correctly, when it comes to those who qualify as having administrative professional and executive exemptions. Can we talk about…obviously I want to talk about the bigger topic, which is those minimum salary requirements, but first let's talk about who qualifies in that category as having administrative, professional and executive exemptions. Can you explain to us who that is?

 

Erron Stark:               Sure. So the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is actually what is being reviewed right now and has been reviewed for the better part of five or six years now as it pertains to overtime exemptions, and if those individuals, as you were just referring to, that have classifications as administrative roles, professional roles, executive roles within an organization, there are very specific definitions and elements of their job functions that would then classify each one of those particular job types.

 

Erron Stark:                And over the years, the minimum salaries for those particular individuals has fluctuated to allow an organization to pay an individual within those classifications a certain salary on a weekly or biweekly basis that would exempt them from being eligible for overtime. So whether or not I worked 40 hours or 50 hours in that particular week, if I met that minimum salary for that specific pay period, I would not be eligible for overtime. And what is currently on the docket to be reviewed and potentially implemented is a significant increase to those thresholds, which will impact business owners on how they structure and classify certain individuals. But because of that, a lot of business owners need to be a little bit more in tune with what those classifications are and what those threshold implications could be.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So if I'm a business owner and these proposed changes are in whatever state they're at and perhaps about to become effective as law or not, but what should I be doing today...?  First of all, what's the best way for me to monitor what's happening and then what kinds of changes should I be thinking about in terms of preparing for this, should these changes become law?

 

Erron Stark:               That's a great question and I think for large organizations, many institutions typically have some type of regulatory department within their HR arena or legal arena that helps them classify certain individuals and be in sync with the differentiation between state and federal minimum thresholds and the classifications. But specifically for small business owners, what we recognize is that their passions typically get them into opening up a business around their respective craft and service that they're trying to provide to the market, but these particular areas of concentration and education are not necessarily what they got into business for.

 

Erron Stark:               So I think first and foremost is to begin to familiarize themselves with these classifications. And if the bandwidth is not necessarily there, to start to identify services that they could employ, that could help them better define where they currently stand today as far as being in compliance with the current regulations, but then also starting to understand what the future implications could be.  And one of the biggest areas of opportunity for most organizations big or small is ensuring that they have a structured time and attendance process today.

 

Erron Stark:               Because most organizations, if they do define their employees as exempt from overtime, they then don't feel the need to have any type of attendance and/or time tracking mechanism in place. And again, if these new changes go into effect, those are certain protocols or certain systematic changes that if they are proactive today, they will be in a much better place and feel more confident that they are ready for those changes before they go into effect.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So you mentioned a very interesting thing, which is services that can help businesses monitor this, prepare for it. I'm talking with Erron Stark. He's the Division Vice President SBS Channel Sales for ADP. Who provides those services? And I'm guessing a company like ADP does that. But if not, help direct us so we know where to go and look for those services.

 

Erron Stark:               It is convenient that we do, but I would be lying if I said we were the only player in that game. However, the services that, if I were a small business owner that I would be looking for, are services that can use economies of scale, because most small business owners from a cost perspective, it's usually not efficient for them to employ a full-time SHRM-certified HR professional that a large organization may. But there are services that exist where you can tap into teams of those SHRM-certified HR professionals that can help give guidance and evaluate your current infrastructure and then tell you where there are certain gaps.

 

Erron Stark:                And again, it's almost using it on an as need basis as opposed to maybe a more proactive or robust HR offering. But depending on your needs, size of organization, the growth trajectory of your organization, those are services that are flexible. ADP does happen to provide those that are scalable, anything from reactive to proactive HR support and guidance to keep an organization compliant with changes such as this around Department of Labor regulations.

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of my questions for you, Erron, and you may not know the answer, but I'm gonna ask anyway, do you have any sense of how many small businesses—as a percent—these proposed changes might affect?

 

Erron Stark:               It’s a great questionand I can tell you confidently that it's at minimum 50%. It's hard to identify across the entire chasm of small business owners coast–to-coast and certain job descriptions that they have how many of them are currently in compliance, how many that are currently within the current regulations out of compliance. But what I can tell you is that once these changes go into effect, that number will increase substantially from 50% into the high 70s and 80s, where I as an individual, especially as organizations grow in size, they may have individuals that have already exceeded those thresholds to be considered exempt, but it's with a significant level of confidence that there are going to be levels of the organization that have individuals being paid at certain rates that will not meet the proposed changes. So again, big or small, I think there's going to be a significant impact to the business community in general and how they approach these changes.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So really those numbers and those percentages are high enough that almost anybody with a small business needs to have this on their radar starting today if it's not there already.

 

Erron Stark:               Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I want to go back to something else you said. You mentioned regulations on the state level. Because, of course, right now what we're talking about is the federal Department of Labor, but you also mentioned state. What impact can state laws have on this?

 

Erron Stark:               Yeah. It's interesting because, in most cases, state law, when it pertains to Department of Labor regulations, will supersede that of federal. However, what we've learned is that in certain instances, a state may have a lower threshold and using minimum wage potentially as an example, if a state has a lower minimum wage than that of the federal minimum wage, whichever one is higher will win for the employee. So rest assured that these changes on the FLSA front will more than likely follow a similar type of model where what these threshold are, if the state is higher than federal, then an organization will have to follow the state guideline based on them residing within that state. And if the federal happens to be higher than the state, then they will then have to follow the federal in favor of the employee themselves.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And you're again I think in a subtle way making a case for why a small business needs to go get some expert help from a service that specializes in this. Because if you own or you're running a small business, it's probably going to be very difficult for you to sort this all out. And Tthere's probably a good chance you're going to miss something that's very important. You should focus on running your business successfully and not trying to become expert at something that there are already experts for you to hire to assist you.

 

Erron Stark:               Yeah and to take it one step further, what we've seen in feedback from businesses that employ such services from ADP is that their prior course of action was to go on the web and search for what they would perceive be the right approach to handle these matters. And when it comes to regulations within the Department of Labor and just federal and state regulations in general, the amount of interpretation that can take place and how one person reads it versus another, it's intriguing to say the least.

 

Erron Stark:               And again, one just doesn't want to get caught in a situation where I as a business owner interpreted what I read on the internet versus how it actually should have been read, which is where a HR professional can truly help them decipher what is going to be compliant for their organization.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So it seems to me an analogy here is for the same reason that I have an accountant who helps me interpret tax law and apply it to my circumstances, this is complicated stuff that I'm needing another professional to help me interpret. And that actually gives me both the ability to sleep better at night, but it also gives me some cover should there be a problem down the road. I did all the right things to do our best at interpreting the laws even if we might have missed something.

 

Erron Stark:               It's a phenomenal analogy just because for decades, if not centuries, with the accountant profession being one of the most tenured professions out there that business owners have always entrusted to help give them guidance on how to run their business. When it comes to the HR arena that is growing substantially, the reason behind that is due to the increased legislation that has continued to impact business owners both big and small.

 

Erron Stark:                And with those increased legislation that have continued to be passed typically in favor of the employees, when you combine that with the extensive media coverage that an employee has access to and just the sensitivity of how employers engage with their employees, which is their greatest asset, it has become even more prevalent for an organization to go beyond just the four walls of their accountant guidance to seek out HR professionals that can also help ensure and insulate their organization so they can focus on growing their business as opposed to having to stay up at night worrying about whether or not they are prepared for these types of changes or whether or not they're in compliance in general.

 

Gregg Stebben:         That's really well said. I'm talking with Erron Stark. He's Division Vice President SBS Channel Sales for ADP. And Erron, I want to ask one last question and that is what is the status of these proposed new rules? Do we know if or when they will take effect?

 

Erron Stark:               So the latest that we have been privy to is that the target date is January of 2020. So we're not necessarily looking too far out on the horizon. I would preface that by saying this has been a change that has been on the docket for quite some time now. And it has gone through a myriad of modifications. And I think that also could potentially give a business owner a little bit of a false sense of security today because it's been something that has been in the proposal stage for so long that they could make a assumption that it will continue to stay in that stage.

 

Erron Stark:               But my precaution to those individuals is to say if you are not prepared for the change, once it eventually goes into effect, it will have a significant implication to business owners and not in a negative way. It's just going to require a tremendous amount of visibility into current classifications, potential restructuring of whether or not an employee is salary versus hourly. And those types of exercises, if it's rushed for a business owner because they waited too long or they just didn't believe that it truly was going to pass, is where you could potentially get yourself into hot water because then once it's rushed, you typically don't do it well or implement the right strategies to ensure that it does not impact your organization in an adverse way.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And if you're caught by surprise and you're having to do this in sort of emergency mode, you're taking resources away from other important parts of your business. So I think we all understand that planning ahead and working ahead and being smart about what you're doing always make sense. I think that's great advice and Erron, it sounds like what you're saying is: the time is now.

 

Erron Stark:               For sure. I would complement this conversation by saying this is just one of many changes that have already taken place, and there are even more legislative changes that again are in favor of employees to help strengthen their position in the workforce today. In the tight labor market that we have with an almost 50 year low in unemployment, the employees are super important to every organization today. The retention of those employees are important. So employing some type of HR strategy, employing some type of insulation to ensure that your organization is compliant should mean a more comprehensive outlook outside of just FLSA and these changes that could potentially go into effect in January.

 

Erron Stark:                And that way if you are proactive in ensuring that you are holistically compliant, if and when these changes go into effect, which it seems stronger today than it ever has, that January is a realistic timeframe, you will be even more prepared and, to your point, not have to worry about being distracted at that time so you can continue to grow and focus on what you got into business for initially.

 

Gregg Stebben:         That's really very well said, Erron. Thank you. He's Erron Stark, Division Vice President SBS Channel Sales for ADP. Erron, thanks for joining us here on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. This interview and lots of other great small business tips will be available if you check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community. That's at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Erron, thank you for joining.

 

Erron Stark:               Oh, it was my pleasure, and thank you for having us. Look forward to doing more of these soon.

 

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

 

 

Learn more about ADP® payroll and HR solutions from Bank of America.1

 

1ADP is a registered trademark of ADP, LLC, used under license. Bank of America does not deliver and is not responsible for the products, services or performance of ADP, LLC. Data connection required. Wireless carrier fees may apply. Other bank fees may apply. See the Business Schedule of Fees available at bankofamerica.com/businessfeesataglance for details.

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Ensuring your employees are aware of their value is more important than ever. On this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Chris Brogan shares how small business owners can help inspire and motivate employees to increase retention.

 

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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. And here's your host, Gregg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. I'm here with Chris Brogan. He's an author, keynote speaker and business advisor. He's also the president of Chris Brogan Media at ChrisBrogan.com.They offer business and marketing advisory help for mid-to-larger-size companies. If you're not a big company, Chris also has a company called Owner Media Group at Owner.Media. That's where he helps small business owners through classes and webinars. Chris, welcome.

 

Chris Brogan:             Thank you so much. Glad to be here.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Chris, I want to talk to you today about how to bring out the best in your employees. Before we go there, I want to point out that your upcoming book, you've written one book which is a New York Times bestseller — it's called Trust Agents— but your upcoming book, your 10th book, is called Dented: Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age. You also post a lot of posts on Twitter using #Dented. Your Twitter account is @chrisbrogan.

 

                                   I want to talk about how do we bring out the best in our employees. This is more important than it's ever been. Is this also a big focus of your upcoming book Dented?

 

Chris Brogan:             It is. One of the ways that I'm looking at modern business is that, at least in the west, and at least with the kinds of the companies that I've been working with, there's a lot of situation where unemployment's at a very, very low level right now. Retention is a lot more important than ever before. However, at the same time, there's a lot of stuff going on that's challenging to businesses.

 

                                   For instance, I'm seeing that there's a lot of trouble with presenteeism, meaning people disengaged. That's costing companies up to $550 billion a year. People come to work, they're doing their job, but they're also thinking about the fact that a family member is dealing with an addiction problem, or they're dealing with the mental health challenge of depression or something like that.

 

                                   My work in this space, what I'm trying to do is ... Some of this is coming from the hectic side of all this digital stuff coming at us. Some of it's just coming from work and life are not in balance, and they're not supposed to be, but there needs to be a new fit there. What I'm looking to do is, how do I help companies, employees, executives, everyone, how to help them figure out how to bring their whole self to the interactions that they need to have? What are we going to do to connect, interact, and belong at the level that we need to?

 

Gregg Stebben:         You're asking a lot of questions there. I'm hoping we can transition to the idea that you might have some tips to help us do that. What kinds of things should we be thinking about doing to inspire and motivate our employees?

 

Chris Brogan:            Well, I'll back it up a little. One thing I'd say is that humans in general have one great need more than any other. Stephen Covey talked about this a billion years ago in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He said humankind's greatest need was the need to feel wanted.I would even go a layer easier than that, and say to feel seen and understood.

 

                                  I think that more so than ever before, there's so much distraction. I'm looking at how do companies work with their employees to develop them a little bit more. How do employers work with their teams to say, "I see you. I understand what's going on with you. Let's make this environment work best for what's going on in your world."

 

                                   Then in the meantime, I think that companies need to have five things that they're working on a lot more often, even if they hide this inside of other language, if they need to. Resilience. How much are people able to withstand a bad situation happening or a negative situation, and then get back on station, so to speak. How do they get back to work?

 

                                   Clarity. You'll have time to try to sort through stuff. The level of people who are expert communicators is much lower than the level of people who need to communicate these days. I think some skill there needs to happen.

 

                                  Systems. One thing we tend to do a lot as leaders and employers, we tend to believe that there's a whole bunch of knowledge inbred into the people that we've hired in. You should know that already…that anyone, blah, blah, blah. That's the sort of language that comes out, but those systems don't exist, or they're not as explicit as they need to be. We need to retouch on that.

 

                                  Confidence. It is amazing how many opportunities exist overall to have your confidence mashed down over and over again. So can we build in ways to work on people's confidence, develop their confidence, etc.?

 

                                  Then I talked a little bit about this when I said clarity, but communications in general, we need to really train everybody in that organization how to do things like give feedback, how to do things like do effective brainstorming when you're doing collaboration work and whatnot, and how to really make sure that we're speaking to the variety of humans that could be there. We tend to get a lot more homogenous in our view and talk to everyone, but the world doesn't really react to that well.

 

                                  Those five things, resilience, clarity, systems, confidence and communication, I think are part of a core operating system for helping leaders and their employees work better.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I think part of what you're saying here is that in today's world, where we have what many are calling a war for talent, employers need to be more aware than ever of the value of the employees they have, not lose them, that's retention, and also understand that making your employees feel valued will make it easier for you to attract more employees, including the friends and associates of the valued employees you already have. Am I summarizing that well?

 

Chris Brogan:            Oh, very well. There are stats like that. Employees who feel their voices are heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. By the way, I think this stat I'm going to read to you is the least shocking stat you could ever hear. Ninety-six percent of employees believe that showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention. I'm wondering who the 4% were, but you know. That's something I read. Eighty-nine percent of workers at companies that support wellbeing initiatives are more likely to recommend that company as a good place to work.

 

                                  These numbers matter. There's math to this. There's money to this, but for so many years and still ongoing, we call this stuff the soft skills, which is silly. This is everything. There are almost no real factory jobs. There are almost no real, we don't care who sits in that chair, just pull the lever when the light turns blue. That doesn't exist anymore.

 

                                   I know that's a threat to some people, who would just rather people shut up and do their dumb job, but it's really not ... If you're going to make a company that's thriving, you're not going to get away with it using that methodology.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I want to ask you about one other type of employee, Chris. I'm talking with Chris Brogan. He's an author, keynote speaker and business advisor. He's at ChrisBrogan.com. He's on Twitter @chrisbrogan. He's the author of nine books, including the New York Times bestseller Trust Agents. His 10th book is upcoming. It's called Dented, Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age.

 

                                  I'm coming back to Dented, because I want to ask you about one type of employee that I think every business owner has had. This is somebody who does a great job, but is shy or introverted, and you believe as a business owner that you could help them transform themselves, frankly, but also bring so much more to the company if you could help them bring themselves out of that introverted state. Do you have ideas for how we can encourage someone to become even greater at using the skills and experience and thoughts that they already have, when they're shy or introverted?

 

Chris Brogan:            I love the question, because I want to say at the front of it, one really difficult challenge for extroverted people is they think, "Well, actually, that's where you should be. You should be out like me."

 

Gregg Stebben:        Yeah, that's me. I'm the guy asking the question and that's me.

 

Chris Brogan:            Yeah. I hear you. The challenge there is that some people were born to be stage hands. Some people love painting the set, and hoisting the fake rainbow up and over the picture at the right moment during the school play. Other people, like my oldest son, love to wear glitter and sequins, and scream as loud as he can every line in his play.

 

                                   We need both. I would say that instead of how do we make an introvert more extroverted, the question is how do we mine those deep waters, because there's just so much value in there.

 

                                   To me, one way to do that is to encourage other means of communication and interaction. They're the kind of people you could say, "Hey. Can you write a little report?" or, "Hey. Are you up for sharing a quick five bullets every now and again?" There's always ways to get people a step or two into sharing what they know.

 

                                   One thing that helps really introverted people a lot are confidence building opportunities. I think that one missing piece of work that anybody who owns a business could learn something from those time wasting video games that I love so much, is that games have stages and levels and checkpoints. Work doesn't. I would say the one cool way to work with introverts is to say, "Here's what level one of interacting looks like." "Here's what level two looks like." "Can we get some more interaction here?" If I built this person's confidence, what would that look like? What would feel rewarding to that person for sharing? Then you start to see how you could design something.

 

                                  When I work with executives to design better ways to lead their people, or to tune up their leadership, one of the things I'm looking for is that. Are there more breaks that we can stick in, are there more checkpoints and systems? Specific to introverts, I think that's the method is get smaller bites, but get lots of those bites. Make it a nice tapas meal, and then you get their value.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I really like the analogies there, tapas meals, and to the levels or leveling up in gaming. He is Chris Brogan. His company is Chris Brogan Media at ChrisBrogan.com. He's also the owner of Owner Media Group for small business owners, where they offer classes and webinars. Owner Media Group is at Owner.Media. You can also follow Chris on Twitter, like I do, @chrisbrogan. His New York Times bestselling book, Trust Agents was one of his nine books. His 10th book is coming. It's called Dented: Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age.

 

                                  Chris, in addition to your website, are there other places people can go to learn more about you, or are there things on your website you would point us to that can offer great value?

 

Chris Brogan:            ChrisBrogan.com works well. If you get there, there's a newsletter that will pop up and bother you. That's my best thing I do every single week. If you found this interesting, grab that newsletter. You can always hit reply to me directly from there, and we can chit chat.

 

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

 

                                   Chris, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Chris Brogan:             My pleasure. Thank you.

 

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

 

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A bank loan is a great way to help entrepreneurs start growing their own business. On this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Steve Strauss shares six steps to successfully obtaining a small business loan.

 

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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 six essential steps for getting a business loan. Steve is USA Today's small business columnist and also the author of 17 books, including the best-selling Small Business Bible. Steve, thank you for joining us.

 

Steve Strauss:           Gregg, great to be here. Thanks for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         This is obviously an essential topic, how to get a small business loan. You are, as I mentioned, USA Today's small business columnist. You're also a Small Business Community influencer for Bank of America, and you talk to a lot of small business owners and I suspect that questions about how to get a loan is often one of the things they ask you.

 

Steve Strauss:           You bet. In fact, a couple years ago I even wrote a book on this very subject called Get Your Business Funded, because the good news is there are really a lot of different ways to get the money that you need for your business.

 

                                  The best and most obvious is to get a bank loan, as we're going to talk about today, but there are others like crowdfunding and microfinance, even business-owned competitions that people aren't as aware of. But the good news is, there is money out there for you to start running and grow your business.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, of these first six steps, what's number one?

 

Steve Strauss:           Number one is you want to create a relationship with your banker before you ever go get a loan. In fact, what I really want people to know is banks want to lend to you. They want to lend to you. That's their job. That's their business. That's their business model.

 

                                  So, your job is to make their job easier, and the first way to do that is as I said: create a relationship with your banker. So before you ever go into the bank with your loan package, instead go into the bank and meet your small business banker.

 

 

                                  For example, Bank of America, who I do a lot of work with, who you mentioned, a couple years ago hired more than 1,000 small business bankers, and they're there to help you understand the banking process, understand the loan process, and understand what your loan package needs to have and how your business needs to look in order for you to get the funding that you need.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         I think what you said about it being the business of business banking to make loans is a really important point to make, because I think sometimes people feel like it takes luck to get a loan, but they're actually in the business of doing it, and that's an important thing to remember. So that's step number one. What's step number two?

 

Steve Strauss:           Step number two is to understand how much money you need realistically. It's kind of like Goldilocks' porridge. You don't want it to be too little because then you're going to end up with a capital crunch before you even start. You don't want it to be too much because the banker who is well-versed in finances and books and spreadsheets will understand that you're asking for too much money and that's not what you want to do.

 

                                  So you really need to think thoroughly through what it is you're trying to do, how much money you need to do what it is you want to do, and then go in with a loan package to ask for that proper amount.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, I've done that. What is step number three?

 

Steve Strauss:           Number three is to get your personal credit in order. It going to be very unlikely that you're going to be able to go in and just on the basis of your business get a business loan, at least if you're fairly new to business. Often a bank is going to want to see a personal guarantee on the part of the principal, and so you want to make sure that your personal credit score is about 700, that your debt to income ratio isn't out of whack, that you have a great credit history, that you have a history of paying your debt back in time, on time, and in full.

 

 

                                   They're also going to want to know how long you've been in business and what your cash flow is like. But make sure that you get your personal credit in order so that if you need to give a personal guarantee or if you need to give collateral even you can do both of those things.

 

Gregg Stebben:         We're talking with Steve Strauss about the six steps to get a small business loan. Steve, what is step number four?

 

Steve Strauss:           Step number four is the one that we kind of talked about at the beginning. Now get your loan package ready. You've met with the banker, you know how much money you need, you have your credit in order, then you do number four, which is prepare your loan package.

 

                                  You have to include your financials, projections, a business plan, leases, contracts, personal financial information. You're going to put all of that together in a package that you're going to give to the bank.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Now, Steve, I'm really curious about steps five and six, because I would have thought we were done after number four when we got our loan package together. So, what's number five?

 

Steve Strauss:           Five is an easy one, which is, you know, you submit and you wait. You may wait a day. It just depends on what kind of loan you're trying to get. It may be that you have to wait for a couple weeks for underwriting to do their job. But you're going to submit and then see what happens.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I would imagine that if we did step number one correctly, which is create a relationship with our banker, then step number five, waiting, is a lot easier because we have someone we can go back to and check in with and say, "Is there anything else you need? How do you think we're doing? Do you think we're making the right kind of progress?"

 

Steve Strauss:           Bingo. So instead of going in blind and hoping for the best you're going in with your eyes open and expecting the best.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yes, and having an advocate on our side.

 

Steve Strauss:           That's right.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Okay. So we're talking about how to get a business loan. We've now submitted our loan package, we're waiting to hear back from the bank. Let's just say because we did everything else correctly that we've now got our loan. What is step number six?

 

Steve Strauss:           Number six is to repay it in full and on time, and even better, early. I mean the secret to getting an even bigger and better loan next time, meaning better rates, better terms, that kind of thing, is to be a good borrower. So, that means paying it back early. It means that you've done everything that you're supposed to do.

 

                                   And if you do those kind of things, then you're going to have established yourself and your business as being credit worthy, and once that happens then the bank is going to want to work with you even more, and you're going to want to grow your business, and you're going to get another loan, and you're going to grow your business, and you will have created a great relationship and one that allows you to have the capital that you need accessible, and that's really is what makes a big difference for so many small businesses.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I love the sound of having a bank want to work with me even more.

 

Steve Strauss:           Right.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, let's walk through those six steps again really quickly as a recap. Step number one, start creating a relationship with your banker right now before you're ready to apply for a loan. Step number two, figure out how much you need, not too much, not too little. You got to figure out what the right amount is, and of course, if you have a relationship with your banker you can get some help there I would imagine.

 

Steve Strauss:           Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Step number three, get your personal credit in order because that's probably going to be a factor here. Step number four, prepare your loan package, which leads to number five, submit and wait. And step number six, probably the most important because we do want the bank to want to work with us again the future ... Step number six, repay the loan back in full, on time, even early, because that will make it clear that you are a great business to lend to next time.

 

                                   Steve, thanks for the great advice and steps for how to get a business loan. 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 at my personal website, which is MrAllBiz.com. You can find me at USA Today, and I would also suggest that you come over to the Bank of America Small Business Community. They have lots of great information, articles, videos, tips, other experts, and you can find a lot of great, great stuff right there.

 

Gregg Stebben:          As Steve mentioned, a great place to go for advice in addition to his website, USA Today, and of course checking out his best-selling book, The Small Business Bible. Visit the Bank of America Small Business Community. It's at BankofAmerica.com/SBC.

 

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

 

 

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Are you leveraging the right tools and marketing methods for your small business? On this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Mari Smith shares her top tips to master Instagram marketing.

 

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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.

 

Automated:                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 to talk about marketing your business on Instagram. Mari is often called the Queen of Facebook marketing. Facebook, of course, owns Instagram. IBM recently named Mari one of seven women who are shaping digital marketing, and she is a Forbes perennial top social media power influencer.

 

                                  Mari, thanks for joining us.

 

Mari Smith:                Oh, you bet. Happy to be here.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Mari, you are the author of The New Relationship Marketing and also Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day, and you are a columnist for Bank of America. Could you take a guess at how many small businesses should be marketing themselves on Instagram, but aren't?

 

Mari Smith:                Okay, so I happen to know that there are two million advertisers using Instagram stories ads, and if I were to guess how many are not using Instagram with their stories or not, I'm going to say probably like at least a million.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, if we're not using Instagram for marketing right now, what's the best way for us to get started, today?

 

Mari Smith:                Sure. One of the quickest ways: of course, you've got to have an Instagram account.  Go into your settings, link your Instagram account to your Facebook account, and then you'll be able to cross-purpose and cross-post. It makes it much easier to put your content in both places, especially for stories. I'm going to recommend that'll be the number one place to start — focus more on publishing stories, and that's the little circles at the top of your Instagram account that are getting some incredible attention. There’s actually 500 million daily active users right now on Instagram stories.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, we've talked about how many businesses aren't using Instagram, but probably should be. We've talked about companies who aren't using Instagram, but realize they should be, and how to get started today. What if I'm already using Instagram, but I know I could be, or I should be, doing a better job there. What's the most important thing for me to do today to make my business more attractive on Instagram and to reach more customers?

 

Mari Smith:                The number one thing I'm going to say here is consistency. It's to make sure that you're publishing on-brand, good messaging, vibrant visuals and short videos, and for the story format, because it's just super easy to create short — it's ephemeral, meaning it disappears, and it appears top of mind. Top of mind, top of feed. Ideally, for consistency, I would say one story a day, if you can. Ideally even three. If you can get up to three stories a day, you're off and running.

 

Gregg Stebben:         She is Mari Smith and I'm guessing that if we come find you on Instagram we're going to find a great example of how we should be using it for our businesses, too. Tell us how to find you on Instagram, Facebook, and of course your website as well.

 

Mari Smith:                You bet. So, on Instagram, I'm @Mari_Smithand I do want to mention the Bank of America Small Business Community online, I have written numerous articles on Instagram marketing and stories as well, so they can find out more over there.

 

                                  And then, Facebook, on Facebook.com/MariSmith and marismith.com.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And Mari Smith is M-A-R-I Smith, S-M-I-T-H. Mari, thanks so much for joining us, and 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.

 

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

 

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Ensure your business is growing and earning customers by experimenting with new marketing methods. On this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Steve Strauss shares his top three tips to attract new customers and get your business in front of new eyes.

 

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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. And 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 with a few quick tips for attracting new customers. Steve is USA Today's small business columnist. He's the author of 17 books, including the best-selling Small Business Bible. Steve, thanks for joining us.

 

Steve Strauss:           Gregg, great to be here.

 

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. They must ask you all the time, "What can I do to get more new customers?" So what's the number one tip you offer when someone asks?

 

Steve Strauss:           My number one tip is also my number two tip and my number three tip. And that is this: market your business, and then market it some more, and then market it some more. Look, we go into business. We have a marketing idea. It works. It keeps us around for a little while. We get some customers. The problem that so many small business owners have is they learn one trick or two tricks and that's it. They don't expand beyond that.

 

                                  But if you're going to really grow your business, then what you really need to do is get your business in front of new people. New eyeballs. New ears. So the way you do that is by marketing your business in all sorts of different ways. Instead of doing the same thing that you've done for years and years, whether it's a stall at the Saturday market or an advertising campaign that works. What I would suggest is you come up with three or five different kinds of things that you can do. Find some guerilla marketing strategies that make sense to you and implement those. What that is going to do is get your business in front of new people.

 

                                  If you get in front of enough new people, some new people are going to become your customers. You do your job great, you offer great service, you offer great prices, great customer service, and then those new people will become regulars. That's exactly what we want.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Steve, I want to mention here. You use the term guerilla marketing, and I want to make sure everyone listening is aware that that's actually a series of books by a gentleman by the name of Jay Conrad Levinson. And it is actually - in addition to Steve's book, The Small Business Bible- Guerilla Marketing, that book series is a great place to go and get ideas for things to try you have not tried before. And to break down that barrier of thinking, "Oh, well what I've done in the past has worked. Now it's time for me to do something else."

 

                                  I want to move on to tip number two, Steve, because as you alluded to, it's easy to keep doing the same thing over and over again, although in reality those things tend to lose their potency over time. And at the same time, the world around us and technology is changing so fast. How do I keep up, so I know I'm going to where my new customers are, even if it's, for instance, some new social media website that I've never even heard of before? How do I make sure I've heard of it so I know that I should be using it?

 

Steve Strauss:           Let me preface this, Gregg, with saying I've lived this. My first business was my own law firm back when I practiced law. The way I got my customers was that I would put on seminars to the public. I would advertise them in the newspaper, to really date myself, and then people would come in to the Holiday Inn for the day and then for the next six months I would have customers. And that worked for me for years and years, until one day it stopped working. And you know why? It was because it was what you said. It just wasn't fresh anymore. People had seen it. It was stale. So I had to start trying some new things. And that's what I think any smart business has to do.

 

                                  The great news is, it doesn't cost you a lot these days to market your business. Technology is amazing, and one of the amazing things for small business insofar as technology goes, is that there are all sorts of tools out there that allow us to market our business, to get in front of these new eyeballs that I mentioned, without spending a whole lot of money. So it could be content marketing. You create some articles or videos related to your business with a link to your website. People find it, see it, share it. You're getting people that way.

 

                                  Or what if it's a pay per click? You create a little Google ad or an ad on Facebook and someone sees a nice little ad. People who don't know your business but loves your ad, they'll click on it. And what's great about that is you don't pay for that ad until they click on it. So that's really beautiful.

 

                                  Or search engine optimization. SEO it's called. You create some webpages on your website that are specifically designed to sell whatever your product is, and then you get it out there. And that's going to be almost free customers, because SEO builds and builds over time. It could be your social. It can be your e-newsletter. The point is there are lots of different ways to do this marketing that I mentioned up front. So the good news is there are just so many ways now to do this marketing that I suggested up front, and none of them really cost you a whole lot of money. They'll take a little time, but they're going to pay out big in the end.

 

RELATED CONTENT: Learn why local SEO matters more than ever.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Steve, I want to ask about one last thing. And that is, it seems to me that one thing we have not talked about here is if you want to reach new customers, one way to know who they are and where they go is to talk to your existing customers. Where do they go? What do they do? Who do they know? And how can I motivate them to actually become my sales force for me?

 

Steve Strauss:           Well, word of mouth. You are preaching to the choir, my brother. I grew up in a small business family and my dad owned at one point 20 carpet stores. Then eventually went down to one giant carpet warehouse. He really had a lot of experience. And in that carpet warehouse he had a banner that said, "Our word of mouth advertising starts with you." That was the essence of his 20 years of experience as a very successful entrepreneur. So word of mouth works, because it is people talking to people about something, an experience they had that's good, hopefully, and that's what people trust.

 

                                  But these days, word of mouth really is word of click. I've been talking about all these digital ideas. When someone retweets your tweet, well that's word of mouth. Isn't it? It's word of click. When someone likes your Facebook page, that's word of mouth. It's someone saying to the rest of the world, "Hey, this is a valuable thing that I like that you should like."

 

RELATED CONTENT:Learn from Mari Smith how to increase authentic reviews on Facebook.

 

                                  When someone takes your e-newsletter and forwards it on to someone else, that, again, is word of click and word of mouth. So today it's not just one person talking to one person. It's one person talking to a thousand. And for small business people, that's an incredible opportunity.

 

                                  One thing I would suggest is ask for it. Ask people to retweet, and ask people to give you a good review. Ask people to give you a like. People want to be nice. People will do it, and if you do your job right, they'll help you. You're going to get a lot of word of mouth and a lot more business as a result.

 

RELATED CONTENT: Rieva Lesonsky explains how to boost positive online reviews and deal with those pesky bad ones

 

Gregg Stebben:         Really well said. Okay, I want to recap what Steve said here. We're talking about ways to find new customers for your small business. Tip number one, Steve said market, market some more, market some more, market some more. Try new things. Don't just keep doing the same things you've been doing over and over again, because eventually those things are going to go stale. Meanwhile, there's all kinds of new avenues for you to try and succeed with.

 

                                   Number two is to think about digital marketing. Using things like SEO, pay per click, e-newsletters. And I think part of what you're suggesting, Steve, is experiment and just try things to find out what works.

 

Steve Strauss:           Absolutely. Yep.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And number three. Never forget about word of mouth marketing, or as Steve called it, word of click. Don't forget about the power of your existing customers. Where do they go? What do they do? These are good clues for where to get new customers. And ask them to help you market your business. If they're satisfied, they should love sharing information about your business with their friends and family.

 

                                   Steve, these are great tips. Where can our listeners go to find out more about you and to get more of your great advice for small businesses?

 

Steve Strauss:           You can go to USAtoday.com and find my column, Ask an Expert. You can go to my website which is mrallbiz.com. Or I would really suggest go to the Bank of America Small Business Community. I write there. There's a lot of other influencers who create some great content there. Articles, videos, podcasts like this. And you can find anything you need to take your business to the next level.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Steve just mentioned Bank of America's online Small Business Community. It's at bankofamerica.com/SBC. Steve, thanks for joining us.

 

Steve Strauss:           Gregg, keep up the great work. Thanks so much for having me.

 

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

Transforming a hobby into a small business takes preparation, passion and faith. On this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Karen Anderson shares the story of her company, Tiny Doors ATL, and its evolution from a personal art project into a successful business and local phenomenon. Karen takes listeners behind the scenes of her journey, offering advice to anyone looking to turn their passion into a business.

 

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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.

 

Check out more small business stories:

 

Podcast transcript:

 

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” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. I am here with Karen Anderson, she's the principal artist and director of the company, Tiny DoorsATL. The website is tinydoorsatl.com, on Facebook and Instagram @TinyDoorsATL. Karen, I'm gonna let you explain what you do, I'm just gonna explain that the ATL part stands for Atlanta. You're on your own for explaining the Tiny Doors part. Welcome and tell us about your business, Tiny DoorsATL.

 

Karen Anderson:        Hi, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here. Tiny DoorsATL is a fun little thing to try to explain to people and I think a lot of small business owners have this issue of the elevator speech, how exactly you explain what your ... what your thing is.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Is it a tiny elevator door from Tiny Doors, for the tiny elevator pitch?

 

Karen Anderson:       Yes, that's a perfect idea — I have made tiny elevator doors for a Marriott, actually, so that's a good little segue way. I went to art school, art school is not business school…it is just making art. They don't really teach you about the business of making art, and so it became something, I started making these tiny doors and then they started to get more and more demand for them. I found that I wanted my business model to be just making a few of what I was doing a year and making them matter.

 

 

                                   Instead of taking that large-scale production I went with smaller scale and with a more impactful way about it. What I do is I make literally seven-inch doors, they're one inch to one foot, so it would be a seven-foot door to seven-inch door. It reflects and respects the neighborhood that's around it so it's gonna look like it belongs where it is, whether it's at the business or in a neighborhood, I try to make something that is interactive and feels like it belongs to the neighborhood. Does that make sense?

 

Gregg Stebben:         And so we are literally talking about tiny doors, I just want to be clear about, and not just tiny doors, by the way. For instance, I'm looking at one, I think it's at either a pet food store or a doggy day care center. It's a tiny door with a tiny dog door in the tiny door and a tiny dog behind going through the tiny dog door. We actually find out there's this little secret or an Easter egg. It's actually a cat behind, not a dog behind.

 

 

                                   What I love about what you just said is that you have a completely different — maybe you have to go to art school to come up with this — but you have a completely different take on supply and demand because, as you said, many businesses think you have to get bigger and do more and more to grow. What you actually did was decide to get smaller and to address supply and demand in a completely different way.

 

Karen Anderson:       Yeah, and you know what's funny, is that I thought that didn't qualify me as a small business. I have an LLC, I am a small business, and I still didn't think of myself that way because I wasn't doing the more demand.

 

Gregg Stebben:         There was no tiny door factory — you are the tiny door factory and there's only one of you.

 

Karen Anderson:        Right. I'm an artist and this is my art that you're looking at. I do have some employees who work for me, I do have all the other things that a business would have, I just don't have a factory that makes a thousand tiny doors a year.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Yes. So I guess I have to ask. I'm talking with Karen Anderson, she's the principal artist and director of Tiny DoorsATL. You can see the tiny doors at tinydoorsatl.com, the ATL part stands for Atlanta. She's on Facebook and Instagram @TinyDoorsATL. It is such a joy to go and look at the photos, it is so much fun, almost as much fun as I'm sure being there. There's a map of where you can tour the tiny doors in Atlanta, but I am hoping you will give us a little insight into the business model of your business. You've alluded to it, but I think, for some of us, it's a bit of a mystery how you could make a living, create a successful business, creating tiny doors and deliberately only creating a few.

 

Karen Anderson:       Yeah, you know, it's certainly never been done before, and I followed the business model of a lot of other artists, say muralists, who can't make a thousand murals a year, but they can make 10 or 12 great murals a year. So, they look for 10 or 12 companies who are interested in commissioning. That's what has ended up happening with me, is that I get commissioned to do these doors, and then there's a lot of business that goes on around that.

 

                                   I have a lot of merchandise that people buy, things like that, that aren't doors, and it also has led to public speaking, which is another part of the Tiny DoorsATL business. I do conferences and I do schools — it's been really fun to go talk to students who have seen the doors and are interested. There have been a few facets that this business has turned into rather than just being a door production factory. It's become meeting demands as they come up and really sticking with having the doors themselves be my resume rather than be a product you could buy off the shelf.

 

Gregg Stebben:         You've said so many really great things here. One is, I actually want to direct our listeners back to “The Heartbeat of Main Street Podcast” because we did another interview that was really focused on what you just described, which is creating multiple profit centers. Again, it sounds like you've done a brilliant job of that, merchandising things around the doors, merchandising yourself as a speaker. There's probably all kinds of ways you can continue to grow the business without actually making more tiny doors.

 

Karen Anderson:       Absolutely.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So, in the evolution of this is a business, given that you went to art school, at what point did you realize, "Oh — oh, I have a real business here." Was there any conflict inside you about that? Did you ever think, "Well, wait a minute, I'm an artist."

 

Karen Anderson:       Yes, I think all artists get that sort of starving artist thing thrown at them so many times that they might start to feel guilty about making money and a lot of people at the beginning of this process, the beginning of Tiny DoorsATL, becoming more known, started to ask me to become a non-profit. They were like, "Okay, here's the time. Become a non-profit, we'll help you file the paperwork," and I looked at what it meant to be a non-profit, and I thought about whether I wanted that or not, whether I could stomach being for profit as an artist.

 

 

                                   It was something that I really struggled with but the thing about profit is it's what you do with it. With my profit, I choose to pay my employees as much as I can, I choose to reinvest into the business. I’m not doing anything nefarious. I’m taking care of the street art that I've made in Atlanta, with the money that I make from private commission, so I literally take care of street art with my profit. But if I were a non-profit, I would have had to go about it so differently and I decided that wasn't for me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         That's a really wonderful way that you describe that, and it actually leads into one of the questions I wanted to ask you which is, with your art and with this business philosophy you just shared with us that includes things like taking care of your employees in the best possible way, have you found that turning your passion into a business has given you the power to reach a wider audience? Did you envision that, is that something you embrace, is it something that you want to do more? Talk more about the power that having this successful business gives you.

 

Karen Anderson:       Yeah, I’m gonna use the M word. I'm a Millennial, and I think that's important to note because I came of age at a time when the economy had tanked. I graduated from high school in 2001, and so I was heading off to college right at the beginning of a recession. It really empowered me. I felt like I could follow my passion because there was no safety, there was no route where you could go and you were guaranteed, at least for me, at least for someone who didn't want to study math.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Or business.

 

Karen Anderson:        It wasn't a safe route for me to get through, and so I felt like, "Well, you know what? The only way I'm gonna do it is if it's something that I love. Then starting Tiny Doors, I had other things that I was trying. Tiny Doors wasn't ... I didn't start this thinking, "This will be my career, this will be my business." I just had been listening to people paying attention to it, people wanting to participate, wanting to buy more art from me. It has made me feel empowered to keep building and keep growing.

 

                                   It's also, I think, just really good to listen to what's going on around you and respond to that, and that's a lot of what I've done with this.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         I want to ask one last question, Karen. Talking with Karen Anderson, she's the Principal Artist and Director of Tiny DoorsATL, tinydoorsatl.com, on Facebook and Instagram @TinyDoorsATL. Go to the website, go to the Facebook page, go to the Instagram page. Look at the tiny doors.  They're tiny doors, but way more than tiny doors. As you can hear in Karen's voice, they're really, it sounds like transforming neighborhoods and communities and even businesses that embrace this because of everything that's included in this whole, I'm gonna call it a tiny door movement.

 

Karen Anderson:        I think that what people respond to is honesty. Like, I have a t-shirt that I bought from a company, that I love the honesty of the people who put that company together with the materials that they use. There's that story of why it was important to you, why this was created. This project is so honest to who I am. I've always made miniatures, I've always loved it. I'm a little bit shocked that people are as nerdy as I am and they love it right along with me. But I embrace that and I move forward with it as much as I can.

 

                                    I think a lot of that, a lot of the success of this business has been the response to how real it is.

 

Gregg Stebben:         That's a perfect place for me to ask this last question which is, what advice would you offer others who see what you're doing and your success and hope to turn their own passion into a business? What advice can you give them to get started and give them the courage to go for it?

 

Karen Anderson:       I'm kind of, I'm pretty deliberate. For somebody who has pink hair and makes tiny doors, I'm actually pretty reserved when it comes to making choices like that. I chose not to take a job teaching art, I chose to nanny when I first moved to Atlanta because I wanted to pursue making art. So, I chose not to take the status position. I chose to take a job where I could pursue my passion as a hobby, and see if I liked it. I ended up two years into that job writing my TedX talk while the kid was taking a nap because I just was afraid to make that leap, because I liked my job and I liked having it all, but I was like, "This isn't gonna move forward until I really give it everything I have."

 

                                  I slowly and deliberately made that leap into Tiny Doors, and I'm really glad that I did. There have been a lot of leaps along the way — I know every small business owner will say that. It's not as though you made one big decision, it's like a lot of little decisions that ended up as a business.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         Could we summarize what you just said as saying you had faith in yourself?

 

Karen Anderson:       I did. I did have faith in myself and I think that when you're doing what you absolutely love, there's that faith that's in there because you know that it's something that you're never gonna give up on. There was one day when my business took a big leap forward. I was posted on Instagram's Instagram, which has hundreds of millions of followers, and then I was on the Travel Channel all in 24 hours. And I was freaking out, honestly, I didn't know what to do with all that attention at once and so I called a friend, who has been a rock star for about 30 years and I asked her what she does.

 

                                   She said, "Here's how I think of it. You’ve got to find the one thing that you love about what you're doing and do more of that. Do as much as you can. Take one thing, just pick one thing that you don't like, and don't do that thing anymore, hire someone to do it. Find a way that you don't have to do that one thing," and she said, "Everything else is just your job. Even if it's your dream job, it's just your job, just do it." It really changed how I felt about this project. It really helped me get some perspective. Do more of the thing I love, it seemed so simple.

 

                                  She was like apologizing to me, going "I know that's so simple," and it was brilliant and I hope it helps someone else.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         And we get to know who the rock star is, so we can give credit where credit is due?

 

Karen Anderson:       Sure. Sure, it was Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         That's awesome. If you were as charmed as I am by Karen and her story, go to the website tinydoorsatl.com, Facebook and Instagram @TinyDoorsATL. If you want to hear more great small business stories and tips just like those we just heard from Karen, check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Karen, thanks again for joining us.

 

Karen Anderson:        Thank you, it's been a pleasure.

 

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

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Preparing for the unexpected is a key element of small business ownership. The Bank of America spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report found that many entrepreneurs are taking steps to prepare their business for  unexpected events, but there’s still room for improvement. On this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Bank of America Head of Small Business Sharon Miller shares tips on how to prepare for unexpected events including disasters, cyberattacks, reputational crises and more.

 

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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,” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America, I'm here with Sharon Miller. She is the head of small business for Bank of America, we're talking about the new Small Business Owner Report that Bank of America just released. Sharon, welcome.

 

Sharon Miller:            Thank you, Gregg, for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Really a fascinating report here, among other things, you asked small business owners how they're preparing for the unexpected. Things that could potentially disrupt their businesses like natural disasters, cyber security issues, reputational threats. Give us a summary of the things you found.

 

Sharon Miller:            First of all, the good news is a majority of entrepreneurs do have a continuity plan in place. Entrepreneurs are recognizing the need to prepare for disruptive events, like you talked about. Whether it be a natural disaster, maybe a cyber breach, so they're thinking about it, and nearly two thirds do have a plan in place, but that still leaves one-third without any planning at all, which is troubling.

 

Gregg Stebben:         We're going to talk here about some things that small business owners and entrepreneurs can do to put a continuity plan in place. Let's dive into some specifics here. First of all, accidents and disasters, like a fire or a flood, what should I be doing? What should I be thinking about? What steps should I be taking to prepare for that?

 

Sharon Miller:            When you think about protecting your business, first of all for a flood, for a fire, or other natural disaster, you want to make sure that you have an insurance policy in place. And what we found, was about half of the small business owners that we surveyed did have an insurance policy in place. But again, that leaves half that did not. Also, you want to be thinking about backing up your files, because what if a flood happens? What if something damages your computer system? Make sure that you're continually backing up your files, because you've got all your records, you've got your clients, all the things that you need to understand what's happening with your business, your tax records. Make sure that you have them backed up.

 

                                   And then, the communication protocol for employees. Those entrepreneurs that have employees, make sure that you've got some type of calling tree. So, if something happens who calls who? And making sure number one, all of your employees are safe, and then from there, what happens to report back to work? Is the business open? So that you have that open line of communication with your employees. Those are some of the steps you can be taking, and we want to make sure that entrepreneurs are thinking about it. Because, you've got to plan for the unexpected, you never know when it's going to happen.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Obviously buying fire insurance, accident insurance, flood insurance, those are pretty obvious things, even if you're not doing it, you know you should. I think backing up your systems is essential, and there's lots of tools available today that make that very easy and affordable. I love you bringing up the idea of communications protocol, because I think that's something that would escape many, many businesses until they hear it, like in this interview with you, or frankly until something bad happens and they don't have a communications protocol.

 

Sharon Miller:             That's exactly right. And I think about Bank of America. In Houston, we had the hurricane, and that was the first thing we go to, the communication. Check in on our employees. Are you okay? What's happening? Because we want to make sure, for the safety of our employees, and again we didn't anticipate a hurricane coming, but you've got to plan for the unexpected. And the safety of our employees is of the utmost concern, that's the number one thing for any business. Making sure they're safe, and then giving them the instructions on what happens. Will we be closed? When are we going to reopen? How do you report back to work? All of those things are necessary.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Now, for accidents and disasters, like fires and floods and things like that, it seems like the steps are pretty obvious. Especially, now that we've talked about them. Buying insurance, making sure you're prepared in advance, backing up all your data and your systems, having a communications protocol. I love that idea. The next thing we're going to talk about is a little harder to prepare for, it's a reputational crisis. What happens if something happens to your company's reputation? What should we be thinking about there?

 

Sharon Miller:            Reputational management is so important, and it's critical to business success. And what we found on that front as well, is only one quarter of small business owners have a crisis management plan in place. And it is something that absolutely needs to be developed to address reputational issues, and at least three quarters that don't. So, how are you actively managing your social media? How are you making sure that you are out there visible and ensuring that there are good reviews?

 

                                   We asked about reviews in this report as well, and what did business owners think about reviews, negative versus positive. By and large, the business owners told us, “We think the positive review is much more effective for our business.” And I think they're missing a big piece, because something written negative about your business, just one person, that can have a rippling effect through people reading social media, can create doubts about your company.

 

                                   So, it's important that you consult, whether it be for cyber issues, cyber security specialists, there are companies out there managing social media, so all of those things are important to the reputation of your company and your brand. You're building a brand for your business, and so you want to make sure that there's nothing detrimental out there, and when it is, that you're able to take action and address it. Because you're always going to have issues. There're going to be service issues, there's going to be things that go wrong. And what I always say, “It's not that things will go wrong, it's how you fix them and address them when they do.” Because consumers know, everything is not going to be perfect every day. But it's when you make a mistake, how do you recover, and how quickly can you recover and make it right for that client?

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm really glad you said that, and in fact in an earlier interview, which you can hear as part of the Heartbeat of Main Street podcast. We talked with a company called PSP Diesel, and we talked about exactly how you can use your reviews to build your business, and what to do to be prepared in the event that you have a bad review. So, that's another great podcast to listen to. We're talking with Sharon Miller about the new Bank of America spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report. Sharon is the head of small business for Bank of America. We've been talking about things like natural disasters, fires and floods. We've talked about reputational crisis, let's talk about cyber security. Do you have any tips for things we should be thinking about, to make sure that our businesses are secure?

 

Sharon Miller:             Absolutely. Well, the top three actions that we find for business owners, when it comes to cyber and making sure that you're prepared for a cyber-attack: one, make sure you're installing security patches and updates. This is a pretty simple step. When there's a security patch, when there's an update, make sure everything is up to date. Make sure you're securing your customers’ data, you've got to make sure that data is secure, that is a trust factor with your clients, and making sure that all the data that you have on them, for them, about them, that it is very, very secure.

 

                                   And then as you have confidential documents that are floating around your office, that you have as a part of doing business, you got to make sure they're securely disposed. You can't just throw them away, you make sure that they're shredded, that they're securely disposed, picked up, however it is that you are filing those things away. It's got to remain very, very confidential, because yes, cyber we think of the security on our computer, but it's also papers that could be laying around. All of those things have to be secured and have to be disposed of properly so that you can protect your clients’ interests.

 

Gregg Stebben:         You know what's really interesting to talk about here, relative to cyber security, that you brought up, it's not just cyber security, but security includes being aware of and handling appropriately what you're doing with physical paper as well. The great news that I think about that is, that you can outsource that. There's lot of best practices, you don't have to invent this for yourself, you just have to go and find the vendor, or the partner that can handle it for you. And know that you're in good hands, because it's their area of expertise, it doesn't have to become your area of expertise.

 

Sharon Miller:            Not many companies have the luxury to hire a chief technology officer or a cyber expert. So, it's important that you go and contract with other vendors that have this specialty, and that's what small businesses do. You can't afford to not invest in this for your business, and whether it be through the computer or for the physical papers that you have floating around in your office, it's important that they're handled correctly. Because when a reputational issue hits, sometimes it's not recoverable.

Check out our Fraud and Privacy Resource Center

 

Gregg Stebben:         We're talking about Bank of America's new spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report. We're talking with Sharon Miller, Sharon is the head of small business for Bank of America. Sharon I want to ask you one last question, because we're talking about things that businesses need to do to be prepared for all kinds of unexpected things. And the last thing I want to ask you about is another type of event that small business owners have no control over, and that's an economic downturn. What should we be doing to be prepared for that?

 

Sharon Miller:            Business owners are not as optimistic about the local and national economy as they have been in the past. But they are optimistic about their business, and their prospects for growth over the next 12 months. No matter how you feel about your business, it's important to make sure you're preparing for the unexpected. So, number one, make sure you have an emergency fund. Things may not always be going great. The number one reason why businesses go out of business, is because they're not managing their cash flow appropriately. We just launched out Business Advantage 360 platform, for business owners this first quarter and over 400,000 business owners have already gone on this platform and what we're hearing is, “Wow, this is great information. It’s great tools, it's helping us manage our cash flow, which is a huge concern.”

                                   So, make sure you've got an emergency fund, and that you're appropriately managing that cash flow. Two, make sure you've got some alternative business plan, reducing your overall expenses. Because when times get tough, you don't want to have to close the doors. You can cut back a little. How can you reduce expenses? How can you be managing that P&L, so that you're able to stay in business through the ups and the downs? And then, opening a line of credit. Most people come to a bank to open a line of creditwhen they need it. To me, it's part of a foundation of smart credit.

Read next: 10 Cash Flow Tips for Small Businesses

 

                                   Get a line of credit established, even if you don't need one, because there may be a time when you do. And when you do need one, that might not be the time when you can qualify. So, as you're planning your business and as you're managing your cash flow, be sure you're working with a specialist, with a banker that can help you think about these things. So that when times get tough, because it's not if, it'll be when. History repeats itself, there are cycles that go on in business. So, you've got to make sure that you're working with a partner who has seen these cycles and who can help you plan for the unexpected.

Read next: Creating a Balanced Cash Flow Cycle

 

Gregg Stebben:         Sharon those are really great tips. Thank you so much. These all come as a result of the spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report from Bank of America. She’s Sharon Miller, she's the head of small business for Bank of America, and for more great small business tips, check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community at BankofAmerica.com/SBC. Sharon, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Sharon Miller:            Thank you, Gregg, for having me.

 

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

 

It’s not every day you encounter a small business with such a unique combination of components as: 1) a core product offering of handcrafted, made-to-order bicycle bags, 2) an owner who attentively sews these wares out on the showroom floor, and 3) an adjoining bar and café that sells an array of locally sourced treats to hungry bicyclists.

 

Welcome to The Spindle, one of many eclectic small businesses within Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, and part of a thriving, close-knit community of entrepreneurs who are pursuing their passions.

 

For brothers and co-owners Sharif and Ezz Hassan, The Spindle is a natural reflection of both their individual strengths and shared interests, not to mention the simple need for a place in the neighborhood that offers honest expertise from people who ride bikes.

 

“To be successful in any small business, you need three things: patience, humility, and passion,” said Sharif during a recent visit, emphasizing the latter trait. “Otherwise you’re not going to follow through with it all the way.”

 

It’s this shared passion that’s not only kept them in business, but growing well beyond the initial vision of a small shop serving only handmade bike bags. Indeed, The Spindle opened in 2013 as an extension of Ezz’s burgeoning hobby of sewing custom-made bike packs. Over the years, it has evolved into a neighborhood institution and gathering spot, especially after the shop further expanded its offering to include The Spindle Kitchen in 2018,serving coffee, beer and a range of healthy dishes sourced from local farmers and vendors.

 

This ongoing commitment to the surrounding community is a point of pride for Sharif and Ezz. Visit The Spindle’s website and you’ll find a comprehensive calendar of upcoming rides and events that they help organize and participate in. And while Ezz is busy making the bags, Sharif is regularly making the rounds within and beyond the neighborhood to check in on friends, family, and patrons.

 

“Sharif’s really good at bringing the community together,” Ezz maintains. “He goes out on a lot of rides, and I think it’s nice to have someone out there in the community who’s really genuine.”

 

Of course, that leaves Ezz with the formidable task of fulfilling all the orders that come in, which is why you’ll find him dutifully attached to his sewing machine during business hours – and often times, overnight and into the early hours of the morning.

 

“If you find something you really like, you have to do it all the time,” Ezz explains. “And when you make something and hand it to a customer who’s really excited about it? I don’t think there’s anything better than that, because you’re giving them an item they’ll have for the rest of their life. That’s why I feel really lucky.”

 

Balancing the around-the-clock demands of a business like The Spindle may not be for everyone, but Sharif and Ezz wouldn’t have it any other way. For them, it’s an opportunity to not only pursue their passions, but also create a lasting legacy with each other.

 

“This is a fulfilling lifestyle,” Sharif says. “Being able to engage with the community and to work with my family on a daily basis is the definition of fulfilling.”

Next: Go around the block in Atlanta with Myrna Perez

 

Check out our other Small Business Spotlights:

by Robert Lerose.


Stories of small, seemingly outmatched underdogs beating larger rivals date back centuries. Malcolm Gladwell's book, appropriately titled David and Goliath, is an exploration of this perennial theme. The conflict continues to play out every day on Main Streets across America, where local businesses try to prevail against bigger or nationally known brand names. Although these outsized competitors may be better financed or give deep discounts to customers, many local merchants can leverage their position in the neighborhood to gain a decided edge.

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RELATED ARTICLE: Competing with the Giants: How a Small Store Can Thrive

 

Be involved

 

Local businesses can gather key information about their customers by dealing with them regularly, seeing them in the neighborhood, and interacting with them in their personal and professional lives—and then use that knowledge to target those customers effectively. "A national brand would have to do a lot more legwork to really find that sort of data to give it a personal touch," says Christopher Tompkins, CEO of The GO! Agency, a Seminole, Florida-based full-service marketing company.

 

Event marketing can cement relationships between local vendors and the community, Tompkins says. For example, a sporting goods store could sponsor a school competition, sell equipment and apparel to the athletes, and also make a donation to a charity selected by the athletes and their families. In addition to school events, choosing an activity where the whole community participates also favors local merchants over bigger names.

 

"If you're a huge company, you'd have to figure out what these events were and hope that the information is correct because you could be putting $10,000 into a race that gets 100 people," Tompkins explains. "Whereas if you're in that neighborhood, you know that one of the most popular races is the one on Thanksgiving morning that gets 1,000 to 2,000 people. So you get the inside scoop. By getting involved in what your audience is involved with, it's almost like a simpatico relationship."

 

Social media channels are good for establishing credibility, driving traffic, and brand building, but often don't result in closing the sale on their own. Tompkins believes in using a mix of traditional and online advertising methods to reach customers, such as billboards, flyers, direct mail, and email campaigns. Local businesses also need to optimize their website for mobile devices, since their primary customers will often be within driving or walking distance. "All these work together to build a buzz about your business that can take you to the next level," Tompkins says.

 

Do what you're good at

 

Local businesses should play to their strengths and provide something that their bigger rivals don't or don't do as well, such as customer service.

 

"As soon as you start to compete on price, you have no emotional loyalty. [The customer then says,] 'Give me a number and I'll determine whether I'm loyal,'" says Shep Hyken, a St. Louis, Missouri-based customer service expert. "What you try to do is connect on another level—on the value you deliver. That value can be in the relationship you have or the service that you give." Hyken gives the following example:

 

There was a small family-owned hardware store that had been in a Boston strip mall for over 30 years, when a Home Depot and a Lowe's both opened up nearby—yet the owner says that he has never been more successful, even though he stays open fewer hours than the megastores. "The owner said that if he tried to do what they do, he'd lose," Hyken explains. "He does what he's best at—creating value for the customer in the form of service by asking the customer what they need a part for, and then making other suggestions for the project that the customer might not have thought about. There's a big difference between that and just taking the order, [like the big box stores do]."

 

Hyken says that every employee at a local business should conduct themselves as if they were the owner. For example, he spoke with an 18-year-old waiter at a pizza parlor, who was mistaken for the actual owner by a group of customers because of the attentiveness he displayed in his work—resulting in loyal patrons. "Everybody needs to take pride and make the good decisions necessary for either their internal or external customers as if they owned the place," Hyken explains.

 

Nurture your employees

 

Local business owners can usually develop personal relationships easier and faster than workers at megastores. "Every customer should know your name and you should call them by their name," says Tom Egelhoff, a Bozeman, Montana-based author of How To Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town. "Calling them by name reinforces that local feeling."

 

While it is crucial for owners to focus their attention on customers, nurturing employees can motivate them to say good things about your business, even when they're not working, to anyone they meet in the community. Egelhoff also says that employees should get their own business cards to hand out to customers so that the owner knows who provided good service when the sale was made—and then reward employees. When Egelhoff was a personnel manager for a retailer, "I would try to publicly recognize each employee for something at least once every six months. I would encourage the other employees and customers to let me know the good things they did."

 

Egelhoff encourages local businesses to have a grand re-opening once a year for the benefit of new people who just moved to the community, even if the business has been long established. Local businesses can also become the go-to source in their neighborhood if they take time to bond with their customers on a one-on-one level and put their priorities first. Colossal chain stores, such as Circuit City, are no longer around because "they didn't adapt to the customer. They tried to make the customer adapt to them," Egelhoff says. "People buy on emotion, not on logic. I don't know the guy or the manager at the big box store, whereas if I walk into a small business, the owner is probably the guy behind the counter."

 

    RELATED ARTICLE: Brewing Success: How Tapping a Community of Beer Lovers Drives Barebottle Forward

 

May is Small Business Month and this year Bank of America is celebrating by highlighting one of the most vibrant cities in the country; Nashville. Celebrity Chef Maneet Chauhan is our guide as she takes us around her block, showing off some of her favorite, go-to small businesses. We see her relationship with these small business owners, diving into what makes their business so special, and showing us that when a community has the power to support small business, there is nothing that can hold them back.

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Check out the businesses featured in this video:

 

CHAUHAN ALE & MASALA HOUSE, Indian Fusion Restaurant

HANDMADE STUDIOS, Ceramics

THE TURNIP TRUCK, Natural Foods Grocer

THE CUPCAKE COLLECTION, Bakeshop

 

NEXT: Visit Atlanta with Myrna Perez

 

And be sure to visit bankofamerica.com/SBcelebrate to see other small business stories and read expert advice about connecting to your community.  Be sure to tell us your story in the discussion forum.

 

Video transcript

 

MANEET: “I decided to open a small business because Indian food is pretty much not something that you would associate with Nashville.”

 

SUPER: Maneet Chauhan, Chef & small business owner


MANEET: “One, two, three, go!”

 

SUPER: CHAUHAN ALE & MASALA HOUSE, Indian Fusion Restaurant

 

MANEET: “Just textures and flavors and everything fun.”

 

MANEET: “Small businesses are what gives neighborhoods their heart and soul, and today, I’m going to take you around my neighborhood.”

 

SUPER: NASHVILLE

 

HANDMADE STUDIOS: “We’re called Handmade Studios, so everything we make is made completely by hand.”

 

SUPER: HANDMADE STUDIOS, Ceramics

 

HANDMADE STUDIOS: “We embrace imperfection. We find that there is beauty in that.”

 

MANEET: “Nothing in nature is perfect, and that’s why it’s beautiful.”

 

HANDMADE STUDIOS: “The most surprising thing about opening a small business is that it actually worked. That I actually run a business that is growing.”

 

SUPER: THE TURNIP TRUCK, Natural Foods Grocer

 

THE TURNIP TRUCK: “I grew up on a farm and when I made it to Nashville, I could not find any local food that I was used to.”

 

THE TURNIP TRUCK: “The food tastes so much better coming local.”

 

MANEET: “Fresh!”

 

THE TURNIP TRUCK: “Trying to build local farmers and we buy [from] at least 80 different vendors that sell within the Turnip Truck.”

 

MANEET: “That’s how we make our entire community stronger – by supporting each other.”

 

THE CUPCAKE COLLECTION: “For me, we don’t sell cupcakes here. What we sell is actually joy.”

 

SUPER: THE CUPCAKE COLLECTION, Bakeshop

 

THE CUPCAKE COLLECTION: “I think people want to come back here because they find connection, they find love, they find family. When I started this, I was drowning in debt, and I was broken. People were getting out of debt by having a bake sale and I thought you can have a bake sale every day. Now I feel like there’s nothing that I can’t do. I’ve learned that impossible is actually I’mpossible.”

 

MANEET: “These small business owners have the power to lead a life that they are so proud of.”

 

SUPER: Bank of America is proud to support Small Business Month this May.

 

SUPER: Join us in celebrating the impact small businesses have on a community.

 

MANEET: “Seriously, I don’t have as much sass as you do. I’m like okay, that’s it.”

 

SUPER: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE POWER TO DO?

 

SUPER: [Bank of America logo]

 

SUPER: Discover more small business stories at bankofamerica.com/SBcelebrate

 

May is Small Business Month and this year Bank of America is celebrating by highlighting one of the most vibrant cities in the country; Atlanta. We are introduced to Myrna Perez, a small business owner in her own right, as she takes us around her Atlanta neighborhood to all her favorite small businesses. We see her relationship as a customer to these small business owners and how important these bonds are. Because when a community has the power to support small business, there is nothing that can hold them back.

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Check out the businesses featured in this video:

 

LOTTAFRUTTA, Frutería

THE SPINDLE, Cycling Apparel & Café

THE CLEAN DOG, Pet Daycare & Grooming

TINY DOORS ATL, Public Art Project

 

And be sure to visit bankofamerica.com/SBcelebrate to see other small business stories and read expert advice about connecting to your community.  Be sure to tell us your story in the discussion forum.

 

 

Video Transcript:

 

SUPER: Myrna Perez, Fruitologist & small business owner

 

Myrna: “I live above my shop.”

 

SUPER: LOTTAFRUTTA, Frutería

 

MYRNA: “I wanted to build a place that had all of my childhood memories and that’s why I have so much of my family inside LottaFrutta – in the Ofrenda and in photos and in recipes. I love to feed people.”

 

MYRNA: “And now I’m going to give you a taste of my neighborhood.”

 

SUPER: ATLANTA

 

SUPER: THE SPINDLE, Cycling Apparel & Café

 

THE SPINDLE 1: “People are coming in because they’re going to get honest expertise out of people who definitely ride. As long as you’re treating people with respect, they’re going to feel respected in your shop, whether they buy a four-hundred-dollar bag or a three-dollar coffee.”

 

THE SPINDLE 2: “Relationships are really important in businesses. It’s much stronger with my brother because we’re family and we’re stuck together.”


SUPER: THE CLEAN DOG, Pet Daycare & Grooming

 

THE CLEAN DOG: “The clean dog customer loves their pet. Right? It’s not okay just to sit them in the corner and let them play with a plush toy. You want to engage, you want to see the community.”

 

MYRNA: “An interactive experience.”

 

THE CLEAN DOG: “Right? Here we go…”

 

TINY DOORS ATL: “I started the business, Tiny Doors ATL, after I had started making the art that you see on the street.”

 

SUPER: TINY DOORS ATL, Public Art Project

 

TINY DOORS ATL: “And what’s really cool is that my resume is right here. You know, businesses will call me and say, ‘Hey, do you have ideas on how we can make tiny trophies?’ and I’m like ‘Yes!’ It’s a lot of upkeep because people love it so hard. And I’m there a lot because I love it too.”

 

MYRNA: “My fruteria gives me the power to support other small businesses in my neighborhood – as a customer, as an owner, and as a neighbor.”

 

SUPER: Bank of America is proud to support Small Business Month this May.

 

SUPER: Join us in celebrating the impact small businesses have on a community.

 

MYRNA: “Mami, let me just get you an ice cream. Let me get her an ice – hold on. Come have some ice cream.”

 

MYRNA: “That one’s for you.”

 

LITTLE BOY: “Thank you!”

 

SUPER: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE POWER TO DO?

 

MYRNA: “You’re welcome, papa.”

 

SUPER: [Bank of America logo]

 

SUPER: Discover more small business stories at bankofamerica.com/SBcelebrate 

Despite their concerns, entrepreneurs remain largely optimistic about their business outlook, with revenue forecasts, growth and hiring plans holding steady since the fall of 2018.

 

The bi-annual Small Business Owner Report, conducted by Bank of America, explores the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners throughout the U.S. and across 10 major cities. The spring report explores a range of topics important to the constantly evolving small business landscape. Some important insights from this report explore:

 

  • Strong business growth indicators despite shifts in economic confidence
  • Divided opinions on how major policy issues are impacting business
  • Small business owners planning for the unexpected
  • The pros and cons of online reviews
  • Barebottle Brewing Co. Client Profile

 

For additional insights, see the Small Business Owner Report infographic below.  For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the Spring 2019 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report here.

 

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