Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

General Business

83 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

Defined as marketing “that involves the creation and sharing of online material” to generate interest in a product, content marketing has been around longer than you may recall.steve marketing pic.jpg

 

Back in 2004, Merriam-Webster named “blog” the word of the year and marketers across the globe were scurrying to create blogs, e-books and soon podcasts, webinars and video all with the goal of capturing an online audience and driving them to websites or brick- and-mortar stores. If you think over more than a decade, we’d have perfected content marketing, you’d be wrong.

 

In a time like this, when the traditional sales funnel has likely slowed, investing in content that provides value to your customers and clients beyond the product they buy from you can help to keep them warm until things pick up again.

 

Here are five things you should know about content marketing today:

 

1. Surprising news about attention spans

 

A recent study by Prezi reveals six in 10 respondents believe their abilities to retain focus has actually improved and they can now better give content undivided attention—with millennials more likely than Gen Xers and boomers saying the right content can hold their attention for a long time. Of course, it has to be the right content. Respondents report being more selective about what they give their attention to. 9 in 10 respondents say a strong narrative (85 percent) or telling the story behind what’s being presented is critical in maintaining engagement (81 percent). Right now, with people home, everyone is spending even more time online. Taking advantage of this moment can help increase your business’ perception for when your customers are ready to return to business as usual.

 

2. Getting personal

 

It’s all about the customer experience today and what customers want - actually, what they demand - is personalization. Trying to reach a mass audience does nothing for consumers looking for specific information important to their lives. Using big data, studying consumer trends and keeping detailed customer records can help you focus on what your customers want from your business. Research shows businesses still need work in this area: Only 66 percent of content marketing programs prioritize their audience’s informational needs over their organization’s sales/promotional message, while 88 percent of top performers do.

 

3. Start a conversation

 

Experts at the Content Marketing Institute recommend moving away from “brand speak” and delivering information in the language your customers understand—in words they would use. Afterall, talking to customers in a natural, more conversational way not only shows you “get” them, it also helps you build engagement and, consequently, trust.

 

4. User-created content

 

User-generated content is exactly what it sounds like: content (text, videos, images, etc.) created by your audience, rather than by your business. You can then share user-generated content across your marketing platforms such as your social media pages and website. Why do you want to do this? The biggest reason is credibility. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to perceive user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands. The other reason is people influence other people’s purchasing decisions. Amassing user-generated content involves starting conversations on social media and asking followers for opinions, stories, videos and images. Be sure to ask permission and credit the creator.

 

5. Immersive content

 

Immersive content is a fairly new tactic for marketers and gaining momentum. This includes formats like augmented reality and virtual reality. For augmented reality think live streaming on Instagram, which involves a real-world environment enhanced by computer-generated graphics or objects. Virtual reality involves complete immersion in a computer world, like Facebook Horizon. Both might be too far forward to initiate immediately, but as the technology gets more user-friendly it could be a great tool to create just the kind of engagement your marketing can benefit from.

 

Once you have an idea about what content you want to produce, you need to deploy it strategically. And remember: the content marketing game is consistently evolving. Don’t be shy to try something new.

 

The Content Marketing Institute recommends you create an editorial calendar, but, “Instead of thinking of your calendar as a schedule of content, consider it the implementation plan for your documented content marketing strategy. Plan content in quarterly sprints so you can adapt topics to real-time changes in the industry and content based on real-time performance.”

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

Rieva headshot.png

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, it's affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow,” Mahatma Gandhi said. “Learn as if you were to live forever.” rieva virtual life pic.jpg

I view these words as a challenge of sorts—and try to learn as much as I can every day.

There are plenty of ways to always learn: reading, listening to podcasts and attending conferences among them.

 

To maintain your entrepreneurial edge during coronavirus, check out this list of books, podcasts and conferences to help you maintain your entrepreneurial edge.

 

Listen Up: Podcasts

 

Since I’m relatively new to the world of podcasts—and just launched my own, I asked JJ Ramberg, serial entrepreneur, journalist, former host of the Your Business television show and cofounder of Goodpods, a new social network dedicated to podcasts—where you can follow your friends, influencers and favorite podcasters to see what they’re listening to, for advice. Here are JJ’s recommendations of podcasts for small business owners.

 

  • HBR Ideacast: A weekly podcast hosted by Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch, both senior editors from the Harvard Business Review. Topics: Interviews with the leading thinkers in business and management.

 

  • How I Built This with Guy Raz: The podcast from NPR examines the stories behind some of the world’s best-known brands. Topics: Interviews with “innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists.” And a special shorter segment, “How I Built Resilience” featuring conversations with founders and entrepreneurs about “navigating these turbulent times.”

 

  • Masters of Scale: The podcast, hosted by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, focuses on business growth strategies. Topics: Hoffman describes it as showing “how companies grow from zero to a gazillion.” Guests include business luminaries like Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Marissa Mayer, and the founders/cofounders of Etsy, Shopify, Rent the Runway and Airbnb.

 

  • RISE Podcast: This weekly podcast, hosted by leadership expert Rachel Hollis, offers “tangible and tactical tools for your life.” Hollis wrote the New York Times best-selling book Girl, Wash Your Face and runs The Hollis Company with her husband. Topics: leadership, interviews with authors, business and personal development leaders and snippets from her continuing entrepreneurial journey.

 

  • School of Greatness: Hosted by Lewis Howes, who started his business career (he formerly played Arena Football) by training sports professionals to use LinkedIn, among other tips. . Howes’ book, The School of Greatness was a New York Times bestseller. Topics: Interviews with leaders in the fields of entrepreneurship, health, athletics and more.

 

  • The GaryVee Audio Experience: Hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk, chairman of VaynerX, a media and communications holding company and the CEO of VaynerMedia, an advertising agency. Topics: Episodes of the #AskGaryVee Show, highlights from his DAILYVEE documentary video series, keynote speeches on marketing and business, and interviews and fireside chats.

 

Reading List

 

 

  • Driving Innovation from Within: A Guide for Internal Entrepreneurs. This book, by Dr. Kaihan Krippendorff, an expert on growth strategies and innovation, dispels the notion that visionary startups are the disruptors fueling innovation. Instead, he maintains intrapreneurs, not entrepreneurs are responsible for some of the greatest innovations, such as mobile phones, personal computers and email. The book gives businesses a framework to drive growth by “activating employee-driven innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

  • Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business. Do you know what the biggest problem in your business is? Bestselling author Mike Michalowicz contends most business owners don’t know how to properly prioritize their problems, so the real issues never get addressed. Michalowicz, a serial entrepreneur, created a system to help business owners identify what needs to be “fixed next” so you can propel your business forward.

 

 

  • Selling Naked: A Revolutionary Approach to Launching Your Brand Online. Written by Jesse Horwitz, the cofounder and co-CEO of Hubble Contacts, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) eyewear brand, this book explores the DTC trend, explaining how to start and grow an e-commerce brand via social media platforms. When he launched Horwitz got 2,000 signups in four days, enabling him to raise $3.5 million in seed capital. If you want to launch a DTC company, you’ll find this book a useful guide.

 

Virtual Conferences

 

 

 

 

 

  • MozCon: Search Engine Optimization (SEO). July 7-8 (tentative).

 

 

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Rieva headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, it's affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

rieva we're open pic.jpgAs the country reopens for business in phases, many small business owners are awash in mixed emotions—torn between the elation of finally getting to open their doors and the fear of what happens next.

 

Will customers show up? Will their trusted employees return?

 

In the May issue of the National Retail Federation’s  Monthly Economic Review, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says, “households [are] likely to tiptoe back in rather than making an immediate return to the lives they experienced before.”

 

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll shows the public is apprehensive about the reopening of retail stores (only 34 percent support it), hair salons (31 percent support) and restaurants (26 percent support). Other polls show even less consumer support for going out to eat. Business owners, on the other hand, are eager to reopen their doors. A poll taken in early May by Alignable, a network of small businesses, shows of the businesses that were forced to close, once allowed to open, 34 percent will reopen immediately, 19 percent will reopen within a month, and 13 percent need more than a month to reopen. But 40 percent worry consumers will be reluctant to return to their businesses.

 

That’s a legitimate concern.

 

“Businesses that think everything will go back to ‘the way things were’ are operating on a going-out-of-business strategy,” said Peter Newell, CEO of BMNT, a consultancy and early-stage tech accelerator.  He believes customer behaviors have changed irrevocably and the businesses that will thrive in this new environment are those that “continue to leverage the tools and processes they adopted during the crisis.” Examining these new practices, he says, offers insight into what will work “in the new normal.”

 

People who need people

 

But Newell says, “From startups to small companies it all revolves around your people. Acquiring and retaining good people are the hardest tasks for many small businesses. For some companies their futures are determined by whether they can bring back the talent they need.”

 

Bob Prosen, the CEO of the Prosen Center for Business Advancement, says you can reopen in phases, if need be.

 

“Bring your essential workers back first,” he advises. And make sure to check the health of your employees before they return. “Those in direct contact with customers must be tested for COVID-19. Employers can require employees to have their temperature taken as well as be COVID-tested. [They] can also ask employees health questions. You just have to keep the records private. Have a plan to conduct testing and ensure you have ample resources, like test kits, etc.”

 

Check out these safety guideline resources:

 

 

 

 

What if you have some employees who aren’t comfortable going back to work just yet? “Employers cannot force employees to return,” Prosen says

 

The key, says Newell, is to “overcommunicate.” If you want your staff to return, he says, “you need to ensure your workspace meets the new standards for workplace interaction. Show your employees you have their best interests at heart.”

 

Prosen says you have to “overcommunicate” with your customers as well. “Update your social media and website with the actions you’ve taken to ensure workplace safety. Go overboard. You can always pull back.”

 

Before you open

 

Prosen says you also need to be concerned about the “capabilities of your suppliers, trucker availability, etc. And ask yourself if you can make money given the rules around capacity and social distancing.”

 

How do you determine how much cash you need to reopen? Prosen advises business owners “to create different revenue forecasts. Take into consideration there will be fewer sales opportunities to chase, your average deal size may decrease, and it may take longer to close new business.” He adds you should be “overly observant of your competitors” and how they’re performing. “This can be a great opportunity to take share from weaker competitors.”

 

Breaking with tradition

 

This might be a good time to break with traditional practices. Prosen suggests putting “traditional sales on the back burner. Find ways to offer meaningful advice. Employ a ‘give before you get’ marketing strategy. Be empathetic. Offer solutions to customers.”

 

Reopening your business is not going to be easy. The longer this goes on, Newell says, “the harder it’s going to get. Come up with a new norm. Talk to your landlords. Negotiate your rents. Work with your property management company and ask, ‘How can we get through this financially?’”

 

In our consumer-driven economy, customers are key to business survival. Want to know how many of yours will return?

 

Prosen says it’s simple, “Ask them.”

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small Rieva headshot.pngbusiness and entrepreneurship, and the /servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3371-417615/Rieva+headshot.pngblog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, it's affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

What the post-Coronavirus world will be like is fodder for constant discussion, but today small business owners continue to fight to keep their employees working and businesses rieva cost sharing.jpgafloat.

 

Even for those businesses receiving funding relief from the government, most realize they need to do more to make it through the next few months as consumers come out of lockdown and supply chains try to make up for months of disruption.

 

One way small businesses can get creative is with cost-saving strategies. Partnering with other small businesses for cost-sharing is one way to save money while the world gets back on its economic feet.

 

What is Cost-Sharing?

 

https://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/cost-sharing.htmlCost-sharing is “a process wherein two or more entities work together to secure savings that one alone would be unable to obtain,” according to the Inc.com Encyclopedia. For most small business owners, health insurance is probably the most familiar example of cost-sharing—micro-businesses with one or two employees can better afford health insurance by joining a group plan comprised of many small businesses.

 

But there are other cost-sharing partnership possibilities to help small business owners save on operational costs. Here are a few ideas:

 

·       Access to technology: With more business owners and employees working from home, you may find other businesses looking for access to your business’s high-speed internet, computers or even your office’s copiers. By offering your business equipment to others in need you may be able to barter other services or charge a small fee to help defer the costs of your Wi-Fi and other utilities.

 

·       Marketing: Finding and sustaining new customers might seem like an unsurmountable feat during these crazy times, but by reaching out to fellow owners in the same boat you may find the process not as difficult. Cost-sharing on flyers, direct marketing brochures, social media campaigns and more could open a new target market lasting well beyond the pandemic period.

 

·       Supplies: Many business owners are struggling to find new suppliers. By cost-sharing you and your partner businesses can save by ordering discounted bulk orders while also discovering new supply chain sources in your local community.

 

·       Distribution: There are several ways to join forces to get your products in the hands of customers. And while the arrangement may only be temporary, once you set up the partnership, you might find it works for you on a more permanent basis. Food businesses, for instance, are finding it cheaper to sign up with delivery services like  Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash rather than hiring extra delivery help. You can also “cost-share” with customers by making more of your business self-serve and DIY. Salons, for example, can package to-go hair treatments instead of doing the service themselves.

 

Finding a Cost-Sharing Partner

 

In times of crisis people often step away from being competitive and embrace the concept of “coopetition”— cooperating with your competitors. It shouldn’t be hard to find other businesses to start a cost-sharing partnership with. Call or email your city’s business development office, post a message on your website or social media platforms or ask your current suppliers for partner recommendations.

 

The key is to make sure the agreement is clearly defined, meaning the terms are detailed and there is an end date to the agreement. Like any contract, everyone’s obligations and responsibilities should be spelled out and as well as courses of action should the partnership need dissolving. Ask your attorney to look over the agreement in case there are scenarios or events you haven’t covered.

 

Cost-Sharing and the IRS

 

It’s a good idea to also have your accountant look over your cost-sharing agreement to see if the IRS would consider the partnership a bartering arrangement.

 

The bartering the IRS cares about is for the exchange of goods or services in the commercial sector. If you use a bartering exchange, the exchange is required to report the transaction and can guide you through the correct reporting process. If you set up the bartering transaction yourself, you must include the transaction as gross income. You can find more information on the IRS website.

 

Recommended reading: The Small Business Delivery Options to Tap During Coronavirus Stay at Home Rules

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

 

In “normal” times, selling your product on Amazon seems like a good distribution choice, right? During February 2020 alone, Amazon.com had over 2.01 billion combined desktop and mobile visits making it by far the most visited e-commerce property in the United States. amazon pic.jpg

 

So, now, with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, can a small business still expect the same service and fulfillment expertise to make signing up with Amazon worth it? Here’s some background to help you decide if selling on Amazon is the right choice for your business.

 

A Small Business Commitment

 

More than 1.9 million businesses, content creators, and developers in the U.S. use Amazon products and services and 58 percent of Amazon sales come from small and medium-sized businesses, according to the 2019 Amazon SMB Impact Report. Following is a breakdown of the pros and cons of doing business on Amazon for small business sellers.

 

  • Seller options: The type of seller you are really depends on how much you expect to  sell every month.

 

    • If you plan on selling less than 40 products per month and don’t need access to any seller programs or tools, you can sign up as an individual seller. This is a good option if you’re starting out small and just want to test the waters, since the fees are low—$0.99 per item sold, plus referral fees. Referral fees, which range from 8-15 percent, are based on what kind of item is sold and the selling price.

 

    • Professional sellers sell more than 40 products per month and want sales analytics and reports. Professionals pay a flat $39.99 per month, plus referral fees. Of course, you wouldn’t be paying these additional fees if you sold directly from your website; however, the added exposure of being on Amazon is probably worth it.

 

  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): Likely the biggest advantage to putting your product on Amazon is the fulfillment power Amazon offers sellers by giving them access to its massive distribution network. Amazon has state-of-the-art fulfillment centers all over the country, so you simply ship your inventory to Amazon’s warehouses. The warehouses then store, sort, pick, pack and ship your products for you. Because Amazon has relationships with multiple carriers, you’ll benefit from deep discounts on shipping. Plus, your products are eligible for Amazon Free Shipping and Amazon Prime Free Two-Day shipping.

 

    • Note: There are many requirements Amazon demands of FBA users before it will accept products such as product titles, barcodes, labels, routing, storage limits and more. Again, the requirements may be worth the hassle since once the products are in Amazon’s hands, the company handles exchanges, refunds and returns.

 

  • Advertising: As an Amazon seller, you have a variety of options to boost visibility of your products.

 

    • “Sponsored Products” appear before other products when a user searches for a particular item, while “Sponsored Brands” appear at the very top of the search page and highlight your brand logo and a few of your items.

 

    • When the user clicks on your logo, they are taken to your Amazon store page. An Amazon Store page is your very own e-commerce site within Amazon and is free for sellers although you do need to have a trademarked brand or at least have applied for a trademark.

 

    • Finally, a new advertising option is the “Sponsored Display” ad which allows you to create a display ad to use on Amazon or other targets of your choosing. If your ad budget doesn’t allow for more than one giant placement then you might want to consider another avenue for your product ads. However, the amount of data Amazon continues to amass has made Amazon into the third-largest digital ad platform

 

There are restricted categories on Amazon where you may need approval before being able to sell your products. Only professional sellers can request approval to sell in these categories. Currently, the list includes such categories as:

 

  • Automotive and Powersports

 

  • Clothing, Accessories, Shoes and Luggage

 

  • Collectible Books

 

  • Collectible Coins

 

  • Entertainment Collectibles

 

  • Fine Art

 

  • Fine Jewelry

 

  • Grocery and Gourmet Foods

 

  • Toys and Games

 

  • Video, DVD and Blu-ray

 

Amazon in the Era of Covid-19

 

To address the incomparable demand for certain supplies, Amazon has announced a temporary prioritization of products coming into their fulfillment centers. Sellers can check which of their products are deemed high priority by checking their seller restock inventory page and their restock reports.

 

  • Eligibility is based on high-demand products customers need immediately; current inventory levels, inventory in transit; fulfillment center capacity; and the latest health guidelines. As you might guess, household staples and medical supplies are most in demand while the crisis continues.

 

At press time, Amazon is trying to find its “coronavirus footing” and still be the online marketplace offering the most inventory, quick delivery and worry-free fulfillment and at the same time keep employees healthy and safe.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the Rieva headshot.pngblog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/Rieva+headshot.png

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Before GPS there were the stars. That’s how people navigated their way by land and by sea. Specifically, they’d look for Polaris, aka the North Star, the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (Little Bear), more commonly known as the Little Dipper. value of finding your north star pic.jpg

 

Polaris essentially aligns above the North Pole. The star appears motionless in the sky, with other stars seemingly rotating around it—making it a crucial “fixed point” to use for navigation.

 

Business owners should be as dependent upon North Stars as explorers once were. “In business, the North Star represents a company’s unwavering definition of its purpose, its products, its customers and potential acquirers,” according to Chief Executive.

 

The concept of following your North Star “emerged from Silicon Valley companies with breakout growth,” according to Growth Hackers. This evolved into a measurement—the North Star Metric (NSM), which is the “specific metric that best captures the core value your product delivers to customers.”

 

Where’s your North Star, Evan Goldberg?

 

All this suggests small business owners need to find their own North Stars. I recently talked to Evan Goldberg, founder and EVP of NetSuite, about how he found his.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: How do you define a North Star?

 

Evan Goldberg: A North Star is an analogy referring to the guiding principles behind a [business]. It’s [your] purpose, ambition and vision. Put more simply, it’s the reason [you] go into business in the first place. It’s a necessity for every business.

 

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when there are so many distractions. You’re getting advice from everybody, adversity is challenging your thinking and assumptions, new opportunities are always presenting themselves, and the world around you is constantly changing.

 

These distractions make it hard to focus and that’s exactly why a North Star is so important. It guides your decision-making, brings your team, partners, investors, and other constituents together around a common set of goals, and keeps you on track as you navigate the twists and turns and side roads and forks that will define your organization’s journey.

 

Lesonsky: How did you know when you found your North Star?

 

Goldberg: It came out of my experience running a startup. I had multiple incompatible systems—one for finance, one for sales, one for support, one for web store—you get the gist. It was impossible to get an accurate picture of my business. My company didn’t succeed, but I learned a lot out of that failure.

 

I was on the phone with Larry Ellison, who helped me with the first company, about what I wanted to do next. We talked about the need for one system that organizations could use to simplify the management of their businesses and help them grow.

That 5-minute conversation became my North Star. Fast forward 20+ years and it’s still our North Star.  

 

Lesonsky: Any advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners about how to find theirs?

 

Goldberg: Start by asking yourself three questions about your business: Who are you targeting, what problem are you solving, and how can you do it uniquely?

Usually you start by knowing who you are targeting—for us it was entrepreneurs and making their lives and the lives of their employees easier by helping them build a great business.

 

But to truly understand your target audience and their challenges, empathize—really listen and try to put yourself in their shoes. What are the problems they encounter every day that are keeping them from achieving their goals? And how do existing products or services fail to solve these problems?

 

Finally, you must ideate and determine how you will uniquely solve them. This is the core of your North Star. What is your differentiating approach? How can you do this in a way that will be hard for others to copy? As you start to answer those questions you will get a clearer view into what will set you apart from the competition.

 

When I started NetSuite in 1998, we provided accounting software on the internet and if I had said our North Star is to make accounting on the web, we would have had a very different journey.

Instead, thanks to the experience with my first startup we realized this was a common challenge—too many systems and no clear view of the business. So, we knew we needed to automate all of a company’s core operations in one system to give entrepreneurs everything they need to grow. This gave us a much broader purpose as well as a more meaningful reason to exist.

 

Lesonsky: Any advice for how you keep going?

 

Goldberg: The best advice I can give is take it one step at a time. As the famous adage says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and this is particularly true when you’re running a business.

 

There will be good times, there will be tough times and there will be everything in between. You will question your North Star, heck you will question everything, but staying focused on that next step—while keeping an eye on the future—will help you and your business keep going.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the Rieva headshot.pngblog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/Rieva+headshot.png

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

As we’re still coming to terms with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s clear many small businesses will experience a delay or complete interruption in their supply chains. aerial-view-photography-of-container-van-lot-1427107.jpg

 

Whether it’s the needed supplies to run your business, such as paper goods or cooking oil, or actual merchandise to sell, the unknown nature of the global pandemic will continue to make finding suppliers a challenge.

 

The Fragile Supply Chain

 

This global health crisis has revealed the fragility of the supply chain. According to an article in The Atlantic, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) found nearly “75 percent of the businesses it contacted in late February and early March reported some kind of supply-chain disruption due to the coronavirus. And 44 percent of the companies didn’t have a plan to deal with this kind of disruption.” ISM’s CEO, Tom Derry, told The Atlantic, that while this is “a little surprising...you have to realize there’s almost no industry sector—[in] manufacturing and nonmanufacturing—that isn’t reliant on China in the United States.”

 

What normally took a few days to move across the world or the country can take weeks or months. Even Amazon is feeling the effects from a shortage of stock, the increase of online orders and not enough workers to fulfill them all.

 

To get around the delays in normal supply operations, many small business owners are turning to local suppliers to keep inventory in stock.

 

When one Southern California sunglasses wholesaler found his orders from Chinese factories delayed by more than 45 days, he quickly contacted alternate sources to fill his orders. Adam Rizza, cofounder of Sunscape Eyewear, already had a backup network of local suppliers to call on when his regular international suppliers faced weeks of delays.

 

“We sourced goods from local distributors,” says Rizza, although he admits “it did affect our margins.”

 

A good backup plan is key to surviving a crisis situation.  Part of that is establishing supportive, friendly relationships with others in your industry.

 

“We had good relationships with other eyewear distributors before we became one ourselves,” says Rizza. If you haven’t developed those relationships yet, start now—even if it’s with your competitors. “Most business owners are well aware of all the competitors in their space,” says Rizza, so it can be easier to start with them. “The one thing we have seen during this difficult time is that our competitors are coming together and helping one another.”

 

Finding New Supply Sources

 

In addition to reaching out to other local businesses for supplier recommendations, contact your city, county or state’s economic or business development offices. Check with the local chamber of commerce in your area for member lists. You can also get assistance from your local Small Business Development Center or SCORE office. Although face-to-face appointments are not available now, SCORE is offering remote mentoring appointments.

 

Online marketplaces are a good place to source products, just be sure to check stock levels and delivery estimates for the best outcome. Websites such as Shopify, Amazon Business, and Alibaba all have both international and domestic suppliers ready to make deals.

 

When you’re creating a new supplier network, investigate new suppliers in North and Central America as well as around the world. Choose new suppliers from different regions so you’re not stuck in case of a regional disaster. Establish these relationships as soon as you can, you don’t want to wait until the next calamity to get to know these suppliers.

 

You also need to check in with your current transportation providers. Do they offer multiple methods of getting your products to you? If not, consider expanding your transportation network as well. It’s important to do business with a company that can pivot from one transportation method to another when necessary.

 

No one knows when the coronavirus pandemic will start to abate globally.  Take the time explore and expand your supplier contacts so the next time supply chains freeze up, you’ll be prepared.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the Rieva headshot.pngblog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/Rieva+headshot.png

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

With “stay-at-home” policies widely implemented across the nation to slow the coronavirus (Covid-19) spread, delivery services are quickly becoming part of the new normal. brett-jordan-phUtWl8RyFE-unsplash.jpg

So, if consumers can’t come to you, are you prepared to bring your products to them? Here’s how:

 

Delivering food

There are plenty of existing food delivery services in many American cites to choose, and the main players are offering incentives to businesses and consumers.

Here’s a sampling of what’s available at press time:

DoorDash

 

The company launched an #OpenForDelivery campaign, reminding consumers that restaurant delivery is safe and that restaurants need orders. The campaign includes social media posts, listing DoorDash and its competitors.

 

DoorDash announced “a package of commission relief and marketing support for new and existing DoorDash partner restaurants to help them generate up to $200 million in additional sales this year.” The program includes:

 

  • Through the end of April, independent restaurants in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia can sign up for free with DoorDash and Caviar and pay zero commissions for 30 days. Merchants will not be asked to pay anything back.
  • Existing DoorDash and Caviar restaurant partners won’t have to pay commission fees on pickup orders so customers can spend less time in the store. They are “also providing additional commission reductions for eligible merchants already on DoorDash.
  • To incentivize consumers, DoorDash has added over 100,000 independent restaurant partners to DashPass, their subscription program which offers $0 delivery for consumers for free.

 

Grubhub

Grubhub is deferring commission fees for impacted independent restaurants to help “increase restaurants’ cash flow.” They are “also matching all promotions run by independent restaurants, to help make their investments in growth twice as effective.”

 

Postmates

Postmates launched a Small Business Relief Pilot program for small businesses so they can more easily use their platform. The program will temporarily waive commission fees for businesses in some markets. They are talking to restaurant associations and city governments around the country to assess how to build on this and support local restaurant corridors.

 

Uber Eats

In their statement Uber Eats says they’re “working urgently to drive orders towards independent restaurants…, to help make up for the significant slowdown of in-restaurant dining.”

 

To drive consumer orders, Uber Eats has waived the delivery fee for the more than 100,000 independent restaurants they feature and launched a daily dedicated marketing campaign promoting delivery from local restaurants.

 

They’ve also rolled out a new payment option for restaurants, allowing them “to opt into daily payments on all Uber Eats orders, rather than the typical weekly billing cycle.”

Curbside pickup.

 

Several national retailers are offering curbside pickup for products bought online. Small business can easily adopt this practice. Post information on your website that you’re offering curbside pickup. Customers order online, pay and indicate they want curbside pickup. You process the order and then send an email or text that the order is ready for pickup.

 

When customers pull up to your place of business, they call you, and their products are brought outside and, in many cases, placed immediately in their trunk. No contact is made. Some independent bookstores are offering this option.

 

Other delivery options

If you’ve previously relied on services like Task Rabbit to deliver your products locally, Task Rabbit is now “asking clients to request contactless tasks.” That can still work for your business, however, the company says, “By requesting a contactless task, clients and Taskers agree to maintain a safe six-foot separation. For example, a client can request that a Tasker delivering essential food or medications leave them in a safe place at your door. Contactless tasks can be requested in the booking details or when chatting with your Tasker.”

 

Another option

 

Local entrepreneurs can team up with other local businesses and form your own local delivery service that can be used to deliver food or other products. Contact your local chamber of commerce, city government or its economic development agency to see if they can offer assistance.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the Rieva headshot.pngblog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/Rieva+headshot.png

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

For businesses of all sizes, but especially for small businesses without large cash cushions, the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be enormous, affecting cash flow, sales, jobs and business survival rates. communication plan pic.jpg

 

As a small business owner, I know how, where and when I communicate with my clients during this crisis will greatly influence how my business will fare during the crisis and when it is over.

 

Take a moment to go over this small business crisis communications checklist to help your business remain healthy.

 

1. We are here! We are here!

 

In the words of Dr. Seuss in Horton Hears a Who, you need to let your customers know you are still running your business and making every effort to keep your services/products available any way you can. You can’t assume your customers know you’re still operating (even in a diminished capacity), so make sure you tell them right away what you’re currently offering and that you’re working on a longer-term game plan.

 

Emailing your customer list is likely the quickest and easiest option. If you send out a regular e-newsletter, include your message in there as well.

 

2. Going on hiatus?

 

What if your business is closing—temporarily? Some businesses will have no choice but to close their doors. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from retailers announcing they’re closing for several weeks. All have mentioned their websites are still operating and many have eliminated or reduced shipping fees. If you’re in retail, now’s the time to ramp up your e-commerce business, and email marketing, again, seems like the fastest way to spread the word. Also consider social commerce, selling via your social media channels. 

 

3. What should be on your website?

 

Where are your clients going to check first for information about your business? If you said your website, you are right and so you should have already posted information about any changes to the business such as new store hours, delayed deliveries and the best way to reach you. It’s also a good idea to acknowledge the crisis, offer advice and words of comfort. To be really helpful, post links to resources for more information on the crisis.

 

4. Email to stay in touch

 

After your initial outreach to your customers, it is imperative you keep the lines of communication open. If you’ve been communicating primarily by email, continue to use that channel. If you’re open for business, whether you’re selling products online, meeting with clients via telecommunication tools (Skype, Zoom, etc.), or selling food via takeout or delivery, consider emailing your customers and clients weekly. Customers will be bargain-minded, so offer incentives and promotions to persuade them to buy.

 

Many people are encouraging consumers to help out local businesses by buying gift cards now, for use later. This gives the businesses an influx of cash. So make sure you offer gift cards and visibly promote them.

 

Think about what your customers want to hear from you, in addition to discounts and other promotions. Can you offer information to help get them through the next few weeks or months? My hairdresser already texted me instructions on the right way to trim my own bangs. Depending on the type of business you operate, consider offering relevant tips, such as how to be productive working from home, tech tools, ways to entertain the kids while you work, best music or movies to help pass the time, favorite recipes, exercises, etc.

 

Consumers are stressed right now and would welcome hearing from a familiar business owner once or twice a month.

 

And make sure you let your customers know when you might be open for business again. When my dentist called to cancel my upcoming appointment, they rebooked me for a month from now, but added they’d be in touch with regular updates.

 

5. Start a dialogue on social media

 

Isolated consumers will be turning to social media for news and to make social connections. Start with the social platforms you usually use to engage you’re your clients and customers. But explore other social channels to find out where the conversations are. Ask open-ended questions to get a conversation going and make sure you answer questions customers have for you.

 

What you do not want to do is act the expert on the coronavirus. Refer people to the CDC website for the latest information.

 

6. Get creative

 

Now may be a good time to try communication channels you haven’t used before. Consider live streaming to show customers how to use your products, starting a podcast, or beefing up your YouTube channel.

 

What about holding virtual meetings with your clients over video chat, especially if your customers want face-to-face interactions, or you need to show charts or other visuals? Consider hosting webinars so you can interact with many of your clients at one time.

 

How are you planning on keeping communication going with customers during this global pandemic? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

 


 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the Rieva headshot.pngblog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/Rieva+headshot.png

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Money is the scorecard of business success. In honor of National Women’s Small Business Month, we asked women business owners to share their best advice about managing business and personal finances. women owners tips couch pic.jpg

 

What’s your best advice about business financial management?

 

Rachel Braun Scherl, Managing Partner/co-founder, SPARK Solutions for Growth, a company that designs and implements practical strategies for accelerating business growth

 

Often you are going into meetings where the men in the room assume you won’t be on top of the financials. Be rock solid in terms of the business drivers and numbers of your business. Know your P&L, balance sheet, lifetime customer value and other key numbers backwards and forwards.

 

Joanna Sobran, CEO, MXOtech Inc., an IT consulting company based in Chicago

 

Negotiate multi-year contracts with your customers. This has given my organization long-term financial stability, allowing [me] to plan for the future and form a foundation for strong relationships. In 13 years, I have not had to borrow money.

 

Deborah Sweeney sold her business, MyCorporation, to Deluxe in 2018 and still runs the division.

 

Be keenly aware of the ROI on all investments and business initiatives, whether that is hiring, marketing, investing in technology or taking on a new business partner. Understand your measurements of success. Do more of what gets you a higher ROI; cut the lower ROI initiatives.

 

Donna Miller, founder, C3Workplace, a provider of coworking, consulting and educational programs for B2B professionals

 

Understand what your numbers mean and how they can be leveraged to drive the growth of your business. Learn to (or hire the skill to) think in Excel. All business decisions should start with solid financial data (which will allow you to find the most profitable projects and markets consistent with your company's products and services) and marketing data (which will allow you to determine the proper demographics, psychographics and trends that align with your company's products and services).

 

Felicia Kelly, founder, Cyrus Anointing Consulting, a personal and professional development company

 

Double your expense projection and cut your sales projection in half. This is not to say you should lower your goals. In fact, this method gives you the opportunity to always come in below budget and above revenue projections so that the time it takes to turn a profit is significantly shorter.

 

Lozelle Mathai, CEO, Closing Your Books LLC, a financial accounting consulting firm focused on women-owned businesses

 

Have a yearly budget broken out monthly. The budget should be in line with business goals, should include a significant reserve, and should be reviewed monthly. This ensures all facets of the business are financially on the same page.

 

What’s your best advice for personal financial management?women business owners pic.jpg

 

Laura Spawn, CEO and co-founder, Virtual Vocations, the largest hand-screened database of telecommuting jobs online

 

Pay yourself first. Without a traditional job that provides retirement benefits and easy ways to save, it’s even more essential for business owners to plan for the future. Whether your business is flourishing or whether you’ve hit a plateau, make sure you add something to your savings account, IRA or other retirement fund every month.

 

Sobran: Set yourself up for success by not putting all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your investments with the help of a financial advisor who can help you make more informed investment decisions. I have put together a “life plan” with my financial advisor, creating a holistic approach to my finances that balances my life and business goals.

 

Kelly: Understand that starting a business does not solve your money problems. How you handle money is typically exposed and amplified once you start a business. It’s important to master your personal money management upfront, or your business finances will be just as much of a burden as your personal finances.

 

Miller: It’s low tech, but it’s life-changing: Establish a firm budget that allows you to live within your means.

 

What’s your best advice about getting outside financing?

 

Sweeney: Maintain a strong [personal] credit score. The way you handle yourself personally is also how you will likely handle the finances of your business. You are a much more creditworthy candidate for financing when you can show that you can manage your personal finances well.

 

Scherl: Raising money is about telling a story that is motivating to your funding targets. Your audience will be listening from their own points of reference, areas of expertise and investment thesis, so one size does not fit all. Your passion for the business, knowledge of the market, awareness of competitive opportunities, points of differentiation and business strategy should be presented with awareness of and through the filter of your audience’s specific perspective.  

 

Sobran: When you apply for funding, you don’t want to be another name on a piece of paper. Create relationships with your bank and other financial institutions. When I was building my business and needed outside financing, I made sure to consistently communicate all business updates with the organizations I worked with. I was transparent on my business growth and overall vision. I expressed my commitment and made sure to show my sincere character. It made all the difference because I formed relationships with people who believed in my organization.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Women entrepreneurs are looking forward to a strong 2020, according to the latest Women Business Owner Spotlight, recently released by Bank of America. In honor women share secrets pic.jpgof Women’s History Month, which celebrates “women’s contributions to America and the world,” we asked several women business owners to share their stories and best tips.

 

Meet the Entrepreneurs

Lauren Bercier and Laken Swan—founders, Something Borrowed Blooms, a Rent & Return Floral Company specializing in premium silk flowers. “We create on-trend wedding flower collections and rent them to couples saving them up to 70%!” Started 2015.

 

Gini Dietrich—Founder, Spin Sucks, a professional development business for communicators. “We provide online and in-person training to a PR professional who is looking to evolve their career and learn new skills. Started 2015. I started a PR firm in 2005 and Spin Sucks was our blog, which launched in 2006. By 2015, we discovered we'd built a big enough brand that we could roll Spin Sucks into its own P&L with its own team.”

 

Mika Leah—CEO, Goomi Group. Goomi Group provides onsite fitness and wellness programs, classes and sessions to companies and organizations nationwide with customized programs that fit any budget. Started 2015.

 

Colleen Puffpaff—Owner, Pigtails & Crewcuts, a hair salon catering to children. “We have fun theme chairs, movies playing, fun stylists and toys from wall to wall. While our main focus is haircuts, we do everything from birthday parties to ear piercing as well!” Started 2019.

 

Olga Vidisheva—Founder & CEO, Shoptiques.com. Shoptiques provides small businesses with the software and tools to streamline operations and increase sales. In addition, partner stores are featured in front of millions of customers through the Shoptiques.com marketplace. Started 2012.


What motivated you to start a business?

 

Bercier and Swan: We were both young mothers looking for an opportunity to start a business that would allow us to be in control of our future. We were motivated by the rental trends being adopted by millennials, especially Rent the Runway. We saw a gap in the traditional wedding market where couples were looking for new alternatives and we decided floral was the perfect fit! We currently fulfill over 500 wedding orders on a monthly basis. When we started, our goal was to ship 12 weddings per month.

 

Dietrich: I hate this question because it makes it sound like I’m impossible. And maybe I am. But the truth of the matter is, I have a massive problem with authority, especially with authority who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. When I left my job to start my own agency, it was because I was sick and tired of my advertising colleagues dismissing the work I did and treating me like a tactic instead of a strategic partner.

 

Leah: Three weeks after my 33rd birthday I was wheeled into emergency heart surgery. Five heart stents and four procedures later, I realized my life was short and I wanted to make a difference in the world. Goomi Group was started to make wellness simple in order to help others get healthy and happy, which I believe go hand in hand.

 

Puffpaff: I am the mom of two young boys. When they were babies, I worked part-time for my father, allowing me the flexibility to be around for my children. As my boys transitioned into full-time school, I wanted more of a career, but didn’t want to sacrifice the flexibility. Owning a business allows me to [be there for] my kids while building a business.

 

Vidisheva: Walking down the streets of Paris, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the fashion, architecture, culture—and the boutiques! Years ago while traveling for work, I came across a gem of a store in the Marais district with the friendliest, most stylish owner. The owner pointed out a pair of shoes and I knew I couldn’t leave empty-handed.

 

I still dream about visiting that tiny Parisian store again, but I’ve been lucky enough to discover so many other boutiques. Each one is special in its own way, but they all have something in common—beautiful hard-to-find pieces and a knowledgeable owner with a distinct style perspective. This is why Shoptiques was founded. We grant women access to the most stylish boutiques and replicate that same intimate in-store experience. Shoptiques is an online destination to browse, discover, and buy the best boutique merchandise in the world.

 

What’s the most important advice you got when you started your business?

 

Bercier & Swan: Don’t give up. Your greatest accomplishments are just past the most trying times. For both of us, giving up has never been an option. Although we have a lot of accomplishments to be proud of, it’s important to note there was equal or more hard work and grit.

 

Dietrich: Oh, man. It was so long ago...and there has been so much advice. I remember when I was starting out, I would read the typical entrepreneurship magazines and they freaked me out. So much to think about—and so many failures! So I stopped reading them and just started doing my job, as I’d been taught to do. Of course, that came with its own set of challenges. I didn’t know, for instance, that I had to actually set up a business with the state and with a bank. I didn’t know what P&L stood for. I had a lot to learn.

 

Leah: Since we have no overhead costs because we bring everything on-site to companies, I was advised to, “Just start and see if it will work; what have you got to lose?”

 

Puffpaff: Take it one day at a time! I didn’t have a clue what this meant until we actually opened. The first year of business ownership is a rollercoaster. One day is great—you feel like you’ve got this down and the next day all your stylists and receptionist call out and you’re scrambling to find someone to come in so you can open your doors. Trying to always see the forest through the trees is really important!

 

Vidisheva: If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. We are all guilty of sometimes talking ourselves out of pursuing an idea or asking for help. The best advice I got was, “Go for it, because if you don’t, you are guaranteed a no.”

 

What was your biggest challenge?

 

Bercier & Swan: Changing consumers’ mindset in a very traditional market was a big undertaking, but through e-commerce and digital advertising we’ve been able to connect with today’s brides who are more accepting of change and open to eco-friendly alternatives. Utilizing real bride reviews has been one of our most powerful sales tools in breaking the traditional mold.

 

Dietrich: Sales. Not because we don’t have them, but because I cannot figure out how to train someone to sell like I do. And I don’t love it, so I’d really, really like to figure that out. I hired a crackerjack professional late last year who shows incredible promise so we may very well be on our way.

 

Leah: There were times it felt as if the company was growing faster than we could keep up. However, we solved this by revising our workflow process to make sure everyone on the team had their own swim lane and no one drowned.

 

Puffpaff: There are so many challenges opening a business. We had difficulties securing an SBA loan. We had a faulty sprinkler system go off in our salon four months after opening, flooding our entire salon, causing thousands of dollars in damages and forcing us to close for two weeks.

The most challenging thing for me is opening and running a business while dealing with a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression. As I said before, it’s important to always try to see the forest through the trees and that can be hard when you add those to the mix. Solving this challenge goes back to taking things one day at a time and having a strong support system. My husband is the crux of my support system.

 

Vidisheva: When you start a business, the challenges are never-ending and ever-changing. You learn to accept them as part of the journey. My biggest challenge was managing my busy professional life when my grandmother was ill. It was challenging emotionally and physically, but I am grateful I got to spend time with her before her passing. That wouldn't have been possible without my amazing team, who went above and beyond to make it doable for me.

 

Did you/do you have a mentor? Other female entrepreneurs you admire?

 

Bercier: My old boss, Gina Babineaux who has started several successful businesses.

Admire: Sarah Blakely of Spanx.

 

Dietrich: I’ve had a ton of mentors throughout the years. I had a boss at the agency where I worked who was incredible. Then, as I started my business, I hired coaches and joined Vistage. Both of those things were incredibly helpful. Today, I study more on my own— everything from marketing and customer experience to business growth and sustainability.

 

Admire: Michelle Obama, Brené Brown, and Susan Cain are the ones you’ve heard of. In my industry, there is Ann Handley, Michele Linn, Cathy McPhilips, Mary Getz, and several of our women entrepreneur clients. They inspire me daily.

 

Leah: Oprah once said that she surrounded herself with people smarter than her, and I can say that I do that every day. Everyone has something to teach you, you just have to listen. Admire: Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, Rachel Hollis, Sara Blakely, Brené Brown, Vera Wang, Taylor Swift, J.K. Rowling, Sheryl Sandberg and Barbara Corcoran—to name just a few!

 

Puffpaff: My Aunt has always been a huge influence in my life. As a young adult, she found herself in a male-dominated field where she had to fight to make a name for herself, even though she was more qualified than most of the men she worked with or worked for. Her drive to work through tough situations and keep going even has helped push me when things are hard.

 

Admire: I’m a part of a lot of mom blogs full of female entrepreneurs and I admire them all. Being a mother is challenging. Being a partner is challenging. Being a businesswoman is challenging. Trying to mix and find the balance in all of these is nearly impossible and yet I see women doing it successfully and to their fullest every day.

 

Swan: Kristi Brocoto, founder of The Basketry. Kristi was my first boss and the biggest influencer in my decision to pursue a degree in marketing and later take the entrepreneurial journey. I was inspired by her Kristi’s passion, commitment and drive to grow her specialty gift basket service and her generosity to the community she operates in. 

 

Vidisheva: Pauline Brown is a friend and mentor. We first met professionally when I interviewed at The Carlyle Group where she was a partner. Over the years, Pauline has become a close friend. I made a leap to pursue Shoptiques at her house, and her support, advice and encouragement has helped me tremendously. Today, Pauline sits on the board of Shoptiques and guides and advises me and our team. 

 

Admire: Jessica Livingston, Anne Wojcicki, Reshma Saujani, Sara Blakely.

 

What keeps you going?

 

Bercier & Swan:  Songs: Do the Next Right Thing from Frozen 2 and This Girl is on Fire by Alicia Keys. Podcast: How I Built This.

 

Dietrich: I’m a cyclist and, and while I’ve taken a sabbatical from racing while I raise a kid, I cannot focus without a good ride every day. The other day was a rest day but I was in such a bad mood, I needed to do something. So I went to SoulCycle where the instructor was dressed in an Elton John, sparkly Dodgers jumpsuit. That made me much happier and I was able to lead my team without being a grouch.

 

Leah: My favorite quote I tell myself almost daily is, “You only fail if you stop trying.” It’s also important to remember: If you don't go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, then you are always in the same place. You only fail if you stop trying.

 

Puffpaff: I had a tutor in middle school who always told me to “go the extra mile.” I apply this everyday with my customers and my employees. Most people think haircuts are just haircuts. But when a parent comes in with a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism or a general fear of strangers cutting their hair, the haircut becomes much more. I’ve watched my stylists lay on the floor playing with kids for an hour before attempting to cut a kids hair.

I push my stylists to have that mentality with our customers, but I also have that mentality with them. Most of my stylists are young and just starting out in the “real world.” We go the extra mile for each other.

 

Vidisheva: Our team and our partners. Each time I step into the office, I am grateful to work with such a passionate and driven team who wants to help small businesses around the world succeed and who raise the bar of excellence every day! I am challenged by them, proud to work with them and excited to create something so impactful together.

 

Also, our partners. Small businesses have so much passion for what they do. We feel so grateful to work with them and help them grow and succeed in today’s world. Every time a boutique tells me they didn’t shut down because of our tools or grew 30% more than they expected because of our software, it just makes all the hard work worth it!

 

Writer’s Note: I have met many women entrepreneurs in my career who have inspired me . Here are some motivating quotes from some of them:

 

  • Sara Blakley, founder,Spanx: “The smartest thing I ever did was to hire my weakness.”

 

  • JJ Ramberg, Founder & Managing Director, GoodShop, Cofounder, Goodpods: “A lot of us start out nimble. You need to stay that way. You want to have that in your culture. Check to see why things are going wrong and fix them. Understand what’s going on in your business so you know if there’s a drop somewhere.”

 

  • Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” And, “If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.”

 

  • Muriel Siebert, founder, Siebert Financial Corp, first woman to own a seat on NY Stock Exchange: “When a door is hard to open, and if nothing else works, sometimes you just have to rear back and kick it open.” And, “Do your homework all of your life.”

 

  • Martha Stewart, founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia: “When you’re through changing, you’re through.” And, “Without an open mind, you can never be a great success.”

 

  • Lillian Vernon, founder, Lillian Vernon Corp.: “Don’t spend more money than you’ve got. Don’t spend money before you’ve got it.”

 

  • Oprah Winfrey, founder Harpo Productions, OWN, Oprah.com: “You can have it all. Just not all at once.” And, “The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.”

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

 

Whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, being part of a mentoring relationship is powerful. The American Psychological Association says having a mentor can be “lifechanging.”mentor pic.jpg

 

According to Bridget Weston, the acting CEO of SCORE, the country’s premier source of free business mentoring and education, “Entrepreneurs who work with a mentor are five times more likely to start a business than those who do not have a mentor. And, small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth.”

 

Mentorship can take many forms. But for small business owners, getting assistance from successful entrepreneurs (like at SCORE) or corporate giants can be especially helpful.

 

Imagine getting advice (and more) from one of the most successful American companies—Procter & Gamble, a multinational consumer goods corporation, founded in 1837. Sound like an impossible dream? It’s not. P&G Ventures is the internal startup studio within Procter & Gamble. Established in 2015, it “partners with entrepreneurs and inventors to discover and create consumer products, brands, and businesses that solve people’s needs in categories new to P&G.”

 

P&G Ventures has created a unique partnership model, “providing funding and access to their experts, resources, and capabilities to help partners find their best customers, prove their technology, and create their brand.” The idea is to marry P&G’s many decades of business expertise with the “scrappy entrepreneurial approach.” As a result, the partners are able to develop their products with the full force of P&G’s consumer insight, branding, and regulatory expertise behind them.

 

The core belief at P&G Ventures is that great ideas can come from anywhere—which is one of the reasons they created the Innovation Challenge, an annual event taking place during the Consumer Electronics Show.

 

Lauren Thaman, Director of Communications at P&G Ventures, says the Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity to reach entrepreneurs and inventors. Companies that are chosen to participate in the Challenge are flown to Las Vegas, given access to CES and pitch their idea. The winners are chosen and get $10,000 on the spot. 

That’s when the mentoring kicks in. P&G executives are there to offer advice. Thaman says they’re “committed to helping entrepreneurs. Sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know.  [We help] them understand what’s possible.”

 

Sometimes partners get seed money; other times they need marketing help. The partnerships, says Thaman, are a “win/win for the partners and us.”

 

Committed to women

 

Mentorship at P&G Ventures goes far beyond the Innovation Challenge. P&G Ventures teamed up with Vinetta Project, a chapter-based organization that connects women founders to capital and resources to scale their businesses.

 

Betsy Bluestone, the Commercial Discovery Leader at P&G Ventures says gender equality is incredibly important to P&G, and they weren’t seeing a lot of deal flow from female founders. So they teamed up with Vinetta Project to help female founders scale.

 

Vinetta Project holds pitch events, dinners and boot camps. They pair founders with “coaches” within P&G. Bluestone says this helps them “understand the challenges [the founders] are facing.” They had their first official cohort last year, but Bluestone says, “many of the relationship continue informally.”

 

Madelaine Czufin, Director of Platform for Vinetta Project says, “There’s a funding gap. Less than 3% of VC [venture capital] money goes to women.” By creating a platform that provides programming, networking, mentoring and more, it’s about “what will allow female founders to get access to growth.”

 

Bluestone underscores the power of mentoring. “People don’t think about strategic partnerships or how corporations can be a supportive partner” for small businesses. Helping with “brand building can be as valuable as giving money. Plus, there are “other ways to provide resources to help their businesses grow, such as paying for clinical trials or doing consumer testing” for their products.

 

Vinetta and P&G are “looking to support product driven, consumable companies with recurring revenue models” in eight areas:

 

1.      Sleep

 

2.      Menopause

 

3.     Pain

 

4.     Aging

 

5.     Male Wellness

 

6.     Performance

 

7.     Skin

 

8.     Non-Toxic Home

 

As a Vinetta Project mentor, Bluestone advises her mentees to “think about what your potential exits are and to build relationships with those targets early.”

 

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

All entrepreneurs dream of hitting it big. But building a successful company based on a fad is different from building one based on prevailing trends. It’s more crap shoot than sure thing. fad pic.jpg

 

When I first started writing about entrepreneurs, people were still buzzing about the man who made millions from a rock. Yes, a rock. The Pet Rock came on the market in August 1975. It was a rock cleverly packaged in a small cardboard box designed to look like a pet carrier, complete with air holes. The rock retailed for $3.95. Sounds silly, right? Well, sales were meteoric—millions were sold immediately after its market debut. Pet Rocks had a strong Christmas season, and then sales slowed.

 

The creator of the Pet Rock was hailed as a successful entrepreneur. But it’s not the kind of success you can predict—or easily duplicate. (Can you imagine writing a business plan for a rock?) The Pet Rock was a fad. And while you can make money from a fad, you can also lose your shirt.

 

The difference between trends and fads

 

At a glance, trends and fads may seem like the same thing. It can be confusing since we usually describe the latest thing as “trendy.” Fads and trends often emerge the same way—a new product or service suddenly becomes popular and generates a lot of buzz. It’s what comes next that marks the difference.

 

Fads have a half-life, while trends boast some staying power. Trends can last a decade or more and even when they do end, they tend to fade away more slowly.

 

Sometimes something starts as a fad, becomes a trend and then morphs into a solid business. Think Uggs. Or a trend loses its buzz, but becomes entrenched in our daily lives, like cupcakes.

 

Fads are not bad

 

There’s nothing wrong with investing in a fad. The problem arises when entrepreneurs mistake a fad for a trend and put all their eggs in that basket. Remember, the life cycle of a fad is short. They burn bright; then they burn out.

 

Timing is everything. If you hit it right, you can make a lot of money, but it’s risky business. Success is really a matter of serendipity. You not only need to know when to get in, but more important, you need to know when to get out. If you don’t time your exit right, you can end up with warehouses full of expensive excess inventory.

 

Becoming a trendwatcher

 

Trendwatching is not complex. It’s simply about paying attention and being proactive. Here are some things you can do to become a trendwatcher.

 

·       Read. To stay in the know, check out newsletters, magazines and websites of your industry and related ones. Read your local newspaper and regional magazines. Follow influential bloggers and business thought leaders on social media.

 

·       Hit the road. Attend conferences and go to trade shows. But, realize products you see at trade shows could be fads that have already peaked. Two years ago unicorns were all the rage, only to quickly be replaced by llamas.

 

·       Pop culture. Movies, TV shows, etc. offer a treasure trove of clues. In 1995, a new haircut worn by Jennifer Aniston on Friends, quickly swept the nation. Women demanded “the Rachel.” Hairstylists who were out of the loop instantly seemed old-fashioned and clueless. Fast forward a decade and in New Moon, the first book (and later movie) in the mega-popular Twilight series about a teen falling in love with a vampire, the girl wore lots of plaid shirts. Within months teens girls across the nation were snapping up plaid shirts faster than retailers could keep them in stock.

 

·       Listen to your customers. Often the easiest way to know what’s hot (or not) is track your own sales trends. What’s selling? What’s not? Which of your products are your customers talking about?

 

·       Research. Regularly check out Google Trends, Bing Keyword Research, the most popular Pins on Pinterest or the Pinterest 100.

 

The thrill of the fad

 

There’s no real science to picking winning fads or trends. You can play it safe or you can take a leap. For many, the risk of embracing a fad is part of the thrill of being an entrepreneur.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Ya gotta believe!” While this was the rallying cry of the 1973 New York Mets, it also serves as an entrepreneurial mantra for many. If you want to succeed in business, it helps to be optimistic. Optimism is what allows small business owners to surmount sometimes impossible odds to achieve improbable outcomes.

 

According to the just-released 2019 Bank of America Small Business Owner Snapshot, “Entrepreneurs remain optimistic about the strength of their local economies” and 82% mike-petrucci-c9FQyqIECds-unsplash.jpgsay they’re “poised to end 2019 on a high note…anticipating higher revenue” than last year.

 

They’re not quite as confident about the national economy, with 49% saying it will improve, down from 55% in last fall’s Snapshot. The political climate in the U.S., GDP growth rate, inflation and interest rate concerns have impacted their national outlook.

 

Trade Winds

 

Nearly half of the small business owners (44%) report being affected by “recent U.S. trade tariffs and policy.” Of those affected, 19% experienced a negative impact, 16% said the impact was “mixed” and 9% claimed a positive impact.

 

Put Adam Rizza, Chief Creative Officer of Sunscape Eyewear, in the negatively impacted bucket. Tariffs have affected his business—and what’s worse, he doesn’t think they’re going away anytime soon—if ever.

 

“The tariffs were inevitable,” he says, “and they’re here to stay. Sunscape currently manufactures their eyewear in China and Rizza says the factories there have “been advised not to give discounts” to American companies. Companies like his are “being squeezed,” he says. Retail buyers don’t want to pay more for wholesale goods and consumers don’t want to pay more for products in-store or online. “So ultimately,” he adds, “we’re going to have to eat it. Small businesses will suffer. The big guys have ways to get around it.”

 

But being the quintessential entrepreneur, Rizza found a solution. “We had to adjust, so we cut overhead and operational costs. But we can’t jeopardize quality, so we have to look outside China.” Sunscape, which has been doing business with Chinese factories for nearly 20 years, is now looking at moving production to Vietnam and is already manufacturing a new line of products here in America.

 

Like Rizza, the Snapshot shows 61% of small businesses have experienced an increase in the cost of goods. Most (55%) have raised their prices and 24% have lost customers as a result.

 

Tis the Season…

 

And while the Snapshot shows small business owners intend to enjoy the holidays (38% are going on vacation), 54% are stressed. Some are worried about balancing work and life (42%) and staffing issues (18%). To combat these concerns, they’re embracing some extra self-care (48%) and hiring seasonal employees (15%).

 

Other holiday season challenges are more customer-centric, such as creating customer demand (37%), keeping prices competitive (36%) and competing with the big box stores and online retailers (15%).

 

How will they cope with these challenges? Some plan to power through by developing new processes to handle a business influx (25%) while others, like me, will just guzzle more caffeine (21%).

 

Developing a 2020 Vision

 

What comes next? Despite those holiday stressors, as we head into the new decade, the entrepreneurs are embracing their inner Pollyanna – 80% plan to grow their businesses next year. Their top three goals: significantly increase revenue (47%), prioritize their online/social media presence (28%) and expand into new markets (23%).

 

Marketing smarter can help small business owners achieve those goals. Consider:

 

  • Embracing digital marketing. According to The Performance of Small and Medium Sized Businesses in a Digital Worldmall businesses that use digital tools are three times more likely to experience customer growth and two times as profitable.
  • Personalizing your emails. Instapage82% of marketers have reported an increase in open rates through email personalization. Plus, personalized email marketing generates a median ROI of 122%.
  • Increasing video marketing. According to HubSpot, 56% of 25-34-year-olds and 54% of 35-44-year-olds would like to see more video content from businesses.

 

For a better 2020, you’ll need to combine a positive outlook and practical business solutions.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

A new year is on the horizon—along with a whole new decade. If your business brand is in need of a makeover, now could be the perfect time to shake things up.drawing-feedback-logos-critique-17845.jpg

 

Here are six reasons you should consider rebranding your business in 2020.

 

1. You’ve added a new product line or service to your business. Does your current brand fully convey these new additions? For instance, if your pizza restaurant is now brewing its own beer, incorporating that into the overall brand could attract new customers. Alternately, you might want to develop a separate, but related brand for the new products or services.

 

2. You’ve narrowed your focus. If your business originally was trying to be all things to all people, but now you’ve found your niche, rebranding to emphasize that change is a smart move. For example, if your general tutoring business now focuses on prepping high school students for the college entrance exam, you need to refocus your marketing efforts to reach that new demographic.

 

3. You’re expanding into a new market. If you’re expanding geographically, a brand that’s too locally or regionally oriented may limit you. You also need to make sure your brand resonates with prospective customers nationwide—or even worldwide—which probably requires some adjusting. For instance, international expansion may require a logo that conveys meaning without words.

 

4. Your brand is inconsistent. Due to budget issues, small businesses often update their marketing materials piecemeal, over time. Eventually, you can end up with a hodge-podge of logos, fonts or taglines that are all slightly different. If this sounds like you, either choose the most current brand identity you want to focus on or start fresh. Either way, you need to bring all your marketing materials in line.

 

5. Your brand is easy to confuse with a competitor. A new business copying your name, logo or brand isn’t the only thing that can confuse your customers. As you expand to new target markets or locations, you may suddenly be competing with businesses you never knew about whose brands are similar enough to yours to cause confusion.

 

6. Your brand is outdated. Every brand needs a refresher from time to time. If your logo was cutting-edge 10 or even five years ago, it probably looks pretty dated now. You might need a new look to fit in with current design trends or create a logo that reads well as a small online icon. If you’re too close to your brand to be impartial, try conducting customer surveys or calling in a focus group to give you their honest opinions.

 

How to make your rebrand work? Try these tips:

 

  • Go slow. You don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Small changes can be more effective at freshening up your brand while still retaining its value and familiarity to customers. If you want to modernize your brand, for instance, try updating fonts or taglines while retaining basic elements like colors.
  • Stay connected to your roots. If you rename your business, maintain a connection with your old name. For instance, co-working company WeWork recently announced it will be rebranding
  • Build anticipation
  • Involve customers in the rebrand. Give customers a stake in the rebrand by getting their input. Share potential logo designs or new business names for a vote or to get feedback. Customers can tell you if your new brand accurately conveys the message you want to send. After all, they’re the ones you need to please!

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Filter Article

By tag: