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69 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

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 Your brand is outdated.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

As every small business owner knows, referrals from trusted connections or past customers are one of the best ways to get new business.

 

Building a strong local community network can help. Creating a local network has other business benefits as well. It provides a support system to encourage you and offer advice when you need it and exposes you to new ideas that can help grow your business.photo-of-people-doing-handshakes-3183172.jpg

 

How can you build a stronger business network in your local community? Here are three ideas.

 

1. Join local business organizations: Even if you’re already involved in national organizations such as your industry association, joining local business groups can have additional benefits. It doesn’t have to be an organization for your industry; the local Chamber of Commerce, leads club, Rotary club or other service organization are all great ways to meet other business owners, professionals and community leaders.

 

BNI, a worldwide networking organization, has a unique focus. Each local chapter allows only one member from each industry to join. Members focus on referring business to each other. Since you’re the only representative of your industry in your chapter, you won’t be competing with other members for customers or referrals. Also consider joining local organizations targeted to your own special interests, such as groups for women in business, Hispanic people in business or business owners under 30.

 

Can’t find such a group? Consider starting one. Whether you’re joining an existing group or starting one of your own, taking on a leadership role is the best way to get to know others and the most out of your membership.

 

Read next: Small Business Networking Plays Vital Role in Growth by Joel Comm

 

2. Get involved in a community-based social networking group: Sometimes it’s surprisingly hard to meet other business owners just down the street. After all, you’re both busy running your businesses, and if you’re in different industries, you may not belong to the same organizations.

 

That’s the problem Alignable, an online social network of over 4 million small business owners, was launched to solve. Joining Alignable is free and you can connect with other local business owners to get referrals, build relationships, spread the word about your business and get advice from your peers.

Townsquared is another free site that offers similar features to help small business owners make connections. If you’re already on LinkedIn, use it to search for other business owners in your area and get connected with them.

 

Many small business owners lack the time to physically get out and attend local business events. If that’s you, an online social networking group that’s focused on your local area is a way to accomplish many of the same goals without leaving your office.

 

3. Hold a networking event at your business: Often, the best way to meet other business owners is to make the first move yourself.

 

Get the addresses of local business owners in your area and stop by in-person to introduce yourself and invite them to a special event at your business where they can get to know lots of other local entrepreneurs. Hand out your invitations well in advance so you can plan for the appropriate number of people.

 

At the event, make it easy for people to network by planning some icebreaker activities or playing games. Provide refreshments, music and drinks to make it feel festive. Ask attendees to bring their business cards, share product samples, be ready to do a demonstration or otherwise find a way to bring their businesses alive to the others. Try holding a contest or giving prizes for the newest business, oldest business, most unusual business, etc.

 

If you’re having trouble finding local business owners to invite, you can try using Meetup, a social network that helps people connect for real-world activities.

You’ll never regret forming new relationships, and the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to do so. Start planning your community-building activities now and you can start 2020 off with more support than ever before.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Kara Goldin was on a personal quest. She left her job at AOL in 2001 to start a family. And she “wanted to make a difference in the world.”

 

The family part came first. Then Goldin “found herself overweight, low energy and suffering from adult acne.” The culprit, she decided was diet soda—so she quit cold turkey.

She also was worried about the sugar-laden beverages her kids were drinking. The solution to the beverage problems was water, but water is bland, and Goldin didn’t think it would be a long-term fix. So she started “cutting up fruit and throwing it into pitchers of water.”

 

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When a friend noticed Goldin’s water with fresh cucumbers in it, she said, “Someone should bottle that.” That’s all the motivation the former tech exec needed. While pregnant with her 4th child, Goldin traveled halfway across the country to find a bottler who would make her calorie-free flavored water with no sweeteners or preservatives.

 

In 2005 she launched hint water—water with a “hint of fruit.” When I first met her in 2013, she admitted she was a little naïve. She had to battle the big guys (Coke and Pepsi) for shelf space, particularly in the big grocery chains. One of her first big breaks came when she landed a deal with Whole Foods. Today, her lines of hint waters (still, sparkling, kick and kids) is on the shelves of grocery stores nationwide.

 

In 2017 Goldin had some pre-cancerous cells on her nose. She didn’t like the sunscreens on the market and, once again, motivated by a personal quest—she created hint sunscreen.

 

What drives Goldin? I caught up with her a few weeks ago to find out.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: When I first interviewed you in 2013, you were well on your way to success. Since then Hint has experienced explosive growth.

 

Kara Goldin: We are [now] a thriving and expanding company with 200 employees. Today we’re the largest independent non-alcoholic beverage company in the country that doesn’t have a relationship with Coke, Pepsi or Keurig Dr Pepper.

 

Lesonsky: When you launched you didn’t “know anything about beverages.” What gave you the courage to keep going?

 

Goldin: I thought if Hint could make me drink more water and get healthier, then it would help others too. All along we had to educate the consumer. I figured out that “diet” wasn’t necessarily healthier. So we focused on having a great-tasting product with no sugar or sweeteners of any kind. If you have a great product, the consumer will tell you whether or not it’s good. We even created a new category called “unsweetened flavored water.”

 

Today, more than ever, people actively choose a healthy option if they don’t have to compromise on enjoyment, or, in this case, taste. Hint has always been ahead of the market and Hint’s mantra “Drink Water, Not Sugar” has caught on. We led the way and continue to innovate by offering more options to more people, reaching every generation, every demographic, every ethnicity, everybody.

 

Lesonsky: Now the company is branching beyond water, introducing kids water and sunscreen. Why these products?

 

Goldin: It’s always about solving a problem that’s personal. I had a bout with skin cancer, I couldn’t find a product that didn’t contain ingredients dermatologists told me to avoid including oxybenzone and parabens. So it always starts like that.

 

Lesonsky: Do you plan to introduce other products at a future date?

 

Goldin: Yes, deodorant is on the way very soon and we are always thinking about innovations to make it easier for people to be healthier. There is definitely more to come.

Lesonsky: Seems to me you take the ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. How do you look at it?

 

Goldin: I try to remember what really matters, why we started Hint and what keeps us inspired—helping people lead healthier lives without compromising on enjoyment.

Lesonsky: Business history is full of examples of entrepreneurs with great ideas who were able to start and grow but weren’t capable of scaling their businesses. You’re an exception. How have you avoided the problems so many others experience?

 

Goldin: Passion trumps experience. Trust your gut. Develop a network of people who can help you figure stuff out.

 

Lesonsky: Back in 2013, you told me your philosophy was being “scrappy” is what it takes to be an entrepreneur. How would you describe your philosophy today?

 

Goldin: I’m still scrappy. I tell entrepreneurs all the time that I never said to myself, “I want to be an entrepreneur” or “I want to be a beverage entrepreneur.” I never take “no’s” as an answer, I solve problems and give people irresistible solutions.

 

Lesonsky: You wanted to “make a difference” in the world. You obviously have. What drives you to keep going?

 

Goldin: I just thought if I could actually get people to enjoy water again, instead of drinking all those other things that not only have sugar, but also diet sweeteners, then we could actually change health. I ultimately want to help make everyone healthy.

 

Lesonsky: What has been your greatest challenge and how did you solve it?

 

Goldin: My main challenge was mass producing our flavored water without adding perservatives or sweeteners. Everyone said it couldn’t be done. Frankly we had no idea, because the industry experts didn’t have any idea how to develop a product without using preservatives. But we researched how fruit juice is pasteurized to extend its shelf life and went on to devise a similar technique for our waters and the rest is history, as they say.

 

Lesonsky: Any advice for startup women entrepreneurs?

 

Goldin: Find a problem that needs to be solved and go do it. If you can solve the problem, like I’ve done with drinking water, you can help millions of people.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

To what do women business owners owe their success—and what remains to be done to help the next generation of women entrepreneurs?

 

Bank of America recently released its 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, its fourth annual study exploring women entrepreneurs’ goals and challenges. Here’s a closer look at the findings.

 

Women Business Owners Are Optimistic

 

Women in the survey are optimistic about their businesses’ futures, with ambitious growth plans. In fact, they are more likely than men to plan to hire, expand or apply for a loan in the next 12 months. (The survey polled both men and women entrepreneurs with $100,000-$4,999,999 in annual revenues and two-99 employees.)

 

Some 84% of the women surveyed expect their revenues to grow year-over-year. What’s more, 52% expect their local economies to improve, and 47% expect the national economy to improve.

 

Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Concerns

 

However, women business owners also have significant concerns about the future. Over the next 12 months, their biggest concerns are:

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 4.24.45 PM.png

 

Digging deeper into how women feel about access to capital, the report uncovered some unsettling news.

 

  • Although most women entrepreneurs believe access to capital has improved over the past 10 years, 58% say they don’t have the same access to capital as their male counterparts.
  • Only 34% of women surveyed believe women business owners will ever gain equal access to capital. On average, they believe it won’t happen until 2033.
  • And 24% of the women surveyed don’t think women will everhave equal access to capital.

 

Part of the problem: 54% of men entrepreneurs surveyed think women business owners alreadyhave equal access to capital. Business financing options such as venture capital, angel investment and bank loans are still predominantly overseen by men. If men don’t see a problem, it’s hard for the situation to change.

 

What Would Help Women Business Owners Most?

 

The survey posed several societal changes that could possibly occur in the next five years, and asked women which one would have the biggest effect on leveling the playing field for the next generation of women entrepreneurs. Here’s what they said:

 

  • Having more women in powerful positions of influence 35%
  • Pay equity 22%
  • Creating stronger networks of women 12%
  • Redefining gender norms 10%
  • Achieving equal access to capital 8%

 

Fortunately, there are things we can all do to help these changes come about.

 

  • Seek opportunities to promote women into leadership roles in your business. Mentor female employees or match women employees with mentors in your business to cultivate their skills.
  • Commit to pay equity in your business. Learn more about pay equity and do a self-audit of your business.
  • Grow your network of women. Join organizations for women business owners such as NAWBOeWomenNetwork or the American Business Women’s Association. Look for a local networking group for women or start your own.
  • Get involved in organizations that mentor girls and young women. (More than half of women in Bank of America’s survey say having a mentor was key to their entrepreneurial success.) Mentor girls in STEM careers, help girls “be bold” through Girls Inc., or be part of the Enterprising Women Foundation’s mentoring initiative.
  • Be a role model for girls and young women in your life. It doesn’t have to be all about business: The top factors women in the survey say contributed to their entrepreneurial success include getting a college degree (62%), participating in the arts (35%), playing competitive sports (30%) and serving on student council (26%).
  • Put your money where your mouth is by investing in women business owners worldwide through Kiva or Women for Women.

 

Women entrepreneurs can take heart in knowing we have the power to effect change. By helping other women, you can create a better world for all women entrepreneurs. 

 

    Read next:

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Americans have long had a passion for pets, but millennials are taking that interest to new heights.

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Since 2017, when millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest single group of pet owners (35% vs. 32% respectively), they’ve been spending lavishly on “luxury, high-design and high-quality products and services,” JWT Intelligence reports.

 

Seven in 10 millennials own a pet; they spend $67 billion annually on pet dogs and $33.5 billion annually on pet cats.

 

What’s different about millennial pet owners, and how can you capture your share of this booming market? Read on.

 

Why Millennial Pet Owners Are Such a Hot Market

 

According to a Wakefield Research survey, there are three characteristics making millennial pet owners an especially promising target market:

 

    • Exhibitionists: Nine in 10 millennials are on social networks; many have a social media account just for their pets.
    • Conscientious: Millennials strive to keep their pets healthy with organic pet food, wellness supplements and dog day-cares for exercise. Not surprisingly then, 60% of millennials say their pets eat better than they do.
    • Impulsive: Millennials are more likely to splurge on pet products and services, such as fancy pet beds or expensive treats, than other age groups. In fact, many millennials say they splurge more often on their pets than on themselves.

 

What Pet Products and Services Are Popular?

 

Food

Food is the biggest pet-related expense for millennials, who prefer foods that are grain free, have “superfood” additions or limited ingredients for special diets. Millennials seek authenticity and demand transparency regarding pet food ingredients and where the ingredients are sourced.

 

Technology

Millennials use tech to stay connected to their pets. More than half of millennial pet owners use pet-related technology, including health and nutrition apps (24%), pet monitoring cameras (22%), smart toys (20%) and tracking devices (20%). Rover connects pet owners with pet services; PetSafe sells high-tech pet gadgets like training collars.

 

Home Goods

One-third of millennials who bought their first homein 2017 said needing more space for their dog was a factor. Among non-homeowning millennials, 42% say their dog (or their desire to get one) would be a factor in buying a home. Millennials seek home goods that not only serve a pet purpose (like hiding a litter box) but look good doing so. They also want products that help their pets get exercise, be comfortable and be safe at home.

 

Health Care

Veterinary care is the second-biggest pet-related expense for millennials; many are turning to non-mainstream alternatives to help keep their pets healthy. Nearly a quarter pamper their pets with aromatherapy, reflexology or naturopathy; 26% have given pets massage, chiropractic, acupuncture or physical therapy. Anti-anxiety products to reduce pets’ stress, natural wellness and healthcare products, and CBD products are all popular.

 

Pet Care

Dog day care, pet hotels (that is, boarding), pet-sitting and pet walking are all reliable business opportunities, but you need to add a touch of luxury. Millennials expect a high-end, personalized experience, such as cameras to watch their pets remotely and detailed reports on the pet’s day.

 

Transportation

Whether they consider pets an accessory or think of them as part of the family, 61% of millennials say pets must be portable. (For example, 53% believe eating with their pets at restaurants is “essential.”) Pet strollers, tote-style carriers, and backpack or front carriers are popular, and retail site Zulily regularly sells out of “pet-pouch hoodies”—sweatshirts with a front pouch to carry a pet.

 

Pet Clothing and Accessories

Some 92% of millennial pet owners buy their pets gifts such as toys, clothing and treats; 51% do so at least monthly. Millennials are twice as likely as boomers to buy their pets clothing (60% do so). Essentially, any pet accessory that can create an Insta-worthy pet photo is likely to sell well.

 

Pet Parent Accessories

More than eight in 10 millennial pet owners have bought merchandise to advertise their proud pet parenthood. The most popular are calendars (43%), clothing (42%), cups/mugs (37%), door signs or welcome mats (33%), and wall art (32%).

 

Zulily reports millennials generally prefer to buy pet food, accessories and toys online, but would rather buy treats, bedding and clothing in person. If you’re planning to start a brick-and-mortar pet store, keep it “boutique” with unique, authentic and upscale products. Make sure you and your employees are knowledgeable about pets and product lines—almost two-thirds of millennials think they know more about pets than pet-store employees do.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Is work/life balance easier to achieve for small business owners? Or is it harder? The answer is both, depending on who and when you ask.

 

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Owning your own business seems to offer greater potential for achieving work/life balance, but especially in the early years of starting up, reaching that elusive goal may seem impossible.

 

In a survey by GetResponse, almost one-third of small business owners cited work/life balance as a reason they started their companies. How did that work out for them? The numbers speak for themselves:

 

  • 25% work more than 40 hours a week
  • 69% answer business emails in their free time
  • 91% work weekends
  • 26% never stop thinking about their business
  • 16% haven’t taken a vacation in over 4 years

 

Personally, I don’t think work/life balance is possible to achieve. Instead, I like to think of it as a work/life seesaw. Most of the time, either work or your personal life will predominate; there’s only a very small fraction of time when everything will be equally balanced.And unlike riding a seesaw, there are times when both work and your personal life are making extreme demandson your time.

 

A survey by FlexJobs found employees value work/life balance more highly than salary when considering taking a new position. There are some ways you can help both yourself and your team find better work/life balance.

 

For your team’s work/life balance:

  • Allow remote work. Set your employees up so they can work outside the office at least some of the time. Using cloud-based data storage and collaboration tools such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft’s Office 365 makes it easy for you and your team to work from anywhere you have an internet connection.

 

  • Be flexible: If you can’t allow employees to work remotely, try to offer as much flexibility as possible. For example, can your employees work from 7 to 4 instead of 9 to 5? Can they work four, 10-hour days and have the fifth day off? At a minimum, giving employees time off for things such as doctor’s appointments or children’s school plays will help improve your employees’ sense of work/life balance and keep them happier.

 

For your own work/life balance:

  • Prioritize. When you feel swamped, take a look at what’s on your plate and focus on what’s truly important. Usually, that means work only you can do, that delivers high value (such as growing your business), and that serves your most important customers.
  • Negotiate. Do you have a dozen deadlines all hitting on the same day? You’d be surprised how often clients are willing to be flexible. If you know the project is not an urgent priority for the customer, see if you can talk to the customer and extend your deadline. Use this tactic only with established clients who know your track record—and only in dire situations—so it doesn’t damage your reputation.
  • Get help. Many small business owners hate to delegate work, even when they have perfectly capable employees who could handle it. If your work/life balance is out of whack, identify tasks you’re currently doing that someone else could handle, and train them how to take over.
  • Don’t have employees? Look into hiring part-time contractors or virtual assistants or handing off some of your personal life duties, like cooking, cleaning or picking up dry cleaning, to your family. Make sure you are taking advantage of business apps that can automate and streamline time-consuming menial tasks, such as scheduling blog posts or email blasts, coordinating meetings or generating invoices.
  • Schedule some downtime. Whether it’s a short meditation every morning, a vigorous game of tennis on Sundays, or a weekly lunch with a friend, build in a little bit of time every week to decompress. Even when you’re working your hardest, having that downtime in your calendar and sticking to it will make you feel like you’re not just a work machine.

 

Work/life balance may be almost impossible to attain, but trying to get as close as possible will give you more energy for both your life and your business.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

After spending a summer looking at your friends’ and colleagues’ vacation photos on social media, you might be itching for a little time away yourself.

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For busy small business owners, a two-week trip to Europe may be out of the question. Just 9% of small business owners surveyed by OnDeck say they take two-week vacations. But that doesn’t mean you have to go without any R&R. More than half (57%) of small business owners surveyed plan to take a vacation of some sort and combining business and leisure on a long weekend trip is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

 

Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your get away.

 

Look for a destination with plenty to offer. Is there an industry convention coming up in Hawaii or New Orleans? Do you have a client in New York City or San Francisco? If so, see if you can’t combine a business trip with some time off in one of these popular vacation destinations. If you’re planning to bring your spouse or children along, make sure there will be activities to occupy them during the times you’re meeting with the client or attending your business events.

 

Plan ahead. For many small business owners, the idea of completely unplugging from their businesses increases panic. If this is you, you’re not alone: more than two-thirds of the business owners in the OnDeck survey say they check in with work at least once a day while  on vacation. A trip that combines business and pleasure gives you the perfect excuse to relax a bit while still checking your emails. On the other hand, if you do want to enjoy some real downtime, make sure your team back at the office is prepared to handle things during the days you’ll be vacationing.

 

Keep good records of your expenses. Some of your business travel expenses may be deductible, including the cost of transportation to and from your destination, lodging, meals, tips and taxis or other transportation at your destination. In order to claim these deductions, you’ll need to keep careful records and separate business from personal expenses. Shoeboxed is a great, simple app to scan, digitize and organize your receipts.

 

Know the tax laws. In order to be deductible, your travel destination has to be outside your business’s “tax home” (the city where your business is located) and the business purpose of your trip must require an overnight stay. Any expenses you deduct for business must be considered “ordinary and necessary” and directly related to your business.

In order to deduct any part of your trip as business travel expenses, the business portion of your trip has to be longer than the vacation part. A day counts as a business day if the majority of your time during business hours are spent on business purposes. Traveling to or from the business location also counts as a business day; so do weekends if they are in between two days that are devoted to business. This makes a Friday to Monday trip a perfect way to maximize your deductions and your downtime, as long as you conduct  business on Friday and on Monday.

 

The IRS has strict rules for what you can deduct as a business travel expense, and recent tax law changes have affected many formerly allowable deductions. Visit the IRS website for more on deductible business travel expenses and talk to your tax professional before making travel plans.

 

As busy entrepreneurs, we all need time to rest and recharge to keep our businesses functioning at peak performance. Combining business with pleasure over a long weekend can help you re-energize while growing your business. What could be better?

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Are you passionate about health, fitness and nutrition? So are millions of Americans. According to The Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry grew by 12.8 percent between 2015 and 2017 and accounts for 5.3 percent of the global economy.

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This could be an ideal time to launch a wellness business.

 

What is wellness? From organic skin-care products to meditation apps, the concept encompasses just about every product or service you can think of that affects the mind, body and spirit. However, the following key sectors identified by GWI are most promising for entrepreneurs:

 

  • Personal care, beauty and anti-aging ($1,083 billion in 2017)
  • Healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss ($702 billion)
  • Wellness tourism ($639 billion)
  • Fitness and mind-body ($595 billion)
  • Spa economy ($119 billion)
  • Workplace wellness ($48 billion)

 

Here’s an overview of some of the fastest-growing wellness trends that have the greatest potential as business startups.

 

Personalized diet and nutrition counseling

 

“Personalized” is the key word in today’s diet, nutrition and weight loss industry, a market that some estimates project will hit $11.5 billion by 2025. Successful entrepreneurs will tailor nutrition advice to clients’ specific goals, genetic makeup and food sensitivities, as well as special diets such as keto, vegan, paleo or Mediterranean. There’s a focus on improving overall health and performance rather than simply losing weight.

 

Meditation

 

Like yoga 20 years ago, meditation is just starting to explode, according to The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report. Already, meditation is tied with yoga as the most popular alternative medicine practice in the country, but there’s still potential for more growth. In the coming year, look for drop-in meditation centers, fitness programs that incorporate meditation, and a wider range of ancient meditation practices to enter the mainstream.

 

Wellness travel

 

In contrast to “overtourism,” (tourists flooding popular vacation spots), wellness travelers seek to boost both mind and body with vacations that enhance their physical, mental and spiritual wellness. That could mean traditional spa activities such as daily yoga and meditation with a vegan diet prepared by a chef or going “off the beaten path” to experience little-known wellness practices of local cultures. 

 

Workplace wellness

 

Anxiety disorder is the top mental health issue in America. Not only does anxiety cause personal problems, it also cuts into business productivity and reduces employee satisfaction. As businesses strive to retain employees in a competitive market, a workplace wellness business that helps promote happier, healthier employee lifestyles will be in demand. You can provide everything from massage and yoga to meditation and fitness training to office workers.

 

One-stop wellness centers

 

“Holistic” is the buzzword for wellness in 2019 and beyond, according to The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report. That’s behind the trend of wellness centers that incorporate medical treatment, fitness classes, nutritional advice, personal trainers, yoga and meditation and other wellness activities in one place. Similar to co-working spaces, one-stop wellness centers provide a place for members to drop in and have all of their wellness needs taken care of in a community of like-minded people. Consider partnering with other wellness entrepreneurs to start a center or locating your business in an existing center.

 

Wellness apps

 

Would you rather write code than do crunches? There’s still opportunity for tech startups to create apps that help people track their fitness progress, monitor their food intake or stick to their meditation practice. Just be sure to check out the competition closely before you start developing your big idea, so you don’t enter a niche that’s already saturated. Female reproductive and sexual health are areas with promise, according to The 2019 Global Wellness Trends Report.

 

Pet wellness

 

The same wellness trends that humans embrace quickly trickle down to our furry friends. According to CB Insights, high-grade pet food, pet health products, pet fitness trackers and pet nutritional supplements are all growth areas attracting attention—and venture capital. If the market for a particular wellness concept is already saturated in the human space, pivoting to pets could give you the edge you need.

The global appetite for wellness isn’t going away. Starting a business to serve consumers’ quest for self-improvement offers the opportunity to help others while also making a healthy profit.

 

               Related Links

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

You have a business idea you’re passionate about. But before you take another step, you need to find out if there’s a demand for that business in your community.

 

Conducting market research will reveal whether the area has enough potential customers, if they’ll buy what you’re planning to sell, and who your competitors are. Here’s what you need to find out.

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Is the industry thriving?

 

Start by researching the industry you want to enter. Is it growing, mature or declining? How do others in the industry sell their products or services? Where are most of them located? How much money do they make?

 

You can find a lot of information by searching online. Suppose you want to start a boba tea business. The search “is boba tea a growing industry?” reveals that the bubble or boba tea market is expected to reach $3,214 million by 2023. Look for search results from legitimate sources such as government websites, industry analysts, industry publications or industry associations. Tap into trade associations and trade publications for industry trend data, too. Using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to identify how your industry is classified will help you find more information.

 

Are there enough customers in your community?

 

Just because your community has a lot of residents doesn’t mean it has a lot of customers.

 

You need people who fit your target market profile. For instance, the primary customer base for boba tea stores tends to be millennials and Asians, so starting this business in a community full of white retirees won’t work.

 

To see if your business idea is a fit, get demographic information such as age, ethnicity, marital status, education level, household income and size, and homeownership for your community. The following sources can help:

 

 

Will those customers buy what you sell?

 

Even people in your target market won’t buy from you if they don’t have sufficient disposable income. For instance, boba tea is a luxury, not a necessity, so consumers on a budget may not buy it. Use consumer spending data to research your market’s spending habits.

 

    • The Bureau of Economic Analysis shows income levels by location.
    • The Consumer Price Index shows how much people pay for various products.
    • Employment and Unemployment Statistics reveals employment levels in your area and what types of jobs people have. For instance, if you want to start a beauty supply store targeting hair stylists (a business-to-business venture), find out how many people in your area work in salons and how many salons exist that might become customers. The cost of starting a beauty supply store may not be a strong investment if the market of customers isn’t there in your local area.
    • Consumer Spending shows overall spending trends.

 

Conducting surveys is a good way to see if prospective customers will buy from you. SurveyMonkey Audience lets you survey people in your desired region and demographic. If your customer base can be easily found (such as hair salon owners) you can also contact them directly to ask questions.

 

Who’s the competition?

 

All systems seem go—your community is full of hair salons and hairstylists, not to mention style-conscious women who can be potential customers for your hair salon supply store. Not so fast! What competing businesses exist?

 

Use the resources mentioned above to find local competitors. Visit them to get an idea of how they position themselves, what products they sell and the level of service they provide. This will help you identify opportunities to differentiate your business.

 

What if your research shows a sizable Asian, millennial customer base that spends a lot on eating out—but there are already three boba tea shops in your community? There might be room for another, but only if you can distinguish your store by offering something the others don’t. Could you serve more than just boba tea, or stay open late at night and host poetry readings and live music?

 

If there are nocompeting businesses in the area, that’s not necessarily a green light. Maybe there are no hair salon supply stores near you because local salon owners and hairstylists buy all their supplies online. You’ll need to dig deeper by contacting them to ask.

 

If all this research seems overwhelming, the experts at SCORE or your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can help you conduct market research on your community at no cost. (Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my company.)

 

Whatever option you choose, don’t neglect this important step. It can make the difference between a successful startup and an empty storefront.

 

          Related Links

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “A woman is like a tea bag—you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

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This quote popped into my head as I listened to Stephanie Vitori, owner of Miami Beach-based Cheeseburger Baby, accept the Small Business Administration’s National Phoenix Award during Small Business Week in Washington, D.C. The Phoenix is awarded to those who’ve “displayed selflessness, ingenuity and tenacity in the aftermath of a disaster, while contributing to the rebuilding of their communities.”

 

Vitori started her career at Cheeseburger Baby as a delivery driver, but she didn’t stop there. After learning the ins and outs of every position at the company, she bought the place. She set out to transform the “dive” by adding food trucks (which turned out to be a lifesaver) so she could “grow beyond South Beach and reach more customers.”

 

No stranger to transformations, Vitori had to rebuild her iconic burger business after it was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Irma. She’s the perfect embodiment of both the Phoenix—rising from devastation—and the tea bag—gaining strength as she went.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: You bought Cheeseburger Baby in 2004. What made you think you could go from delivering burgers to running the place?

 

Stephanie Vitori: I’ve always loved food—I grew up in the kitchen with my family. I was a foodie before being a foodie was a thing. I also saw the connection Cheeseburger Baby had with its customers and employees and I believed in it.  So, I saw an opportunity and went for it. No risk, no reward.

 

Lesonsky: You’ve said you “transformed” Cheeseburger Babyfrom a dive into a South Beach hot spot. How did you do that?

 

Vitori:I transformed it with hard work, offering great food, ambience and customer service. Word got out we were the place to go for the best burger in town. I also make sure I am present and involved as an owner from cooking burgers to doing the dishes. It’s important to lead by example.

 

Lesonsky: So things were going great and then Hurricane Irma hit in 2017. Did you prepare for the coming storm?

 

Vitori: I prepared for the worst but was hoping for the best. About 48 hours before [the storm hit] I decided to put everything in freezers, board up the stores, park the trucks in a safe area, pack up and tarp our house. We got in a U-Haul with our five dogs and went on what seemed like one of the longest road trips ever. It was the hardest decision in my life.

 

Lesonsky: And yet, despite your preparations, Irma devastated Cheeseburger Baby. What were the damages?

 

Vitori: Hurricane Irma was by far the biggest challenge the business and I faced in the last 19 years. Water backed up into the restaurant, damaging food and essential equipment. There was also major damage to the air conditioning unit, freezer, hood ventilation system, and our marquee sign. A tree fell on our food truck damaging the roof and awning. Power was out at the restaurant for two weeks.

 

Lesonsky: You experienced about $150,000 in losses and property damage. Recovery was slow. Were you worried you were going to lose it all?

 

Vitori: Yes, I was worried about losing it all. I learned about the Small Business Development Center and went to them for help. I had only 24 hours to get our bridge loan application together. It was a challenge but prepared me for filling out the SBA Disaster Loan Application (we were approved).

 

We did whatever we could. We relied more on the food trucks as we recovered. My wife and I worked endlessly, picking up more truck events everywhere we saw an opportunity, and we marketed on social media.

 

Lesonsky: During your acceptance speech for the Phoenix Award, you made a pretty staid audience cry and got a resounding standing ovation. How did that make you feel?

image2.jpeg

 

Vitori: It truly is hard to put into words what I felt—I’ve never felt anything like it before. It was the first speech I’ve ever given in my life. I was obviously nervous, but I felt blessed and appreciated. The audience made me feel validated—20 years ago I went down the wrong path, quickly realizing it wasn’t for me. Then I was outed in high school which pushed me to graduate a year ahead of my class.

 

I moved to Miami not knowing my future. I worked extremely hard, buying Cheeseburger Baby and paying it off in two years instead of five. I was honored to [receive] the National Phoenix Award for resiliency, tenacity and strength. I feel the award was for everything I have been through in life, and I think the audience felt the same.

 

Lesonsky: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever gotten?

 

Vitori: Always make time for you.

 

Lesonsky: In your acceptance speech you said, “There are two kinds of people in the world—problem identifiers and problem solvers. Small business owners need to be both.” Was that the lesson this taught you?

 

Vitori: I’ve always been that way, but in business you learn a lot of time gets wasted when you just have identifiers. Identify, find a solution, solve it and move on.

 

Lesonsky: What’s next?

 

Vitori: We want to continue to be the best burger people have ever had in the world.

 

     Related content:

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Put down your Pina Colada and step away from the pool. If you’re a retailer, now is the time to start planning for holiday shopping success.

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Last year 89 million consumers shopped both online and in stores over Black Friday weekend, an increase of nearly 40 percent from 2017, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). With the economy in booming condition, sales are likely to be just as strong this year. But there’s plenty of competition—so take these steps this month to put your retail business out front during the holiday season.

 

Get a head start on inventory

 

    • Review your best sellers from last year and use your inventory management software to plan ahead and forecast your inventory needs. Strike a balance—ordering too much or too little inventory is a profit-killer.
    • To get the right mix of products, research what’s trending in your target market. Visit trade shows to see what products are being promoted; monitor the hot sellers on Amazon, eBay or Alibaba.com.
    • It’s also important to keep your merchandise fresh, so plan to order different products you can highlight every couple of weeks.
    • Focus on a mix of unique inventory that customers can’t get from big-box retailers or websites, as well as some popular items and small impulse buys you can use to get customers into your store.
    • Place orders early and stay in contact with suppliers. Know how soon you need to order, any extra fees for rush delivery and the like.
    • To hedge your bets in case one supplier is shut down by bad weather, order from multiple suppliers so you won’t get caught short.

 

Plan for marketing and advertising

 

    • Revie last year’s marketing and advertising plan. What worked and what didn’t? Create a marketing plan, calendar and budget based off that information.
    • Start by planning end-of-summer promotions to clear out stock and make room for holiday merchandise.
    • Next, plan marketing for key dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day and Super Saturday.
    • Online marketing is key, since shoppers go online to research products, compare prices and find stores. Capture consumers in these early stages with pay-per-click advertising and promoted social posts.
    • If you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer, update your local search directory listings using keywords shoppers are likely to use.
    • Your website needs some holiday spirit. Create gift guides. Plan to add a holiday design.
    • Can your website handle a surge in holiday traffic? Make any major changes to your site well in advance.
    • Email marketing is a key driver of holiday sales. Clean up your email lists; encourage customers to sign up for your emails; and plan your email campaigns adhead so you’re not trying to create them during the holiday rush!
    • Don’t forget real-world marketing. Brainstorm ideas for in-store events or charitable campaigns now so you can start building excitement.

 

Promotions and deals

 

    • More than four in 10 consumers say they can’t resist making a purchase when something is on sale. Use your sales forecasts to calculate what types of discounts you can offer without hurting your bottom line.
    • Incentivize shoppers with deals such as BOGO, flash sales or VIP sales offers.
    • Plan for post-holiday discounts. Last year, 68 percent of holiday shoppers and 80 percent of those aged 18-24 planned to keep shopping December 26-January 1, according to the NRF.

 

Get your systems ready

 

    • Review last year’s holiday data to see what days, dates, and hours of the day were busiest. This will help you plan and budget for staffing needs.
    • If you’ll need extra help, reach out to seasonal workers you hired last year to available.
    • Bigger companies start holiday hiring as early as August, so if you want the best workers, prepare your job listings and start putting out feelers now. Remember, allow time to train seasonal staff well before the holidays.
    • If you’re implementing new service offerings this season, such as “buy online, pick up in-store,” selling gift cards, or offering layaway, put the proper systems in place and work out any kinks now.

 

Get your groundwork done now, and you’ll boost your odds of “winning” the holiday shopping season.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Just like students get summer homework, here are  summer reading suggestions for you, the small business owner I chose books that were not only filled with great advice for entrepreneurs, but ones you can dip into for easy, but informative, summer reading.

 

Summer Reading SBC.png

It’s the Manager

Authors: Jim Clifton and Jim Harter

 

How should we prepare for the future of work? The premise ofIt’s the Manager, which is based on Gallup’s 30-year study of the workforce (over 37 million people were surveyed), is that while we continue to worry about the decline in global productivity, we’re ignoring the best solution—managers. In fact, the authors (Clifton is the Chairman and CEO of Gallup; Harter is Gallup’s Chief Scientist, Workplace) maintain the single biggest factor in determining your company’s success is the quality of your managers.

 

Because the book is from Gallup, it uses data to explore the challenges and offer solutions.  The research shows they key to business success today is aligning a company’s purpose and culture with the needs and wants of today’s employees, who want work with a deeper purpose.

 

The book is intentionally written for busy business people. Harter says, “Instead of …setting aside big chunks of time to read the book from start to finish,” you can read the relevant discoveries when an issue arises.

 

Turning the Flywheel

Author: Jim Collins

 

Jim Collins has written six books that have sold more than 10 million copies, including the iconic Good to Great. That book focused on seven principles, including the concept that good-to-great transformations aren’t caused by a “single defining action.” Rather, success stems from “the flywheel effect,” which Collins likens to the act of pushing a “giant, heavy flywheel” forward. First it takes great effort, but as you keep pushing the flywheel builds its own momentum until it’s almost unstoppable. For example, Collins explains, offering lower prices to encourage customer visits was Amazon’s flywheel.

 

The publisher labels Turning the Flywheel as a “monograph to accompany Good to Great.” The book is only 40-some pages long—so it’s ideal for summer reading – yet Collins covers a lot, explaining the steps involved in discovering, maintaining and extending your own flywheel.

 

Wise Guy: Lessons from a Life

Author: Guy Kawasaki

 

Full disclosure: I am a long-time fan of Guy Kawasaki, having read his The Art of the Startmore than a few times. Wise Guyis Kawasaki’s most introspective book, covering topics ranging from business skills to moral values to parenting.

 

The book is not written in a traditional style, making it easy to pick up and put down. There are numerous “Wisdom” sidebars, which alone make the book a worthwhile read. One of my favorite stories involves a Dutch bike company which noticed 25 percent  of its boxes were being damaged in shipping. They solved the problem by putting pictures of widescreen TVs on the bike boxes, because apparently workers are more careful when shipping TV sets.

 

Kawasaki says his goal for writing Wise Guywas to “help you live a more joyous, productive and meaningful life.” To help us do that he uses examples from his life. To underscore the “you’re never too old to learn something new” trope, for instance, Kawasaki talks about his adventures when he took up surfing at age 62.

 

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell

Authors: Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle

 

While not a household name to most of us, Bill Campbell has coached business people we’re all familiar with, including all the authors (Schmidt is the former CEO of Google and executive chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company).

 

Campbell, a former college football coach who died in 2016, was known as Silicon Valley’s preeminent executive coach. The book’s title pays tribute to Campbell’s success—he helped build corporate giants like Google, Intuit and Apple, creating over a “trillion dollars in market value.” The authors talked to more than 80 of Campbell’s clients, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Susan Wojcicki, the president of YouTube and Brad Smith from Intuit about the lessons Campbell taught them.

 

Campbell believed in only coaching the coachable. What makes a person coachable? “Honesty, humility, the willingness to persevere and work hard, and a constant openness to learning.” If you’re coachable, there’s a lot to learn in this book.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

We know Generation Z will transform workplace culture—but not all of this cohort will enter the workplace. This demographic, whose oldest members are between the ages of 18 and 23, is already displaying a passion for entrepreneurship. What’s driving Gen Z to be their own bosses, and how might they transform the business world?

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Fiscally Responsible

 

Gen Z grew up in the shadow of the Great Recession, seeing their parents struggle financially and their older millennial siblings battle for scarce jobs. They don’t want to live out the same nightmare, so they are wary of taking on debt (21 percent percent already have savings accounts). Although the Center for Generational Kinetics predicts a higher percentage of Gen Z will attend and graduate from college than any prior generation, they are already planning how to avoid college loans.

 

More than half (60 percent) of Gen Z believe money is evidence of success, compared to 44 percent of millennials at the same age, according to a survey by We R Gen Z. Already, the survey reports, 70 percent of Gen Z’ers earn their own spending money—about the same percentage as millennials, except that Gen Z is 10 years younger.

 

Freedom and Self-Reliance

 

To avoid being at the mercy of employers, Gen Z is choosing non-traditional ways to earn a living. Nearly half (46 percent) of Gen Z workers are freelancers, Upwork reports, and 73 percent are freelance by choice, not from necessity.

 

While some Gen Z workers choose the self-reliance of freelancing, others go one step further by pursuing entrepreneurship. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Generation Z want to be financially independent by age 30, Barna Group reports; five years after finishing college, 20 percent want to be entrepreneurs, Robert Halffound.

 

Gen Z is realistic about their prospects—77 percent expect to work harder than previous generations to achieve success. They’re also confident: 80 percent of high school students believe they’re more driven than their peers.

 

The Digital Generation

 

How will Generation Z businesses differ from prior generations? This is the first demographic to grow up in a fully digital world. Weaned on YouTube videos, Gen Z’ers know they can learn anything online—from how to make natural cosmetics to how to use 3D printers or find suppliers. They live their lives online and are natural social media marketers.

 

For some, showing bigger businesses (and older people) how to reach Gen Z is a business in itself. Back in high school, Tiffany Zhong knew she wanted to be her own boss, so she started asking venture capitalists for advice. When VCs started asking herfor Gen Z insights, Zhong realized she had a business on her hands. Today, her marketing firm Zebra Intelligence helps brands connect with Gen Z. Connor Blakley and Jonah Stillman are others who have capitalized on their Gen Z status to consult with businesses on managing and marketing to this generation.

 

Other Gen Z entrepreneurs sell products, not knowledge:

 

  • Taylor Frankel co-founded cosmetics brand Nudestix at 17; today, the company’s products are sold in Ulta and Sephora.
  • Allan Maman and Cooper Weiss, founders of Fidget360, gained viral fame (and made hundreds of thousands of dollars) by capitalizing on the fidget spinner craze in high school. (Weiss has since been involved in other startups while Maman is working on a new venture.)
  • Teni “Tia” Adeola launched Slashed by Tia from her dorm room in 2017, creating clothing based on her passion for Renaissance painting; today her designs are worn by celebrities such as SZA and Gigi Hadid.

 

For all three companies, social media marketing and an instinctual connection with their peers online were key to success.

 

How will Generation Z transform the world of business? It remains to be seen—but I, for one, am looking forward to finding out.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Success is a habit—and like all good habits, you have to work hard to achieve and maintain it. We talked to 11 small business owners about the daily habits they believe contribute most to their success. From exercise to quiet time to diligently tracking sales in QuickBooks, here’s what some successful entrepreneurs do every day.

 

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Todd Brabender, President, Spread The News PR, which specializes in generating media exposure for innovative products, services and experts.

 

  1. Research: I spend the initial part of my day researching the media markets applicable to my client base. I scour multiple media outlets and formats to see what topics are being covered. What angles are popping, what trends are developing? Based on that research, I forge messages incorporating my clients with those solid news pegs and pitch to my media contacts all over North America to consider.
  2. Respond: I pride myself on being as immediate as possible in my email and phone correspondence replies with clients, associates and media contacts. When it comes to communications, my mantra has always been: Review. React. Respond = Results!
  3. Relax: By relax, I mean breathe. Several times a day I stop working, look away from the computer screen for a few minutes and take a string of cleansing circular breaths. It refocuses the mind, eases stress and helps stoke new creativity for ideas.

 

Charles Bragdon, President, Water Saver Solutions, which helps commercial and institutional clients optimize their water flow into cash flow.

 

  1. I spend time at the beginning of each day in prayer and reading a daily devotional. This helps me start with the right frame of mind and reflect on my many blessings. I also use this time to think about my challenges ahead for the day.
  2. Aside from our formal weekly production meeting, I also meet with my department managers daily to discuss project status, challenges or anything else on their plates. This gives me valuable time for mentoring and coaching and helps me forecast any obstacles.
  3. In my office, I update a whiteboard daily of long- and short-term projects. Having a visual status board in my office keeps me focused.

 

Laurel Delaney, founder of GlobeTrade, president of Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global™ and best-selling author of Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably.

 

  1. I write a blog post every evening that is published the following morning (except Sundays) at the Global Small Business Blog. This has helped grow the blog’s readership and bring in new consulting opportunities. If you build an audience, you can build a business. After I write the post, I read The Wall Street Journalto relax and keep up with world affairs.  
  2. Even though I meet with exceptional business owners all the time through my consulting work, I still turn to business books for answers to burning questions, challenges I face or ideas I wrestle with. I scan a book a day, many of which can be esoteric or quite old—from Winners Never Cheat by Jon Huntsman to Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney to On Second Thought by Wray Herbert.
  3. I try to either run or walk outside every day to get fresh air, clear my head, change the scenery and take photographs of simple things with my iPhone. This alters my state of mind and eases business pressures. When I return to my office, I have newfound energy, a better perspective on what needs to be tackled next, and a far greater motivation to get things done.

 

Jill Dominguez, President, ESSERGY,a consulting firm that helps businesses, nonprofits and governments harness energy for social change.

 

  1. First thing every morning I check my email, review my schedule and task list before the open of the business day (which means 5 a.m. PT, since my clients are all over the U.S.). This practice keeps me organized on what can be a complex schedule of activity with several projects happening at once [and dealing with] many team members.
  2. Every evening I update and review my company task list with “To Do’s,” each color coded according to urgency with a drop-dead date.  Every team member who is involved with a task is asked for an update or status regarding the task with the corresponding date.
  3. I write everything down in my notebook. It is with me at all times. I prefer taking handwritten notes, as it does not require me to look away for long periods. I am a firm believer in eye contact, and when [you take notes on] a tablet or phone, it seems as if you are not paying attention to the meeting. The notes are the basis of our digital archiving system for the company. All notebooks are archived chronologically; I have notebooks going back 27 years. I doubt that is necessary, but I have been asked to go back and check on an issue or conversation for a client many years later, and recalling details is much easier when looking at my own notes.

 

Monika Jansen, Head “Kick-Ass Copywriter” and Strategist, Jansen Communications, a boutique marketing agency.

 

  1. Every morning, I go for a two-mile walk, which I consider a walking meditation. I don’t listen to music or podcasts; I just let my mind wander.
  2. I do a quick check-in with myself: Is everything I’m doing that day contributing to my greatest and highest good? If not, I will cancel or reschedule projects and calls.
  3. Finally, I don't schedule calls or meetings before 10 am. This allows me to settle into “work” mode, which is especially helpful on Mondays!

 

Erika Kotite, co-founder of She Shed Living, which helps women create a space of their own by offering custom shed design, build and installation services as well as a proprietary line of exterior chalk-based paints.

 

  1. Daily contact with my partner, Sabrina Contreras. Sabrina and I bring different things to the table—she has a business background and I have a creative/marketing background. We keep each other grounded and motivated to do all the things we need to accomplish that day. I firmly believe in utilizing that “second eye” when making important business decisions. Just like a writer needs a good editor to be successful, we need each other's perspective and critique to improve.
  2. Staying up-to-date on QuickBooksand banking. Since my background leans to the liberal arts, I’ve had to invest considerable time and training into learning how to keep our books. By disciplining myself to check our bank balance daily and input items regularly into QuickBooks, I’ve been able to avoid costly tax accountant charges. In addition, I have a much better idea of how we are doing financially and what we need to adjust in the future. For example, I know exactly how many shed sales per month we need to reach our business goals for 2019.
  3. Add content and stay engaged on Instagram. We have numerous social media outlets including a growing Facebook Group, but Instagram is where people discover us, present us with opportunities and refer clients to us. I carefully monitor not only our growth in followers but also engagement levels for each post. It’s equally important to support others on Instagram by liking, commenting and reposting, which I do every day.

 

Mika Leah, CEO, Goomi, which brings onsite fitness and wellness sessions to offices and other workplaces.

 

  1. Determine the three things I need to get done that day. Then I focus on only those three things.
  2. Plan ahead for the following day, review my calendar, write my three things to-do list, and even lay out my clothes.
  3. Have weekly mandatory status meetings with my team every Monday to connect on a personal note, review successes and failures from the prior week, and discuss the week ahead.

 

Barry Moltz, Author, speaker, host of the Small Business Radio Show, whose Shafran Moltz Group helps small businesses get unstuck.

 

  1. Determine my two priorities to accomplish that day (and do them) before checking email, social media or anything else.
  2. Check filtered emails and social media lists for current customers’ and key prospects’ messages or posts.
  3. Exercise—cycling and karate.

 

Charley Moore, Founder and CEO, Rocket Lawyer, which provideshigh-value legal services at an affordable price.

 

  1. I’ve been doing my best work in the early morning since I was a kid. We had a family business and I learned to open up shop at daybreak. Today, my most productive hour is usually between 6 to 7 a.m., when I can read the news, review KPIs and get a jump on email without meetings and distractions.
  2. I exercise six days per week. Even when I’m traveling, which is often, I stick to this exercise routine, which includes meditation and stretching. Leading any organization creates stress. Being able to be physically active is a blessing that I cherish as essential to a balanced life.

 

Adam Rizza, President, Sunscape Eyewear, wholesaler and e-tailer of sunglasses.

 

  1. Our main challenge is cash flow, so we watch our accounts receivable daily and budget properly. This is an exercise all entrepreneurs should apply, no matter their size. You have to have a good understanding of your cash flow.
  2. Daily meetings with my operations team. You have to make sure you are shipping daily—and accurately. This all ties into cash flow: When you ship on time, you get paid on time.
  3. Every day we work on new product development, retaining current clients and prospecting for new ones.

 

Aliza Sherman, CEO, Ellementa, a global women’s health company focused on cannabis, and author of Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness.

  1. Wake up early.My best work gets done in the wee hours of the morning; I get a good two hours of work in before things get busy. Once the workday actually begins, calls and meetings make up my day and by the afternoon, my brain is spent. Those early mornings are a time for me to really focus and produce. During the week, I’m often in bed before the kids!
  2. Eat a good breakfast.I can’t function without [eating] something substantial in the morning. My go-to breakfast is gluten-free toast with avocado and egg.
  3. Move around.My work tends to be sedentary—me, at a desk, on a computer. After writing the book The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, I learned a lot about the tremendous value of moving your body throughout the day to clear your mind, boost your energy and prevent disease. My co-author, Beth Kanter, inspired me to walk more and to track my steps using a health app, something that suits my need to see progress. I alternate standing and sitting when at my computer and get some steps in walking when I’m talking on the phone. The better I take care of myself, the more successes I see day-to-day in my work.

 

Reading about other business owners’ daily success rituals is inspiring—but as Delaney says, “We cannot replicate business success by copying another business owner’s daily rituals—we need to cultivate our own.” What are your daily business success rituals?

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

While the rain poured outside, the mood inside was sunny as National Small Business Week kicked off in Washington D.C.  on May 5. Small Business Week is the Small Business Administration’s annual tribute to “entrepreneurship and innovation.”

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During a panel discussion on the “Next Wave in Digital Commerce,” featuring Nate Smith (VISA), Courtney Robinson (Square) and Rishav Chopra (Intuit), the group identified how digital technology is changing the buying habits of businesses and consumers—and that small businesses need to act now so they don’t get lost in the digital wave.

 

Consumers today expect their online experiences to be simple and intuitive. Chopra said it’s important to be where consumers are—you can’t have a presence in just one channel—you need to be discoverable by phone, on the web, and in person. And, he added, “You need to eliminate any friction in the process.”

 

This underscores one of the main drivers of buying behavior—customer experience. If you want to attract buyers (whether B2B or B2C), you need to provide an excellent customer experience. To accomplish this Robinson advised the audience to “use data to drill down on who your best customers are, what they want and the best way to target them.”

 

Robinson said a common mistake small business owners make is “thinking your customer is everybody.” It’s not, she added, “You have to drill down to find your ideal customer.”

 

Chopra said the No. 1 pain point small businesses experience today is how to get customers in the door. “It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one,” he said. And once you “get them” Smith added, “it’s about creating loyalty.” You have to be proactive—reach out to your customers and get to know them better.

 

The digital transformation of small business impacts so many parts of your company: marketing, sales, customer loyalty, even raising or borrowing money. Plus, implementing digital solutions in your business gives you more time to better serve your customers.

 

Social Media Part of Marketing Mix

 

Day two started with a panel discussion, “Social Media Tips for Your Small Business”, moderated by Betsy Dougert (SCORE) and featured Dave Charest (Constant Contact), Brandon Olson (AWeber), Julia Cabral (LinkedIn) and me. Our panel emphasized the importance of integrating social media into your overall marketing mix and budgeting for it appropriately. The consensus of thepanel was:

 

    • Pick one or two platforms to get started. Start where your customers and competitors are.
    • Take social media seriously—this is your reputation on the line. Don’t relegate the job to interns.
    • There is no secret sauce to social media. What works for one company will not necessarily work for another. Plan your social campaigns and establish a consistent tone and presence.
    • While social media marketing canbe free, the panel recommended incorporating paid ads in your marketing plans.

 

How much should you spend on social media marketing? Here’s a formula I shared from  WebStrategies to help you budget: 

 

First, determine how much you’re planning to spend on all your digital marketing efforts. Then, decide what percentage of that budget should go to social media. Most companies spend about 5 percent-15 percent of their annual revenues on marketing in general and 35 percent-45 percent of that on digital marketing. Social media marketing should get about 15 percent-25 percent of the digital spend. Once you’ve done these calculations you can allocate the appropriate amount to your social media marketing efforts.

 

Each Small Business week I learn something useful and new! Did you attend any events this year? If so, what did you learn about?

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

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