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General Business

37 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

As we pass the halfway mark of 2018, there are numerous reports saying small business owners are optimistic. A few months ago I noted the Spring 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report showed some of the highest levels of optimism among U.S. entrepreneurs since the survey began in 2012.

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But small business owners had some concerns as well, primarily the cost of healthcare, higher interest rates and consumer spending.

So, what is the state of the U.S. small business economy these days? I put that question (and a few others) to Linda McMahon, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) last month, and a mega-successful entrepreneur in her own right.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: What’s the state of our small business economy these days?

 

Linda McMahon: There’s a feeling of optimism, confidence and enthusiasm among small business owners. They’re excited about the tax cuts, rollback of regulations and launch of association health plans (which will become more accessible on September 1st). [There’s more about association health plans here.]

 

Lesonsky: What’s the environment for getting a small biz loan now?

 

McMahon: With less regulation, it’s possible for the SBA, conventional lending banks, community banks and credit unions to go back to kind of lending they did. The SBA is guaranteeing more loans.

 

 

Lesonsky: You personally have long been involved with helping women entrepreneurs. What  are some of the challenges we face in trying to level the playing field for fair and equal access to credit? (McMahon cofounded Women’s Leadership Live in 2016.)

 

 

McMahon: There are many women’s organizations giving support to women, to help them be more confident. And there are now 109 Women’s Business Centers (WBC) across the country, where women can get expert advice from women—and men—about what they need to do. Some of the greatest help women can get is to help them develop a good pitch.

 

The SBA, SCORE, the SBDCs (Small Business Development Centers) and WBCs are here to help women walk through the paces, and to advocate for them. And the SBIC [Small Business Investment Company, which is licensed by the SBA to invest in small businesses] is helping women get access to venture capital.

 

Lesonsky: What do we need to do in order to ensure that every small business owner has equal and fair access?

 

McMahon: We need to continue to break down barriers. Women are resilient and are starting more businesses. We need to help women get more loans and seed capital. We are thrilled to see more traditional lending coming from banks.

 

Lesonsky: You are a big believer in the value of technology and have said in previous interviews that small business entrepreneurs should embrace technology to remain competitive. I am always surprised by the fact nearly half of small businesses don’t have websites.

 

McMahon: I don’t know how you get started without having a website. It gives you a head up. Consumers are Googling to find out where businesses are and [what they do]. If you need to, go to your local SBDC or SCORE office to help you develop a website. It’s all free.

 

Lesonsky: How can we encourage more startups?

 

McMahon: We had a big recession and it takes recovery time to come back. But people are more confident and optimistic now, so more businesses will be starting.

 

I’m visiting all 68 SBA district offices to make sure the SBA is not the best kept secret in the country. [I met McMahon as she visited the Santa Ana (CA) district, her 49thtrip to a district since she began serving her term.] Small businesses should know about all the resources we have to help them start and grow. They should check us out at SBA.gov.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

One of the toughest aspects of being a small business owner is the isolation. Next time you feel like there’s no one you can turn to for advice, check out one of these organizations. They’re some of the best places I know to get help achieving your entrepreneurial goals.

 

Small Business Administration (SBA)

This federal agency provides access to capital, entrepreneurial development and training, assistance with federal contracting and more. Through its resource partner organizations, including SCORE, the SBDC Network, Women's Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, the SBA helps entrepreneurs start, run and grow their businesses. There’s also an online Learning Center where you can take entrepreneurial education courses[GK1] .

 

    Related Content: SBA Loans & Financing from Bank of America

 

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SCORE

With more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters nationwide, SCORE is the country’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. SCORE offers both in-person and online mentoring by current and former business owners and executives. Entrepreneurs can also take advantage of free educational resources including live and on-demand webinars, interactive online training courses, in-person local workshops, and free business tools.

 

Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

SBDC advisors provide aspiring and current small business owners with free business consulting and low-cost training services including business plan development, manufacturing assistance, financial packaging and lending assistance, exporting and importing support, market research help and more. There are hundreds of SBDC locations nationwide, typically located on college and university campuses.

 

Women’s Business Centers (WBC)

There are more than 100 Women’s Business Centers throughout the United States and its territories seek to level the playing field for women business owners. Women can receive training and counseling on a wide range of topics to help them overcome the unique obstacles they face in starting and growing their businesses.

 

Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC)

Transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses who want to start, buy or grow a business should check out the Veterans Business Outreach Centers. Located nationwide, the offices provide transition assistance programs including Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot; resource referrals; and business development assistance such as training, counseling and mentoring.

 

National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

Founded in 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners represents over 10 million women-owned businesses nationwide. With chapters across the country and members from all industries, NAWBO works to strengthen the wealth-creating capacity of its members and promote economic development. Members benefit from a library of resources; networking opportunities; and the NAWBO Institute Virtual Platform, which facilitates best practice sharing, communication and education[GK2] .

 

     Related Content: Learn about Bank of America's partnership with NAWBO

 

The National Minority Business Council (NMBC)

The NMBC offers minority business people business assistance, educational opportunities, seminars, purchasing exchanges, mentoring, business listings, procurement-related events and opportunities, and more.

 

National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC)

The largest black business association in the world, the National Black Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African-American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity. It has more than 200 chapters in 40 states and 50 countries. Members include businesses of every size and industry, state and local chambers of commerce, and trade and professional associations. Benefits for members include corporate and federal procurement sessions, networking opportunities, publications, access to international trade missions, and an annual convention.

 

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)

This elite organization is open to owners, founders or majority stakeholders of businesses earning at least $1 million in the most recent fiscal year. With 173 chapter locations in 54 countries and more than 12,000 members, Entrepreneurs’ Organization promotes both global and local networking. Members have access to executive education and mentorship programs, local, regional and global events, and virtual learning tools.

 

With so many entrepreneurial assistance organizations out there, there’s sure to be one (or a few) that appeal to you. Have you worked with any of these organizations? What did you think?

 

*(Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my business.)

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

From Retail to Wholesale

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

 

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

 

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

 

A Vision for Success

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Eyes on the Horizon

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

 

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

 

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

 

Read more interviews of small business owners:

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

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

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

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

 

Economic Confidence

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

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

Bumps in the Road

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

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

 

Tax Policy: a “Game-changer”

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

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

 

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

 

Technology: Opportunities and Threats

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

What technology are small business owners using or exploring?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Hispanic small business owners in the United States have reason to celebrate, according to the second annual Bank of America Business Advantage 2018 Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight.

 

The nationwide survey of Hispanic business owners reports that, just like Hispanic consumers, Hispanic entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with. Here’s a closer look at the state of Hispanic small businesses.

 

Early Tech Adopters

Hispanic business owners are early technology adopters—93 percent use digital tools, such as financial tracking and business management apps, compared to 73 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs.

 

In addition, two-thirds say social media was important in helping them start their businesses, compared to 21 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs. And 86 percent say social media is important to their success today; 53 percent say it positively impacts their bottom lines (compared to 47 percent and 29 percent of non-Hispanic entrepreneurs, respectively).41493464_s.jpg

 

Hispanic business owners use social media for multiple business purposes. More than three-fourths use it for marketing (compared to 49 percent of non-Hispanic business owners), 76 percent use it for networking (compared to 46 percent of non-Hispanic business owners), and 57 percent use it for hiring (compared to 23 percent of non-Hispanic business owners). 

 

Related: Social Media Primer: When to Post, How Often and What About

 

Investing in Employees

Another reason for the success of Hispanic entrepreneurs: 30 percent invest in their employees’ long-term growth and success, compared to just 14 percent of non-Hispanic business owners. About 80 percent of Hispanic business owners say being able to attract and retain quality employees has an effect on their business growth.

What steps are Hispanic entrepreneurs taking to attract and retain workers?

These are good first steps—but providing competitive benefits is vital, since health care, retirement plans and other basic benefits are key to employees’ loyalty.

 

Related: Four Things Small Business Owners Should Consider Before Offering Employee Healthcare

 

Lessons for All

What lessons can all small business owners learn from Hispanic entrepreneurs?

  1. Plan for the future. Be realistic about the challenges you face, and prepare a plan for overcoming them.
  2. Embrace new technology. Openness to new tech tools can put you ahead of the competition.
  3. Treat your employees well. Investing in your team is investing in your business.

 

Keep these rules in mind, and like 89 percent of Hispanic business owners, you’ll be confident the business environment will get even better for you in the next decade. For more, check out the Bank of America Business Advantage 2018 Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Revelations of sexual harassment, the #metoo movement and the #timesup campaign have put women’s equality in the spotlight. That makes 2018 the perfect year for your business to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), March 8.

 

Launched in 1911 by suffragettes supporting votes for women, International Women’s Day activities celebrate women’s achievements worldwide, work toward gender parity and encourage gender inclusiveness. This year’s theme is “Press for Progress,” to motivate people “to think, act and be gender inclusive.”

 

International Women’s Day is not specific to one country, group or organization. The IWD website recommends five things everyone can do to push forx parity:

  1. Maintain a gender parity mindset
  2. Challenge stereotypes and bias
  3. Promote positive visibility for women
  4. Influence others' beliefs and actions
  5. Celebrate women’s achievements

 

Here are some additional ideas you can use for your small business to #pushforparity.36823906_s.jpg

  1. Be inclusive. Do you have departments or teams that are dominated by men? What about business organizations you participate in? Speak up, call it out and take active steps toward making your business or organization more inclusive.
  2. Mentor women. How can you help women advance? Offer to mentor women in organizations you belong to or set up a mentorship program in your company.
  3. Help women in your community. Volunteer for or donate to nonprofits that help women in your area start businesses, become economically self-sufficient or escape poverty.
  4. Inspire the next generation. Offer to speak to local schools or girls’ organizations about career opportunities in your industry, or about being an entrepreneur. (The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the official charity of IWD, so your local Girl Scout troop could be a good place to start.)
  5. Identify bias in your own business. Does your marketing and advertising support stereotypes about women? If your website features a pretty woman in a tight dress, it’s time to change.
  6. Clean your own house. Are women in your business paid comparably to men in the same or similar jobs? Do you provide training to help prevent sexual harassment and take it seriously? Don’t just talk the talk; walk the walk, too.
  7. Support women-owned and -run businesses. Your chamber of commerce, the National Association of Women Business Owners, American Business Women’s Association, and Catalyst can help you identify businesses big and small that support or are owned by women. 
  8. Help women build their networks. Write positive online reviews of local women-owned businesses you work with. Recommend or endorse women you work with on LinkedIn and refer them to potential customers.
  9. Hold an event for women in your industry. It doesn’t have to be a big conference. How about a luncheon or networking event discussing the progress and future of women in your industry?
  10. Promote awareness. Create a marketing campaign around IWD. Donate a percentage of your sales for the month of March to a women’s organization, or offer discounts on products made by women-owned businesses.
  11. Spread the word on social media. Use the hashtag #pressforprogress on social media posts related to International Women’s Day. The IWD website has some suggestions for creative imagery you can use in your IWD social media posts to support the theme of pressing for progress. Send your social media posts to IWD; they’ll share some of the most engaging posts on their website and social channels.

 

Want more ideas? Search for IWD events here. You may find local events to participate in, or get inspired by other planned events. Publish your event here. The site also has widgets, selfie cards, videos, posters and other tools to promote IWD.

 

Remember, International Women's Day isn’t just one day. March 8 is only the start of a yearlong campaign to #pushforparity.  How will your business help?

 

Check out our Spotlight on Women

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

From Emily Ferber of Glossier cosmetics and Whitney Wolfe of the Bumble dating app to Jessica Alba of The Honest Company and designer Rebecca Minkoff, millennial women entrepreneurs are making waves.

 

But what about female millennials who aren’t so high profile? How are they changing the world of entrepreneurship? Here are five myths about millennial women entrepreneurs and the realities behind them.

 

1. Myth: Millennial women would rather climb the corporate ladder than start their own businesses.

 

Reality: Currently, millennial women are less likely than millennial men to be entrepreneurs, according to the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC). However, they’re extremely interested in becoming entrepreneurs. A whopping 83 percent of millennial women with full-time jobs want to start their own businesses, according to a survey by Buzz MG for Create & Cultivate. In fact, 55 percent of employed millennial women already have a “side hustle” in addition to their jobs.81866440_s.jpg

 

2. Myth: Millennials aren’t good with money. A popular image of the stereotypical millennial is someone who borrowed $200,000 for an underwater basket-weaving degree but still drops $12 a pop on avocado toast at brunch. Even millennials buy into these stereotypes. Seventy-three percent of millennials surveyed in Bank of America's Winter 2018 Better Money Report say their generation overspends and 64 percent think their generation is bad at managing money.

 

Reality: Millennials are actually doing pretty well financially. Nearly two-thirds say they regularly save money and 67 percent of those who set savings goals for themselves usually or always meet those goals. Almost half (47 percent) have $15,000 or more in savings while 16 percent have $100,000 or more stashed away.

 

3. Myth: Millennial women feel torn between motherhood and entrepreneurship.

 

Reality: Millennial women prioritize family, self, career and friends, in that order, according to Create & Cultivate. But they don’t think children vs. career is an “either/or” decision. In fact, the NWBC reports that millennial women entrepreneurs are more likely to be married and more likely to have children than their non-entrepreneur counterparts. Being married may be the financial cushion enabling them to start businesses without risking the family’s income. With 84 percent of both male and female millennials seeking work-life balance, many women see entrepreneurship as the way to reach that goal.

 

4. Myth: Millennial women are erasing the gender pay gap.

 

Reality: While pay parity is a huge concern for millennial women, there’s still a long way to go—and starting a business won't necessarily close the gap. Here are some shocking stats from the NWBC:

      • Millennial women entrepreneurs earn over 25 percent less than their counterparts in the labor force. In contrast, millennial men entrepreneurs earn more than their counterparts in the labor force.
      • Even when taking into account the number of hours worked, millennial women entrepreneurs make less than, on average, their male counterparts. This discrepancy exists regardless of industry.

 

5. Myth: Millennial women’s student loan debt prevents them from starting businesses.

 

Reality: More than six in 10 millennial women Create & Cultivate surveyed say they'd need $10,000 to $25,000 to start or grow their businesses, but 75 percent say they can’t access that much capital. It’s traditionally been harder for women to access financing than men. But is millennials’ focus on financial security part of the problem? The millennial women C&C polled value financial stability more than their side projects (and even more than their health). Fifty-six percent save any extra money they have, and 31 percent invest it.

 

Millennials’ financial fears aren’t unfounded. Fully one-fourth of millennials Bank of America polled have been laid off, and that’s not counting the number who saw siblings and parents lose jobs during the Great Recession. But is fear of financial instability keeping millennial women from taking the entrepreneurial leap?

Sometimes, the biggest challenges aren’t outside forces, but our own beliefs. I have faith that one day, women entrepreneurs will overcome the challenges that still hold them back. But we can’t wait for it, we must proactively make it happen.

 

Check out the Small Business Story Collection: The Unique Values Women Bring to Small Business Ownership.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Not all that long ago, business owners wouldn’t have dreamed of taking a political stand—it was all too easy to alienate customers. But in today’s politically charged environment, do they have a choice?

 

In Global Strategy Group’s latest Annual Business and Politics Study, 84 percent of U.S. consumers believe companies have a responsibility to bring about social change, 83 percent say a brand’s values are important to their purchasing decisions, and 70 percent say corporations should stand up for their political beliefs, whether controversial or not.

 

However, even if your customers expect you to take a stand, doing so can be tricky. Nearly six in 10 respondents in a recent survey by YouGov will boycott a brand for its political views. Consider Keurig, which found itself in a firestorm after pulling ads from Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show last November. 43928270_s.jpg

 

When Hannity defended Roy Moore, the defeated Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, outraged Twitter users urged businesses to pull their ads. But Keurig was quickly hit with a backlash as Hannity supporters boycotted the company and posted videos of themselves smashing Keurig coffeemakers. Within days, Keurig apologized for “taking sides,” infuriating even more consumers.

Clearly, small businesses taking a political stand walk a fine line. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you keep your balance.

 

    • Do consider your customers. By choosing a stance on one side of a partisan divide, you’ll alienate customers with opposite views. Even if 75 percent of your customers support your position, can you afford to lose the other 25 percent? If you feel strongly enough to take the risk, have a plan for using your political stance to generate brand awareness and attract new customers.

 

    • Don’t fake it. Any political stance you take should be authentic to your brand. Millennial consumers are passionate about supporting companies based on social values, but they’re also quick to sniff out phonies. If customers sense you’re just jumping on a bandwagon, you could face a backlash from all sides.

 

    • Do consider your employees. Don’t assume all your employees feel the same way about an issue as you do. Realize taking a political stance could hurt your business financially, and your employees could suffer collateral damage, facing criticism for being part of the business.

 

    • Don’t wing it. Talk with your team about your company’s values and how best to express them. You’ll be better able to respond in a timely fashion if everyone is clear on your company’s values ahead of time and have worked out a strategy for communicating your positions on social media.

 

    • Do your homework. When taking a political stand, consistency counts. Suppose your retail store garners local praise for supporting a $15/hour minimum wage. Then the Twitterverse finds out that a brand of clothes you carry is made in a sweatshop overseas. Make sure you live up to the values you’re touting.

 

    • Don’t respond in haste. Social media outrage over political issues creates a sense of urgency. Remember, what your business says on social media can’t be taken back. The GSG study notes there’s a fine line between responding too quickly on social media and waiting too long.

 

    • Do keep it positive. The bitter partisanship in politics isn’t helping our country, and it won’t help your business, either. If you do take a stand, be a unifier, not a divider, by focusing on the positive. Suppose your business opposes the Trump administration’s decision to allow elephant trophies from Africa into the U.S. Instead of criticizing the administration or the policy, share information about organizations that help protect endangered species, get involved with these groups and urge your customers to join you in effecting positive change.

 

As the political rhetoric heats up, it’s going to get even trickier to take a stand. Before you speak out, make sure you’re aware of—and prepare for the consequences.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Is your small business active in supporting social causes—or would you like to be? If so, February 27, 2018, offers the perfect opportunity to get started. That’s World NGO Day—an annual, international celebration of non-governmental organizations. Here’s what you need to know about World NGO Day.

 

What’s an NGO?

Generally, an NGO is a nonprofit organization or charity that focuses on global concerns, such as humanitarian crises, environmental issues, healthcare and social causes. They often empower long-term initiatives, such as conserving the earth’s resources or eradicating communicable diseases. The Red Cross, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and Oxfam are among some of the best-known NGOs.

 

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Behind World NGO Day

World NGO Day has entrepreneurial roots. It was established by a young British-Latvian entrepreneur, Mārcis Liors Skadmanis, who came up with the idea in 2009 as a way of helping NGOs achieve greater success. In 2014 the United Nations officially put its stamp of approval on World NGO Day, and the first official celebration took place in Finland.

What’s World NGO Day All About?44898468_s.jpg

 

The theme of World NGO Day is “Celebrate, Commemorate and Collaborate.”

  • Celebrate: Honor NGOs and the volunteers who give their time to help NGOs make a difference.
  • Commemorate: Acknowledge the hard work NGOs do to create positive change in the world and the inspiring results they achieve.
  • Collaborate: Create greater symbiosis between NGOs and the public and private sectors; find new ways for both businesses and public agencies to assist NGOs.

 

What Can My Business Do?

If you’re already involved in supporting an NGO, or you want to get started, here are some great ways to participate in World NGO Day 2018.

  • Educate, then spread the word. Make your customers and the community aware of the mission of your chosen NGO and the need for what it does. You can use social media, email, your website and public relations to spread the news about both the NGO you support and World NGO Day in general.
  • Solicit donations. Encourage your customers to donate to your chosen NGO. Make it fun: Give a percentage of your profits on February 27 to the organization to encourage your customers to buy from you, or offer a discount to every customer who gives X amount.
  • Get involved. Plan and host an event to raise awareness of what your NGO does and how members of the community can participate. You can get templates to help promote your event here

  • Donate. Make a donation to the NGO of your choice. You don’t have to donate money—in fact, donating goods or services can be more effective at raising awareness of your cause.

Whatever approach you take, get attention for your activities by using the official hashtags of World NGO Day: #WorldNGODay, #YourNGODay and #NGODay.

 

Learn more about how Bank of America supports social causes and makes an impact.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Is being an entrepreneur good preparation for being president of the United States? Considering that Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and Warren G. Harding are among the few U.S. presidents who previously succeeded as business owners, the answer seems to be no. But while the lessons of entrepreneurship don’t always translate to a successful presidency, many of our past presidents have important lessons to teach us about business.

 

George Washington: Focus on fiscal responsibility.

"Building the national prosperity is my first and my only aim."50264478_s.jpg

 

Washington was an innovative farmer who bred horses and owned a distillery. Perhaps it was his business background that gave him the sense of fiscal responsibility he carried into the presidency. Before stepping down as president, he worked with Alexander Hamilton to establish a national bank and gradually help the United States get out of the debt it incurred to other nations during past wars. According to First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His—and the Nation’s—Prosperity, Washington knew the young nation needed to be on solid financial footing in order to succeed.

The Takeaway: Keep a close eye on your cash flow.

 

Related Article: Cash Management for Small Business

 

Abraham Lincoln: Surround yourself with people of different viewpoints.

“We are not enemies, but friends.”

 

After being elected president, Lincoln promptly appointed some of his fiercest rivals to his cabinet. He wasn’t just seeking to keep them under his control: He wanted to hear their opinions, and he listened to their advice. Lincoln biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin has said that Lincoln recognized the importance of surrounding oneself with those who have not only different opinions, but also different temperaments. He knew that a country needs the best people to lead it—whether those people were his supporters or his rivals was secondary. Of course, listening to different opinions didn’t mean Lincoln always followed his advisors’ advice. For example, his cabinet spent a long time debating whether to abolish slavery. Ultimately, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation despite their advice.

The Takeaway: No, you don't want yes-men.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Be a leader.

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

 

Taking office during the Great Depression and leading the nation through World War II, Roosevelt faced one of the most challenging administrations of any president. Yet he was elected for four terms because he understood the importance of leadership. Throughout many ups and downs, Roosevelt remained steadfastly calm, strong and optimistic. His Fireside Chats projected strength and eased the fears of a frightened nation. If Roosevelt was worried, he never showed it—in fact, he worked hard to hide any signs of weakness. Although he used a wheelchair as a result of having polio, public appearances and photos were carefully staged to hide his disability.

The Takeaway: Never let ’em see you sweat.

 

Related Article: Leadership Traits that Small Business Owners Should Possess

 

John F. Kennedy: Tap into the power of new marketing tools.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

 

Presidential elections have long relied on slogans and slander, but in 1960 there was a new tool in town: television. The first televised presidential debate was held in 1960 between Nixon and Kennedy. You’ve probably seen footage of the smooth, smiling and attractive Kennedy crushing the sweaty, nervous Nixon. In fact, the visuals were so persuasive that the more than 70 million TV viewers overwhelmingly saw Kennedy as the winner—even though radio listeners generally thought it was a draw, or even that Nixon did better. Kennedy wasn’t afraid to use this new media and marketing channel to his advantage.

The Takeaway: Maybe it’s time for you to start marketing on Instagram after all.

 

Related Article: 5 Easy Tips for Getting Your Business Started on Instagram

 

Happy Presidents’ Day! Are there any business lessons you’ve learned from our nation’s leaders?

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Does your small business use freelance writers? Perhaps you rely on freelancers to help you write and edit blog posts, create marketing copy, draft social media posts or craft your website wording. This year, February 12-17 is Freelance Writers Appreciation Week, which would be a good time to show these unsung members of your team how you feel.

 

As a former magazine editor who now runs a content creation company, I know a LOT of freelance writers. Here are some proven suggestions for how you can share your appreciation in ways they’ll really appreciate.

 

Send a gift. Writers love food. For writers who are employees and work in an office, having lunch brought in for a client meeting or receiving a tin of gourmet cookies in the mail is an event that gets everyone on staff running to partake of the goodies. Freelance writers who work by themselves at home don’t have that little thrill, so they’ll be truly grateful if you send something special. Since freelance writing isn’t the highest paid job in the world, a gift card to a failsafe retailer like Amazon or Target is sure to be a hit, too.

 

Put your sentiments in writing. Send a thoughtful, handwritten card to share why you appreciate all the hard work the freelance writer has done for your business. In a sea of emails, a personal note always stands out and makes a freelancer feel valued, which always makes people want to work harder on your behalf.

 

Provide some detailed, positive feedback. As a freelancer, one often gets detailed criticism or requests for rewrites. When something you’ve written is really good, you’re less likely to hear about it—or if you do, it's a brief, “Good job!” If you explain what you particularly liked about their recent work, they’ll be better prepared for the next assignment.32981727_s.jpg

 

Don’t be cheap. When it comes to freelancers, you’re going to get what you pay for. Many people who don’t write think writing is easy. It’s not. Pay freelancers a fair fee. Many will negotiate a volume discount with you if you hire them for multiple projects.

 

Host a get-together. If the freelance writer lives nearby, take him or her out to lunch. Do you work with more than one freelancer? Why not host a happy hour? The freelancers will probably welcome the opportunity to network with each other, as well as enjoy a break from work.

 

Offer to be a reference. Speaking of networking, recommendations from satisfied clients are the primary way that most freelance writers find new work. Offer to be a reference. Let them know that prospective clients can call or email you with any questions about their work (and then be sure to respond if they do).

 

Write a testimonial. Freelance writers generally market themselves online and are always looking for testimonials from satisfied clients to post on their websites. Offer to write a testimonial and make it a good one! Be very specific about why you hired this writer, what they’ve done for your business and why you would recommend them to others.

 

Endorse and recommend the freelance writer on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is an essential marketing tool for freelance writers. Take the time to not only endorse them for skills they’ve employed for your business, but also to write an actual LinkedIn recommendation. This shows that you care enough to do more than just click a few buttons.

 

The life of a freelance writer can be an isolated and thankless one. Showing your appreciation will go a long way toward building a good relationship with the freelancers you rely on.

 

Related Articles:

6 Tips for Working Better with Freelancers

Remote Workers Are Happy Workers: My Tips for Making Smart Hires

6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

Starting a business from scratch isn’t the only way to become an entrepreneur. Buying an existing business can be a faster, easier path. Here are three steps to buying a business. (Note: This information is for buying an independent business only, not purchasing a franchise.)

 

Step 1. Find Your Business

  • Search online. BizBuySell.com, BusinessesForSale and BizQuest are three popular sites with plenty of inventory. If you’re just beginning to explore the idea of buying a business, they can show you what’s available and how much it will cost you.

 

  • Contact businesses you’re interested in. Is there a local business you’ve had your eye on? Contact the owner and ask if they’d consider selling. Some business owners don’t actively advertise a business for sale; others are open to selling if someone makes an offer. If the owner doesn’t want to sell, perhaps they know someone in the same industry who does.

 

  • Go through a business broker. Once you get serious about buying a business, you’ll want to work with a business broker. Ask your local Chamber of Commerce, other business owners and your lawyer, accountant, or banker for recommendations. Most websites that list businesses for sale also list brokers.

 

Step 2. Check It Out

Before you fall in love with a business for sale, do some due diligence in these four key areas:

 

1. Is there a market for this business? Do some market research to assess whether the market for this business is growing, shrinking or stable. You don't want to buy into a faddish business that will burn out in a year. 46034772_s.jpg

 

2. Why is the business for sale? If the owner is retiring or moving out of state, that’s one thing. However, if the owner hasn’t been able to make a go of the business, they may just be trying to unload it on someone else. Unless you truly feel you can turn such a business around, it’s best to steer clear.

 

3. How strong are the financials? Look at financial statements, tax returns, bank statements, and all contracts, including equipment or property leases. As when purchasing a used car, carefully maintained records are generally a sign of a well-run business—but don’t take them for granted. Assess sales projections, cash flow projections and financial projections. If financial statements haven’t been audited, have your accountant do so.

 

4. What about the people? Avoid buying a business that depends heavily on the skills or personality of its owner, or the knowledge of key employees. Those employees may not stick around when you take over, and without the original owner in place, current customers may leave.

 

Step 3: Plan for Financing

Where will you get the capital to purchase your business? As soon as you have a rough idea of the cost, start exploring your options.

 

If you’re trying to get a business loan, keep in mind the bank will assess the four factors above. If you can’t finance the purchase yourself or get a loan, see if you can finance the purchase through the seller. For example, maybe you can pay a portion of the cost upfront, then pay off the rest by giving the seller a percentage of your monthly profits.

 

Get Pro Help

Never go it alone when buying a business. In addition to getting advice from your business broker and accountant, have your attorney review employment contracts, customer contracts, intellectual property and any other legal documents affecting the business. The less familiar you are with the industry in which you are buying a business, the more important it is to get outside opinions and assistance.

 

No matter how excited you are, don’t rush into this decision. If you put time and thought into your purchase, your new business will have a better chance of success—and you’ll have a better chance of enjoying it.

 

More information:

      1. Tips on How to Finance Your New Business Venture
      2. Get answers and information about business financing
      3. Find the right financing for your business

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

There are more tools than ever before to help small business owners run, market and scale their businesses. Digital resources give entrepreneurs access to capabilities once reserved for big corporations. Besides the No. 1 digital tool every business needs – a great website - here are 26 other digital resources almost every small business can benefit from.

 

 

  • Cloud storage and sharing tools: If you’re not already using cloud-based file storage and sharing apps, what are you waiting for? These apps have truly changed my life—no more emailing files to colleagues or forgetting documents at the office. Now, many cloud storage and sharing tools go beyond that function to incorporate full suites of products, such as accounting, email and more.  Check out Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Zoho One and Google Drive to see what they have to offer.39379279_s.jpg

 

  • Project management tools: Whether you’re a solopreneur or have employees, keeping track of everything on your plate can be a challenge—especially as your business grows. Project management software helps you assign tasks, schedule deadlines, monitor progress, chat with your team members, collaborate on work and more. Different tools offer different features—some are more focused on scheduling, others on collaboration, and many now incorporate cloud storage/sharing as well. Personally, I love Trello, but other entrepreneurs swear by Basecamp, Asana or Wrike.

 

  • Mechanical memory: If you’re anything like me, you collect ideas everywhere you go/look/read. I used to write all my notes down on scraps of paper (which I’d usually lose) or notebooks (which made them hard to find later). Thanks to what I call “mechanical memory” apps, there’s no need for all that anymore. If I see a video/photo/article/post I want to remember, I just save it to Pocket. Colleagues of mine swear by Evernote.

 

  • Travel tools: If you ever hit the road for business, you need Tripit to store all your travel information in one place, and Expensify or Shoeboxed to make scanning, sorting and storing receipts a snap. (Can you tell I’m not a big fan of little scraps of paper?) If you mostly travel by car, don’t start your engine without Waze. This mobile traffic app that crowdsources real-time driver feedback to tell you the fastest way to get anywhere.

 

 

  • Customer Service: If you sell products, collect leads or otherwise interact with customers on your business website, live chat can enable you to manage customer service quickly and easily. In addition to interacting live, you can also automate chats to handle common questions or problems. A few small-business-friendly live chat solutions to look at are Olark, MyLiveChat and ClickDesk.

 

Whether most of your business is conducted online or “IRL,” digital apps will change the way you work (for the better). What digital apps do you rely on?

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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

 

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

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

For many small businesses, the beginning of a new year is slow. Your customers are digging out from under holiday bills and recovering from an excess of eating, drinking and celebrating. To attract new customers in the New Year, you’ll need to be creative. Here are eight ideas to get you going.

 

1. Do good. In January, people clean out their closets to make room for their new holiday swag. Collect donations of used products from your customers in exchange for a discount on your products or services. For example, a clothing store could give everyone who brings in an old pair of jeans 20 percent off a new pair. The same concept works for used toys, books, kitchen appliances or any products people are likely to offload this time of year.41392789_s.jpg

Read more on doing good: Evaluating Charity Requests? Four questions to ask

 

2. Try a daily deal. While not as hot as they once were, daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial can still be an effective way to attract new customers. Plus, the discounts appeal to budget-conscious consumers still paying off holiday bills. Deal sites will help you craft a deal that’s worth your while.

Related article: The Importance of Timing Your Promotions

 

3. Tap into the power of influencers. Bloggers, media and even local celebrities like a popular Little League coach are all potential influencers whose opinions affect your target customers. You can spread the word about your business to a whole new audience by reaching out to appropriate influencers and ask if they’ll review or otherwise mention your products or services.

Learn more about influencers: Boost Sales with Influencer Marketing

 

4. Give away gift certificates. Percentage-off coupons are a dime a dozen, but how often do consumers get a no-strings-attached gift certificate? Mail or email $10 gift certificates valid for any purchase of $10 or more, and prospective customers won’t be able to resist checking out your wares. Almost two-thirds of gift card users spend more than the value of the gift card, making this a win-win situation.

A few other ways to boost sales: 10 Easy Ways to Quickly Boost Sales

 

5. Hand out free samples. If your business is in an area that gets lots of foot traffic, giving away free samples is a foolproof way to attract new customers. In fact, three-fourths of consumers say free samples influence them to buy. The free sample concept works for service businesses, too. For example, a yoga studio or fitness club can offer a week of free classes, then give customers a discount on membership if they sign up at the end of that week.

Related article: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

 

6. Host an event. In-store events can draw new customers for all types of businesses. From an art show at a coffeehouse to live music at a record store from a book signing at a bookstore to a fashion show at a clothing boutique, the possibilities are endless. Try holding a teaching event that shows customers how to use what you sell while whetting their appetite for buying it. If you own a cookware store, for instance, hold a free cooking class and give everyone who attends 20 percent off anything they buy that day.

Learn how to host a live event: Using Live Events as a Marketing Tool

 

7. Partner with complementary businesses. Find a business that targets the same customers you do, but with a non-competing product or service. For example, a fitness club and a sporting goods store could partner up to offer each other’s customers discounts – linking to your partner business on your website will help drive traffic, too.

Think about bartering with another business: Bartering May Ease Cash-Flow Crunch, But Follow These Rules

 

 

8. Hit the road. Branded business vehicles serve as nonstop advertisements for your business and work especially well for companies that make deliveries or travel to customers’ homes or businesses. One business in my neighborhood has a fleet of hot-pink vehicles with a logo, website and phone number in huge letters on all four sides. You can get your vehicles “wrapped,” which is sure to capture attention – search online for “vehicle wrapping” to find services near you. Park your vehicles on busy streets and in other high-traffic areas to maximize visibility.

More ideas on how to get publicity: How to Get Free Publicity for Your Small Business

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

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

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

 

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

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