Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

General Business

769 posts

My dad thought he had a foolproof plan for success. In his will, he divided his carpet warehouse five ways: one share each for each of his four kids and a fifth for his store manager who would run it until one or all of us were ready to take over.

 

administration-banking-blur-618158.jpg

My sweet dad died young and unexpectedly and clearly he never anticipated what a headache his plan would become. The manager did not like doing 100% of the work but keeping only 1/5th of the income.

 

Eventually we had to sell out to her.

 

When it comes to retirement, planning ahead should provide peace of mind. But that’s not always true. With so many options, how can you decide what is best for both you, your business, and your family?

 

While planning for your future, here are three of the best options on what you can do with your business when you are ready to retire:

 

1. Sell it

 

There are obviously many advantages to selling your business. First and foremost, putting your business up for sale is a great way to cash-in on the investment you made in building it from the ground up.

 

But it is not as simple as you might think to sell; many small business owners try and fail when they attempt to sell their businesses. In some cases, they overestimate what their business is worth, and in others, they don’t prep the business for sale as they should and it doesn’t generate any interest.

 

As a general rule, a business is worth three to five times profit in any given year.

 

The key then is to treat the business sale as akin to a home sale. Spruce it up. Have it be impressive both physically as well as financially. Get a good broker.

 

Indeed, a good business broker should prove to be invaluable in this process. They will not only help set the right value, but will also have access to potential buyers for their business, and will know the legal ins-and-outs.

 

The Right Way to Prepare Your Small Business for Sale by Rieva Lesonsky

 

2. Give it to someone you love

 

Many people choose this option when it comes to retirement, and for good reason. Not a few entrepreneurs start a business with the idea that they will give it to their kids when the time is right.

 

But there are several challenges with giving it away:

 

      • You will not be able to get your equity out of the business
      • Your kids may not want it
      • Or they may all want it and will squabble over it (See Succession on HBO for worst case scenarios!)

 

The key then is to create a viable succession plan (better than my dad’s for sure.) Talk it out openly with your family. A succession plan lays out who will take over your business, how the transition will be handled, and irons out other details in the process. This can be a helpful way for business owners and their heirs to know the timetable for when their business will be transferred, to who, and how (if any) employees will be affected.

 

The Importance of Succession Planning for Your Businesses

 

3. Simply close the doors

 

In some cases, a business can’t easily be sold or given away. For example, if you are a consultant, you and your personal skills and contacts are essentially the business. There is nothing much to sell. If this is the case for you, then you might want to consider just closing down the business entirely.

 

While there may not be any intellectual property to sell, it is possible that you can sell valuable parts of the business - like machinery, inventory, or even a customer list - and make a small profit before shuttering your doors.

 

This can also sometimes be the best case scenario for small business owners who are ready to hang up their hats as soon as possible.

 

Whatever option you might pick, the key to retirement planning is just that – planning.

 

Podcast: Retirement Tips for Small Business Owners

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

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.

activity-adventure-blur-297642.jpg

 

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

Join Bank of America Merchant Services as we walk through the steps for setting up an eCommerce website.

 

From accepting payments to addressing common cybersecurity issues, this educational webinar will feature experts from Bank of America Merchant Services and Visa who will show you what every successful online business needs to get started. Whether you are looking to expand a brick and mortar business online, or planning to launch a new business altogether, join us for helpful information.

 

Session topics include:

  • The 3 P’s of eCommerce
  • Fraud & Security risks
  • Creating positive customer experiences

Date: Wednesday September 18th from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

 

To register for the Bank of America Merchant Services "Click to sell" webinar, click here.

BofA_Podcast_HeartbeatofMainStpng.png

Authenticity is what can take "that shop down the street" to a go-to spot. Small Business Community contributor, Chris Brogan shares his thoughts on how small business owners can achieve an authentic voice on this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

iTunes-Button.gif

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Chris Brogan:             Thank you so much for having me.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gregg Stebben:         Or a salad of wilted lettuce.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Chris Brogan:             My pleasure. Thank you.

 

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

Back in the day, I had a client who spent about $25,000 to open an online store only to close it less than a month later.

 

She had access to a large cache of books that she was going to sell (yes, this was long before the complete global dominance of Amazon in books, err, everything) and so she went all-in. Unfortunately, she failed to calculate the cost of shipping heavy books (again, e-commerce was in its infancy). Once she did, making a profit became an impossibility.

 

color-commerce-flowers-1686974.jpg

All of which is to say, when you sell products, either in your physical store or your e-store, you need to be able to source not only the right products for your brand and business, but also items that allow enough room for markup and profit-taking.

 

Consider: A manufacturer creates the product and sells it to a wholesaler. The wholesaler may distribute the products directly or may sell to distributors. As such, if you purchase your products far down the line, making a profit may be difficult because there have been several layers of profit-taking already.

 

Sourcing the right products

 

So, how do you find the right products? Below are your options, but first, a caveat:

 

There are a lot of scammers in the product sourcing world. There are literally thousands of websites from cheats who claim to be real wholesalers and distributors but are not. You must do your research, find potential suppliers, and then do more research. Make sure they are legitimate, and legitimately rated well. Get references.

 

OK, with that in mind, your sourcing options are:

 

Contact the manufacturer: If you know of products that you like and want to sell, the easiest and smartest way is just to start at the top. Look at the packaging for the product, find the manufacturer, and give them a call. Ask for the sales department.

 

As a small business with small sales, it may not make sense for them to sell to you and in that case, find out who their local distributor is in your area and call them.

 

Trade groups: Trade groups, publications and websites, and especially trade shows are another excellent way to find people manufacturing and distributing products. That you can meet them face to face at a show and make a good impression is all the better.

 

Google: The problem with simply doing a Google search is that you will be overwhelmed with options. But if you have the time and ability to cull through them, then this of course is a fine way to go.

 

LinkedIn: LinkedIn can be an excellent source for sourcing products. Put in the type of product or manufacturer you are looking for and voila! You will get a list of people in your extended network who offer that.

 

Thomas Register: The Thomas Network (website, etc.) is a respected, long-established resource for connecting buyers and suppliers.

 

Amazon: You need to be especially cautious when going this route. There are plenty of unscrupulous sellers on Amazon, so be careful. That said, Amazon also offers everything. One tool that might be especially helpful here is SourceMogul, “the search engine that sources profitable products for you to sell on Amazon.”

 

E-Commerce 101: What You Need to Know About Amazon Marketplace

 

Etsy Wholesale: Etsy is a global marketplace for creative goods and so Etsy Wholesale might be a good option for you.

 

The Best Platforms to Launch Your E-commerce Side Hustle

 

Alibaba: Alibaba is a Chinese platform that connects Chinese manufacturers and wholesalers with buyers from around the world.

 

 

American-made products

 

If you want to sell only goods manufactured in the U.S., then you have a few options:

 

 

Whatever way you go, remember that the key to making a profit is not in the selling, it is in the buying. Buy the right product for the right price and you are on your way.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

BofA_Podcast_HeartbeatofMainStpng.png

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

 

iTunes-Button.gif

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

BOA-Heartbeat-Soundcloud-header-TEAM-2400x750-150dpi.jpg

Make sure your small business leverages to right influencers to reach your desired target audience. Small Business Community contributor, Joel Comm, shares his influencer insights on this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

iTunes-Button.gif

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Joel Comm:               Right.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Can you define influencer marketing for us?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         So in this cupcake scenario, Joel.

 

Joel Comm:               Now I'm hungry.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Joel Comm:               You bet. My pleasure.

 

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

No matter the size of your business, there’s a customer experience journey to be had. You might not think about it that way, or talk about it, but even a lemonade stand has the opportunity to deliver good and bad customer experiences. What separates two businesses with good products often comes down to which one gives their buyer a better time.

assorted-buy-customer-159991 (1).jpg

 

The Journey Often Has the Same Touchpoints

 

A customer experience almost always follows this path:

 

*Event* - Something happens that makes someone a prospective buyer. And then:

 

    • Awareness - customer finds out your product/service exists
    • Evaluation - they decide if you’re the right fit for the job
    • Purchase - the actual mechanics of acquiring your product or service
    • Onboarding - the process of getting started with your product or service
    • Retention/Referral - what you do to keep them or earn more customers

 

I mentioned a lemonade stand above. Let’s use that to map one of these:

 

*Event* - You’re thirsty OR you see a stand on the side of the road.

 

    • Awareness - You see the stand.
    • Evaluation - Is this what you want to drink?
    • Purchase - The price might matter (Do they take cards?)
    • Onboarding - Not a lot here for this example. They hand you the cup.
    • Retention/Referral - Maybe you tell someone else about the stand.

 

Apply This to Your Business

 

Even with that super simple business, you can see a customer experience journey. I suspect your business is a bit more complex than a lemonade stand, but you can apply the same map to it in order to develop great customer experience. Let’s use the little plan again:

 

*Event* - What happens that prompts someone to decide to work with you?  Are you even sure you know?

 

    • Awareness - Are you marketing your business? How do people see what you sell? WHERE do they see it? How often?
    • Evaluation - What do you do to help people see the difference between what you sell versus a competitor?
    • Purchase - Is it easy to buy what you sell? Do you make the experience enjoyable? How fast does your buyer get what they paid for?
    • Onboarding - What do you do once they’ve paid? How do you make them feel welcome? What gives your customer the sense that you’re in this together and there to serve them?
    • Retention/Referral - It’s so much easier to get a referral or keep an earned customer than it is to acquire new ones. What can you do to help that process?

 

Completing Your Map

 

A lot of times, people have one or two of these touchpoints figured out. Often times, however, there are parts that are very unclear. For instance, I find that many companies aren’t really clear on what *Event* might trigger someone needing what they sell. For some businesses, that’s easy. If you replace auto glass, it’s clear that a piece of glass had to break. If you sell life insurance, there are much more complex triggers to be considered.

 

The “awareness” and “evaluation” points of the map are about marketing. If you’re not putting your business out there to be seen, people will be less aware. If you’re not helping show people the difference between what you do and what someone else does, they will pick on cost or convenience. Knowing how better to position what you sell (the evaluation point) helps you justify a higher price point, for instance.

 

My buddy Joe opened a barbecue restaurant in Milwaukee, but he used only top-quality cuts of meat (BBQ is usually about saucing up cheap meat). The difference was there, but it cost more, so he had to really sell the story of high-quality cuts and an elevated dining experience.

 

 

The “purchase” map point sometimes yields an advantage for customer experience. If you can make it easier to buy from you or easier to pay you or easier to hand over what you’ve sold than another company, this can win you more business.

 

Not every product or service requires “onboarding.” If I buy a hot dog from your stand, I don’t need much in the way of direction. Or do I? What if you set out the condiments with little suggestions about flavor combinations to build? Show me how to dress my own Chicago dog (veggies all over it - don’t forget the sport pepper) or a Sonoran dog (bacon and beans and salsa).

 

“Retention/Referral” points to the area of marketing I find most companies do the least work to secure. You’ve bought. Now leave. Sure, sometimes, someone will say “come back again” or something similar, but that’s the extent of it. Work in this one category can definitely land you more business and improved revenue. How will you keep them coming back for more?

 

 

Work Your Map

 

As you sit with these ideas, try jotting it out for yourself. Don’t just read this and move on to something else in your day. Give yourself five minutes to map whether you’ve considered your customer experience journey for what you sell. I can bet you’ll learn something that might yield more results and revenue.

 

 

          Read Next:

 

About Chris Brogan

 

chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. 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

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.

architecture-building-indoors-2196457.jpg

 

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

BOA-Heartbeat-Soundcloud-header-TEAM-2400x750-150dpi.jpg

The Department of Labor has made changes that could impact your Small Business payroll. Listen to Erron Stark, an ADP Executive, share insights on what the latest Labor Department rule changes mean for your Small Business in this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

iTunes-Button.gif

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Erron Stark:               Correct.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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.

adult-beverage-blur-551652.jpg

 

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

BOA-Heartbeat-Soundcloud-header-TEAM-2400x750-150dpi.jpg

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

 

iTunes-Button.gif

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

                                   Chris, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Chris Brogan:             My pleasure. Thank you.

 

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

 

Related Links:

BOA-Heartbeat-Soundcloud-header-TEAM-2400x750-150dpi.jpg

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

 

iTunes-Button.gif

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Gregg Stebben:         Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” brought to you by ForbesBooks and Bank of America. Steve Strauss joins us to talk about six essential steps for getting a business loan. Steve is USA Today's small business columnist and also the author of 17 books, including the best-selling Small Business Bible. Steve, thank you for joining us.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Steve Strauss:           That's right.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Steve Strauss:           Right.

 

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

 

Steve Strauss:           Correct.

 

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

 

                                   Steve, thanks for the great advice and steps for how to get a business loan. Where can our listeners go to find out more about you and get more of your great advice for small businesses?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Read next:

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.”

image1.jpeg

 

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.

architecture-bar-boutique-279260.jpg

 

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

Filter Article

By tag: