Tag Archives: Small Business

Small Business In The United States: The Landscape – Infographic

Small businesses make up over 80% of the businesses in the United States. This graphic portrays the challenges in finance, marketing and other areas that small businesses encounter as well as how they work to grow their businesses. Continue reading

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It’s crucial to understand where small business mobile marketing is headed if you want your business to still be here in 2014. Check out this beautiful infographic on small business mobile marketing and why you need to have a mobile … Continue reading

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A new survey of 600 small businesses reveals the majority remain skeptical about economic growth in 2013. However they are optimistic about their own opportunities as nearly half of the respondents expected to grow their business revenues this year.

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Small Business Marketing Cycle – Developing a marketing strategy can be though. Luckily, the “Toolbox of the Small Business Marketing Cycle” helps you streamline the process, all while providing popular tools that will allow you to better acquire and manage … Continue reading

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How to turn your hobby into a business – Many people dream about making a living out of their talent, hobby or passion, but is there anything stopping them making that dream a reality? At Make It Cheaper, we speak … Continue reading

How To Be Batman In The Small Business World – Infographic

Being a solo entrepreneur has its challenges. When Batman decided to “go solo” and start his own crime fighting business, he knew he needed the right gear to get the job done. This infographic covers some of the must-have business weapons every super solopreneur needs in their arsenal. And the good news is you don’t need to be a billionaire like Bruce Wayne to utilize these powerful small business tools.

Source: Visual.ly, UniTel Voice

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How To Spot A Small Business Fan – Infographic

The “buy local” trend has been gaining momentum all over the U.S. as more and more consumers are beginning to understand its positive effects on them, their community, and the environment. But who in your community is the biggest local biz booster? How do you recognize a small business superfan? Check out the infographic below for the telltale signs of one, and see how they benefit their neighborhood and, ultimately, the country.

Fancy yourself a “superfan” of a local small business? Know someone who embodies all these traits?  Share with us on Facebook and Twitter if these signs remind you of anyone you know.

Do you know of  a local business that could use a $5,000 gift? Tell them about LoveOurLocalBusiness.com. We’re granting one $5,000 wish daily for 15 days to deserving businesses.

Source: Intuit
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Best Holiday Season For Online Small Businesses? – Infographic

Many outlets are predicting a robust holiday season for online retailers. The biggest online retailers will certainly benefit from the surge of spending, but so will small businesses selling on online marketplaces like Etsy, ebay, and Amazon.

Source: Visual.ly

INFOGRAPHIC - Outright - Holiday Shopping Season V4

4 Things Small Businesses Need To Be Successful Online

4 Things That Small Businesses Need To Start Today To Succeed Online

Small businesses have a certain advantage; the owners and top management know their customers very well.  Using this to your advantage can pave ways to succeeding online.  Small business owners need to only focus on 4 things and do them well.

  1. Contacts and Social media
  2. Search
  3. Website and Systems Display, Access & Usability
  4. Communication and Database

1. Contact and Social Media

Social media is a bit of both; there is a sense of excitement because of the opportunities and then there is frustration when social media strategies do not work.

Business owners need to make sure that all of their contacts have been reached out to. Remember friends and family are a great way to start. The target in social media is not to think of likes but how well you can communicate and give human consumable info that your fans and followers can share with their circle.  It’s that next layer of contacts that you want to market to indirectly.

You will need to think of:

a) Is the message useful and to some certain displayed entertainingly?

b) Am I using the branding in the right place and way without shouting marketing slogans?

c) Is this what my current circle and the next circle would be interested from their POV.

2. Search

Google search and the search engines have 1 huge amazing impact: They are like dedicated billboards for the entire population outside of your contact circle. You need to have presence there.

You will have to think in terms of:

a) Re-targeting and converting some of the visits to fans and followers of your page or subscriber to your newsletter

b) Grab attention and lead navigation to deeper pages inside your website and engage them for more page views

3. Website and Systems Display, Access & Usability

Your website, satellite sites like FB page and YouTube channel need to be displayed well. Make sure your website is usable and that people can access them from Mobiles to Desktops.

You will need to think here in terms of:

a) Good and fast navigation

b) Content relevance

c) Page views

d) Conversion for re-target and direct business

e) Grouping similar items together

4. Communications and Database

The final thing on the list but as important as others; you need to be effective in communication.  Internet users love fast and quick language, avoid long, boring and cliché phrases. Instead think of bringing your words and sentences down by cutting words to make simple sense.

You need to think of:

a) Catchy and unique verbiage

b) Target Demographics

c) Lead Generation and Management

d) Marketing messages

Though these items branch out into more tributaries, they cover a good amount of real estate that’s enough to get you and your business into full swing. Although you can focus on some parts more than the others, you cannot however leave out any of them.

Source: Filsupport

How Small Businesses Can Compete With Corporate and Retail Giants – Infographic

Between their Black Friday Best Buy expeditions and Cyber Monday mania on Amazon, many holiday shoppers plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday this weekend.

Conceived in 2010, the “holiday” puts the spotlight on local mom-and-pop retailers. If you’re looking for info about which small businesses have the best deals, however, you might not find it online. More than 60% of small businesses do not have a website, and many that are online do not show up in search results.

The web is already a vital source of information, becoming more popular every day. These small businesses are going to have to get off the digital sidelines if they plan to compete with their corporate counterparts, not to mention with online retail giants.

The following infographic, created by ReachLocal, explains why online marketing is crucial for small businesses.

Source: Mashable.com

How To Build A Brand In Small Business – Infographic

Entrepreneurship plays a vital role in the U.S. economy. Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms, create more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product, and create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs, according to the Office of Advocacy. Even during the recession, though startups waned, they weren’t entirely snuffed. In 2010, an average of 0.34 percent of adults created a new business each month, equaling about 565,000 new businesses per month according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. What does it take to build a business and what is the potential rate of success? Brook Eddy, founder of Bhakti Chai, in Boulder, Colo., offers an inside look at how she grew her business from her home kitchen to a respected retail and food service brand. Eddy is currently working to secure national distribution. See how Bhakti and brands like it contribute to the U.S. economy and stack up to small businesses in other countries

Source: Visual.ly

Bank of America Small Business Owner Report – Infographic

Bank of America’s Small Business Owner Report is a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners across the country. The Fall 2012 report surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,003 small business owners in the United States with an annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing between 2 and 99 employees.

Source: Visual.ly, Bank of America

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A Snap Shot of Entrepreneurship Today [Infographic] | The Frugal Entrepreneur

A Snap Shot of Entrepreneurship Today [Infographic] | The Frugal Entrepreneur.

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Well, there seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the who, when, what, why, and how of people successfully (and unsuccessfully) starting their own businesses. With all the inflated and often contradictory information going around, I decided to do a little research to see if I could find some telling statistics that would shed some light on the true state of entrepreneurship today. Here is what I found; the results are summarized in an infographic at the end.

Success in Entrepreneurship is Hard to Come By

According to a recent Harvard Business School study, Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship, a venture-capital-backed entrepreneur who succeeds in a venture has a 30% chance of succeeding in his next venture. But, first-time entrepreneurs have even less of a chance for success, with only 18% being able to successfully start a viable business. Entrepreneurs who failed the first time have a 20% chance of succeeding with the next startup.

According to The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf, a whopping 90% of new products will ultimately fail.

Data from the U.S. Small Business Administration shows that regardless of the year when they are founded, the majority of start-ups go out of business within five years, and two-thirds are no longer operating ten years after being formed. Everyone quotes the SBA’s startup failure rate statistics, but no one seems to have the actual link where they say this. So, here it is.

Just Who Is Starting Businesses Anyway?

According to the most recent Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, a mere 0.32 percent of American adults created a business per month in 2011, and contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of this group consists of older, mostly male Americans. Since 1996, Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34, and men have been starting companies at twice the rate of women.

Also notable is where this new businesses are sprouting up. By industry, construction had the highest entrepreneurial activity rate at 1.68 percent,  followed by the services industry at 0.42 percent. The manufacturing startup rate was the lowest among all industries, with only 0.11 percent of non-business owners starting businesses per month during 2011. Among the United States’ 15 largest metropolitan statistical areas, Los Angeles had the highest entrepreneurial rate (580 per 100,000 adults) in 2011. Chicago and Detroit had the lowest rates at 180 per 100,000 adults.

Source: The Frugal Entrepreneur

Why Many Small Businesses Fail at Social Media | Social Media Today

Why Many Small Businesses Fail at Social Media | Social Media Today.

“I’ve Done Social Media and it Doesn’t Work”

As a social media manager, I’ve heard many clients say these exact words. It took a while but I have now learned how to hear those words without laughing. It’s the whole concept that social media is something to be “done,” like it’s the end result of a process. Social Media isn’t a thing to be done. It’s just a part of a process of business promotion that includes of advertising, marketing, communication and most importantly, creating relationships. 

In the business world, social media can be a great tool to use to promote your products and services. Social media sites can help you build relationships with potential customers, increase the responsiveness and effectiveness of your customer service and find new and creative ways to generate more sales.  For the small business owner, social media can be especially effective if approached in the right way.

For the small business, social media needs to be about the conversation between their business and its customers, or potential customers and building a level of trust and loyalty.  In their rush to do social, there are some fundamental errors that many small businesses make when they initiate a social media strategy to further their business. The initial mistake occurs when they use social media to showcase their own products and services and fail to connect with other business or their customers. In order to succeed using social media, social media must be used as one of the strategies to increase business. Take note of the following truths:

Social Media Isn’t Quick

As a small business owner, time is money and typically, there isn’t a large marketing budget to go around. The first mistake many small business owners make when starting a social media campaign is thinking that because of the numbers – 900 million on Facebook, 200 million of Twitter – social media is a quick fix. As a result, the small business owner often gets excited about the potential of social media. They sign up on various social networking platforms, they post and tweet and get a few followers. They toot (or tweet) their own horn and can’t figure out why their company hasn’t gone viral yet.  They fail to realize that social media is a long-term process that should be integrated into their overall marketing strategy.

Social Media Is About Listening to Your Audience

When a small business owner creates a social media plan focusing solely on marketing and sales, they have totally missed the boat. The key word in social media is, of course, social. While an end result of a complete social media and marketing strategy is about increasing your business and, ultimately, sales, it needs to start with a conversation. No one goes on a social media site to be talked at, sold to or to see constant advertisements. While there is nothing wrong with a bit of self-promotion, it’s a mistake to spend the majority of your time promoting yourself and your business. As an entrepreneur, it is up to you to listen to your customers instead of just sending out messages all the time. Listening to your audience, responding and providing them with excellent service and value is the best way to create a strong and loyal following who will, in turn, promote your business for you.

Social Media is about Having Realistic Expectations

For the small business to be successful with social media, they need to go into the process with realistic expectations. You will not get rich overnight just because you join a few social media sites and start promoting them. It will take time to be successful with this form of marketing. As long as you go into it with the expectation that social media is not a panacea for a failing business and that it will take some time to develop strong relationships with your audience, you’ll be fine.

Social Media Isn’t About Being Everywhere

One mistake many small business owners make it that they believe for social media to work, they have to everywhere, at all times. While it’s true that there will always be a new network to get involved with but as a small business owner, it’s likely that you only have a limited amount of time, money and manpower to devote to their social media social strategy.

In reality, creating an effective social media well doesn’t mean you need to be everywhere. In fact, a neglected social media presence can do more harm than good. It’s actually better to not have an account if you don’t have the time and resources to actively manage it and participate. Instead, choose one or two of the most appropriate and effective channels for reaching your customers and focusing on these channels.

You Are Not a Big Business (And That’s OK)

While small businesses do not have the money and staff power that large companies do, they do have a distinct advantage. They are able to move faster, be more personal, more flexible and build a stronger, more intimate relationship with their audience. Because of the nature of small business, you know your products and services inside and out. Most of your tasks are performed in-house, which means you aren’t outsourcing your social media.  You are better able understand what motivates their clients. While the content they create may never go viral, small businesses can create a more personal experience for their audience than a big brand ever could.

Social media is here to stay. Using small business social media as part of a well-thought out social media and marketing campaign is definitely worth is. It takes persistence, time, confidence, tweaking and a positive attitude. If you’re going to do social media, do it well, and do it like a small business.

Ali Goldfield

Freelance writer, blogger, social media enthusiast, and chocoholic, Ali Goldfield is the owner of ADR Social Media and Creator of Therapy Stew. ADR Social Media offers writing, blogging and social media content management & engagement services for small businesses and non-profit organizations.

Source: Social Media Today

5 Ways Your Business Should Use Twitter Hashtags

5 Ways Your Business Should Use Twitter Hashtags.

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Assuming you already have a Twitter account dedicated to your small business, you should also be investing in hashtags as part of your social media strategy.

But let’s back up a bit, in case you’re unsure what a hashtag even is in the first place. Designated by a number sign (#), the hashtag is paired with a word or phrase to perform a variety of functions. Twitter users attach hashtags to tweets as search mechanisms, categorizing tools and marketing tactics.

In your business’ case, you may choose to attach a hashtag, such as #smallbiz, or even your brand’s name itself, as #nike might do. This improves the chance that other Twitter users will find your tweet in targeted Twitter searches. But hashtags also streamline your own processes. For instance, you may ask users to include a unique hashtag in their own tweets as part of your newest Twitter marketing campaign. Throughout your campaign, the hashtag files tweets for easy search and organization within Twitter.com.

Now that you’re familiar with the basic hashtag concept, let’s apply principles specific to small businesses. Follow these five tips to improve your brand’s hashtag strategy.

1. Seek Business-Specific Conversations

If you use Twitter for nothing else, use it to learn from others. Head to hashtags like #SMB or #smallbiz for advice, resources and current news of the small business variety (also follow along during Twitter chats). Although broad hashtags like these can generate an overwhelming number of tweets every day, tune in every so often for a quick update. A couple of scrolls down the feed could inspire your next blog post, marketing tactic or bestseller.

If you seek a more specific conversation, narrow hashtags down by topic. The #marketing hashtag contains a ton of small business-related content, as does #sales. Or take a peek in the #startups or #entrepreneurs hashtag for inspirational profiles in the space. Finally, if you’re looking for tips on meeting like-minded businesspeople, try the #networking hashtag, where you’ll find information on meetups and advice on making connections.

2. Keep it Simple and Consistent

When crafting hashtags for your own tweets, it’s important to keep a couple rules of thumb in mind. First, keep your tags simple and direct. In a tweet about your latest blog post, which explains your company’s use of finance apps, don’t create a long, complex hashtag. Pair the tweet with hashtags like #apps and #SmallBiz, versus #SmallBusinessAppsandTools. Overly complicated hashtags like these are neither search-friendly nor commonly used, so your tweet will get buried quickly.

Secondly, don’t weigh your tweets down with excessive hashtags. If your intention is to be thorough, bravo. However, your thoroughness will be better served with a thoughtful, precise selection of 1-2 hashtags per tweet. Seven hashtags reads like desperate marketing, and is a sure way to lose followers quickly.

3. Create Your Own Hashtag

Brands both large and small choose to create their own hashtags for several reasons. Hashtags are a great way to generate buzz around a marketing campaign. Domino’s Pizza encouraged followers to tweet with #letsdolunch — once the number of tweets reached 85,000, Domino’s dropped prices by more than half during the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day.

Or turn to Twitter when launching a contest, another great marketing tactic for your brand. Simply ask people to tweet with a specific hashtag when they submit ideas, jokes or photos. That way, when the entry period is over, you’ll be able to easily locate submissions in one place.

Events are great opportunities for creating conversation around hashtags. Award your event a unique hashtag well before the actual date; you’ll be able to generate content and discussion about the event before it even begins. (For example, Mashable created the hashtag #MashBash for one of our largest events ever, at CES 2012.) Then during the event, encourage participants to tweet with that hashtag with signage and other hashtagged swag. People in attendance both physically and via the web then will be able to follow interesting activities and discussion.

Finally, get creative. Use hashtags for Twitter chats — invite an industry expert to answer tweeted questions from your brand’s followers. Or begin a game on Twitter using hashtags. For instance, ask people to tweet #PastTenseSitcoms, like “Family Mattered.” It’s a clever way to get people excited to connect with your hip, entertaining brand (we’d be remiss to not mention our own #Mashtags fun here).

4. Organize Social Dashboards by Hashtag

One of the most convenient ways to stay on top of relevant hashtags is to designate easily accessible columns within your social dashboard. Whether you use HootSuite or TweetDeck, you can establish columns by social network, search term, Twitter list or hashtag.

Consider adding a small business-themed hashtag column to check whenever you have a moment. Add further columns as they become relevant, for example, when you launch a hashtag marketing campaign or contest. Then delete the column when the hashtag has run its course.

5. Take Advantage of Follow Friday

In January 2009, Micah Baldwin announced on Twitter that he would suggest people to follow every week from then on. The Follow Friday trend soon took off with the hashtag #FollowFriday, but is now more commonly shortened to #FF.

The Follow Friday movement is still alive and well. And it’s a great excuse for your small business to join the conversation and get its name out there.

You can craft a #FF tweet in one of two ways. Create a list of great people to follow and squeeze as many Twitter handles as you can into one tweet, with the hashtag #FF, of course. However, I suggest making sure this list has a theme — are these the best foodies to follow? Political analysts? Activists? Comedians? Narrow down the type of people you’re suggesting and indicate that in the tweet.

Otherwise, many people choose to support only one or two people per #FF tweet, which is a more personal approach. You may consider crafting a tweet for a single person if you wish to compliment or communicate with that person, be it a journalist, executive or potential business partner.

So, let’s keep things in the communal Twitter spirit. Share your own small business advice when it comes to hashtags. The comments below await.

Source: Mashable.com, Image courtesy of Flickr, Kasaa

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