Tag Archive: small_business_owners

4 Things to Consider Prior to Relocating Your Small Business

There may be many reasons for relocating your small business. Knowing what type of impact a relocation will have on your business is essential in order to determine your success.

If you are planning a move in order to be closer to customers, conduct demographic research, examine competitors in the area and determine whether or not you will interface with customers prior to making any move. Take a look at references such as The Statistical Abstract of the United States, which provides useful information that can help you narrow down your list of choices.

If you want to streamline business operations, consider whether or not you should move a specific part of the business to another area (such as moving a manufacturing arm). Another alternative is to combine sales and manufacturing in one location. Examine these options closely and determine which choice is best for your small business – it could provide the flexibility and convenience that you need.

Although, saving money is always a factor in making business decisions, make sure you’re looking at the big picture and vet all financial possibilities. For example, if you move to an area with a more favorable tax structure, will you then lose money on transportation costs or having to remodel your new space? Additionally, although you may save money on real estate, does the new area you’re choosing have the talent pool you will need to drive your business forward?

If you are considering opening more than one outlet for a retail operation, be sure that your stores are far enough apart geographically that they don’t cannibalize each other’s revenues. Additionally be sure that you have the manpower to staff both locations, as well as the personal bandwidth to manage multiple locations.

If you have considered these factors and decide to move forward with relocation, the following are some tips to remember:

Investigate lower rates for new businesses in your potential locations on everything ranging from electricity to workers compensation insurance to tax concessions for certain types of businesses.
Undertake an audit of environmental and/or regulatory issues long before you sign a contract for a new space. Failing to look into whether your new location is near a landfill, or has sewage run off underground, can require an expensive remediation effort that can quickly eat up any cost savings you hoped to realize.
Apply for all the relevant licenses and permits and register with state and local tax authorities, no matter how redundant it feels.
Consult a tax advisor to determine if you can deduct relocation costs on your tax return, including research trips, travel and moving costs.

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Finally, make sure the timing is good. Ensure you and your staff has the energy to undertake a major project at this time. A relocation effort can take anywhere from several months to several years before it is complete, and there will be some inevitable interruption of business. On the other hand, once you are settled in your new location, you may rediscover some of the excitement that you had when you started your business the first time. Relocating your small business naturally involves some risk, but as an entrepreneur, you know that’s when you have the opportunity to earn greater rewards.

5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Prepare for the Holiday Shopping Season

The holiday season is a critical sales season for many small businesses. According to the National Retail Federation, many small- and mid-sized businesses generate as much as 20-40 percent of their annual sales in the last two months of the year. In recent years, the season itself has started expanding, and stores are no longer waiting to offer promotions.

Many businesses are starting to offer promotions as early as September in recognition of the fact that some shoppers are hitting the stores before Halloween. Online retailers seem particularly apt to stretch the holiday season, offering a full month of discounts (including free shipping) in the month of November. Retailers who followed this model last season realized some significant returns: Sales in December 2010 were six percent higher than the same month in 2009, according to the National Retail Federation. This was in stark contrast to the 2008 holiday season when retail sales dropped 2.8 percent from the previous year.

No matter when you start your promotions, there are many things small businesses can do to get the most out of the holiday sales season. The following are some tips:

Find ways to stand out that are not related to the products you sell. For example, decorate your store with themes that tie in with community events. Consider sponsoring holiday charity auctions at churches and civic organizations.
Tap social media to promote holiday sales events. Use mobile apps to draw attention to sales in real time. If you have a Twitter presence (and if you do, learn how to increase your followers here), analyze the hot items potential customers are discussing and gear your inventory and promotions accordingly. Use can use your Facebook fan page to briefly mention upcoming deals without using an aggressive sales push.
Reach out to customers with holiday cheer. It is important for businesses to send holiday cards to their loyal customers. However, if you are business that relies on a small number of repeat customers, be sure to write your holiday greeting cards by hand and include a personal note.
Plan ahead to handle holiday crowds. One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is waiting until the last minute to hire extra staff to meet holiday demand, so analyze your needs as early in the year as possible. Holiday staff can be recruited through temporary services, employee referrals, and newspaper and online ads.
Lay the groundwork throughout the year. Although the majority of your sales may occur in the last two months of the year, it is never too early to start building customer relationships and loyalty. Use techniques for attracting customers – such as mobile marketing, geography-based promotions, loyalty programs – throughout the year and then customize them to fit the holiday season. Customers that have shopped with you throughout the year could be more likely to visit your store first as they search for holiday gifts.

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With the holidays quickly approaching, small retailers should take advantage of an expanded shopping season and explore new ways to connect with customers. Do you have any unique sales tactics during the holiday season? What challenges and opportunities do you typically encounter during this time? Share your comments with the community below.

5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Prepare for the Holiday Shopping Season

The holiday season is a critical sales season for many small businesses. According to the National Retail Federation, many small- and mid-sized businesses generate as much as 20-40 percent of their annual sales in the last two months of the year. In recent years, the season itself has started expanding, and stores are no longer waiting to offer promotions.

Many businesses are starting to offer promotions as early as September in recognition of the fact that some shoppers are hitting the stores before Halloween. Online retailers seem particularly apt to stretch the holiday season, offering a full month of discounts (including free shipping) in the month of November. Retailers who followed this model last season realized some significant returns: Sales in December 2010 were six percent higher than the same month in 2009, according to the National Retail Federation. This was in stark contrast to the 2008 holiday season when retail sales dropped 2.8 percent from the previous year.

No matter when you start your promotions, there are many things small businesses can do to get the most out of the holiday sales season. The following are some tips:

Find ways to stand out that are not related to the products you sell. For example, decorate your store with themes that tie in with community events. Consider sponsoring holiday charity auctions at churches and civic organizations.
Tap social media to promote holiday sales events. Use mobile apps to draw attention to sales in real time. If you have a Twitter presence (and if you do, learn how to increase your followers here), analyze the hot items potential customers are discussing and gear your inventory and promotions accordingly. Use can use your Facebook fan page to briefly mention upcoming deals without using an aggressive sales push.
Reach out to customers with holiday cheer. It is important for businesses to send holiday cards to their loyal customers. However, if you are business that relies on a small number of repeat customers, be sure to write your holiday greeting cards by hand and include a personal note.
Plan ahead to handle holiday crowds. One of the biggest mistakes small businesses make is waiting until the last minute to hire extra staff to meet holiday demand, so analyze your needs as early in the year as possible. Holiday staff can be recruited through temporary services, employee referrals, and newspaper and online ads.
Lay the groundwork throughout the year. Although the majority of your sales may occur in the last two months of the year, it is never too early to start building customer relationships and loyalty. Use techniques for attracting customers – such as mobile marketing, geography-based promotions, loyalty programs – throughout the year and then customize them to fit the holiday season. Customers that have shopped with you throughout the year could be more likely to visit your store first as they search for holiday gifts.

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With the holidays quickly approaching, small retailers should take advantage of an expanded shopping season and explore new ways to connect with customers. Do you have any unique sales tactics during the holiday season? What challenges and opportunities do you typically encounter during this time? Share your comments with the SBOC community below.

From A to Z: 26 Ways to Say Thank You this Holiday Season

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, small business owners should take time to say thank you to the people who serve as the backbone of their company – employees. Some owners may be in the position to throw an extravagant end-of-year party or give significant bonuses. However, if you are looking for something that won’t be cost prohibitive but will still be meaningful and memorable, consider the following A-to-Z list of small business holiday gift suggestions.

Athletic club memberships can be expensive, but picking up a month or two could be a nice gesture.

Baskets of almost any variety – from fruit and candy to games and puzzles to thumb drives and mouse pads

Charitable donations in your employees’ names to organizations of their choice or a large donation (i.e. a percentage of sales) given to a charity your employees select

Desk organizers that run the gamut from pen-and-pencil sets to leather iPad holders.

Entertainment events with a holiday theme, i.e. a folk concert, an art exhibit or a book signing, held on company grounds

Food items personalized based on your knowledge of an each employee’s palate – from organic jams to exotic cheeses

Gift certificates to restaurants certainly, but also spas, sporting events, local travel, cooking lessons, or art exhibits

High-end “Secret Santa” where employees exchange services or products and have a chance to network in the process

International potluck dinner as a less expensive alternative to a glitzy party and potentially a greater boost to morale and camaraderie

Java sample packs from online retailers like eRoast or local microroasters that offer a wide variety of coffee flavors

Kid-friendly party for employees’ children, stepchildren, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren

Logo-endowed items, ranging in extravagance from stainless steel coffee mugs to backpacks to carry-on luggage

Membership to a wine or beer of the month club

Notecards or stationary personalized with employees’ initials

On-site classes in anything from financial planning to yoga

Photography sessions for employees and their families, all to memorialize special people, events and moments

Quiet time during the day in the form of extended coffee breaks or a walk outside

Red and green – or silver and gold – decorations, hand-painted to the liking of each of your employees

Seats to a local theater, concert hall or sporting event

Time off of at least half a day or several opportunities to leave early or come in late during the holiday season

Umbrellas, mittens, scarves and other gear for inclement winter weather

Vendor discounts from your major suppliers from cellular service to computer equipment

Wine or beer tastings on a Friday evening after work, which can be less expensive than an office party and just as festive

X-box and Wii games, karaoke competitions and gambling tables as part of a grownup night of fun

Yearbook for the company, incorporating recipes, photographs, holiday stories and original poems contributed by employees who choose to participate

Zoo or other experiential party in an outdoor location, as long as climate conditions allow

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So there you have it: 26 gift ideas for your employees this holiday season. Whether you are an out-of-the-box type or someone who likes to have fun with your staff, there is a perfect gift out there that says “thank you” just the way you want to say it. How do you show your employees that you are thankful for them? Do you plan to use any of the recom

10 Ways Small Businesses Can Prepare for 2012

As we approach the end of 2011, it is a good idea for small business owners to take stock of what you’ve accomplished and look forward to some fresh initiatives in the New Year. The following are some ideas to make a successful transition to 2012:

1. Expand the ways that you communicate with customers. Dive into mobile marketing, location-based promotions, blogging and a dynamic social media presence.

2. Stop trying to force your product onto a customer if it is not a good fit. Show your customers you are able to come up with solutions that add value to their business problems.

3. Brainstorm with employees on how everyone can work smarter. Take stock of how much daily time is spent on e-mail; whether you are holding too many unproductive meetings and how to take internal communications to a level that spurs employees to take action.

4. Spend some time on self-reflection and figure out what kind of a boss you are. Do you over-direct, micromanage, enable helplessness, inspire or teach? It may not be easy, but making sure you are a good match for your own business goals is an often-overlooked issue for many managers.

5. Invest in additional training and career-growth activities for your employees. For example, subsidize memberships in industry organizations; bring in a leadership coach; offer reimbursement for career-enhancing certifications; etc.

6. Take real action related to a social cause. Sponsor a fundraiser, write an Op-Ed or go on an overseas mission. You’ll find it not only makes you feel better, but it is highly appealing to the best and brightest young people you may want to recruit to work for you.

7. Walk the floor more. Even with an open-door policy, managers who stay in their offices create a very different work atmosphere than those who get out and spend time among the staff. Take the time to discover something about the personal interests or personalities of the people who work for you. You just might discover some untapped gems.

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8. Redefine your strategic goals after meeting with employees, company advisors and partners to get their input. New goals could include expanding into a new market, merging with a competitor or rebranding your company.

9. Conduct a survey of employees to gauge their level of satisfaction with opportunities for training and advancement, compensation/ benefits and work/life balance.

10. Don’t forget to have some fun: Celebrate the holidays with your staff, even if it’s at the office. If possible, close down from Christmas to New Year’s. Encourage all employees to make end-of-year vacation plans – and remember that “all employees” includes you!

Family-Run Businesses: Challenges and Opportunities

Most family-owned businesses tend to operate by the rule of thirds– only a third of them make it to the second generation, and only a third of the businesses in that group remain in business by the third generation, and so on.

If you are currently running a family business, considering joining your family’s business, or weighing the pros and cons of bringing your children into the fold, the following are some thoughts that you may want to consider, as you begin to think about what challenges you may encounter – and what opportunities could lay ahead.

Challenges

If you bring your children into a family business at a young age, you may have to walk a fine line between teaching them about hard work, working as a team and allowing them to pursue their own separate dreams.
Older members of the family may not understand or value concepts such as market share, database marketing or social networking.
Family members may have to play multiple roles, ranging from manual tasks like painting and repairs, to executive duties like negotiating partnerships or securing bank loans.
While new family businesses may require flexible work roles at the beginning, eventually you will need to outline every person’s responsibilities, compensation level, long-range goals and line of command.
Certain patterns of behavior or types of communication between family members, like one-upmanship or a tendency to correct someone’s grammar, may be played out in the business realm as well.

Opportunities

Cross-generational entrepreneurs tend to pass on traditional values such as perseverance, a willingness to get your hands dirty and ways to build trusting relationships with customers and self-sacrifice.
The choice of how much to grow your business is up to you. If you are in a family business because you enjoy the flexibility and camaraderie, you may want to keep your company small and local. If you’re in business for big profits, you may want to strive to take your business international or spin off subsidiaries.
Family-owned businesses foster resiliency as they center around a close-knit management team, which has a vested emotional and financial interest in the company’s survival.
Without pressure from shareholders, family-run businesses may be able to take more time to achieve profitability and take business risks without needing to justify decisions to others invested in the company.

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