There are approximately 28 million small businesses that create at least two out of three jobs in the American economy. National Small Business Week is about discussing ways to support our entrepreneurs with the goal of improving economic growth.
The White House is certainly excited. Their blog dedicated an entire page to National Small Business Week which is, rightly so, cross-posted to the SBA.gov website. They’ve got big celebration plans, like hosting week-long events in Boston, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Washington D.C. that you can view live-streamed at www.sba.gov/nsbw. Today they will announce the National Small Business of the Year in the nation’s capital.
National Small Business Week also encourages consumers to shop local or to order online from a small Internet-based business.
How are we celebrating? We are reflecting on technology’s impact and how it helps small business growth. We’re also reviewing this week’s top business advice and helpful hint links.
Starting a Business:
- Natashah Torki, COO and manager of Beauty By Dolly in California, wrote an interesting article for Forbes about the need of entrepreneurs to take steps early on to secure their company’s future. When we start a business our thoughts are consumed with financing, branding, partnership and marketing. It’s important to broaden the business strategy to include operations (now and future) and expansion. Things happen in life—injuries, terminal illness or sudden death. If there’s no contingency plan, what happens to the business you built? A succession plan is to appoint who’ll take over your business and how it will operate once you’ve exited. Every business, big or small, ought to have a succession plan. Here’s how to write one today so that you have it when you need it.
- People management is challenging, even for the seasoned business. Many management experts recommend that managers take on the role of coach. The idea is that coaching will help people discover their potential and achieve or even over-achieve desired results by discovering their own solutions. A great manager works as part of a team—a partner of employees—helping them to be problem solvers, take action, and reach their full potential to meet the needs of the business. Here are six guiding principles to use on the road to becoming a great manager.
- Entrepreneur magazine has published a fabulous online article series, “Content Marketing Like the Big Brands,” in which marketing expert Jim Joseph shares how small to medium businesses can create compelling content for their customers to improve business results. The articles are written with the philosophy that no one knows your business better than you. You know best how to deliver content to your customers that’ll enhance their lives. The challenge for entrepreneurs is developing a content calendar and knowing what topics will bring the most value. From the tenth and final article in the series, learn how to serve content from a leadership position and become a credentialed expert in your niche.
- A small business doesn’t have the luxury of a large marketing budget, especially in the beginning. Email marketing can be the most cost effective way to engage with new and existing customers. MailChimp, an email marketing service provider, is a great tool to help you create and launch effective campaigns, like an email newsletter. You need to follow guidelines of the CAN-SPAM Act and only communicate by email with people who have opted in to receive your correspondence. Read how to turn email marketing into sales.
- Social marketing is something that businesses big and small often place on the back burner. It’s vital that you make social marketing a part of daily business operations. If you can set aside 20-30 minutes to create engaging social content for your customers to interact with your brand, you’ll build brand advocates, web traffic and increased search engine ranking. Your social content needs to focus on the customer, not your business. Ask interesting questions or host polls on social media channels like Facebook to find out more about your customers. Be sure to reply to customer and fans comments. Try these four steps to win at customer-centered social marketing.
- Customer reviews on a company website, product page or social media channel can build interest and trust in your product or service. Online shoppers cannot physically examine a product; they have to rely on product pictures, descriptions and reviews. When I recently shopped for a vacuum cleaner on Walmart’s ecommerce site, I read customer reviews about the different models. I was interested to learn if other consumers were satisfied with its performance and quality. I purchased a vacuum cleaner based mostly on its overall customer satisfaction. After my purchase, Walmart emailed me asking for a product review. I gave one because they made the process quick and easy. Check out three tips for encouraging customers to leave feedback.
- During National Small Business Week, reflect on your technology and see where you can make sensible improvements to optimize your operations. Billing and invoicing, time tracking and project management are areas to think about. Here’s a small business technology “tune-up” checklist to help you improve operations, reduce wasted business hours, increase productivity and generate revenue. Once you’ve read the checklist, take a look at how to choose the right technologies for your business.
Are you an entrepreneur with a website or blog that offers business advice? Have you discovered a technology that has increased your business productivity? Connect with me on Google+ so that I can share your tips or experience in the weekly roundup. See you next week!