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Small Business Blog - daily small business software blog

:: Five Small Business Marketing Trends to Jump On This Year

Enhance The Customer Experience

The term user experience or UX is often used in the context of web design, with the idea that features must be designed with the end user in mind. Customer experience or CX includes UX but also encompasses every touchpoint that customers have with your business.

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:: Nearly One in Seven Small Business Owners Not Confident About Retirement

Sixty-nine percent of small business owners have zero to little confidence they will be able to retire comfortably, Paychex found in a survey.

Thirty percent said they were somewhat confident, 21% said they were not at all confident, and 18% fall between somewhat confident and not at all confidentȒadding up to a total of 69%. Only 20% said they were very confident they will have enough money to retire comfortably.

Asked what could help improve their situation, 68% said being able to save more. Other ways they would like to receive financial help were assistance in converting a portfolio balance into monthly income, cited by 10%; guidance on investments and the appropriate savings rate, also cited by 10%; and retirement tools to cover a wide range of expenses, including health care, cited by 8%. Fifteen percent said that nothing would help them feel more confident about retirement.

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:: Seven rules for small-business growth

Like many entrepreneurs, in the beginning of my own business I did not really plan for growth. Instead, I responded to opportunities as they came. In fact, I first went in to business by literally bumping into an opportunity. One day, while walking my dog, I met a man who needed a business plan. He was my first client.

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:: 10 Tax-Savings Hacks That Small Business Owners Often Miss

Being a small business owner is expensive as it is -- every penny counts when entrepreneurs are living on razor-thin margins and fighting for market share. But owning and operating a small business is even more expensive when you pay more taxes than you owe.

In a survey personal finance expert Garrett Gunderson conducted of his small business-owner clients and wrote about for Forbes, approximately 93 percent of them had overpaid over the past dozen years. Now, nobody expects owners to be tax professionals -- you do have businesses to run, after all -- but it's important to know where you can save money in order to invest that money back into your business.

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:: 10 Helpful Insights to Help You Make Use of Video and Better Communicate with Customers

Video is a medium that gives your small business lots of different options for communicating and sharing information with customers. But it can be sort of overwhelming for some small businesses. Arielle Kimbarovsky of CrowdSpring offers some suggestions for businesses looking to make the most of video in a recent post.

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:: 12 Must-Have SaaS Tools For Small Businesses

In fact, some business leaders get so overwhelmed by the din of competing voices from service providers, they sit on the sidelines and fail to take advantage of some productivity and profitability enhancing systems.

I want to point out several good apps and SaaS tools, but before I get into specifics, I want to create a simple framework in which you should evaluate these tools. Further, keep in mind that one of the biggest advantages these tools give you is the ability to successfully manage virtual teams. However, you will find almost all of them appropriate for local use as well.

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:: Look out for the rise of the robots

Continuing with our annual look at the top trends in small business, this week we get to the Top 5. Apparently, the only thing constant is change.

5. You will get hacked. In fact, you probably were in the past year, right? The Equifax hack alone exposed the private data of almost 150 million people. Or how about Yahoo? Last year the company divulged that all 3 billion of its accounts were hacked a couple of years ago. Other notable breaches this past year include:

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:: 7 Ingredients of Small Business Success Online

Building a small business online is scary. Big businesses can easily outspend you with PPC, SEO, SMM and inbound marketing campaigns.

However, smart startup founders grimly pass around business battles on the blogosphere, charging low prices for quality product, reversing their vision, failing to voice their opinion on their podcasts, showing contempt for our product, and disrespect for our craft.

And yet, look around at the World Wide Web jungle. It's watered by the services offered by small businesses. The technology to produce product and convert customers exists because we create codes, design services, and write web pages, blog posts, and marketing materials that generate leads and close sales. And every 350-pound gorilla company uses our products or services to thrive.

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:: Small Business Marketing 101

Branding, services, promotions, products, pricing, prints, blogs, advertising, research and social media -- all of this is marketing. With all the marketing options out there, it can be difficult for small businesses to know what to do. Marketing is a concentrated effort to do push your brand across a variety of platforms and hope that enough makes it through to your customer. Customers need to hear your message several times, so brand, brand, brand! Here are some simple steps to help you market your small business:

1. Get organized. Getting an organized plan is the first step in any marketing effort. Make one. Start with brainstorming, create themes and transfer action items to a calendar or to-do list.

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:: Tax law makes small businesses rethink ideas

Although there are still many unknowns about the tax law that took effect Jan. 1, some small business owners have already figured out that they stand to gain from some of its changes and are changing their plans to maximize their benefits. Some believe they will get a break on income taxes for sole proprietorships, partners and what are called S corporations. Those who buy new computers, vehicles or other equipment can take a bigger deduction.

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:: 7 small business resolutions for 2018

Personal resolutions can be tough to keep — lose those pounds or quit smoking — but those of the small business variety can be a whole lot easier and bring you greater satisfaction and success by year’s end.

Seven resolutions to help you succeed in 2018:

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:: 5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Spend Their Tax Savings

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22, 2017, and it is being put into action starting with the 2018 tax year.

On the personal side, the final bill cuts income tax rates in almost every tax bracket, doubles the standard deduction, eliminates personal exemptions, doubles the child tax credit, expands medical expense deductions, repeals the Obamacare tax and doubles the estate tax exemption.

On the business side of things, the tax bill lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent -- which is the lowest rate since 1939. For pass-through businesses -- which many small businesses are -- the standard deduction gets boosted to 20 percent.

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:: Amazon Officially Eliminates Cashiers...And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Amazon Go cashier-less convenience store opens to the public in Seattle.

This week in Seattle, Amazon opened its cashier-less convenience store to the general public. At Amazon Go, customers scan their smartphone on the way in and are then tracked with cameras and other sensors as they browse.

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:: 4 High-Tech Industries (and a Really Low-Tech One) That Are Booming With No End In Sight

The beginning of the new year is when the worlds top investors make their predictions of industries to keep an eye on. Innovative technologies and ways of doing business are creating growth in certain industries. For those looking for something new to invest time or money in, take a look at these five industries that experts predict to have an increase in growth in 2018.

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:: 4 Steps for Small Businesses to Achieve Gender-Neutral Salaries

Numbers do not lie, and the statistics are in -- there is a gender gap in salaries. There are varying statistics with different percentages, but the discrepancy is out there. Data from PayScale shows the difference in parity between controlled and uncontrolled pay gaps. The World Economic Forum shows gender gaps is a problem on a global level. But, how do employers structure and communicate salaries without any inequality?

After leading a small business human resources and operations department for 13 years, I know the answer is simple: Keep your policy simple and communicate it well.

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:: 5 Brutal Lessons About Entrepreneurship I Learned in My First Year as a Startup Founder

Twelve months later we have a full-time team and a company successful beyond our wildest dreams. Digital Press, named during one of our many coffee-on-an-apartment-balcony conversations, has been our attempt to empower the world's smartest people to share what they know. We work with carefully selected CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, and venture capitalists (primarily at businesses doing $10M to $300M in revenue) to share their hard-earned insight with the internet. None of the atrocious writing most PR firms peddle as acumen. None of the ad-speak or jargon nobody finds helpful. Just the hard lessons learned and the personal stories of how these successful people learned them.

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:: What It Takes To Be A Small Business Owner

The freedom to chase your entrepreneurial dream is one of the great foundations of America. Owning a business is a freedom the U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics records 29.6 million Americans pursue today, supporting local communities with products and services while contributing millions of dollars and jobs to the American economy.

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:: How to Start a Sustainable Small Business

Roughly 60 percent of millennials want to increase sustainability efforts in business. Millennials make up the largest group of consumers besides baby boomers, and 72 percent are willing to pay more for products from businesses committed to sustainability.

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:: To Be Successful, Stop Making Excuses and Face Your Fears

Do you constantly find yourself making excuses? Do you try to ignore the toxic work environment you’re in? Are you in denial about your exercise and health regimen? Whatever it might be, if you want to be successful, you have to identify these things and face challenges head-on.

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:: The Top Recurring Billing and Payment Tools for Small Business

Here’s a list of the top recurring billing and payments tools to transition the process from the ledger to the internet.

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:: Paychex sees small business job growth slowing, but wages rising

Minimum wage increases in states across the country are helping drive up wages, although the rate of job growth at small businesses has slowed down, according to payroll giant Paychex.

The Paychex | IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch, which Paychex compiles with the research firm IHS Markit, ended the year with a decline in small business job growth, but with wages higher compared to the previous year. The Small Business Jobs Index slipped to 99.70 in December, down 0.16 percent for the month and 0.78 percent for the year.

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:: 5 Reasons Brick-and-Mortars Will Always Succeed

Technology has made it so you can start a new business without even paying for a lease. Simply using your laptop and smartphone, you can create an ecommerce site and have customers buying items from you with minimal expense.

But technology solutions are not always as helpful and convenient as they’re cracked up to be. A brick-and-mortar store is still a huge plus for many types of businesses, especially if you sell products that people want to try out.

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:: What Is Going to Happen in 2018

This is a post that I am struggling to write. I really have no idea what is going to happen in 2018.

Will the crypto markets continue in their bull cycle? I have no clue.

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:: The Small Business Guide To Instagram Growth

In recent years Instagram has risen to become one of the social media giants, with over 800 million monthly active users, it can be a fantastic tool for businesses and brands. Not only is it a great platform to showcase what you have to offer, it’s also a great place to make connections, get involved in influencer marketing and reach new clients and customers. So how can you use the platform to make money? Here are some Instagram tips for small business owners.

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:: An Almost Guaranteed Way to Achieve Every Goal You Set This Year

New Years resolutions: We love to make them. And, statistics show, we almost never keep them. (Eighty percent of people who make New Year's resolutions abandon them by the second week of February.)

Of course you could try using silence to accomplish a goal. Or you could try to sneak up on big goals. Those strategies help, but they are far from foolproof.

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:: 4 Simple Ways to Grow Your Brand on Instagram

Having a smart mobile marketing strategy is an important part of building your personal brand online. Leveraging your social networks to their fullest potential is also important for visibility.

Instagram is one of the most widely used networks today that can help build a larger audience and following online, making it a must-engage tool for brands. Posting relevant images, ads and videos that your audience will love is just one part of the success formula.

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:: These 5 Strategies Will Keep Your Employees Energized

The worlds top companies are starting to manage employee energy like a strategic asset. They know that ever-increasingly pace of change requires more and more human energy. Any entrepreneur will tell you that it take a tonne of energy to grow a business. The key is to manage it; sometimes you have to exert energy, other times you need to conserve it to go the distance, and after a sprint you need to replenish it.

A group of senior executives from companies like Facebook, Alibaba, IBM and Johnson & Johnson got together to come up with strategies to better manage collective human energy in their companies. Here are their top five hacks to maximise human energy:

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:: Amazon takeover of Whole Foods may be good for small businesses in natural food industry

For entrepreneurs in the natural food and products industry like Constantine, Whole Foods has served as a launchpad of sorts for companies looking to get on mainstream store shelves. Companies and local farmers often would get into one or two locations and grow from there if their products took off. Like the big supermarkets and food manufacturers who are nervous about Amazon's size and power, many small suppliers can see benefits of the combination, but are also concerned what it could mean for them.

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:: 4 Things Smart People Do When They Are Tasked With a New Project (Other Than Panic)

Recently, I was asked to take over an existing project. And, like most people, my first inclination was to feel completely intimidated and overwhelmed.

This assignment -- along with its longstanding processes and its related team members -- was all brand new to me. And, if that wasn't enough to have me breathing into a paper bag, managing this project also required me to branch out and exercise some skills that I had previously left untapped.

My chest gets tight at the very thought. Can you relate? Being asked to take on a new work endeavor is a great thing (hey, you must be doing something right!). But, it can also plant plenty of seeds of self-doubt.

Fortunately, this recent experience opened my eyes to some better, more productive things you can do when you're tasked with a new project -- aside from just panicking.

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:: How Clever Retargeting Persuades Customers Who Looked But Did not Buy

Did you know that nearly 96 percent of your first-time visitors are not ready to purchase from your website right away? That means in most cases, in order to make a sale, you need to encourage your visitors to return more often to your site.

Retargeting is the best way to target your first-time visitors on different marketing channels and encourage them to return to your site. Since retargeting helps you to target your existing prospects, it will likely boost more engagement than untargeted ads, making your entire campaign cheaper and cost-effective.

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:: 21 High-Paying Jobs of the Future

When looking for one of the best jobs of the future, two considerations will be crucial: what jobs are well-paying, and what jobs will expand dramatically in the next decade?

Jobs in healthcare and tech tend to tick both boxes.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its biennial projections for job growth across hundreds of occupations between 2016 and 2026.

We took those projections and combined them with BLS estimates of the 2016 median annual earnings of those jobs -- using the geometric mean of the two numbers -- to come up with a ranking of the best jobs of the next decade.

To focus on good, high-paying jobs, we restricted our list to those with salaries higher than the 2016 median annual wage of $37,040.

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:: Amazon Business Prime Shipping Changes the Game for Small Business Procurement

Amazon Business Prime Shipping is a paid annual membership program, which enables registered multi-user business customers to take advantage of unlimited fast and free shipping. The program is currently available for Amazon Business customers in the United States and Germany.
Small businesses are often faced with the challenge of sharing passwords for authorizing procurement and shipping tasks. With Business Prime Shipping everyone in a business account automatically gets Business Prime Shipping.

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:: How To Get Your Small Business Noticed Online

While there are hundreds of thousands of brands competing online, there are a few e-commerce sites, like Amazon, that top the rest. Amazon is the big box store of years past. At one time, consumers would shop at several small businesses to get what they need, but later, larger stores like Walmart popped up, serving as one-stop shops for every consumer need.

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:: Holiday Marketing Guide for Small Businesses

We have officially entered the holiday season! October through January is filled with holidays from Halloween to New Years. As a small business, you can take advantage of this joyful time by taking your marketing efforts to the next level. There are many different ways a small business can celebrate (and profit from) the holidays, so let’s jump right into to our extensive guide.

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:: Small Businesses: How to Network Like a Pro

Networking skills: sometimes it feels like you either have them or you do not. Putting yourself out there at social gatherings comes so naturally to a lot of folks, while others struggle when forced to strike up conversations with strangers.

Networking can be especially overwhelming for small business teams, who usually do not have a safety net of colleagues at networking events — or a big company name in their back pockets. Yet networking has clear benefits that can help your company and career. Not only does it expand your network of contacts, it introduces you to new opportunities, advice and opinions. Put in a little practice, and networking makes you more visible and even helps boost your self confidence.

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