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A Great Company-Wide Social-Media Policy Starts at the Top

May 22, 2014

Check out this recent article from Entrepreneur on establishing an employee social media policy:

While establishing a positive company culture is top of mind for many CEOs as they build up their businesses, there’s an emerging trend where companies are thinking more creatively about their social-media policies and encouraging their staff to think smartly about how they present themselves as individuals online and in the real world.

If you think about the roles your business might have that are externally facing, it makes sense to encourage people in those jobs to proactively look after their online reputation. If everyone in your company has a buttoned-up personal brand, it will have a positive impact on your business as a whole.

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The Right Way to Bring a Partner Into Your Business

May 21, 2014

Check out this recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek on the optimal strategy for bringing in a business partner:

Question: I’m a home improvement contractor. I want to bring on a partner into my business. This partner is neither licensed nor insured yet but has the skills needed to grow my company. Should I do a general partnership or a limited partnership?

Answer: Let’s start with some definitions—and a caveat: Partnerships and other business entities are governed at the state level. That means the rules and regulations will vary depending on where your company operates and where it was formed for legal purposes.

Typically, however, a general partnership is a twist on the sole proprietorship—the simplest business entity—with ownership shared by two or more individuals. It does not provide any shield on personal liability. That means if someone successfully sues the company, the partners’ personal assets could be taken to satisfy a court judgment.

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3 Critical Leadership Duties of the Small Business Owner

May 20, 2014

Check out this recent article from Startup Nation on the essential leadership skills that you either need to develop, possess already, or solicit the help of someone who does:

As the leader of a small business, you wear many hats. There are hundreds of activities that need to be completed on any given day and many times you are the only person who is available and capable to get them done. You have the most at stake and, let’s face it, the buck stops with you. However, amongst all of the activities that you must do on a day to day basis to grow and build your business and to ensure that your vision becomes a reality there are three critical roles that you must play: Strategic planning, Rain making, and growing other leaders. Keeping focused on these three primary activities will ensure that your business is positioned and focused appropriately to maximize the potential of your business and vision.

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Sign of the Times: 9 Tips to Boost Retail Sales with Store Signage

May 19, 2014

Check out this recent article from Small Business Trends on how retail business can increase sales by paying more attention to their signage:

After a long, dreary winter, are you hoping to re-energize your retail store’s sales this spring? If so, try these tactics for using signage to attract customers into your store and get them to spend, spend, spend.

Retail Store Signage Tips

Clean It Up
Is your store’s main outdoor signage fresh, up-to-date and clean?

If your sign lights up, check to see that it’s working properly. Nothing turns potential customers off like a burned-out sign. It sends a signal that the owners simply don’t care.

Check It Out
How does your store’s sign read from a distance?

If your location has been up and running for a while, you may not have paid attention to how new businesses opening up nearby can steal the thunder from a sign that used to grab all the attention. Drive and walk by your location from all angles. Does your sign stand out from a distance, or do customers have to get right next to it to see it? By that point, it’s too late and they’ve already driven by.

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The Best Financial Advice for Small Business Owners Now

May 16, 2014

Check out this recent article from Forbes on the latest in small business financial advice:

More than a few of our clients at Glassman Wealth Services are small business owners and entrepreneurs, so I’m often asked to give advice on ways to improve their businesses or share ideas that will give them a competitive edge.

As a small business owner myself, I know first-hand the challenges that many of my fellow small business owners face. But there are some smart things that small business owners should consider doing now. Here’s my top 3 tips:

1. Access Capital Now

We’re five years out from the Great Recession and the start of the financial crisis that all but dried up access to capital especially for small businesses. That’s changing now as banks have money to lend and more of an appetite to lend it. The requirements are still the same like having good credit and a solid business plan, and you may need to be prepared to personally guarantee the loan. Most small business owners should consider accessing capital for three reasons:

– Expanding your business by buying another company, launching new products or services or hiring new employees
– Refinancing any old debt at today’s lower interest rates
– Establishing a line of credit (LOC) for a rainy day. You may need the liquidity a LOC provides to occasionally meet day-to-day business obligations like payroll or temporary cash crunch needs.

2. Engage Rather Than Employ

Working in Washington, D.C., we’ve been known as the lawyer capital, but today, this area is also known as being rich in consultants. Fortunately great consultants exist in many parts of the U.S. So rather than hiring for a position that may be just part-time, like a marketing strategist or legal counsel, instead, consider retaining a consultant that is an expert in their field.

Keep in mind that many of these consultants left big companies to start businesses of their own. We use consultants in our own business to fulfill many of our business functions. In fact, we outsource most functions outside of our core business. To learn more about outsourcing, read: Make Outsourcing a Competitive Advantage.

The best benefit to hiring a consultant is that they cross-pollinate. What I mean by this is that they work with dozens, maybe hundreds of other businesses and bring a perspective and advice formed by best practices from working with many clients. This insider’s view can help you avoid costly mistakes and enhance any number of areas of your business.

3. Have a Lean Start-Up

I recently read a fantastic book, The Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries which is a must-read for all businesses regardless of size. The main point of this book is that if you’re starting a business or launching a new product, you don’t need to start with the grandiose office or spend years developing a finalized product or service before you launch. Instead, this book champions the idea of testing your vision by launching a more rudimentary form of your concept to gain interest and feedback.

Companies like Starbucks or Proctor and Gamble test new concepts on smaller markets before launching their products worldwide. Small companies can learn from this approach. Develop a prototype to get the product out, launch it in smaller markets, test it, get feedback, pivot, and then refine it. By using this cost-effective process, you’ll have a refined product or service designed to the taste and needs of potential clients because they told you what they liked and wanted along the way.

As the economy continues to improve, small businesses will have more opportunities to expand and grow. By taking advantage of opportunities that exist now, you’ll improve your chances of success.

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