• Sales rates are plummeting again for small business

    Small business growth is at its lowest since the recession, according to the financial information company Sageworks. An analysis of private companies with less than $5 million in annual sales reveals that these companies are seeing average sales growth of just 0.3 percent in 2013.

    Among four sectors—construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and retail trade—private small construction companies are faring best, with year-to-date growth of 1.6 percent. Private small manufacturing firms saw negative growth (-2.9 percent) as did private wholesale trade (-4.7 percent) and private retail trade (-1.9 percent).

    To be sure, 2013 rates are far healthier than they were at the recession’s depth in 2009 when small companies’ sales growth plummeted to between -6 and -14 percent. But in 2011 and 2012, businesses seemed to be recovering as the growth rates for all industries was better than 7 percent, and for those four sectors rates ranged from 5.9 percent to 12.8 percent. Sageworks Chairman Brian

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  • A new line of business is introduced in your company and you’re in charge of making it a success. There’s a mountain of new data that you now have to track that didn’t exist before. Things like, client demographics, service requests, process flow info and sales data. Your IT department doesn’t have the time or resources to respond to your requests so you do the only thing you can do. You open Microsoft Excel and start typing away, problem solved!

    The project starts to get a little complex so you add a few more tabs and even create entirely different spreadsheets to manage different types of data. You have one for clients, one for new orders, and one for tracking where the client is in the service process. You know where everything is and this seems like a big help. Then you realize that when working on service orders you have to be able to see the related client info on the same spreadsheet tab at the same time. That’s easily solved by a little cut and paste, right?

    Then managers from

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  • Kelsey Meyer, Influence & Co. Co-Founder answers questions via live chat

    Highlights from the live chat with Kelsey Meyer

     

     

     

    Influence & Co. which assists individuals and companies in growing their influence and credibility online through thought leadership and content marketing. Kelsey is very passionate about building entrepreneurial communities. She was the original Director of The League of Innovators an entrepreneurial organization in Columbia, MO and the lead organizer for Startup Weekend Columbia 2011. Kelsey enjoys speaking with other entrepreneurs, mentoring young entrepreneurs and golf.

    #StartupLab is a free virtual mentorship program created by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of hundreds of America’s most successful young entrepreneurs. #StartupLab takes YEC's mission to help more people start successful businesses to the next level by offering millions of entrepreneurs direct access to YEC members through interactive video chats, email lessons and a library of how-to articles, videos and eBooks. Whether

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  • The best 18 tablet apps for business: Winners of the Tabby Awards

    As businesses follow the wider market and become ever more mobile in their technology and operations, it becomes increasingly important to find mobile
    versions of business apps and even brand new apps designed for mobile devices. That’s why it is worth paying attention to the Tabby Awards where the focus is on business, unlike most mobile apps awards where more attention is paid to consumers and gaming.

    The Tabby Awards /Business, considers productivity tablet apps on all major platforms (iOS, Android and Windows 8) and results are announced as part of the TabTimes TabletBiz conference & expo. Here are the 18 winning apps:

    • Best Collaboration app: Fuze for iPad (iOS), by FuzeBox (USA)
    • Best Communications app: ClickMeeting Videoconferencing (iOS), by Implix (Poland)
    • Best Creation and Design app: Concepts: Smarter Sketching (iOS), by TopHatch (USA)
    • Best Data Access and Collection app: Citrix ShareFile (iOS), by Citrix (USA)
    • Best Education and Training app: Curious (iOS), by Curious.com
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  • Live chat with Influence & Co. Co-Founder Kelsey Meyer

    Kelsey Meyer


    Influence & Co.Co-Founder Kelsey Meyer will answer questions live from readers at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) Thursday, November 14th. Part of the Young Entrepreneur Council’s #StartupLab initiative, a virtual mentorship program, Kelsey will appear live via video chat and answer your questions live right here.

    Influence & Co. assists individuals and companies in growing their influence and credibility online through thought leadership and content marketing. Kelsey is very passionate about building entrepreneurial communities. She was the original Director of The League of Innovators, an entrepreneurial organization in Columbia, MO and the lead organizer for Startup Weekend Columbia 2011. Kelsey enjoys speaking with other entrepreneurs, mentoring young entrepreneurs and golf.

    #StartupLab is a free virtual mentorship program created by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of hundreds of America’s most successful young entrepreneurs. #StartupLab takes YEC's

    Read More »from Live chat with Influence & Co. Co-Founder Kelsey Meyer
  • With the recent Twitter public offering, we may see "Mom and Pop," or retail, investors racing to invest in the "next hot IPO." Unfortunately, many of these investors will come out on the losing end of the equation.

    Granted, some IPO deals are good for retail investors, but I'd argue the odds of that happening are stacked against you. Regulatory rules, designed to protect IPO investors, generate reams of disclosures about the company and the offering process, but unfortunately, many investors neither read nor understand these.

    On an individual level, of course, there are strong companies that go public and yield high returns for initial investors. However, what I'm concerned by is a certain "narrative" about IPOs that relies heavily on several perceptions that are highly problematic.

    Myth #1: Investing in an IPO gets you in on the ground floor.

    People assume an IPO is an opportunity to "get in on the ground floor" of owning a good company. In reality, you're coming in on something like the

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  • How to Handle the Shorter Holiday Shopping Season


    Some are suggesting this will be the Christmas that Congress stole, but a shutdown-induced cash flow problem isn’t the only shortage shopkeepers, restaurants, and online retailers are up against in the 2013 holiday season.

    Perhaps you’ve already noticed how crowded your holiday party schedule is with only four, not five, weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Black Friday is the first of only 26 shopping days until Christmas this year, making it the shortest holiday season since 2002. Last year, shoppers had 32 days to get through their lists.

    Research from Adobe Digital Index suggests the calendar will cost online retailers $1.5 billion in sales this year. And in a survey of more than 1,000 small business owners conducted by Manta only 13 percent indicated they expect to have a better sales season than last year, and half predicted that shoppers will spend less.

    To salvage the season that can make or break the year, many small business owners will be doing all they can to

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  • How to get the most out of Small Business Saturday

    Are you gearing up for Small Business Saturday? November 30 will be the fourth annual celebration of the “Shop Small” event, which was conceived in 2010 to drum up support for and lure holiday shoppers to local businesses. Most businesses that take advantage of the marketing campaign say it’s a good way to attract new customers, according to a survey of 500 owners and managers of small non-franchise storefront retail shops and restaurants released this week by American Express OPEN and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

    Held between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, savvy shopkeepers and restaurants can leverage the Small Business Saturday campaign—and several free and discounted offers for small businesses—to kick off the holiday shopping and dining season. Here’s a roundup of resources your business could take advantage of.

    American Express is once again offering its Small Business Saturday Marketing Toolkit—free digital and in-store marketing materials including printable

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  • New “Internet of Things” products could make your office smarter

    A new crop of “smart home” products equipped with sensor technology and Wi-Fi connectivity include several apps for making your office, or home office, a little easier to manage. In a new partnership with GE, the innovative gadgets manufacturer Quirky is releasing a suite of products this week that let you control electronics and sensors remotely from your smart phone.

    The products all run on the Quirky/GE Wink ecosystem app. Download that from the iTunes store to your iPhone and you can control your smart office devices from wherever you take your phone.

    We’ve written here before about apps small business owners use to run their offices remotely, such as Ted Steen who controls the HVAC system in his Stamford, Conn., event space from his iPhone at home in Boulder, Colo. Steen paid around $5,000 to set up his remote system. For small offices or home offices, apps for remotely turning off electronics or sensing deliveries will be far less costly.

    The Nimbus from Quirky-GE is a personal

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  • When “going viral” makes gold, he has the Midas touch

    If you want to understand how to make your message go viral, get to know Emerson Spartz. The 26-year-old CEO closed an $8 million financing round last week for his Chicago-based company, Spartz Inc., which simply launches websites that go viral.

    Since age 12, when he created a Harry Potter fan website that, at its peak, relied on a staff of 120 and attracted 50 million page views per month, Spartz has made a career of “pioneering a model that uses predictive science to measure the viral potential of websites and apps.” His Spartz network now includes 18 websites ranging from OMG Facts, GivesMeHope, DailyCute (created by Spartz’s wife and business partner Gaby when she was 12), and his original MuggleNet. They boast 160 million page views per month and employ 30 people.

    The wunderkind’s unique bio has been widely reported: He home-schooled himself while spending 10 hours a day running MuggleNet, which won him a trip to Scotland to interview JK Rowling; he supplemented his Notre Dame

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