• Customer Loyalty Programs Slowly Gain Traction

    source: Manta and BIA/Kelsey

    Small business owners now spend the majority of their marketing budgets, time, and efforts on retaining and developing relationships with existing customers. They spend less than half of their money or time on new customer acquisition.

    The findings of a study released today by Manta and BIA/Kelsey, which surveyed nearly 1,000 small business owners, are in stark contrast to previous studies the organizations conducted. Just two years ago, a BIA/Kelsey study found that small business owners’ primary focus was on new customer acquisition; in fact, they spent 7 times more on acquiring customers than on retaining existing ones.

    The same 2012 study found that only 6 percent of small businesses were spending more than half of their budgets on keeping customers. And yet more than 61 percent of respondents to the 2014 survey claim they generate more than half of their annual revenue from repeat customers rather than new customers.

    The co-authors of the new report, “Achieving Big Customer

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  • Entering the real world is exciting. For young professionals this often means getting your first career-track job, moving into your own place and taking full control of your finances. While everyone wants to get started on the right foot, there are some common mistakes young professionals make that can have long-lasting impact.

    1. Figuring It Out Later

    This is a time in your life when you may find yourself making many big decisions in a small amount of time. Don’t say yes and figure it out later. Before you sign a lease or mortgage, determine whether you can afford it. The easiest way to do this is to create a budget. You may think you need to wait a while until your expenses "normalize" since when you first move into a place, there can be one-time costs like furniture and security deposits. But if you wait a few months, you may find yourself already in some serious debt.

    Do some research and make a budget immediately. Then adjust your budget when you see how much money you are

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  • Logo Design

    Making your professional business logo doesn’t have to be costly. Did you know that Google, Coca-Cola, and the Microsoft logo redesign in 2012 all cost $0? Twitter and Nike both spent under $40 for their iconic images. As a small business owner, you probably don’t have an inflated marketing budget to hire a fancy design firm. A do-it-yourself logo generator allows you to create your logo for free while tricking people into thinking you spent thousands of dollars. Don’t let your lack of design experience intimidate you, creating your own logo isn’t just a trend, it is the ultimate solution to helping your small business stand up to the big dogs.

    Logos 101.

    Creating a professional looking logo may seem like a daunting task for a non-art savvy individual. By understanding the purpose of your logo and how it should complement your brand, you will be able to create a logo that can stay with your company for the long haul. First and foremost, you need to understand that your logo should be

    Read More »from Logo Design on a Shoestring Budget…It Worked for Google
  • Technology Choices Stress Out Small Business Owners

    Robots might replace workers in Mom and Pop shops, if Mom and Pop could figure out how to use them.

    While a vast majority—72 percent—of small business owners say new technologies will offer a bigger return on their investment than new employees will in 2014, 63 percent say they feel overwhelmed by business technology choices.

    The data comes from a survey released yesterday by business machines maker Brother International and the small business mentorship group SCORE. The partners contracted Wakefield Research in January to poll 500 owners of U.S. companies with less than 100 employees.

    The survey results reveal that small business owners largely agree that technology will increase efficiency and keep business running smoothly, but they are having a tough time keeping up with the latest innovations. Half of owners are concerned that investing in technology too quickly risks sufficient return on investment, but the other half worry about losing a competitive edge by not adopting new

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  • Even Small Brands Can Use Game Apps to Engage Customers

    Cupcakes vs. Veggies is a mobile game app developed by TreSensa

    If you visit the Progressive website from your mobile device, tablet, or computer, you can waste hours playing free video games instead of shopping for insurance. One, called RocketCat, lets you fly a feline with a jet-pack through an animated underwriters' office, blowing Progressive “P” logos out of the air.

    The car insurance company is just one of many major brands that are increasingly using gaming apps as marketing tools. Unlikely as it seems, they’re succeeding in getting customers to spend 5, 10, even 20 minutes at a time playing their branded video games—and presumably developing warm, fuzzy feelings for their logos.

    The online trade publication Mobile Marketer reported last month: “Brands and marketers have been rolling out fun mobile games to engage consumers and increase brand awareness.” The article described a new Sports Jeopardy game app from Sony Pictures Television, a game from the NFL and the American Heart Association that encourages users to get active, and one from

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  • Could Your Business Be More Profitable with Women at the Helm?

    Companies that have women in decision-making positions and on their boards have been shown to have better financial performance, according to Christine Lagarde, the first female chief of the International Monetary Fund. In an interview with NPR's Renee Montagne this morning Lagarde, who is known to have said that the financial downturn might have turned out differently if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters, said:

    “I do believe that women have different ways of taking risks, of ruminating a bit more before they jump to conclusions. And I think that as a result, particularly on the trading floor, in the financial markets in general, the approach would be different. I'm not suggesting that all key functions and roles should be held by women. But if you look at the studies, and there were quite a few that were done by … various financial observers of the markets, it's apparently very clear now that those companies that have several female directors on their boards and females in

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  • Business GoalsIt’s mid January, which means by now you’ve already read dozens of articles about why New Year’s resolutions work and/or don’t work at all. In reality, both arguments are true. According to business strategist Barbara Findlay Schenck, it’s not about making a resolution, it’s about knowing where you want to go and what’s preventing you from getting there. “It’s like getting into your car and knowing what to enter into the GPS – by defining where you want your business to go you are already ahead of your competitors just by having an achievable goal in front of you,” Barbara explains. So, instead of just telling yourself, “This is the year I get my business off the ground!” — Barbara suggests every small business owner get out a pen, paper, and answer the following questions before embarking on 2014.

    1) What’s your dream for your business?

    Think about what brings you to work everyday. Barbara prompts: “What’s driving you to move towards some sort of milestone?” Start by defining that

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  • When a small business can’t get a loan from a bank, they’ve increasingly been turning to alternative lenders. These lenders — OnDeckCAN CapitalDLJ Financial, and many others — are willing to take on more risk, provide capital faster, and require less documentation than the big banks.

    But why exactly has alternative lending exploded so much in the past few years?

    Check out the infographic below on the seven big reasons alternative lending has become so popular for small businesses.

    7 Reasons Alternative Lending to Small Businesses has explodedRead More »from 7 Reasons Alternative Lending to Small Businesses Has Exploded
  • Chip ConleyChip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels, discusses leadership, his bad first job, and the best business book he's ever read.

    Chip Conley (MBA '84) is the founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels, California's largest boutique hotel collection, which includes more than 30 properties. Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the parent company of Joie de Vivre Hotels, oversees a collection of restaurants, spas, and affiliate hotels, and operates on a revenue run rate of $240 million a year. Conley was CEO of JDV from its founding in 1987 until 2010. He is the author of four books, including Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness and Success and The Rebel Rules: Daring to Be Yourself in Business. Conley travels the world to speak about business and leadership, and gave 100 speeches in the first half of 2012.

    Far from retirement, Conley is building a new hotel in Palo Alto dubbed “The Epiphany,” set to open in 2013, as well as an 1,100-acre wellness center in Todos Santos, Mexico, on

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  • Web Hosting Considerations

    We have long reached the point where every small business needs to have a web site. Even street hot dog stands have them if for no other reason than to allow people searching for them online to find them. A business' online presence can be as simple as a one page website hosted almost anywhere. Or it can be as complex as any enormous corporation with built-in ecommerce and payment systems, memberships, subscriptions, communities and more: all part of the modern web hosting experience. Which begs the question: What exactly does a small business need in a web hosting service?

    Typical web hosting services provide all the basics: a location to host the content and any code, all the core server and language necessities for hosting a web site especially SQL database systems and language services like PHP. They also mostly include modules for add-ons like ecommerce and payment systems but this is where the small business has to start paying more attention. A typical web host only supports

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