Profit Minded
  • businessbudgeting

    The housing collapse has been a rude awakening for many Americans and has forced many people to take a good hard look at their personal finances, and come up with a better plan to manage their money. Creating household budgets, and living the frugal lifestyle, has become vogue and being thrifty has become the newest cool thing to do.

    Small business owners have experienced the same financial tensions with increased competition and unstable revenues. This has created the need for companies to tighten their spending and recognize the importance of creating an annual budget.

    Interestingly, many business owners don't create a budget because they either don't know how, or don't think it is a good use of their time. This is unfortunate because a formal budgeting process helps to ensure that resources are available for those things that support business growth and development.

    7 Reasons to Create a Budget

    1. Budgets Set Targets
    Budgets are used to project revenues and spending to help

    Read More »from Seven Reasons Why Your Small Business Should Set a Budget
  • Internet shopping continues to grow at record levels and smartphones are ubiquitous. Whether your business is in retail or the service industry, a merchant account and website are important tools to help grow the business.

    ComScore estimated that online holiday shopping in November rose 28% this year over last, and purchases on mobile devices were up 10%. Cash is out. Plastic is in. According to the Small Business Administration, credit cards are the most common method of customer payment. So if you don't have a merchant account, you could be losing revenue.

    A merchant account is a special bank account that allows business owners to process e-commerce transactions. Merchant accounts are available to everyone these days, regardless of the size or type of business. Companies like Square and Intuit offer devices that are compact and that easily attach to your mobile phone. This allows you to accept credit cards on the move, anywhere there is an internet connection and a smartphone.

    Read More »from Broaden Your Customer Base with a Merchant Account and a Website
  • A tool for testing a market, or sizing up competition


    The Small Business Administration's new Online Learning Center offers a cool—and potentially very useful—tool for owners of existing small businesses as well as entrepreneurs investigating startup ideas. It's a widget from SizeUp, a company that was featured in a TechCrunch Disrupt event last year for its mission to deliver big-business-level intelligence to small businesses.

    SizeUp's tool is designed to provide a small business owner with what a high paid consultant might provide for a large business: data that show how your business stacks up against the competition in your geographic area, insight into your customers, and clues about the best places to advertise.

    I gave SizeUp a test drive to see what it could tell me about how my own small side-business—a one-woman wedding decorating operation based in Fairfield County, Conn.—compared to others.

    I didn't get far: entering my industry and geographic location into the widget prompted the message: "There is not enough data for your

    Read More »from A tool for testing a market, or sizing up competition
  • Holiday sales, business credit, Hooters and Trader Joe’s: Small Business Reading

    holidaycrowdsWe are in full flow for the holiday season now and retailers are hoping that consumers are going to be cracking open their wallets and pocketbooks. We just finished the biggest shopping weekend of the year and reports are mixed. It was clearly a huge success for online retailers with more sales than ever before. For example, here at Yahoo! Small Business we say an overall 8% increase in dollar sales volume from last year. But traditional retailers are reporting mixed results. Analysts suggest that we need the rest of the holiday shopping season to remain strong. With that in mind, here are four tips for upselling and cross-selling that hopefully will be helpful over the next month. We continue to hear that business credit is a serious issue for small businesses of all kinds (not just retail) and that access to credit is still very tough. So it's a good idea to maximize your opportunities by building good business credit. Finally - as a great example to us all, here's an interview with

    Read More »from Holiday sales, business credit, Hooters and Trader Joe’s: Small Business Reading
  • Small retailers need a holiday boost, analyst says

    chart: Sageworks

    Despite all the good publicity around Small Business Saturday, sales have been shrinking for the smallest retailers while their larger competitors are seeing strong growth this year.

    According to data from Sageworks, which provides financial analysis services to private companies, 2012 will be the worst sales year for privately held retailers with annual sales of below $1 million since 2009.

    Those small retailers have posted a nearly 3 percent drop in sales year to date. Meanwhile, privately held retailers overall are seeing a nearly 6 percent increase in sales volume this year, and  privately held retailers with annual sales of more than $10 million have seen a roughly 11 percent increase since last year. Sageworks data does not cover publicly traded companies such as Walmart, Kohl's or Target, but spans retailers from small Mom & Pops to privately-held chain stores.

    Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman says the firm's data shows that the smallest retailers are seeing a setback after two

    Read More »from Small retailers need a holiday boost, analyst says
  • Holiday shopping season starts with $5.5 billion small biz spree

    Consumers spent $59.1 billion over the Black Friday weekend. Less than 10 percent of that went to the small businesses that represent more than 95 percent of all retailers, according to the National Retail Federation.

    Nevertheless, the National Federation of Independent Businesses reports that the holiday shopping season is off to an auspicious start for small business. A survey released today by NFIB and American Express reports that consumer awareness of Small Business Saturday jumped to 67 percent from 34 percent just two weeks ago, contributing to $5.5 billion in spending with independent merchants on November 24. The figure is $100,000 more than predicted by pre-holiday surveys.

    This weekend's was the third annual Small Business Saturday. According to NFIB's national survey of 1,000 men and women conducted on Saturday and Sunday, nearly half of those aware of the event shopped on Saturday.

    NFIB CEO Dan Danner said in a statement that support of small firms, retailers, restaurants,

    Read More »from Holiday shopping season starts with $5.5 billion small biz spree
  • upselling
    As we enter into the busiest shopping season of the year, I thought it might help merchants to think about the upselling and cross selling techniques their sales associates use.

    I think we have all become accustomed to upselling, and I understand the benefits and why it is so important - if done right. I've been in stores where I have spent a lot of time searching for a product, and understand the frustration that comes with not being able to find what you are looking for. Sales associates are there to help the customer find what they are looking for and make them aware of products that they may not know are available. If done right, this can improve and expedite the customer shopping experience. If done poorly, it can run a good customer out the door, never to return.

    According to business dictionary, upselling is "a sales strategy where the seller will provide opportunities to purchase related products or services, often for the sole purpose of making a larger sale".

    For example, I

    Read More »from 4 Tips for Sales Upselling and Cross Selling
  • buildingcredit

    As your entrepreneurial spirit shines through and you embark on your new venture, it is important to separate your business and personal credit. A mistake many new business owners make is using their personal credit to open lines of credit for their startup. Using your personal credit history can be problematic for several reasons. Not only will it increase the number of inquiries made to your personal credit profile, but it will also prevent your business from building its own credit.

    Establish an Identity for Your Business

    You need to register your business with state and local governments in order to begin building credit for the entity. A sole proprietorship can register in the form of a DBA (Doing Business As). However it may be more prudent to register as a Corporation or LLC (Limited Liability Company), which decreases the liability of the owner and adds more separation between business and personal finances.

    Regardless of how you register your business, it is important to

    Read More »from Building Business Credit
  • If you've nailed the job application and are preparing for the interview, there are some simple steps you can take to maximize your chances of getting the job offer -- and leapfrog over people who have many years more experience than you do.

    I learned how interviews worked while I was interviewing for college scholarships. I secured interview after interview, but I kept losing -- until I finally videotaped myself and realized I never smiled! I was speaking in a monotone, and finally saw how I may have been qualified, but my body language was making me look like a boring, unfriendly candidate.

    Once I cracked the code, I changed my presentation and starting closing interview after interview, netting me enough scholarship money to pay my way through my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stanford.

    I refined my techniques to land job offers at Google, Intuit, and a multi-billion-dollar financial firm, then I tested them with thousands of students to help them find a job they loved.


    Read More »from Master your job interview with these preparation secrets
  • Groupon and SCORE partner to offer small biz marketing tools

    Groupon has taken some heat this year from small businesses who felt they lost money offering Groupon discounts to customers. A new program offering entrepreneurs free online education in marketing, customer acquisition, and customer retention might enhance the daily deals company's image.

    Groupon announced that it has teamed up with SCORE, the nonprofit volunteer corps of small business mentors that is funded by the Small Business Administration.

    The organizations have introduced a "pragmatic toolkit" for small businesses in any industry, with extra resources for two sectors that are big Groupon users: bars and restaurants and healthy and beauty businesses. The Groupon Customer Acquisition & Retention Toolkit, available on SCORE's website offers tips on attracting customers, employing online marketing, taking advantage of new marketing tactics, making the best of daily deals, using social media to win customers, and building better customer relationships. SCORE and Groupon will also

    Read More »from Groupon and SCORE partner to offer small biz marketing tools


(439 Stories)


Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

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Owen Linderholm

Editor for Yahoo! Small Business

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