Small Business Tips

August 2016 Archive
Universities Should Provide More Entrepreneurial Studies

Greece is a country known for being entrepreneurial. And while it may not be exactly the same as the U.S., a study done there has found some interesting results that may very well apply to our own nation.

This study, titled Entrepreneurship Among Graduates: Reality and Prospects in Tertiary Education, examined how education affected graduates who went into business on their own. 249 graduates, from two different years, who had started their own businesses since graduation were questioned.

Two important percentages stand out from the results of the study:

• 44% report a low correlation or none at all between their college degree and the business they started.

• 51% report that they use little to none of what they learned in college in their business practices.

Continue Reading: “Universities Should Provide More Entrepreneurial Studies”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Startup |

The Importance of Being Assertive

Point blank: if you’re an entrepreneur, or plan on becoming one, you have to be assertive. Now, please know that I don’t mean aggressive, which is completely different. I mean knowing what you want and what your limitations are and being able to express that in a confident and respective manner.

When you start a business, many people will ask you for favors. Your friends and family may sometimes expect freebies of the product/service you provide. Business partners may request you to take on one of his/her tasks because their “to do list” is just too full. Some customers may expect you to practically hand-deliver the product they order to their door yourself.

Continue Reading: “The Importance of Being Assertive”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Ownership, Startup |

How Department Divisions Can Hurt Customer Relations

In last week’s post Differentiate Your Business With Quality Customer Service, one of the tips listed touched on department divisions, which I would like to take the opportunity to elaborate on a bit.

When I say department divisions, I am specifically referring to the common element of many businesses, to have a department (or individual) assigned to each task related to the business, such as marketing/sales, accounting, legal, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to indicate that having departments in your company is a bad thing. In fact, in and of itself, it is not. What can lead to poor customer service is your employees’ attitudes about their specific department.

Continue Reading: “How Department Divisions Can Hurt Customer Relations”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 29th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Customer Service, Operations |

Differentiate Your Business With Quality Customer Service

Customer service is the one aspect of business that can separate the great ones from the not-so-great ones. Products, services and even prices will usually be in the same ball park. Customer service is where you can really make a difference.

This is especially true when small businesses try and rise above their big business competitors. Corporate business, even though they typically have a whole department dedicated to customer service, have a tendency to make the client feel ignored and unimportant because the company “deals with so many people, something is always bound to go wrong.”

Continue Reading: “Differentiate Your Business With Quality Customer Service”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 28th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Customer Service |

Tips for Gaining and Impressing Potential Investors

It’s not often that a new business can really get itself off the ground without investors to help push it along. But, of course, getting investors to write you a check isn’t all that easy. You obviously believe in the business you want to start because it’s your brain child – a part of you. But convincing others to believe as whole-heartedly as you do can be a rough task.

Here are some tips for getting potential investors to believe in you and the future of your epiphany:

Continue Reading: “Tips for Gaining and Impressing Potential Investors”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 27th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Money, Networking, Startup |

Funeral Homes Renovate Look and Services

The times are ever changing, and many things just aren’t the same as they used to be. Funerals are no exception (though you won’t hear and complaints about that from me). More and more families are planning celebrations of their loved one’s life after they pass on, rather than somberly mourning the loss.

Between that and the fact that the national cremation rates continue to rise (with an expectation of 50% by 2025), resulting in drops in the revenue that funeral homes bring in, funeral home owners are taking the hint and making some changes.

Continue Reading: “Funeral Homes Renovate Look and Services”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 26th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Family Business, Ventures |

How the Bee Colony Collapse May Affect Your Business

Many people don’t realize that the honey bee population is a vital part of the farming industry in our nation. The business of raising bees is worth about $15 billion in the U.S. Worldwide, honey bees are also responsible for pollinating more than 90 types of fruits and vegetables, especially almonds, apples and blueberries.

But what has become known as the Colony Collapse Disorder is threatening to change the livelihood of some businesses. If colony losses are significant it won’t only effect the bee keepers income. Farmers who use bees to pollinate their crops will either face substantial costs to produce crops or a significant drop in production. Either way, consumers may see a raise in prices of crops in order for farmers to break even.

Continue Reading: “How the Bee Colony Collapse May Affect Your Business”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 25th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Money, Operations |

Finding the Right Outsider Board Member

If your business is big enough for a board of directors, then I highly recommend you have at least one board member who is an outsider. The benefit is having someone with an unbiased opinion available to give a better perspective on issues at hand. He/she can also help to mediate when the rest of the board, who are probably directly involved in the company, can’t reach a decision.

When interviewing prospects for the outsider position on the board, be sure to address the following:

Continue Reading: “Finding the Right Outsider Board Member”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Operations |

Outsource Your Chores and Errands

There just aren’t enough hours in the day, at least for most, to get everything accomplished we would like to. Our priorities tend to focus on the businesses we own, as well as our family and social lives, and we tend to never get around to picking up the dry cleaning or mowing the lawn.

Well, some fellow entrepreneurs recognized this need in their own lives, decided to do something about and DoMyStuff.com was born. The basic premise is that buyers (a.k.a. busy people) post a task they need done, such as mowing the lawn, and assistants (local individuals or businesses willing to do the work) bid on the task. The buyer picks the best bid, which aren’t just about how much the assistant would charge, but how they would get the job done.

Continue Reading: “Outsource Your Chores and Errands”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016 @ 12:12 AM CDT

Ownership, Ventures |

Using Your Business to Serve the Community

There are a large number of possiblities when it comes to getting involved in your community. In fact, there are a number of ways your business can get involved, such as donating some of your profits to charity or donating the product/service you provide to those in need. But have you ever considered actually using your business itself to serve the community?

Continue Reading: “Using Your Business to Serve the Community”


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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 22nd, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Ventures |

What Makes Gasoline So Expensive These Days?

On the surface this may not seem like a topic related to small business, but it most certainly is. The price of gas affects all of us in tremendous ways. And if you travel for the sake of your business, it’s really hitting the wallet hard.

Last summer, when gas prices averaged $3.00 a gallon, most of us assumed that would be the worst of it. Boy, were we wrong. With gas prices currently averaging $3.20 a gallon (though it’s closer to $4 on the west coast), the anticipation of what this year’s summer will bring is a black cloud looming over our heads.

So, what’s the deal? Why can’t we keep something affordable that nearly every person in the nation is so dependent on? That right there is the problem… our dependency on gasoline for our every day lives. Now, I’m not trying to go “green” here, but the concept of supply and demand is not new to the business world. As the demand for a product increases, and the supply decreases, then the price continues to climb.

Continue Reading: “What Makes Gasoline So Expensive These Days?”


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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, August 21st, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Money, Operations |

Facing Change as an Entrepreneur

Change – it’s an obvious part of life. Usually, in our everyday hustle and bustle, it comes in small kinks here and there. But when you own a business, changes come in waves on a regular basis. And how you come through change, for better or worse, all depends on how you deal with it.

Here are some tips for dealing with the everyday changes of being an entrepreneur:

Continue Reading: “Facing Change as an Entrepreneur”


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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, August 20th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Ownership |

Buddy Networking: A Clever Way to Expand Your Network

Ever heard of “buddy networking?” Basically, it is buddying-up with another business that complements your own and working together to expand both of your networks. Some examples of great buddy businesses would be: a maid service and a lawn service; a photographer and a wedding coordinator; or an accountant and an attorney.

First, determine all of the types of businesses in your area that would complement your own by attracting your ideal clientele. Then, prioritize those businesses and obtain contact information for the manager or owner. Finally, arrange a meeting (in person is best) with the owner to discuss how your businesses could benefit each other. Be sure to take along information about your business and ask for further information on theirs. Three buddy businesses is a nice number to have on your side.

Continue Reading: “Buddy Networking: A Clever Way to Expand Your Network”


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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, August 19th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Networking |

The Cheapest Gas Prices in the Nation

New Jersey requires all of its gas stations to be full service (as does Oregon) and is the only state in the country where gas prices still average under $3 a gallon. So how in the world is a full service gas station keeping its gas prices lower than everyone else?

According to Doug MacIntyre, senior oil and gasoline analyst with the EIA, cost has little to do with it – it’s all about local supply and demand conditions.

And it doesn’t hurt that New Jersey has four in-state oil refineries that have yet to have any problems like those in the Midwest, which have caused Chicago’s gas prices to average more than San Francisco’s, which is known for some of the highest prices in the nation. Another beneficial factor is that New Jersey is the main port for gasoline imports from Europe.

Continue Reading: “The Cheapest Gas Prices in the Nation”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 18th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ventures |

Common Advertising Mistakes

Advertising is the key component to bringing in clientele. Though word-of-mouth is the most effective, it won’t happen until you get those first few people in the doors, and to do that you must advertise. There are a lot of great ways to market your business to the public, but there are definitely some tactics you should avoid if you want to see the most success.

When brainstorming your advertising campaign, be mindful of the following common advertising mistakes:

Continue Reading: “Common Advertising Mistakes”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing |

Retirement for the Sole-Proprietor

When you go solo and start your own small business, it can often be hard to save for retirement. Yes, there are options like Roth IRAs, but as your business grows, the maximum contribution of $5,000 doesn’t always seem to be the best option.

Additionally, savings accounts have a meager return on the precious funds you’ve worked so hard to earn. Wouldn’t something like a 401(k) plan that many corporate employees get to take advantage of be nice?

Well, cheer up because the option is out there. In fact, it has been since 2001, but only now are sole proprietors becoming more aware of it’s benefits as the kinks have been ironed out. It’s called a “solo 401(k)” (a/k/a “solo k,” a/k/a “uni-k“). This retirement option is strictly limited to sole proprietors without employees.

Continue Reading: “Retirement for the Sole-Proprietor”


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |