Small Business Tips

June 2017 Archive
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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But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, June 30th, 2017 @ 12:02 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
Thursday, June 29th, 2017 @ 12:00 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
Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 @ 12:03 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
Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 @ 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
Monday, June 26th, 2017 @ 12:01 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
Sunday, June 25th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Ownership |

The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance

It may be time for your business to get some extra security. One option would be to hire security guards to patrol the doors and parking lot, but that means paying someone a substantial hourly wage to stay awake at night and watch your assets, and that may not be in the budget.

A more budget conscious option may be to install a video surveillance system. Though it can be rather expensive, it is a one time expense, rather than providing a regular pay check to a security guard. And most, of course, come with some kind of warranty if anything goes wrong.

Some other benefits to a video surveillance system:

Continue Reading: “The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance”

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By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, June 24th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

Preventing Sexual Discrimination in the Workplace

As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am, among many other things, a legal assistant at a law firm. It’s a small firm, consisting of five attorneys, all men, and six legal assistants, all women. Though it wouldn’t be that strange for a female attorney to join the firm, it would be quite odd to have a male paralegal join the gang.

There are many professions that tend to appeal predominately to one sex or the other. Most nurses are women. Most construction workers are men. Daycare teachers – women. Trash collectors – men. Most of these jobs have always been this way, typically because that particular job fits the strengths of one particular sex better than the other. That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a tough broad out there who couldn’t guide a steel beam into place.

Imagine with me, if you will, the opposite gender “infiltrating” one of these or many other professions that tend to be single-sex oriented. For example, if a female attorney joined our firm, it would probably be of little consequence, since female attorneys aren’t scarce, they’re just not part of our particular firm. However, I can imagine that a woman who gets a job pouring concrete at a construction site would receive her unnecessary share of cat calls and sexist remarks.

Continue Reading: “Preventing Sexual Discrimination in the Workplace”

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By Michelle Cramer
Friday, June 23rd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Business Law, Human Resources |

Rules for Networking on MySpace

Within the vast array of the MySpace community, you will not only find individuals and music groups, but many businesses have also joined the online social network and the numbers continue to grow. If you’re thinking of using MySpace to plug your business, however, there are some rules you need to abide by in order to be successful.

1) Be a part of the community.
Spend some time as a user, keeping a low profile, and learning the rules and culture of the online community you’ve joined, whether it be MySpace, YouTube or one of the many others available. If you don’t keep to the cultural regulations of that community, you will be branded an outsider immediately and few will respond.

2) Focus on giving, not receiving.
If you join MySpace with the unmoving goal of getting new contacts and creating new business, and make little effort to provide anything to your contacts in exchange, no one is going to want to be your MySpace “friend.” Give people a reason to like you. A good place to start would be providing something of value to those who visit your page, such as downloads (screensavers or video).

Continue Reading: “Rules for Networking on MySpace”

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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Preparing for a Health Inspection

The Associated Press published May 4th that the KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in Greenwich Village, New York City that was found to be infested with rats will be closed indefinitely. A spokesman for the chain owner, Yum! Brands, Inc., says there are reviewing their franchises nationwide and are “determined to prevent this incident from happening again.”

My question is, how did it get that bad in the first place? Anyone who owns a restaurant is well aware of the fact that there are strict rules and regulations regarding the operation of the restaurant in order to prevent illness in customers. How unsanitary does a restaurant have to be in order to be infested with rats to that extent? And you can’t tell me that the staff never noticed one. Clearly there was a health inspector also not doing his job properly.

Health inspections are a crucial element in keeping restaurants safe to eat in. And, most of the time, your business will be severely fined and given a deadline to make changes if it does not pass inspection. If those changes aren’t made, the restaurant could, and should, be closed.

If you are a restaurant owner, or are looking into joining a restaurant chain franchise, there are a number of things you need to be aware of in order to make sure that your restaurant will not only pass a health inspection, but will be safe for your customers.

Continue Reading: “Preparing for a Health Inspection”

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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Operations |

Online Meetings, The Board Room Alternative

As business owners, there are many, many times when we really need to be two places at once. Especially when it comes to trying to find time to meet with clients all over the country, and still keep an eye on business operations.

Fortunately there is a much simpler alternative to making a clone of ourselves: an online meeting.

I know it may sound a bit intimidating, especially for the not so tech savvy. And it certainly doesn’t have the same professional and comforting feel a client gets when meeting with you face-to-face, so it’s not something you want to replace all of your personal meetings with.

Consider the fact that an online meeting could include all the clients (or even investors) you intended to meet with individually regarding a new product/service at the same time, which would significantly reduce the time required of you to get the word out.

Continue Reading: “Online Meetings, The Board Room Alternative”

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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Operations, Technology |

Moving from a Home Office to a Commercial Space

Working at home requires a strong ability to separate personal and business lives. A home office contains a lot of distractions, whether your family distracts you from your work or your work distractions you from spending time with your family.

But, if you work from home and are considering moving your business to a commercial location there is much more to take into consideration than whether you are too distracted. If you simply pack everything up and move without looking at every aspect of going commercial, you could negatively affect the future of your business.

Consider these three factors when deciding to move:

Continue Reading: “Moving from a Home Office to a Commercial Space”

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By Michelle Cramer
Monday, June 19th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations |