Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Foster Entrepreneurship in Your Kids, Start a Lemonade Stand with These Tips

Monday, June 17th, 2019

How to Get a Lemonade Stand Permit and Start Your Own - Legally

Entrepreneurship can start early. One of the most popular ways to nurture a business mind in kids is to open a neighborhood lemonade stand. This can teach important lessons about hard work, responsibility and taking initiative. In fact, some enterprising kids have even used a lemonade stand to spur more ambitious business ventures.

However, each year, many of these stands get shut down by police or local health departments. Technically, opening a lemonade stand on a whim is against local ordinances and health codes. So how do you open one of these businesses without fear of being shut down? You need some careful planning and a lemonade stand permit. Here’s what you should know before opening a successful lemonade business with your kids this summer.

Get a Lemonade Stand Permit

Yes, technically you do need a vendor’s permit to sell lemonade in pretty much any community around the country. The exact regulations for a lemonade stand permit vary by location. So you’ll need to check in with your city or local government to find out what the process is and how much it costs.

Some communities also require you to get a health inspection, business license or permits for putting up signage around your community. So be sure to ask about these when getting that vendor’s permit.

Create a Business Plan

Every business requires a plan. A lemonade stand is no different. You’ll need to determine how exactly you’ll make money — what you’ll charge versus what your expenses are, how much you’ll need to sell and how you’ll go about attracting those sales to your stand. You can find sample business plan templates online and fill them out as a family to think about all the aspects of running your stand before actually getting it up and running.

Choose a Venue

Of course, the picture of a traditional lemonade stand is one that is simply set up on the sidewalk in front of your home. This can certainly work, especially if you live in an area with a lot of foot traffic or a lot of active neighbors.

However, this isn’t the only way to do it. If you want to bring in more customers, you might consider going to them. Purchase space at your local farmers’ market, flea market or community festivals. You’ll likely have access to much more traffic in these instances, though there will also probably be an extra vendor charge. However, setting up in one of these areas might actually make the lemonade stand permit process easier, as event organizers often make permits readily available to vendors.

Set Up Your Stand

The physical stand is an important part of any lemonade business. At the very least, you need something that’s sturdy enough to hold your lemonade, cups and cash register. A simple table may be good enough on a temporary basis. Just make sure to outfit it with a clean tablecloth and a nice sign.

If you want to get a little more in-depth, you can build a full stand out of wood or another sturdy material (with parental supervision of course). There are also a ton of pre-made stands available for purchase.

Stock Your Supplies

Every successful lemonade stand needs some delicious lemonade, either fresh squeezed or from a mix. You’ll also need disposable cups, ice, pitchers or dispensers and something to hold cash or payments. If you want, you might even offer some complementary items to upsell customers. Offer them a cookie or cupcake in addition to their lemonade for a discounted price.

Get Ready to Accept Payments

Most lemonade stands accept cash as a payment method. It’s easy for kids to deal with. And most people have small bills on them. However, if you want to make things extra convenient for customers, you might consider offering a credit card or mobile payment option. Card readers like Square are readily available and easy to use. They do take a small percentage of each purchase, so be sure to factor that into your business plan. But it might help you reach more people who don’t have cash on them. Just make sure there’s an adult around to handle this part of the process.

Brand Your Stand

For the most part, people don’t stop at lemonade stands just because they must have a cool, citrus-flavored beverage. They want to support a child in their entrepreneurial dreams; the lemonade is usually just a bonus. So if you really want to draw people in, decorate and brand your stand in a way that really personalizes it. “Timmy’s Lemonade Stand” with a hand-drawn photo of some lemons may be more likely to tug at the heartstrings than a simple, printed sign that reads “lemonade.”

Market Your Business

Your lemonade stand will only be successful if people know about it. To spread the word, put up signs around your neighborhood or in local business districts (provided you have the proper permits if your town requires them). You might also have your parents post about it on social media or take out an ad in a local newspaper or publication.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Foster Entrepreneurship in Your Kids, Start a Lemonade Stand with These Tips” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Cracking the Code on Cutting Costs and Increasing Profitability as a Solopreneur

Monday, June 17th, 2019

4 Ways to Cut Costs in a Small Business

Solopreneurship is about as small as a small business gets. As a solopreneur, you don’t just run an entire business, you are the business. This means you are the CEO, accountant, manager, marketer, and what have you. Or, simply put, you wear all the hats.

Sounds scaringly good, right?

The probability of success, however, won’t sound very promising. You see, small businesses have a tendency to fail. For instance, of all small businesses started in 2014:

  • 80 percent made it to the second year (2015);
  • 70 percent made it to the third year (2016);
  • 62 percent made it to the fourth year (2017);
  • 56 percent made it to the fifth year (2018).

What’s more, 82 percent of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems. Being the smallest possible business, you are extremely vulnerable to cash flow issues. While you focus on bagging more and more clients to keep the work (and money) rolling in, it is equally important to slash unnecessary spendings to maintain and increase profitability.

Ways to Cut Costs in a Small Business

So, here are four fundamental ways to cut costs in a small business including tips to reduce expenses, maximize your budget, and ultimately grow your solo venture.

Use Free Alternatives to Paid Tools

Online tools and apps are at the heart of your solo business. From sourcing clients to getting paid, everything you do involves the use of modern online tools. And for every task, there are countless options available on the market today. Setting up your suite of business tools thriftily can go a long way in maximizing your revenue.

Make sure to take advantage of the cost savings many free (or almost free) tools offer while providing the same capabilities and features as their paid counterparts. Here’s a tried-and-true toolkit for you to take inspiration from:

  • Google Drive: For creating, easily sharing, and safely storing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. It is completely free.
  • Trello: Free web app for efficiently managing your projects the Kanban way.
  • Slack: A great app for real-time messaging and file sharing.
  • Canva: The start-to-finish, beginner-friendly, and free design app for all your social media graphics needs.
  • Wave: Free software for all your accounting and invoicing needs.
  • Unsplash: The best free collection of stock photos.
  • Join.me: An ideal free tool for remote client meetings and screen sharing.
  • BuzzSumo: The ultimate tool to source ideas for your content and social media strategy.
  • Grammarly: A must-have freemium tool to detect and dodge grammatical mistakes in your emails and content.
  • Clockify: Time is money. Track your productivity for free with this neat little app.
  • Hunter.io: Find email addresses for pitching prospective clients with this freemium tool.

Reassess Your Work Location

The freedom to work from anywhere and be your own boss is the biggest reason why working professionals nowadays are ditching their conventional jobs and opting to become a solopreneur.

Chances are you have similar reasons, too. If you haven’t already, consider moving away from expensive city life to not only cut costs but to also experience the thrill of traveling and exploring new places. You can quite literally save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars by shifting to a pocket-friendly (yet beautiful) location.

Some spectacular locations where you can move to easily and continue growing your solo venture efficiently include:

  • Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Bali, Indonesia
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Lisbon, Portugal

When working remotely, consider a co-working space to ensure reliable internet connectivity, among other necessities, is in place. Check out Nomad List, a website specifically designed for researching feasible places to live as a remote working professional.

Outsource with Intelligence

Being a solopreneur does not mean you actually have to do it all yourself. It means you are the only one responsible for getting the job done.

It is safe to say you’re no expert at everything. No one is. But that shouldn’t stop you from taking on projects that still interest you or grabbing lucrative opportunities. If a part of your deliverable requires you to do something you’re not particularly skilled at, or you know you can spend the same time on something else at which you’ll be more productive, you should definitely consider outsourcing it.

Sure, it may appear as an expensive option which seemingly won’t help in cutting costs. But if the person/agency you outsource the work to does an outstanding job while you work on the stuff which you’re good at, the end result would more than satisfy your client leading to positive reviews and recurring work for your business (aka you).

Besides, platforms like Fiverr are super affordable. Outsourcing work on such well-known platforms is relatively straightforward and safe.

Review Expenses, Rinse and Repeat to Cut Costs

Last but certainly not least, take some time at the start/end of each month to keep a rigorous check on your monthly expenses. Review every expenditure and try to root out the ones that don’t positively affect your business growth. Because as a solopreneur, your business’s growth is all that matters in terms of being financially secure and successful.

This way, you’ll slowly but surely streamline your expenses and increase your disposable income which can be invested back in growing your business ? learning more skills, attending networking events, optimizing your website and online presence, and so on. Also, ensure you have an emergency fund aside for times of crisis. And if worst comes to worst, you can always borrow some instant cash from credible short-term payday loan providers like Peachy or Speedy Cash.

What tips do you have on cutting costs and increasing profitability as a one-man army? Do share your ways to cut costs in a small business in the comments below!

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Cracking the Code on Cutting Costs and Increasing Profitability as a Solopreneur” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Fall in Love with Radical Candor as a Way to Manage Your Business

Monday, June 17th, 2019

How Introducing Radical Candor Will Boost Your Team

I have always been surprised how candor is in such short supply even in the smallest companies. People are afraid to tell others what they really think for fear of hurting them or losing their job. But, candor in your culture will strengthen, not weaken your team.

This week, on the Small Business Radio Show, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Kim Scott discusses why radical candor is so critical to the growth of your company. She defines this term as caring personally about people and at the same time, challenging them directly. Unfortunately, Kim believes we are taught that if “you don’t have nice things to say, then don’t say it at all” and this is what part of being “professional” at work means.  She worries that this translates into many of us leaving our humanity at home and just doing a job.

In addition, according to Kim, radical candor is not just saying what’s on your mind with no filter. She states that “this is just being a jerk! She says challenging someone directly, but not caring about them is practicing “obnoxious aggression”. Alternately, she calls caring, but not challenging people is having “ruinous empathy”. Kim believes this is the most common mistake because people don’t want to hurt other’s feelings.

Introducing Radical Candor

If leaders want to practice radical candor in their company, Kim believes this is where they need to start:

1. Solicit feedback from your staff on how they think they are doing. This self-evaluation will give you insight into their performance and an opening to talk critical about it.

2. Give equal amounts of honest praise and criticism. Unfortunately, if you like someone, you have a tendency just to praise them and if you don’t like them, just to give criticism. This does not foster strong working relationships. Note how much praise and criticism you give to each person on your team.

How Introducing Radical Candor Will Boost Your Team

Kim warns that while radical candor is “fast and free”, it does take courage and emotional discipline from you and your team. But she also has seen huge internal rewards inside companies from this practice including improving relationships at work, increasing employee retention, and making teams more productive.

Unfortunately, social media has hurt our ability to practice radical candor. So many people hide behind anonymous social media profiles to challenge others without really caring.  Kim believes the worst part is so much of our communication is done electronically and the nonverbal part of it is lost.  She suggests putting down your phone and go talk to people!

Listen to the full interview on the Small Business Radio Show.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Fall in Love with Radical Candor as a Way to Manage Your Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Master the Art of Small Business Marketing with these 15 Tools

Monday, June 17th, 2019

15 Incredible Marketing Tools for Small Business
There are so many marketing tools for small business at your disposal.

You’ll find everything under the sun, including project management software, social media dashboards, Facebook Messenger chatbot builders and so much more.

With all the options, it can be come a little overwhelming — to the point that a lot of these powerhouse, unicorn marketing tools for small business get lost in the shuffle.

That’s why I rounded up the marketing tools for small business you actually need.

Every tool on this list is a tool I stand behind, and use in my day-to-day work life.

Marketing Tools for Small Business

Read on to discover the 15 marketing tools for small business I can’t live without!

1. MobileMonkey

Facebook Messenger marketing is one of the hottest digital marketing trends out there, and with good reason.

Facebook Messenger messages earn an 80% average open rate an 20% open rate — and those numbers blow email marketing out of the water.

If you want those impressive levels of engagement for your own brand, then the first thing you need to do is a build a Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Enter MobileMonkey.

MobileMonkey is the best Facebook Messenger chatbot builder out there — and did I mention it’s free?

With this MobileMonkey, you can build your first Messenger chatbot easily, with no coding required.

You can use your bot to send out messages (a.k.a. chatblast), answer questions, interact with contacts, conduct surveys, and so much more.

It can help jumpstart your Messenger live support and marketing campaign.

Use your MobileMonkey-powered chatbot to attract leads and drive engagement!

2. VisualHunt

Good content marketing involves having high quality images to go with your text.

Having a source of those high quality images is necessary to deliver the best content possible.

VisualHunt is a great source of free high quality images pulled from many online sources.

Their photos have Creative Commons Zero license, making them free for commercial use.

They also have Creative Commons and Public Domain photos you can embed on your content directly from the website.

Just search the keyword or theme you’re looking for and you should find the images you need.

3. Venngage

Nothing beats infographics for delivering information in a visually engaging way.

They’re often better than text, video, and photographs alone, making them a must-have in your content marketing.

With Venngage, you can create amazing infographics for your content in three easy steps.

You can choose a template in Venngage, add your data into charts and visuals, and then customize your design.

With over a hundred templates to choose from, Venngage is one of the best places to create infographics quickly and easily.

4. Serpstat

If you’re looking to get serious with your digital marketing, then you need an all-in-one SEO platform you can depend on.

Serpstat was designed for professional marketers who are looking to gain that extra edge.

You can get that by having all the data before you to make decisions on any online business marketing plan.

Serpstat has research tools with advanced analytics for you to learn about your audience.

It keeps record of historical data over time, giving you a bird’s eye view of your performance.

You can also group keywords by tags while also gathering insights in your traffic distribution.

That lets you know where you’re getting results from and what needs improving.

5. Contentful

This service is great for those looking to add more juice to their content marketing efforts.

Contentful boasts a new, more flexible approach to content management, promising to make blogging and content creation a breeze.

It’s an API-driven content management infrastructure designed to create, manage, and distribute content to any platform or device easily.

Basically, it’s like WordPress, but has a lot more bells and whistles that make it more secure and does your content management for you.

Companies like Spotify, Urban Outfitters, Red Bull, and so on make use of Contentful for their websites.

Running your website on Contentful lets you be steps ahead of everyone else with your content marketing.

6. Hotjar

Being able to understand how your audience behaves when they view your website can give you tremendous insight.

Hotjar lets you see where your visitors tend to click with its heatmap, letting you know what catches their attention.

You can then adjust your web design and content to encourage more clicks and engagement with your content.

It can also give you recordings of where their mouse cursors tend to go, how fast they scroll, and so on.

You also get to see your conversion funnel, showing how much of your audience goes from landing page to actual conversion.

With the information you get from Hotjar, you can fine-tune your website to bring in more customers and increase your revenue.

7. WP-Chatbot by MobileMonkey

Having a Facebook Messenger-powered chat widget on your website is a surefire way to take your engagement and time on page to the next level.

The WP-Chatbot plugin adds a Facebook Messenger widget on your website.

It has complete integration with Messenger and your Facebook business page.

Visitors can then engage with your business easily without having to leave your website.

Since chatbot is integrated with Facebook Messenger, every person who interacts with you on the site will be added to your ever-growing Facebook Messenger contact list — which means you’ll be able to follow up with your chat participants after that initial site chat.

No doubt about it, adding a MobileMonkey chat widget to your site will increase engagement, provide new leads, drive conversions and boost revenue.

8. Buildfire

Adding an app to your business can be quite an upgrade, letting you reach even more users who use mobile devices.

Buildfire lets you build your own app from simple templates with no coding required.

If you know how to build stuff like websites, chatbots, and so on with templates, then you should be able to build an app here.

It’s almost like MobileMonkey, but for mobile apps on iOS or Android instead of chatbots in terms of what you can do with it.

Of course, building apps involves a lot more than just setting triggers and tasks for a chatbot.

Buildfire helps you throughout that process, letting you create an app that works for your business as you like it.

The best thing about it is it’s free to build an app in Buildfire by yourself, and you can also choose to hire Buildfire to do it for you.

9. DrumUp

If you’re looking for more help on your content and social media marketing, then this app may be for you.

DrumUp is a free and easy-to-use app that lets you manage multiple social media accounts more easily.

You can curate top content in your niche easily and save time on managing all your accounts by up to 90%.

It can even help you do more and reach out to more people with its great features and compatibility with many platforms.

DrumUp also lets you measure the social media engagement you’re getting through its analytics.

Keeping your profiles updated need not be such a big chore anymore thanks to DrumUp.

10. BrightEdge

Artificial intelligence has made digital marketing even more convenient in recent years, and BrightEdge takes advantage of it.

It lets you do SEO and content marketing more effectively through its AI to power organic search performance.

BrightEdge lets you track and use deep data and context to better your search engine optimization.

It also helps you run a high-performing website through its data intelligence.

You can then create high-quality content that satisfies customer demand through BrightEdge.

11. Todoist

The rigors of day-to-day digital marketing work can bog you down over time, making it seem like you’re no longer in control.

Todoist can help you take that control back by doing things like give you reminders on things you tend to forget.

You can enter your tasks for the day and have a list that lets you remember what to prioritize.

But Todoist isn’t just like any other productivity service as it’s designed mostly for business.

This lets you use a sleek interface for tracking your own thoughts, work tasks, errands, and so on easily.

Todoist can definitely help organize your work life with greater deal of clarity.

12. Visage

Visual storytelling is an art on its own, as it’s all about showing instead of just telling.

Visage is a visualization platform that lets content marketers create on-brand visual content easily.

This relatively new app features enable data visualization without all the finangling and hair-splitting.

You just need to enter your data and choose how it can be best shown, and you can edit it there like in Canva.

It also has additional features that makes it great for collaboration, which makes for seamless for group work.

Visage enables seamless ideation, design, distribution, and analytics for your visual content.

13. Oktopost

Managing all your social media activities can be tedious over time, especially for businesses.

Oktopost makes that easier for B2B enterprises, combining three separate solutions into one.

You get social media management, social employee advocacy, and social media promotions in one tight package.

If you’re looking to up your social media game for your B2B business, Oktopost is worth looking into.

14. Vidyard

Videos can be some of the best content you can make to increase engagement and conversions.

Vidyard is a marketing tool for small business that you can use to make personalized videos easily without having to be an expert at video editing.

It lets you customize your video with ease, and you can then embed it anywhere you want.

With videos you make with Vidyard, you can maximize your first impressions and endear your business more to the people.

15. ContentCal

Making content is one of the more daunting tasks in marketing, but also one of the most crucial as it’s the meat of the campaign.

But it does get tedious over time and it may seem like you’re no longer in control of your time when you’re in the thick of it.

ContentCal can help you take back control with its visual calendar designed for planning and auto-publishing your social media content.

It’s used by many big companies and agencies for their content and social media marketing needs.

You can learn more on how to go about your content and social media through its analytics.

It also lets you customize your setup so you can tailor-fit ContentCal for every sub-brand, client, or company you work with.

Victory loves preparation, and you too can taste success every single day with a plan laid out in ContentCal.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Master the Art of Small Business Marketing with these 15 Tools” was first published on Small Business Trends

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12 Questions to Test Your Employees’ Knowledge Like the Pros

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

12 Ways to Test Employee Knowledge

As a business owner, it’s important that your employees have a strong baseline knowledge of their areas of expertise. But do you know ways to test employee knowledge? If you want to discover how well a worker actually understands a subject, you need to know the right kinds of questions to ask, and what can be learned from them. To find out more, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following:

“What is the most productive question to ask an employee when you want to discover how well they understand a subject?”

Ways to Test Employee Knowledge

Here’s what YEC community members had to say on ways to test employee knowledge:

1. “How Confident Are You on This Topic?”

“Ask them an honest question about how confident they are on the topic. They could rank their subject matter knowledge out of 10 and you can think about where you want to go with them after that. Obviously, if they give you a low number, then discuss it with someone else.” ~ Nicole MunozNicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

2. “Why Are We Doing Things This Way?”

“The most important part of understanding a subject is to clearly comprehend the why behind it. For this reason, I ask my employees why we are doing something and why it’s being done in a certain way. If they have a full understanding of the bigger picture, they are better able to think critically about improvements and ultimately contribute to the company’s growth.” ~ Stephen BeachCraft Impact Marketing

3. “How Can We Improve?”

“There’s always room for improvement no matter how well the business is doing or how employees are performing. If you ask an employee how something can be improved, you’re essentially finding out how much they know about it as well as gaining feedback. You can’t go wrong with getting opinions on how things could run smoother and more efficiently, so asking this often is important.” ~ Jared AtchisonWPForms

4. “Can You List Five Facts About This?”

“I like to have an employee list five things they understand about a project or subject. This tells me what they focus on, what they remember, and what they value related to that subject. It also tells me what they might be missing so I can help fill those in.” ~ Angela RuthCalendar

5. “What Are Your Thoughts?”

“If you ask the basic question ‘What are your thoughts?’ you’re going to get a long-drawn, detailed response based on how well the employee understands the subject. You can drive the conversation by asking further questions based on their response.” ~ Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

6. “What Bugs You the Most About This?”

“A great way to hear how informed someone is on a given subject is to ask them to criticize it. If you ask an employee what bothers them about something and they tell you it’s too confusing or difficult, chances are that they aren’t very informed. On the other hand, an employee that goes into great detail about specific nitpicks is clearly very familiar with the subject in question.” ~ Bryce WelkerCrush The CPA Exam

7. “Can You Send Me an Email Explaining This?”

“At the risk of infantilizing your employees, having them explain a subject back to you (or to other coworkers) is the best litmus test. Ask them to send an overview email to you or to the parties involved. Not only does it double check everyone’s understanding, but it’s a helpful way to capture the content on the table.” ~ Jessica GonzalezInCharged

8. “How Would You Bounce Back From a Failure Here?”

“Find something relating to the subject and put them in a scenario that includes how they would bounce back from failure. Failure is inevitable and in my opinion a very positive step. If they truly understand a subject they will be able to analyze how to succeed from something going wrong. Anyone can analyze a subject by success, but only the best employees can progress in failure.” ~ Anthony Russo, #bethechange

9. “Is There Another Way to Do This?”

“When trying to discover how well an employee understands a subject, ask them if there’s another, better or easier way to do it. If the employee comes up with a strategy that’s more effective, you’ll know that they have a strong understanding of the subject, have listened intently and thought about what you’ve said.” ~ Stephanie WellsFormidable Forms

10. Give them a Real World Problem

“I used to ask a lot of advertising-related questions from our agency applicants — what is this, how do you call that, and so on and so forth. As soon as I started using real-world scenarios instead, it became very clear who actually knows their stuff and who has read a textbook. The client is X and they’re trying to do Y with Z amount of money — what’s your plan?” ~ Karl KangurMRR Media

11. Prepare a Small Verbal or Written Test

“A small test can help you determine whether or not employees understand a subject. After giving them the information they need to know, give them a verbal or written test going over the topics you covered. The test will let you know whether or not your teaching method is effective, and can help you identify topics that may need additional coverage.” ~ Blair WilliamsMemberPress

12. Ask Open-Ended Questions About Their Process

“Simply asking, ‘Do you understand?’ will not get the job done. Instead, ask the person how long it will take for the person to complete a task, how and where they will obtain the information to complete it, if they foresee any challenges, and where there is anyone they can go to if they need support. Also, circle back at a midpoint before a deadline to ensure that everything is on track.” ~ Blair ThomaseMerchantBroker

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “12 Questions to Test Your Employees’ Knowledge Like the Pros” was first published on Small Business Trends

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What is a Micro Influencer and How Can They Benefit Your Small Business?

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Can Micro Influencers Benefit My Small Business?

Micro influencers are social media personalities with anywhere from 2,000-50,000 followers. The numbers vary depending on the source, but their importance is universal. They are a great cost efficient way to provide targeted advertising for small businesses with limited budgets

Here’s what you need to know about how these people can benefit your small business.

What is a Micro Influencer?

Jill Stanton is the Co-Founder of Screw The Nine To Five . She supplied a definition small business can use to get started.

“A micro influencer is someone who has a small, yet hyper-engaged following online of 2,000 to 20,000 followers,” she writes.  “The followers read, watch, listen, click and buy anything these influencers put out there.”

Being authentic is one of the other attractions. That’s a big factor for selling in today’s markets.

“They are someone who prioritizes resonance and engagement with their audience over big, sexy numbers that can be faked.”

Some of what they do is the same as their bigger counterparts.

“They share glimpses into their daily lives, the products they use–ones they are paid for and ones they aren’t. Included are any products, programs or services they may be offering to their audience.”

Where Can You Find Them?

Typically, you’ll find micro influencers on social platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram. Here’s a few examples of the top micro influencers on Instagram from 2018.

According to Stanton, finding the right one for your small business means knowing how to narrow your search. She says looking through relevant hashtags on Instagram like #influencer #paid #partner helps. You can also search YouTube channels by looking at specific niches.

There’s one caveat. You might need to look under the hood a bit when sorting through Influencer Agencies.

“The only thing you have to keep in mind with these agencies is they typically represent larger influencers,” she says. “They may only have a few micro influencers who are looking to leverage their following.”

What Are the Benefits to Using a Micro Influencer?

Ellie Shedden runs the digital marketing agency THE-OOP.COM. She explained why micro influencers would be attractive to small businesses with limited advertising budgets.

“The benefit of using a micro influencer over a macro influencer (those with >100k followers) is the price,” she wrote in an email.“Rather than paying tens of thousands of dollars for a post, micro influencers may cost less than $100. Their conversions are high depending on their engagement rate.”

You can run diverse campaigns and get more for your advertising buck. Reach different audiences with multiple campaigns and spread the net wider.

Jill Stanton adds they often incentivize followers with discount codes and allow SMBs to “fast track” brand recognition.

How You Should Pick One

Both Stanton and Shedden weigh in here.

Stanton starts by offering some metrics to look for.

“You want to select micro influencers whose values and message align with your brand,” she says. “However, the biggest thing to consider is the level of engagement and resonance they have with their audience. What I mean is, do their followers like, share and most importantly, comment and engage on their posts?

She advises SMBs to look for at least 3% of the followers engaging consistently.

Shedden adds a few more helpful insights. She starts by offering  an engagement rate formula.

“To quickly make that calculation, you can divide the number of followers by the number of likes on a post. Then multiply by 100.”

Shedden also supplies some quick tips for deciding whether the comments are genuine.

“A large number of emoji-only or comments less than 5 words indicates the use of bots. These influencers should be avoided,” she writes.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “What is a Micro Influencer and How Can They Benefit Your Small Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Learn How to Use Research Data to Gauge Customer Needs at this Event

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

As a business, you create products and services for your customers. So you must listen to what they say. This is of paramount importance. The Voice of the Customer (VOC), whether it is for B2B or B2C companies, has to be heeded.

The Applied Marketing Science (AMS) “Listening to the Voice of the Customer” workshop will teach you how to listen. And use the information to keep your customers longer and acquire new ones.

After you attend the workshop, AMS says you can use VOC skills to accelerate innovation in your particular market.

The two-day workshop will use a live and interactive format to teach the latest applications of VOC techniques with hands-on activities. This will include practice exercises to build and reinforce the skills you have learned.

The use of machine learning and journey mapping will be explored in VOC and how they are applied to use research data more effectively.

Download the course overview here (PDF).

The workshop will be held from October 16-17, 2019 at the University Club of Chicago.

Get $100 off the course registration price by entering Discount Code SMALLBIZ.

 

Click the red button and register.

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Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Listening to the Voice of the Customer Listening to the Voice of the Customer
October 16, 2019, Chicago, Ill.

Led by veteran product development and market research experts, this course will introduce Voice of the Customer (VOC) market research and teach you to use it to accelerate innovation in business-to-business markets. The workshop uses a lively, interactive format with numerous hands-on activities and practice exercises to build skills and will also expose you to the latest applications of these techniques in areas such as machine learning and journey mapping.
Discount Code
SMALLBIZ ($100 Off)


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This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

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This article, “Learn How to Use Research Data to Gauge Customer Needs at this Event” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Drive Real Content Marketing Results with These Expert Tips

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Your business needs a content marketing strategy. This holds true if you don’t create any online content. Or if your content is not getting the results you hoped for. So here are some tips from members of the online small business community for creating a strategy that actually works for your business goals.

Create a Successful Native Advertising Campaign

Native advertising allows you to reach potential customers online in a way that feels natural and organic. And when making use of this tactic to promote your business’s content, make sure you do it correctly. Read this Content Marketing Institute post by Megan Morreale for tips.

Use Facebook Engagement Strategies for Promotion

When promoting your content on Facebook, it’s important to find ways to engage your audience. The more engagement you get, the more people see your content. Ileane Smith offers some tips for content creators in this post.

Build a Content Experience Framework to Drive Engagement and Revenue

What type of experience does your content provide for potential customers? If you’re not thinking about this, you could be missing out. In this Target Marketing post, Randy Frisch outlines how you can create a content experience framework and how it can benefit your business.

Rank New Content Faster

The faster you can get your content to rank in searches, the more people you’ll be able to attract. There are several things that go into creating high ranking content quickly. Neil Patel goes over the most important things to know in this blog post.

Audit Your Site With Alternative SEO Tools

To ensure your content gets found online, you need to make sure your SEO is up to industry standards. This starts with evaluating your current site with SEO audit tools, like the ones included in this Onaplatterofgold.com post by Anthony Williams. Check out what BizSugar members are saying about the post here.

Flip the Content Experience Switch

When creating content for your business, it’s essential to always keep the customer experience in mind. Lots of marketers overlook this part of the process. But a simple shift in perspective can make a major difference. Caitlin Burgess elaborates in this TopRank Marketing post.

Fill Your Editorial Calendar with Relevant Topics

To create an effective content strategy, you need an editorial calendar full of topics that are actually relevant to your target customers. So how do you go about finding such topics? Elise Dopson discusses in this Databox blog post.

Refresh Your Image as a Business

Your website, content and branding can all make a major impact on how potential customers view your business. In this Mostly Blogging post, Janice Wald offers some tips for refreshing your image online. And BizSugar members shared thoughts on the post here.

Understand Intent to Boost SEO

SEO is all about getting your online content in front of searchers. In order to do that, you need to think about what people’s intent is while searching for things related to your business. Syed Balkhi discusses this concept and how it can impact businesses in this Search Engine Watch post.

Drive Repeat Customers to Your Business

Loyal customers are essential for creating sustained success in any industry. So how should you go about driving not only sales, but also repeat sales from the same customers? Ivan Widjaya explains in this SMB CEO post.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: sbtips@gmail.com.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Drive Real Content Marketing Results with These Expert Tips” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Texas Passes Lemonade Stand Law Protecting Young Entrepreneurs

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Texas Lemonade Stand Law Prevents Police from Shutting Down Kids' Lemonade Stands

Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed the “Lemonade stand law” on June 10, 2019, to prevent police or code enforcement officers from shutting down lemonade stands run by kids.

The governor called it a “common sense law” on his Twitter feed.

It’s now legal for kids to sell lemonade at stands.

We had to pass a law because police shut down a kid’s lemonade stand.

Thanks to ?@RepMattKrause?. #txlege #LEMONADE pic.twitter.com/xwfCob2nvV

— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 11, 2019

Texas Lemonade Stand Law

The bill will go into effect on September 1. And when it does, it will stop cities and neighborhood/homeowners associations from regulating or passing rules on kids who sell nonalcoholic beverages (such as lemonades) on private property.

Authored by state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, the bill passed both Texas chambers unanimously before Gov. Abbot signed it.

Why all the Hoopla?

This all started in 2015 in Overton, TX when two sisters received a citation for running their lemonade stand and it was shut down. Considering they were trying to raise money to take their dad to Splash Kingdom for Father’s Day, you know it was going to be a PR nightmare for the city of Overton.

Eventually, the story was picked up nationally, and there was more news of lemon stands being closed. This includes the lemon stand of Jerry Seinfeld’s kids in East Hampton, NY.

The picture Jessica Seinfeld (his wife) posted on her Instagram page says it all.

Texas Lemonade Stand Law Prevents Police from Shutting Down Kids' Lemonade Stands

In the case of Texas, state representatives got involved and a law was passed.

At first glance, it looks like another regulation the people of Texas don’t have to deal with. But this story has lessons for everyone involved, including the kids.

Lessons

There is no question running a lemonade stand is a great learning opportunity. It teaches responsibility, business skills, financial literacy, goal setting, teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills to name but a few of the lessons it provides.

Since most kids use the money for a particular cause, it also teaches philanthropy early in life.

The Texas case provides another lesson, the rule of law. Rules are put in place for a reason. And while some go far beyond what is necessary, for the most part, they are designed to protect the society everyone lives in.

We support the idea of giving kids a break in the interest of them learning the ropes of running a business. Shouldn’t part of those ropes also be the compliance issues and permits you need to follow if you run a food business?

The Texas Baker’s Bill or Texas House Bill 970 states it is illegal to sell foods requiring time or temperature control to prevent them from spoiling. By law, lemonade has to be refrigerated to prevent the growth of bacteria. Without the proper inspection and permit, you can’t sell lemonade in Texas, until September that is.

The state of Texas set up this and other health guidelines for a reason. Without the appropriate prep area and refrigeration, an innocent lemonade stand can be ground zero for a salmonella outbreak. So, the law has merit.

With this law out of the way, it won’t be long before a case is heard in a Texas courtroom for a suit brought on by a customer who purchased lemonade from a stand and got sick. Whichever way the case goes, it will be a costly one for the homeowners. Much more expensive than the $150 certification fee.

Entrepreneurship and Rules

The spirit of the Texas law supports early entrepreneurship for “kidpreneurs,” and that is a wonderful thing.

At the same time, it’s not such a bad thing that kids get a taste of red tape. The fact the government has to pass a law to prevent the enforcement of laws is another civic lesson.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Texas Passes Lemonade Stand Law Protecting Young Entrepreneurs” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Top Story: Data Says Offering Career Development Boosts Employee Retention

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Are you giving your employees what they want?

You might think that means, “Am I giving them more money?”

Well, you’re probably right to a degree. But according to a new survey this week from Instructure, it’s not money — all the time — that forces employees away from your company.

Instead, 70% say they’d quit working for you if you didn’t offer enough of a career development opportunity. And that speaks to people not wanting to be stuck in the same position forever.

But there are other ways to develop someone’s career within your company, no matter what they do. Consider simple things like offering more responsibilities to employees. And give them a bigger stake in the success of the company. Or allow them to add a skill to their resume.

For the rest of the week in small business news, check out our weekly roundup below:

Economy

43% of Small Business Owners Say Chinese Tariffs Will Increase Their Costs

The longer the US-China trade war continues, the more it will affect small businesses. And according to the latest survey from BizBuySell, it is proving to be true. Almost half or 43% of small business owners said the Chinese tariffs are increasing their costs.  But for 64% of these owners, it means raising prices in order to stay afloat.

Marketing Tips

FDA Cracks Down on Vape Companies, How Were Small Social Media Influencers Involved?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) went after four e-cigarette companies Friday for violating FDA requirements with their advertisements on social media, including through partnerships with “influencers.

Product Lists

Easy Checklist: Packing for Your Next Business Trip

Business trips give entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet with clients or partners from all parts of the world, attend special events or expand into new markets. These trips can be fun and productive. But packing can seem a bit overwhelming. The average business trip lasts for just over three days.

Sales

Salesforce Acquires Tableau Software in Mega Deal, How Could This Impact Your Small Business?

In the biggest acquisition in company history, Salesforce has bought Tableau Software for $15.7 billion. And the deal is expected to fuel competition between Salesforce and Microsoft in the data analytics/visualization segments of the CRM industry. So Small Business Trends contacted several industry experts to get their take on how the purchase will affect SMBs.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, “Top Story: Data Says Offering Career Development Boosts Employee Retention” was first published on Small Business Trends

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