Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don’t Get Caught Short! Be Prepared for Your Business to Recover from Disaster



Business owners need to develop emergency/disaster plans for their businesses.  Recovery times from natural disaster or man-made disasters are about the same, so whether your business experiences an electrical fire, wildfire, vehicle crashing through the window, flooding, tornado or hurricane damage, you need to consider all those possibilities BEFORE a disaster hits if you don’t want to lose your business.   

Small business owners frequently don’t have their own financial resources to recover from disaster, and seldom have created a disaster plan to include preparation for financial loss (insurance), or things like employee loss or employees’ inability to come to work, even if your business itself is open.  If half your city is under water or without electricity, or your employees become homeless during a tornado, it will affect your business even if the office or storefront itself is completely untouched.  And what happens if the disaster isn’t your disaster, but one experienced by a supplier that you depend on for your inventory?  

If a customer should ask you, “What assurances do I have that you’ll be able to honor this contract in case of disaster?” don’t be caught off guard.  Get prepared with answers that will help put them and you at ease.   Think – “What if?” and consider every possible disaster and result; then work up your disaster plan and see that every key employee has a copy and knows how to proceed if a problem arises.  Start here:

  •  Get proof of preparedness from the large companies you depend on, to insure that they are ready to supply YOU if they’re caught up in disaster 
  •  Determine how you can create cost-effective, sustainable preparations

  • Get adequate information from employees to be able to reach them or their families in more than one way in case of emergencies.    
  • Know what information you’ll need to gather in an emergency and where it can be found: safe deposit box, digital files on CD, paper files?   Keep a hard copy and electronic duplicate set of these records off site.  (Remember, if your town is without power, no number of CDs or digital files will help you.) 
  • How will you communicate with your employees and/or clients? 

  • What specific immediate tasks would each employee be responsible for getting done if you could not communicate immediately?   Where are they to go, who are they to try to reach? 

  • What tasks could be done from another location and where would that location be?   Does everyone who would do those tasks know where that is?  Could you have a tentative plan for more than one location in case of community-wide disaster.

Also ….. keeping a weather radio handy and knowing the NOAA Weather Radio codes and how to use it for information regarding weather, routes to be taken in emergency in your area, etc., is a good idea.  Read and download whatever applies to you here:  http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/stations.php?State=SC

Disasters happen, but they don’t have to put you out of business ….. pre-prepare and sleep easier at night!




Things to Consider When Determining a New Location For Your Business

Many of us can think of at least two examples where location has been the downfall of a business. Take the Charlotte Knights for example. A recent report stated that the Knights have already sold 100,000 tickets 11 games into this season, but it took them 29 games last year, when they were still in Fort Mill, SC, to reach 100,000 ticket sales.

When choosing a location it is important to think about the potential increase in revenues and expenses, but there are several things that will impact the bottom line. A few ideas to consider when determining the proper location are listed below: 

The following list gives entrepreneur's a few things to consider when determining location:

  • Operations and Equipment: Does the potential location offer enough space for operations and equipment?
  • Customer Convenience: Is the location easily accessible? Do customers feel safe at the location?
  • Parking: Is there ample parking? (For customers & employees!)
  • Service and Sales: How will your sales be impacted by the new location? Will walk-in traffic be generated easily?
  • Inventory: Will you be able to store/display as much inventory as you will need to make a profit?
  • Study: Consider completing a market survey to help narrow down the best locations.

Summarized from:


Monday, April 28, 2014

Getting your business online means more visibility, more customers, and more sales!


SAVE THE DATE NOW! 

Thursday, May 15th, 6-8 pm, a  "Getting Your Business Online" workshop is being sponsored by the Winthrop Region of the SC Small Business Development Center in its Rock Hill location.

Getting your business online means more visibility, more customers, and more sales. Learn how to do it right!

The workshop will be held in Room 415 of the Thurmond Building on Winthrop University's campus. Workshop details, a map, and registration information are located at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/getting-your-business-online-registration-11038170465.   Don't wait to register, as seating is limited.

Call (803) 323-2283 if you have more questions. 



What the New Healthcare Law Means for Your Small Business


Are you still trying to understand the implications of the Affordable Healthcare Act on your small business? If so, a number of 1-hour webinars have been scheduled to help answer your questions. Please follow the links included in this message to register on the appropriate dates. 

The Webinar will explain what the new healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, means for small businesses. It will focus on both federal and state provisions to help local small business owners understand how the law will affect them. Topics being discussed include:

•Small business tax credits (available to businesses and tax-exempt non-profits)— who’s eligible for them and how to claim them
•Marketplace updates
•Shared responsibility
•Cost containment
•Tools and resources available for small businesses interested in learning more about the law
A question and answer period will follow.


About Small Business Majority (co-sponsors of this Webinar, along with the Small Business Administration)

Small Business Majority is a national nonprofit advocacy organization focused on solving the biggest problems facing America's 28 million small businesses. We conduct extensive opinion and economic research and work with small business owners, policy experts, and elected officials nationwide to bring nonpartisan small business voices to the public policy table. 

Webinar Dates and sign-up links:

Thursday, 5/1/2014, 2 pm EDT -- https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=punmxu0616lk 

Thursday, 5/8/2014, 2 pm EDT -- https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=v3xb04h0uqm4 

Thursday, 5/15/2014, 2 pm EDT -- https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=f1q4aa7tyvy5

Thursday, 5/22/2014, 2 pm EDT -- https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=4udpyzo6nf3s


Thursday, 5/29/2014, 2 pm EDT -- https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=iw4z24ep9qj4

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

5 Tips to improve your company's email marketing

Are you interested in email marking, but not quite sure where to start? Are you worried that your emails might come off as "spam" to readers resulting in receivers unsubscribing from your email list? Both are concerns that should be addressed before you begin email marketing.

A recent study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) stated that for approximately every $1 spent on email marketing to existing customers, companies generated roughly $40 in sales. It is important to note that this study was based on existing customers. The results are a lot different for companies that must acquire emails.

The Business Journals put together a list of 5 tips in efforts to help companies improve their email marketing:
  1. Transactional emails- something as simple as emailing receipts for purchases can be used as a marketing tool. The biggest challenge with email marketing is in getting the consumer to open the email. Transactional emails are almost always opened because they provide the consumer with documentation that they need.
  2. Promotional emails- promotional emails come with a risk-- the customer may consider the email unnecessary and unwanted resulting in the user unsubscribing from the email list or reporting it as spam. Make sure that any promotional emails clearly identify the benefit to the recipient.
  3. How to build an email list- subscribers are more likely to buy from a company after signing up to receive emails. Creating an interesting and creative newsletter can be a good way to draw in potential customers and a powerful tool to reconnect with previous customers. Just be careful-- newsletters can quickly gain a reputation for being repetitive.
  4. Before you collect your emails, be ready to send emails- if subscribers don't remember signing up, then they will be more likely to "report as spam" or unsubscribe from your email list once they actually start receiving your emails. 
  5. Once you start emailing, keep the recipient in mind- always ask yourself two simple questions:
    • Will the recipient find this email relevant?
    • How will the recipient view this email?
Also, keep in mind that a majority of emails are opened today are opened on smart phones, so make sure that your emails are smart phone friendly.



Summarized from http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/how-to/marketing/2014/04/5-tips-to-improve-your-company-s-email-marketing.html?page=all

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Upcoming Workshops!!

Winthrop-SBDC-banner-sm.jpg

Thursday, April 24 -- "Basic Creative Marketing for Small Business" addresses the concerns of small business owners who don't have a background in marketing or advertising, or access to PR services.   In basic, plain-English terms, we'll walk you through the differences between advertising and marketing; help you determine what you need to do to market to your particular target market; how to utilize online social networking, even if you aren't particularly comfortable with it; how to network with other small business owners to get the word out about your business; and we'll provide a template marketing plan to help you organize your marketing efforts.  Materials will be provided.  This workshop will be held in the Winthrop University College of Business, Room 212, Thurmond Building, 6-8 pm.  $50.00.  Register online at www.winthropregionalsbdc.org under the “Workshop Calendar + Sign-Up” link.

Thursday, May 15 – “Getting Your Business Online”  -- Learn how to begin the process of getting your business online .... choosing a domain name, basic planning for a business website, optimizing a website for local search, promoting your business through social network marketing, and more.  This workshop will be held in the Winthrop University College of Business, Room 212, Thurmond Building, 6-8 pm.  $50.00  Register online at www.winthropregionalsbdc.org under the “Workshop Calendar + Sign-Up” link.

Please call if you have any questions.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

4 Types of Loans Every Business Owner Should Understand

Applying for a loan can be a daunting process, especially if you do not fully understand your options. To help simplify the process, The Huffington Post recently put together a list of the four types of loans every business owner should understand. The list includes:


  1. Long Term Loans: Long term loans are the most common and are used for business expansion. They are typically repaid on a monthly basis and are for larger amounts that short term loans. Additionally, long term loans generally have lower interest rates that short term loans.
  2. Short Term Loans: Short term loans are a better fit for companies that need to build up their inventory, raise cash for accounts payable, or complete small projects. These loans are usually for an amount under $100,000 and are repaid in full at the end of the term.  
  3. Lines of Credit: A line of credit is useful when a company frequently experiences short falls in income. The post warns that interest rates on a line of credit can be high, so a line of credit would not be useful for a company wishing to expand or improve an area of their business. Most banks will require the similar information for line of credit approval: past two years individual and corporate tax returns, a completed personal financial statement, good credit, etc.
  4. Alternative Financing: Alternative financing can be anything from crowd-funding resources to cash advances. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Long-Term Unemployed Make for Just as Strong Hires: Study


Part of the challenge in rebuilding our economy is to insure that people who have been unemployed for a long time, find new jobs.  When they do, their situation will change and the economy in the cities where they live will begin to change as well. Evolv Inc. recently conducted a study in which they compared two different groups of employees at call centers: 1) those that hadn't held a full time job in at least five years and 2) the rest of the employees.

The variables compared during the study include: the average time it took for the employee to complete a transaction, customer satisfaction ratings, supervisor evaluations, and the percentage of the workday spent at his or her desk. The results? Long-term employees are "no worse than those without an extended jobless spell".

For more information on Evolv's findings visit: http://www.b
loomberg.com/news/2014-04-04/

April Newsletter

Check out our latest newsletter for examples of April Fools Day marketing and details on our upcoming workshops!

Our Newsletter can be found here: April Newsletter

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Upcoming workshops: Creative Marketing and Getting Your Business Online!

We're gearing up to put on our next round of workshops .... one this month on "Creative Marketing for Small Business" and one in May on "Getting Your Business Online" here in Rock Hill. Take a look at our Event Calendar (http://www.eventbrite.com/to read details of these workshops and if you need this kind of help for your small business (or business-to-be), go ahead and register. We will send out reminders to registrants and parking permits the day before the workshops.