Why Franchise When You Can Own?

Jan. 18, 2016, 1:10 p.m.

For many people thinking about starting a business that is quick to get up and running and backed by the knowledge and support of proven industry professionals, franchising seems to be an almost obvious answer.

But often, the reality is that franchising is just an extravagantly expensive security blanket that helps a would-be business owner feel safe with what they're doing.

And when we say expensive, we mean it. For starters, nearly every franchisor requires proof of significant financial reserves held by the franchisee. A small fast food restaurant, for example, could require $500,000 in liquid assets and $1.5 million in net worth. That alone is enough to stop many people in their tracks.

The expenses of franchising keep piling up. At the very least, there will be attorneys and accountants whose work doesn't come cheap. Then, depending on the business, there are ...

Social Marketing: The New Way For Small Business

Jan. 11, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

Businesses of any size share this common objective: they must generate leads and then they must convert those leads.

In other words, they have to find prospective customers and then cause those customers to buy.

This is among the most basic elements of business, and it is essential for any company that they be effective with it.

The Difference

We examined a case study recently that profiled the difference between two small businesses. One was very adept at bringing in new leads and converting them quickly. The other was not.

The difference in these businesses' performance over the course of a year was staggering.

The first created an incredible amount of value in a considerably short time frame. The other plodded along, leaving the owner with the constant worry of whether enough new business would come in.

One business did so well they ...

Happy New Year! Now, Start Thinking About Taxes

Jan. 3, 2016, 10:07 p.m.

A new year is upon us! And it's not surprising that many people, including small business owners, welcome this moment to catch their breath. The holiday season does tend to be the most stressful period of the year, both professionally and personally, despite our typical reluctance to admit as much.

We get it. Everybody needs a break. And while the holidays may seem like just such a time, the reality is that for many people, they've been operating at full capacity for both their jobs and their family lives these past two months.

We certainly don't intend to tell anyone not to take a moment to recuperate. Rest up and come back stronger.

But there are little things, important little things, that can be done in the not-quite down-time that many of us are so eagerly awaiting. One such thing is tax preparation. ...

Be On The Same Page As Your Partner Before Starting A Business

Dec. 27, 2015, 8:57 p.m.

Almost new year is upon us, and for many people, this is a time for reflecting on their personal goals. Surely, some will be resolved to pursue greater financial independence in the coming year. That may mean taking a leap of faith and starting their own business.

This is an admirable endeavor. But if one has a spouse, and especially if one has children, it's a decision not to be taken lightly. It is certainly not a decision to be made single-handedly without consultation of one's partner.

Yet, every year, businesses fail and families suffer because someone decided to act on their own and make a choice that effects all the people closest to them.

If you're married, the first step to starting a business is ensuring that you and your spouse are in agreement with regards to whatever you're planning to do. ...

The Best Dollar Store Items

Dec. 21, 2015, 2:02 p.m.

If you're considering starting out with your own dollar store, chances are you're a little intimidated by the process of selecting an entire retail store's worth of products.

You don't have to be. Abundant market research is available, and we have a great understanding of what the typical dollar store shopper is looking for.

Here are some surefire suggestions to get you started off right.

Party Supplies

Party supplies are a huge seller at dollar stores. There are always people in the market for them, and ideally they want to find supplies at a low price and all under one roof. That sounds like a perfect chance for your store to shine. Things like mylar balloons, tissue paper, wrapping paper, tape, and plastic table cloths are just the staples. You can get creative with all kinds of party favors and paper goods like invitations and thank-you cards.

Storage Containers

When ...

How to Network for Christmas

Dec. 14, 2015, 4:15 p.m.

Christmas is the best time of year to meet new people and celebrate with old friends. New business owners would be wise to use the holiday cheer to make it easy to expand their networking circle. You never know who needs your business or can offer you a great service, and Christmas puts everyone in a big room and gives them a chance to get to know each other.

Season’s Greetings

Sending out Christmas cards is a great way to stay in touch with old friends and associates. Make it creative if you can, but don’t cross the line into informal unless they are going out to close friends and family.

Watch for Invites

Social Media makes it easy to find parties to attend. Big bashes will be tweeted about. Facebook allows someone to invite hundreds of friends to their events with just a few clicks. Maybe you haven’t seen ...

Take Your Small Business Marketing To The Next Level

Dec. 7, 2015, 9:29 a.m.

With the new year soon upon us, many business owners are starting to work out their plans for growing their enterprises in 2016. One area that must not be overlooked is marketing, which is becoming ever more crucial to the small business owner.

Marketing can be a game changer for small business, and there are a few ideas most businesses should look towards if they want to see serious growth in 2016.

Relationship Marketing

Establishing and maintaining personal relationships with customers is not a new idea. But in the modern world, relationship marketing means more than just being helpful and staying in touch. Most consumers turn to their phones for reviews and advice, and your company's social imprint can direct their decision making.

Consumers are shifting their focus towards a brand's social relationships. They often look to their peers to help make the socially "correct" choice.

What is the ...

The Changing Importance of Black Friday

Dec. 1, 2015, 10:13 a.m.

Black Friday has traditionally been considered the most important single sales period each year for U.S. retailers. Metrics gleaned from the now four-day event have been standards by which the American consumer and the economy itself were judged. Each year since the recession has seen a rise in holiday spending. The 2016 version has been notable for one major reason - for the first time, more than half of shoppers made their purchases online.

Does this mean that the brick-and-mortar store has lost its appeal as a major shopping destination over the holiday? Has the rise of Cyber Monday doomed Black Friday? The numbers remain positive for local retailers. Spending at physical stores still towers over the online variety. Consumers and retailers are simply changing the way they do business, and it would be wise for local retailers to understand those changes and to take advantage of them.

More ...

Maximizing Your Limited Advertising Budget

Nov. 23, 2015, 1:04 p.m.

All small businesses, and especially those just starting out, have to be aware and savvy regarding the deployment of their limited capital. Further, without a strong, longstanding relationship with a financial institution they have little chance of borrowing a significant amount.

However, all businesses, and perhaps especially small businesses, need to keep committed to marketing themselves. Without effective advertising, a small business especially finds difficulty standing out from the more established entities in its industry.

Fortunately for the small business owner, recent years have seen the emergence of a new range of marketing technologies and strategies that are much less expensive while still remaining effective.

Social Media

Despite proving itself to be an effective marketing option, and its widespread prevalence in people's lives, many business owners still fail to maximize the opportunity that social media offers.

It can seem daunting at first. With so many social media platforms becoming increasingly ...

Small Business Saturday: Don't Forget The Little Guy

Nov. 16, 2015, 1:31 p.m.

The Biggest Shopping Days Of The Year

We're all abundantly familiar with Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving, during which the familiar big box retailers run some of their best sales of the year. And most of us have come to know the more recent phenomenon of Cyber Monday - the Monday following Black Friday, naturally, which features the year's best deals from e-commerce shops.

Big Sales Means Big Money

These often frenzied shopping days are a huge boon to the retailers that can take advantage of them. This shows through in the very name "Black Friday", which was coined in the first place as a nod to the idea that large retail businesses operate "in the red", or at loss, from January through November, and don't start making a yearly profit, that is, being "in the black", until the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping rush.

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