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:: 2016 Social Media Trends Businesses Need to Take Note of

Social media has become a necessary business tool for companies big and small. There are now more than 2 billion active social media users around the world, according to a LinkedIn article about upcoming social media trends. More people are now regularly using social media than the populations of the United States and China combined, and the number is growing at a clip of 25 percent a year.

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:: Small Business 2016 New Years Resolutions

Take the time to understand your finances
Understanding the nitty gritty of your finances is crucial to running a successful small business, but this is especially true if you're coming from a place of bad credit. The best way to get a handle on your finances, says Brad Farris, a business advisor with Anchor Advisors, is to sit down once a month and review your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow for the prior month. Use the time to look for changes and trends, as well as to monitor your receivables and inventory.

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:: 77 Percent of U.S. Consumers are Planning to Shop Small

As small business owners across the nation gear up for Small Business Saturday, a record number of shoppers are making plans to support their favorite local businesses. According to the fourth-annual Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and American Express, supporting local small businesses continues to be a priority for shoppers nationwide.

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:: 10 Ways Small Businesses Can Be Big on Google

Getting found online can be a tough thing to do at times. Lucky for you, I am pretty good at it and really enjoy getting my sites ranked. Traffic can mean the difference in staying in business and not. Over the years I have started several businesses and the ones that succeed are the ones that consistently grow in organic traffic. I have put together a list of things that I would do to get your business ranked in Google.

Here are 10 ways that small business owners can get their business ranked on Google:

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:: 10 Holiday Marketing Trends Every Small Business Should Leverage

Small business owners already have a lot on their plates during this time of year, so when it comes to holiday marketing, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. Staples is here to help. Beyond being the one-stop shop for everything small businesses need to make more happen, below are some tips to help small businesses capitalize on this seasons top trends.

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:: Email Security for Small Business

How to Improve Email Security
In addition to a strong email security solution, small businesses need to make sure that their employees use best practices when it comes to handling email. Michél Bechard, director of service provider technologies at Comodo, an Internet security company, says that SMBs need to teach employees how to spot and handle malicious email.

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:: A Simple Tool for Small Businesses to Retain Employees

When a key employee quits, it is a gut-wrenching experience for most small-business owners.

That single loss will likely result in a significant performance drop for the firm because that lost employee might represent an entire function. The drain will last for months because a good replacement takes time to recruit, hire, train and get up to speed. Plus, a significant portion of the manager’s time will be diverted toward recruiting and training a replacement.

Most small-business managers know little about retention. Their focus is often elsewhere. So they find themselves completely surprised when a key employee quits.

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:: 12 Ways to Make a Difference at Work: CEOs and Strategists Explain

Regardless of your job title, your role can make a difference. It comes down to leadership and understanding how to champion ideas and build trust.  Read on for advice from 12 CEOs, founders, presidents and thought leaders to learn how you maximize every opportunity to make an impact at work.

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:: 6 Cool Gadgets for 2016

Each year, I gaze into my crystal ball (which is getting a little smudged lately and needs an upgrade itself) to preview what will become available next year in the world of gadgets and technology. Fortunately, these new products are much more likely to make their debut, given the companies behind them have committed to making them happen.

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:: How to Manage People (Without Making Them Hate You)

How to Manage People (Without Making Them Hate You) - video

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:: 5 Ways to Maximize Word-of-Mouth Marketing

If word-of-mouth marketing sounds simple, do not be fooled -- it is not. Creating cutting edge buzz-worthy messages that go viral is no easy task.

While more than half of small business owners anticipate growth for their businesses in 2015, according to a Small Business Report, 56 percent say they are investing less than 3 percent on marketing. When they do invest, most of these business owners are likely thinking about traditional forms of advertising or collecting new customers instead of connecting with them.

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:: The Essential Guide to Writing a Business Plan

The best sorts of business plans tell a clear story of what the company plans to do and how it will do it. Given the high failure rate of startups in their first year, a business plan is also an ideal opportunity to safely test out the feasibility of a business and spot flaws, set aside unrealistic projections and identify and analyze the competition.

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:: Are they independent contractors or employees?

The question becomes, what would your customer do when they turn to you and then you hire an independent contractor?

You are not ready to bring on a fulltime employee yet. But your customer is thinking at this point, why do not I hire the independent contractor and save some money? Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

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:: Is Amazon Killing Small Businesses?

The Perceived Amazon Effect

As David and I spoke, he echoed some thoughts that many small businesses have also shared with me. Many businesses see customers come into their stores to learn, and then they make their purchases online via Amazon or other online retailers. The online retailers don’t have the overhead of a brick and mortar store. For one of the products, David mentioned that I can purchase it on Amazon for less than he can purchase it. Of course, in his local market, his Yelp reviews show how much his customers love his store and appreciate his value. If he was local to me, I would happily pay a premium for their high level of service and expertise.

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:: Small Business: How to price your product or service

Pricing can be quite difficult to compute.

There are so many factors to take into account it boggles the mind. The simple way to approach pricing for a product is to create a spread sheet that will calculate it for you.

For example, when I make a gluten free mix, the Food and Drug Administration requires I report each product based on total grams, converted to ounces and pounds, which is then reported on the box. The ingredient list on the box is reported by heaviest ingredient to the least weight. This is used to calculate the Nutritional Statement by an outside company based on each serving. WHEW!

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:: Three Baseline IT Security Tips for Small Businesses

Millions of small businesses are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks that can cost an average of $20,000 per attack. Here is some basic wisdom to help SMBs protect themselves.

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:: Why Are Not More Small Businesses Using SEO?

For more than a decade, thousands of businesses have enjoyed the benefits of high rankings in Google searches (and searches on competing engines) thanks to their SEO efforts. Larger corporations pour hundreds of thousands of dollars and allocate entire departments to gaining more online visibility, but even small- to mid-sized businesses can use a fraction of that budget to get more traffic and sales.

However, according to a recent survey by the Small Business Authority (SBA), less than 50 percent of small business owners in the United States think of inbound traffic from search engines as an important source of future business. Another 14 percent declared themselves unsure.

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:: 7 Credit Card Perks for Small Business Owners

Owners of both new and established small businesses can benefit from a broad range of valuable perks offered with credit cards. Business credit cards not only provide a means for building and establishing business credit, but they can assist in record-keeping, preserving cash flow and separating business and personal finances. Much like consumer credit cards, the right business card can offer a plethora of rewards that you can redeem for flights, hotel stays and cash back on purchases.

Here are seven significant credit card perks for small business owners.

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:: Cast Your Vote for Your Top Small Business Influencer Pick

You nominated them and now it’s time to cast your vote to support your pick. Small Business Trends and Small Biz Technology bring you the Small Business Influencer Awards 2015. Here’s a chance to celebrate the people, businesses, and even apps that have made an impact in the small business market.

Even if you missed the nominations, you can still jump in and vote for your favorite. But you might want to hurry. There is less than a week left to vote!

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.

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:: Guide to Small Business Ideas

You know you want to start a business and give yourself the best shot at success, but perhaps you’re still considering the kind of business you want to pursue. After all, you probably have a number of small-business ideas.

One thing is for certain: the type of business you start should be well-suited for your expertise and business goals. Successful entrepreneurs bring their varied experiences and skills and allow these assets to inform their business decisions.

So, assess your priorities and lifestyle and business goals.

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:: Three Kinds of Logos

Though a diverse range of logos exist, logo designs can ultimately be categorized into three different general styles. Each of these styles tends to suit different aesthetics differently. For this reason, you may find that a certain style of logo seems better suited to your purposes than the others depending on the nature and niche of the brand you intend to build. The three main types of logos are as follows:

Three Kinds of Logos

:: 20 Productivity Apps

Apps mainly do two things: They either distract us or keep us on track. If you are a busy entrepreneur or someone who works for one, it is best to stick to the latter kind, at least during working hours, especially if you want to be a productivity powerhouse.  

Productivity apps can give you -- and, yes, your boss, too -- a leg up on putting your most organized, efficient professional foot forward.

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:: Need a Business Idea? Here are 55

Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting a home based business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being to their own home. People who have been part of the traditional nine-to-five work force and are on the verge of retiring from that life are thinking of what to do next. The good news: Starting a homebased business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard.

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:: Online Marketing Trends and Tools

One of the most important events of 2015 was the shift from the amount of desktop traffic compared to the amount of mobile traffic. Google reported that mobile traffic overtook desktop traffic in 10 different countries. The search engine algorithm for Google was changed to give companies who offered mobile optimized versions of their sites higher rankings than sites that were not optimized for mobile. The increase in mobile traffic combined with five times as many cellphones as desktop and laptop computers means that mobile traffic will become a priority.

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:: 5 Investments Every Smart Small Business Owner Makes

It is easier than ever to start a business from scratch without any overhead costs, which is great news for aspiring business owners who do not have the capital to start anything big. But to grow a business from an idea to something profitable, you do have to put some money into it. Here are five investments you should make to grow your business.

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:: What Scares You as a Small Business Owner?

Fear stops the decision-making process because fear is a decision, a decision not to take action, a decision to accept the status quo.

For some small business owners, fear is seen in their reluctance to speak, to share an emotionally compelling reason why a potential buyer should connect with them.

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:: 34% of U.S. Small Businesses Have Been Hit by Disasters - It Pays to Be Prepared

No business owner ever expects it to happen. After closing up for the day or the week, a phone call at 6 a.m. lets you know that the severe storm that passed through town overnight took a punch at your small business, with flood damage, fire, tornado or other damage.

Or it could have been an earthquake or hurricane. Still, what may have taken years to build is in ruins. How do you begin to recover?

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:: Uberfying: How to Run a Traditional Business in the Digitial Age

Over the last few years, a new generation of digital apps such as Uber and Just Eat have been available to download to our smartphones and tablets. They are designed to make it easier to find a taxi or order a meal, but have received as much criticism as they have praise for the way they have taken control of traditional markets and damaged business models.

We spoke to two businesses – one in the takeaway industry and the other in the private minicab industry – about the challenges these disruptive companies pose, what they are doing to combat them and how other small businesses can follow suit.

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