COVID-19 relief options and additional resources
LEARN MORE Close

Location

Region II
26 Federal Plaza Suite 3108
New York, NY 10278
United States
Phone: 212-264-1450
40° 42' 56.5956" N, 74° 0' 14.22" W

Location

Region VII
1000 Walnut Suite 530
Kansas City, MO 64106
United States
Phone: 816-426-4840
Fax: 816-426-4848
39° 6' 13.3344" N, 94° 34' 23.196" W

Location

Region I
10 Causeway Street Suite 265A
Boston, MA 02222
United States
Phone: 617-565-8416
Fax: 617-565-8420
42° 22' 4.0692" N, 71° 3' 46.152" W

Location

Region VI
4300 Amon Carter Boulevard Suite 108
Fort Worth, TX 76155
United States
Phone: 817-684-5581
Fax: 817-684-5588
32° 49' 51.3552" N, 97° 2' 52.008" W

Hire, Maintain and Terminate Seasonal and Long-Term Employees with Care

By bridgetwpollack, Guest Blogger
Published: June 12, 2014 Updated: June 12, 2014

With the summer season right around the corner, you may be considering hiring extra hands to help out in your business, perhaps some of the first employees you’ve taken on in your venture. Even if you’re a seasoned employer, it’s always advisable to take stock of how you’re doing as a manager and how you might be able to improve in ways that will benefit your business overall.

Just in the nick of time, Daniel Kehrer, founder and managing director of BizBest Media Corp., offers “6 Tips and Tactics for Hiring Seasonal Help.” His advice on hiring teens, creating an internship program and correctly paying the minimum wage will make sure your business optimally and legally utilizes a temporary hire and vice versa. Other tips, like “Treat temp, part-time and seasonal positions like you would any other and make it clear what the job entails,” will apply to and benefit all employees. Check out Daniel’s article for his recommendations of a wealth of resources on the topic of hiring and maintaining employee relationships like NFIB, the Department of Labor, Internships.com and more!

Once hired, set your employees up for success by investing in their high morale. Janet Flewelling, managing director of Service Operation at Insperity says to think beyond high pay or temporary perks: “Items such as pizza parties, flowers and doughnuts do not sustain morale and no salary figure can compensate for low morale. These ideas should be seen as an extension of that satisfying work experience strategy.” She goes on to say that beyond these material items, it is just as important in creating high morale “to have open and honest communication and respect.” Janet recommends several strategies for creating this atmosphere including assessing leadership, clear communication, understanding expectations and setting goals. Read Janet’s full blog post to gain a better understanding of how and why you should invest in your employees’ morale.

Unfortunately, even the best laid plans don’t always work out the way you’d like. You may find yourself in the unenviable position of terminating an employment relationship and if you do, make sure you take the proper steps to protect yourself, the business and the employee. Paychex addresses the 8 critical areas for small businesses to pay attention to during an employee separation. Items include proper documentation, exit interviews, notification processes, insurance, severance and more. Download the guide, “Better Employee Management: Eight Critical Areas for Small-Business Success,” to make sure all your bases are covered.

To help translate these resources and advice into direct application for your specific business, connect with a SCORE mentor who will do exactly that – absolutely free – today!

About the Author:

bridgetwpollack
Bridget Weston Pollack

Guest Blogger

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.

10 Can't-Miss Business Credit Profile Tips for Small Business Owners

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: June 11, 2014

If you run a company, your business credit profile is related to your reputation. With a strong business credit profile, you have access to much greater financing opportunities with favorable terms and lower interest rates.

For lenders, a company with a creditworthy profile is considered a good risk. Whether you own a startup or existing business, managing and protecting your profile with all three major business credit reporting agencies is crucial.

Here are ten essential tips for establishing, maintaining and protecting your business credit profile:

  1. Keep all company data identical – Whether applying for a D-U-N-S Number, submitting a credit application or opening a business bank account, provide all the same information in order to avoid any potential issues. Inconsistent data can cause a denial of credit due to mismatched data or even cause your company to have a duplicate credit file.
  2. Leverage the good credit you already have – If your business has existing trade references not reporting on its file, then consider adding them to your report. Currently, only one business credit reporting agency enables you to add trade references to your file via a paid program.
  3. Make certain your profile represents a real business – The information you supply about your company, its background, banking history and operations plays an essential role in the credibility and creditworthiness of your business. With a complete profile, creditors will get an accurate portrayal of your business.
  4. Pay better than terms – By paying invoices 10, 15 or 20 days ahead of the due date you get a much greater impact to your overall business credit ratings. Paying better than terms shows creditors that you manage your financial obligations promptly and are a good credit risk.
  5. Have a diversity of credit accounts – The types of credit your company use are seen as a sign of stability and credit responsibility. Whether it’s short-term financing, installment loans, revolving lines of business credit or leases, each type of account plays a role in establishing a diversity of credit usage.
  6. Monitor your business credit profile regularly – While it’s crucial to build a strong business credit profile, it is equally important to protect what you have built. Each business credit agency offers its own monitoring services so you can be alerted to any recent changes, inquiries into your file or fluctuations in your scores.
  7. Correct any inaccurate or outdated information – If you identify any mistakes on your company’s profile, be sure to take the necessary steps to update and/or correct it. Each agency has its own procedures for submitting updates, corrections or disputes.
  8. Select the appropriate industry classification code – The SIC/NAICS Code you select for your business describes the principle activity of your business to creditors. Lenders use these codes to help identify the industry affiliation of a company so it is vital to select the code that best describes what you do.
  9. Improve your score by submitting financials – Financials that show an improvement in cash flow, current assets and net worth can have a significant impact to a company’s overall creditworthiness. You can upload financial statements to impact the strength of your reports by following the on-screen instructions available on the business credit agency’s site.
  10. Update and maintain your company’s internet presence – Information that goes into creating a business’ credit profile comes from primary and secondary sources such as web mining, news and media. It’s imperative that your company’s website and its contact information are consistent with the data collected from other primary and secondary sources.

Your business credit profile is a report card on your company’s finances. Your profile and business credit history can affect your day to day business operations – from how much you pay for a business loan, company credit card, lease or business insurance. Use these tips to build, manage and protect your company’s financial reputation.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in 'Fox Small Business','American Express Small Business', 'Business Week', 'The Washington Post', 'The New York Times', 'The San Francisco Tribune',‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

SBA Learning Center

Business Resources for Veterans

From training programs to access to loans, learn about the various business resources available to veterans from the U.S. Small Business Administration in this short video.

Are You Prepared to Be A Leader When A Disaster Hits Your Small Business?

By Carol Chastang, SBA Official
Published: June 5, 2014 Updated: June 5, 2014

Most employees at small businesses worry about their safety in the event of an emergency, according to a recent survey by Staples, Inc.  And those fears range from “does my company have an emergency plan in place?” to “what happens to my paycheck if this place had to close for a few days because of a power outage?”

The Staples survey—conducted online in May 2014—found that workers at businesses with fewer than 50 people are less sure of who is in charge of emergency planning than employees at larger companies.   Most of the more than 400 office workers interviewed said their companies were less likely to do safety drills, and didn’t have the plans or equipment in place to deal with catastrophic events like earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes.

As a small business owner, you know that everything begins and ends with you. You also understand that your responsibility as a leader extends to your clients and your employees.  Protecting them is essential, and failing to do so is a cause for the failure of your company. 

Building a disaster preparedness plan is essential to the survival of any small business. But having a plan is not enough: 

  • Your employees must understand the disaster plan, while also having a good grasp of your company’s critical functions, systems and processes.
  • The emergency plan must be rehearsed. Doing an annual exercise will help your team uncover flaws in the system.
  • Put the plan on paper, and stick to the plan, while building contingencies, considering worst-case scenarios.

Webinar

There’s a lot more to establishing yourself as a leader your employees and clients trust to lead them and the community through a crisis.  Join the SBA and Agility Recovery on Tuesday, June 17 at 2 p.m. EDT for the free “Leading with Resiliency During a Disaster” webinar. 

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator R. David Paulison will discuss how he managed the leadership challenges he faced when he joined FEMA during the Hurricane Katrina recovery.  He’ll also share tips on how to provide calm leadership and smart direction when a crisis hits.

Please sign up soon, since space is limited. The webinar will be recorded and archived on Agility’s PrepareMyBusiness site.

Date: Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Time: 2 – 3 p.m. ET

Register: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/150368993

In the meantime, you can get a head start by visiting Agility Recovery’s disaster planning page.  There you’ll find practical checklists that can help you with crisis communications, risk assessment, and disaster planning for specific disasters--be it earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes or hurricanes.

 

About the Author:

Carol Chastang

SBA Official

Using a "POEM" to Improve Your Social Media Strategy

By smallbiztrends, Guest Blogger
Published: June 5, 2014

It’s frustrating to see small businesses give up on social media as a marketing channel after just a few months of effort. Usually the heart of the problem is a weak or nonexistent content marketing strategy. Without a strategy, there can be no meaningful, long-term engagement.

 

Engagement doesn't happen like spontaneous combustion. Content is at the center of engagement. But it’s not as simple as just slapping up some content on your social channels or blog. A small business needs a content strategy to create highly targeted content assets for fans and followers to engage around.  

 

The Importance of Understanding Your Audience

 

Your business also needs a content strategy in order to outline the messaging and brand impression you want to convey. Is your business known for providing helpful advice to other businesses or consumers in your niche?  Then you'll need a lot of helpful content around issues your target market cares about. On the other hand, if your business is known for providing fun products, you'll want fun and entertaining content.

 

This is where understanding your audience comes into play. You have to know what your audience wants and expects from you before you can build a content strategy around it.

 

Now for that Concept…

 

Here’s what you need to succeed in using social media to find new customers and engage your followers, and it’s not a secret: POEM.

 

That’s Paid, Owned, and Earned Media. Essentially, it involves diversifying the types of content you publish through social channels. Let’s dive into each.

 

Paid media:

 

This comes in the form of sponsorships or advertising on third-party sites to better reach your audience.

 

Owned media:

 

You likely already have and are using your owned media, or the channels that you create and control. They include (but are not limited to) your company blog, your YouTube channel, all social profiles, and your website.

 

Earned media:

 

Here you let your customers and the press spread the word about your business. It’s also known as word of mouth. If you’re doing a good job of marketing your business (and offer stellar products or services), your fans will do the legwork.

 

So by combining all three, you reach a wider audience and help grow your fan base on social media. Let’s look at an example. If you create a whitepaper on "10 Ways to Start a Business" that you give to new email subscribers, you’re off to a good start with your owned media.

 

Only no one’s downloading it.

 

So you invest in paid media and place an ad on Facebook and Twitter to get your whitepaper in front of more eyeballs. Because it’s so inherently valuable, once people download and read it, they share it with their followers, resulting in your earned media.

 

So you see how the three forms of media can play together nicely and help you increase your base of influence.

 

Before you give up on social media altogether, I encourage you to revisit your content strategy (or maybe visit it for the first time) and determine a way to fit in paid, owned, and earned media into the equation.

About the Author:

smallbiztrends
Anita Campbell

Guest Blogger

My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.

Why Direct Mail Still Matters and How to Make It Work for Your Business

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: June 3, 2014

 

Do you think direct mail has gone the way of the dinosaur? Think again. In 2013, nearly two-thirds of all consumers bought something as a result of a direct mail piece, according to the Direct Mail Association (DMA). Not surprisingly, people age 65 and older are prime candidates for direct mail, since they tend to stay at the same address for many years and they enjoy reading their mail. What might surprise you is that young adults aged 18 to 34 are also highly responsive to direct mail, according to Epsilon. Why? Because young people are constantly inundated with email, spam and social media messages, direct mail stands out as something different. 

 

If you’re still not convinced direct mail is worth adding to your marketing mix, consider this: Direct mail costs no more than print or pay-per-click advertising, according to the DMA, and has an average response rate of between 2 and 6 percent, depending on factors such as whether it’s four-color, optimized or personalized. Compare this to email marketing, which has an average 0.12 percent response rate, according to Direct Mail News, and there’s no excuse for not giving direct mail a try.

 

 

How can you test direct mail without breaking the bank—and with great results? Here are some ideas.

 

1. Choose your format:

  • Do you have a simple, easy-to-understand offer? Consider postcards. They come in different sizes, so they stand out from letters and news circulars, and they’re affordable to print and mail. Keep your design simple and eye-catching; use both sides of the postcard to maximize information.

  • Is your sales pitch more complex? If you’re selling a pricey product or service that requires more convincing, a sales letter is the way to go. Get it opened by making the outside mysterious. Experts say that envelopes with no marketing copy at all on the outside often work best—people will open it to see if it’s something important, instead of throwing it out as junk mail.

  • On a really tight budget? Printing a simple flyer, then folding it in thirds and sealing it can be a cost-effective way to get the word out. Use a bright color so your piece doesn’t get lost in a pile of mail.

2.  Make an offer they can’t refuse. Direct mail typically needs to include some type of special offer or savings to be effective. In general, it’s better to offer dollars-off than a percentage off—for some reason, it seems more valuable to customers.

 

3. Create a sense of urgency. Time-limited offers get customers moving to contact you and buy. However, don’t send an offer every month, or customers learn to devalue what you sell and consider the discount price the “regular” price. Make your deals really special by offering them infrequently. Another alternative is to offer a free gift or other extra with purchase; make it something that costs you little or nothing, but has value to the customer.

 

4. Personalize it. The best direct mail calls on the recipient’s past experience with your brand. For example, if a customer comes to your auto repair shop for an oil change, get their information and send them a reminder postcard with a special offer a month before their next oil change is due. You’re offering something of value (helping make car care more convenient) in addition to offering a discount. Free meals on birthdays are another standard direct mail piece that works (who comes in to a restaurant alone?).

 

5. Test and track. Test different wording on your mailings, different offers and even different designs until you find out what works best. Use coupon codes on your mailers and have customers bring the mailer in or refer to the code when they call so you can track which campaigns pull customers in. Or add a URL that leads to a custom landing page so you’ll know which mailer drives online traffic best. 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades

Pages

Subscribe to The U.S. Small Business Administration | SBA.gov RSS