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Low-proof spirits offer operators new options

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-10-19 13:40
Wines resembling hard liquor can boost sales for restaurants with limited licenses

Venmo Payments Now Accepted with PayPal

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 13:30

There is one peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app millennials seem to prefer more than any other, and it is Venmo if the number of payments processed is to be believed. Now PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) is expanding the capability of Venmo users by allowing them to make purchases from the more than two million merchants on the PayPal platform.

PayPal owns Venmo through its acquisition of Braintree. So bringing the millions of monthly Venmo users and million of merchants on the PayPal platform together was a smart move.

For tens of thousands of small businesses using PayPal, this move means instant access to an app used almost exclusively by a particular demographic: millennials. You can now accept payment from this group without any additional integration work on your part.

In addressing the benefit for merchants, Bill Ready, Chief Operating Officer at PayPal, said on the company’s Stories page, “For merchants, the ability to offer Venmo as a payment option at checkout is very appealing. With Venmo, merchants can reach a new audience of shoppers, many whom skew millennial and engage with Venmo multiple times throughout the day.”

Venmo Now Lets Users Pay Online

If you are a Venmo user, you can make payments on the mobile web and in an app without having to take your credit card out of your wallet. And you can still enjoy the buy now and split later features when you go out to eat, share and discover the latest purchase by your friends, and fully keep track of your transactions with encrypted technology.

The Growth of Venmo

The power of Venmo is evident in its rapid growth as it is expected to surpass $25 billion in transactions in 2017. A recent survey by LendEDU revealed of the 65 percent of millennials that use payment apps, 68 percent said they used Venmo most often. This comes in much higher than the 22 percent who said they used their bank’s mobile payment app more often.

The trend has resulted in large and influential U.S. merchants expanding existing or beginning new processing relationships with PayPal, according to Ready. As a small business owner, you should also take advantage of this new integration by establishing or increasing your PayPal merchant platform. This will give you yet another opportunity to accept payments and attract more customers.

Small businesses can now start offering Venmo as a mobile payment option through the PayPal and Braintree platforms.

Image: Venmo

This article, "Venmo Payments Now Accepted with PayPal" was first published on Small Business Trends

24 of the Best Fitness Apps to Keep You Healthy Running a Small Business

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 12:00

Studies show that those who run small businesses and have sedentary desk-based work may be seriously jeopardizing their health. Long periods of inactivity and the bad posture resulting from slumping at a desk can wreak havoc with your health.

Michael Fredericson, sports medicine physiatrist at Stanford Health Care, says, “The issue that we’re really up against is that we’re not made to sit — certainly not for extended periods of time.”

Best Health and Fitness Apps

If you run a small business that demands sitting at a desk all day, you can counter the negative repercussions such lifestyles can have on your health. Take a look at the following 24 best health and fitness apps to use when running a small business.

Sleep Cycle

Getting adequate sleep is imperative to running a business successfully. Sleep Cycle lets your phone analyze your sleep and wakes you up during the lightest phase, making you feel more rested and ready to tackle the day! Sleep Cycle costs $0.99 on Android devices.

Moves

Moves is a free fitness app for sedentary entrepreneurs. It tracks your movements, demonstrating how just a small change can make your daily routine healthier. You switch on the app and your smartphone will record the distance you have moved in a day and the calories you’ve burned.

Sworkit

Yoga, Pilates and other stretch-based exercise are all ways for busy entrepreneurs to unwind and switch off. The Sworkit app provides you with yoga, Pilates and other strength workouts, without the need for any equipment.

ShopWell

Scan products to get personalized food scores with the ShopWell app. This nutritional expert in your pocket is free to download onto iOS and Android devices.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter and exercise tracker. For those with inactive jobs, the app can help you eat better throughout the day by counting your calories, making you more aware of what you eat, and helping you reach weight loss goals. MyFitnessPal is free to download on iOS and Android.

Charity Miles

Charity Miles is free to download on both iOS and Android devices. The app measures the distance you walk, run or cycle, and raises 10 cents per mile for charity.

Forks Over Knives

Forks Over Knives allows busy entrepreneurs to discover hundreds of delicious, healthy meals with just a couple of swipes. Download recipes on the app and start eating healthier today. The app is free with paid subscription options.

FitBit

Finding motivation to get active isn’t always easy when you’re running a business. This is when FitBit can step in. This fitness app tracks your everyday activities and goals, from wanting to have more sleep to aspiring to be more active. It provides insights on your performance and gives you motivation to achieve your goals.

Rise

Get connected with leading dieticians who will help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight with the Rise app,

HeadSpace

HeadSpace is a free meditation app, designed to help people with busy, stressful lives focus more and stress less. The app teaches life-changing meditation and mindfulness skills in just a few minutes a day.

Fooducate

When you’re busy running a business, analyzing the nutritional content in the food you consume isn’t a top priority. Download the free Fooducate app, simply scan the barcode on the packaging and the app will give you a healthiness score from A to D.

iCardio

This fitness app works by essentially making you feel incredibly lazy and guilty for remaining stationary for ten hours a day! This handy iCardio app tracks your workout distance — or perhaps lack of it!

Aaptiv

Aaptiv offers on demand audio fitness training through your mobile device, providing busy entrepreneurs with personal coaching while on the go. This motivational fitness app costs $9.99 a month.

Daily Yoga

Practicing yoga each day can help promote health and well being. Use the Daily Yoga app and practice yoga even while on the move. You could use the Daily Yoga app on your lunch break, for example!

Healthy Living

Healthy Living is a ratings-based app which provides descriptions of which ingredients are in over 120,000 foods and personal care products. This informative, health-enhancing app is free on iOS and Android devices.

GPS For The Soul

Feeling stressed out with your business? Download the free GPS For The Soul app and help counter the negative impact stress has on your health. The app measures your heart rate to determine how stressed you are and offers tips and guides to control stress and calm the mind.

Yonder

Yonder is a free app for iOS and Android that encourages users to find and share outdoor activities, helping entrepreneurs join a community of other outdoors enthusiasts, instead of spending all their time in the office.

DietBet

DietBet is a free weight loss challenge app that puts you on the road to reaching weight loss goals. The app tracks your weight-loss progress and allows you to join groups designed to encourage you to reach your goals.

FIT Radio

Working at a desk all day can be lonely and uninspiring. Give yourself some inspiration to get active by downloading the FIT Radio app. There is a free version of the app, that provides you with music to stream that’s the perfect accompaniment to workouts.

Keelo

Keelo is an exercise app that focuses on high-intensity interval training that you can complete in around 7 – 10 minutes, either at home or in the gym. Keelo is free with a paid premium plan.

Weight Watchers Mobile App

For entrepreneurs looking to lose weight, the Weight Watchers Mobile app can be an invaluable tool. The app provides you with a chart enabling you to track and check the status of your weight-loss programme. It also has a barcode scanner that provides information of the nutritional value of meals.

Waterlogged

Do you drink enough water through your working day? Drinking sufficient amounts of water is crucial for the health and can help you remain productive all-day long. The Waterlogged app provides customized personal reminders of when to drink more water.

HealthyOut

Instead of heading to the nearest café for your lunch each day or ordering pizza to the office, take advantage of the HealthyOut app, which helps you find and order healthy restaurant dishes and reap the rewards of a low carb diet.

SideChef

SideChef is a free app for iOS and Android that provides you with voice-activated prompts of cooking instructions for healthy meals. Now you’ve no excuse not to make a healthy dinner when you get home from the office!

Have we missed any? If you know of any great fitness apps for busy small business owners, please let us know!

Fitness App Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "24 of the Best Fitness Apps to Keep You Healthy Running a Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

Muscle Maker CEO on mini IPO: 'Customers love our food. Now, they can own our stock.'

FastCasual.com - Thu, 2017-10-19 11:59
Muscle Maker Grill CEO Robert Morgan chats about his decision to take the chain public via a mini-IPO and

Combat declining traffic by understanding the ailment before determining the remedy

FastCasual.com - Thu, 2017-10-19 11:58
Once you gain an understanding of what causes traffic issues at a specific location, you will be better prepared to create solutions that address the true, underlying problem.

Denny’s CEO: Supply chain ready as brand enters European market

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-10-19 11:00
Family-dining brand is eager to get a foothold in the ‘last frontier’ as it plans 10 new U.K. locations

3 Reasons a CRM Just Became a Must-have for SMB Sales and Marketing

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 10:30
Sponsored Post

The relationship between sales and marketing has always gotten a bad rap. After all, both teams share the same ultimate goal, which is driving revenue. The problem is they use different yardsticks to measure their success along the way. Sales has specific quotas for deals closed and dollars earned. Marketers, on the other hand, use measurements like impressions, clicks and leads.

As a result, it’s always been difficult to coordinate efforts between sales and marketing. And it can be even harder to connect the dots between marketing efforts and sales results. In the last few years, though, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions have changed everything by combining sales and marketing tools in a single platform. A CRM lets everyone access and use complete customer information in one place. Now, sales and marketing have a shared view of who’s engaged with a customer, how they’ve done it, how customers have responded, where they are in the funnel and much more.

For small and midsize businesses, CRM has been an especially huge boon because it gives them the same technology as larger enterprises. And now, B2Bs are in the midst of three dramatic changes that have made CRM more indispensable than ever for closing the gap between sales and marketing.

Customers are Engaging Later

The first change has to do with your customers themselves. A typical B2B customer is 57 percent into the purchase process before they engage directly with a supplier. That’s because today’s customers don’t want to talk to your sales reps until they’ve fully educated themselves about you, your product and your competitors. They do that through extensive online research and by talking to their peers in person and via social media.

By starting their research without you, customers have shortened the sales cycle and blurred the line between sales and marketing. That makes it more difficult to know where and when to engage with customers, and who should be engaging. A good CRM will help you make those decisions by giving visibility into what actions potential customers are taking, what the context of those actions are, and what your best response is.

For instance, if your CRM shows a lead accessed an educational video via your Twitter feed, marketing might follow up with an email offering a white paper. On the other hand, if a lead clicks from the company website to a trial, sales knows they need to jump in quickly for their best shot at a hot opportunity.

Account-based Marketing is Proving its Potential

The next big change for B2B marketing is related to strategy. Today’s customers are not only more educated about the products they’re looking at, they also have more options to choose from. As a result, they expect your marketing materials to offer something they won’t find anywhere else.

Marketers can’t meet those high expectations by casting a wide net, so we’re seeing a significant shift toward account-based marketing (ABM). ABM uses highly personalized marketing to focus intensely on fewer big wins rather than many smaller ones. And the results are hard to argue with. Almost 85 percent of marketers who measure ROI say ABM delivers higher returns than any other marketing approach.

CRM plays a critical role in ABM because it allows sales and marketing to collaborate closely on creating the seamless customer experiences that are the key to making it successful. Working in the same system with the same information makes it easier to identify the most valuable accounts, zero in on the right decision-makers and orchestrate the most effective personalized campaigns.

The third compelling advancement for B2B is a technology breakthrough that makes CRM and ABM even more powerful.

AI is Huge for Automation

Engaging effectively with today’s ever-changing digital, social, mobile customers is a tough feat for any sales or marketing team. And it’s especially challenging for SMBs with limited resources. A good CRM already earns its keep by freeing you up from routine tasks and automating key processes that support  the customer journey. But now, artificial intelligence is taking automation to a place that sales and marketing professionals only dreamed of a couple years ago.

With AI, CRM can guide sales and marketing teams step by step through the entire lifecycle of a deal — it’s all about getting the right content to the right person at the right time and on the right channel. It starts by determining which accounts have the greatest potential to be valuable customers. Then it selects which leads within an account are most worthwhile to pursue. It can predict which channel will most likely solicit a response and what action any given lead is most likely to take next, and then recommend the best form of engagement to capitalize. It can tell you whether marketing or sales should make the next move, and even what content they should share with the lead to drive them most effectively toward a deal.

Smart SMBs have learned that the fastest, easiest way to adapt new technologies and strategies like AI and ABM is to choose a CRM that automatically integrates them into existing business processes. With every improvement that comes along, the CRM becomes more powerful and closes the gap between sales and marketing. Tighter relationships between sales and marketing lead to stronger relationships with your customers — and it all starts with the right CRM.

CRM Concept Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "3 Reasons a CRM Just Became a Must-have for SMB Sales and Marketing" was first published on Small Business Trends

Deer at the drive-thru this weekend

Topix - Thu, 2017-10-19 09:35

Jason Nark has been an enterprise reporter with the Daily News since 2008. He's covered just about everything and that's the way he likes it.

Categories: Today's Food News

New GoDaddy WordPress Hosting Service Aimed at Web Professionals

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 09:30

If you’re managing multiple small business websites for clients or yourself, there’s a new hosting service that addresses performance and security needs.

GoDaddy Inc. (NYSE: GDDY) has announced Pro Managed WordPress. It’s a hosting platform with comprehensive security and the tools web professionals need to look after multiple websites and clients in one place.

GoDaddy Pro Managed WordPress

Having a website that’s fast and secure is critical to small business success today. This new package will help the web professionals who manage these websites do things more effectively.

“Web pros tell us that the most frustrating and time consuming part of their job is the administrative work, and that they struggle to juggle all of their clients’ websites,” says Gabe Mays, Product Manager of WordPress at GoDaddy, in a company statement. “Pro Managed WordPress streamlines client site maintenance and allows these developers and designers to build and manage safe and reliable sites for their clients, all through one central solution.”

Beyond working in the popular WordPress format, Pro Managed WordPress allows web pros to send clients real-time performance reports and offer site cloning and migrations.

A GoDaddy spokesperson explained the product to Small Business Trends via email, “Pro Managed WordPress allows pros to log on once, see site performance, manage security, backups, and more through one single platform. Pro Managed WordPress even gives pros the ability to send their clients branded reports and invoices for their services.”

Pro Managed WordPress also includes and an optional Website Security Firewall (WAF) to head off common DDoS attacks. Pro Connect is a feature providing access to GoDaddy’s 17 million small business clients. The High Performance Hosting offers dedicated resources that scale automatically so sites hit optimum speeds regardless of heavy traffic and spikes in resources.

Plans start at $11.99 per month for 1 site and range up to $249.99 per month for 50 sites. For more information on the new service from GoDaddy, check out the full rundown of what’s available here.

Image: GoDaddy

This article, "New GoDaddy WordPress Hosting Service Aimed at Web Professionals" was first published on Small Business Trends

5 Ways to Use Interactive Broadcasting for Your Business

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 08:30

Just a few years ago, Twitter’s Periscope interactive broadcasting service sounded like an interesting idea with possible business applications. But that was a few years ago. Now we know it can help businesses.

Prompted by Facebook Live and other services–and a huge set of use cases furnished by Asia, where live chat broadcasting has become a $5 billion business in China alone—companies have woken up to the potential of interactive broadcasting over the internet.

Interactive broadcasting, where individuals and companies use their smartphone to host public video sessions that anyone can join, has become a major new communications medium that isn’t going away.

Using Interactive Broadcasting for Your Business

Here’s how your business can take advantage of it.

Offer Live Product Training

Adoption is one of the biggest challenges for software-as-a-service businesses, where sign-up is easy but getting customers to try the product and learn its features is much harder. One good use for interactive broadcasting is offering live training sessions for users and potential users for an easier adoption path.

Right now, businesses use a combination of forums, text-based instructions and boring YouTube videos to educate customers. But there is a better way: Interactive broadcasting. Having live product training goes far beyond videos because it allows customers to ask questions and engage with the training, which boosts engagement and learning.

“Nobody would argue that having someone there to walk you through a how-to is far superior to a pre-programmed video,” notes Tony Zhao, founder of interactive broadcasting firm, Agora.io, which gives businesses a turnkey interactive broadcasting solution as a web service. “Interactive broadcasting brings back the human element that got lost when we moved away from a brick-and-mortar business model.”

Build Thought Leadership with Live Events

Standing out is getting harder for businesses; there’s lots of options online, and lots of marketing ninjutsu. A second way you can use interactive broadcasting is by creating live “events” that create urgency and help your business stand out.

This can take two forms.

First, you can use interactive broadcasting to help customers and prospects attend events that they might otherwise miss, whether a conference or noteworthy public event. For instance, if you are a fitness app developer you might broadcast the release of the latest Apple Watch and then let users ask questions and explore the watch on the day it is released.

Second, you can create your own events. If you are an organic food manufacturer, you might have a release party of a new product line and set up an Iron Chef competition where contestants compete to make something interesting with the new product. This can be broadcast live, and you could even let viewers influence the competition or ask questions of the contestants.

Draw Attention to Promotions

Having a sale is good. But if your customers don’t know about the sale, or if it doesn’t register as something really worthwhile, you might not be getting the most from your efforts.

Interactive broadcasting can come to the rescue, bringing more prominence to the sale or promotion and driving added interest. A weekly special, for instance, could tie into a live product demonstration that customers can watch online, much like the Home Shopping Network has done for decades.

By broadcasting around the sale or promotion, you turn the promotion into an “event.” Further, by using interactive broadcasting you give potential buyers a chance to look more deeply at the product and ask questions before they make the buy. And by showing that others are interested in the product, too, via the interactive part of the broadcast, you drive demand and show value.

Give Behind-the-Scenes Access

Everyone loves special access. Customers also like authenticity, an important quality at a time when marketing has arguably gotten too slick. A fourth way you can take advantage of interactive broadcasting is by hosting special “behind the scenes” live broadcasts.

Brand loyalty comes to those businesses that show a human side. Interactive broadcasting lets you give backstage access to actual employees, the shop floor where you make your product or service, and the raw materials that go into creating your wares. By showing off how things are actually made and by whom, you help customers build a sense of place and connection with your company. You also can spark a deeper interest in how the product is made.

Avenue Beads in Chicago is but one example. They have used interactive broadcasting to take customers behind the scenes to see how their glass jewelry and artwork is created. Viewers get to see the process, which brings product value, and also viewers can ask questions and interact with the employees who make the artwork.

Create Content Easily with Exclusive Interviews

Every business is in the media business now; content marketing helps firms stand out and tell their story. But there’s only one problem: Creating content can be hard and time-consuming.

Enter interactive broadcasting.

Many businesses have found that they can generate meaningful, consistent content easily and at low cost by offering real-time video interviews with staff or industry experts, and letting viewers interact with these experts. Content is created through the announcement that the event will be happening, as a result of the broadcast itself, and then after the event in the form of using the questions and content created during the interviews.

Beyond just content creation, interactive broadcasting as a content marketing tool also helps because it drives engagement: viewers get to interact with the broadcast, and it also creates a sense of community if part of a regular series of live broadcasts.

“People want to be involved, to create and to be a part of something interactive,” says Lee Odden at marketing and communications site, Ragan.com. “That presents an opportunity for brands to originate and co-create video content with their communities.”

There are many ways to use interactive broadcasting; these are just a few. The overall point is that businesses are using this new technology today, and to great effect. Your business can use it, too.

Video Recording Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "5 Ways to Use Interactive Broadcasting for Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

Where Small Businesses Affected by the 2017 Hurricane Season Can Turn for Funding

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 07:30

Businesses in several states and territories are struggling to recover after recent hurricanes. Harvey, Irma, Jose and Nate all had an impact on residents and businesses in the U.S. And for small businesses especially, recovery can be a lengthy process.

But the early stages of recovery can be critical for small businesses. If you wait too long to secure financing and get your business back up and running, it could be too late. In fact, 40% of small businesses never recover after a disaster.

Vernon Tirey, founder and CEO of LeaseQ, an online marketplace for business equipment financing, said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “The most important thing for any business is their customers. And the longer you delay serving your customers, the more risk there is that your customers will go get that service someplace else. So it’s very important to get back to operating as usual as quickly as possible.”

Sources of Financing for 2017 Hurricane Season Business Recovery

So if your business was impacted by one of the recent storms, you could very well be looking for financing options to get your business back up and running. Here are some options for you to consider, broken down by state.

Texas

Small businesses were impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas on August 25 through September 3. and many still are struggling to keep their doors open to customers. Here are funding resources for small businesses recovering from Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
Businesses in certain counties in Texas may be eligible for up to $2 million in loans to aid with disaster recovery efforts. Additionally, the Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and SCORE offices are available to help businesses with financial counseling and other services.

FEMA Disaster Assistance
FEMA offers a wide range of disaster assistance options for residents in Texas. This isn’t specifically a business related offering. But if you have a home office, the program could help you repair any space or equipment that you use for your business.

Houston Recovers
Houston Recovers offers resources for businesses and individuals trying to recover from Harvey and other disasters. This includes a list of banks in the area offering low interest loans to businesses.

Houston Business Development, Inc.
Houston Business Development, Inc. offers several different types of business loans ranging from $5,000 to $5 million. You can use these loans for equipment, real estate or working capital.

Louisiana

Certain counties in Louisiana were also impacted by Harvey, and then again by Nate in early October. Here are some resources for those businesses affected.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

Louisiana Economic Development Small Business Loan and Guarantee Program
Qualified businesses may receive between $5,000 and $1.5 million in guaranteed loans and financial assistance. Businesses must create or retain at least one job, depending on the amount of the loan.

Mississippi

Parts of Mississippi were adversely affected when Hurricane Nate made landfall in early October. Here are some resources for businesses in those areas.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Nate. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

Small Business Capital Fund of MS
The Small Business Capital Fund of MS provides non-traditional financing options for small businesses. Small businesses can apply for loans for equipment, location rehab or working capital.

Alabama

Hurricane Nate also made an impact on some counties in Alabama. Here are resources for those businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Nate. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding.

LiftFund Alabama
LiftFund is a non-profit organization in Birmingham that helps businesses access loans, microloans and training. Small businesses can access loans of up to $1 million through this program.

Florida

Hurricane Irma made a huge impact in many parts of Florida from August 30 to September 16. For businesses in the state looking for financing options, check out the list below.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
FEMA and the SBA recommend that businesses and homeowners in disaster areas in Florida apply for loans through the SBA. Businesses may be eligible for up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or other assets.

FEMA Disaster Assistance
FEMA offers a wide range of disaster assistance options for residents in Florida. This isn’t specifically a business related offering. But if you have a home office, the program could help you repair any space or equipment that you might use for your business.

Enterprise Florida Small Business Loan Support Program
Enterprise Florida offers credit and microfinancing options to small businesses needing help with startup costs, equipment, inventory, real estate or working capital. Amounts and rates vary depending on the type of financing your business requires.

LiftFund Florida
LiftFund Florida is a non-profit organization that helps small businesses access capital through business loans up to $1 million, microloans and business training.

Puerto Rico

Hurricanes Irma and Maria made a huge impact on the island of Puerto Rico. With many still struggling to rebuild, here are some resources for businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding. You can learn more from the San Juan district office.

FEMA Disaster Recovery Assistance
FEMA is offering disaster recovery assistance for individuals and families in Puerto Rico to help with things like debris removal and repairs to bring locations up to safety standards.

Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico
The Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico offers loans and financing options for small and medium sized businesses that qualify. You can apply online or by phone, though amounts and rates vary.

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands also suffered due to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September. Here are resources for those businesses.

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance
The SBA also has loan assistance available to businesses in the counties affected by Harvey. You can receive up to $2 million to help with the costs associated with recovering and rebuilding. You can learn more from the San Juan district office, which also features a location on St. Thomas and St. Croix.

Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center
The Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center also offers resources for small businesses in the area, including advising and support to help small businesses find other funding sources.

Disaster Assistance Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Where Small Businesses Affected by the 2017 Hurricane Season Can Turn for Funding" was first published on Small Business Trends

Benchmark Adds North Carolina Property To Its Portfolio

Hotel Interactive - Thu, 2017-10-19 07:14
THE WOODLANDS (Houston), TX--BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, has added High Hampton Inn & Country Club to its Benchmark Resorts & ...

Home2 Suites By Hilton Lafayette Opens

Hotel Interactive - Thu, 2017-10-19 07:02
LAFAYETTE, IN––Home2 Suites by Hilton, part of Hilton's (NYSE: HLT) All Suites portfolio, announced today its newest property, Home2 Suites by ...

Best Western Hotels & Resorts' Glo Brand Arrives In Asheville

Hotel Interactive - Thu, 2017-10-19 06:56
PHOENIX--Best Western Hotels & Resorts’ suburban boutique hotel brand – GLō – will soon make its debut in Asheville, North Carolina. ...

Cracking the Twitter Checklist: Tips for Promoting Your Small Business

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 06:30


The social media users are increasing every single day. The latest statistics showed that there were 2.46 billion social media users all over the world in 2017. And, this number is expected to rise above 3 billion in 2021. These statistics show how much potential social media marketing have.

Furthermore, the people usually spend a lot of time on various popular social media platforms, and one of the popular social media platforms with millions of active users is the Twitter. No doubt, the Facebook is the leading social media platform now; however, it does not mean that other social media platforms can be ignored.

Each and every social media platform has its own specialty. The Twitter provides limited no. of words in a tweet, and many celebrities and businesses love to use the Twitter to promote themselves. According to one study, around 72% of the people are likely to purchase the product from the brand they follow on the Twitter.

Like every other social media platform, it’s necessary for a marketer to be aware of the checklists before he/she starts promoting the business on the Twitter. In the next section of this article, we will reveal the essential checklists for the Twitter marketing.

Twitter Marketing Essentials

It does not matter whether you’re a small business or a big corporation, everyone can take an advantage of this wonderful platform, named Twitter. The essential checklists listed in this section of this article will raise the standard of your Twitter campaign. Here are some of the important Twitter checklists that one must follow for a better result.

Twitter Profile

When someone finds some tweets really inspirational or impressive, they immediately check out the Twitter profile of the one who posted the tweet. An awesome profile helps the brand to make an impressive first impression among its potential customers. The profile must be optimized in such a way that it would clearly reflect your brand.

The profile must not only be eye-catching, but it should also be easy for the people to discover the page and the attractiveness of the profile must be able to make people fall in love with the brand. Here are some of the important things to consider while constructing a profile.

Don’t Forget Your Twitter Bio

The Twitter bio consists of just 160 words, which means that the brand has only 160 words to clearly reflect what the brand is all about in a simple manner. It must be short and snappy to have a maximum impact on the reader. The Twitter bio must include all the necessary information related to your business along with the relevant industry keywords.

An effective Twitter bio can help in enhancing the visibility of the profile, and the people who read the bio can get the clear idea about what the business is all about.

Make Use of Visual Aspects of the Profile

The Twitter has increased the emphasis on the visual aspects of the profile. There are Twitter profiles where the profile owners just use the default egg avatar. However, this won’t do any good for enhancing the effectiveness of the profile. Instead of a default egg avatar, upload a photo or a brand logo.

The cover image on the profile needs to be 1500X1500 pixels and avatar image should be around 500X500 pixels.

Don’t Leave Out the Important Details

The important details, such as location, website URL product link must be mentioned in the allocated spots. There are many people who discover brands via social media platforms, and these important links can make it easier for the brands to increase the reach of their website.

The brands who mention their location, website URL, and other important information will not only help them to get valuable traffic, but it will also increase the accountability and trustworthiness of the brand.

Tweeting Effectively

Before you start to tweet with your profile, it is important to think about the tone and the ways you want to portray your brand in front of your potential customers and existing customers.

Find the Brand Personality and Tune it Up

Do not hesitate to be open with your brand personality. An appealing brand personality can give you a competitive advantage over 100s of Twitter profiles that are competing in the same niche. Find what works the best for the brand. The communication style and business’ key message must be carefully developed.

Do Not Hesitate to Chat Regularly

The Twitter chat is a great way to extend the reach of the brand. This function can be useful for every business, regardless of their industry and niche. It can help the brand to connect to the influential personalities and allow the brand to portray itself as an expert in front of their potential customers.

Consider Intelligent Hashtags

An intelligent use of trending hashtags can significantly increase the reach and engagement on the post. According to one HubSpot study, the post that uses hashtags is 33 percent more likely to be retweeted in comparison to those posts without hashtags.

Maintain Regular Tweets

Just building an attractive profile and one impressive tweet won’t be able to increase your followers on Twitter. To build engaging followers, the profile must be active and one must tweet valuable insights on a regular basis. Follow other Twitter users and actively participate in conversations. It will help in reaching out to the larger audience in a long-run.

Two-way Communications

The people love the brands who give them attention and replies to their comments. Be a brand that the people would love by maintaining two-way communications, instead of being a brand that only posts about their own products.

It’s important to reply to the mentions and opinions on the Twitter platform to develop a deeper bond with the followers. The tools, such as HootSuite can help in monitoring the brand mentions along with other relevant keywords that are associated with the business.

Understand the Audience

The brands that can understand its audiences are the ones that grow. There are various tools that can help in getting valuable insights and analytical information to better understand the audiences.

At first, you need to list out the key characteristics of the potential customers for the company. After listing out the key characteristics of the potential customers, use the analytical tools to find out what the potential customers with the key characteristics are tweeting about to know them better.

These insights will help in developing an effective content marketing strategy, which will not only be for the Twitter marketing, but also for other platforms. The right kind of offers and posts can be promoted to the Twitter users after understanding the audiences in a better way.

The Twitter is a worldwide database for the brand. Along with the potential customers, it’s equally beneficial for the brands to make the list of influential users for the brands to follow. It will help in enhancing the reach. Engage with them on a regular basis to develop a good relationship with them.

Don’t Just Promote the Products

The people who are following you are authentic and real human beings, and they are not robots. They enjoy various types of posts and they do not visit the social media platform just to search for the products.

There are wide ranges of topics that can engage the followers, which will help in building a better relationship with its followers. Make use of the images and hashtags to increase the reach of the tweets. The HubSpot study mentioned above shows that the tweets with images are 34 percent more likely to be retweeted by the Twitter users in comparison to those without images.

Integrate Twitter with Your Overall Marketing Plan

The Twitter marketing must not be taken as an individual marketing strategy, but it should be integrated with an overall marketing strategy of the company. Integrate the Twitter profile with the website, appropriate images, keywords, and message points.

Think about how the Twitter marketing campaign can work in parallel with other marketing campaigns on various other platforms. The communication strategy of the brand and objectives of the brand should dictate the Twitter marketing campaign. When the Twitter marketing is integrated with other marketing campaigns, it will lead to a better return on investment.

Conclusion

After being aware of the essential checklists, you are ready to promote your business via the Twitter platform. Make sure you provide the value via your Twitter profile to win new customers and also to maintain your existing customers. According to a study from Lithium, around 78% of the Twitter users expect a reply to their complaints within an hour from the company.

And, do keep on learning new techniques and methods to promote the business on the Twitter along with other popular social media platforms to get the maximum return on investment.

Twitter Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Cracking the Twitter Checklist: Tips for Promoting Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

CBRE: Caribbean Hotels See Decrease In Profit During 2016

Hotel Interactive - Thu, 2017-10-19 05:58
ATLANTA–CBRE Hotels Americas Research announced that the average Caribbean hotel in its survey sample suffered a 4.7 percent decrease in gross ...

Owner of Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach flummoxed by Popeyea s chicken flap

Topix - Thu, 2017-10-19 05:01

Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach is under fire after a Yelp post revealing the restaurant uses Popeye's chicken in its sandwich. The cook didn't show up for work at Sweet Dixie Kitchen Wednesday morning.

Categories: Today's Food News

Hidden Startup Costs Revealed: Here are 8 to Consider

Small Business Trends - Thu, 2017-10-19 05:00

Regardless of what anyone else tells you, running a business isn’t cheap or easy. In addition to the expenses you probably know about, there are a number of hidden costs of starting and running a business. I personally find that easily sneak up on you. It can even erode your bottom line if you aren’t careful.

Understanding Startup Costs

According to a well-cited study from the Kauffmann Foundation, a small business startup takes an average of $30,000 to get off the ground and running. There are businesses that take $300 and $3 million, but this average figure gives you a good ballpark estimate of what many entrepreneurs are forking over.

Startup costs can pile up, but at least you know what to expect (for the most part). It’s pretty easy to price out things like real estate, website development, initial inventory, opening promotions, fees for licenses, and all of the things that go into opening the business up. 

The problem is that this is only the beginning. Getting the business off the ground and successfully maneuvering a grand opening is one thing. Turning your new startup into an established business that’s poised for long-term growth is something else entirely. If you aren’t prepared for hidden costs, you’ll find yourself in a compromising situation much sooner than you ever thought possible.

8 Hidden Costs of Starting and Running a Business

Perhaps you’ve taken a look at the research study that says 9 out of 10 startups fail. It’s a sobering, yet realistic look at the challenges that exist in starting, building, and sustaining a business over the long haul. And while businesses fail for dozens of reasons, some of the most common factors have to do with money.

Based on an analysis of 101 startup post-mortems, the study determined that 29 percent of startups fail because of a lack of capital. Roughly 1 in 5 startups – 18 percent to be exact – have pricing and cost issues.

While a lack of capital and pricing/cost issues can refer to any number of issues, it’s clear the properly managing finances is a major challenge. If you, as a business owner and entrepreneur, are able to master this aspect of running a company, you stand a much greater chance of being successful.

As mentioned, the trickiest part of this equation is the hidden costs. You need to understand what you’re going to face before you actually deal with it – or at least quickly enough that you’re able to respond in an efficient manner.

The exact expenses your business deals with will vary based on any number of factors, but you should be aware of the following hidden costs that almost always emerge from the shadows at the most inopportune of times. 

1. Expensive Loans 

Most entrepreneurs need some sort of loan to finance a startup. This often comes in the form of a small business loan from a bank or other traditional lender. And if you don’t have any business experience or an established company with the right tax and revenue documents, that loan is most likely going to be based on your own personal situation. Thus, if you have a bad credit score, you’re going to get some pretty bad terms on the loan (if you get approved at all).

Unfortunately, this often starts a cycle. You get bad terms because of your bad credit. Which in turn means you spend thousands more in interest payments over the course of the loan. And because you’re spending more in interest, you’re less likely to be able to make payments on time. This drags your credit score down further, which costs you even more in the future.

You need to be aware of the hidden cost that is loan interest. Fixing credit on the front end will save you a lot of money in the years to come.

2. Employee Benefits and Perks

It’s not enough to calculate what you’ll pay an employee in terms of salary. If you don’t account for taxes, benefits, and perks, you’ll quickly find yourself in a hole.

According to research from Joseph G. Hadzima Jr. of the MIT Sloan School of Management, the overall cost can run from 1.25 to 1.4 times the basic pay. The increase is due to things like employment taxes, workers’ compensation, and fringe benefits (healthcare, retirement, vacation, etc.).

Using Hadzima’s multiplier factor, a $50,000 salary could cost as much as $70,000. And when you account for multiple employees, the disparity in what you actually pay versus what you expected to pay could be enough to run your business into the ground.

3. Shrinkage

For companies that sell physical products, there’s always the risk of shrinkage. Whether purposeful or unintentional, shrinkage actually costs retailers an estimated $45 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

Shrinkage can result from any number of causes and isn’t just reserved for retailers. Examples include shoplifting, employee theft, paperwork errors, and vendor fraud. Then, there are the roughly 6 percent of losses that can’t be accounted for under any of these categories. They’re simply mysteries!

If you’re aware that shrinkage is an issue, you can be proactive and prevent many of the factors that cause it. It’s nearly impossible to avoid shrinkage altogether, but you should be able to mitigate it enough that it doesn’t negatively impact your company’s bottom line.

4. Insurance

When you first start out, you might not need a lot of insurance. However, as time goes on, the need for various insurance policies increases. These include things like general small business insurance, liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, property insurance, and cyber insurance.

How much you spend on a given policy is based on numerous factors, including the type of business, size of the business, industry, location, revenue, previous issues, present risk factors, and number of employees. You can easily spend $1,000 or more per policy per year. For a business that’s already operating on a tight budget, these hidden costs can make it difficult to stay on track. 

5. Legal Fees

You probably don’t go into business thinking you’re going to generate a bunch of legal fees. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In some cases, legal fees might be the number one hidden cost.

“Small businesses are the target of many frivolous lawsuits because trial lawyers understand that a small business owner is more likely than a large corporation to settle a case rather than litigate,” NFIB explains. “Often small business settlements are less than $5,000, but even $1,000 settlements are significant for businesses.”

And even if you settle a suit, you can expect to see insurance premiums rise as a result. This drives up costs even further.

6. Taxes 

Coming from a career where you were an employee, you probably didn’t think much about taxes. Sure, you paid your fair share of taxes, but it was largely automated by the payroll department. Your company probably covered part of your bill. Unfortunately, things are different as a self-employed business owner.

Even if you aren’t generating a ton of money for yourself, you’re still going to owe Uncle Sam something. And because you’re on your own, self-employment tax becomes a real thing. Be sure you take this into account. 

7. Fees and Permits

Depending on what industry you operate in and what products you sell, you might need various fees and permits to be considered legal. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize this and find themselves spending thousands on something they didn’t know about.

The classic example is the alcohol permit for businesses that sell and/or serve alcohol. When Mark Aselstine and Matt Krause started a wine club company in California, they found the process of getting permits to be very expensive. Between all of the permits, Aselstine estimates that he and his business partner spent close to $15,000 in their first year of business. 

8. Administrative Costs

Finally, administrative costs will sneak up on you if you aren’t prepared. This includes all of the things you previously took for granted when you worked for someone else

  • Utilities
  • Computers
  • Phones
  • Printers
  • Filing cabinets
  • Paper clips
  • Office cleaning supplies
  • Software

Individually, these items might not cost that much. They only add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Do yourself a favor and account for them when you prepare your budget. 

Can You Handle the Cost of Business? 

There’s an old saying that says, It takes money to make money. In other words, you need money in order to make more of it. As motivating as it might be to claim that you only need a good idea and lots of ambition, the reality is that very few entrepreneurs make it anywhere without:

  1. Having money
  2. Using that money wisely

As with anything, there are exceptions, but this is the general rule of thumb.

Whether you’re planning on starting a business, recently launched a company, or are in the growth stage of building a brand, you have to be aware of just how important money is in the equation. Specifically, you must be aware of the hidden costs.

Image: Due.com

This article, "Hidden Startup Costs Revealed: Here are 8 to Consider" was first published on Small Business Trends