#BusinessTipTuesday – Be Humble Day

This week’s #BusinessTipTuesday we are talking about “Be Humble Day”, which is celebrated on Thursday February 22nd. Often times as business owners we must promote ourselves as the best at what we do or what we sell. While showcasing our strengths and promoting our best business practices is not a bad thing, it is important to take the time to “be humble”.

Humility is an important quality trait in being a good entrepreneur. Being humble does not mean that you are weak, unassertive, or underprivileged; it means knowing that there are people out there that are more knowledgeable in certain areas, being able to ask for help when you know you need it, and also being able to receive constructive criticism. Being aware that there is always more to learn is one of the most important things for a business owner; it will only benefit you to spread your network, learn from others, and reach out for assistance in areas that you are not as strong in. The business owner that has an answer for everything and expects that their business practices are the only way to do things will only hinder the progress to be made by the business. Less mistakes come from humble behavior, as well. You are consistently aware of what you are doing, how you are doing it, and the outcome; thus resulting in a better quality atmosphere for your business and experience for your customers. Think of it this way, as soon as the basketball player gets a little too confident with his shots, he starts to miss and provide opportunities for his opponents to get ahead on him. We do not want this to happen in your business! Additionally as the owner and boss of your business, humility allows you to connect better with your employees. Most likely your employees will be comfortable enough to ask questions, approach you with ideas, or tell you if there is a problem if you come off as mild and understanding. The relationship will offer a successful and happy work environment.

Being humble is something you can control, as opposed to things that are out of your control as a business owner. So take a minute each week to check yourself and make sure that you are doing so. If we remember to continually learn, refer to others for information, and communicate with employees along with other things then we will continue to possess some necessary requirements of being a great entrepreneur, which in turn will make your business great!

 

Danielle Guari
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

#shopsmall #smallbiz #behumble #sbdc #nepa #scranton #customers #kindness #february #business

Artwork adapted from vecteezy.com

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#BusinessTipTuesday – Random Act of Kindness

Did you pay for a friend or stranger’s coffee this week? Have you held the door open for a group of people? Did you call someone just to tell them how much they mean to you? Or how about smiling at a stranger and telling them to have a nice day? Well if you have not done so yet, you should because this week is Random Acts of Kindness Week! Every February, and this year from February 11th to February 17th, Random Acts of Kindness Foundation celebrates everyone joining together through kindness. It only takes one person to start the chain reaction that encourages others to act kind. With kindness on our minds here at the SBDC, we wanted to showcase one of the lovely businesses we work with. Lavish Body and Home in Scranton, displays a great example of a small business being involved in our community.

In addition to Lavish Body and Home’s unique and luxury items offered, owners, Micah and Lauren Woodard, are heavily involved with the local Coaches vs. Cancer chapter. This organization holds a spot near to the Woodard’s heart as their son is a cancer survivor, which is how they became involved years ago. After holding leadership level roles the past few years, this year the Lavish owners will be co-chairing the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Gala. When speaking with Micah he explained to me one of the most enjoyable parts of owning a small business; to him, it is having a platform that allows him an influence in the community. The ability to shine a light on these topics and speak at different events through their business have enabled the Woodard’s to be directly involved in the community. Lavish’s connections with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Better Program have provided community members with an experience that normally would not be enjoyable. The Salon at Lavish has met with women and fitted them for wigs, turning the event into something more than just a negative effect of their treatments. The team at Lavish’s hope is for their salon and store to be a safe haven for those who need it. Micah also spoke a lot about the upcoming Gala that will take place this year on May 12th at the Mohegan Sun Pocono. With the local chapter being the largest market that does not have a Division I team attached to it, donations thus far have reached up to $1.6 million and the goal of this year’s donations is set at $2 million. This year’s donations will benefit Hope Lodge, facilities that offer patients and their families a free place to stay when traveling to other cities for treatments. The expectations this year are to cover the cost for over 50% of families from NEPA. Additionally, Micah also noted that Lavish is involved with two other local charities; Marley’s Mission, providing free equine therapy for children who have experienced trauma, and Jog for Jude, a race that raises awareness and funds for S.I.D.S. research. An important take away from the conversation with Lavish owner would be that as long as people are giving back and actively involved with the community then we are continually making strides going forward.

While being kind to others and giving back to the community is wonderful in itself, it is also beneficial to your small business. It allows your business to be well recognized in the community and to have a reputable association. By supporting the community in which your business is located, you are in turn bettering the location and community itself and making it a better place to live and do business. People enjoy frequenting businesses that have a stake in the community because they know their business will benefit all aspects of the public. Another benefit is the networking opportunities that philanthropic organizations offer. Connections all over the community, state, and nation are beneficial to small businesses, so the more your name is out there, the better. What better way to benefit your business than doing something that also benefits the community and others! For all you small businesses out there that feel it is important to give back to your community and are not exactly sure how to or do not have the largest donation fund, here is a link, 10 Ways Your Small Business Can Give Back, for some ideas on how to give back! We challenge everyone out there to complete a Random Acts of Kindness this week and for small businesses to do the same! Share with us what your Random Act of Kindness was and spread the word to others. Don’t forget to visit www.scrantonsbdc.com for all your small business needs.

Danielle Guari
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

#shopsmall #smallbiz #customerservice #sbdc #nepa #scranton #customers #kindness #february #business

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#BusinessTipTuesday – Budget Friendly Advertising Tips

Of the twenty most watched television broadcasts of all time, the Super Bowl holds nineteen spots, making it not only the biggest night in football, but also the biggest night in television. Because of the Super Bowl’s popularity, it is also the biggest night for advertisement. Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch took to twitter in January to report that “An NBC Sports ad exec said today that the network will average more than $5 million for a 30-second spot for the Super Bowl.” If you are like most small businesses, you don’t have that kind of money to spend on advertising. Most small businesses have a limited budget when it comes to marketing their business, so they need to get the most bang for their buck. Here are some budget friendly advertising ideas:

Utilize Social Media- Create business accounts and participate in popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A huge chunk of the population is active on these sites, so it is free and easy to reach potential customers, and for them to find you. In addition to being active on social media, come up with online contests. Something as easy as “share this post for a chance to win” on Facebook gets the word out about your business.

Work on Your Website- No matter your business, you need a website. When potential customers are looking for businesses in their area, the first place they will look is the Internet. Build a website that is easy to navigate and will not leave customers scratching their heads- a poorly configured website is not a good way to advertise your business.

Create Flyers- Creating flyers is simple and relatively inexpensive. A great way to make flyers more effective is to offer an incentive to people who bring it in, i.e. “Bring in this flyer for a free appetizer”. This also helps keep track of customers who came in because of the flyer.

Take Advantage of Word-of-Mouth- Offer a customer referral incentive, a free reward for referring new customers. Word-of-Mouth is powerful, and customers telling their friends about your business is extremely valuable.

Advertising as a small business doesn’t mean you need to have a Super Bowl level budget. When it comes to marketing your business, spend wisely and make the most out of the money you do have.

Amy Simpson, Senior
WEC Intern
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

 

#SuperBowl #BudgetFriendly #Advertising #SuperBowlCommercials #Marketing #SBDC #Eagles

 

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#BusinessTipTuesday – National Puzzle Day

Yesterday, January 29th, was National Puzzle Day and this week’s #BusinessTipTuesday will be all about it! In a jigsaw puzzle the pieces must fit perfectly together in order to form a clear picture, in a crossword puzzle each letter must line up to make a word from all angles, and in a Sudoku puzzle the numbers must contain all digits from one to nine. Regardless of the type of puzzle each piece, letter, or number must fit perfectly in order for the puzzle to be completed and successful. Puzzles are just like any business, with different pieces that fit together in order to form solid and complete entity. Before you complete a puzzle you have a clear intention of what it needs to look like at the end which is the same for a business and directly relates to the importance of that business’s vision, mission, and goals. Ensuring that all of this information is clear to your employees is vital to the success of your business!

Sometimes the difference between each of these is unclear, so to guarantee a complete understanding of each, let’s break down each statement. The vision makes up a clear picture of what the organization should look like in the future, and the statement should challenge yet inspire employees. Essentially, this vision statement displays what the company would look like in 5 years if it has achieved its goals. The mission simply is the reason for the company’s existence.  The mission statement should answer the questions of what it is the business does, for whom business is intended, and how business is conducted. Goals are expected and desired outcomes. They are usually general statements that can be measured and accomplished. It is clear that each of these statements have a distinct difference, yet each work together to create a unified and solid piece of a business.

For every business having clear vision, mission, and goal statements will help to determine the company’s direction and set a pure intention for the company’s future. Everyone understands where the company is heading and what is expected. Additionally, while working employees can refer to these statements whenever they need to make decisions or come to conclusions. The statements serve as guidelines to regularly keep employees on the right track. As well, it helps to outline the strategy of a company; as the strategies implemented and executed by the business must be directly related to the vision, mission, and goals. Finally, the statements can facilitate healthy discussion and change; as when the topics come up, the business has the ability to go back and make sure that anything that is new matches the business’s clear statements.

If the vision, mission, and goals are all clearly stated, recognized, and performed the business will be setup for success. Very similar to a puzzle all these pieces must be there for it to be complete. You cannot finish the puzzle if the center piece is missing, so how could you expect the business to be productive if you are missing the mission statement! If creating or revising vision, mission, or goal statements are something that your business needs help with, reach out to us at The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center. We are happy to help with all your business needs. Check us out at, www.scrantonsbdc.com.

Danielle Guari
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

Artwork adapted from vecteezy.com

#shopsmall #smallbiz #customerservice #sbdc #nepa #scranton #customers #puzzleday #January #puzzles #business

 

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#BusinessTipTuesday- National Fun at Work Day

The ability to have fun on the job can lead to higher job satisfaction and increased motivation in the workplace. What better day to have fun than National Fun at Work Day, coming up on Friday, January 26th.

According to the Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), as of 2016, the number of employees who said they are satisfied with their current job was at 88%. This high level of satisfaction is due in part to the improving economy allowing for higher salaries and better benefits and perks for employees, but keeping employees satisfied takes more than just good pay. A few factors that influence employee satisfaction include respect for all employees, trust, a healthy working environment, and an upward moving career path. Keeping employees happy leads to many benefits to a company including lower turnover, higher productivity, and increased profits.

Job motivation is another important factor in keeping employees satisfied. Keeping employees motivated comes when employees do not feel micromanaged, are trusted to do their work, receive frequent communication from management, and are treated with respect. The largest factors in maintaining employee motivation are the relationship between employees and management and being happy in the workplace. Studies have shown that creating an enjoyable working environment can help improve both employee motivation and job satisfaction. Workplace fun can increase productivity, reduce stress, and improve performance. A few ways to do this are:

  • Taking Casual Friday a step further by adding a company provided, in-office lunch break. This creates a more relaxing environment, but it also encourages interaction between colleagues, which is proven to boost happiness.
  • Coming up with weekly or monthly challenges that employees can participate in. Friendly competitions can lighten the mood, especially if there are prizes involved.
  • Celebrate Fun at Work Day this Friday, January 26th. Plan a day of team building games and projects. Have lunch catered and keep employees well-fed. While this might seem like a wasted day, productivity is likely to increase and make up for the time.

Whatever path you decide to take, the end result should be the same- happy, motivated employees who are willing to put in the work necessary to keep your business running and thriving.

Amy Simpson, Senior
WEC Intern
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

Artwork adapted from vecteezy.com

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#BusinessTipTuesday – Get To Know Your Customers Day

For this week’s #BusinessTipTuesday we will be taking a look at “Get To Know Your Customers Day”, which is celebrated quarterly on the third Thursday of each month! You can see the importance of this business practice as it is celebrated so often. For small businesses, getting to know your customer can truly help you to stand out to your competitors and increase the likeliness of repeat business. Excellent customer service is vital to your business, as it only reaps positive benefits, such as loyal customers, free-word of mouth advertising, and valuable feedback.

Before your business even opens you can do things to get to know your customers by completing market research. This allows you to hear feedback from people in the area your business is located and have a better understanding of the demographics of the area. Once your business is open you can continue to get to know your customers through surveys and feedback. Engaging in conversation and just simply asking customers questions can make a difference for your business and the customer. Through this you can find out what the customer is interested in such as more specific price points, likes, and dislikes, and then you will also get to know the customer on a more personal level along the way. By creating an environment of a friendship between business and customer you will gain faithful patrons. From here on out, your business can continue to foster the environment and relationships. Some ways to do so are by creating customer profiles about conversations you have had, what they like to buy, and special occasions. As well, engage on social media by commenting with followers and offering deals to customers. Also, assess competitors and see what they are offering to customers and how they do business so you can outperform their best customer practices.

The relationship created with a customer is fundamental to your business. You want customers to think of your business every time they are in the market to buy what you sell. Think of how many times you yourself frequented a business that remembered your name, went above and beyond to help you, and engaged in a conversation while you were there. I bet you can think of a few of those businesses and they are ones that you consistently visit. Take time to understand your customer because it will pay off in the long run! Please contact us via scrantonsbdc.com for any assistance you may need in getting to know your customer.

Danielle Guari
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

Artwork adapted from freepik.com

#shopsmall #smallbiz #customerservice #sbdc #nepa #scranton #customers

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#BusinessTipTuesday – National Tea Month

While thinking about a topic for this week’s #BusinessTipTuesday, I noticed that January is National Hot Tea Month. This reminded me of some market research I did a few years ago for a client who was looking to open a tea room.

The importance of doing market research before starting a business is always very important and it can be the difference in whether your business prospers or fails.

Market research can categorized as either primary or first hand research that you conduct yourself, such as interviews or surveys, or as secondary research which is already compiled data such demographics, statistics, or information from company reports, census bureaus, magazines and newspapers.

Conducting market research can help a business owner:

  • Create realistic business projections
  • Understand their customers
  • Identify new opportunities and/or customers
  • Help identify potential problems

If you are an entrepreneur or a current small business owners would like assistance in conducting market research for your own business or idea, contact The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center at www.scrantonsbdc.com .

Keith D. Yurgosky
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

Artwork adapted from vecteezy.com

#matcha #tea #teatime #january #hottea #antioxidants #greentea #oolong #NationalHotTeaMonth #marketreasearch #research #customers #smallbiz #smallbusiness #sbdc #amerciassbdc

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#BusinessTipTuesday-New Year’s Resolutions for your Small Business

With only twelve days left until 2018, this year is all but over. There is no better time than right now to take a few moments to reflect on what this year meant for your business and to plan how you want your business to develop in the New Year. Having a New Year’s Resolution is a bit of a cliché, but why not have one for your business that you can stick to?

Promote Your Business Regularly- This can be something as simple as a post on social media letting the public know that you are open for business, having a sale, or trying a new product. The key here is to be consistent; having an active social media presence will attract more new customers than an inactive social media presence.

Learn Something- Whether it is something about your business, your target market, or a new skill, it is never a bad idea to learn something new that will benefit your business.

Figure Out What Works- Were there things that worked very well for you that should continue into the new year? Were there other things that didn’t work well that can be improved? Knowing what works and what doesn’t is crucial for business success.

Give yourself a goal on these ideas and work on sticking to them. Remember S.M.A.R.T. goals tend to stay in place.

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Timely

Everyone here at the SBDC would like to wish you very happy holidays, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Amy Simpson, Senior
WEC Intern
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

Artwork adapted from vecteezy.com

#shopsmall #smallbiz #winter #newyears #sbdc #nepa #scranton #newyearsday #January1 #December31 #newyearseve #smallbiztips #resolutions #newyearsresolutions

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#BusinessTipTuesday – Celebrating Winter Solstice

This week, on December 21st, we celebrate Winter Solstice. For all of us in the Northern hemisphere, we are experiencing the first “official” day of winter and one of the shortest days of the year. While some people find excitement for their favorite time of year and others are not as excited for the darker and colder days, those people with small businesses should be thinking about how to prepare for the true winter season! Although we have already had some winter weather now it is time to buckle down and prepare, if you have not already. All business owners should think of how to keep employees and customers safe and happy while maintaining business sales and services. Also, they should be taking steps to ensure that the business’s physical location is well-kept and your equipment is protected during these harsh weather months.

First, the most important thing is to have a plan for your business. Specifically for the winter months, your business can have a plan in case of a snow storm or ice storm. The plan needs to be communicated to your employees and then carried out by everyone in the business. Whether it is that you close due to snow or open later than scheduled hours, your employees need to know what to do in case these things happen; so then, the message is relayed to customers. Posting the plan in a common room for all employees to see and going over it during a staff meeting is a great way to be sure that everyone is aware and understands the plans. Continuity planning may seem like something that is frequently mentioned, but it is so important to be prepared and informed!

Next, we need to think about the weather. What happens if we get another one of those crazy snowstorms, like the one that hit NEPA this past winter? Business owners should be aware of the weather by checking the news and forecasts, this way if a storm hits they can make the most informed call on whether or not to open. Although we do not want to close for any extra days than need be, it is better to be safe, so think about your decision on opening and weigh the pros and cons. If you do happen to close your business you can offer some online sales or interact with customers via social media. This way you are still having a productive business day even if your storefront could not be open.

Then, it is time to inspect your building and prep it for the winter. Do you need to make any changes in case of a storm? Check for any areas that could end up causing damage to your physical location or equipment; look for leaks in the roof, cracks in your building structure, or anything on the outside of your building that could cause trouble with high winds or heavy ice and snow fall. Also, be sure to keep up regularly salting your sidewalks and shoveling if there is any snow. We want to refrain from any injuries to employees and customers or damage to the building or equipment and products. By being proactive in examining your building you can save from having to make major repairs later on.

These are just a few steps you can take to assess your business and its winter needs. By visiting this site, http://www.agilityrecovery.com/assets/SBA/wntrweathersba.pdf, you can find a “Winter Weather Preparedness” checklist. As well, you can get in touch with us at the Small Business Development Center for any help on planning for the upcoming months or any other business needs. Now it is time to grab yourself some hot chocolate, sit by the fireplace, and make sure your business is winter ready!

Danielle Guari
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

Artwork adapted from freepik.com

#shopsmall #smallbiz #winter #wintersolstice #sbdc #nepa #scranton #shortestdayofyear

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#BusinessTipTuesday – National App Day

Happy #BusinessTipTuesday! Yesterday, December 11th was National App Day and was instituted as a national day, due to the ever-growing application market. Applications (apps) have without a doubt changed the way we live our everyday lives, be it working, exercising, eating, shopping, communicating, and even sleeping! Companies, jobs, and money have all been spun out of the creation of apps within the past decade and at this rate it will continue to flourish. According to techcrunch.com, smartphone users access more than 30 apps per month and launch at least 9 apps per day. How many apps have you opened today?

Being that apps are so relevant in people’s everyday lives, maybe its time to start thinking about having an app for your small business. Online activity is continually shifting to mobile usage so having an app could be beneficial to your business. There are many options when it comes to creating your small business app. Here are a few ways that the use of an app can help your business:

  • Mobile Store: For a product-based business you can create a mobile store that has access to view your products and then purchase them right there on the app.
  • Notifications: For a service-based business you can create notifications to send out to customers; whether it is a notification for an appointment or a reminder that they need to set up an appointment.
  • Coupons: For any type of business you can create a coupon section where you offer some sort of discount to your customers, and this could constantly change to offer different deals each week.
  • Customer Profiles: Your app could allow each customer to create a profile this way they can track their purchases, create wish-lists of items they want, and store their loyalty card for frequent purchases at your business.
  • Personal Relationships: The app will allow for a way to create a direct relationship with customers, whether its through offering a chat option or a feeling for the customers that have the app to be the first people with “inside exclusives”.

These are all examples of how an app could benefit your business. They provide a way to have repeat customers that are continually engaged with your business and allow them the best of both worlds by having local shopping at their fingertips!

Now if you fear that this app creation process is going to be too difficult and expensive, take some time to research the process and see what the price options are. There are many possibilities available and you may be able to find something out there that is just right for you and your business. Remember to do your research and thoroughly examine all the options out there before you purchase anything, as you want to be sure you are getting exactly what you pay for, nothing less.

If you are interested in creating an app for your small business or have any other business needs, remember to reach out to the Small Business Development Center. Please visit www.scrantonsbdc.com for any guidance and information!

Danielle Guari
Business Consultant
The University of Scranton
Small Business Development Center

Artwork adapted from vecteezy.com

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