America's SBDC Blog
A "Forbes 100 Best Websites for Entrepreneurs"

Asking For Help Is Good For You and Your Business


By Karen Peacock

Running a Small BusinessSVP and Small Business Segment Leader at Intuit

Running a small business can be lonely. There will be times when you don’t know who to turn to with your questions, and your support system can feel as small as your shop.

My advice: Ask others for help, and broaden your network to get it.

Seeking counsel — from mentors, peers, even your suppliers and vendors — is simply another way of taking charge of your business. Rather than being thought of as a weakness, reaching out can help your chances for success. I always say, “If you don’t ask, you won’t get.” One Intuit study found that 41 percent of small business owners feel lonely in their work life. That same survey found that 70 percent of small business owners say networking with other business owners is important.

In my experience, while it may seem daunting, pushing through your comfort zone can pay big rewards.

Connecting can energize you.

Even beyond your immediate need to solve a particular problem, listening to how others approach their business or even their lives can flick on a switch in your own thinking. That can lead to a breakthrough insight into something you weren’t even considering.  (more…)

Plan Your Business Website in 3 Easy Steps

By Adam Wozney
Wix.com | @AdamDeanWozney

SBDC Top of Post50 percent of small businesses do not have a website according to a recent blog post by SBA.gov. What does this mean to you as a small business owner? It means that having an online presence for your business will give you a competitive edge. New technologies available to you like those offered by Wix make it easier than ever to have a professional looking website for little to no cost.

But where to start? Wix hosts over 88 million websites. With this enormous pool of user data and over ten years of website design expertise under our belts, we know what goes into building a stunning website.

Below are some steps on how to get started building your business’s first website.

Step #1 Define your Website’s Goal

What is the point of your website? Set an objective. Defining your website’s goal will help guide you through the creation process. In our experience, the best websites have a single goal. Is the goal of your site to sell a product or service? Get more newsletter subscribers? Increase social media followers? Your goal is the core of your website. By identifying the goal from the beginning, you will be able to easily navigate the development process of your site.  (more…)

#SmallBizGames: 10 Digital Marketing Challenges for Your Business

As the world gets into the competitive spirit this August, Google is challenging small business owners to brush up on their digital marketing skills. For the next two weeks, the Google Small Business team is unveiling a #SmallBizGames digital marketing challenge each day, with each designed to help small businesses get online and ready for the upcoming holiday season.

Small-Biz-Games-LaunchTo further help small business owners, Google Small Business Advisors are standing by as #SmallBizGames coaches, ready and willing to provide tips, support, and advice for each challenge.

Starting Line Challenge: Get a custom domain name for your business.
Services like Google Domains help you register a custom URL for your business quickly and easily.

Ready-Set-Go Challenge: Make sure your business can be found on Google.
Set up a Google My Business account and update your business info including summer hours, photos, and business location.  (more…)

Video May Have Killed The Radio Star, But It’s Creating Small Business Rock Stars

By Steve Robinson
Director of National Organizations, Constant Contact

Video MarketingYou’ve probably noticed that a lot more videos are popping up online, especially on social media. That’s because more people are watching videos and there’s no signs of it slowing down. Facebook reports that viewers are watching 100 million hours of video every day. Meanwhile, the number of people watching YouTube videos has increased 40 percent year over year since March 2014.

This means there’s a huge opportunity for small businesses to use video to engage customers and attract new ones. Videos are also a great way to tell your story in less than two minutes, which is especially appealing to those of you who don’t relish the idea of writing content. And when you pair video with email marketing, you’ll see click-through rates (CTR) soar. In fact, analysts at Forrester Research reported that including video in an email leads to a 200-300% increase in CTR. If you’re curious about how to effectively use video to market your small business, here is everything you need to get rolling.

Setting the Stage: Cameras and Action

Who needs big studios, big budgets and temperamental actors when you already have everything you need to create a great video. Let’s start with the tools. For the video aficionados out there, or former high school A/V experts, you probably know that you can record a video on a DSLR or a camcorder and transfer and edit the footage for online use. If you don’t know how to do that, whip out your smartphone. Most smartphones record in High Definition, giving even novice users high quality videos. You can take the smartphone video up a notch and use apps like 8mm (Nexvio, Inc.) and Paper Camera (JFDP Labs), that let you choose distinctive filters to give your videos an array of stylistic options.  (more…)

Apps Quickly Becoming an Integral Part of Small Business DNA

By Vinay Pai

man_holding_tablet_computer-2When operating a business, it’s easy to get absorbed into daily routines, and forget to take a step back and ask, “Is there a better way?” One of the biggest takeaways I can share from my startup experience is to encourage entrepreneurs to explore and discover new technologies that can improve how you operate your business.

With technology changing by the minute and its options seeming endless, business solutions may appear out of reach, too expensive or completely overwhelming to think about. There are, however, free or low-cost alternatives to help your business run efficiently. A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine discusses how apps and the Cloud provide entrepreneurs a better way to run their small business. Entrepreneurs running their business on the cloud not only benefit from the mobility factor, but also benefit from the many options to integrate new tools that help improve business productivity, operations, and even access to credit.

Let’s take for example Theresa Lee, the founder of Future Glory. Theresa handcrafts socially conscious goods, and she relies on QuickBooks integrations with Shopify and PayPal so she can focus on design, and not numbers. She uses the Shopify for QuickBooks app, which automatically syncs all of her Shopify e-commerce data, sales transactions, and PayPal payments to QuickBooks, giving her back time to focus on creating amazing accessories. Other customers who don’t have an online store use the Sync with PayPal app to seamlessly import sales (including line items, fees and taxes), as well as customer information into QuickBooks. By using apps, Theresa manages all the day-to-day bookkeeping herself, spending less than 20 minutes a day on tasks such as invoicing and tracking vendor payments.  (more…)