Does the battle over the minimum wage pit employees against small-business owners? That was the notion put forth on the Real Clear Politics website recently. In an essay titled “Living the Wage? Try Living the Small Business,” Tom Bevan, a co-founder of the site, ridiculed Democratic politicians who had embarked on an effort to understand how people subsist on minimum wage.
Several officials, including Jan Schakowsky, a congresswoman from Illinois, signed up for a week-long challenge called Live the Wage. For that week, they attempted to spend just $77, which is the effective take-home pay for someone making minimum wage, according to the advocates who want to raise it. Mr. Bevan called this effort “a gimmick cooked up by the progressives at Americans United for Change.”
Managing cash flow is a challenge that many small business owners don’t realize can make or break a business, but streamlining the process is easier than you might think.
“Many great operators who understand their industry and how to deliver for the customers don’t have an understanding of what it takes to grow, maintain or create efficiencies in their operating cycle to empower their business,” said Quincy Miller, executive vice president and head of business and commercial enterprise banking sales at RBS Citizens Financial Group.
“Companies that have accelerated their receivables, streamlined their banking operations and established more-advantageous payment terms and processes with their vendors, suppliers and customers have a definite competitive advantage in today’s marketplace, no matter their business,” Miller said.
Are you doing the bare minimum when it comes to your small business website? Just having a website is no longer enough if it ever was. You’ve got to take action to get potential customers to discover, engage with and buy from your business. And that means creating an integrated online marketing plan where all parts of your Web presence work together.
Deluxe Corporation recently polled small business owners to find out what they’re doing online. Here’s some of what they found:
Small business owners say word-of-mouth is their most important way of engaging with customers 73 percent. However, they don’t seem to realize that social media has become a crucial part of word-of-mouth. Just 21 percent say social media is an important way to engage with customers; in comparison, 40 percent say business cards are.
What about websites? While two-thirds of small business owners have a business website, that number is still way too small. As I mentioned earlier, having a website is the bare minimum these days. Small business owners are also falling short in what features they have on their website. Fewer than half have photos or videos; just 32 percent use search engine optimization SEO, and only 28 percent have reviews or social media share/follow buttons.
Inside a dim office secured by a sensor lock, eight young men in yarmulkes sit before computer screens sifting through tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards. Toiling under a latticed ceiling, the workers some in their late teens field orders to buy pre-owned cards online, fetching each meticulously catalogued item from the company’s man-size vault, where at least $3 million worth wait for new owners at any given time.
Once assembled, orders are carried to a shipping and receiving room beneath the vault chamber, where another group of skullcapped employees mails them out. Newly acquired gift cards are scanned to check their value, catalogued and bar-coded for easy search. “You’ve got to find that exact card, and you’ve got to find it quickly,” says Elliot Bohm, CEO and co-founder of CardCash.com , a company in Lakewood, N.J. that grossed $56 million last year buying and reselling the gift cards that nobody wanted.
Statistics for women in business are mostly bleak. For example, women still earn 77 cents to every dollar men make and just 7% of female-backed teams get venture funding. A recently released study however, offers a glimmer of positivity. When women have established businesses, they are actually happier than their entrepreneurial male counterparts, as well as rating their well-being more than twice as high as non-entrepreneurs and non-business owners, according to the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor GEM U.S. Report.
There was one caveat – female entrepreneurs who are just starting out are less happy than male entrepreneurs in the start-up phase, says Edward Rogoff, one of the reports authors. One out of 10 women in the U.S. is starting or running a new business, the report also found. This rate is higher than any of the other 24 developed economies measured.
You probably remember the old saw about the wisdom of bringing a knife to a gunfight. Obviously you’ll be out matched and have a bad day. Yet, so much of the thinking that goes into shaping and changing companies revolves around the tools and tactics that a consultant brings to the table (the knife), rather that the reasons for them to be used (the gunfight).
This isn’t helped by the fact that many change consultants and coaches are clueless about how to run a company day to day and how to manage people with varying interests and agendas. What usually happens is the consultant will bring in whatever tool set they have developed (or are required to use) and apply tactics to the situation without developing an overall strategy.
For example, a closely held company was run by the four people who founded it. Over the ten years it’s been in operation, a lot of the control became concentrated with one autocratic founder. This person rubbed everyone, including customers, the wrong way. Yet, because of loyalty, and perhaps fear, the other three founders ignored his behavior. As would be expected, this individual’s performance began to affect the company negatively. A consultant we know was hired to help them sort out the situation.