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Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Update by Reagan Reeve,
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SMB Optimism Sustained in March

The remarkable surge in SMB optimism that began in November of last year was sustained in March, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Economic Trends Report, released April 11th.

“Small business owners remain optimistic about the future of the economy and the direction of consumer confidence,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “We are encouraged by signs that optimism is translating into economic activity, such as capital investment and job creation.”

The Index slipped 0.6 points in March to 104.7, still a very strong reading. Actual earnings, capital expenditure plans, and job-creation plans posted gains in March. Sales expectations, which have been flying high for months, dropped by 8 points, a sign that the Optimism Index could be moderating after a strong run.

“By historical standards, this is an excellent performance, with most of the components of the Index holding their gains,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The increases in capital expenditure plans and actual earnings are signs of a healthier economy, and we expect job creation to pick up in future months.”

Dunkelberg noted that while the overall Index remained strong in March, a significant increase in the Uncertainty Index, a subset of data on how SMB owners see the near-term future, could indicate trouble on the horizon.

“The Uncertainty Index hit 93 in March, which is the second highest reading in the survey’s history,” he said. “More small business owners are having a difficult time anticipating the factors that affect their businesses, especially government policy.”

Most of the March data were collected before Congress failed to pass a bill repealing and replacing Obamacare. A big reason for the soaring optimism of the past five months is the expectation among SMB owners that Obamacare and other burdensome policies will be reversed by Congress and the new administration.

“As we have traveled around Ohio over the course of the past month entrepreneurs have echoed the findings in this recent report,” said NFIB/Ohio Legislative Director Chris Ferruso. “At the state level, we are working to reduce tax complexity and provide stability to Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. We believe these pro-small business policies can serve to boost optimism among our members.”

To view the full report, please visit www.nfib.com/sboi. For more information about NFIB, please visit www.nfib.com.


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Monday, March 20, 2017
Update by Reagan Reeve,
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SMB Social Media Marketing

A significant number of SMB businesses have not yet adopted social media. In a recent survey of SMB owners/managers, 24% said they currently don't use social media for their business, while 8% don't ever expect to use social media.

 

The survey was conducted by Clutch, a leading B2B ratings and reviews firm, to gauge digital marketing habits and goals for small businesses in 2017. The series includes reports on mobile apps, web design, and more.

Social Media Marketing

Clutch's 2017 Small Business Digital Marketing Survey included 350 SMB owners/managers: 40% of companies had 10 or fewer employees, 27% had 11-50 employees, 25% had 51-250 employees, and 8% had 251-500 employees.

 

Social media marketing experts suggest that businesses not yet using social media should reconsider.

 

"Many [SMB owners] read the headlines from five to six years ago about 'likes' not mattering and bought into that," said Joshua Dirks, CEO of Project Bionic, a Seattle-based creative marketing agency. "They are missing out because of their own viewpoint on the topic, [made] from believing five- to six-year-old headlines and not recapturing the maturation of the space."

 

Experts also emphasized the benefits of social media marketing over traditional marketing channels. "Social is one of the few forms that allows you to look at the data," said Keith Kakadia, Founder and CEO of Sociallyin, a Mississippi-based social media agency. "It allows you to determine whether there's a return on investment (ROI) for the money spent. When you have a small budget, every single dollar needs to be spent on what works."

 

Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform for SMBs. The survey found that over 90% of small businesses with a social media presence use Facebook. The second most popular channel, Twitter, is used by 55% of SMBs.

 

"In general, Facebook is a beast. Its reach is incredibly vast, with almost 2 billion users," said Alex Oesterle, owner of Blue Bear Creative, a Denver-based social media agency. "No matter what a business does, its customers are likely on Facebook, at least in part."

 

Over half of SMBs that already use social media indicate that they want to increase investment in Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube respectively in 2017. Each channel has its benefits, according to social media experts interviewed about the survey findings. Twitter faces an uncertain future, however, and YouTube requires making sometimes costly and time-intensive videos.

 

Instagram, with over 600 million users in the United States, may be the best option for small businesses to explore, said Dirks.

Over half of small businesses currently use in-house staff for their social media marketing. A little over one-third use either a freelancer/consultant or social media management software.

 

Experts cite the importance of placing someone knowledgeable in charge of social media. "One thing we hate to see is handing social media off to an intern or a freelancer with no knowledge of branding or strategy," said Oesterle. "It makes for lackluster results and perpetuates the cycle of cutting social media costs."


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Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Update by Reagan Reeve,
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Three Tips for Improving your SMB Security System

Mega corporations are obviously not the only businesses which need security. SMB businesses also need to be prepared for nefarious activities. The longer your SMB is in business, the more likely your business is to suffer from some type of criminal activity, whether it be assault, embezzlement, or armed robbery, your SMB needs to be prepared. Installing a security system is a great affordable method for protecting your SMB.

SMB’s due to their nature do not have the biggest budgets in the world. As a result, buying a camera system can be a big affair. If you are thinking about getting a security camera system for your SMB, here are three tips which will help you get the most bang for your buck.

 

1. Try to "Vandal Proof" your System

Criminals love taking swings at security cameras. Unfortunately, cameras that are hit with baseball bats can often have a hard time recording anything useful afterwards, and you probably don’t want to deal with the cost of getting a new security camera post-smashing. There are several methods you can use to try to save your cameras from being destroyed, such as getting a strong camera housing, installing the camera in an elevated position, or by trying to conceal your cameras.

 

2. Monitor the Vitals

This tip is a little more on the line of common sense. Your SMB most likely does not need cameras monitoring every hallway in your facility. However, you do need cameras monitoring vital areas of your business such as entrances, exits, areas containing items of high value (such as storage rooms), workstations, and points of customer interaction. Another great place to monitor is the parking lot of your SMB.

 

3. Be Overt

There is a large market for dummy security cameras, but don’t be satisfied with just dummy cameras if you’re trying to protect your SMB. Dummy cameras exist for one purpose: to deter doubting criminals, they do not serve a function in bringing people to justice. People who are already committed to the act will probably not care whether your cameras are dummies or real, and experienced criminals may even be able to tell that your dummy cameras are fake. However, having a visible camera will have a deterring effect on the uncertain, which is why you should have at least one visible camera on the premises.

 

Owning a camera security system can go a long way toward making your workplace feel secure.If you already have or are planning on getting a security system for your workplace, hopefully these tips will be helpful.

 


Camerasecuritynow.com is a SMB security company focused on providing high quality surveillance equipment for an affordable price. Camera Security Now has been in the video surveillance business for 30 years and lives by its motto "In Business To Protect Your Business!". Based in Middletown, OH, Camera Security Now has highly-trained technicians that specialize in servicing Southwest Ohio region businesses and homes, but also offers nationwide equipment and installion services throughout the United States.


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Monday, February 13, 2017
Update by Reagan Reeve,
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SMB Businesses Turn to No-coding-required DIY Website Tools to Grow Online

Over 40% of websites built using DIY options are for business, according to survey

 There are a lot of options to help you build a website. Website builders, like Wix, SquareSpace, and Weebly, offer a DIY (do-it-yourself) functionality that allows you to build a website without coding expertise. With website building now easier than ever, a new survey by Clutch, a research and reviews platform for business services, finds that many website builder users are using these DIY tools to create sites for business use.

Out of 307 respondents who built a website using DIY web builders, 42% indicated that their website was built for business purposes such as having an online business presence, increasing online sales, or facilitating e-commerce. 48% say that they built their site for personal use such as for a photo gallery, creative display, portfolio, or a blog.

Clutch's findings illustrate that creating a website is more accessible and popular for individuals and small businesses than it's ever been before. Of those surveyed, 63% say they have an "intermediate" familiarity with website builders, a level that indicates they have set up a website, including advanced features, without assistance.

"Website builders have come a long way from a decade ago when a blogger or personal user would dabble with a website builder just to get their presence online," says Evan Brown, Marketing Manager at Designmantic.com, a web design company. "Today, many of these tools offer features like hosted services, domain registration, search engine optimization capabilities, responsive web design, and e-commerce integration, making it easy for businesses to hop online in no time."

Clutch's survey also found that DIY websites built for business purposes are more complex than any other type, and that individuals who create a website for business are looking to use that site in a more advanced way – by generating interactions and conversions.

For a website to be complex, it must include five or more integrations, according to Clutch's analysis. The most popular web builder integrations are social media (64%), customer reviews (55%), and calendar/scheduling tools (45%).

The data reveals that out of the respondents who built a website for business, 46% integrated five or more tools. Comparatively, only 27% of respondents with a personal website integrated the same amount of tools.

The complexity of business websites may impact the ability of DIY web builders to serve business needs. Although DIY web builders have made the features and integrations they offer more advanced in recent years, these tools still may not be enough for a small business seeking significant online growth.

For SMBs who want to establish a strong online presence for their business, Clutch recommends considering solutions beyond DIY web builders. For example, small businesses may see increased success in generating online leads and conversions by transferring their website to a content management system (CMS), or hiring a design expert.

With these alternative solutions, small businesses will be able to benefit from the guidance of a professional, instilling confidence that they are building custom, flexible, and successful websites that serve their advanced needs.

Find the report here: https://clutch.co/resources/web-builders-survey

Clutch also used customer feedback to rate the top 10+ website builders. You can find the full research and reviews here: https://clutch.co/website-builders.

Clutch's 2017 Website Builder Survey included 307 full-time SMB employees and users of DIY website builders. 30% of respondent companies have an annual revenue of less than $1 million. Data was collected throughout December 2016.

 

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