Taking Stock: Small Business in the News

By Lauren Simonds | Posted January 09, 2015

You probably don’t have time to search the Web looking for small business inspiration but, lucky for you, that's part of my job description. Here's what caught my eye this week. Take a few minutes, come up for air, and see what's going on in the greater world of small business.

The New Year for Small Business

  • As you stare 2015 in the face, you might wonder what you can do to make this year a better one for your small business. It never hurts to have a plan, a strategy if you will, to strengthen your business. Better still, how about seven strategies?
  • Maybe you're like me and vowed to be more productive in 2015. These tips can get you going in the right direction. Yes, you. I held on to my productivity resolution just long enough to add the link to this list.
  • Rolling into the New Year, you might find yourself in the enviable position of owning a strong, vibrant business. You might even be thinking about expanding your operations. How do you know the time is right? If only there was some way to know, some kind of a sign…or five.
  • Tax time lurks right around the corner, and this year sorting out taxes gets a bit trickier for small businesses. For example, you'll want to be aware of how cost of living adjustments (COLA) rules affect business tax in 2015.
  • And 2015 is the first year that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes into tax play. Thing is, even tax pros are confused by what it all means (Intuit estimates that less than 7 percent of tax preparers feel adequately prepared to tackle ACA-related tax changes). So you might want to make sure your tax accountant is—or will be—up to speed. Check out Intuit's guide: How the Affordable Care Act Impacts Your Taxes.
  • The start of a new year is as good a time as any to review and improve your social media efforts. Or maybe you haven’t dipped your toes into social media, but you're ready to add a social edge to your small business marketing. In either case, establishing good social media habits can help you engage with customers in fruitful ways.

Entrepreneurs

  • What's on the mind of small business experts? Networking: the social rather than the technical variety. No one doubts the value of a business network, but this week everyone has an opinion—is your network large enough, effective enough, active enough…and on it goes. Let's start with whether or not your network is happy and healthy. Mine wants to know why I don’t send it flowers any more.
  • You're not going to build your business empire unless you get out there and network, network, network. Or you could dial it back and reassess.
  • You schmooze or lose, that's the reality of networking, right? While some people turn schmoozing into an art form, for others, it's a dead key on their piano. But effective networking is not reserved exclusively for the extroverted members of our species. Many introverts thrive in business networking situations by relying on social strategies.
  • According to a study on small business success by The Hartford, 77 percent of small business owners feel successful. In this video, author, entrepreneur, and lecturer Mike Michalowicz shares his thoughts about lessons small business owners learned during the last recession.

Marketing

  • This might be a fish tale, but it is by no means a tall fish tale. Small business can learn a lot from bigger business and then adapt those lessons to fit its needs. In that spirit, read this Harvard Business Review case study about how the Georgia Aquarium responded when its attendance numbers plummeted—and reaped a 12-fold return on its investment. It involves mimes, but don’t hold that against them.

Social Media

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com. Follow her on Twitter.

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