The Weekly Small Business Review

By Lauren Simonds | Posted August 22, 2014

Here's what caught my eye this week in small business. You'll find lots of good stuff to help you grow your business: ecommerce insight, tips for entrepreneurs, finance trends, marketing strategies and a touch of tech news.

Ecommerce

  • If you want your ecommerce store to be a success (a pretty safe bet), try looking look at your business from the customer's point of view. Remember, you spend most of your life as a customer, so do yourself a favor and walk through your online store with your customer goggles on. What do you see? Are you making any of these critical ecommerce mistakes? Find out fast and, if so, fix 'em even faster.
  • Driving traffic to your ecommerce site is an endless activity worthy of Sisiphus himself. And of course you don’t want just any kind of traffic—you want people interested in what you have to sell. That's why market research is your friend. And why market intelligence tools come in very handy. The author even breaks them out into groups for you: "competitive analysis, content/influencer discovery, campaign management, publishing automation and conversation listening."

Entrepreneurship

  • Boom! The light bulb went off in your head, and at 4 A.M. you're bolt upright in bed scribbling down what has to be the best business idea ever known to man. Fast forward to 10 am, and it's time to find out whether someone else beat you to it. Here's how.
  • If you're in the process of starting a business, you've no doubt spent considerable time thinking about the nuts-and-bolts details of the kind of business you want. But have you considered what kind of business culture you want once you're up and running?  It might surprise you to hear that this is where love enters the workplace equation. A business that fosters support and camaraderie among its employees tends to do better overall: more satisfied employees, less absenteeism, and higher levels of commitment to name but a few benefits. Naturally, it's nicer when your employees all get along, but (apologies to Tina Turner here) what's love got to do with it?
  • What's keeping you from crossing the finish line? You know, the various projects, goals and plans you've rated as critical for your success…and yet remain in different stages of completion or neglect. Try these steps to banish fear, procrastination, and apathy. Your first test is to read the whole article.
  • Returning to the question about the kind of culture you want to create in your business, let's talk about time off. I know; that's crazy talk. How many entrepreneurs even think about a vacation, much less take one? It may be time to rethink your position on time off…both for yourself and for your current or future employees. Because boss, I've got news for you. They're less productive—and living in fear.

Finance

  • Where's federal support for small business when it comes to awarding federal small business contracts? Apparently that support—along with the lion's share of contracts designated for small business—goes to mega corporations.
  • It turns out that small business owners do a great job building businesses, creating jobs and driving the U.S. economic recovery. But when it comes to taking care of their personal finances—like saving for retirement—eh, not so much.
  • Nobody wants to fire a customer. The whole point of business is to attract and keep customers. But when customers are consistently slow to pay (and that's putting it kindly), even the most pragmatic business owner might be tempted to cut them loose. Before you do, consider taking these steps to handle tardy payments.

Marketing

  • So many social media sites; so little time. Seriously, marketing's vital, but other aspects of your business need attention, too. You can’t afford to ignore social media, but that doesn’t mean you should have a presence on every platform. Winnow down the choices and match your business with the appropriate social media outlets.
  • You want customers to find your website, right? That requires good SEO tactics so that Google loves you and displays your site higher in the search rankings. One element of good SEO is link building, where people link to your website because they find it helpful or entertaining. But there's a right way to build links and a wrong way to build links.

Technology

  • Norton software (remember the yellow box?) has been synonymous with security for decades. Symantec, the company that owns the Norton brand, is consolidating the different flavors of the venerable software into Norton Security—an online security subscription service—for Windows, Mac and mobile devices.
  • Shhh…small business retailers have a secret weapon to help them beat their larger competitors. It's called technology. Read all about it.

Friday Fun

  • It's been a tough week around the world. This won't fix anything, but it might make you smile.

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

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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