The Small Business Report

Here’s this week’s take on what’s happening in small business. You’ll find plenty of small business tips, entrepreneurial advice and marketing ideas to help you grow your business.


  • Selling through multiple channels can be a profitable proposition for a small business owner, but it’s also a challenge to manage inventory, shipping and fulfillment, accounting, and customer support. Fortunately, there’s an app –or apps—for that. The holiday shopping season is just around the corner, and these apps, designed to coordinate multichannel selling, can help e-tailers make the most of the annual consumer rush.


  • How do you define your success? That’s an important question because, according to Gene Marks, president of The Marks Group, how entrepreneurs define success is the source of their optimism. And, as it turns out, a recent study shows that entrepreneurs have good reason to be optimistic.
  • Even the most optimistic entrepreneur can’t avoid uncertainty in business. No crystal ball reveals events that come flying out of left field—things like economic downturns, illness or injury, and mercurial consumer tastes. All you can do is take a page out of the Boy Scout guide and be prepared (for uncertainty).
  • Running a business is such an in-your-face, day-to-day marathon, that it’s hard to even think about the next month, never mind long-term planning. But long-term strategic planning—and by that I mean developing a 5-year plan—is important, even in this rapid-paced digital age. Don’t know where or how to begin? Start here.


  • Small business owners work hard and love their businesses. That’s not exactly a newsflash, but you might be surprised to learn that 75 percent of small business owners can’t read a balance sheet, and more than 90 percent don’t understand cash flow statements. And you thought you were the only one, right? Far from it.
  • If you fall into the majority of small business owners who don’t fully understand the numbers, and who make financial decisions based on their emotions (again, don’t feel bad, because you are so not alone), these tips are for you. Go. Learn. Prosper.


  • Want to build your brand? The first step to building a credible brand is to realize it’s not all about you. You may have a ton of experience (and after all, if you’re trying to establish yourself as an authority, you’d better bring a lot to the table), but as Cheryl Conner points out, you’ll go much further if you share the spotlight with people who reflect—and thus reinforce—brand characteristics that you respect.
  • What’s the marketing version of the Holy Grail? Creating content that goes viral. Yes, having your small business blog post, video, or photograph whip around the Internet at the speed of light racking up millions of views…there ain’t nothing like it. It’s sort of like hitting the marketing lottery. But what, exactly, makes content worthy of viral attention? Sometimes it’s not what you’re doing right, it’s what you’re doing wrong.
  • Social media marketing is a must for small business success, but it can be a bit overwhelming to the uninitiated. Twitter is a fabulous platform for connecting with customers, for tracking trends, and for quickly getting the word out about your business. You can be even more effective with the right Twitter tools.


  • Ever receive an Excel spreadsheet only to open it and find an unformatted data-dump that’s damn near impossible to read? Anyone? Everyone? Don’t be the person who subjects colleagues and vendors to that special pain. Learn how to use Excel templates, and be a kinder, gentler small business owner.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of 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 Forums. Join the discussion today!

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