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Small businesses must go digital to survive (and thrive) - The American Genius

Small businesses must go digital to survive (and thrive) - The American Genius


Small businesses must go digital to survive (and thrive) - The American Genius

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 09:24 AM PDT

Truly great entrepreneurs are also well organized and know which tools will help them see their startup ideas to fruition.

That can be key for getting a startup business off the ground. Good ideas and a strong entrepreneurial spirit aren't always enough on their own. Sometimes you need the right mix of technology and tools to keep the more mundane and tedious tasks from bogging down your efforts.

Here are six tools almost any entrepreneur can use to help keep productivity high when starting a new business:

Lawtrades: For legal help

For most entrepreneurs, it's not the most exciting thing in the world, but making sure you have your legal ducks in a row is important for any startup. Lawtrades helps with that while trying to keep costs down — music to the ears of any startup business owner.

The service is a legal marketplace of sorts designed specifically for startups and entrepreneurs. It connects business owners with legal professionals that it claims don't charge "bloated law firm hourly rates."

Lawtrades offers a number of services, including business formation, employment and labor, contracts and agreements and intellectual property.

Do: For productive meetings

Anyone who has started a business knows that it doesn't happen without a multitude of meetings. Do is a service that can help make your meetings productive so you can waste as little time as possible.

The app allows you to plan and share an agenda to make sure everyone is on the same page. Other features include the ability to track accountability by showing you which points and/or tasks have been covered.

1Password: For easy password management

Starting a new business likely means starting and managing lots of online accounts. The 1Password app from AgileBits helps you save time by remembering passwords and other information for you.

The app helps you generate strong and unique passwords for your many accounts, and secures them behind one safe password known only by you. The app doesn't only work for passwords — it can also help remember other information such as credit card numbers, safe combinations or street addresses.

Kanbanize: For product development

If your startup involves a specific product or set of products, Kanbanize helps you develop them with your team without bogging down the process. The software allows you to post and share boards that include product information and progress, and you can choose which people see which information.

For example, if you want to update investors on the status of your product development, you can share certain boards with stakeholders and no one else.

Evernote: For organization

There are many applications available that aim to help team productivity, but Evernote is one of the best.

The software allows you to collaborate with your team all within one workplace, keeping projects and other work together. You can also give feedback on ideas and share notes while syncing the data across computers and phones.

There are many other features as well, including in-app chat functionality and integration with Google Drive.

TaskHusky: For web development

Almost any new business will want some sort of business, but a staff of web designers and developers isn't always an option for startups. That's where TaskHusky comes in.

TaskHusky is an on-demand service for small businesses that need help with one-off tasks with the Shopify, Bigcommerce or WordPress platforms. The company has a simple three-step process: You create a task and pre-pay, a TaskHusky team member is assigned the task and gets to work and the task is completed and is sent back for your approval.

The takeaway:

Smart entrepreneurs understand they can't get everything done on their own when it comes to starting a new business. These six tools may not be everything you need to launch and maintain a startup, but they will go a long way to helping you keep productivity at a high level.

#productivity

Why Is SEO So Hard For a Small Business? - Business 2 Community

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 02:34 PM PDT

This is a question that often pops up in daily conversations between SEO specialists and small business owners. SEO keeps getting harder as time passes so it is normal for SMBs to have problems.

There is this common misconception that search engine optimization is simple for the large sites. This is incorrect. They just have more resources available.

Yes.

SEO is more difficult for smaller businesses.

Why is that?

You Do Not Have Enough Money To Pay For SEO

This is the number one reason why SEO is difficult for smaller businesses. Bigger companies have more money to spend on advertising, marketing, and SEO. Smaller firms and startups simply cannot spend that much.

What few people understand is that search engine optimization is not cheap. It cannot be cheap because creating quality content costs money.

According to WebFX, the average SEO package costs between $750 and $2,000 per month. Hourly rates can go as high as $200 per hour and one-time projects cost around $17,500.

Can you spend that much on SEO without your business being exposed to potential financial problems? Remember that you would need to pay the monthly fee for months before good results come in, especially when referring to competitive niches.

You Do Not Have Time To Do SEO

We live in the age of the internet. You can learn SEO and do most of the very important tasks alone. However, this is oftentimes impossible because of a lack of time.

With many small businesses, there are just a few people that do everything. This is a huge problem since real SEO takes quite a lot of time. Much more than those outside the industry expect.

Just think about the simple tasks you have to do in SEO:

  • Create high-quality content
  • Optimize web pages
  • Promote assets
  • Secure the site
  • Run tests
  • Find guest post opportunities

Because SEO takes a lot of time to produce results, many small businesses just neglect it. This oftentimes leads to poor rankings and under-optimized websites.

Big Businesses Already Did SEO Work For A Long Time

We so often forget the fact that big businesses have been IN business for a long time. For how long have you known Coca Cola, MTV, and Gucci?

For the small business, it is hard to rank because the website is young. There is no real accrued authority and it takes a lot of time to build a quality link profile. Also, Google loves older domains. Since bigger brands have been doing SEO work for longer, there are more links and it is very easy to repeat the past successes to repurpose content assets. Small businesses start from scratch. Big businesses are way ahead in the race.

We should also think about site size. Small businesses have relatively new sites, smaller sites. There are less content present and fewer overall pages. This means there are fewer keywords that can be targeted and even fewer ranking opportunities.

One thing that many do not realize is that the bigger sites have so many more resources that can be used in SEO. There are more services and products.

The best example of a big business you simply cannot compete with is Amazon. There are hundreds of thousands of pages filled with content. This means there are countless ranking opportunities. Smaller businesses oftentimes have under 10 pages and a few blog posts to work with.

You should also know that Google favors the big brands. This is simply because everyone favors them. User behavior dictates that people click much more often on results leading to highly recognizable brand sites. When you compete with them, people just click on the other results. Google sees this. Unfortunately, when you go for the branded keywords or the high-volume ones, it is close to impossible to beat large companies as a small business.

There Are More Important Things To Do

Sure. SEO is very important. You need it in the long run because it helps. However, when a business is small, there are so many things that have to be done every single day. SEO tasks are just not important in the large scope of things.

Startup employees tend to be overworked. They do so many things first and SEO work ends up being handled last. Oftentimes, SEO work is not even done. This is why the big firms hire SEO agencies so they can focus on core operations.

Lack Of Access To SEO Software And Tools

This can also be tied to money. Your marketing budget is most likely really small so you cannot invest in the software and tools you need to do great SEO work. In-house SEO departments have the tools that they need to automate some of the time-consuming tasks but you only find these in the larger companies. Small businesses cannot afford such extra expenses.

As a very simple example, the standard Pro package for SEM Rush is $99.95 per month. Ninja Outreach is $119 per month. Even paid Mailchimp packages start at $9.99 per month. These amounts add up.

Can you afford such extra monthly payments?

Chances are you cannot as a small business. All you can do is use the free versions of the software and tools so it is very hard to gain the competitive advantage that is oftentimes needed.

You Cannot Leverage Clout For Media Coverage And Link Building

The big brands have a good reputation. They simply get links to their pages without even trying to. Having weight behind the name helps out a lot more than you might think.

As an example, let's say Coca Cola launches a new flavor. It is enough to do this and numerous media outlets will want to cover it. Ads will be quickly picked up and published everywhere. Even bloggers will talk about it without being paid or contacted.

As a small business, you cannot leverage clout because there is no real clout present.

Should You Still Use SEO As A Small Business?

Yes.

There is simply no other answer.

You should never give up on doing SEO work. At least, do the minimum. You want to keep growing your online presence. Your website will eventually help you. It just takes longer for the smaller businesses.

When you have the finances needed to get serious about doing SEO work, you will do it.


ASU team helps small businesses navigate COVID-19 - Standard-Times

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 09:53 AM PDT

Dave Erickson, Special to San Angelo Standard-Times Published 11:47 a.m. CT Sept. 14, 2020 | Updated 12:19 p.m. CT Sept. 14, 2020

CLOSE

During the COVID-19 crisis beginning in March of this year, the ASU Small Business Development Center staff has helped many small business owners obtain emergency funding due to the shutdown of non-essential businesses.

These were trying times for every small business. Everyone I have worked with were doing the best they could for their customers and employees. They should all be celebrated. 

It was also trying times for lenders as they assisted clients with SBA PPP forgivable loans. I have to give a tip of the hat to our local lenders, CPAs, and the SBDC staff, who together worked very hard and long hours with small business clients seeking PPP loans. They did their best to make sure they received loans if they were eligible. Lenders were also offering deferments and workouts on some existing loans for their small business clients.

More: Here's which San Angelo businesses received Paycheck Protection Program loans during pandemic

In addition to the SBA PPP loans through lenders, the hard-working SBDC staff assisted many small business owners to apply for the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which were direct loans from the SBA. These long term and low-interest loans, along with PPP forgivable loans received from their lender have helped many small business owners through this crisis, at least temporarily.

Early on in the crisis, the local economic development partners created the Economic Resources Task Force led by the Chamber of Commerce and COSADC. By working together, they developed a recovery plan for the small business community. This recovery plan focused on business advising and training, funding sources, networking, mentoring, mindset, local government support, local media support, and workforce rehire, recruit, and train. 

As usual, the local economic development partners quickly and easily came together to help the business community. There are few partnerships like this in Texas. It is a better community because the partners work together. A tip of the hat also to Workforce Board and Solutions for the work they did helping small businesses with employee issues related to the crisis.

More: COVID-19 creates small business turmoil

Going forward there is optimism as Congress reconvenes. We hope they will address among other matters the second round of PPP forgivable loans and address the blanket (auto) forgiveness for PPP loans under $150,000.

As small businesses continue recovery efforts, the SBDC staff is assisting many clients on COVID 19 and other related issues through no-cost one-on-one advising and no to low-cost webinar training.

We are assisting clients with regular and alternative funding sources, marketing, business model, human resource issues, and assisting with COVID-19 mitigation procedures. Some small businesses are taking the time to expand their businesses and some are even opening new businesses. History has shown that there can be an opportunity even in adversity.

We are not out of the woods yet, and with some exceptions, many small businesses are continuing to experience reduced revenue due to capacity restrictions and due to their clients not coming back in pre-COVID 19 numbers because of health and safety concerns. Unfortunately, some businesses will not recover.

However, I hope we are turning the corner on this crisis as COVID 19 cases continue to decrease and most everyone is serious about mitigation procedures and practices. We are hopeful to report in the coming months that for many small businesses, the crisis will be over and recovery will be in sight.

"Business Tips" was written by Dave Erickson, Director and Certified Business Advisor, of Angelo State University's Small Business Development Center.  For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at David.Erickson@angelo.edu. If you appreciate locally driven journalism, consider a digital subscription to GoSanAngelo.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for news updates. Submit news tips to News@GoSanAngelo.com

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COVID-19 Small Business Grants Due By October 2nd – WBIW - WBIW.com

Posted: 14 Sep 2020 06:41 AM PDT

(BEDFORD) – The City of Bedford is offering a grant program for small businesses in the City of Bedford impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant is designed for businesses located in the City of Bedford.

Criteria for the grant include:

  • Gross receipts equal to or less than $1 million
  • 100 or fewer employees (full and part-time)
  • Low to moderate income owner (micro enterprise) or 51 percent of employees retained are low to moderate income on an aggregated basis
  • Business must demonstrate direct financial impact/need as result of COVID-19
  • Preferences given locally-owned businesses
  • Preferences given to Minority – Women, and/or Veteran – Owned businesses.

The grant program is made available to businesses to retain jobs with the persons who are determined to be low to moderate income by job category.

The grant amount is $5,000 per job retained with a maximum of $10,000.

Those businesses wishing to apply need to complete an application which includes a business Form W-9 are to be submitted to the City of Bedford Mayor Sam Craig's office.

Application forms are available at Bedford City Hall and on the city's website at http://www.bedford.in.us/

  • Applications are to be submitted to Bedford City Hall by October 2, 2020 by the close of business (4:00 p.m.). They may be dropped off, mailed, or emailed to dandry@bedford.in.us.
  • All applications received on or before that date will be considered filed at the same time.
  • Subsequent applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funds are available.
  • Scanned and e-mailed applications as well as digital signatures will be accepted.
  • The business must enter into an agreement or contract to commit to remain open and make the best efforts to remain in business for 2 years retaining the stipulated number of employees. The business must provide annual reports to the city of the business status after the project is closed out by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

A committee will be appointed by Mayor Sam Craig to review the applications and award the grant funding. The funds will not be dispersed until at least January of 2021.

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