Our Blog...

JAM Small Business Tips


We cover a variety of topics that are key to the success of all businesses, but VITAL to that of small ones!

(Stay tuned...our blog will be back soon!!!) 

Marketing...

June 8, 2018

“If you build it, they will come”...only for Kevin Costner (in the movies)!  Marketing is a must!!!  So many businesses with great food, services or product fold simply because not enough people know they’re there.

  

How many times have you passed a new business you had no idea was there???  You make a mental note to try them...yet a couple of months go by and you completely forgot.  Then one day you pass by again & are completely shocked, & a bit saddened, to find they are no longer there.  Now you feel guilty you didn't support this new small business.  However, the onus lies squarely on the shoulders of the business owners.


When launching a new business, it is imperative you get the word out to your target audience...who are you, where are you, what are you selling, when are you open and why should they come to you!  For brick and mortar businesses, marketing must begin before you open your doors...with 'coming soon' & 'grand opening' advertisements & promotions.    

Branding...

June 15, 2018

Branding...image, differentiation & consistency!


Branding by definition, “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product ‘or service’ in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.”  (Businessdictionary.com)


Branding is key in the building, growth & continued success of any business...but it isn’t just marketing & advertising campaigns. Everything you do & everything you put out into the universe with your business’ name (directly & indirectly) becomes a part of your brand, & thus even more important, but often overlooked.


How do you want your customers to perceive your business?

Customer Service...

June 22, 2018

Treat your customers the way you want to be treated.  And if you have thick-skin or a high tolerance...treat them the way you want your children or loved ones treated! Customer Service is a dying art.  For a small business it is a necessity & key to your competitive advantage over the big boys! 


Customer Service = Free Marketing!


Happy Customers = Loyal Ones!

Web presence...

June 29, 2018

Manage your web presence...don't allow it to manage you!


Have you ever googled your business?  Have you done so lately?  (yes, "Google" is now a verb in most English dictionaries).  What does the internet say about your business?  If you are not managing your web presence, you are allowing the worldwide web to formulate your business' reputation and dictate your company image!  


We all know the importance of first impressions & often believe we are in control of our customers' first impressions by what we put out into the universe (our physical space, our business cards, our advertising and marketing materials, etc.).  However, the reality is, most people form their impression of your business from what they find online..whether or not that information comes directly from you!  If you do not have a website and have never established a social media account (which we will address in the upcoming weeks), there is most likely information somewhere online about your business.  Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Yelp, Yellowpages, etc...all create business profiles using basically whatever information they find online...without your permission, knowledge or contribution.     


So when potential customers are online looking for businesses to satisfy their needs, or heard of your business from a friend and go online for more information, or saw your business passing by and take to the web out of pure curiosity, do you know what they will find?  Is it the "first impression" you want them to have?  Is it reflective of your brand?  Is all of the basic information (name, address, phone number, business hours) correct?  


Take control of your business information...it plays a HUGE role in the growth and overall development of your brand.  With consumers now using the internet to obtain most of their information, what it says about your business is not only a first impression...but a lasting one!

Website...

July 6, 2018

Does your business need a website?  The short answer is YES!   


Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, once said..."if your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business."  Wise words...


Last week we discussed the importance of having a web presence...well, think of your website as the "internet central" or the "hub" of your entire online presence!  It is also the only online marketing tool of which you have complete control...it is your dedicated space on the world-wide web to build your brand, your way and get your message and story out to potential customers.


If you are already using social media, you may think that is sufficient and gives you the online presence your business needs.  However,  the truth is you have no control over any of those platforms...you are at the mercy of the platform owners (i.e. Mr. Zuckerberg at Facebook).  And how many of us truly understand all of the algorithms and nuances that determine how your message gets out and to whom?  Don't get me wrong, social media marketing IS A NECESSITY...in addition to having your own website.  It affords you extended customer reach at an affordable cost.  However, you are limited to the amount of information (or characters) you can use to tell your story on all of those platforms...including your profile or page.  


So...yes, you must have a website!  Here are some quick basic facts:

  1. 70-80% of consumers will research a business on the web before making a buying decision
  2. Over 70% of consumers say that a business' website has a direct influence over whether or not they purchase or utilize the services of that business
  3. 97% of consumers search online for products and services
  4. Having a website legitimizes your business & improves your overall credibility...it is a professional tool consumers expect you to have & can make the difference between choosing you or one of your competitors (who has one)
  5. A website is a 24/7 silent salesman
  6. Your website helps build your brand and allows you to carve space for your business in the industry & categories you wish to compete
  7. It is a direct line to your customers...and more importantly, gives them a direct line to your business.  It is an extension of customer service
  8. It will increase your sales!!!
  9. Your website becomes the piece of the internet you call "HOME"

The better question is...can you afford NOT to have one???


Keep website content up to date!

July 13, 2018

Don’t set it & forget it...this isn’t an ASTV infomercial!


A website is a great marketing tool for your business, but it is not a one & done...nor is it a single check on your ‘to do’ list.  Websites must be kept up to date & constantly refreshed!  You will get out exactly what you put in...


If you do not yet have a website, see last week’s tip below...

Avoid typos & bad grammar!

July 20, 2018

We’ve all seen them...hilarious blunders as a result of a “small” typo or grammatical error. They are all over the internet...from social media, print materials, store signs, products, etc. However, they are not so funny for the business owners! Although many may find them funny, there are also many who don’t, & worse, may be offended.


For every point, there is a counter-argument...& this one’s no different. There is a school of thought that typos are not a big deal...that they “humanize” a business & people forget & forgive. These people must not have ever worked in retail...or ever had to deal with the consequences! These errors can be costly...signs & merchandise trashed &/or redone, bad press, irate customers, lost sales & missed business, etc. If anyone ever tells you there is no such thing as bad press...RUN FOR THE HILLS! Sure large businesses can more easily recover from such mistakes, but very few small business can afford to lose customers or the potential adverse hit to their bottom line.


Truth is...there is no such thing as a “small” mistake. As discussed in our BRANDING tip a few weeks ago, everything you put out there is a part of your brand & overall image. Would you hire a printer to make your wedding or party invitations if their website is riddled with errors? Or how about hire a tutor for your kids if their ad had a typo? Would you go to a restaurant if the chef posted , “I like cooking my family & my pets”...OR feel more comfortable if the post read, “I like cooking, my family & my pets”??? No one wants to eat @ Jeffrey Dahmer’s Place (well...I guess that’s debatable, but you get the point)! Oh what a difference a comma makes!


It’s not much different than passing over a job candidate for typos or a poorly written resume. Your marketing & promotional materials contribute to your business’ “resume” from which potential customers decide whether or not they choose you to do business.


Proofread EVERYTHING @ least 3 times! Allow someone else to read it as well. Two sets of eyes are always better than one...& we have a tendency to read what we meant to say & not always what we actually said. There are also a ton of free & low cost tools available to help.


Do mistakes happen...OF COURSE! And when they do, correct them the best way possible (if necessary) & move on...you may even find a few in this post! (yikes!)

Does that mean you shouldn’t take them seriously & work to avoid them...ABSOLUTELY NOT! If you are lax in your own work, how can your customers expect you not to be lax with theirs???

Business Cards...

July 27, 2018

Yes, business cards are still a must!


Exchanging business cards at the end of any conversation about your business is crucial to ensure follow up! They not only add a level of professionalism, but also aid in validating the authenticity of your business.


That said, it doesn’t stop there... 

Although it is indeed critical you have a business card, it is even MORE important you have a GREAT one! Just because you can make your own business cards at home & even print them on your own printer, doesn’t mean you should. Remember the old adage about first impressions...they are LASTING ONES.


Your business card says a lot about you & your business. It should be reflective of your business, your values, your style...& should distinguish you from your competition.  


 Business cards are a key element in your overall branding & one of the least expensive marketing tools in which you can invest. Don’t waste the opportunity!

Always Seek the Truth!

August 3, 2018

Can you handle the truth???  Maybe not according to Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men...though I digress. (smile)


Many people can't and don't really want the truth...even when they ask.  Instead they really are asking for assurance that what they believe is true or right.  However, in order for your business to succeed, you must always seek the truth...in order to succeed at anything in life this is an absolute must!  


Surround yourself with people who care enough about you and your business to always give you their honest opinion...those who will give it to you straight and tell you what you need to hear in order to help you.  Whether it's your employees or family and friends...a circle of 'YES' people will never get you anywhere.  You want people to challenge you, your thoughts, your ideas...people who inspire you to do and be better.  


You know the old saying, "if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room", or "if you are the smartest person in your circle of friends, you need new friends".  Whichever way you look at it, truer words have never been spoken.  You cannot solve a problem with the same ideas, no man is an island and there is no 'i' in team.  Just as it takes a village to raise a child (or an entire town these days), it takes a team to start, grow and maintain a business...whether or not they are on your payroll.  


Malcolm X once said, "If you have no critics, you'll likely have no success".  Words to live by...no matter your beliefs.


Customer Retention...

August 10, 2018

Hold on tight to existing customers!!!


For those of you of a 'particular age', you know the old saying "it's cheaper to keep her".  Well, regardless of your feelings on its intended meaning...it is certainly applicable to your business!


Depending on which study you believe & industry you're in, it can be anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones.  Attracting new customers is rewarding and is also a part of growing your business, but for small businesses, customer retention must be the primary focus of your time and resources.


It has always been a major pet peeve of mine when I see promotions or coupons that specifically say "new customers only".  This is a HUGE no-no.  You are pretty much telling your current customers, now that you have them, they are no longer of value.  


In order to keep your existing customers, make sure you are always doing these 5 things:

  1. KNOW who your customers are!  It is crucial you know your customers in order to know how to retain them.
  2. LISTEN to them!  Customers are very vocal and they will tell you what they need, want and expect from you.
  3. COMMUNICATE with them...keep them posted on your business, new products, events, services, etc.  You must stay in front of them so they do not forget you.
  4. REWARD them!  Whether you use a loyalty program or send them coupons or free stuff...continuously let them know how much you appreciate them.  It sounds cliche, but 'thank you' goes a long way.
  5. GIVE THEM A REASON TO COME BACK!  Why your business?  What sets you apart from the competition?  Address their needs and how you can fill them.

Don't be afraid to try new things.  Be creative...and above all else, HAVE FUN!!!  

Who am I???

August 17, 2018

Every great entrepreneur has a strong sense of self!


Although our hearts may be heavy as we mourn the loss of another icon (the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin), I find myself inspired by her & all of the accolades bestowed upon her.  I am reminded there are always life lessons in every tragedy...even though in times of sadness and sorrow they are often difficult to see.


As I've listened to all of the news commentary, comments from her family & friends...those who knew her well, one thing jumped out at me which made her the force the world came to love...Ms. Franklin had a strong sense of self!  She knew who she was and was unapologetic for it!  In addition to having a voice like no other...she was said to be "a complicated, curious creature"...& I LOVED that!  Someone else said she was "deeply curious".  She was so much more than the Queen of Soul...as if that alone wasn't enough.  It was also said she was "profoundly wondrous about the world around her" and "relentlessly interrogating & always asking questions leading to her own conclusions".  She was "an independent thinker & assessed things for herself".  She was all of those things...& still said to be generous, kind, funny & "regular".  I was shocked & amazed to learn this self-taught marvel had not one, but two children by the time she was 15...& overcame all of the odds to be the phenom we grew to love.  She had a dream...& went after it!


We can all learn from Ms. Franklin.  You cannot grow if you are not "curious".  You cannot succeed if you do not know what it is you want to achieve.  You cannot give if you do not know what you have to offer.  You cannot receive if you do not know your value.  You cannot demand respect, you have to first be worthy of it...& then command it.  You cannot have a strong sense of self if you do not know your core beliefs, ideals, goals and purpose.


Do you know who you are???

A Penny for Your Thoughts...

August 24, 2018

Well, if we factor in inflation, that saying today should be about $5 for your thoughts...but I digress (smile).  My point...it is okay to ask your customers for feedback and to leave reviews.


Reviews are critical to business...esp. small business.  One of the best tools small businesses have to compete with their larger counterparts is customer service.  When your customer service is great and your customers are happy, it is important to spread that positive message.  We all know unhappy customers are more likely to leave a negative review than happy customers are to leave a good one, so while you may make 99% of your customers happy, they may need some encouragement to share that message.


According to Reputation Builder:

  • Customers who have a bad experience are twice to three times more likely to write an angry review than customers who had a great experience are to post a happy review

  • 88 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their best friends’ recommendations
  • 80 percent of people choose to go elsewhere if they read bad reviews of your business online
  • One negative review online (when not countered by positive reviews) can cost up to 30 new customers
  • It takes 12 positive reviews to cancel out the nasty side effects of just one negative review 

There are a variety of ways to encourage customers to leave reviews:

  • Ask for them...one-one-one.  Appeal to customers you have a relationship with...you'll find they are more than happy to do so.  Also make sure your employees are doing the same
  • Subtle reminders...store signage, links on your website, badges on your business cards, requests on receipts, etc.
  • Send email requests after transactions when thanking customers for their purchase and support
  • Promote the reviews you have...they make great testimonials on your website & other marketing materials
  • Make it simple...tell them where & provide the site addresses and links
  • Respond to all reviews, but esp. negative ones!  Apologize and offer a resolution if possible...if not, ask to connect through email or private message. Other customers will still see that you took ownership and tried to make it right. This goes a LONG way!

While encouraging customers is a necessary component in building your reviews online, offering incentives is a bit different and somewhat of a fine line.  Small incentives and contests are okay, but offering free goods and large discounts is not.  Not only is this prevented on some of the big websites like Yelp, but it is frowned upon with many customers as well and may wound up having the opposite effect.  


Always encourage customers to leave HONEST reviews.  It is not wise to "bribe" them or necessary to pay for them.  "A penny for your thoughts" is a saying...no one ever really gave you a penny (smile).  If you are providing great customer service...your reviews (overall) will reflect that!

A Lesson in Courage...

August 31, 2018

Whatever your political beliefs, it is almost impossible not to be inspired by the life and legacy of Senator John McCain.


I used to believe business was not the place to discuss, or even breach the subject of, politics or religion...but this is a different time & the playbook has definitely changed.  Business owners are finding it more and more difficult to stay neutral on important issues facing our nation.


Consumers' expectations are changing...& everything you do becomes a reflection of you, your business and your brand.  Consumers now want to know exactly who a company is at its heart and what it stands for.  So, in response, you must ensure the message you are putting out there directly reflects your value proposition...whether it's politics, religion, animal rights, gun ownership, etc.  Consumers want to know where their dollars are going and what they are ultimately supporting. 


You have to put your money where your mouth is & take a stand!  Make sure it aligns with your business' overall mission.  For large businesses it is the company's views, not that of any individual...but for small businesses, they are more likely one in the same.  Once your overall views are out, it is almost impossible to take them back...so whatever you do or say, make sure it is always something you can stand in.  Remember, the same courage it took to start your own business, it also takes to keep it!
 

We have all heard the stories of businesses refusing service to people for a variety of reasons...some have wound up in court as a result!  Whether or not I agree with their position and beliefs, I commend them for standing in their truth and putting their beliefs out there.  After all, do you want to support a business that doesn't want your business...heck no!  So in my opinion, they have spared us and enabled us to give our hard earned dollars to those who appreciate it...& you.


Senator McCain was affectionately called The Maverick because he stood tall, charted his own course and was a person of conviction and courage.  We can all learn a lot from him...for business and our everyday personal lives.  He was fearless!!!  


Are you standing up & speaking out for what you believe in...or sitting quietly on the sidelines hoping someone else will???  This doesn't mean you have to take a stand on everything, but it certainly means you have to stand up for the things most important to you...your core morals and values...& that you are never compromising your integrity for dollars and cents.

Branded/Promotional Product...

September 7, 2018

Are your products properly representing your brand? 


Oftentimes when small businesses offer supplemental products with their name or logo to their customers to help promote their brand & ultimately increase sales, they are not put through the same rigorous planning and principles as the rest of the business.  This is a mistake!


I have seen t-shirts for sale for $25 & up & mugs for $15 or more.  Let's face it...unless you are already an established brand like Nike, Tommy Hilfiger & Lacoste, or are also licensed to use the Philly Eagles logo (yeah, I said it...we're in Eagles territory), no one but your family and friends will be buying that stuff!  When you are building your brand, it is imperative your products meet the following criteria...whether you are selling them, offering as gift with purchase or even giving them away for free.  As you select products to feature your logo, & therefore your brand, ask yourself the following 6 questions:


  1. Do they make sense for my business & overall brand...& my customer?
  2. Are they desirable & useful?
  3. Are they inline with current trends?
  4. Does the quality meet the same standards I uphold for everything else?
  5. Can I price it competitively? (if you are selling the goods or even for a gift with purchase, they should be a good...even great value)
  6.  Would I pay this price for the same item of another unknown brand?

If your items do not meet all of the above criteria, you should pass and either consider other items, find another resource or both.  Never compromise your brand for a fast buck or to stroke your ego...you'll undoubtedly pay for it in the end...

Current Events...

September 14, 2018

Timing is everything!


We all know how important it is to keep up with the latest news to remain in the know on what's going on in the world and understand how it directly impacts us and our businesses (whether it's fashion & consumer trends, taxes, tariffs, global warming,  war, weather, etc).  However, it's not quite as obvious to also pay special attention to the indirect implications & consequences on business overall, the economy, consumer behavior, etc.


Whether or not you approve or disapprove of our president or the content he puts out via social media, one thing we can all agree on is that the timing is often questionable, and one of the things that gets him into the most trouble.  As majority of us will never become President of our great country, we do not and never will have as many chances to make those same mistakes...& sometimes it only takes one.


As you post on social media, it is critical to always take into consideration current events...what is going on & how it is impacting your customers and the world around them.  Consumers want the businesses to which they give their hard earned dollars to have a heart and to exhibit empathy & humanity overall...& especially within the communities of which they reside.


Your Support Team...

September 21, 2018

Do you have the right support system protecting you and your business?


It goes without saying that you need a strong team of direct reports (although easier said than done, I know), but it is not quite as common to ensure the right external support people are also in place to ensure the continued growth of your business.  It is a common misconception that it is too expensive to hire any of the below professionals, but nowadays that simply is not true.  Every small business owner or entrepreneur has to have the following team of people in their circle:


  1. Business Attorney - In addition to lawsuits, business attorneys can assist in creating or changing your businesses legal structure, licenses & permits, contracts, IRS audits, law violations, etc.  They are a cost of doing business that undoubtedly saves you money & helps your business in the long run.
  2. Tax Accountant (or CPA) - It is okay to have a tax preparer for your personal taxes, but you should have a tax accountant or CPA for your business.  Tax accountants have a broader educational background with experience in audits, financial statements, business regulation & requirements, etc. that is more aligned with your overall business needs 
  3. Business Consultant - The most success entrepreneurs recognize their own limitations and hire others to do what they cannot.  Consultants can help in areas such as marketing, human resources, management & overall business analysis.  They help improve companies by assessing weaknesses and recommending solutions.  
  4. Financial Planner - They help you understand your financial circumstances and work with you to reach both short-term and long-term financial goals...they are not just for retirement planning.
  5. Family Doctor - Many business owners neglect their most valuable asset...themselves!  It is CRUCIAL you take care of yourself.  Sleep, exercise and healthy eating can only do but so much...it is NOT a replacement for seeing your doctor for annual exams and recommended testing based on your age, overall health and family history.  And if you think you don't have time...just ask yourself, what happens to your business (your family, friends, loved ones) if you are not here???
  6. Good Friend - Everyone needs someone to lean on...someone to talk to or even just for moral support.  Being a business owner is hard and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes.  Don't be afraid to ask for help!

Although it is nice if you can have them all on retainer, it isn't a must!  There are many professionals and companies that offer plans and programs making these professional services affordable.  So instead of asking yourself if you can afford to pay for them...ask yourself if you can afford not to!  



Preparation...

September 29, 2018 (our apologies for the delay!)

Are you properly prepared for your next meeting???


Whether you are preparing for a business meeting, presentation, interview, etc., the key to your success is preparation! There are 6 things to remember to ensure you are indeed prepared & thus more likely to yield your preferred outcome:


  1. Know your audience! It is imperative you know with whom you are meeting or to whom you are presenting. Gear your presentation (both facts and delivery) to that audience.
  2.  Know the facts! Do your homework. When you are meeting with an individual, research their background. When you are presenting to a group from a particular company, research that company & their business...get into their store/location. Know the topic you are discussing & be clear and correct on all facts. Utilize facts to make your points whenever possible vs. opinions.
  3. Be concise & focused! Let's be honest, most of us are not fans of meetings...of any kind. There are always a myriad of other things we'd rather be doing...& we all know, time is money!
  4. Be engaging & impactful! Be passionate, be interesting & use humor whenever feasible. At the end of the day, you want to be remembered.
  5. Be positive! Even if you are delivering bad news or your meeting is involving difficult content or discussions, try to end on a happy note.
  6. Be yourself! We can often tell when people are disingenuous and would most likely avoid doing business with or hiring someone we didn't find credible or sincere.

All in all, when you are lucky enough to have someone's time and attention, utilize it wisely as you may not be given a second chance!

Self Care...

October 5, 2018

There's a reason why you're told to put your oxygen mask on first on an airplane.  Quite simply, it is impossible to help others if you don't help yourself first.  This means your health, both mental and physical, have to remain a top priority.  Make certain you are doing the following 8 things:

  1. Annual exams & all of the recommended testing for your age, health and family history.
  2. Sleep!  We often neglect this basic necessity.  It is not only vital for our health, it is a must for productivity, concentration and overall stamina.
  3. Take a break...not only throughout your workday, but also be sure to take time off during the week.  And yes, vacations are the doctors' orders!
  4. De-stress and decompress!  Let go of things you cannot change and focus on those you can.
  5. It is OK to say no sometimes...we are not bionic and cannot do everything.  Prioritize all things in your life and create balance.
  6. Stay active and eat healthy! (no worries...the latter is a struggle for most of us! smile)
  7. Surround yourself with people who love you and have your back (which doesn't mean they will always agree with you...but only want the best for you).
  8. Enjoy life!  We only get one chance...

While it may be true that your family & your business need you...& yes, there are but so many hours in a day.   Always remember, to your family there is nothing you can give them more important than YOU, and for your business the greatest asset is who...YOU!

Make Your Voice Count...

October 12, 2018

For Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners, failing to cast your vote in the upcoming midterm elections is like giving a stranger a say in your business.  These elections directly impact the following issues most critical to your business and play a key role in exactly how & what policies are created.

  1. Taxes (tax code, regulations and tax rates)
  2. Overall state of the economy
  3. Health Care
  4. Minimum Wage

Small businesses create 7 out of every 10 new jobs & employ a little more than 50% of this nation's private sector workforce.  They play a vital role in our economy...so it is critical we speak up and make our voices heard and our votes count!  All of the above issues can make or break most small businesses and are indeed critical not only to the success of these businesses, but also to the livelihood of all of the people they employ.


On November 6th, VOTE...& encourage all of your friends, family & employees to do the same.  For small businesses, failing to vote is voting to fail!!!

Know When to Let Go of Bad Employees...

October 19, 2018

So many small businesses fail or stall due to bad or underperforming employees.  Many entrepreneurs have a hard time cutting ties...as firing someone is never easy.  Failing to do so, however, is detrimental.  It causes more stress on themselves, the other employees, customers and of course the bottom line.


If you have a team member who is continually late, unproductive, unambitious, insubordinate, lacks passion, stealing, or worse...holding on to them is akin to letting a disease go untreated in your body.  It will not get better.  It will simply just fester & eventually wreak havoc.  


There are many reasons small business owners choose to delay the inevitable:  too busy to deal with it, takes too much time to train a replacement, the employee is a "nice person", employee may get better, guilt, etc.  However, most small businesses cannot compensate for these employees, so in the interim, the businesses suffer...they become a direct drain on the company's finances.


Your business is only as good as your people, so underperforming employees yield underperforming businesses.  Once you've done everything you can to motivate and train them, it is time to apply the corrective action shown in this picture (smile).      

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday...

October 26, 2018

In 2010, as small businesses were hurting from the recession, American Express launched Small Business Saturday the Saturday after Thanksgiving in an effort to encourage people to spend holiday shopping dollars with small businesses.


Fast forward to 2017 & consumers spent an estimated 12 BILLION dollars with local, independently owned businesses!  In just 8 short years...Small Business Saturday has become a national movement benefiting small businesses, their local communities & the economy overall.


Now's the time to prepare!  AMEX offers FREE tools & marketing materials to help you promote your business, plan an event or just spread the word.  But don't delay, orders for the free promotional materials must be placed by November 6th to ensure on time arrival!


For many businesses the last 2 months of the year represent up to 40% of total annual sales!  Take advantage of this day for your business & also to support other small businesses. 


When small businesses win, everyone wins!!!

Small Business Saturday

Got Business Cards???

November 2, 2018

Yes, business cards are still a must!


Exchanging business cards at the end of any conversation about your business is critical to ensuring follow up!  Not only do they add a level of professionalism, but they also aid in validating the authenticity of your business.  Think of it as handing out a mini flyer promoting your business after ever engagement.


And it is not only important you have a business card, it is even MORE important that you have a GREAT one!  Just because you can make your own business cards at Staples or at home using your own printer, doesn’t mean you should.  Remember the old adage about first impressions...they are LASTING ONES.  72% of people judge a business or person based on the quality of their business card & 39% would choose not to do business with a company with a "cheap looking" business card (data according to Statistic Brain Research Institute).


Every business card should meet the following 7 criteria:

  1. Professional, heavy-weight card stock (we recommend a min of 14pt)
  2. Design should suit you and your brand
  3. Design should be consistent with other brand and promotional materials
  4. Design should stand out from the pack
  5. Contact info should be clear and easy to find
  6. Utilize the back...don't miss the opportunity to share pertinent info about your business.  Every business card shared is an advertisement for your business and brand!
  7. No typos!

Your business card says a lot about you, your business & your brand overall.  It should be reflective of your business, your values, your style...& should distinguish you from your competition.  They are a key element in your overall branding & one of the least expensive marketing tools in which you can invest.  Don’t waste the opportunity!

Small Business Saturday

Managing Stress...

November 10, 2018 (our apologies for the delay!)

Are you managing your stress or ignoring it?


Being an entrepreneur or small business owner is AWESOME...most times.  If you are doing what you love, it is extremely rewarding & motivating.  It is great being in the driver's seat and having direct control.  But let's face it...it is also just plain hard and can be very stressful at times.


We all know stress wreaks havoc on our bodies...our minds, our emotions, our health, our behavior...EVERYTHING!   So without managing your stress and proper self-care, it can be a recipe for disaster.


Make sure you are doing the following 7 things to help manage your stress:

  1. Acknowledging it.  Be honest with yourself about it or you will never do what's needed to deal with it.
  2. Talk to someone.  Open up and be honest.  Talk to your spouse, significant other, family member, close friend, family doctor or therapist.
  3. Take time for yourself.  RELAX!  Read a book, take a vacation (even if just a stay-cation), take up yoga or tai chi, get a massage.  What you like to do...make time to decompress!
  4. Watch your nutrition.  When we are stressed, we are often not eating properly, not eating much at all or over-eating.
  5. Stay hydrated...you hear on the news all of the time how often celebrities wound up in the hospital for dehydration.  They are not the only ones...just the only ones we hear about on the news!
  6. Get the proper sleep.  Recent studies have shown getting the proper amount of sleep to be imperative to good health and directly linked to a magnitude of serious health conditions.  It is as important as eating and drinking water! 
  7. Surround yourself with supportive people who love you and care about YOU.


We often treat ourselves like we are invincible.  We take care of people we love and often ignore our own health and well-being.  But the truth is stress kills...figuratively and literally.  Although you may be a superhero in the eyes of your partner or kids...there is no such thing.  Take care of yourself!  It's the best thing you can do for you, your loved ones & your business...  

Small Business Saturday

Get Your Business Ready for the Holidays!

November 16, 2018

The time is now to ensure your business is ready for the balance of the year!


  1. Make sure your sales are planned & your promotional materials are ready to go!
  2. Take advantage of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday!!!  This weekend alone can help achieve your sales goals.  Weather is unpredictable, so don’t wait until the last minute!
  3. Decorate your stores for Hanukkah &/or Christmas!  It puts your customers in the holiday mood & does wonders for you & your staff as well.
  4. Order your holidays cards &/or gifts for your clients...show your customers your appreciation for their business. Thank you goes a long way...& everyone likes freebies, so small gifts are always great!


Leave no stone unturned...take advantage of every opportunity to beat your sales goals this year!!!


Need an extra hand...contact us!  We can take care of your holiday promotions, cards &/or gifts...so you can focus on your sales!

Small Business Saturday

Happy Black Friday!

November 23, 2018

With the start of the holidays, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday upon us...thought we could all use just a little "MORE"...


Have a great holiday weekend!  We will resume our small business tips next week...

Small Business Saturday

Year End Tax Tips...

November 30, 2018

5 year end tax moves for your small business...

  1. Plan ahead!  Now is the time to start thinking about getting your business taxes in order.  Make sure you understand the big changes in tax reform.
  2. Meet with an accountant now to see if you can benefit from some of the new lower rates by amending your business structure for 2019 (LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, etc).
  3. Buy capital equipment.  If you need any equipment, purchasing by year end enables you to take advantage of accelerated depreciation.
  4. Start a 401K plan.  You get up to a $500 tax credit for start up costs just for setting it up...even if you don’t offer matching contributions.
  5. Work opportunity tax credit (WOTC).  This federal tax credit is available to you for hiring & retaining someone the government classifies as having significant employment barriers (i.e. veterans, ex-felons, etc.).  You can get up to a $9600 tax credit on their compensation against your owed taxes. You can also go back a couple years if you failed to take advantage of this credit in prior years.  It is currently set to expire at the end of 2019.

For small businesses, every dime counts, so make sure you are taking advantage of all of the benefits the government has to offer!


*Disclaimer: These tips are not intended to advise you on your taxes, but rather to provide additional insight & knowledge as you work with your tax expert.

Small Business Saturday

5 Quick Ways to Increase Cash Flow...

December 7, 2018

Cash flow problems are the number one cause of small business failure.  If you need to increase cash flow, consider implementing the following 5 strategies...

  1. Increase prices - Don't be afraid to raise prices.  It is impossible for small businesses to absorb economic swings that adversely impact their bottom line.  As long as your pricing is right for the product and also inline with competition, and your service and overall experience are superb, your customers will continue to buy.  
  2. Encourage employees to upsell & cross-sell - This is the easiest to do, but often the biggest miss for many small businesses.  It not only increases your bottom line, but also is a service to your customers.  If they are buying a suit, your employees should never fail to also show them shirts, ties, socks, cufflinks & shoes to match!  If they are buying a toy, don't forget the batteries, for example.  This applies to both product and service industries.
  3. Re-examine inventory - Are you carrying items that aren’t producing?  More than likely the 80/20 rule applies & 80% of your sales are coming from 20% of your inventory.  This is the time to liquidate excess inventory...when traffic is high and consumers are looking for deals
  4. Review credit card statements - See if you are paying for services you aren’t using or don’t need...esp. ones that auto-renew.  We are all often guilty of this.  With the convenience of auto-pay and the hustle & bustle of work and everyday life, we sometimes fail to keep up with items on auto-pay. 
  5. Crowd-funding - Consider a crowd-funding campaign if you are working on a new project...esp. something that will benefit the community in which your business resides.

As the holiday season is in full gear, don't miss out on the opportunity to increase cash flow now and ensure your business remains on track heading into the new year!

Small Business Saturday

5 Ways to Improve Your Business's Success...

December 14, 2018

We all know the saying, "you cannot keep doing the same thing and expect different results".  No truer words were ever spoken...as this truly applies to everything we do in life.  So in order to improve your business, you have to do things a bit differently.  Here are 5 fairly simple ways to do so:


1. Focus on what you are or can be the ONLY one offering in your business’s category vs. being the BEST @ what your competitors are also doing.  You want people to have to come to you for that product or service.


2. Go after bigger &/or better clients (i.e. other businesses, groups or larger in size & volume &/or those willing & able to buy more of your product or services).  In other words...improve your clientele & you will also improve your average transaction.


3. Focus on ‘the ending’.  Customers remember their entire experience based on how it ends (smooth transactions, thank-you’s, follow-ups, how issues are handled).  You of course want them to be left feeling good about their experience so they will return &/or recommend your business to others.  It is cheaper to keep existing customers than to get new ones...& word of mouth is the cheapest form of advertising.


4. Ensure your overall branding & message is strong, clear, consistent & representative of your business’s image, strategy & goals.


5. Maximize your online exposure.  Add your business to all relevant social media & search engine platforms.  Also improve search results for your business with SEO (search engine optimization).


Should you need assistance with any of the above, we can help.  See contact page for submit form, shoot us an email or give us a call...

Small Business Saturday

Enjoy the Holidays...

December 22, 2018 - sorry for the delay)

Regardless of our religious beliefs, we can probably all agree that the holidays are a reminder of what’s most important in life...& it is not work! Yes, your business is important, but at the end of the day, it is not MORE important than those you love, being a good person & being happy with the person looking back at you in the mirror.


The holidays are about love, giving, spending time with those who matter most to you, enjoying one another & putting smiles on people’s faces. So in order to do that you have to first SLOW DOWN...

BREATHE...

SIMPLIFY...

PRIORITIZE &

Make a little time for you too...even if it’s just a 1/2 day😊


Want more JAM???  Follow us @jamintlllc!

Small Business Saturday

No More New Year's Resolutions!

December 28, 2018

If you notice yourself making the same resolutions year after year...make this the year you STOP & do things a bit differently.  We all know the saying "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over again but expecting different results".  New Year’s resolutions are no exception.  


For entrepreneurs & small business owners...making this change is even more critical, as you are already carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.  Instead of making such broad & lofty resolutions, set more specific, smaller goals that will help you achieve your ultimate larger ones.  


Here are some of the most popular resolutions & suggested changes to make each more achievable:

  1. Lose weight...instead, add one day to your current workout routine; change up your current routine by trying something new; make your 1st weight loss goal 10% of your ultimate goal; cut carbs; cut sugar; keep a food journal; increase resistance training.
  2. Exercise...instead, set your goal to workout  2-3 days per week if you are not currently exercising; get a fitness watch or app & set a goal for a minimum average number of steps per day (some days may be higher, some lower...so long as you are hitting the average); skip the elevator & take the stairs; work with a personal trainer.
  3. Join a gym...see #2 ( who cares if you work out in a gym, outside, at home etc...so long as you are getting it in!)
  4. Quit smoking or drinking...these are probably two of the hardest.  Focus on the steps to achieve them...try hypnosis, the patch, limit drinking to weekends or social functions, set limits, etc.
  5. Get out of debt...instead, start a budget; pay the max you can afford on one debt with highest interest rate or lowest balance (if none have interest); stop using credit cards unless you can pay balance in full when due; limit yourself to one credit card; cut specific expenses. 
  6. Get more sleep...instead set a minimum average number of hours to achieve per night (& don’t start @ 8 hours, if you are now only getting 5!); set a bedtime...it doesn’t just work for the little ones (smile)
  7. Stop cursing...well, if you have any of the others on your list, let this one go!  With the stresses & pressures of running a business & just life...who cares! (wink)


New Year’s is the time for a fresh start...so don’t start your year with the added pressure of goals you cannot achieve or do not have specific plans as to how to get there.  Set yourself up for success!  Celebrate every victory & continue setting new goals once you achieve each until you get to the finish line!


Happy New Year!  Have a safe, happy, healthy and wealthy 2019!!!

Small Business Saturday

Marketing is a must!

January 4, 2019

There is often a misconception with small businesses that “If you build it, they will come”.  Well, that only works for Kevin Costner (in the movies...if you've seen Field of Dreams, you understand this reference).  So many businesses with great food, products or services fold simply because not enough people know about them...and word of mouth only gets you but so far.  Marketing is a must!!!


When launching a new business, it is imperative you get the word out to your target audience.  You need to convey your story in order to capture their attention.  We learned in grade school in order to tell a 'complete' story, you had to answer the 5 W's (who, what, where, when and why)...& that really applies here as well.   

  1. Who:  Who are you?  Define your business.
  2. What:  What does your business offer...what are you selling?  What is it about your product or services you want to communicate?     
  3. Where:  Where are you located?  Whether brick and mortar or online...where can they purchase your goods or services? 
  4. When:  When are you open?  If you are launching a new business, it is critical to communicate grand opening and event dates as well as store hours well in advance.
  5. Why:  Why should they come to you?  Why is your business special...what makes your business or product or service unique?  Why did you start your business?     
Marketing starts long before your business launches and is an ongoing aspect of every business.  It is important to all businesses, but it is VITAL to the very survival of every small business!   
Small Business Saturday

Does Your Business Need a Website?

January 11, 2019

Does your business need a website?  The short answer is YES!


Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, once said..."if your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business." Wise words...


You may be thinking..."I am on the internet with my facebook (or instagram) page".  However, although social media is also a necessity & indeed gives your business somewhat of a web presence, a website gives your business a home.  It becomes the "hub" or "center" of your entire online presence!  It is also the only online marketing tool of which you have complete control (not Mr. Zuckerberg).  It is your dedicated space on the world-wide web to build your brand, your way and get your message and story out to potential customers.  Your house...your rules!


Here are 10 quick basic facts:

  1. 70-80% of consumers will research a business on the web before making a buying decision.
  2. Over 70% of consumers say that a business' website has a direct influence over whether or not they purchase or utilize the services of that business.
  3. 81% of consumers research products & services online before buying.
  4. Having a website legitimizes your business & improves your overall credibility...it is a professional tool consumers expect you to have & can make the difference between choosing you or one of your competitors (who has one)
  5. Only about 55% of small businesses have a website...this alone gives you an advantage over about 45% of your competitors!
  6. A website is a 24/7 silent salesman.
  7. Your website helps build your brand and allows you to carve space for your business in the industry & categories you wish to compete.
  8. A website is a direct line to your customers...and more importantly, gives them a direct line to your business.  
  9. It is an extension of customer service!
  10. A website will increase your sales!!!

Although there may be a few examples where a website may not (yet) be suitable.  However, those instances are few & far between.  The better question is...can you afford NOT to have one???

Small Business Saturday

How Do You Respond to Adversity?

January 18, 2019

THE CARROT, THE EGG & THE COFFEE BEAN...


A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as when one problem was solved, a new one arose.


Her mother took her to the kitchen.  She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.  Soon the pots came to a boil.  In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.  She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.


In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.  She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.  Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.


Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see”.  "Carrots, eggs, and coffee”, she replied.  Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft.  The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.  Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee.  The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.


The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother”?  Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity...BOILING WATER.  But each reacted differently.  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.  However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.  The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.  However, the ground coffee beans were unique.  After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.


"Which are you?" she asked her daughter.  "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"


Think of this...which am I?


Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?


Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?

Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?  Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?


Or am I like the ground coffee bean?  The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.  When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.  If you are like the coffee bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.


When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level?


How do you respond to adversity?  Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?


The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.  The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.  When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.  Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.


As small business owners, there is certainly no shortage of adversity!  Oftentimes, it is from basic life lessons which we learn the most and gather our greatest strength... 

May we all be like a COFFEE BEAN!!!!


One of the absolute best parables!!! (author unknown)

Small Business Saturday

Learn to Say No!

January 25, 2019

We all know how hard it can be in our day to day lives to say no.  Why is it that this little two letter word is one of the hardest of all to say (after about the age of two or three, when we can’t seem to stop saying it...though I digress😊)?  Whether it is because we are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or worried about what they will think of us...we often say yes to things deep down we wished we’d declined.


In business this can be the kiss of death...& has led many small businesses down the road of failure.  It is vital to the success of any small business to learn the art of discernment.  Always remember...not all business is good business!


With revenue being a top concern for small business owners, it may seem counterintuitive to turn away business.  However, bad business can be quite costly.  It can cost you more time, more resources, more money, your reputation & sometimes all of the above...thus eating away at your revenue in the process.


Bad business can be a job (or request) that’s too small, too big, too demanding or even unethical.  It can be a difficult customer, a client who’s indecisive or impossible; it can be something that’s just plain stupid!  Whatever it is, make sure all of your business dealings pass this ‘smell’ test:

  1. Trust your gut!  Just think how many bad decisions you know you could have avoided by following your instincts.
  2. Will you make an acceptable profit considering time, resources & expenses?
  3. Can you deliver on time & meet or exceed expectations?
  4. Is it a good fit...both the job for your brand & the person for your personality?

Needless to say we will all make mistakes.  That is not what this is about.  This is about using your voice...your power of discernment & your choice as a small business owner to say NO to business that you know may undoubtedly hurt you in the long run.  Your clients/customers will appreciate & respect you more for saying NO than delivering late or substandard product or attempting to increase the price after the fact.  It is a win-win all around!

Small Business Saturday

The Perfect Team...

February 1, 2019

Do you have the right team in place to ensure the proper support & protection of you & your business?


It goes without saying that you need strong employees (although easier said than done, I know), but it’s not quite as common to ensure the right external support is also in place to ensure the continued growth of your business.  It’s a common misconception that it is too expensive to hire the below professionals, but nowadays that simply is not true.  Every small business owner or entrepreneur has to have the following team of people in their circle:

  1. Tax Accountant (or CPA) - It is okay to use a tax preparer for your personal taxes, but you should use a tax accountant or CPA for your business.  Tax accountants have a broader educational background with experience in audits, financial statements, business regulation & requirements, etc. that is more aligned with your overall business needs.
  2. Family Doctor - Many business owners neglect their most valuable asset...themselves!  It is CRUCIAL you take care of yourself.  Sleep, exercise and healthy eating can only do but so much...it is NOT a replacement for seeing your doctor for annual exams and recommended testing based on your age, overall health and family history.  And if you think you don't have time...just ask yourself, what happens to your business (your family, friends, loved ones) if you are not here???

  3. Financial Planner - They help you understand your financial circumstances and work with you to reach both short-term and long-term financial goals...they are not just for retirement planning.
  4. Business Attorney - In addition to lawsuits, business attorneys can assist in creating or changing your businesses legal structure, licenses & permits, contracts, IRS audits, law violations, etc.  They are a cost of doing business that undoubtedly saves you money & helps your business in the long run.
  5. Good Friend - Everyone needs someone to lean on...someone to talk to or even just for moral support.  Being a business owner is hard and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes.  Don't be afraid to ask for help!
  6. Business Consultant - The most success entrepreneurs recognize their own limitations and hire others to do what they cannot.  Consultants can help in areas such as marketing, human resources, management & overall business analysis. They help improve companies by assessing weaknesses and recommending solutions.

Although it is nice if you can have them all on retainer, it isn't a must!  There are many professionals and companies that offer plans and programs making these professional services affordable.  So instead of asking yourself if you can afford to pay for them...ask yourself if you can afford not to!  

Small Business Saturday

Branding...

February 8, 2019

Oftentimes, small businesses make the mistake of focusing solely on their product or service, without simultaneously establishing and building their brands.  Branding by definition is, “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product ‘or service’ in the consumers' mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme.  Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.” (Businessdictionary.com).


It is important to remember, although branding is primarily driven through purposeful & direct marketing & advertising efforts, that is only a part of what establishes your overall brand.  Your name, logo, colors, business cards, website, everything you do & everything you put out into the universe with your business’ name (directly & indirectly) becomes a part of your brand, & therefore equally, if not even more important.  (This includes your personal brand & image portrayed both in person and on social media!)


The 3 basic elements of branding...image, differentiation & consistency!

  1. Image - The impression in the consumers' mind of who a company is and what it is all about.  They key word here is "impression"...the consumers' impression of your brand comes from the totality of everything they see or hear about it, whether factual or not, & determines how they perceive your business. 
  2. Differentiation - What makes your business special or unique in your industry?  Why should they buy from you vs. your competitors?
  3. Consistency - It is imperative that your message & actions are in unison and everything you do conforms to the identity you seek to establish for your brand.  Conflicts or inconsistencies will only cause confusion, thus hurting your brand, making it impossible to gain consumer loyalty. 

Walter Landor (branding and consumer research pioneer responsible for some of the most recognized brands today, such as Coke, FedEx, Frito-Lay & Levi's) once said "products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind."  His words are just a prevalent now as they were some decades ago when first spoken.


Branding is key in the building, growth & continued success of any business.  It is the connection, or lifeline if you will, directly to the consumer.  Without it, McDonald's would simply be just another burger and fries restaurant, Walmart would be just another value retailer and Apple would still be...well, just another fruit. (smile)

Small Business Saturday

The Importance of Diversity in Marketing...

February 15, 2019

The face of the world is changing...culturally, ethnically, racially, religiously...in just about every way imaginable.  It is a continual evolution reflective of the diversity within.  The most successful businesses not only acknowledge these changes, but react accordingly to ensure their marketing & promotional efforts are indeed appealing to diverse groups.


Small businesses have a huge advantage here...being in complete control of their marketing & thus having the ability to adapt quickly and easily.  The challenge, however, is that many small business owners have a tendency to market in their own "mirror image", thus solely targeting people who are most like themselves vs. that of their consumer (& more importantly...their potential consumer).


It is important to know who your target audience is, and ensure your marketing efforts and indeed INCLUSIVE of that audience vs. EXCLUSIVE.  If you look at everything you put out into the universe about your business (your website, social media, flyers, advertisements, etc.)...is it reflective of the people and the community you service?  Would all of the diverse groups you want to support your business feel invited, welcomed and comfortable with your business based on the overall message you've created for your brand?


It is vital to the success of any business, but critical to that of small businesses that your marketing is indeed as diverse as your audience.  Quite often we target age and gender, while overlooking race, ethnicity & culture.  Your communication style and methods must be suited to your target audience.  It should be genuine, inclusive vs. exclusive, reflective of your community and as diverse as the world in which we live.  


Diverse Marketing is an ongoing process...it is not a one and done.  And as consumers are becoming more and more savvy and socially conscious,  failing to do so will not only make it harder for your small business to compete, but also to succeed in this ever-changing & evolving economy.



Small Business Saturday

Keep Website Content Fresh & Current!

February 22, 2019

In previous weeks, we've discussed the importance of having a website for your business.  But it does not end there..."set it & forget it" only works on As Seen on TV infomercials! (smile)  


A website is a necessary marketing tool for your business, but it is not a one & done...nor is it a single check on your ‘to do’ list.  Websites must be kept up to date & continually refreshed!  Always remember...you will get out exactly what you put in.  Mari Smith (Top Social Media Power Influencer) once said "Content is King, but engagement is Queen...and SHE rules the house."  I couldn't agree more...on all accounts, but we'll save the latter for another day. (smile)  


What you put out there (your website content) tells your story...this is the factual information your customer needs to know about your business.  But HOW you deliver that message determines whether or not you grab their attention...and more importantly, keep it!  Within the first few minutes of landing on your website, your customer determines whether or not to continue looking or move on to the next business from their internet search.


A good website can help close a sale.  A bad or outdated one can also lose a sale or worse...it could hurt your business overall by negatively impacting your brand, reputation and image.  Your content must always be current...the information, images and design.  If you still have a Mother's Day ad up in July, or an expired coupon from a previous sale or promotion, your credibility will come into question.  If it is obvious to your customer your website has not been updated, they may also question whether or not your business is still open.


Quick checklist:

  1. Is your design current & on trend?
  2. Is your brand correctly represented (logo, colors, mission, etc)?
  3. Are your business hours up to date?
  4. Do you have new photos & are the existing ones representative of your products & services?
  5. Are there any new promotions to add or old ones to remove?
  6. Are your seasonal messages up to date?
  7. Is your contact information current:  locations, addresses, email addresses & phone numbers.
  8. Are you linking to any outdated information on another website or platform (i.e. social media pages)?
  9. If you have an online store, are the items showing for sale all still available in the colors, sizes, styles & prices shown?
  10. Are your services & pricing up to date?


If you do not yet have a website, see our January 11th post below...then give us a call!  We can also help with periodic updates or on-going website management.

Small Business Saturday

Tax time!

March 1, 2019

If you're like most small business owners, you have not yet filed your taxes.  And as the calendar shifts to March...the countdown (& maybe a little bit of panic) begins.  There's no need to fear...JAM is here, and you've still got time to get everything in order!  


Here are a 5 quick tips to help you maximize your refund and remaining time:

  1. Now is the time...no more dillydallying!  Start getting your business taxes in order!
  2. Make your appointment now with a Tax Accountant (or CPA).  It is okay to use a Tax Preparer for your personal taxes, but you should use a Tax Accountant (or CPA) for your business.  Tax accountants have experience in audits, financial statements, business regulation & requirements, etc.; their broader educational background is more aligned with your overall business needs.
  3. Do a little homework...make sure you understand the big changes in tax reform that may impact your small business:
    • If you purchased capital equipment in 2018, you may be able to take advantage of accelerated depreciation.
    • If you started a 401K plan in 2018, you get up to a $500 tax credit for start up costs just for setting it up...even if you didn’t offer matching contributions.
    • If you hired & retained someone the government classifies as having significant employment barriers (i.e. veterans, ex-felons, etc.), you may qualify for a Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).  If so, you can get up to a $9600 tax credit on their compensation against your owed taxes. You can also go back a couple years if you failed to take advantage of this credit in prior years. It is currently set to expire at the end of this year, 2019.
  4. When you meet with your accountant, ask whether or not there is a benefit to you amending your business structure now for 2019 taxes next year (LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, etc).  Not all businesses are set up correctly or in a way most beneficial to their business based on current tax laws.
  5. Don't wait until year end to think about taxes for next year!  Think about taxes all year long.  Particularly for small business owners, tax planning should be year-round in order to ensure you are always making the best decisions to maximize tax-saving opportunities.  

For small businesses, every dime counts...so make sure you are taking advantage of all of the benefits the government has to offer!


*Disclaimer:  These tips are not intended to advise you on your taxes, but rather to provide additional insight & knowledge as you work with your tax expert.

Small Business Saturday

The Value of a Happy Customer...

March 8, 2019

The way to a happy customer is through delivering excellent customer service.  Sadly today, customer service is a dying art!  We've all had negative experiences dealing with businesses that not only permanently altered our perception of those businesses, but also lead us to the decision to take our business elsewhere (often encouraging others to do the same)!


Larger companies can overcome a few unhappy customers...as they have the resources (both money & manpower) to devote to doing so full-time.  But for a small business, even a few unhappy customers can be the kiss of death!  


In this day and age of social media and the world-wide web, your reputation is created online...which can make or break a small business.  70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE determining whether or not they will support them.  Unhappy customers will undoubtedly lead to negative ratings and feedback online...tarnishing your reputation.  


So instead of having to spend the time and money necessary to improve your online image, put your focus and resources into making your customers happy from the start!  Focus on the overall customer experience you are delivering from the initial moment of contact with each and every customer.  And although it sounds cliche, treat your customers the way you want to be treated...and the way you want your children and loved ones treated!

 

Delivering great customer service is vital to a small business & key to your competitive advantage over the big guys!


Always remember...

Great customer service = HAPPY CUSTOMERS!

Happy customers = LOYAL CUSTOMERS!

Loyal customers = FREE MARKETING!

Free marketing = INCREASED SALES & PROFIT!


Very few things are free in life...and esp. in business.  Don't let this easy one pass you by!


Small Business Saturday

Consider Hiring a Consultant...

March 15, 2019

We've all heard the saying, 'Jack of all trades, master of none'.  For many small business owners, this is reality...wearing not just multiple hats, but all of the hats needed to run their businesses.  When the focus is solely on turning a profit, many owners take on all of the roles they cannot afford to hire someone to do.  This usually leads to owners spending most of their time on the things that are not their forte & less and less time on the things they enjoy most that led them to starting their business in the first place.  Sound familiar???  This is when you should consider hiring a consultant...


A business consultant is an outside expert hired to solve an internal business problem.  A great consultant brings expertise, experience and knowledge to help improve your business and achieve your overall business goals.


7 key reasons to hire a business consultant:

  1. You need help in an area or areas outside of your expertise
  2. Your time is better utilized in other areas of your business
  3. To help implement, improve and/or streamline processes & procedures
  4. To generate new ideas and bring a fresh perspective
  5. You're having difficulty making decisions that may be too close or personal
  6. To fulfill a short-term need where hiring a full-time person may not be affordable or feasible
  7. You could benefit from having some accountability  

Consultants can help with a huge range of issues, and there are different types of consultants specializing in different areas.   So whether your needs are in Accounting, IT, Human Resources, Marketing or Legal, don't be afraid to look for help.  We know what they say about pride...and there is just no room for that in starting and growing a business.  A great business consultant can bring a lot of value to the table, and in the end be a huge help in taking your business to the next level!

Small Business Saturday

Take Control of Your Internet Presence!

March 22, 2019

Have you ever googled your business?  (yes, "Google" is now a verb in most English dictionaries...smile).  Have you done so lately?  It is imperative you know what the internet says about your business at all times.  If you are not managing this information, your web presence, you are allowing the worldwide web to formulate your business' reputation and dictate your company's image!


We all know the importance of first impressions & often believe we are in control of our customers' first impressions by what we put out into the universe (our physical space, our business cards, our advertising and marketing materials, etc.).  However, the reality is, most people form their impression of your business from what they find online...whether or not that information comes directly from you!  If you do not have a website and have never established a social media account (both by the way are business essentials by today's standards), there is most likely information somewhere online about your business.  Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Yelp, Yellowpages, etc...all create business profiles using basically whatever information they find online...without your permission, knowledge or contribution.


When a potential customer is online looking for a business to satisfy their needs, or goes online for more information about your business after a friend's recommendation, or takes to the web out of pure curiosity after simply passing by...do you know what they will find?  Is it the "first impression" you want them to have?  Is it reflective of your brand?  Is all of the basic information (name, address, phone number, business hours) correct?


Take control of your internet presence...it can make or break your business!   What the worldwide web says about your business plays a HUGE role in the growth and overall development of your brand.  With consumers now using the internet to obtain most of their information, what it says about your business is not only a first impression...but a lasting one!

Small Business Saturday

The Importance of Logos...

March 29, 2019

According to Wikipedia, a logo is "a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol used to aid and promote public identification and recognition".  In other words, it is the visual mark of your business that establishes and identifies your brand and enables you to connect with your audience.  It may be abstract or figurative and may (or may not) include the written business name...but whatever it is, it becomes one of the most important elements of your business!


Your company logo is almost as important as your company name...& quite frankly should be one of the things you invest a little money, a lot of time and considerable amount of thought.  It's design, style and color(s) tells the story of your brand and helps to create your brand's image.  For small businesses, where advertising budgets are much smaller than larger counterparts, it should invoke somewhat of a mental picture of your business as it becomes the stepping stone of all marketing and promotional campaigns.


When we think of some of the most recognizable logos in the world, these 10 quickly  come to mind:

  1. Starbucks' siren 
  2. Mcdonald’s golden arches
  3. Apple's bitten apple
  4. Fedex's wordmark
  5. Mercedes' star
  6. Pepsi's red, white and blue globe
  7. Nike's swoosh
  8. Coca-Cola's scripted red font
  9. Google's colorful wordmark 
  10. Target's bullseye

Let's face it, whether or not you are a fan of any of these brands, their recognition is undeniable!  Kids today are practically born recognizing those golden arches...and Chuck E Cheese's deserves an honorable mention for the little ones as well.


Logos are an essential part of branding your business and set you apart from your competition.  Just think, if it weren't for logos, we wouldn't have known the difference between the World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation (although now known as WWE)...or between Dove soap and Dove chocolate! 


Logos are like signatures...no two are exactly alike and they are unique and special & they identify you as you! (smile)

Small Business Saturday

Sorry, no post this week...we're on vacation

April 5, 2019


Small Business Saturday

Indecision...

April 12, 2019

Decisions, decisions...whether they are very minor in scope or major life decisions, we are faced with them daily!  How many times have you been in a position where you had difficulty making a decision?  If you're like most of us, it is likely too many times to count!  Unfortunately, indecision is the road leading straight to procrastination.  And you've probably heard the saying "procrastination is the thief of time"...YIKES!


In business, time is money...so the ability to not only make decisions, but also to make them in a timely manner, is imperative.  For small business owners, not only is this critical, but the lack of this skill, or rather 'indecision', can be quite costly and often crippling.  A mentor of mine used to always say "A bad decision is better than no decision any day".  You've most likely heard some iteration of that saying...but no matter how you've heard it...it is most definitely true!  For starters, hindsight is 20/20...we rarely know immediately whether or not we have made the 'right' call.  But when we make decisions, even if we make a thousand 'wrong' ones, we learn from them and that's a thousand more things we know to do differently next time.  


The number one reason people struggle with decision-making is fear...fear of making mistakes and/or fear of failure.  Another top reason is often the lack of confidence...confidence in your abilities and skills.  However, the decisions we face on a day to day basis, whether in our business or personal lives, are RARELY life or death situations.  So when you look at everything from that vantage point, it quickly puts things in a different light...and may make the decision easier to make.  Author, Biographer, Columnist, Marie Beynon Ray, once said "Indecision is fatal.  It is better to make a wrong decision than build up a habit of indecision.  If you're wallowing in indecision, you certainly can't act - and action is the basis of success."  Wise words...


Decision-making is a skill-set...so like all skill sets, some are going to be better at it than others.  The good news, however, is it can be learned and indecision can be overcome.  Remember, not making a decision IS making a decision.  Inaction is most often far more damaging than the 'wrong' decision you are afraid to make.  So...crush those fears, look at the facts, phone a friend, trust your instincts...do whatever works for you to make a decision and MOVE ON!  

Small Business Saturday

Good Friday!

April 19, 2019

May your faith bring 

Peace to your heart...

Happiness to your home...

& Joy to your life...

On this Good Friday and every day!


Have a Blessed, Safe and Joyous Easter weekend!!!

Small Business Saturday

Customer Appreciation...

April 26, 2019

No matter what business you're in, it is always important to remember customers have choices.  Providing top notch customer service is an essential part of a successful small business and helps to differentiate one business from its competitors.  Although easier said than done, most small business owners are aware of its importance and strive to deliver such service.  However, it is a solid customer appreciation strategy that enables small businesses to retain good customers, grow their businesses and create the longevity every business owner desires.  This is what allows small businesses to compete and truly make a mark for their brands.


Customer appreciation is important for many reasons.  The most obvious being that it makes your customers happy.  Genuine appreciation stems from a feeling that you truly care for your customers.  It shows sincere gratitude for choosing your business to spend their hard earned dollar.  There are a variety of ways to show your customers your appreciation...here are 10 ideas:

  1.  Acknowledge them on holidays, birthdays or special occasions unique to them.
  2. Personalize your gestures of appreciation whenever you can.
  3. Create a loyalty program that rewards them for their continued business.
  4. Encourage interaction on social media platforms...& stay connected.
  5. Let your customers know their opinions are valued and encourage feedback.
  6. Offer exclusive sales, promotions or discounts to loyal customers.
  7. Say 'thank you'...often (& a handwritten note really goes a long way).
  8. Follow-up on their purchases.
  9. Share your knowledge & expertise (via email, newsletters, blogs, social media, etc.).
  10. Reward referrals...& also return the favor by referring people to your customers who also have businesses.

Everyone likes to feel special and appreciated.  If your customers do not feel appreciated, they will undoubtedly take their business elsewhere...& esp. today when everyone works so hard and makes so many sacrifices for every dollar earned.  When you think of your customers, remember this...if you take care of them, they will take care of your business in return!

Small Business Saturday

The Customer Experience...

May 3, 2019

When we think of taking care of the customer, we usually think of customer service.  Customer service is a major component of the overall customer experience, but there is indeed so much more.  Customer service focuses on the delivery of your product or service, whereas the customer experience is meant to deliver your message.  


The customer experience is the totality of every interaction a customer has with your brand.  It begins long before they walk into your place of business or complete a transaction.  There is a lot of research available on what the key components are of the customer experience, but for us little guys, it's easier to think about it in terms of our senses.  Everything we see, taste, hear, touch and smell in relation to a company becomes a part of how the business is perceived and ingrained into our minds...and therefore helps to define the brand.

  1. See - the visual elements of your business...your store or office, decor, the cleanliness (including the restrooms), website, logo, business cards, social media, your employees, your product or service, marketing materials, facial expressions (smiles go a LONG way), packaging, internet (having accurate and up to date information online), email...& yes, even text messages. 
  2. Taste - not only edibles you serve if you are in the food service industry, but also any treats you offer in your place of business (vending machines, coffee, tea, drinks, snacks, etc)...or lack thereof...and even gifts you send.  There is a reason why the Double Tree hotel chain has become synonymous with those delicious chocolate chip cookies! 
  3. Hear - your reputation, word of mouth, the music playing in your store, how customers are greeted (& if they are greeted), conversations employees have on the sales floor, how the phone is answered (& if it is answered), voicemail messages, TV and radio ads.
  4. Touch - the quality of your product or service, hand shakes, the quality of your marketing materials.
  5. Smell - the scent of your store (again, including the restrooms), you & your employees, your product & packaging

This list is of course not all encompassing, but it does give you an idea of all of the things that help to create the overall customer experience and will ultimately shape your brand and determine how the customer perceives your business.


Warren Buffet once said "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you'll do things differently."  That says it all...

Small Business Saturday

Support Small Businesses!

May 10, 2019

As National Small Business Week comes to a close, it is important we remember to support, celebrate & honor small businesses 365 days a year...not just this week & Small Business Saturday in November.  When small businesses win, we all win!


We’re putting our money where our mouth is & designing one basic 4-page website for one lucky winner for FREE!!!  See entry instructions below:

  1. Like this post on Instagram or Facebook @jamintlllc.

  2. Follow us @jamintlllc on Instagram or Facebook.
  3. Email us at [email protected] the following:
    • First & Last name
    • Email address
    • Phone number
    • Business name
    • Business address
    • Write FREE WEBSITE in subject line
  4. Entries accepted through Friday, June 14th, 2019, 11:59 pm.
  5. Winner will be announced on Friday, June 21st on both Facebook and Instagram (winner will also be contacted directly using the contact info provided).
  6. Contest open to NJ, PA & DE businesses within a 60 mile radius of zip code 08081.


Share with a business you know is in need of a website or may benefit from our services! Check out our SERVICES to help you strengthen your brand & give your business the online presence it deserves.


Good Luck!!!


TERMS & CONDITIONS:

Prize is the design of a 4-page, basic, non-Ecommerce website. Design services are FREE (min $400 value). Photo Gallery can be included up to a max of 20 photos. Additional pages and photos can be added at an additional cost, but is not mandatory and is the sole discretion of winner. The website host to be selected by JAM based on the needs of the business. The annual website host fee and domain registration cost is the responsibility of the winner (cost can be paid directly to host upon selection or to JAM & JAM will pay on business' behalf...this is not a profit to JAM). An existing domain name registered to business can be transferred upon request. Website host fee dependent on business' expressed needs. Website will be completed within 30 days of receipt of signed contract and business info from the winner. One winner will be chosen. Prize must be claimed within 30 days of notification or will be forfeited and a new winner chosen. Giveaway is hosted by JAM INTL LLC and is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Instagram, Facebook or any other company. Contest not open to family or close friends. One entry per business.

Small Business Saturday

Email Marketing...

May 17, 2019

Small businesses often struggle in finding and using the right marketing tools to promote their brands and grow their customer base.  If this sounds like you...we're here to help!  Consider email marketing...


While television & radio advertising are effective, they can be too expensive for many small business...esp. those in their early stages.  Social Media is a must for all businesses these days...and very effective in building brands and garnishing recognition.  However, with so many elements beyond your control you may find it difficult to convert those 'likes' and 'followers' to actual paying customers.  Direct mail (believe it or not) is also still a very effective marketing tool with high response rates; however, it too can be very costly...and time consuming when resources are limited.  Email marketing may very well be one of the best marketing tools for small businesses.


Here are 10 reasons why Email Marketing may be right for your small business:


  1. It's fast
  2. Ease of use
  3. Low cost
  4. Targeted messaging
  5. Good response rate
  6. High ROI (return on investment)
  7. Measurable
  8. Ability to follow-up
  9. Ease of obtaining email addresses
  10. Manageable


In actuality, all forms of marketing can be effective.  Depending on the industry you're in, some may be more effective than others.  Consider your own goals, target audience, resources, time and finances in order to determine which marketing tools are right for your business.  Email Marketing is great for small businesses for all of the reasons above and therefore almost hard to go wrong!


Small Business Saturday

Happy Memorial Day!

May 24, 2019

CELEBRATE, HONOR, REMEMBER! 

Wishing you and yours a safe and fun-filled holiday weekend as we reflect on the brave men and women who helped make this country what it is today!


Have a safe holiday weekend...Enjoy!

Small Business Saturday

We're Giving Away a FREE Website!

May 31, 2019

We're extending our contest...entries are still being accepted!  

When small businesses win, we all win!  To show our support, we’re putting our money where our mouth is & designing a basic 4-page website for FREE for one lucky small business!!! 


See entry instructions below:

  1. Like this post on Instagram or Facebook @jamintlllc.
  2. Follow us @jamintlllc on Instagram or Facebook.
  3. Email us at [email protected] the following:
    • First & Last name
    • Email address
    • Phone number
    • Business name 
    • Business address
    • Write FREE WEBSITE in subject line
  4. Entries accepted through Friday, June 14th, 2019, 11:59 pm.
  5. Winner will be announced on Friday, June 21st on both Facebook and Instagram (winner will also be contacted directly using the contact info provided).
  6. Contest open to NJ, PA & DE businesses within a 60 mile radius of zip code 08081.

Share with a business you know is in need of a website or may benefit from our services! Check out our SERVICES to help you strengthen your brand & give your business the online presence it deserves.


Good Luck!!!


TERMS & CONDITIONS:

Prize is the design of a 4-page, basic, non-Ecommerce website.  Design services are FREE (min $400 value).  Photo Gallery can be included up to a max of 20 photos.  Additional pages and photos can be added at an additional cost, but is not mandatory and is the sole discretion of winner.   The website host to be selected by JAM based on the needs of the business.  The annual website host fee and domain registration cost is the responsibility of the winner (cost can be paid directly to host upon selection or to JAM & JAM will pay on business' behalf...this is not a profit to JAM).  An existing domain name registered to business can be transferred upon request.  Website host fee dependent on business' expressed needs.  Website will be completed within 30 days of receipt of signed contract and business info from the winner.  One winner will be chosen.  Prize must be claimed within 30 days of notification or will be forfeited and a new winner chosen.  Giveaway is hosted by JAM INTL LLC and is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Instagram, Facebook or any other company.  Contest not open to family or close friends.  One entry per business.

Small Business Saturday

Don't Quit!

June 7, 2019

Whether you're a start-up, entrepreneur, inventor, wholesaler or small business owner, you've undoubtedly had your fair share of challenges.  You may have also reached a point where you've asked yourself "what the heck was I thinking?" and "is this really worth it?".  You've then most likely wondered if you should just throw in the towel...call it quits...and do something 'safer'.

  

Well, I'm here to tell you...don't do it!  Don't give up on your dream!  Who ever said 'safer' meant happier...or that it was a guarantee of 'easier'???  The grass is always greener on the other side...but more importantly, there is a reason you are where you are now, doing exactly what you are doing.


When times are the hardest, your self-doubt is at its highest and your self-esteem at its lowest...remember the reason(s) why you started your business in the first place, or what lead you to develop your new product.  Focus on your mission and your passion for doing whatever it is you do in those times.  Rely on your support network (spouse, partner, family, close friends) to remind you of the force you are and that you've got this!  But above all else...   


Don't Quit


When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.


Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about,

When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–

You may succeed with another blow.


Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man,

Often the struggler has given up,

When he might have captured the victor’s cup,

And he learned too late when the night slipped down,

How close he was to the golden crown.


Success is failure turned inside out–

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far,

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.


- Author Unknown

Small Business Saturday

Happy Father's Day!

June 14, 2019

To all of the COOL pops...


We honor and celebrate you this weekend...& hope you feel loved & appreciated the whole year through!  We also hope you get to do whatever the heck it is you want to do on your special day...


Have an AMAZING weekend CHILLIN' with the family!


HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

Small Business Saturday

Summer is Here!

June 21, 2019

Remember to take time for you...no matter what your summer may bring.  We all need time to refresh & replenish our minds & our souls in order to be the best ‘me’ we each can be!


To continue bringing you quality & relevant small business tips, we are taking the summer to do just that.  On Friday, September 6th, we’ll resume JAM Small Business Tips monthly...the 1st Friday of every month.


In the meantime, you can see all of our previous tips below...& all of the services we offer to help build & strengthen your brand.  The summer is a perfect time to ‘refresh’ & update your business to get ready for fall & holiday...we can help!

Small Business Saturday

Stop Gun Violence!

August 4, 2019

It is with heavy hearts that we share this message after not one, not two, but four public shootings in the last week (two in the last 24 hours). Our thoughts & prayers are with all the victims, their friends & families, & effected communities.


We cannot help but ask the question...when is enough, enough??? What will it take to get past the endless conversations & useless debates that go nowhere? When our kids cannot go to school, we cannot go for a night out, our families can no longer enjoy a festival & we cannot go to our local Walmart or even to work without worry...that IS enough!


We can no longer be complacent or silent...we have to speak up & out, & let our voices be heard. We have to hold the people we vote into office accountable, & demand change. The people in Baltimore are “living in hell”??? If we cannot step outside our houses without worry, or fear, or concern for our safety & the safety of our loved ones...aren’t we all??? This is a public health issue & the time is now for change! Our children, our families, our lives depend on it.

Small Business Saturday

Do you need a Marketing Strategy?

September 6, 2019

As summer comes to a close, small business owners undoubtedly begin thinking about ramping up business for the fall and holiday seasons.  Unfortunately, many small business owners think short term when it comes to marketing...planning week to week or month to month, without real planning or strategy.  So the question, "Do you need a Marketing Strategy" is really a rhetorical one.  There truly is only one answer...YOU BET, ABSOLUTELY, NO DOUBT, WITHOUT QUESTION...a resounding YES!!!  


Whether you have a formal business plan, a sales planning system, have plans written in the Notes of your mobile device or just scribbled in a notebook...in order to achieve them, you must have a Marketing Strategy.  If you think of it in layman's terms, no major goal is ever achieved without a plan.  Heck, you don't even take a road trip without a map (or rather, navigation)!  Of course there's luck...but are you willing to bet your business' success on pure luck?  


In a world where consumers are savvy, competition is fierce and businesses are closing left & right...this is WAR!  If you truly want to achieve your business goals, you need strategy, planning and tactic.  You wouldn't go to war unequipped...& if you did, you certainly wouldn't win!   A Marketing Strategy not only clearly defines your goals, but also how you will achieve them.  It includes marketing plans, advertising, promotion and branding.  If your 'marketing plan' for 4th quarter is exclusively Facebook and/or Instagram posts...you undoubtedly haven't even scratched the surface!  Not only are there other marketing platforms (including other social media platforms), but there are also more ways of utilizing them to build your brand and ultimately grow your business than just posting.  If this is the extent of your 'marketing plan', you are pretty much relying on luck!  Not only are you putting all of your eggs in one basket, but with all of the rules and algorithms, you have no way of knowing whether or not your audience will ever see those posts!  You need options...variety; you need to ensure your marketing efforts are indeed going to reach your target customer.


If you need assistance developing a Marketing Strategy, considering hiring a professional...we are certainly here to help.  Marketing should be about 30% of your overall business expenses.  It is constant and a continuous reinvestment into your business.  If you don't think you can afford to pay for marketing or for expert assistance...ask yourself instead if you can afford not to.  


In the end...failing to plan is planning to fail! 

Small Business Saturday

Are you ready for the holidays?

October 4, 2019

The time is NOW to ensure your business is ready for the balance of the year!  Small businesses can sometimes be neglectful in planning their sales and marketing efforts in order to properly position themselves to achieve their seasonal sales goals.  For many businesses, the last 8-10 weeks of the year can represent a sizable chunk of their overall business...& therefore difficult (& sometimes impossible) to make up if missed.  


Do not let this happen to you!  Taking the time NOW to ensure all i's are dotted and all t's are crossed is imperative to the success of any business impacted by the hustle and bustle of the holidays...and more importantly, to maximize the increased sales opportunities.


If you haven't started, or are a little behind in the planning process...this checklist will be helpful in getting your business organized and prepared for the remainder of the year: 


  1. Make sure your sales are planned.  Sales goals are a must for business success and growth.  Everything else is dependent upon this as a starting point.  Your sales goals will, of course, determine your inventory & marketing/promotional budget & needs.
  2. Create your Marketing Plan to include your message, goals, methods & timing.
  3. Don't sleep Black Friday, Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday sales opportunities!  AMEX even offers FREE tools to help small businesses plan and promote their brands for SBS...but you have to start now to take advantage of these FREE opportunities.

  4. Ensure promotional materials for each holiday are underway (both print and digital as needed).
  5. For brick and mortar, complete any small repairs/maintenance needs.  The holidays are the perfect time to gain new customers.  We often get one chance to make a good impression...make it count!
  6. Holiday decorations (& treats) if brick & mortar.  You want your shopping environment to be pleasant and fun and inviting and happy!
  7. Order giveaways, greeting cards and holiday thank-you gifts...it is no secret that prices often rise as your needs do!  Don't wait until last minute resulting in higher costs and expedited shipping rates for late shipping.  
  8. If you are planning a holiday party for your team...now is the time to book the venue!
  9. Hire seasonal help.  Unemployment rates are low, everyone is hiring...don't wait until the last minute!
  10. Plan employee schedules...everyone likes to take vacation this time of year.  Proper planning will ensure your business is covered & avoid last minute & unnecessary call outs.

Leave no stone unturned...take advantage of every opportunity to beat your sales goals this year!  Failing to plan is planning to fail...preparation is key!


Contact us if you need assistance...we can help with most aspects of the above checklist!

Small Business Saturday

Go out & vote!!!

November 1, 2019

Although this is an 'off-year' election, we must remember:


Every election matters...

Every vote counts...

Our vote is our voice...


Do not sleep any election!  Your voice matters...use it wisely and make it count!!!


For entrepreneurs and small business owners, failing to vote is voting to fail.  If you ever consider skipping an election, please think about that.

Small Business Saturday

Happy New Year!!!

January 1, 2020

May your year ahead be filled with LOVE, LAUGHTER and EXCITING ADVENTURES!!!  Cheers to an amazing 2020!

Small Business Saturday

It's 2020...Is Your Business Aligned for Success???

January 3, 2020

As we embark on the new year, two popular sayings come to mind:  "Hindsight is 20/20" (or rather 2020 in this case...smile) and "You cannot do things the same way and expect different results".  Both of these sayings are true...so very true.  


If you want to align your business for growth and success in this new year (& beyond), you have to apply both of these principles.  The first...use what you know now, all that you learned in 2020 to correct, grow and improve.  If you knew then, what you know now...what would you have done differently?  It is NEVER too late!  The latter...in order to do better in 2020 than you did in 2020 and years past, you have to do things differently.  We all know doing the sames things and expecting a different results is, well, insanity.  And although all entrepreneurs and small business owners have to be just a tad "insane" to do what they do (smile), we want you to protect the brain cells you have left! 


We offer the following checklist of 7 things you must do to ensure your business is properly aligned for success in 2020:


  1.  Thoroughly review and analyze your business results from last year.  You cannot know where you're going...without knowing where you've been!  Review sales, profit, marketing results, etc.  How do these results compare against our Business Plan...and do you have a Business Plan.
  2. Create a Sales & Profit Plan. Set 2020 goals & ensure you have a systematic way to track your results].

  3. Build a Marketing Strategy.  Did the marketing vehicles utilized in 2020 succeed in reaching your target audience?  Do you need to explore new methods of reaching your customer?  Were your promotions successful?  Which bear repeating and which need to be replaced with new ones?  How was your spend...did you spend what you planned to spend?  Was your marketing and advertising budget sufficient to achieve your goals?
  4. Review your current inventory and pricing structure.  Do you have the "right' product at the "right" price?  
  5. Look at your overall image and brand identity.  Did you make a clear and cohesive statement?  Are you positioned in your customers' minds the way you want to be?  Does your logo, colors, slogan or tagline, website and overall internet presence properly reflect your company's image?  And do you have all of those things?    
  6. If you have a physical location(s), is anything in need of a refresh?  Is everything inline with your overall brand and messaging?  Remember, first impressions are lasting ones!
  7. Review your finances.  Do you have the dollars needed to execute your plans?  If not, now is the time to secure investors, loans, donors, grants, etc. to meet your needs. 

Although this isn't a complete list of everything you need to do for your business, it is certainly a great starting point.  At the end of the day...it's all about planning.  If you want to succeed you MUST plan to succeed.  Always remember...failing to plan is planning to fail!

Small Business Saturday

Stay tuned...we'll resume our tips soon!

February 7, 2020

Sorry no tip this month..but we'll be back soon!  Until then...we celebrate Black History, not only in February, but the whole year through!

Small Business Saturday

Stay tuned...we'll resume our tips April 3rd!

March 6, 2020

Sorry no tip this month..but we'll be back the 1st Friday in April!  Until then...May your Friday Sparkle and your weekend Shine!

Small Business Saturday

Are You Positioning Your Business For Long-Term Success???

April 3, 2020

We are all doing the best we can to navigate our way through this national pandemic.  However, as a small business owner, you are undoubtedly working double-duty to keep your small business afloat and ensure the health and employment of your teams.  You are most likely finding ways to continue selling your products & services to your customers to continue an income stream.  Of course that is a short-term priority...but are you also positioning your business for long-term success?


This international crisis has uncovered weaknesses abound...in our government, policies, leaders, production, distribution, cities, counties...& especially our small businesses.  So as you make your way through this uncharted territory and take short-term steps to remedy your needs, there are also a few things you should be doing to ensure the long-term success of your business.

  1. Complete the 2020 Census!  Do not sleep this...completing the census helps you & your families and more importantly helps the communities you serve.  When our communities get the resources needed...we all win!  It is not too late...go to 2020census.gov today!  Also, don't forget to VOTE...vote in every election.  Failing to vote is voting to fail...your business depends on the elected leaders to assist not only in times of crises, but 365 days a year!
  2. Take notes!  Be sure to document your learnings & all courses of action being taken.  Document your weaknesses so you can devise a plan to correct them later.
  3. Ensure the most accurate & updated info is being communicated to your customers.  Did you know Google has taken the liberties to mark businesses as "temporarily closed" based on government mandates?  Make sure your businesses status, operations and hours are correctly reflected across all internet platforms (both search and social media platforms)...now and always.
  4. Stay in front of your customers during this time.  Whether or not you are open or closed...let them know what's going on with your business.  Share your experiences.  It is critical you keep them abreast & engaged.  
  5. Find ways to help your customers and your community.  Be creative...new opportunities created now can more than likely be incorporated into your business go forward.
  6. Network...make connections with similar, complimentary and even competing businesses...large & small.  You may find ways to band together that help both businesses and build lasting relationships.  Reach out to community leaders and programs...everyone wants our small businesses to succeed!  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  
  7. Take advantage of government assistance for small businesses!  Contact the SBA if you have not done so already.  Aid in the form of grants & loans are available to all small business (including sole proprietors.  Go to sba.gov for details...
  8. If you have the time...take a hard look at your business & brand overall.  Your logo, slogan/tagline, colors, marketing, website, internet presence...& Google your business.  What do you find?  Is it time for a refresh/update?  Would you shop your business or use your services over that of your competitors if it weren't your business?  Are you projecting the image you imagined for your business?  Are you  happy with things as they are?
  9. Develop a marketing plan...both short-term and long-term.  What are you going to do when things return to normal?  How are you going to get back on track and ensure your business is properly aligned for the peak seasons to come...including the holidays?  
  10. Make self-care a top priority!  This is a challenging time...you cannot save your business and be there for your family and friends without making your health your #1 priority.  Sufficient sleep, proper diet, exercise, meditation/prayer, laughter, time for family & friends, fresh air...all necessities to get through this madness & remain healthy and sane!

This is indeed a crazy time and the most challenging most businesses, big & small, have ever seen.  What you do now will determine your businesses success not only tomorrow...but also down the road!  


BE SAFE...& STAY WELL!!!

Small Business Saturday

Weathering This Storm...aka COVID-19

May 1, 2020

It is certainly no surprise to anyone nowadays that small businesses are struggling.  Thanks to this pandemic (I am unaffectionately referring to as a STORM), businesses have been completely closed or operating at a fraction of their norms.  And what's worse...there is no end in sight!  Even as things begin reopening, we are months, maybe even years, away from our previous norms.


That said...for many small business owners and entrepreneurs, there is no PLAN B.  They have poured their life savings into their businesses and have employees and their families depending on their success.  Their communities are also dependent upon their success.  To that I say...it is not over til it's over!  The "fat lady" has not sung...& you CAN weather this COVID-19 storm.


Here are 12 things you should be doing right now to save your business:      

  1. Apply for all of the grants and loans open to you as needed to support your expenses not just for now, but for a minimum of the next 6 months.  The programs now being made available by the government have super low interest rates and many can even be forgiven.  There are also paycheck protection plans (PPP) that will enable you to hold on to your valuable employees.  However, do not just rely on these programs.  Interest rates overall are low.  If you have a relationship with a bank or credit union, apply for other small business loans they offer as well.  The interest rates may not be 1%, but they are lower than ever...and qualifications are relaxed more now than ever before.  Also, if you have 401K funds tucked away from previous employment, you may now be able to borrow from those funds without the hefty penalties.
  2. Call all of your vendors and creditors for payment extensions.  This includes landlords, mortgage lenders, insurance companies, banks, utilities, website hosts, etc.  Most companies will work with you to help alleviate the immediate stresses of your bills while your income stream is interrupted.    
  3. Take your business online.  Whether you're offering a product or service...if you are not online, now is the time to go online.  Online shopping is not only the future...it is the present!  You will need to be online in order to survive and also to compete in the current economy.  If you do not have a website, or an e-commerce site, you can get one now very inexpensively, or sell on Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Etsy, etc.   
  4. Network!  Now is the time to work with other local businesses and entrepreneurs to find ways to help one another.  If you're a non-essential business, there may be essential businesses willing to add a few of your items to their stores.  It will not only help you, but the right partnerships will be a win-win and also be a service to their customers in need of or looking to buy your product/service.
  5. Be of service to your customers and to your community in this time of crisis.  Finding ways to help others will always find its way back to you in the end.  
  6. Be creative...are there products or services, or extensions of your current products or services, you can offer that you may not be currently?  Based on our new norms and new mandates and standards...how can you satisfy new needs & new demands for these changing times?
  7. Re-evaluate your expenses.  Take a hard look at your finances and ensure you are spending the money you do have smartly.  However, DO NOT...I repeat DO NOT cut out marketing expenses!  Make sure you are spending your dollars wisely, but it is now more important than ever that you STAY IN FRONT OF YOUR CUSTOMERS!  You cannot and should not assume your customers will all flock back to you once your business is open.  Business will go to those who are fighting for it!
  8. Improve your internet presence.  Make certain your business can be found online...& more importantly, lands on the 1st page in a basic search for your business category...esp. in your local area or areas you service.  There are many ways to do this...most of them free or relatively inexpensive.  And again...STAY IN FRONT OF YOUR CUSTOMERS!  Also, keep them posted on what's going on with your business and your team.

  9. Evaluate your staff (& staffing needs).  This is the perfect time to do so.  Small business owners have a tendency to hold on to bad employees much longer than they should.  If this is you...don't bring them back!  Use your government PPP funds to replace bad employees with good ones that can have a positive impact and contribute to your business' success.  It may sound cruel...but with or without COVID-19, bad employees is one of the top reasons small businesses fail.

  10. Create a strong Marketing Plan for your business that will take you from the day of your big re-opening through the end of the year.  How can you maximize seasonal and holiday business?  How can you create new peaks if you have already missed prime business periods during your closure?
  11. Create a clear re-opening plan to comply with the new norms:  social distancing, masks, gloves, cleaning, dealing with call-outs and sick leave, etc.  
  12. Last but not least...ask for help!  We are all in this together.  Use all of your resources...your family, your doctors, your friends, your mentors, your community leaders, your political leaders, etc.  Whatever you have to do to keep your mental, physical, personal and professional self strong.

None of us have ever seen anything like this before.  So in dealing with a new problem...it will require fresh new ideas, new solutions, new resources and new people.  We all know we cannot continue doing the same things we've been doing and expect different results.  


You CAN weather this storm!!!  Stay STRONG, Be SAFE and Stay WELL...& remember...this too shall pass.

Small Business Saturday

Black Lives Matter

June 5, 2020

In lieu of this month's business tip, we wanted to address our position on all that's transpired over the last two weeks...


JAM stands in solidarity with all of the voices so desperately yearning to be heard.  Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of George Floyd & the countless victims of racism, injustice & inequality.


Until there is justice...until there is change...until there is tolerance...there can never truly be peace.  When you don’t know, when you don’t understand, when you don’t have the words...LISTEN!  Black lives matter...& every voice should be heard.

Small Business Saturday

Happy 4th!!!

July 3, 2020

As we manage through another holiday weekend during this pandemic...just remember...THIS TOO SHALL PASS!  We will get to the other side of this...& come out stronger than ever!


Have a SAFE, FUN & RESPONSIBLE holiday weekend!

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