Small and Medium Businesses Now

Information, Trends, News and Events on SMBs

8 Easy Ways that Help You Advertise Directly

As the owner of a website, your ultimate goal is to promote your site, drive traffic and get paid for the ads. In order to promote your site, instead of going for an ad network company you can promote your site yourself if you are able to follow a few steps regularly. Some of these steps are listed here.

1. Make your site visible to search engines
At first you must increase your visibility on different search engines. This can be done through keywords. Place keywords in the meta-tags so that it will be listed in organic search results. This is how your website will be visible for search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.

2. Specify your website’s URL
Use the URL of your website everywhere – from letterheads, business cards to email signature so that people will come to know about your site.

3. Join social media networking communities
Join various social networking communities. This is the way by which, you can drive more traffic to your site. It should be regularly updated with your site’s information.

4. Submit your site to directories
Prefer submitting your site in directories, yellow pages, etc. Here, you need to register at first. These will help your business listings.

5. Provide excellent customer service
Provide good customer service so that people will remember your site and will keep visiting your site regularly. Good customer service is important for any kind of business.

6. Building business partnerships
In order to promote the site, you must also maintain some contacts with similar business people and if possible have partnerships with them.

7. Managing blogs
Maintaining a blog is another major helping factor in promoting your website. Blogs comprise a collection of articles, essays, etc., written by individuals, or a group of individuals. It is sensible to let viewers know about your site by writing some articles yourself. Blogs encourage readers to comment.

8. Link exchange with other sites
Last but not the least exchange links of your website with other sites so that you can also drive traffic from other websites and both of you can benefit. Link with only authoritative sites. Avoid purchasing links.

To get natural links from authoritative sites, make sure to post original and unique content. This is likely to help you attract traffic to your site. In addition, writing for other websites in your niche/industry. At the end of the write-up that you send as guest blog, paste your website URL. This will make visitors come to your site, and read the article.

These steps will help your website get promoted at no cost and you need not take the help of an ad network company.
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Types of Website Monitoring

Website monitoring is critical for every business website. Website monitoring effects search engine ranking, reputation and credibility of the site. Any serious issue associated with it, can become a nightmare for a business owner. In this post, you will see what is website monitoring and its types.

What is website monitoring?
Website monitoring is a process of testing the performance of the website in terms of its availability and functionality. This helps you to be one-step ahead before your customer’s complaint.

Types of website monitoring: There are mainly two types of website monitoring, synthetic monitoring and passive monitoring.

  • What is synthetic monitoring?
  • Synthetic monitoring is also called as “active monitoring”. It imitates the behavior of the web browser. Here scripts are programmed to mimic the actions that the end user do on website. These actions are regularly monitored to know the performance of the website – availability, functionality and the response time of pages and transactions. This is a form of test that helps you to identify the issues of your website before it affects your end-users.

    From multiple points, it finds the performance and connectivity problems – website or its applications are slow or experiencing downtime. For this process, it does not require actual web-traffic and you can test website applications continuously to know its availability and performance.

  • Benefits of synthetic monitoring:
    • It is a planned activity; you can detect the issues of website applications before it affects the customers.
    • It can be done from inside the network or from multiple points of the internet.
    • If your website is designed for globally, then you can test the performance of your website in different geographical locations. In addition, you will get a holistic view of the geographically distributed users.
    • It provides metric form an end-user perspective.
  • What is passive monitoring?

    Passive monitoring is also called as “real user monitoring”. It records all the users’ interactions with the website and its applications. These records are very important to determine whether your website is working as expected – error free, quick web page loading time or else experiencing any downtime or any part of the system is failed.

    Software as a service (SaaS) and Application service providers (ASP) use real user monitoring to deliver quality service to their clients. There are software applications that allow finding the end user’s experience, where they clicked, measures response time. etc.

  • Benefits of real user monitoring:
    • It helps you to know the end user experience over your website or web applications.
    • It records the users’ interactions on your website and you can use this data for generating test scripts (synthetic monitoring).
    • Based on the end-user experience, you can resolve the issues quickly.

The Key Components of Your Marketing Plan

Drawing a marketing plan is important for attracting target audience and to retain them. The marketing plan should be detailed, well researched and well written. It should identify, who your target customers are, how you will reach them, and how you will retain your prospective customers so that they repeatedly buy from you. Here are some key components that you should include in your marketing plan.

Executive summary
The executive summary of the marketing plan is its precursor – the first part of your marketing plan. It should include the name of your business, its location and products or services you are selling. It should also include what your business is all about, when your business was founded, the number of employees, information about the bank(s) you do business with and investors, and financial summary.

Target market
Be clear about your target market and its segments. To identify your target market, you need to know your customers, understand your customers’ need and why they buy. To identify your market segment, you should know who and where your customers are. Include information such as key demographics (age, gender family size, income and nationality). In addition, make sure to include who are your competitors, what your unique selling point (USP) is and what benefits your product/service bring to consumers.

Products and services
Describe your range of products and services. Include price list, tell why you are different, understand what your target audiences need, what they currently use and how your products/services can benefit them more.

Budget and planning
Planning and budgeting will help you ensure your marketing plans for your Business are practical. It is the most effective way to control cash flow. You need to outline your budget in different areas such as sales, advertising, marketing, production, etc. Budgeting and planning play a vital role in ensuring that you stay in control of expenditure.

Sales and marketing
In your marketing plan, write down the marketing strategies (how you will find potential customers) and sales method (face-to-face, telesales, print media, internet, etc.). A properly structured sales and marketing plan will help you understand how you will execute it and how you will generate sales.

SWOT analysis
Performing a SWOT analysis of your marketing plan will help you identify not only your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, but also your competitors. Your company’s internal strengths, internal weaknesses, external opportunities and threats will help you make the marketing message more effective and know what your competitors are doing.

If done properly, your marketing plan will continue to be the road map for your success, and you will get more customers. This is likely to improve the success of your business.
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Statistics of Small and Medium Enterprises in California

California can be distinguished from other USA states as an efficient provider of both services and merchandise to international trade along with being the principal gate way for passenger travel, air cargo and water borne shipping.

  • The total number of small businesses in California is 3,571,013 where 683,999 are businesses with employees and 2,887,014 are businesses without employees. The total number of workers employed by small businesses are in the number 6,331,871.
  • During the second quarter of 2013, 73,920 enterprises opened and 80,330 closed down in the state of California.
  • Bankruptcies in business have declined from 2010-2013 making it a stronger economy.

California labor law postersStatistics on California’s trade:

  • In 2013, the state of California traded with 229 foreign markets and goods were exported were worth $168.1 billion.
  • 10.6% of US exports will be produced in California and also 16.8% of US imports are destined finally to California.
  • In 2011, the state of California ranked first in service exports with a value of $89.3 billion.
  • In the year 2012, total of 75,012 companies exported goods of which 71,921 or almost 95.9% were small firms which generated about two-fifths (44.6%) of the states total export value.
  • Tourism industry in the state brings over $60 billion annually in sales thus providing jobs nearly for 700,000 citizens of California.

Overall state economy:

  • In 2012, economy of California grew at a faster rate than that of US. The real gross state product have increased by 3.5% comparatively to that of 2.5% of US gross domestic product.
  • The economy of California was strong in 2011 with the real gross state product with 4.3 percent increase and 1.5% increase in private sector employment.
  • Number of opening establishments was lower than that of closing establishments and the net change in employment was negative in 2011.
  • In 2011, the gross state product of California was $1.96 trillion compared to that of US total GDP at $15 trillion.
  • If California’s gross domestics product in 2011 placed it among top 10 economies around the world.
  • In the month of April 2013, California state had 29.6 million labor force with 9% unemployment.
  • Milken institute’s state science and technology index ranks the states based on the research and development dollars, venture capital investment, business starts and number of patents issued where it ranked California as 3rd among 50 states.
  • In the year 2012, the US patent and trade mark office ranked California as the 1st in the nation in patents when around 34,660 patents were granted which accounts about 12.5% of the patents issued around the world.
  • In the year 2013, California ranked 48th in the over all nation by the component tax and state business tax climate index.
  • In 2011, three among ten cities were based in California in technology establishments. San Franciso was ranked first in technology accounting for 3,442 start ups.
  • Los angeles ranked fourth with 1,507 start ups in technology. San diego was another city which was ranked sixth with 329 technology start ups.
  • California state was ranked 16th in unemployment insurance tax, 17th in property tax, 40th in sales tax, 45th in corporate tax rates and 49th in individual income tax.

Employment details:

  • Majority of the firms with employees are small businesses making up to 99.2 percent of the employers in the total state.
  • In 2013, the states private sector has been increased by 3.6% which is above 2.1% of the national average growth rate.

Income and finance:

  • The annual income of the small businesses with sole proprietors has been increased by 6.9% during third quarter of 2013 and totaled up to $149.4 billion.
  • In the year 2012, 758,453 loans were issued under $100,000 by community reinvestment act lending institutions present in California.

Venture capital in California:

  • California topped for receiving venture capital fund for the fourth consecutive year, 2012 while taking up 48% of total US venture capital investments.
  • California state received around $14 billion in the united states venture capital investments.

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All You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is search engine optimization (SEO)?
In order to gain global recognition and help the remote users and potential customers with the products and product information, the company website plays an important role. Therefore it is important that the company website is ranked higher than other competitors in search engine result pages (SERP). Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about improving the ranking of a company website in SERPs. Higher rankings in SERPs means more exposure on the internet and more customers leading to brand recognition, establishment, sales and subsequently to profits.

How does SEO work?
Surprisingly, there is no defined process for SEO. It all depends on the assumption on how a search engine works and what are the factors it considers for ranking of the websites. SEO aims at improving the authority of the website in terms of relevance of the content and usability. The more useful and relevant a website is for the viewer, better is its ranking in the SERPs. SEO hence aims at improving the relevance of the websites so that they can be of more use to the viewers by making the website easy to access and adding value to it.

Problems and trickiness of SEO
A little predictability and knowledge of the search engine algorithms is necessary for devising a proper SEO plan. But unfortunately, search engines keep them as a secret and nobody knows about these algorithms. Here is where the trickiness and the problem starts.

An SEO expert has to analyze and judge various websites based on their rankings in order to know for the features that resulted in higher rankings. Sometimes they have to test few models also to confirm the observations. Compliance to search engine algorithms has to be achieved at any costs to ensure higher rankings of the website.

Natural and relevant ways in adding value to the website leads to a higher ranking. Unwanted or dubious methods to fetch rankings by resorting to spamdexing and cloaking can do temporary or permanent damage to the ranking in SERPs. Some of the SEO techniques can improve the rankings sometimes and they may fail and lead to an inferior ranking some other times. Hence a person doing SEO has a great responsibility on his shoulders.

SEO is a great deal to popularize the business and make it widely recognized capturing business in local and remote markets only if it is done properly and as in accordance with the search engine algorithms.
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Impact of Online Advertising on Your Business

Why Online Advertising?
As the usage of internet is becoming more and more now a days the spread of online advertising is also rapid. Online advertising is very important in order to promote your business among the customers. Without online advertisement, you cannot drive much traffic and revenue for your business or a company. Therefore, it is must to exist in this vast competitive world. Online advertising has many benefits and this will help your business a lot.

Positive Impact of Online Advertising on Your Business
Online advertising will have huge impact on your business by boosting it. There are many advantages that your company can have using this online advertising some of them are:

Competitive advantage over other businesses:
With online advertising your new business or company can compete with other business, existing the market and the existing ones can improve their brand image by advertising through PPC and other major types of advertising.

Affordable Costs:
Online advertising is affordable than other forms of advertising and some banners and links will be available free of cost which can reach large number of audience with no cost. If the advertising is done with Google ad wards, the cost can be more saved.

Targeted Audience Reach:
If your company or business is promoting a particular brand or a product then it is better to target the specific audience for whom you have the brand. This will bring the targeted audience quickly.

Creates Interaction With the Customers:
With this king of advertising, you can interact with your customers and get their feedback. This is very helpful, as you will know what really the customers want and what you are delivering to the customers, so that you can compare them and work some more to achieve more results.

Fast Conversion Rate:
The conversion rate of the advertisement is very fast with online advertising as it has major impact on the people. Through this conversion the companies brand image is improved and can gain huge revenue.

Speed and Informative:
This advertisements spread quickly among the people and gives complete information regarding the product or a company. So that the customer will have an idea about the business and they also can see the reviews.

Brand Name:
Finally, your company can achieve a good brand name among the customers and attain huge revenue.

Few advantages of online advertising are stated above and there are many others that will help your business to reach heights.
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Things Employers Need to do Under OSHA

Florida Labor Law PostersOSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is a Federal agency under the US Department of Labor that provides for industry safeguards and guidelines to ensure safety to the employee by creating a safe work environment.

Private, Federal, State and local government agencies come under the purview of OSHA and the onus lies on the employer to ensure that the regulations are carried out. OSHA standards demand strict compliance and employers need to display all the relevant posters at workplace at a place where the employees have access to them.

Employer duties as per OSHA
Though OSHA provides strict and necessary guidelines, the responsibility of ensuring them at workplace lies with the employer. OSHA laws are very comprehensive and cover different industries in different ways as the risks associated with employee life and health differ across industries. Employers should determine the OSHA safeguards that cover their nature of work and workplace. OSHA measures relate to every type of industry. These are discussed here briefly.

  • Employee training for safety: It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the necessary training regarding the safety practices at work and the use of safety equipment present at workplace. The training should be in the form that can be understood by the employee and if necessary, training has to be provided in his native language.
  • Record keeping and reporting accidents: The employers are expected to keep strict record of the injuries and illness of the employees and display them at a place where employees can see them. Any major accident leading to death or hospitalization of three or more employees has to be communicated within eight hours of its occurrence.
  • Follow hazard communication standards: Proper standards and codes should be maintained to identify hazardous chemicals at the workplace and during transit. They should be labeled stating that the material is hazardous and the components must be displayed on the label. Employees should be trained to identify the threat and the way to act in case of fatalities.
  • Emergency action plan, exit routes and fire safety: Employers must ensure that they have an emergency action plan. This plan kicks into action in case of emergency like fire or any other such typical situation. Regular drills must be conducted by the employer. When coming to the fire safety, employer should have a fore prevention plan at place. Portable fire extinguishers must be provided at work place and at least two fire exits should be there at work place. They should not contain any inflammable materials. The employees should be made aware of the exit routes to prefer in case of emergencies.
  • General sanitation: General sanitation is a common measure to ensure personal health. The workplace should be clean and free from disease causing germs. Drinking water should provided and common glass for drinking water should be avoided. Perfect labeling should be done. Air quality should be checked and logs should be maintained.
  • Medical and first aid: Employers must provide the first aid at workplace to manage little injuries at work. The first aid box should contain things as per the probable injuries and hazards. Employer should determine how many such kits he require and ensure training of the employees to use them properly.

Essence of compliance
Compliance of the safeguards and guidelines ensure that employee health and life is safeguarded. The practices also lead to a safer work environment. This leads to lesser illness and injuries and more work leading to the increase in production of the workforce. Happy and satisfied employees are more productive for a business than unsatisfied ones. It will save you from falling into legal complications coming because of workplace accidents or non-compliance of laws.
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Promote Your Company Effectively

Effective promotion gives your company a boost to its prospects of success. Every start-up or a small business looks for a good sort of promotion. However, this will come with effective planning and execution. To make a proper plan, you must follow certain steps. This will help your business reach among the people.

Here are a few steps that will help your company to be promoted effectively among the people:

  • Make an outline of the plan:
  • Before you start planning, make a rough sketch of it. Start with market research, define the targeted audience, and focus on them. Your plan should include all the things related to your company.

  • Collect or arrange the materials required for the promotion:
  • Collect materials like business cards, flayers, banners, etc. and update them. The brochure of your company should updated. The digital version of the brochure will help you make changes easily whenever/wherever necessary. Get some promotional products for giving to the clients. These materials will be helpful to promote your company.

  • Make contacts or have a network:
  • Try to improve your contact lists and make a network to promote you company to the people in the network. Here, you must also register for conferences and workshops through which you will get a chance to speak about your company and its specialties.

  • Use media:
  • This is essential for every company to be promoted among the people. You can promote your company through newspapers, radio, television, etc. You can promote through these media. Preparing attractive advertisements with the product or services that your company is having and promoting them make the people attract and reach you. Contests, coupons and incentives are also the major attraction.

  • Unique ideas will help you a lot:
  • You need come up with unique ideas apart from the regular ideas that every company follows. For this, you and you team must work hard. Get designed a business mascot, which will present your company better.

You need to get good impression from your customer. This is one of the most effective part of promotion campaign for your business. Creativity plays an important role in all this. If you support or sponsor a great cause, people will remember you.

Make sure to implement as many step as possible from these. This is how your company gets promotd effectively. Through this, your brand awareness will improve.
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Importance of Website for Small Businesses

Online presence is a not only a must, but also a need for small businesses to expand and grow their business. Having a website is crucial because millions of people are accessing the Internet and a website for your small business can be highly profitable and a great revenue source. A website is the best medium to promote your business and showcase information about your business, products/services and represent your business’s image.

If you are still thinking whether to invest or not in a website, here are some of the top reasons to considered the importance of having a website for your small business.

  • Virtual Presentation of Business: Having a website for your small business helps you to provide information related to your business, products and services to the virtual world called Internet where users can socialize and connect with your website. This helps you to have interaction with your existing customers and new customers. Virtual networking builds brand name, brand awareness, customer loyalty and increases sales.
  • Virtual Reach to Consumers: According to the Internet World Statics, in 2012 nearly 78.1% of US citizens where using Internet. Looking at theses figures, small business owners need to understand that many people are spending time on Internet and their business presence on online will virtually reach out to their potential customers.
  • Cost Effective: Investing on a website is not that expensive when compared to other mediums like print, television or radio. It is very economical and a smart move for your small business.
  • 24/7 Operation: A website can reach your potential customers 24 hours a day, all days of a week and throughout the year. Customers can access your website’s information about the products, services, latest offers, etc.
  • Compete Locally and Globally: A professional looking website represents your business. You can compete locally and globally irrespective of the size or type of your business. Because if your website has all the information that customers are looking for, whether the customer is local or global audience, he/she will trust your business.
  • High End Service: Consumers can post their queries or feedback on your website related to the products or services. It’s the best medium to give quick response to consumers when compared to offline business. This helps you to create a good customer relation and retention.

Apart from these benefits there are many other benefits of having a website for your small business. Investing in a website could prove one of the best decisions you have made for your business. So before it is too late create a website and get noticed in this competitive world.
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OSHA’s Inspection Priorities

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is committed for strong enforcement of health and safety requirements in the workplace for the safety of employers and the employees. In order to ensure this is happening, OSHA conducts inspections in the workplace without any advance notice. However, it can’t inspect all the existing workplaces varying in millions of numbers. So, the agency carries out its inspection starting with the most hazardous workplaces in accordance to the priority wise listed below.

Imminent danger
The first priority is given to the imminent danger. It is a condition or a hazard that exists, which can lead to death or serious physical harm instantly or before the danger can be removed through normal procedures of enforcement. During the inspection, if the compliance officer observes and finds a condition of an imminent danger, they will ask the employer to abate the hazard voluntarily and remove the vulnerable employees from the site of exposure. If the employer fails to do this, OSHA will apply to the Federal district court through a regional solicitor for injunction prohibiting.

Fatality and catastrophe accidents
The next priority is given to the investigation of catastrophe and fatal accidents, which are resulting in the hospitalization or the death of three or more employees. In such cases, the employer should report such disasters to the OSHA within 8 hours. As soon as OSHA gets the report, it will start investigating to find out the reason of the accidents as well as carries out research whether any existing OSHA standards were violated. It will gather evidences, interview the employees, employers and others to determine the cause.

Complaints and referrals
The third priority is for the complaints given by the formal employees regarding the unhealthful or unsafe working conditions and to the referrals from any of the sources about the hazard in the workplace. Here, under this Act, the employees have the right for requesting the inspection by OSHA when he/she strongly believes that there is a violation of OSHA standards that leads to endanger the physical harm or if they believe that they are in an imminent danger from a hazard. OSHA also helps the employees in maintaining the confidentiality, if requested, it will inform the employees about the actions that it is going to take with respect to the complaint made, and also holds an informal review of certain decisions without any inspection if requested.

Programmed inspections
The last priority is given to the programmed inspections which are targeted at specific workplaces, occupations, high-hazard industries or other industries that are identified in the recent inspection procedures. In order to inspect, OSHA selects the industries based on the few factors such as, previous citation history, employee exposure to toxic substances or random selection etc. They may also conduct some specific emphasis programs in just one region of OSHA or certain office areas with respect to the knowledge of local industry hazards.

Follow up inspections
OSHA also conducts this follow-up and monitoring inspections for determining whether the employer has corrected the previously referenced violations and if the employer is failed in doing so, the compliance officer will inform the employer that he/she is nonexempt of “Failure to Abate” alleged violation. Monitoring inspections are made to ensure that the hazards are corrected and employees are protected when a long period is needed for the hazard to be corrected. These inspections are made as essential and take the priority over the programmed inspections.
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