It’s 2016 But Nearly Half of US Small Businesses Still Don’t Have a Website

20151020164526-small-business-owner-on-laptopFor some of us, that is: It may be 2016, but 46 percent of  U.S. small businesses still don’t have a website for their company, according to a report released by business-to-business research firm Clutch.

Of the more than 350 small businesses surveyed — the majority of which have less than 10 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue — cost was listed as the second-most popular reason for not having an online presence. Lack of technical know-how and the need for upkeep were other popular reasons, while 12 percent said that they use social media in place of a static site.

The most popular justification for not having a website, however?

Nearly a third of surveyed respondents said that they didn’t have one because it wasn’t relevant to their business or their industry. That could be a problem. As Max Elman, the founder of Razorfrog Web Design, said in a statement released with the report:

“No matter what type of business you run, if you have customers, it’s necessary to have some sort

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5 Marketing and Branding Tips to Scale Your Online Business

busssssssssssssScaling an online business isn’t rocket science — it’s actually much easier than many people believe. When you combine a winning product or service and a solid foundation to build on, the sky’s the limit.Use these five simple marketing and branding tips to help you scale your online business and experience increased growth.

1. Make it ridiculously easy for your customers to buy your product or service.

It’s amazing how many businesses make prospects jump through multiple hoops in order to make a purchase — my own marketing agency was guilty of this as well, until recently. While our main offering is custom-tailored online-marketing consulting, we also offer several à la carte services.

The problem was that, previously, a prospect had to contact us via phone or our website to order one of these stand-alone services. When we did a little digging, we found that the majority of these inquiries didn’t require any selling — people simply wanted to make a purchase.

So, we made a switch, making it easy for prospects to purchase these à la carte services

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How to Start a Business Online

kiThere is a proven sequence of steps you can follow to guarantee your success when you’re starting a small business online. I’ve seen thousands of people start and grow successful

businesses by doing the following:

  1. Find a need and fill it.
  2. Write copy that sells.
  3. Design and build an easy-to-use website.
  4. Use search engines to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Establish an expert reputation for yourself.
  6. Follow up with your customers and subscribers with e-mail.
  7. Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling.

Anyone, from newbie to seasoned online entrepreneur, can benefit from this process in learning how to start a business online.

Step 1: Find a need and fill it

Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second.

To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results. The internet makes this kind of market research easy:

  • Visit online forums to see what questions people ask and what problems they’re trying to solve.
  • Do keyword research
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There are several ways to trade, which are suitable for beginners

The most popular time-tested ways to trade are presented on Forex. You can view other secrets in the forex currency trading tips.

The first trading method that can master even novice traders is trading on the news. Economic news influence and affect the market. This means that traders can use them to achieve their speculative purposes.

Find out in advance about the date and time of the next release of economic news is easy, you just periodically review the updated calendar of economic events.

The best way to trade is to work with the trend.

The second trading method is the trade in the direction of market trends. You already previously could meet the tips and tricks that are called to enter into transactions only in the direction of the current trend.

Many financial analysts and professors like to say that the trend is likely to continue and not change direction. Based on this concept, we will act in the market.

First we need to get an objective assessment of the current market situation, what can be done with the help of various indicators, or other tools. As an example, we can take the standard fumbling EMA indicator, which is set in MetaTrader 4.

It is

4 Formulas to a Successful Business

Small business drives the U.S. economy, and as more businesses pop up across the country entrepreneurs are searching for solutions to keep their particular business alive and ahead of the pack. Professional business advisors host seminars and write books about full-proof “formulas” that will make companies succeed. The following are 4 formulas that business advisors prescribe to keep companies on top.

External Solution Formula

This formula is probably the easiest way to grow a profitable company. The formula works when a client or customer purchase enough products at the right price so the business runs smoothly. This type of business makes profits quickly. They are easy to spot, and function due to a contract with one large dominant customer. However, the relationship between the business and the client only lasts for a short time.

Early Entrant Formula

Some believe this formula represents the best entrepreneurial opportunity. These businesses hope to be the first entrants in a specific market. That way, they can have a dominant presence in the market before others try to compete. When it works, the early entrant formula makes entrepreneurs vast sums of money.

Really-an-investment Formula

These businesses are just investments that investors spend money on to turn a profit. This formula will

Don’t Choose Just Any Company for Your Shipping Needs

When you own or operate a business, you know how important it is for your shipments to arrive at their destinations on time and safely. Both pallets and parcels are larger items that businesspeople sometimes get nervous about shipping out, but with the right company you can ship almost anything in a worry-free and inexpensive manner. Choosing the best company for your pallet and parcel shipments is not difficult, because there are numerous competent and professional companies that can handle all your shipping needs efficiently.

Types of Shipments Available

Most shipment companies offer different types of transporting methods that normally depend on the exact item being shipped. For time-sensitive, perishable or high-value items, air shipment is usually the best option. Shipping companies work with a variety of different carriers, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best price and the best overall deal when you work with them. There is no need to be concerned about the price of shipping something via air, as these companies have working relationships with almost all carriers and can always offer you the best rate out available. Shipping companies’ prices are always competitive, so you know you’re getting

FarmLogix helps give local farmers a lifeline to big kitchens

Like many parents, Linda Mallers found herself working on a PTA. fundraiser at her children’s school. The single mom of four had been boxing local produce from nearby farms in Wisconsin and selling them to friends, an effort she parlayed into a community fundraising effort in 2012.

In a world of grab-and-go drive-thrus and processed meals, the fresh fruits and veggies were a hit, which gave Mallers a big idea.

“Our local high school in Evanston Township asked how they could put the produce in their cafeteria, and that’s how we got our start,” Mallers told CNBC’s “On the Money.”

The fundraiser led Mallers to launch Chicago-based FarmLogix, a technology platform that connects local farmers to large institutional kitchens. Mallers drew on her technology background, having worked in the futures industry, then for a food distributor in Chicago.

“I realized this platform that I had for 20 years really translated well to the local food movement and it opened up doors,” Mallers said. “I had always been in the business of creating online communities for people who can’t find each other otherwise.”

The farm-to-table segment is gaining in popularity among consumers.

A January 2015 Agriculture Department report found that “producer participation in local

Small businesses still fighting for cash seized by IRS

The business operations of a drug dealer or a terrorist have little in common with a Maryland dairy farmer.

But in a bizarre business tale, the IRS in February 2012 seized nearly $63,000 from a pair of dairy farmers after a series of cash deposits came under scrutiny due to federal laws. Those rules were intended to target criminals including money launderers, who deposit large amounts of cash in increments of less than $10,000 to evade authorities.

In a prior settlement with the government, Randy and Karen Sowers, who own South Mountain Creamery in Middletown, Maryland, got back a portion of the seized money, around $33,500. Now in a new letter filed this week to the Justice Department, a nonprofit organization that has has been working with the farmers is helping in the fight to get back the rest of the couple’s money — $29,500 — despite the prior settlement.

“We know the right thing to do would be to give this money back,” says Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney at the Institute for Justice public interest law firm.

Randy Sowers said his bank teller initially suggested that his wife keep deposits under $10,000 to avoid time-consuming paperwork at the bank. “We thought

IRS to return seized cash to small business owner

A convenience store owner who had his entire bank account seized under an Internal Revenue Service policy meant to target drug dealers and money launderers will be repaid in full, his lawyer told CNBC on Friday.

Khalid “Ken” Quran has been fighting for months to have more than $150,000 returned from the IRS with the help of Washington-based nonprofit public interest firm The Institute for Justice.

Quran, a Middle Eastern immigrant, says he unknowingly forfeited his entire bank account in June 2014 to agents who visited his Greenville, North Carolina, store, accusing him of skirting reporting laws.

(Earlier: Small businesses still fighting for cash seized by IRS)

The business owner had been making withdrawals of less than $10,000 regularly, and drew a red flag for potential “structuring,” a tactic used by criminals who break up their banking transactions to evade authorities. Transactions over the $10,000 threshold must be reported, and these rules intended to target criminals have been applied in some cases in recent years to small-business owners who operate mostly in cash.

“He said, ‘You need to sign a paper,’ and I told him my English is not right,” Quran told

Dogged pursuit a dog and a vision equals big business

The key to creating a successful business is finding an unmet need and filling it. But sometimes, to quote Steve Jobs, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

For example, you probably never realized your dog needed protective eyewear. Then Roni Di Lullo came along and created Doggles — goggles for dogs.

First year sales were $100,000.

Last year’s sales were $3 million.

This is the story of how a software programmer from Hewlett-Packard used her computing skills and love for man’s best friend to create a pet product empire. When Di Lullo started, though, people at her first trade show mocked her. “We were sitting down in the booth, and people are just walking by, and they’re pointing and laughing, and we’re just like, ‘Oh, no.'” (Tweet This)

Act I – The Frisbee mystery

The story of Doggles began with a walk in the park. “I originally came up with the idea from my border collie, Midknight,” said Di Lullo. After a long day at work, she and Midknight would go play Frisbee in the park in

6 Steps to Branding Your Business

Starting a business presents a unique set of problems, but branding that company in a way that appeals to the masses oftentimes presents an even bigger and more challenging proposition. That is why, Jim Signorelli, founder and CEO of marketing firm ESW Partners, has created a six-step process that businesses with hundreds or dozens of employees can follow to help strengthen their brand identity.

While branding is often associated with large corporations and pricey advertising agencies, the truth is that companies of all sizes have a brand and can benefit from telling their story.  According to Signorelli, the process to telling this story and identifying the brand is as simple as telling a story.

“The brand is substituted for the main character who is described as having functional capabilities and is additionally infused with values and beliefs that resonate with audiences,” Signorelli said. “In all cases, the brand’s ultimate goal, apart from increasing sales and profits, is to influence a relationship with the prospect.”

Step One: Collect the Back Story: Successful brand stories must start by gathering relevant information, which includes an assessment of the brand’s culture and the problems and opportunities it faces with competition in the marketplace.

Step Two: Characterize

7 Marketing Mistakes That Could Sink Your Business

I once knew a marketing guy who always thought he could shape-shift the numbers and make them look good. That guy got fired from his job and cost his company hundreds of thousands of dollars. I once knew a company who was afraid to try anything new. Well, that company’s competition blew them out of the water over the next three years with a series of creative campaigns. They had to lay off half their staff.

Businesses live and die by their marketing strategies. Here are seven core marketing mistakes that could put your company six feet under.

Related: 9 Marketing Mistakes That Cost Your Business Money

1. Not taking the time to hear what’s new

The marketing landscape is always changing, part of the job of a good marketer is to stay on the cutting edge of new industry trends. While it might be easier to simply stay focused on what you already know and disregard the latest research and tools, that’s not a recipe for success. Simply put, part of your job is to innovate.

First, make sure you begin each quarter with fresh competitive analysis. What are your competitors doing successfully that you’re not? Do

The 6 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses

If you were to track the rise of ecommerce in today’s business landscape, you’d have to go back to the dot com crash of 2000. Despite a tanking economy, the businesses that survived the crash quickly started adapting their selling methods, because, even with an economy going down the drain, it was clear that the Internet would hold the key to the future of sales.

Fast forward to 2015 and the U.S. Census Bureau releasing a report on the dollar amount of ecommerce sales that took place within the first quarter of the year — the total amount was 80.3 Billion — and it’s clear to see that ecommerce is only getting stronger. Today’s consumer has time management and convenience on their mind when it comes to purchasing those sweet luxury or necessity items that you’re marketing to them. But, to be on your A-game, you have to be using the right platform to maximize your sales potential.

Related: The Top 5 Reasons You Should Start an Ecommerce Business

Whether you’re struggling to create a pre-ordering option within your current ecommerce marketplace, or you’re anxious to find out how your warehousing setup will interact with your online store, there

4 Rookie Errors That Stunt Your Online Business

As our society moves further into the digital age, more of the income from businesses will come from sales online. Every year, we see sales shift from physical stores to the websites of companies, and online business. There is a tremendous opportunity.

While the opportunity is there, so is the competition from many other entrepreneurs who are trying to reach the same people. There’s a lot of noise online from self-appointed experts claiming they know how to write copy that converts. You’ve probably seen a Facebook ad or two that makes crazy claims of success.

There is a way to grow and build a thriving online business despite the competition. It starts with making smart choices. There are four dumb mistakes even those who are smart make without even realizing it. These mistakes could be keeping you from growing your business and reaching your goals.

1. Focusing too much on the “busy work.”

There are many components and things that need to be done to build an online business, or the online part of your business. It’s easy to get stuck on what I call the “busy work.” The busy work can be things like:

  • Always making changes

New Feature Enables Etsy Sellers to Shoot and Edit Product Videos From Smartphones

Etsy has launched a new feature within its mobile app that guides sellers through the process of shooting, editing and publishing simple videos on their smartphones.

With it, the Brooklyn-based DIY-craft ecommerce site wants its sellers to make more videos showcasing the stories behind their products.

The Shop Videos feature on the Sell on Etsy mobile app officially launches today on iOS and Android phones and tablets. Sellers can also produce and edit videos externally and use the new feature to publish videos on their Etsy pages.

The release of the app comes as American adults are spending more and more time consuming video content online. Year by year, more and more of the video content being consumed is being watched on mobile devices, according to a 2015 report from digital marketing information agency eMarketer.

Etsy has seen 60 percent of traffic coming from mobile, according to a recent quarterly financial report. At the same time, the ecommerce platform acknowledges that not all of its 1.5 million sellers have access to expensive professional recording and editing video equipment.

The video editing software walks users through the process of filming short video segments, stitching those clips

How Your Business Can Copy the Marketing Strategies of the Fortune 500

We’re so used to seeing the big brands. We see their ad campaigns and outputs so often that we sometimes forget something really obvious: How did these big companies become big?

Related: With Orgying Models and Public Breastfeeding, Are Equinox’s Latest Ads a Desperate Ploy or Pure Genius?

Sure, many of them had visionary leaders. Some even had massive marketing budgets. Some just had a few lucky strokes. But what about their marketing? The world’s most successful brands work hard and spend big to achieve their marketing goals.

And the fact that these companies are so enormous makes it important for them to work harder than ever at that marketing.

Obviously, no small business can copy the exact marketing moves of these brands; however, we can adopt their strategies on a smaller scale. Here are four such strategies that you can start using right away in your small business marketing plan.

1. Coca-Cola has kept its brand identity and product consistent for over 130 years.

Coca-Cola is the world’s most well-known brand. Its product is in every country and on every continent and reaches millions of consumers around the clock. But this reach doesn’t come cheap: Coca-Cola spends an estimated

10 Business Lessons I Learned Studying My Competition

Our competition isn’t just there to beat. They can also teach us how to get better at what we are doing so that we can beat them at their own game. I see my competition as a bar set for me to jump over.

In the business world, anything goes. While some people like to think of scoping out and spying on the competition as a bad thing, I love looking at everything they are doing through a spy glass. This gives me insights into what’s working and I should focus my time on and what isn’t working and I shouldn’t waste my time.

Here’s what my competition is teaching me about productivity across various aspects of their company that’s helping change my business for the better:

1. Content.

While I never copy my competition’s content, I read what they have, if they use a call to action, how they approach what is shared and how often they update their content.

Look to see if your competition is using video, infographics or some other type of content that resonates with your shared audience. It’s also good to know where they are sharing this content to see if there are any places I’m missing opportunities to add or

7 Online Marketing Tools That Are Totally Worth the Investment

To do online marketing right, you’ve got to buy the right tools. But what tools are the “right tools”?

After all, some tools are free. Some tools are really complicated. Some are insanely expensive. The point being that with marketing tools, it’s hard to make the right decision.

There are so many alternatives available, and if you haven’t had the chance to experiment with different ones, choosing with confidence becomes especially difficult.

The following list should help. I created it for the agency marketer who’s “trying to do it all.” For the entrepreneur who’s “trying to get her business off the ground.” For the experienced digital marketer who “wants to improve his game.”

Consider this your online marketing-tool cheat sheet — one that can help you skyrocket your marketing.

1. Email marketing (and more): InfusionSoft

What it does: InfusionSoft is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s a powerful tool. Its best features are its automation features, which make it insanely effective for marketing campaigns. My delivery rates with InfusionSoft have been excellent!

How much it costs: InfusionSoft is a powerful yet costly email marketing tool. A one-time startup fee of around $2,000 will get you set up. Thereafter, fees range from

5 Steps to Start an Online Business and Living a Much Better Life

As you’re reading this, customers all over the world are spending millions of dollars online. It’s estimated that 2.5 billion people log onto the Internet every day. We live in the Information Age, which has created new opportunities to start or build a business using the power and reach of the Internet.

While the opportunity is there, so is the competition. You can Google any topic and find at least a few entrepreneurs who are serving the market related to that topic. Whether you are growing an existing business through the Internet or starting an online business, you will have to stand out to thrive.

The Internet offers you the opportunity to create a business you love around the lifestyle you want. Operating a business that generates income from anywhere in the world no longer a fantasy. In fact, I’m writing this article on a flight from Maui to Panama. My business is making money as I fly. Here are five steps to create a profitable and successful online business.

1. Pick a profitable topic.

Choosing a topic is a hard enough task on its own. Making sure it’s profitable is where some entrepreneurs sabotage their chances. To create a business your customers have to

Have a Burning Business Question Ask Our Branding Expert Laura Ries

Branding is what differentiates a company from the rest of the pack. From the logo design to the message and marketing tactics, companies need to create an identity that attracts customers and gives them visibility within their market. But coming up with a branding strategy isn’t easy.  Fortunately, we have Laura Ries to provide some insight.

Ries is a leading marketing strategist, bestselling author and television personality, frequently appearing on shows including O’Reilly Factor and Squawk Box. The books she has authored, or co-authored, include The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, The Origin of Brand, Visual Hammer and her latest, Battlecry, which outlines five tactics for increasing the effectiveness of a company’s logo or tagline.

For her day-to-day work, she, along with her father Al, are the co-founders of Atlanta-based focus-consultancy firm Ries & Ries, where they help brands find and define their focus. The duo have worked with companies across industries, including Microsoft, Ford, Disney and Frito-Lay, among others.

Because of her achievements, Ries has received a number of accolades including the Atlanta Business Chronicle giving her a spot on its “40 Under 40” list, and in 2009, readers of Advertising Age named her book The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding the third most important

9 Steps for Sticking With Your Marketing Plan

In The Marketing Plan Handbook, author Robert W. Bly explains how you can develop big-picture marketing plans for pennies on the dollar with his 12-step marketing plan. In this edited excerpt, Bly explains the nine steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing plan.

Consistency is important when you’re trying to implement a long-term marketng plan, so resist the temptation to abandon a strategy if it doesn’t work immediately. Give it time to work. These nine steps can help you make the most of your well-crafted plan:

  1. Every day, be renewed by your vision. Your mind can be your greatest asset or your most tiring obstacle. So begin your day by renewing your mind with the clarifying power of your vision. When W. Clement Stone and Earl Nightingale both said, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” they knew these were far more than simple words on a page. There simply is no substitute for the power of belief. When you believe, obstacles that would throw your entire day into chaos suddenly become bleeps that you just intuitively know how to solve