You’re probably aware that you have to spend money to make money. The good thing about a freelance business is you can start with a pretty bare business budget and still see results. You can build a solid foundation without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on bells and whistles. Here are important (and relatively affordable) business tools to invest in first that won’t break the bank:
By definition, freelancing is working for many different bosses instead of being employed by one boss. Collecting one check from an employer is as simple as pie. Invoicing and tracking many payments can get pretty challenging. Invest in a system that will make this process easier for you and the customer. Due offers invoicing and ways to collect payment online that are affordable.
An email list is key because it’s where you’ll keep in touch with your people. Typically, email services charge by the number of people on your list. A small email list won’t cost too much to manage in the beginning. MailChimp is the email service I used at first. It’s currently free up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails sent per month. The next plan up starts at $10 per month. MailChimp has a cool feature where you can estimate the cost of your email list as it grows here.
Freelancers juggle many projects at the same time. A project management system is one way to stay organized so you can meet all of your deadlines. The good news here is that many project management systems are completely free to use unless you get premium features. Asana and Trello are both systems that I’ve used in the past to manage different projects. Having a system in place to manage your projects will be a lifesaver when it’s time to outsource.
Putting money into marketing can be a tricky business because you can easily go down the rabbit hole. There are many marketing strategies and social media platforms where you could invest your money and time.
If you don’t have much money to invest right now, the foundational elements are your website and social media pages on platforms most used by your audience. Your website and social profiles are like online business cards.
I’ve used WordPress for most of my websites. I’m a non-techy person who taught myself how to build sites with WordPress from scratch. There are a plethora of YouTube videos on how to start a WordPress site. Wix and Squarespace are other “drag and drop” website builders that may be easier to set up.
No need to drop a lot of money on a business coach right away. Instead, focus on looking for clients and doing the work. Much of the information you need to learn about business comes from running your own business. If there’s an aspect of business you need to learn from a pro, try books first or affordable courses and then move on to the more costly options when you really need it.
Starting a business doesn’t have to be expensive. Build the foundation and then invest back into your business as the money starts coming in.
Republished by permission. Original here
When it comes to getting Gen Zers interested in your business, there always seem to be so many challenges. Already, millennials were hard enough to market to, with values so different from traditional consumers’, but that’s nothing compared to marketing to this younger generation. Gen Zers, on the one hand, are resistant to traditional marketing, but on the other hand, want your attention all the time. They’re always on their phones using 3G, but if they get a pop-up, they hate it. They hate advertisements on YouTube almost just as much, especially when the ads are getting in the way of the content they’re trying to watch.
That said, there are some strategies that work with Gen Zers. With the new year here, it’s time to make changes to your marketing strategy so that they’ll be interested in your business–and here’s how.
One of the values that Gen Zers care about most is authenticity. They’ve grown up in a world of taking selfies and posting constantly on social media, and this has made them suspicious of anyone faking a lifestyle. They’ve also grown up constantly bombarded by advertisements, whether that’s on Facebook or YouTube, and they can tell quickly when a business is creating a fake brand instead of one that’s authentic.
That’s why you should strive to be as authentic as possible. Make your business’s mission clear (include lengthy versions on your website and shorter ones on social media), and make it part of your brand. For example, if you’re running an ecommerce fashion store for plus-size women, talk about how important it is for you to be inclusive, and how a terrible shopping experience might have inspired you to start your business. Write blog posts about body positivity, and have women who look real, instead of impossibly beautiful ones, posing in your Instagram posts. All this effort will pay off, considering that Gen Z will outnumber millennials this year, accounting for 2.47 billion people worldwide.
Something else that differentiates Gen Zers is how diverse they are. In fact, they’re the most ethnically and racially diverse generation yet, and you need to market to that. Let’s use the same example as above: if you’re running a fashion ecommerce store, have models who are racially and ethnically diverse. And don’t stop there. Remember that only two-thirds of Gen Zers identify as “exclusively heterosexual,” and that they’re at the forefront of many progressive LGBTQ issues. So being diverse in this way is important, too, whether you’re making that known in your mission or social media posts.
Speaking of your mission, it’s smart to make it political, whether that’s promoting green practices, donating some of your money to a local charity, or working with political organizations. Gen Zers value this too because it’s the perfect combination of stating your values and being authentic by sticking to them.
Gen Zers spend a ton of time on their phones. They’ve grown up with smartphones around them, and are making most of their consumer decisions on their phones. Whether they’re looking for your store on Google Maps, researching your products, or making a final purchase, it needs to be easy to do on a phone. Design your site so it’s mobile-friendly, and consider investing in an app to make purchases easier. (For example, the Ryanair app makes it possible for fliers to buy tickets and extras, and check in, all on their phones.) Gen Z is going to make up 32 percent of the global population this year, so the sooner you mobile-update your site and apps, the better.
Speaking of phones, something Gen Zers do a lot on their phones is go on social media. They use Instagram to catch up with their favorite celebrities, and even to get their most recent news. So you need to create a social media aesthetic for your brand and then post consistently on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. In fact, 34 percent of Gen Zers want brands to reach out to them on social media.
Youtube is a great idea too, considering how popular video content is becoming these days. If you’re running an ecommerce store, check out Oberlo’s tips; they have guides on how to make a YouTube channel private and more.
These are some of the best strategies you can use to get Gen Zers interested in your business in 2019. Once you’ve taken these steps, you’ll immediately start getting attention from a group of customers who seemed impossible to attract in the past. What other strategies do you think would be effective?
New York City hiked its minimum wage for the third time in three years on Jan. 1 and small business owners are struggling to adapt to the steadily increasing labor costs.
New York City’s minimum wage rose to $15 an hour for all employers with more than 10 employees at the start of 2019. Small businesses have set about adapting to the increased labor costs by hiking prices, cutting jobs and benefits, and automating more of their operations, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
“It is a very tricky and delicate situation,” Amy Scherber, who employs 210 people across seven bakeries in the city, told WSJ. “We’d love to give a good raise to every person, but the reality is there’s just not that much extra money around.”
Businesses across the state are having trouble finding workers while unemployment sits at 3.7 percent, a New York State Department of Labor analyst, Elena Volovelsky, told WSJ.
Scherber is walking a fiscal tightrope between following the law, keeping a fair pay scale – bumping employees’ wages up to $15 an hour while giving raises to others who were previously making more than the minimum – and running a profitable business.
“It’s not fair to just raise the bottom rung. You have to slide up the whole scale,” Pat Whelan, managing director of a Brooklyn grocery company, told WSJ, echoing Scherber. “If you raise the bottom guy and not the top guy, it diminishes what the top guy is doing.”
Ovenly co-founder Agatha Kulaga is tightening standards on hiring and looking for qualified workers rather than training new hires in-house. Kulaga cannot afford to spend the extra time paying someone to learn a job now, WSJ reported.
New York City joined 42 other state and local governments in raising their minimum wage floors between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Of the 42 others, two hiked their minimum wage higher than New York City for the new year. Mountain View and Sunnyvale, both in California, raised their minimum wages from $15 an hour to $15.65, according to the Employment Policies Institute.
California, one of the most progressive states on minimum wage hikes, plans to enact a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage law by 2022. California’s minimum wage laws will cost the state roughly 400,000 jobs by 2022, a December 2017 study by economics professors David Macpherson of Trinity University and William Even of Miami University found.
Republished by permission. Original here.
This article, "Small Business Owners in NYC Struggling with $15 Minimum Wage" was first published on Small Business Trends
Nostalgia can be a powerful motivator for buyers. And one business is mixing that sentiment with the sports world by offering custom jerseys made to look like old school products. Custom Throwback Jerseys started as a passion project but has since grown to reach customers around the world. Read more about the company in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.
Creates authentic sports apparel from years past.
Founder Mark Davis told Small Business Trends, “Custom Throwback Jerseys produces hand-stitched retro jerseys from the MLB, NHL, and NFL leagues. Each jersey is detailed by the precise specifications of the year, team, and player requested!”
Attention to detail.
Davis says, “We take special care to make sure our jerseys are high-quality and match the vintage jerseys down to the stitch. We pride ourselves on never taking the “easy” way out when it comes to our processes so that we provide the best products possible and ensure our customers are happy!”
As a passion project.
Davis explains, “I’ve always been involved in sports and have a passion for throwback-style clothing. I founded Custom Throwback Jerseys as the ideal combination of both of these interests! It’s very rewarding to be able to work in an industry I love.”
Mastering their specialization process.
Davis says, “Our team was laser focused on finding the perfect combination of materials, details, and stitching processes for our jerseys. It took us time to dive into the history of the games, teams, and players to make sure each aspect of our products were accurate. Ultimately, all the research was well-worth the effort as that’s now the key factor our business is known for and truly shaped our brand.”
Getting into a volatile industry.
Davis adds, “The licensed sports apparel business is a very volatile industry with leagues changing manufacturers frequently. Because of the constant changes, many jerseys can suddenly become limited in availability, completely out of stock, or show massive influxes in price. To combat this issue, we decided to take a risk by purchasing thousands of jersey styles from our suppliers in advance without knowing for sure whether customers would buy them all. However, our risk paid off and now we have desirable product to sell long after our competitors ran out of inventory in these jersey styles.”
Take advantage of the online market.
Davis says, “We would have opened our online site much earlier, as the site has brought our amazing products to thousands of buyers who love retro style jerseys.”
Growing the team.
Davis explains, “We would definitely use the money to invest in adding to our production staff team, as we struggle to keep up with the current demand of our jerseys.”
A special NHL game.
Davis says, “Our staff was recently invited to a NHL Hockey game where several retired NHL stars were being honored. The retired players wore Custom Throwback Jerseys during the opening puck drop. After the game, the players gave the jerseys back to us with the addition of their signatures! We subsequently donated these jerseys to a local charity event where they fetched a nice return during a charity auction. It was an incredible experience that showed the generous spirit of our industry.”
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Images: Custom Throwback Jerseys, Mark Davis
This article, "Spotlight: Custom Throwback Jerseys Sells Nostalgic Sports Gear" was first published on Small Business Trends
We’re excited to announce some big news about our sister site BizSugar.com. There’s a brand new BizSugar!
We’ve added some new features with many more coming. New features include:
There will also be special resources for members such as guides and manuals.
By now, you may have questions. We’ll do our best to answer common ones for you below.
Everything you have always done on BizSugar – you can still do.
Your BizSugar account remains intact and you can access the Share section of BizSugar (where you submit your content) on the new subdomain.
Many people you’ve known for years at BizSugar are still there:
As well as some new ones such as:
The site continues to be owned by Anita Campbell, Founder and CEO of Small Business Trends, since it’s acquisition in 2009
And we’re proud to say that quite a few BizSugar members have been around for nearly 10 years as well.
We want you in the Mastermind Group. But you have to join separately.
To do so, simply join the BizSugar Mastermind Community by adding your your name and email address. Click the button and boom – you’re a member!
Gail Gardner, Mastermind Group Community Manager, explains more.
With all the benefits BizSugar has provided over the years, we’re looking for a way to add more value for our loyal members.
In addition to my role as Executive Editor on Small Business Trends, I have personally been involved in one capacity or another since the site was acquired in 2009. Along the way we’ve
But things have changed and today, there are innumerable places to share content.
However, BizSugar is unique. It’s intended for small business professionals and entrepreneurs only.
We’ve worked hard to maintain that niche focus while other sites succumbed to the siren’s call of celebrity gossip and entertainment content.
We’ve stuck to our small business entrepreneurial mission – and we’re building on that with new and exciting features.
Let’s just say we hope to also offer opportunities for you in the community to generate revenue and earn money. So stay tuned for that as the vision unfolds.
Many thanks to Zoho, who provided their Zoho One technology to build parts of the site, enabling us to highlight the capabilities of the Zoho One suite of products for small business owners like you.
And much love and thanks to the small business owners, entrepreneurs, contributors and readers like you who have made BizSugar the success it is today. We couldn’t have done this without you!
As we move onto the next leg of our journey, be on the lookout for a new adventure full of resources and tools to make your small business better.
This article, "Announcing the “New” BizSugar, Here’s a Sneak Peak" was first published on Small Business Trends
It is every entrepreneur’s dream: Having a crack team of seasoned professionals on your staff, which you will lead on to thrilling success. We all hope to have our businesses work out this way! Your business will win or lose depending on your staff. But you’re not at the mercy of the whims of the job market; follow these tips to attract the top talent to your shop:
#1: Pay attention to your company branding.
Marketing to job candidates is just as important as marketing to customers. Your company image should inspire hope for the future, low stress, a stable place to grow, and an environment where people come first.
#2: Network for referrals first.
Before you turn to placing classified ads, cultivate a network of peers in your industry and find out who’s looking. A referral from an associate is many times more likely to be a better prospect than some random person answering your ad.
#3: Have a social media presence.
You’re as good as dead to the world without an online presence. Your business should at least have a website, possibly a blog, and certainly profiles on each social network platform. You just might start looking for a recruiter who’s also a social media manager.
#4: Adapt to your target audience.
Today’s employee market is a world of flexible options. Nobody expects to work forty years full-time with one company and retire with a gold watch now. We have a “gig economy” now, and with low unemployment numbers, the job market is the most competitive it’s ever been.
#5: Place attitude before skill.
Too many employers focus just on qualifications, only to discover after they hire someone that the candidate may have had the right degrees and training, but the wrong attitude. Skills can be taught; personality is forever. A can-do candidate who is honest about their skill level but open to investment in learning just might be your perfect choice.
#6: Avoid vague hiring buzzwords.
When placing employment ads, avoid jingo-istic buzzwords. Everybody is looking for a “rock star,” a “ninja,” or a “guru.” Every workplace describes itself as “fun,” “dynamic,” or “an exciting opportunity.” Candidates stop reading when they see these words, because these are tired phrases that tell them nothing.
#7: Offer benefits beyond pay.
Make sure your benefits are tangible, however. Think more along the lines of medical, paid leave, flexible hours, telecommuting, and other perks. Any way you can empower employees at no disadvantage to you will be one more way to be attractive to top talent.
You might need to begin the employee screening process before the candidate ever heard of you! Go to where the resumes are: Online, at employment agencies, or job fairs. Find some resumes and read them to learn what your candidates are looking for.
#9: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
The competitive job market means that you need to focus on what really matters. Be careful not to discriminate. Maybe relax the dress code if your position doesn’t require public facing. Take a chance on an employee with a small blemish on their record if they show promise to not disappoint you.
#10: Tap into the temp market.
In the short term, the “revolving door” job market means you might have to consider temp staffing for some of your work. This can be a blessing in disguise: Many large companies turn to temp staffing as a half-step to hiring the best performers on permanent.
#11: Have a system for employee assessment.
A candidate screening application such as Berke assessment can take the guesswork and toil out of the employment process, by helping you screen candidates and find the right match for each position.
The December 2018 ADP National Employment Report revealed small businesses almost doubled the number of jobs they created in November.
While November managed a respectable 46,000 jobs, small businesses delivered a record high in December 2018 with 89,000 jobs. The high numbers come despite the current tariff battle taking place with China and an erratic stock market which manages to end on the upside after record-breaking downturns.
The volatility hasn’t discouraged small businesses from hiring and expanding. In the press release Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute, said: “Small businesses also experienced their strongest month of job growth all year.”
Although the ADP National Employment Report said there were 271,000 created in December, in actuality, it was much higher than that.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which releases the data days after ADP, revealed there were 312,000 jobs created in December. This number far exceeded the 180,000 jobs the market was expecting for the month.
The 3.9% unemployment rate also represents only the 13th month since 1970 where the rate has been below 4%. Eight of the 13 instances have taken place under the Trump administration.
In addition to the high number of jobs, the BLS also reported nominal average hourly earnings rose by 3.2 percent over the year.
All of these positive economic indicators are leading small business hire more people and look for more growth opportunities.
The small business employment report is comprised of very small organizations with 1-19 employees and those with 20-49 employees.
For the month of December, businesses with 1-19 employees added 25K jobs, while those with 20-49 contributed 63K jobs. This is considerably higher than November when each segment delivered 13,000 and 33,000 respectively for a total of 46K.
A further breakdown of the data reveals the goods-producing sector created 21,000 jobs. This came to 7,000 jobs by very small firms and the remaining 14K jobs were created by other small businesses with 20-49 employees.
In November the goods-producing sector only created 5,000 jobs, which makes the more than three-fold increase December managed to generate that much more impressive.
The majority of the jobs were created by the service-providing sector. It was responsible for a total of 68K jobs which was divided into 19K and 49K between the very small and other small businesses.
This article, "Small Businesses Added 89K Jobs in December 2018, ADP reports" was first published on Small Business Trends
The employment report for December 2018 exceeded all expectations with a whopping 312,000 new jobs for the month. This includes franchises, which added 29K jobs to the tally.
This is more than 17,500 jobs from November when ADP reported a total of 11,500 jobs.
Growth in franchise hiring is an important indicator for local economies because of the job creation and tax revenue this segment provides.
The vast majority of franchises are essentially small businesses if they are not owned by headquarters. And individual owners make up the lion’s share of the more than 750,000 franchises currently operating in the US.
The International Franchise Association (IFA) says the national economic impact of franchises has been growing in terms of establishments, jobs, payroll, output and GDP with a bright forecast for the future.
For franchise owners, this means more hiring, which is what Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said in the press release regarding the overall economy.
Zandi said, “Businesses continue to add aggressively to their payrolls despite the stock market slump and the trade war. Favorable December weather also helped lift the job market. At the current pace of job growth, low unemployment will get even lower.”
The December 2018 ADP National Franchise Report said there were 29K new jobs added for the month coming from several industries.
Restaurants added 22,300 jobs, followed by auto parts and dealers at 2,700, accommodations 1,700, and real estate 100.
Food retailers were on the negative side this month resulting in -100 jobs, while business services was also in the red with -700 jobs. Both segments were on the plus side in November with 700 and 600 jobs respectively.
Accommodations, which was on the negative side the past several months, including -1,500 in November, recovered well in December with 1,700 new jobs.
The franchise report provides a detailed view into monthly U.S. private sector franchise market data and trends. It is compiled in collaboration with Moody’s Analytics and published by the ADP Research Institute.
The information is derived from ADP payroll data representing 15,000 franchisors and franchisees which employ around 1 million workers in the US. This includes the industries mentioned above as well as personal services, manufacturing, professional services, education, and others.
This article, "Franchise Businesses Added 29K Jobs in December 2018, According to Report" was first published on Small Business Trends
Different people in the creative industry who may include content creators, video editors and creative artists can find themselves in situations where they are required to spend money on some good footage which can be seconds long. The ever-increasing number of videographers has seen an increase in the number of stock video footage being produced every day.
There are so many sites where you can get such footage. VideoBlocks is one of the most popular sites out there offering online stock videos, after effects templates, motion graphics among and so many more. The site has thousands of royalty free videos that are of high quality with an ever-increasing membership each year.
You can pay a monthly or a yearly subscription to access all the videos in the library. Content creators are advised to join the site’s selling platforms so that they can enjoy commissions high up to 100%. You will be granted a 7-day free trial before entering your monthly or annual subscription which is very affordable and allows you to save more.
You can also get VideoBlocks Coupons which allows you to save a certain percentage of discount off your purchases. One has access to a wide range of videos from different niches which are also of high quality. New videos are being uploaded each day on this site by content creators who are always active.
There are so many people who stand to benefit from this site. Video marketers are some of the people who can benefit from VideoBlocks. These are people who will always need new content or ideas for their projects. Creativity is very important in the video marketing industry. Those who subscribe to VideoBlocks will always get fresh content for their video marketing campaigns.
Quality videos are also vital in bringing up several social engagements. They attract a wide number of viewers. Well, you can get all that from VideoBlocks. Site optimization experts can also benefit a lot from this online stock video platform. There are several instances you may want to generate more traffic to your blog or site.
You can get some of the best videos that can be vital in such situations from VideoBlocks. One may also have clients who can benefit a lot from such videos because of the nature of their work. Most businesses prefer the use of videos in pushing their products or services, and therefore attracting more viewers. This will lead to an increase in sales. How about you subscribe to VideoBlocks to have access to the wide range of videos that can be beneficial to your kind of work or service.
I will always recommend anyone, especially those in the creative sector to subscribe to this site because of the excellent services provided that are worth the money. There are so many similar platforms out there with rates that are not so reasonable. You will get the best and affordable royalty-free videos that will work well for you. The 7-day free trial service is available for those who may be doubting this site.
You have all the time to decide whether or not you can subscribe to their service. Those who are not satisfied have the option of disabling their accounts to avoid further charges. Currently, the site is offering a discount of 84% off their yearly subscription. There are also other offers set for specific periods of the year like holidays, Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays. Make good use of those periods. You have all the reasons to subscribe to their services.