Thank a Small Business Owner This Thanksgiving: Shop Small

November 26, 2014

Tomorrow, many Americans will gather with family and friends to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. And for retailers across the country, that means one thing: Black Friday. Thanksgiving thank small business

Before our turkey and pumpkin pie even reaches our intestines, many of us will be dashing off to Best Buy and Walmart  to compete for our chance to buy an 800″ Samsung HDTV for $3.97. But before we do, I wanted to give a few reasons to be thankful for – and support – our local small businesses.

Small businesses may not have the million dollar marketing and advertising budgets to promote our holiday sales ad nauseam like the big box stores, and we may choose to stay home with our families on Thanksgiving rather than open up shop to squeeze every penny out of consumers, but that’s part of what makes us who we are: local people. We’re about so much more than the bottom line. We’re about good old fashioned hard, honest work, family, and building relationships. We are actual living, breathing, walking, talking, loving people – we didn’t need a Supreme Court decision to validate that.

So before we rush out to spend all of our holiday budget at the Supreme Court’s definition of people-corporations, let’s consider our local small business. And if being actual people isn’t enough of a reason, here are seven more reasons to not only thank your local small business owners but make it a point to shop them this holiday season:

1.  Employment – Small Businesses with fewer than 20 employees make up 89.8% of employers in the country (Source: US Census Bureau Data 2011)

2.  Job Creation: Small companies with 20-499 employees led job creation after the Great Recession of 2009, with 60% of all new thank small business on black fridayjobs being credited to small businesses – that’s a total of about 14.3 million jobs – and I can pretty much guarantee most of those 14.3 million jobs wouldn’t require anyone to work on Thanksgiving! (Source: SBA’s Office of Advocacy. See more at: http://www.sbecouncil.org/about-us/facts-and-data/#sthash.avpzvi2h.dpuf) 

3.  Contributing to GDP: “A January 2012 report from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy found: “Small businesses continue to be incubators for innovation and employment growth during the current recovery. Small businesses continue to play a vital role in the economy of the United States. They produced 46 percent of the private nonfarm GDP in 2008 (the most recent year for which the source data are available). (Source: “Small Business GDP: Update 2002-2010”)

4.  Innovation: You want innovation? We got innovation! Small, high-patenting companies produce 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting companies. In addition, a 2008 study by Anthony Breitzman and Diana Hicks for the Office of Advocacy found that “small firms are much more likely to develop emerging technologies than are large firms. Specifically, although small firms account for only 8 percent of patents granted, they account for 24 percent of the patents in the top 100 emerging clusters.” (See more at: http://www.sbecouncil.org/about-us/facts-and-data/#sthash.avpzvi2h.dpuf)

5.  Supporting Veterans: Veterans own more than 3.7 million small businesses, and are at least 45 percent more likely to be self-employed in the private sector workforce than those with no active-duty military experience. (Source: sba.gov)

6.  Supporting Women: More than 7.8 million businesses are owned by women. (Source: sba.gov) thanksgiving gratitude small business

7.  Supporting Local Communities: Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes. (Source: Institute for Self Reliance)

 Happy Thanksgiving and please don’t forget to show thanks to the small businesses that positively contribute, not only to our local communities, but our national economy by shopping small this holiday season!

Do you have any small businesses you love to support during the holidays – or any other time of the year? Show them you support them, by leaving a comment and sharing why you love doing business with them!


5 Marketing Metrics Successful Business Owners Live By

October 30, 2014

Measuring marketing effectiveness isn’t just for C-Level Marketing Executives at Fortune 500 companies and marketing geeks like me; it’s also what separates successful small businesses from the failures. marketing metrics

Without putting sound tools in place to measure your marketing effectiveness, you’re going to be wasting a ton of time, money, energy and resources on the wrong marketing activities. How can you know what gives you your biggest bank for the buck if you don’t measure? Guessing can only get you so far. When we perform ROI analysis for the small businesses we work with they are always surprised to see how poorly most of their marketing is actually performing.

To make sure your business is on the right track to maximum profitability and marketing effectiveness implement these 5 marketing metrics immediately!

  1. Profit margin – Yes, I consider this a marketing metric because if you don’t know the margins on every type of work you do, product you sell, and/or every client you work with, you are most likely not operating at peak performance and profitability. Study this – constantly – and re-price, restructure, or abandon products, services, and customers that are bringing down your bottom line. Focus on what is most profitable and you will be more successful. Knowing your niche is half of the battle in marketing!
  2. Customer Acquisition Cost – How much does it cost you in marketing and advertising to earn a new client? This needs to be tracked and measured by each source. For example, does it cost less to acquire a client through networking than it does PPC advertising?
  3. Live Time Value of a Client (LTV) – Knowing the cost to acquire a client is great, but then you need to know the value of a client. How much is that new client worth to you over the life of the client? Is it a one-time sale or an ongoing sale? Do you cross and upsell knowing the LTV of your best clients is key to studying and learning where and how to attract more of them!
  4. Number of Leads by Source – If you don’t know this you may as well as grab your wallet, head into the restroom and flush all your money down the toilet now. Because that is exactly what you’re doing if you’re investing in marketing and not measuring whether or not you’re getting (leads from it. It’s imperative that every business knows exactly how many leads they get from every marketing; from advertising, to social media, to networking – and yes, even referrals.
  5. Conversion Rate – Leads are great and all but if they aren’t converting to actual paying clients, who cares? Knowing which sources convert the most leads to actual business (and the value of each conversion) is going to be key in measuring the success of any marketing campaign or promotion you do!

These are just the basic KPIs to track, there are literally dozens more that can be tracked to further refine your marketing and increase your profitability. But start here and become an expert at these 5 before moving on. And if you need help, this is what we love to do! Feel free to contact us to find out how you can get a professional ROI and KPI Analysis!


6 Things You Need to Know about Filing an LLC in California

August 22, 2014

by Attorney at Law  Michael Schachter of Pearson and Schachter, Walnut Crek

At some point, a an entrepreneur,  you may decide that an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) is right for your small business. But how do you go about it? All the mumbo jumbo on the internet can be confusing at best!

So this week I’m very happy to bring you a guest post from our friend  Attorney at Law Michael Schachter. Michael is a business, corporate and real estate transactional attorney at Pearson and Schachter Law Firm in Walnut Creek, CA. I like working with Michael because he does does a great job of simplifying the information,  and  giving top notch legal advice in a way that small business owners can understand. So, here are his 6 Things You Need to Know about Filing an LLC in California! entreprener small business should be an LLC or S-Corp

 1.      Name.  An individual must ensure that the name of the LLC is available with the California Secretary of State (“SOS”) or else the filing of the Articles of Organization to form the LLC could be rejected.   You could check the name availability online by entering your proposed name, and any variations thereof, on the SOS website and clicking the “Limited Liability Company/Limited Partnership Name” tab at the following website: http://kepler.sos.ca.gov/.  An individual may also call or write to the SOS to ascertain whether a certain name is available.   If the individual ascertains that the proposed name is available, an individual could reserve the name by paying a fee to the SOS or move forward with the formation of the LLC.  The SOS is a filing service and does not provide legal advice regarding the sufficiency of the name in the marketplace.  Thus, it is prudent to check search engines for the proposed name and reserve the domain names to ensure that you are practically able to use the name without an issue even if the individual is able to register the LLC with the SOS.

2.      Professional Services.  An LLC may not provide “professional services” in California.  “Professional services” are defined as any type of professional services that may be lawfully rendered pursuant to a license, certification, or registration authorized by laws.  It is recommended that you contact the appropriate licensing authority in order to determine whether your services are considered professional.

3.      Articles of Organization (Form LLC-1) (“Articles”).  The Articles registers the LLC with the SOS and the form is found at: http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/llc/forms/llc-1.pdf.  Once the Articles is correctly completed and signed, the individual would submit the Articles with the SOS via mail or hand delivery.  The SOS generally takes 7-10 business days to file the Articles but could take longer depending on the time of the year.  An individual could expedite the filing, if necessary, for a fee.  It is also possible to check the status of the Articles by referring to the “Processing Times” page on the SOS website:  http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/llc/forms/llc-1.pdf.  Filing the Articles will obligate the LLC to pay an annual minimum tax of $800 to the California Franchise Tax Board.

sole proprietor, LLC or corporation4.      Employer Identification Number (EIN).  Every LLC is required to have an EIN.  An EIN is the identification number for the LLC for tax purposes with the IRS.  An individual could obtain an  EIN online at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online.

5.      Operating Agreement. An Operating Agreement for an LLC sets forth how the LLC will be managed and run. It will also state the ownership interests and officers, if any. Although an Operating Agreement is not required in California, it is highly recommended.  Operating Agreements are to be maintained by the LLC and are not to be filed with the SOS.

6.      Statement of Information.   A Statement of Information for the LLC must be filed with the SOS within 90 days after filing the Articles and biennially thereafter during the applicable filing period. The applicable filing period is the calendar month in which the Articles was filed and the immediately preceding five calendar months. The form of Statement of Information is found at: .http://www.sos.ca.gov/business/llc/forms/llc-12.pdf

Have additional questions or need help figuring out if an LLC or Corporation is right for your business in the  Walnut Creek area? Contact Michael for a consultation!



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