What Black Friday Can Teach You About Running a Small Business

Black Friday_Nov14Love it or hate it, Black Friday is a popular shopping day for many consumers. The 24 hours following Thanksgiving have a palpable energy in the retail world. Black Friday got its name because it is the day that retailers drive revenues out of the red and into the black. Traditionally, it’s considered the biggest sales day of the year.

As a small business owner, it is natural to sit back and watch this energy unfold with awe and admiration. You would also love to get your customers in your store so that they can spend their entire holiday budget (even if it means waking up at the wee hours of the morning). You would also love bring your revenues from red to black.

Although the attention is on large retail chains, there are a few lessons your small business can learn from all the madness.

Black Friday Deals

Like Thanksgiving, Black Friday falls on the same day each year—the day after Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday shopping season. It’s the time when consumers spend, spend, spend. To encourage all that spending to happen in-store, businesses offer Black Friday deals.

The well-timed sales and marketing campaigns are not an accident.

As a small business, your company can do the same. Get to know your audience and determine when they will buy. For example, if you market to businesses, target your audience at the end of the fiscal year when companies plan their annual spending.

Top Picks of the Season

Before Black Friday rolls around, you’ll hear buzz about the most anticipated and top selling gifts of the season. These top picks are analyzed and offered to entice customers into the store so that they can get their hands on the hottest new items.

People want an “in.” By creating your own top lists and articles outlining the most popular items that you sell, you create demand. You inspire people to want to purchase before you sell out.

Doorbuster Madness

Most retailers offer Black Friday deals. So how do they attract their customers to their store before all of the money has been spent at a competitor? With doorbuster sales.

If you’re in business, you have competition. To lure customers to your store over your competitor’s, you need an irresistible offer.

Retailers work hard to create loyal customers. They think of the lifetime value of a buyer, instead of the value of a single transaction. Although they might not make a large profit on the first sale, they begin the process of creating loyal customers for the long run.

When customer loyalty – and trust – is built over time, it takes quite an enticing offer to lure them away. Your goal is to put that offer on the table to lure them in, and then keep them by delivering doorbuster wow factor all year round.

Customer Service is Paramount

Throughout all of the hustle and bustle this time of year, the best way retailers create loyal, long-term customers is with exceptional customer service. Your customers have a lot going on already. By offering exceptional customer service during a hectic, stressful shopping season, you win.

To provide the best customer service, trying using an easy data analysis tool. DataHero integrates with companies like Zendesk to turn your customer service efforts into sales and Shopify to process those sales. With data analysis in DataHero, you can easily recognize trends, analyze customer needs, and move from the red into the black—no matter the size of your company.

Irresistible Black Friday-esque deals may bring the business in, but customer service is what brings them back. If your company’s customer service stands out from the competitors, you could find your business in the black all year round.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

The Costs of Job Stress and How to Combat

 

There are certainly a ton of stressors out there that can make life challenging, but job stress likely leads the pack for most of us. The costs of job stress can be deafening. Afterall, you probably spend 40-80 hours working a week, making a living, surrounded by stress .

In the U.S. job stress is the top dog. The stress from your job has a trickle down effect to other facets of your life.

Top 5 Causes of Stress

 

1) Job Pressure

If you ever heard the phrase, “Do more with less” run for the hills. That equals we’re going to work you to the bone, and don’t ask for a penny more.

Other factors causing job stress include bosses who micro-manage or are professional meeting attendee’s. If they’re in your face or you can never find them (if you need them) this can be stressful.

The inability to get along with your fellow employees can certainly increase your stress levels.

Work Overload can generate incredible stress. The kind where you come home at night, fall asleep within an hour, wake up to do it all over again. That schedule can paralyze you after a while.

2) Money

It makes the world go around. It also causes people to go crazy. There never seems to be enough of it for the majority.

This usually relates directly to job stress. I don’t hear many say, “I’m so overpaid” too often. If your perception is you’re underpaid to make ends meet, the stress meter usually lands hard right.

3) Health

If all you do is work and still there isn’t enough money, here come the health problems. Oh, they might not be immediate, but that stress is taking a toll. Eating on the go, not time to exercise, consistently living at 100mph. It’s a recipe for disaster.

4) Relationships

You see where this going. You know it, and you live it. If the three above are in a spiral, your relationships usually suffer immensely. It can take the face of constantly arguing or shutting down.

5) Poor Nutrition

Always on the go is generally associated with poor eating habits. The #5 large with a diet coke, order through the drive thru won’t lead to competing in the Olympics. Eating poorly is the cherry on the top off this stress cycle.

The Google Way

You know them, you love them. You’re company probably doesn’t have a 380 billion dollar market cap, but this how the big boys help their employees deal with stress.

Open physical space for collaboration
Free yoga and pilates classes
Subsidized massages
Your own personal health counselor
Free Food
Fitness Facilities
On-Site Doctors
Laundry Rooms

“You don’t need a lot of money to do what Google has done. If you give people freedom, they will amaze you.”
Laszlo Bock

Well you do need a lot of money, but most large companies could do something close. Most small businesses don’t have anything in place, and they could also set up programs that wouldn’t break the bank. They just have to make it happen.

Google Employee Perks
Photo Source

How Employees Can Reduce Stress

Time Management – Write down what you do for a week. Yes, everything. Then see where you’re spending too much time, or not enough. Create balance and your efficiency will rise.

Have a few go-to people – You need to consistently “get it out” and vent. Having people you trust that will listen and make suggestions is very important. A sounding board if you will.

Eat, Sleep, and Exercise – Find a way to do all three correctly. Limit your eating out, find 15-30 minutes to exercise per day, and get at least 6-8 hours. When these three things are out of whack, your overall stress is amplified.

So are you stressed? What do you do to temper your stress?

 

The Cost of Job Stress
Image source: www.top10onlinecolleges.org

Why Small Business Owners Aren’t Succeeding at Social Media

There’s a problem between small business owners and social media networks, but lack of use isn’t it. The problem is that many small business owners are using social media, but not experiencing any success.

And to make things even worse: They’re not doing anything about it.

According to Jason Keith, a business blogger for the Boston Globe, small businesses are only flirting with social media. He says that much like that relationship that seems inevitable, but never really takes off, social media has only become a fun activity for small business owners.

Unfortunately, it’s not a permanent activity.

It doesn’t take a research survey to determine that only dabbling in social media isn’t good enough. Social media takes a lot of effort — more than most small business owners may want to put into it. But if social media is done correctly, it can have a huge impact on your business.

It’s time to get past the flirting stage and move into a full-fledge relationship with social media. Why? Because it’s not going away anytime soon.

Prioritize Your Social Media Efforts

It’s time to stop tinkering around and actually hone in on being successful with your social media Small Business and Social Media efforts. One of the bigger problems with small businesses and social media is that they are all over the place. You need to prioritize your social media efforts in order to be successful.

That starts with picking one social network you’re comfortable with and executing on only that network. By signing up for three to five social networks, you’re spreading your efforts to thin and won’t be successful.

As social media grows, this can be a difficult choice, but try and stick to the major networks: Facebook and Twitter. Twitter is simpler to use, but more difficult to attract the right followers. Facebook is a bit more intricate, but more popular than all of the other social networks.

Learn the basics of your social network, create a simple, yet informative profile, and begin adding friends and requesting followers that are appropriate to your business.

The phrase, “less is more,” is a good starting point for your social media efforts.

Don’t go overboard. Rather, stay consistent, simple and don’t forget who you are and what your business represents. You can’t copy other successful social media campaigns if they don’t fall in line with your business’ brand.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

There’s a reason why not too many people go out and buy books on how to effectively use social media. Why? Because it’s constantly changing. That’s why you can’t be afraid to experiment with your social networks.

Remember, though, that while you’re encouraged to experiment, don’t lose your social media roots. Still post content on a consistent basis and utilize tactics that are showing evidence of success.

Take the tactics that aren’t working and begin to tweak them. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. As pointed out earlier, many small business owners are making mistakes when it comes to social media. Practice makes perfect.

The only way to determine that “sweet spot” for your social media efforts is to try new things outside of the box.

Don’t give up

Social media can be difficult, but your success is truly measured by what you put into it.

Don’t give up and you’ll start to experience that success you desire.

And if you need some help, there’s plenty of support online. Sites like SocialMouths.com offer a ton of great content that can spark you with many ideas.

Don’t think of social media as a one-time blind date — be committed to it and nourish your time together with it.

Andrew Dodson is a business blogger that understands the best banks for small business.