SCORE is gearing up for November’s Small Business Saturday, one of the top shopping days of the year. And if you’re a small business owner, now is the perfect time to start planning how you’ll make the most of this exciting event! In this month’s SCORE blog, we offer 6 tips for a successful Small Business Saturday.
Held the Saturday after ThanksGiving, Small Business Saturday begin in 2010 in an effort to encourage more shoppers to buy goods and services from local brick-and-mortar businesses. By 2015, more than 95 million customers patronized small businesses (including retailers and restaurants) during the event, representing an 8 percent growth over the previous year. Total spending among U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday reached $16.2 billion in sales, up 14 percent from 2014.
1. Start promoting early to build excitement.
3. Host an event to add some excitement and fun. For a larger impact, consider partnering with neighboring businesses. Some suggestions include:
4. Extend your shopping hours for the convenience of your customers and to make the most of the day. Consider offering “early bird” and “after hours” specials to get people into your door.
5. Make sure your website is ready for business, too! Do a run-through of a typical online shopping experience to confirm that everything is working properly, including ensuring that load times aren’t too long. If possible, make sure your SBS details are prominently posted on your home page.
6. Build goodwill by thanking your customers for their business. Consider providing discount coupons for a future purchase. This can go a long way in developing customer loyalty.
Want to learn more ways to make the most of Small Business Saturday? Join SCORE-NH for “Get Ready for Small Business Saturday,” on Tuesday, September 26 at 6 p.m. at the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, 49 South Main Street, Concord, NH. For event and registration information, visit us online.
Social media is an essential part of any small business marketing plan. It provides you with a major opportunity to engage with customers and prospects and manage your business’s reputation. However, to properly represent your brand and ensure consistent messaging, you need a social media plan. Here are 7 tips for developing a social media plan for your business:
1. Go where your customers are. There are a lot of social networks out there but you don’t have to be on every one of them. Instead, “go where your customers are,” says Joanne Randall, partner with Sprout for Business, a digital marketing agency that specializes in helping small businesses build an online presence.
Randall advises businesses to pick a few social media channels that are most appropriate for their business and industry. “If you’re a B2B business, you may find great success using LinkedIn. But if you’re a business with highly visual products or services, you may do better with Instagram and Pinterest,” she adds. Randall says that most businesses should include Facebook. “If you have the time and resources to develop videos, you should consider having a presence on YouTube,” she notes.
2. Be mindful of your “voice” and messaging. Whether you’re posting to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, make sure you use the same voice (tone, style, level of formality) and messaging. All posts should reflect what your business is about–including its products and services, core values, mission, people, etc.
3. Share quality content. Good content stands out from the “clutter” that fills much of our social media feeds. When creating content, ask: Is it timely? Relevant? Informative? Helpful? Interesting? If your answer is “yes,” your customers and prospects are more likely to read and engage with your content.
Coming up with content is easier than you think. You might take elements from a press coverage you’ve received and share it on Facebook, offer product maintenance tips on your blog, or share a behind-the-scenes look at your new office move on Instagram.
4. Mix things up. Keep your posts interesting by mixing things up with humor, holiday greetings, customer testimonials, inspiring quotes, quizzes, or contests.
5. Know when to post. When you first start posting to social media, it can take awhile to find out what time of the day and week provides the best engagement (likes, comments, shares, etc.). Through a little trial and error, you will determine the best strategy for your business. When it comes to posting, think about quality instead of quantity. A few well-timed, thoughtful posts are going to have more impact than constant posting and tweeting.
6. Be responsive. Once you establish a social media presence, you provide your customers and prospects with an opportunity to openly engage with your business. It’s important to respond to any complaints, praise, or questions that you may receive in a professional and timely manner.
7. Keep learning. Like everything in today’s digital world, social media trends are always evolving. Organizations like SCORE-NH provide a variety of free social media management webinars and workshops, including Social Media 101: How to Raise Awareness and Engage Customers and How to Grow Your Business with Social Media.
Want to learn more about how to leverage social media for your small business? SCORE-NH offers free social media workshops and webinars that you can attend at your convenience. Looking for a business mentor? SCORE’s team of dedicated small business mentors have a offer a wealth of knowledge and personal experience. Visit us online to find a mentor near you.
If you’re reading this, you possess at least one of the key qualities of a good mentor: inquisitiveness. You’re always looking to learn more about yourself and the world around you. Continual learning is essential if you want to be an effective mentor. In this month’s SCORE-NH blog, we discuss this and other key qualities of a good mentor.
1. You’re inquisitive.
Good mentors are always learning about what’s going in their industry, their community, and the world. “Remember: What worked a decade ago may not be optimal today, and what works today may not work as well one, two, five, or more years from now,” says Jayson Demers, Founder and CEO of Audience Bloom, a leading link building and content marketing agency. An effective mentor stays on top of business and industry trends and developments. If your mentee asks you something you don’t know, help him or her find the answer.
2. You’re approachable and straightforward.
Your mentee should always feel comfortable reaching out to you for advice or support. However, it’s important to set a regular meeting schedule so you can both be prepared to make the most of your time together.
To best support your mentee, you must be candid and straightforward. Provide constructive feedback as appropriate and say what you know your mentee needs to hear from you—not what he or she wants to hear. Be willing to debate and discuss in a compassionate, sensitive, and professional manner. Your role as a mentor is to guide your mentee toward making important decisions and achieving personal and professional success.
3. You’re willing and able to share what you know.
As a mentor, you’re considered an expert in your industry. But being an expert doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to clearly communicate your knowledge—or have the time and patience to do it. Good mentors remember what it was like when they were just starting out in the field and communicate at the mentee’s experience level. This includes:
Sharing the lessons you’ve learned.Clearly explaining business strategies in intricate detail.Avoiding overwhelming industry buzzwords, acronyms, and jargon.
4. You’re committed to your mentee and the mentoring process.
You help your mentee succeed by:
5. You motivate others by setting a good example.
A good mentor leads by example. This includes:
If you are interested in sharing your skills, talents, and business savvy with others, become a small business mentor with SCORE-NH. Contact us today to learn how you can gain a tremendous sense of personal satisfaction from helping small businesses thrive and grow.
SCORE New Hampshire continues to be the state’s largest and most proficient provider of business mentoring and educational services through over 175 certified mentors from six regional chapters. We also provide valuable online business information, resource materials, tips, and tools, along with a robust webinar program available 24/7. Visit our website or connect with us on Facebook to learn more.
Summer is a great time to get outside, reconnect with nature, and get some much needed rest and relaxation. It’s also a really good time to schedule a financial checkup with your accountant. Doing so will make sure you are on track to meet your goals for the year. It’ll also make things a lot easier at tax time!
“We encourage all of our business clients to schedule a summer financial check-up,” says Melissa Laverty, founding partner of Tax Services of Londonderry, NH. A summer financial check-up gives you time to anticipate and react to circumstances that could otherwise increase your business tax exposure. “Too many business owners miss tax-saving opportunities by waiting until the end of the year—or even worse, waiting until tax time—to ask how they can save money,” she adds. “Saving tax dollars is like good comedy—it’s all about timing,” Laverty says.
If you are managing your own bookkeeping, it’s especially important to have your books reviewed for accuracy and efficiency. During your financial check-up, your accountant should take a look at your books and your bookkeeping processes. Be sure to ask for suggestions on how to save time on your bookkeeping tasks. This will help you reduce stress and save valuable time during tax season.
A summer financial check-up will enable your accountant to estimate your expected tax liability and provide a strategy for saving and sending in those tax dollars. “Failure to follow the Internal Revenue Service’s “‘pay as you go” program will result in additional penalties that are so easily avoided,” Laverty notes.
If are worrying about the taxes you will owe or wasting time on inefficient bookkeeping processes, you take valuable energy away from running your business. A summer financial checkup will help ensure that you are on track and doing everything you can to grow and succeed.
SCORE-NH provides free advice for small businesses through six New Hampshire chapters. Services include one on one mentoring, local workshops, webinars, and other online resources. Entrepreneurs throughout New Hampshire and the United States have experienced company growth and success through the business coaching they received with SCORE. Visit our website to learn more.
#free advice for business nh
#business mentoring nh
#financial advice nh
#summer financial check up
You are good at what you do. And you have the skills, talents, and business savvy to help other entrepreneurs succeed. By becoming a SCORE-NH mentor, you’ll experience great personal satisfaction from nurturing a growing business and giving back to your community–plus a whole lot more! In this month’s blog, we discuss some of the many unexpected benefits of becoming a SCORE mentor:
By volunteering as a SCORE-NH mentor, you will expand your network to include fellow volunteers and other people in the small business community. “Whether they are other SCORE mentors, people in workshops or just others I have met along the way, I find I have an amazing group that I can go to for questions or advice,” says SCORE volunteer Jeanne Rossomme of Roadmap Marketing.
SCORE-NH mentors have endless opportunities to learn and grow. While mentoring small business owners, you’ll provide with much-needed direction and support, and learn new business ideas in the process.
When you’re part of the SCORE-NH network, you become connected with professionals from a variety of industries, from marketing, to finance and accounting, to human resources.
By mentoring New Hampshire business owners, you will become known as a business leader, both within your industry and the small business community at large.
Whether you are a small business owner, retired executive, or business manager, SCORE-NH has a mentoring opportunity that will fit your professional interests and personal schedule. When you become a SCORE mentor, you’ll join an extended team of volunteers representing all facets of the business community. Whatever your skills and experience, put them to work for SCORE-NH. Visit our website today to learn more.
#business mentoring nh
#SCORE mentor nh
Summer is officially here and as the weather continues to warm up, many of your employees may begin to dress down. And some may take the laid back styles of summer a little too far. In this month’s blog, we explain why you need a summer dress code policy and share some guidelines on developing one for your business.
How your employees dress represents you and your business. Inappropriate workplace attire—especially that which is offensive or distracting—reflects poorly on your brand, explains Michelle Gray, President of HR Synergy, LLC in Bedford, NH. Because what you deem inappropriate may seem quite acceptable to someone else, it’s important to develop a summer dress code policy that both employees and management understand.
The formality of your workplace dress code should be based on what is appropriate for your industry. Is it formal/professional, business casual, or casual? “At many companies, this will also vary according to the amount of interaction employees have with customers,” Gray notes.
Gray, who has extensive experience helping businesses develop and implement HR polices, offers the following guidelines for developing your summer dress code policy:
1. Put Your Summer Dress Code Policy in Writing
Your summer dress code policy should be a formal document that is included in your employee handbook. Copies of the policy should be easily seen in heavily-trafficked areas, including hallways, meeting rooms, break rooms, and restrooms.
2. Apply Your Summer Dress Code Equally
When writing your workplace dress code policy, be careful not to focus more on one gender than the other. “I often find that businesses tend to focus on more on female dress attire,” Gray says. To be effective, your workplace dress code policy needs to be applied equally to all employees, regardless of gender, age, or level.
3. Be Specific
As noted, the purpose of your summer dress code policy is to set clear expectations for both employees and management. Thus, you should provide specific examples of what attire is not acceptable for your type of business. Here are some considerations and questions to get you started:
4. Explain the Consequences
Your summer dress code policy needs to state the consequences for failing to comply with it. Also, any special events or circumstances that can alter the dress code should be outlined in your policy and communicated to your employees.
If you need help developing HR policies for your business, visit SCORE New Hampshire’s website to find a mentor near you. SCORE New Hampshire provides mentoring and educational services through six regional chapters: Lakes Region, Mt. Washington Valley, Merrimack Valley, Monadnock, Seacoast, and Upper Valley. We also provide valuable online business information, including a robust webinar program available 24/7.
By volunteering at SCORE, you’ll have an opportunity share the gift of your knowledge and expertise with the next generation of entrepreneurs. Whether you’re assisting a small business owner who’s just getting started or helping an existing business owner reach new levels of success, you will make a difference in your community!
If you have business expertise and an interest in helping small businesses owners succeed, there is a place for you at SCORE. Contact us at (603) 666-7561 to learn more!
Curious what you need to do to effectively market your small business online? Don’t miss this local workshop with SCORE NH!
This workshop will assist small business entrepreneurs in evaluating their needs and making the decisions required to establish an Internet presence.
Where? Cross Insurance Agency, 1100 Elm Street, Manchester, NH, 03101
When? December 6, 2016, 6:00pm
SCORE NH is actively involved in helping new and established business owners achieve success through guidance and training. Get registered for our New Hampshire workshops this month!
Even the smallest employer is not immune from a wage and hour audit. Many new employers don’t realize that certain state and federal laws apply to even your first employee. This workshop will show you what traps and pitfalls to avoid as you start to hire, as well as teach you what laws apply to your workforce as you grow. Register today!
When: November 16, 2016 6pm-8pm
Location: Rivier University, Sylvia Trottier Hall, Room 230. 16 Clement Street, Nashua, NH, 03060
This workshop will help participants create a successful marketing plan. Learn to develop your company’s image, position your products and services in the market, and identify prospects most likely to make a purchase. Learn how to harness traditional marketing channels from newspaper and broadcast to direct mail and explore how these media are being challenged by social media, Internet search, SEO and viral strategies. This workshop is free thanks to the sponsorship of TD Bank. Register today!
When: November 16, 2016 6pm-9pm
Location: 215 Commerce Way, Portsmouth, NH 03801
You may have heard of a “sales funnel,” but do you know how to apply it to your small business? Converting prospects–to leads–to customers is an ongoing and challenging process.
During this SCORE Webinar, Danielle Tate, founder of MissNowMrs.com and best-selling author of Elegant Entrepreneur, shares insights and examples to develop a successful marketing and sales strategy to build your customer base and maximize profit. Register today!
When: November 17, 2016, 1:00pm (online webinar)
In conjunction with the SBA, SCORE is participating in a live Twitter chat about holiday marketing. Don’t miss this chance to hear some great ideas that will help your business succeed this holiday season!
When: November 17, 2016, 3:00pm (follow @SBAgov)
Courtney Daniel knows how to keep up in a fast-paced business world. In fact, she was once a personal assistant to the stars. “Little did I know, the years I spent thinking on my feet, finding creative solutions to problems and developing a knack for pleasing people would endow me with all the skills I’d need for success with my own creative business.”
C. Daniel Designs is a full-service project-management company specializing in custom stationery.
Daniel first met SCORE’s Seacoast chapter when she moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and wasn’t sure how to move her business to her new state. She attended local workshops and met with mentors Dan Walter and Liz LeSavoy once a month. “Doing so allowed me the time needed to complete my checklist from previous meetings.” If she had a question in between meetings, she could call on Walter and Savoy any time.
The final pillars of online security are encryption and data backup. For anyone who might be skeptical about the importance of security for workplace computers, think about the repercussions of someone accessing all the information you put into your computer. Now add to that all your customer information, which is a liability to you as a business owner!
Encryption software such as BitLocker protects your files by encrypting each bit of data and obscuring it from any potential outside access. It also prevents anyone from accessing your hard drive without a password.
Data backup programs like Carbonite offer real-time backup strategies so that your information is always stored securely. This protects your information from being stolen by hackers, as well as from unforeseen malfunctions like a crashed computer.
E-Commerce. If you’re seeking an online payment system for your company website, it’s always best to hire an established organization with a reputation for success and security.
Information Storage. When it comes to customer information, the less you have on file, the better. If you don’t need client credit card information for recurring payments, it’s best to avoid storing it altogether. Large E-commerce leaders store this information on your behalf, meaning you aren’t liable for any lost or stolen information.
Stay informed, and keep your business secure. Take a look at SCORE’s Technology Trends Virtual Conferences, which includes topics like email marketing, domain names, mobile practices, data security, and blogging.
In today’s era of digital information storage and online banking, security is a must. How can small business owners in New Hampshire practice safe cyber security? Great question. Our next two blogs will take a look at the big three in online security practices.
The Electronic Fund Transfer Act of 1978 paved the way for protection of personal funds in the event of an electronic data breach. If your personal bank account is hacked, this act requires the bank to pay your losses. Business owners, however, do not have this inherent protection. If their company bank account is hacked, it’s just a loss.
One way for you as a business owner to practice safe online banking is to funnel as much money as possible in a separate personal account, not your company’s bank account.
Does your company use touch screen equipment for customer purchases and transactions? Do these devices store customer credit information in a database for recurring charges? When transaction devices are hacked and customer information is accessed, the business is held responsible. A company can expect to pay $30-$50 per account when client credit card information is compromised.
When POS devices are used for internet browsing, they become more susceptible to viruses and hacking. If your staff is not trained in cyber security practices, they might access phishing links that could compromise the device, as well as any stored information.
As a business owner, you might consider investing in a separate computer for your employees to use for general internet access, rather than using the POS devices.
Looking for more information on cyber security for businesses? SCORE is offering a webinar on the subject on October 27 at 1pm. You’ll learn about specific software choices and best practices for online security. Register here today, or contact SCORE’s Merrimack Valley Chapter at
(603) 666-7561 to learn more!
You can also take a look at SCORE’s Technology Trends Virtual Conferences, which includes topics like email marketing, domain names, mobile practices, data security, and blogging. Get your business going strong!
There is a lot that goes into being a successful business owner. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra helping hand? Someone who is a “business coach” who understands where your business is at and is able to provide pertinent feedback to help company growth.
Why not work with someone who has run a business in your industry? Better yet, why not work within your own community?
The SCORE New Hampshire SCORE is a non-profit organization with over 170 Volunteer Business mentors and we are dedicated to helping small business owners grow and add to their bottom line. In fact from a recent Price Waterhouse Survey, if you spend 3 hours or more with a SCORE Mentor, your business on average will create an additional $100,000 in revenue and improve Profitability 20%.
SCORE New Hampshire we has 12 total SCORE locations. Most importantly, it’s FREE, it’s CONFIDENTIAL and it’s For the Life of Your Business!
Here at SCORE, our main mission is to foster and grow small business communities through education and mentorship, whether it be one-on-one counseling or local workshops. Can’t make it to training in person? Join us on the web for daily webinars or access a wide variety of tools and templates to help run your business. We are here for you 24/7.
You may be searching for start-up advice, or maybe you already have an established business and need some fresh ideas; SCORE can help! Small business owners reported increased growth and revenue when spending three or more hours consulting with a local mentor.
C. Daniel Designs Testimonial, Portsmouth, NH
Nuthin’ But Good Times, Merrimack, NH
It’s free, there is no obligation, and as a small business owner or entrepreneur, time is of the essence! We know it is important for you to focus on your day to day tasks, so spend the time wisely and find a mentor near you. Contact SCORE at 1-800-634-0245. We look forward to working with you!