P.O. Box 1750, Cockysville, MD, 21030
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How Online Listings Secure Your Business Identity

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A quick Google search of your business can reveal interesting results. One of the first things that may pop up is your online business listings. They include details about your services, location, hours of operations and contact information. These listings help customers find you, and they can secure your business identity in several important ways.

Help Customers Find You

Your small business grows as customers purchase the goods and services you offer. By participating in online listings, you assist customers in learning more about your business. When you don't claim your online listings, you could lose potential customers to your competitors, so claim all your listings, post pictures of your products and staff, update your office hours and make it easier for customers to find and get to know you.

Protect Your Brand

You've spent time developing your brand, and now you need to protect it. Claim your online listings before a competitor does. Remember that shady operators can also claim your listings before you do and then hold them ransom. It pays to claim all your online listings now and then monitor them regularly.

Secure Your Reputation

Almost every business has disgruntled customers or former employees. Because anyone can edit online listings, these disgruntled people may change information on your listing. Secure your reputation when you:

  • Claim all your online listings
  • Protect the accounts with a secure password
  • Check your online listings
  • Ensure the information remains correct

Include Helpful Reviews

Many customers want to know that you're a reputable business that meets or exceeds customer expectations. Reviews are one way they can find out if you're a good fit for them or not. Be sure to ask your loyal customers to post positive reviews on your online listings.

Maximize Customer Service

Sometimes, your customers are not satisfied and turn to the internet to leave feedback. When you stay updated on your online business listings, you can reach out to any unsatisfied customers and address their complaints. Your diligence could turn a skeptic into a loyal customer for life.

What to do Next

Now that you know how your online business listings help you, learn how to keep them working in your favor.

  • Claim all your online listings. Many are free.
  • Secure your online listings with a password to your online business listings to prevent anyone from changing the information.
  • Perform regular updates to ensure the information remains correct.
  • Add keywords that describe your business as you stay on top of the search engine listings.

Online business listings can play a role in your small business's success. Claim your listings today and update them regularly. With these tips, you secure your business reputation and identity.


Cash Flow Mistakes That Threaten Your Small Business

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Every small business needs capital to succeed. You might be making cash flow mistakes, though, that threaten your business's success. As many as eight out of 10 small businesses and start-ups fail because of poor cash-flow management reports U.S. Bank. Take time today to analyze your small business and correct any cash flow mistakes.

  1. Buy Impulsively

    Whether you're brand new to business or have been in operation for years, impulse buying is tempting. However, it can ruin your ability to buy what you need, weather slow seasons and grow.

    Curb impulse buying when you create a budget and follow it. Before you buy anything, analyze its purpose. Also, consider how often the item will be used and if you can find it cheaper somewhere else. As an example, insurance is a necessity, but shop around for the best rates on the coverage you need.

  2. Don't Get Paid in Advance

    When you allow your customers to pay after you perform a service or provide a product for them, you risk not getting your money. Plus, your cash is tied up in the materials needed to make their product.

    Always collect a portion of the total cost upfront, and use that cash to pay for materials. Be sure to collect the full payment before you make the final delivery, too.

  3. Let Late Payments Slide

    You likely have a relationship with most of your customers and may not push them to pay past-due invoices. However, if you don't receive payment for the good and services you provide, it won't take long for you to go out of business.

    Secure your business's future when you collect payments on time. Set up payment reminders, charge interest on past-due accounts and require invoices to be paid in full before you deliver further goods or services. Check into collections policies, too, as you protect your bottom line.

  4. Don't Keep Enough Cash on Hand

    You never know when an emergency will occur. Plus, you need to prepare for slow times.

    Set aside adequate cash. Ideally, a cushion of three to six months of operating expenses could help you stay in business if slow sales or an emergency occurs.

  5. Make Unrealistic Revenue Projections

    As a small business owner, you may be optimistic about future sales.  Creating unrealistic projections could cause you to overextend yourself now, though.

    Be honest and objective when predicting your revenue. Use accurate expense and sale records as well as past data when you calculate future revenue.

Your small business's success depends in part on your cash flow. Stop making these mistakes today as you pave for the way for a positive future. For assistance, contact your business mentor or local SCORE chapter.


Your Responsibility for an Employee's Substance Abuse

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Seventy-five percent of the nation's alcoholics are employed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration. If your small business employees someone who abuses alcohol or drugs, your business's safety, productivity and your bottom line are at risk.  For maximum protection, implement a zero-tolerance policy against drugs and alcohol and understand your responsibility for substance abuse.

Know the Law

According to federal law, only certain companies have to implement a zero-tolerance policy and test employees for substances. Those companies:

  • Have a federal contract or grant of more than $25,000
  • Are involved in any type of public or commercial transportation
  • Provide natural gas facility services
  • Work at railroads
  • Operate vehicles registered with the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Perform air traffic duties

Your small business may not meet these requirements, but you are still required to maintain a safe culture and environment in your business. If one of your employees is injured on the job, your business is responsible for the Workers' Compensation claims. Likewise, if one of your employees injures someone else while he or she is working under the influence, your business will assume the liability.  

Screen Employees  

Most substance abusers do not announce their problems. They also may gravitate toward small businesses that don't have strict drug and alcohol policies or regular testing in place. Protect your business when you require all new employees to take a drug and alcohol test and agree to your written substance abuse policy.

Write a Substance Abuse Policy

Protect your employees and small business with a written substance abuse policy. It will:

  • Outline your zero-tolerance policy or other restrictions on substance use
  • Solidify any employment testing requirements
  • Share the consequences for positive drug or alcohol tests and subsequent use
  • Maintain confidentiality

Find more information about how to develop a legal and non-discriminatory alcohol and drug abuse policy from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Provide Treatment Options

Your small business is not required by law to provide treatment options for employees who suffer from substance abuse. Consider offering treatment options, though.

Join a consortium of other small business owners. Together, you can provide an employee assistance program (EAP) that offers short-term counseling and treatment referrals and assists you in retaining your quality employees.

You should also familiarize yourself with the substance abuse treatment options provided by your insurance company. Share the available resources with employees who are covered by the policy and have a substance abuse problem.

Alcohol and drug abuse can impact your small business in a very negative way. Create a plan to address your responsibility and reduce your risk.


How to Add Temp Staff Quickly During Busy Seasons

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Does your business have a busy season? It might if your industry is retail, landscaping or catering, and that means you may need temporary workers. Here are several tips on how to add those workers quickly to your staff during your busy seasons.

Prepare and Plan

Unless this is your first year in business, you know when your busy seasons fall during the year. Take time during the slow times to prepare for the busy hiring season.

  • Decide how many employees you need.
  • Outline job duties and write detailed job descriptions.
  • Write your help-wanted ad and identify in-print and online job boards.
  • Clear time in your calendar to conduct interviews.
  • Set up a training program.

Hire a Temp Agency

Screening employees requires a big chunk of your time and valuable resources. Consider hiring a temp agency.

The temp agency is experienced in finding, screening and hiring employees. In fact, they probably already have a list of potential employees for your business. With their help, you can focus on doing your job instead of on finding and hiring temp workers.

Start a Referral Program

You already have a team of great employees. Why not reward them for referring the people they know, like and trust. Chances are high that your team will only refer quality candidates since their reputations are on the line.

When starting your referral program, determine the reward. It can be cash, a day off when business slows down or other high value prize. Then determine how many referral prizes each employee can earn. Finally, follow through and award the referral prizes as you promised.

Recruit on Local Colleges

Local college campuses are filled with students who need extra cash. They also typically have flexible schedules, so recruit your next temp workers there.

Contact the administration office or student employment office and share your job openings. You can also participate in job fairs or get permission to post job ads on school bulletin boards.

Offer Retention Bonuses

You invest quite a bit of time and resources in finding and trailing temporary workers. A retention bonus encourages them to remain on your staff after the busy season.

The bonus can be as large or small as you can afford. Also, consider giving a bonus to any temp employees who are available as needed throughout the year to fill random large orders or cover staffing gaps as needed.

These tips can help you quickly fill seasonal employment voids. Use them to ensure that your business can fill orders and meet customer demands as you keep your business moving forward.