All Articles Tagged "small business"

Startup Success: Top 10 Small Cities For New Businesses

August 3rd, 2015 - By Chelcee Johns
Share to Twitter Email This



Traditionally, budding entrepreneurs would set their sights on New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago to launch their business in major markets but new research says its time to give small cities real consideration.

NerdWallet, a consumer finance site, found cities such as Minnetonka that are not on people’s hot spot list have just as much to offer (or more). While Minnetonka, Minnesota may not be as “sexy” as NYC, the benefits of small cities for new entrepreneurs are overwhelming (in a good way, of course).

NerdWallet analyzed census data for over 463 cities with populations from 50,00o to 100,000 and ranked cities based on business climate (company revenues, percentage of paid employees, number of businesses per capita) and economic health (unemployment rate, housing costs, median annual income) to come up with this list. So, where should you look to relocate?

  1. Alpharetta, Georgia
  2. Redmond, Washington
  3. Wilmington, Delaware
  4. Troy, Michigan
  5. Minnetonka, Minnesota
  6. Waukesha, Wisconsin
  7. Newport Beach, California
  8. Bethesda, Maryland
  9. Greenville, South Carolina
  10. La Crosse, Wisconsin

These cities may not have been on your radar, but your startup business may love you for the move, as seven out of 10 cities are suburbs near major metro areas. These suburbs offer the close distance to a booming city without the prices.

“We have seen that communities that are geographically close to larger cities do well in many of our studies—on both the state-level and national-level,” NerdWallet economics writer Jonathan Todd told Fast Company.

While major action happens within the city, Todd noted that most people actually live outside of the city’s borders giving new businesses a market to serve. For instance, the No.1 city Alpharetta, Georgia is just 26 miles outside of Atlanta. Multinational businesses such as Hewlett-Packard have built satellite offices in Alpharetta which offers a bustling local business community.

Troy, Minnetonka, and Bethesda are similar to Alpharetta, acting as great spaces for those who want to serve a community near a major metropolis. These cities often host a higher median income as well. In Troy, the median income is $72, 333. Fast Company notes this number is just over the income science says will make one happy, and you don’t move for the income these cities often offer great prices on housing.

With thriving populations and obvious money savings, these communities often support one another, and in places such as Redmond, a suburb of Seattle, collaboration is a huge part of the growing tech hub where Microsoft calls home.

“With this kind of anchor in Redmond’s business community, entrepreneurs are likely salivating at the opportunities,” said Todd. And Todd may be right as businesses in Redmond ranked the highest in revenue of all the cities listed – an average $7.4 million.

Would you be open to relocating to a small city to boost your business efforts?


Baltimore Small Businesses Damaged In The Protests Can Apply For Low-Interest Loans

May 12th, 2015 - By Tonya Garcia
Share to Twitter Email This

Children help with the cleaning effort in Baltimore. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Children help with the cleaning effort in Baltimore. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a new set of low-interest loans for Baltimore businesses and nonprofits that were damaged in the protests that took place between April 25 and May 3.

“Interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition,” according to an SBA press release.

Anyone interested in getting a loan can go to a Disaster Loan Outreach Center on the dates and times as follows:

Southeast Anchor Library, 3601 Eastern Avenue

MondayWednesday, and Thursday10:00 am to 8:00 pm

Tuesday10:00 am to 5:30 pm

Friday and Saturday:10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Pennsylvania Avenue Branch Library, 1531 W. North Avenue

Monday and Wednesday:12:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Tuesday and Thursday:10:00 am to 5:30 pm

Friday:12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Saturday:10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Both facilities opened this morning at 10am. Businesses in the city of Baltimore and Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties are eligible for help. Loans can total as much as $2 million. Homewowners are eligible for up to $200,000; homeowners and renters may meet the $40,000 threshold. Loans can also include funds to improve a business so that future damage can be avoided. And they can also apply even if there wasn’t any physical damage but there was “economic injury.” If you want to avoid a trip to an outreach center, you can apply here. Or you can call 1.800.659.2955.

The deadline for applications is July 10 for physical property loans and February 11, 2016 for economic injury loans.

Should You Expect Discounts From A Friend Or Family-Owned Business?

April 20th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
Share to Twitter Email This

Black small business owner


These days it seems like everyone is trying to save a dollar, and rightfully so. With limited salary increases, shaky job stability, and the harsh reality of unemployment, it’s only natural to find ways where you can cut back a little.

But does that mean you don’t properly invest in a friend or family member’s business?

I get excited when I hear of people I know trying to create their own path in the entrepreneurial game. It’s not an easy task which is one of the reasons why so many small businesses fail in their first year. Yet even with this knowledge, you wouldn’t believe the number of folks who expect, or in some cases demand, special treatment when it comes to pricing. Can’t they get their business off the ground first before you come in with a long list of things you want for a discount or free?

When I got married three years ago, I wanted to treat my bridal party (I had seven members …yes, seven) to something nice. My nuptials were in the morning which meant we all had to get up early in order to be ready for pre-wedding photos and other small needs. Most of us barely wear makeup, let alone know how to glam up our faces. Because of this, I decided to hire a friend of mine who was growing a makeup artist side business. She has come to my home in the past to practice her airbrush techniques for photo shoots and was very talented.

Rather than use our friendship to my advantage by asking for a discount upfront, I thought it was best to respect her hustle and pay full price. Luckily she did give me a bit of a discount which I was happy to pay. Who’s gonna argue with that?

She later approached me and said thanks for not asking or expecting a hookup. Apparently, many of her gal pals would try to guilt her into doing their makeup for free so they could go to a special occasion, birthday gathering, or hit the town for the heck of it.

It’s understandable that folks would like a little something something for having a relationship with a business owner. Whether a close family member or friend, it’s always nice to receive special treatment. Many of us would provide it if we were able. That however does not mean you demand discounts, which can turn the line between a business transaction and personal relationship into a blurry one.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a small boutique and seen someone who obviously knows the owner roll up with a basket of items and say “put it on my tab.” What’s this tab you speak of? And who exactly is supposed to pay it? And when?

At the end of the day, we all need to respect each other’s hustles. If you know someone who has a small business, remember they’re doing everything they can to make it successful. Like us, they have monthly bills, obligations and need to provide for their families. How do you expect them to meet their bottom line if they’re always giving out special discounts and freebies?

Unfortunately, some relationships turn sour when people actually get mad at not receiving a perk. I don’t think business owners are trying to be mean if they deny the request. Perhaps times are slow and they really need the money. You aren’t in their books and have no clue about their situation.

Should you receive perks from someone who sells a good or service, that’s great. Just don’t go around expecting anything because you know them.

Struggling To Make Money From Your Hustle? 10 Ways To Kick Start Your Business

April 9th, 2015 - By Taylor Gordon
Share to Twitter Email This


Sure there are solopreneurs who succeed from the jump… and then there are the rest of us who have to fight tooth and nail at the beginning to start making any money. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to assume all is lost if you’re struggling. Making hardly any cash at first doesn’t predict the success of your venture. Read on for tips on bringing life into your hustle when growth is stagnant.

Now Is Your Time: 10 Reasons To Start That Small Business You’ve Been Thinking About

February 26th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
Share to Twitter Email This


Are you sitting on a business idea you would love to try one day? Maybe you lack the confidence to take the step or feel limited due to your current situation.

You aren’t alone.

Unfortunately we never get the chance to repeat past situations which is why you need to seize the day from time to time. Here are some reasons why you need to start your small business sooner than later. This could be your time to shine.

9 Reasons Small Business Owners Should Feel Optimistic

February 19th, 2015 - By Taylor Gordon
Share to Twitter Email This


According to a recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Business Index survey the future is looking bright for small businesses.

The survey measures business optimism each quarter and the most recent study shows the highest level of optimism since 2008. Most notably last month, 49 percent of business owners reported an increase in revenue in the past year, up from 37 percent in January 2014. Even better, the overall optimism index score jumped from 58 in November 2014 to 71 this January.

But that’s not all! Read on for more reasons that small business owners and entrepreneurs should be excited for what the future holds.

10 Ways To Support Local Businesses This Holiday

December 8th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
Share to Twitter Email This


By now, most of us are on a mission to get the perfect holiday gift and decorations to fulfill our needs. As frantic as things may get, it’s important not to forget about those small businesses in your neighborhood who could use the sales. Sure bigger stores will entice you to shop with the promises of good deals, but there’s nothing like supporting your local vendor.

The Price Of Doing Business: Ways To Cut Your Business Costs

August 22nd, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
Share to Twitter Email This


So you’re starting a business, you’ve lined up your supplies, established your business plan, but now, you need money, money, and more money. Every small business owner has struggled with the balancing act of managing the needs of a burgeoning business and decreasing the cost of doing business. Let the following list of nine ways to cut your business costs help you keep the scale from tipping into complete and total chaos.

Pooka Pure And Simple Founder Dawn Fitch Offers Tips For Expanding Your Small Business

July 9th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
Share to Twitter Email This

DawnPookaIt’s not too often these days that you hear about an entrepreneur expanding with brick-and-mortar outlets, but that’s exactly what Dawn Fitch has done. The founder of Pooka Pure and Simple, a 13-year-old line of natural bath and body products, just announced a new store in Newark.

“There is so much development and so many new initiatives going on in the City; especially for the business owners on Halsey Street,” Fitch said in a press release statement about the expansion. Pooka Pure products are also available online and at more than 40 Whole Foods markets.

Black women are building businesses faster than any other demographic in the US. But it’s not just about launching a company. For many, it’s about taking it to the next level, growing the brand and making more money and a bigger name of your product.

Pooka2With this latest expansion, we asked Fitch for three tips to share with aspiring entrepreneurs on the rise who are also looking to make their business flourish further. Here’s what she told us via email:

I feel like there are 3 things you need: Faith, so that you know and believe your business is going to make it; Perseverance for when it seems like its taking forever; and Support, it’s hard to make it alone  🙂

Start your business on the right track.

1. Go to your local college or university and visit their small business department, I’m pretty sure they all have one. The appointments are usually free, they will help you register your business, set up your business entity and file any paper work you need.

2. Keep good records. Even if you aren’t ready for an accountant, make sure you use Quickbooks or Excel spreadsheets to keep track of your finances.

3. Protect yourself and your ideas. Get your trademarks done early so that when your business takes off there are no issues.

If you’re still on the ground floor in the startup stage, you might want to begin with these bits of advice from Delisha Grant, an attorney with her own law firm who launched The WeBelieve Initiative to help others launch their businesses. During a panel discussion at the most recent National Action Network Annual Conference, she also talked about the importance of trademarking your idea and gave a few tips for starting a business with a partner.

7 Tips For Using Pinterest To Build Your Small Business

May 13th, 2014 - By Janel Martinez
Share to Twitter Email This

nordstrom pinterestSure, Twitter and Facebook are great for marketing your small business online, but have you considered Pinterest? Many people think Pinterest is only for home décor collages and party-planning tips. Not true! Small business owners have the potential to take their brand marketing to the next level if they use the social media site wisely.

Last week, Pinterest unveiled its new business site where entrepreneurs can check out Pinterest buttons and widgets to add to their website, sign up for the business newsletter and read how brands such as Nordstrom have grown using the visual discovery tool. Pinterest announced last week that the company is working with a small group of brands across various industries, including Kraft, Target and ABC Family, to help the company test out its Promoted Pins feature. “We hope Promoted Pins give businesses of all sizes a chance to connect with more Pinners,” said Joanne Bradford, head of partnerships, in the company’s blog.

Once you’re signed up on Pinterest, you can begin leveraging the network. You can sign up for a business account and create a custom URL to align with your business name. Business pages provide valuable analytics. For brands just starting out on Pinterest, here are five ways you can pin your way to the top:

Visualize your brand

For businesses that automatically have a visual nature (i.e. culinary, cosmetics, or travel), it’s rather simple to get started. But for other businesses, the connection might be a bit more difficult, but not impossible. Think of visuals that represent your business and begin pinning attention-grabbing pins. If you’re selling a product, upload high-resolution photos (with your company’s logo/watermark) so people become familiar with what you have to offer. Infographics perform well on Pinterest, too. Turn industry/company data into a cool infographics and share it with the Pinterest community.

Etsy is a great example of a brand that promotes its numerous sellers via strong visuals, driving traffic to their website and, ultimately, revenue to the sellers.

Connect Your Pinterest Account to Other Social Media Accounts

Some people are for connecting it, while others are not. However, connecting Facebook and Twitter will allow you to carry over your customers and followers from each to your new platform. When you sign in to Pinterest from either Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest will place an icon on your profile that links your followers to each of those networks. There’s nothing wrong with cross-platform promotion.

Add a Pinterest “pin it” button on your WordPress site for easy integration.

Promote deals

Graphic coupons are a great way to inform your audience of deals/sales. You can design the coupon yourself or tap coupon-making sites like or to upload to your Pinterest board. You can then cross-market the deal on your other social networking sites for greater exposure.

Check out the competition

There’s nothing wrong with seeing what other businesses within your industry are doing to market their offerings to their customers. It can both be a source of inspiration, as well as a way to see what’s already being done and improving upon that.

Keep content organized

That’s simple. Use more than one board and be sure to click the appropriate category for each.

Link blog posts and videos to Pinterest

Pinterest drove nearly four percent of traffic to publishers last September, which is the second highest of the social networks according to Mashable. In fact, Pinterest’s share of overall visits increased by 66 percent year-over-year, more than any other social network. Pinterest reportedly drives more traffic to publishers than Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Google+ combined. For entrepreneurs with a blog, it’s a great way to generate traffic to your site.

Guest pinners are welcomed

Like guest bloggers, you can enlist the help of fellow small business owners or even loyal customers. It helps to select individuals with a large following on Pinterest.

How do you use Pinterest? Let us know in the comments section below.

Based in New York City, Janel Martinez is a multimedia journalist who covers technology and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of “Ain’t I Latina?” an online destination geared toward Afro-Latinas. You can follow her up-to-the-minute musings on Twitter @janelmwrites