Welcome to the Small Business Run Down. Every day, we bring you stories and trends that impact small business owners and their workforce.
Among other things, May is World Trade Month and the SBA is getting in on the international action by kicking off a four-part webinar series called “Go Global” during National Small Business Week. The series is aimed at helping SBOs expand their international sales presence and identify trade opportunities in other countries.
For small businesses already engaged in international trade with China, recent statements from President Trump about levying additional tariffs have many SBOs already concerned about the impact to their bottom line.
The Number: 25%. President Trump announced this week his intention to raise tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of goods from China, causing many retailers to reevaluate their plans for holiday ordering.
The Quote: “You start a business thinking you know how much things are going to cost, and then something like this comes along and changes everything. Are these tariffs going to happen? Are they not? I’m having to make long-term decisions based on the little information I have now.”
Meanwhile, for entrepreneurs staying close to home–or returning home after a time away–crowdfunding is proving to be a valuable method of raising capital and cultivating community engagement. Regional community development organizations can help startups secure funds by tapping into residents’ sense of connection to each other and their place.
The Number: $7000. Becky Clark was able to raise $7000 through crowdfunding to finance her Pork & Pickles food truck and restaurant, ultimately creating seven jobs for her Appalachian community.
The Quote: “You get to vote with your pocketbook about what you want to see happen in your community. It’s the support for local that I think for a lot of people that makes a difference. Whether they are living in the community or have out-migrated. They want to see the narrative shift and to shine a light on the positive stuff that’s happening.”
Forgoing market research can have big consequences for small businesses. Though companies of all sizes are vulnerable, a lack of information about the best avenues for marketing and advertising can particularly harm small companies. Excitement about a product idea without information about the actual demand for it, a strong attachment to a name or logo that’s confusing or off-putting, or even a basic refusal to ask for help can significantly impede a company’s ability to grow–and even survive.
The Number: 0. Many SBOs think market research or focus groups have to cost a lot, but gathering information about target audience and customer demand can be as simple as standing in front of a store and giving people a candybar if they’re willing to fill out a survey.
The Quote: “I think I made all the marketing mistakes possible, including advertising in a local magazine that didn’t increase awareness of me at all, having ugly Facebook business pages and an under-developed web page, and trying every advertising ploy that came my way.”
If you know what kind of company culture you want to create but are unsure how to get there, an employee handbook can be an especially useful tool for communicating values and outlining expectations for new employees. An easy way to outline PTO and benefit policies, employee handbooks can also address everything from dress codes to weather-related closure procedures.