The closing of 63 Sam’s Club stores has big implications for small business

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Last week, Walmart announced that it would be closing 63 of its under-performing Sam’s Club stores at various locations throughout the country. While most of the news centered around the thousands of employees that would be affected by the decision, there’s also another significant group of people that will also be negatively impacted: hundreds, even thousands of local small businesses.

The retailer has historically prided itself on the services it has provided its small business members which include (for an annual fee) discounts on bulk purchases on office supplies, food, materials and other goods, financing, payment solutions and even healthcare insurance. The chain also has special hours to accommodate its small business customers–many of whom start the day early. So it’s understandable why so many local merchants, restaurants, coffee shops and other small businesses were upset to learn of the sudden closures. Read More…

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5 Rookie Mistakes You to Need to Avoid With Google AdWords

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

Google AdWords can be a hugely powerful tool to help you sell products online. Given the right amount of attention (and budget) the platform can generate as much as $2 in revenue for every $1 in spend. But, like everything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching clients – and my own social marketing consultants – use AdWords is that it’s easy to waste a lot of money very quickly. That’s because the service is complex and inundated with features designed to help advertisers (that’s you and me) but which unfortunately oftentimes make it too complicated for the average person (again…you and me) to use.

If you’re a business owner and you want to succeed with AdWords it’s probably in your best interest to not only set an advertising budget but to also hire someone certified to help you. Or at the very least go for training and be prepared to spend a lot of time – and money – getting up to speed, followed by more time – and money – staying current. Otherwise, you’re probably making these five rookie mistakes.

Rookie Mistake #1: You’re not selling products online.

When you advertise with Google you can have simple search ads that show up on the side of a page or you can create more visual display ads that appear as banners not only during searches but on more than two million websites and apps. You can even create video commercials that appear during YouTube videos. But unless you’re BMW, Microsoft or McDonalds and you’re interested in creating a global brand for your product or company, you’ll need to make sure your ads are doing one thing and one thing only: selling products. My most successful clients using AdWords are selling stuff online. That’s because a good ad will enable a user to click through to a good landing page (see below) and within just a few minutes hand over a credit card number. Don’t use AdWords if you’re trying to get people to call you, or sign up for a newsletter, or do anything other than buy your product right there and then. Read More…

Oops! A Microsoft Patch Bricks Computers…And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

 1 — Cloud companies consider Intel rivals after security flaws found, and Microsoft says chip fix may significantly slow some computers

Some of Intel Corp’s data center customers, who have thousands of computers running cloud networks, may start using its competitors’ microchips to build new infrastructure after the discovery of the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws affecting most chips. Meanwhile, Microsoft gave its first assessment of the global problem, saying Intel downplayed the fact that the fixes for the security flaws in most processors may significantly slow down certain servers and harm the performance of some PCs.  (Source: Fox Business and Bloomberg)

 I’ll address this importance below.

Read More…

Are traditional interviews a thing of the past?

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Are you still relying on the traditional interview to select a new employee? If you’re like me, you’ve probably never been 100 percent convinced that it’s truly effective. But we still go through the motions because that’s what we’ve always done.

That trend is starting a change, according to the 2018 Global Recruiting Trends Report released this week by social media giant LinkedIn. Read More…

An eminent domain battle in NYC could put this dry cleaner out of business

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

“Eminent Domain” gives governments the power to take over private property if it’s determined that it’s for the public good. Most laws require that the government gives the property owner “just compensation” for the trouble. But what exactly is “just?”

Not $3.5 million, the amount offered by the city of New York to an East Harlem dry cleaning operation with three locations. The lot where the business stands, according to its owner, is worth more than $11 million. Read More…

Small Business Tech Check: Why The Marks Group Uses The Tech It Uses

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(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Is your company’s technology up to speed or out of date? What’s hot and what’s not? What technologies are other businesses using that you should be considering?

That’s the purpose of Tech Check. Each week, we’ll do a quick survey of a small business to see what technology it’s–using because we’re all interested in keeping up with the Jones’s, right? How do you compare? Read More…

These two high school kids are making six figures mowing lawns

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

People my age sometimes accuse younger generations–millennials and Gen-Zers–of not working as hard as they did when they were kids. Which, of course, is unfair and untrue. Want an example? Take RJ Duarte and Owen Johnson, two high-schoolers in Golden, Colo. who started a landscaping business back in 2014 called Green Worx.

There was no business plan, no venture capital and no bank loans. It was just RJ, who was doing a little yard work on his own. So much work in fact that RJ needed to bring on Owen…and a partnership was started. The two partners, through word of mouth and reputation, soon found themselves busier than ever.

The company now employs a full-time employee and part-time teams of other high-schoolers (at rates above Colorado’s minimum wage) to help with the day-to-day “heavy lifting.” An article in a local newspaper with a circulation of about 19,000 provided all the free advertising needed to get more clients and the two partners, in 2016, found themselves the recipients of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Ernst & Young Foundation. Read More…