Category Archive : FEATURED

Any small business owner knows how stressful the holiday season can feel. December comes around, and it becomes hard to participate in the holiday spirit amidst the hustle and bustle of the fourth quarter. Here are a few guidelines to staying sane during this busy time:

Eat a Balanced Diet
You may think eating has nothing to do with running your business (unless you run a restaurant!), but studies show that’s not at all the case. In fact, there are signals sent directly from your stomach to your brain, which impact your level of stress. So swap out junk food for some fruit and vegetables, and focus on portion size when attending holiday parties with indulgent treats. Eating better will actually make you feel better during those long days at work this month!

Ditch Your Coffee
Caffeine may feel good in the moment (like, really good), but overtime, too much caffeine can cause you to be emotionally overreactive to stress. Drink some festive egg nog instead of your usual cup of joe a few times a week. Cutting back on caffeine will increase its positive effects when you do drink it.

Time to Unwind
Another thing that will make you feel a whole lot better during those long days is a reward waiting for you at the end! Whether it’s time spent baking some christmas goodies, hanging out with your family, or even watching A Christmas Story- you need some down time to balance all your hard work. Also, reward your employees or co-workers by including them in a festive wine night, or treating them to dinner, where you can all focus on making spirits bright.

Get Enough Sleep
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends seven to eight hours of sleep per night for adults. This holiday season, make a point of having lots of silent nights. You will feel more productive in the morning and be more motivated when helping your many customers!

Play Some Music
In the words of Buddy the Elf: “The best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”. Okay; so maybe the constant Christmas music echoing through the month of December is not something you find completely relaxing. That said, music is good for your brain. It makes you happier, more productive, and more motivated. Your mood can be improved by simply listening to your favorite tunes. Try listening to music on the way to work, or even playing it in your work environment.

Take some deep breaths, and keep calm this month. After all, the holidays are about appreciating our lives and loved ones, and spreading kindness. Keep that in mind, along with these relaxing tips, and you’re sure to have a successful holiday season.

It’s no secret that Millennials are different from their predecessors. We are known for our lazy, entitled attitudes (but also for our passion, risk-taking, and open-mindedness!). With over 80 million Millennials in the U.S., we are the largest generation in Western History, according to a study conducted by Initiative in the United Kingdom. Regardless of your opinion on our unique generation, it’s ever important as a business owner to understand Millennials, and even more essential to understand how to market to them. Here are four marketing strategies that will attract Millennials to your business in no time:

1. Keep Things Authentic
Millennials respond well to authentic content. We spend hours upon hours online each week, and even more on social media. Content is important to us, and so is originality. So next time you create content, keep your brand identity in mind. Also, keep in mind that Millennials will respond best to a casual, colloquial tone.

2. Stay Away From Traditional Advertising
Most Millennials are drawn to the influence of peers or other individuals they see as influential. We are more likely to react well to word-of-mouth marketing than to an ad in the paper, for example. The best thing you can do is make sure people are saying good things about your business- keep your reputation in great condition! In addition, make sure to run updated social media accounts to catch the eye of Millennials.

3. Create Great Content
Millennials tend to be very visual people, since we grew up staring at screens all day. We know what good content looks like, and we are not ashamed to favor businesses or brands with better content. Anything from emails, to Instagram accounts would be a great place to display solid content for your business. Luckily, SLN makes this easy and

4. Do Something New
Instead of hosting the same sales, events, and products year after year- try experimenting with something new. Millennials are interested in trying new things, and taking risks. If you try new things and take risks, chances are, they will support it.

If you want to impress your Millennial customers, try applying these four strategies. After a little practice, you’ll be a pro!

If you own a business, you know how quickly time goes by when things become busy. That’s why planning ahead is key to running your business smoothly. Sure, you can get away with procrastination. But it feels so much better to plan in advance, so you can actually remember to enjoy your business, especially during the busy holiday season. Here are a few reasons you should start planning now, not later:

1. Success
When you make a plan for the future, chances are you have an end goal to that plan. Planning ahead, therefore, allows you to reach a goal and find tangible success in your business.

2. Preparation
Planning ahead also allows you to be prepared for a multitude of scenarios. Once you know what to expect, you are more likely to handle a given situation in the best way possible.

3. Control
With the ambiguity and unpredictable nature of business ownership, you should take advantage of the things you can control. One of those things is planning. Whether its an event, a strategy, or something as simple as employee hours, planning can never hurt.

4. Efficiency
If you set a plan, you are more likely to take action efficiently. This means less time and effort on your part, which is always a plus.

5. Fulfillment
When something goes as planned, you will find it fulfilling. As aforementioned, you probably have an end goal to any plan you set. Meeting that goal will remind you why you love your business so much.

6. Direction
Plans are like maps. They have definite direction, just like your business should. Planning ahead will help you refine the direction of your business, and benefit you in the long run.

Hopefully after reading this, you feel more motivated to start planning now, rather than later. The evidence is clear, and the plan is now in your hands!

Just like all things in life, your business changes over the course of time. To you, these changes feel natural. But, what about to your customers? Little things such as discontinuing a certain product, or big things like moving locations may take your customers by surprise. It’s best to avoid a frenzy of confusion, and keep your customers in the know. Easier said than done, right? Follow these tips about creating a great business announcement:

Prioritize your Content
If your business is moving in a few months, for instance, you would want your announcement to say something along the lines of “Guess What? We’re Moving!” first and foremost. All the details, logistics, and less important content should follow. Just make sure to start off on the right foot.

Use Your Best Writing Skills
Any piece of content you show your customers is a direct representation of your business. No matter what kind of business you run, you definitely want to use proper grammar, parallel structure, and a tone that suits your business image. You want your customers to remember the content of your announcement, not a spelling error!

Make It Visually Appealing
This way, your announcement will grab people’s attention and they will be more likely to read on. Take the time to experiment with colors and fonts that represent your business, but also appeal to the eye.

Use a Variety of Mediums
If your business has something important to say, then you need to do everything you can to be heard. This means sending the announcement via mail, email, social media platforms, etc. If you are unsure where to begin, start with us. On SLN, we allow you to share your content with just the click of a button.

Just in case none of that made sense, here’s what a great business announcement looks like:

business-name-change-announcement-flyer_58519

Sometimes a formal business announcement is the best way to help customers through a change within your business. Keep them informed, and your business is sure to flourish.

You may have noticed the social media icons on a few sections of the SLN platform. I’m here to tell you that these icons, although small, have a huge effect on the success of your SLN page and even on your business. So, listen up. If you have accounts for your business on Facebook, Twitter, or Google +, it’s time to start pushing your SLN content as far as possible! Here is some useful information about sharing on social media:

We Make It Simple

It doesn’t get easier than this. We allow you to share your business profile, deals/promotions, events, and email content on most of your social media platforms all through the click of a button. By clicking on the Facebook icon, for example, you have the opportunity to push all of the content you’ve produced on SLN to all of your loyal customers. And even better, those loyal customers may choose to share your content, and reach even more individuals. Winning!

Social Media is a Necessity

It’s becoming increasingly important that small businesses have a social media presence. Make sure that your information is accurate and consistent across all the social media platforms you run. Facebook has the best ROI in terms of social media content posting. The more time and content you put in to your social media, the more likely you are to see a rise in sales, and Facebook is the front-runner in this area. Because of that, it’s a crime not to use it to your business’ advantage.

Be Aware of Your Followers

Is there a particular type of post your followers love to see? What receives the most likes or responses on your social media platforms? Think about these questions when sharing and creating your SLN content. You want to keep making your followers and customers happy!

Hopefully you’ve learned a few things about the significance of social media sharing. At SLN, we want you to be found online. We want that coveted recognition for your business. But at the end of the day, users who continually create and share new information on social media have better SEO, and better overall results. If you’re curious about these results, look up “Fresh Coffee Olmsted Falls, OH” on Google. Keep your eye out for The Village Bean Cafe; their SLN page appears before their competitors such as Starbucks. We love to see success stories like these, so, that said, good luck with social media sharing!

Joining a local Chamber of Commerce can be a hard decision for many business owners. Some look at it as just another incoming expense, and assume it’s not worth the trouble. But what it all comes down to are the member benefits, which often vary between chambers. However, there are many perks across the board to becoming a member. Keep reading to learn seven advantages of joining your Chamber of Commerce!

1. Publicity
Having your business appear on your Chamber’s website will give your business the extra boost you’re looking for. In addition, word-of-mouth referrals are a timeless form of marketing which should not be underestimated.
2. Networking
Regardless of your business’ size, networking is a key component to a success. Connecting with other business owners through the Chamber opens up a world of advice and camaraderie.
3. Sales
Did you know that in a study conducted by the Schapiro Group in 2012 showed that 80% of consumers were more likely to purchase a product or service from a Chamber member? Sales are an important, if not the most important, part of running a business. Your Chamber of Commerce boosts your reputation and therefore contributes to the sales you depend on.
4. Growth
Are you looking to expand your business, or even form a partnership eventually? If so, joining your Chamber can connect you to potential investors, or even instill the confidence, stability, and experience to expand your business.
5. Community Involvement
Becoming a member is simply a great way to give back to your community. It feels rewarding to participate, and also feels rewarding in terms of your business.
6. SEO
Since most Chamber websites have an authoritative relationship with various search engines, a direct linkage to your business’ websites/webpages will cause those search engines to reward your site just by association. This means your website will be rated higher and hopefully generate more traffic.
7. Member Benefits
These will vary among Chambers, but for the most part, becoming a member is usually worth it. Some benefits may be things like discounts, or connections to trade shows or other events. Not to mention, SLN partners with Chambers all over the USA and Canada, and we have an extensive list of benefits just within our platform! Make sure to inquire about us when you join your Chamber!

As aforementioned, becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce is usually worth it. If you have a small amount of money left over in your annual budget, you should consider joining, so you, too, can reap all the benefits you just read about!

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Once you verify your business with us, its essential to utilize each feature of our platform to maximize Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. One part of our business profile page are the embedded keywords which we allow you to select.

I asked my colleague Lizzie Bove to help explain the significance of these keywords: “They’re important because that’s an area where search engines look to figure out what your webpage is all about. So our keywords are embedded into the coding of our webpages. Then whenever someone searches on Google or Yahoo, the given search engine will recognize those key words and content from your SLN webpage,” said Bove. So basically, the keywords are simply metadata which helps give Google an idea of what your page is, very quickly.

Make sure you add a variety of descriptive words into your keyword section. Think about what your consumers may be searching into Google or Yahoo in order to find a business like yours. Do you own a gift shop? You might consider entering broad keywords such as “Gifts”, “Ohio”, “Presents”, and “Souvenirs”. After you tackle the more general terms, it’s easy to distinguish more specific keywords that also describe what your business has to offer. Some examples for a gift shop would be “Cleveland”, “Candles”, “Jewelry”, and “Sterling Silver”.

Using our platform provides flexibility in regards to keywords. We recommend entering at least twenty keywords to begin, but you are able to enter as many as you’d like. Good luck!

Running a small business is not easy, that’s no secret. Sometimes, it can feel like nobody understands challenges you face on a daily basis. Hopefully you’ll feel better understood after reading your small business horoscope. Learn how to run a successful small business based on your Zodiac sign:

Aquarius (January 20- February 18)
As an Aquarius, you’re very independent, so owning or managing your own business comes naturally to you. Your dislike for limitations and dull situations may cause you to act out from time to time when it comes to your business. Instead, use this to rise to the occasion and become the best you possibly can- this way you’ll feel unlimited and successful. You also love helping others, and are a born good listener. Use these traits to your advantage and spike customer service at your business. Work one on one with your customers, since you have a knack for assisting them, and hearing them out. Occasionally, you may be uncompromising in terms of planning and strategizing. Just remember, compromising is a key part of running a small business, so try your best to be amenable with colleagues. Do not take it personally when an employee or customer disagrees with you- instead look at this as a way to improve your business and learn something new.

Pisces (February 19- March 20)
Pisces- you are a creative force to be reckoned with! Your gentle, intuitive, wise attitude makes you the ideal small business owner. Compassion is your natural instinct, which makes working with customers rewarding for you. You are able to truly grasp your business’ value and purpose, however, you dislike criticism of any kind. Try to look at things constructively, rather than losing hope. In addition, you tend to be fearful and sad when things are uncertain. Unfortunately, in the world of small businesses, nothing is certain. Learn to have faith in your business’ future, and you will feel more satisfied. Focusing on your personal needs such as sleep, music, and visual media will allow you to channel even more success into your business.

Aries (March 20- April 19)
Aries: You possess a perfect balance of confidence, determination, optimism, and passion- all extremely important ingredients for a successful small business. Your passion brought your business to life, so keep trusting and following your instinct. At times, you may find yourself feeling short-tempered or impatient. Maybe you do not bring these qualities to your business, and you should keep it that way! Being patient with your customers and colleagues may present a challenge for you, but its nothing you can’t handle. Being the natural leader that you are, you appreciate the role you play in your small business. Your dislike for work that does not use one’s talents may at times interrupt certain parts of your business. It may be in your best interest to hire an employee who excels in the portions of your business you shy away from.

Taurus (April 20- May 20)
Being the practical, devoted, responsible Taurus you are, you excel as a small business owner. You enjoy working with your hands, so it would benefit you to perform hands on work within your business. You may shy away from sudden changes and complications. This can be difficult, as it may cause you to shut down or feel frustrated. Resist the frustration, and learn to face complications head on. The immediate confrontation will satisfy you. You are also extremely stubborn! This is a strong trait for you which cannot be reversed, so you must learn to work with it and loosen your standards (without necessarily lowering them). Learning to be more compromising will greatly elevate your small business success. Beyond this, you are talented in many arenas of creativity and problem solving, both key components to running business smoothly. Customers and colleagues appreciate your patient demeanor and your wittiness. At the end of the day, your business is hopefully as reliable as you are!

Gemini (May 21- June 20)
Gemini’s portray a gentle and affectionate persona, and tend to be very curious and adaptable. This makes you a great small business owner. Customers find it easy to trust you, as you genuinely look out for the best interest of others. It’s likely that you can understand the customer’s perspective! You dislike alone time, and thrive in social settings. It would benefit your business to work one on one with customers. Your weakness comes in the form of nervousness and indecisiveness. Both these setbacks can feel limiting, but are only there for you to overcome. Receiving input from trusted employees may help decision making easier for you. Too much routine turns you away, so try to lend your time to different areas of your business for optimal success. Overall, your ability to chat with nearly anyone stands out to those who know you. Try to use this to your advantage when connecting with colleagues, customers, and anyone else you encounter during business hours.

Cancer (June 21- July 22)
Hey there, Cancers! Your highly imaginative outlook, along with your persuasiveness and helpfulness shaped you into the business owner you are today. You embrace your hobbies and passions, so hopefully your business allows you to express those. You also approach hard tasks with vigor and determination; if you use this to your advantage you could find amazing success in your small business. Some days, you may have a tendency to feel moody and insecure about your business. This can feel like a set back, but as long as you leave your fears behind and keep dedicating your best efforts into your business, you will see positive results. Since you function best when your life is balanced between work and play, make sure you set aside time to relax outside your business.

Leo (July 23- August 22)
Leos- your passionate nature and creativity make running a small business come naturally to you. You have a cheerful demeanor, and a warm heart, which causes customers to feel comfortable around you. Take advantage of this and focus on sales, as you likely excel in this area. You also tend to act stubbornly, especially when facing a difficult reality. Although it may take more effort and strength for you, its important to face issues head on within your small business. If there is a dispute between employees, a financial concern, or any other problem, swallow your pride and dissolve it as quickly as possible. Furthermore, take time to appreciate your customers more, and your business will be positively impacted. When your business sees success, treat yourself to a special dinner with friends or go shopping, since you respond well to rewards. You deserve it!

Virgo (August 23- September 22)
Virgo, you are analytical, kind, hardworking, and practical. Those traits make up a pretty solid business owner. You may excel in managing your employees, and focusing on the “numbers” in your small business. Shyness, worry, and a self-critical attitude can at times take over you. You tend to be very hard on yourself and your achievements, so make sure that you take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Owning/running a small business is not easy, but you do it! Finding a balance of work and play will elevate your personal happiness greatly. You may strongly dislike rude or entitled customers. Try to see the best in them and give them the benefit of the doubt. In small businesses, the customer is always right (even if they are wrong!). Set aside time to read books, appreciate nature, and spend time on yourself in order to bring your best self to work every day, and reach your small business goals.

Libra (September 23- October 22)
As a libra, you are cooperative, diplomatic, fair-minded, and social. These qualities shaped you into the small business owner you are today! Your cooperation shows within your small business, and appeals to both colleagues and customers. You have the ability to communicate with customers, so use this to your advantage and boost your small business’ customer service! You tend to avoid confrontations when it comes to disputes between others or yourself. This can present many challenges if gone unchanged. It’s worth it to take the extra effort to confront conflicts straight away instead of instinctually putting them off. Your business can only run more smoothly because of this! You love sharing with others, so try hosting an event for your customers as a fun way to share and appreciate them. Conformity has never appealed to you, however, so keep being the unique individual you are, and running your business in the best way you know!
Scorpio (October 23- November 21)
Scorpios make the perfect small business owners. If you’re a scorpio, you know how much passion drives your life. It’s lucky your passion lead you to owning a small business! Your resourcefulness makes you stand out among other businesses. One thing you dislike is dishonestly. Because of this, it would benefit you to hire individuals who you trust. As you have a tendency to be distrusting and secretive, especially when it comes to your business, it is truly important that those working around you are familiar and trustworthy to you! Beyond all these attributes, your brave attitude allows you to face difficult realities with ease, and because of that your business is more stable. Lastly, you are a true friend to others, so try to treat every customer as a true friend, to earn points for customer service!

Sagittarius (November 22- December 21)
Sagittarius: Your idealistic persona makes you a visionary when it comes to owning a small business. You love freedom, so an owning or managing position fits you well! In addition to these great qualities, you may feel very impatient and constrained at times. Although difficult, you should make an effort to be patient when it comes to your customers or colleagues and remember how important they are to your business. Being the people pleaser that you are, customers overall respond very well to you. Just remember not to promise more than you can deliver when it comes to the product or service your business supplies. At the end of the day, you should seek time outdoors, or relaxing to balance out your work ethic.

Capricorn (December 22- January 19)
One quality that stands out in Capricorns are their management abilities. Business owners need to manage employees, time, money, customers, and plenty of other things. So if you’re a Capricorn, you lucked out! You appreciate quality craftsmanship and services, so its likely that you hold your small business to very high standards. You tend to be a know-it-all, thanks to your intuitive and smart nature; just make sure to keep this in check when addressing colleagues and co-workers. You may also expect the worst in difficult situations. Try not to bring this into your small business! You need to truly believe in the success of your business in order for it to happen. Overall, your responsibility, discipline, self-control, and determination make you an excellent leader and example to employees and everyone!