This week marked the 50th anniversary of the SBA’s National Small Business Week. Throughout the week and across the country and internet, events were held with the aim of helping small business owners manage and run their businesses more efficiently. From tips on protecting your small business from cyber-attacks to how to find funding, experts and panelists provided attendees of breakout sessions and Google+ hangouts with valuable information. Here are 3 of the top takeaways from National Small Business Week 2013. Read the full entry
The Sam’s Club Membership Warehouse for Business, a Wal-Mart division, is revamping its membership rules to make it easier for small business owners to join the “club” and get discounts on goods and services. Qualifying for a Sam’s Club Business Membership once meant you had to produce documents or licenses proving your business status. Now it’s simpler: Online, just sign up and you’re in. In person, merely show a current business card, letterhead or something you use to promote or manage your business. This will make it possible for freelancers, home-based businesses and other independents to tap Sam’s Club savings for the first time — a welcome advantage in a recession.
The basic Sam’s Club small business membership is $35/year; or $100 for the “enhanced” version that gets you bigger discounts on everything from health insurance, websites and check printing, to merchant accounts, credit lines and shipping. Here’s more insider info on saving money on your small business buying at over 500 Sam’s Club locations nationwide:
Business on Main is a new Sprint-sponsored small business destination site just launched by MSN and Mindshare. Featuring high-quality videos, experts to answer your questions, ways to connect with other business owners, an extensive library of articles, along with a variety of other tools and resources, Business on Main delivers a well-rounded package that can help you build your business. (Business.com and What Works for Business are also providing some of the content for Business on Main. ) Read the full entry
Major business information publishers and service suppliers are more interested than ever in extending a helping hand to small business owners. On April 16, Verizon will officially announce a major makeover of the Verizon Small Business Center, focused on a new “Collaboration Center” that features a library of applications, hosted services, news, resources and professional networking. A few details:
- In My Applications, users can access email, calendar items and the business applications they’ve selected.
- Professional Networking lets you create a profile and exchange ideas with others in your industry and build business relationships.
- The My News and Resources section lets you select from a menu of different types of small business-related content — news, technology, government regulation, etc.
Starting April 21, Verizon will also offer a free bi-weekly webinar series featuring small business experts covering a wide range of topics, from SEO and Twitter for small business, to improving productivity.
Forbes, meanwhile, has revamped its Small Business Exchange, looking to boost membership and participation. Brett Nelson, Entrepreneurs Editor at Forbes.com, lists key benefits of joining up at his site:
- Ask questions and get answers from experts in key areas such as marketing, technology, finance and law.
- Connect with other small business owners, search company profiles, send messages and expand your network.
- Share your own expertise and track industry trends.
- Browse the latest small business news and advice from Forbes.com.
What does the plant sitting inches from my desk have to do with the world’s biggest business software provider? Well, here at Business.com we use a local “interior landscaping” biz that supplies live plants and maintains them for a fee. Kind of pretties up the place. In contemplating my leafy friend’s corporate existence, I wondered: How does such a business — needing lots of plants, numerous clients like us, billing and reporting systems plus plenty of folks to fuss over the foliage — keep track of it all?
The answer — at least for another plant purveyor I dug into — is SAP, perhaps the planet’s preeminent business applications software provider. SAP, well known to big biz, has been aggressively unfurling its Business One application, an all-in-one package that lets small and medium businesses manage sales, distribution, financials, customer contacts and most other things in a single place.
But SAP lacks buzz when it comes to small biz more familiar with Microsoft, QuickBooks and SalesForce. That now seems to be changing as small companies such as Plant Interscapes of San Antonio adopt SAP’s lower-cost small biz solutions. Plant Interscapes, with about $7 million in revenues and 70 employees, operates in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston. It relies on a SAP-aided state-of-the-art CRM system to help customers instantly reach the companies customer care desk with needs or inquiries.
A family-owned fruit biz has also tapped SAP. The Fruit Co., in Hood River, OR, is an online fruit retailer that’s been in the Webster family for three generations. As a growing business, The Fruit Company wanted to get a more integrated view of its total operations, and lower overhead costs at the same time. The SAP solution fit the bill, says CEO Scott Webster.
As a giant global company SAP and its website are a little hard to navigate. The ideal place to find out more is their dedicated small business site, here.
Does the world really need another online business community? The folks at OfficeArrow (OA) are betting it does, having just launched what they’re billing as a business support networking site for office professionals, including office managers, administrative assistants and small biz owners. It’s a place for such folks to connect with one another, find vendors and seek solutions to everyday challenges. They boast that 50,000 members signed up in the pre-launch phase alone, and that membership is already at 80,000.
OA gives members a chance to talk with industry specialists and other office professionals to trade workplace tips and research solutions for such things as business travel, office equipment, finding discounts on office supplies and managing meetings. One nice feature of the site is its list of over 100 free templates that include everything from expense reports to emergency forms.