SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

WeWork is buying Meetup

WeWork

 

WeWork has agreed to buy Meetup for an undisclosed amount, the coworking company announced. It’s a natural fit between WeWork, valued at $20 billion, and Meetup, a community platform with 35 million members that has hosted more than 300,000 “IRL” events (in real life), Mashable notes. WeWork has continued to rapidly expand its empire — including purchasing Lord & Taylor’s flagship New York store, opening a private kindergarten, and leading a $32 million investment in a women’s coworking space. Meetup will stay a standalone company for now, but will go on a hiring spree, per Wired.

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3 Mistakes People Make with Their Company Blog

While there are as many mistakes to make with your blog as there are bloggers out there, company blogs face a unique set of challenges. If you’re too technical, you lose your audience, while if you are too personal makes you compete with every other generic blogger. Here are three mistakes people make with their company blog.


“Press Releases Go Here, Too”
Posting press releases on the company blog is a mistake for several reasons. First, it gets hit with a duplicate content penalty. Second, no one wants toBlog Mistakes read a blog that consists of generic press releases. Third, you should have marketing channels to distribute press releases better suited to that type of content than posting it on your blog.


“I Posted Six Months Ago”
More than half of all blogs are started and essentially finished because they haven’t seen a new post in six months or more. No one will follow you on social media or follow your blog if you don’t post regularly. This is why many people who run out of ideas tap into guest bloggers, though you need to ensure that the content they post fits your intended brand image and doesn’t leak information you consider confidential. That said, you could let someone in another department share a story of life behind the scenes, do interviews with key personnel and essentially drum up content from other work groups to keep the content flowing.

Don’t forget the opportunity recycling old content creates, such as posting an old interview and then adding a follow-up section on what the person is doing now. Throwback Thursday and Wayback Wednesday are opportunities to post old advertisements and then talk about when you discontinued that product or service and the benefits of the later generation offerings available now.

“Oh, This Generic Post Is Good Enough”
Generic content fails for several reasons. First, it is boring. Second, it won’t stand out in a search for any key term. Third, no one is going to see any reason to share it, and you will lose high-quality backlinks to your site. Instead, look for tailored blog posts focused on a key search phrase or question. It is actually to your benefit to have different blog posts for each product model since you can post a different blog post each day. It is better to post several half-page blogs, each with a unique focus, rather than try to craft one long blog that addresses multiple topics.

If you don’t know what topics would work well for your audience, you can always work with a firm like Click Intelligence to identify the key search terms your customers are using but don’t find enough good content on, then create search engine optimized blog posts for those search terms. However, trying to optimize the blog for search engines too hard risks having it penalized as spam: that’s why it’s important to ask the experts.

Conclusion
Making simple mistakes like not blogging often enough or going too heavy on the marketing on the company blog loses your audience while insufficient hard information costs you your credibility. Try to stand out as much as you can - don't be afraid to rely on internal resources to diversify your blog posts and keep your content fresh.

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What Did You Do For Small Business Saturday? Harry and Jenny's Report

Think of it as Harry and Jenny’s Day Off – ala Ferris Bueller – we painted the town red on Small Business Saturday (November 25, 2017). First for proper context, read about Small Business Saturday here and here (we’ll wait for your return).

Welcome back! This adventure is presented chronologically so you can follow our footprints. All on November 25th – Small Business Saturday. And I was joined by Jennifer Hallmark, president of SMB Nation.

8:00AM: Harry checks his mail at the local “The UPS Store” that is locally owned and operated (Figure 1). Then it’s off for coffee to wait for stores to open!

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Figure 1: Checking the SMB Nation mailbox.

9:00AM: Harry purchases a JBL Charge3 Bluetooth Speaker to extend his mission of living life out loud! This is from the local Verizon store in the same center and is considered a “shop local” purchase as it impacts local employees (even though Verizon itself is an enterprise). The local cost was $149.95 plus tax (it could have been purchased for $124.95 online but the decision was made to purchase locally).

10:00AM: Harry uses the new JBL Charge3 as a boom box on his winter bike to play holiday music while out for a ride (Figure 2).

Fig2 SBS

 

Figure 2: Getting our music groove on!

1:00PM: Jonsing for pizza, Harry snags a slice at “That’s a Some a Pizza” (Figure 3) that is a locally owned small business on Bainbridge Island.

Fig3 SBS

Figure 3: Gotta eat!

1:30PM: Harry and Jenny meetup at the Town and Country grocery store in downtown Winslow (on Winslow Way aka “Main Street) to conspire for Small Business Saturday fun and hijinks. Jenny films the Small Business Saturday welcome vid you can watch by clicking Figure 4).

Fig4 SBS

Figure 4: Preaching at the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce office.

2:00PM: Harry and Jenny cake walk (march) down Winslow Way to Eagle Harbor Books, a local independent bookstore that embraced Small Business Saturday formally with a Facebook event. As you can see in the video below, it worked as the store was busy! Watch it here (Figure 5).

 

Fig5 SBS

 

Figure 5: This small business actively embraced Small Business Saturday!

5:00PM: Jenny is long gone to spend time with her family and Harry is snuggled in for the Apple Cup – the NCAA football rivalry between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State University Cougars on “rival Saturday” and enjoy a locally brewed beer (no pics due to editorial standards LOL).

Learnings

Both myself and Jenny are already conspiring about Small Business Saturday 2018. We discovered that Small Business Saturday still has relatively low awareness and local mindshare on Main Street. And there are now competing/complimentary last Saturday in November designations. In the video interview above (Figure 5) at Eagle Harbor Books, two authors divulge it’s also the 5th annual Indies First Day. According to the Portland Mercury in Oregon “Indies First Day celebrates independent booksellers, which in a world where we’re all under the control of Amazon Prime, are more critical than ever.”

Then there was long-time community advocate Jeff Shuey who highlighted a similar movement called “Shop Local” that has different branding but a similar message as Small Business Saturday. My research indicates this alternative movement has grass roots tied to *not* using your American Express card on November 25th (American Express is a founding partner of Small Business Saturday).

Finally one interesting variation on Small Business Saturday 2017 concerns Etsy-sponsored pop-up stores. Catch the CNBC coverage here. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/24/etsy-sellers-prep-for-small-business-saturday-2017.html

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A Business Name vs. a Trademark: Do You Know the Difference?

By: Nellie Akalp

IKEA

 

As an entrepreneur, you understand the importance of protecting your business name. Think of the sales you might lose if another company opened up using your same name. If you’re building a brand, investing in advertising and hoping customers can find you, you’ll want to make sure you’ve properly protected your business name so no one else can use it.

But what exactly is the best way to do that?

Oftentimes, new business owners are confused about the difference between registering their business name with the state and filing for a trademark. Here, we’ll break down the differences so you can determine which approach is right for your business.

1. Registering a business name with the state
When you apply to be a corporation or an LLC, the secretary of state’s office is going to check to make sure that your proposed business name isn’t already in use by another company in your state.

Every state has its own laws about just how different a name must be from other business names. For example, some states will allow “Mandi’s Florist” when there’s already a “Mandy’s Flowers” registered. Other states will reject it and consider “Mandi’s Florist” deceptively similar.

Once your LLC or corporation application is approved, your name is protected in the state: No other business will be able to form an LLC or corporation with the same name in that state. However, there’s nothing to stop a business that operates as a sole proprietorship or partnership from using your name in the state. It just won’t be able to register as an LLC or corporation with that name.

addition, registering your name with the state has no impact on what happens in the other 49 states. If you incorporated your business in New York, another business can use your same name in New Jersey or Connecticut. And, it can even incorporate or form an LLC in other states with with the same name..

Depending on your business type and model, brand protection at the state level might be sufficient. For example, if you are opening a local restaurant or other establishment, you might not mind if another business uses your name in a completely different state. There’s little chance that a customer will confuse the two.

However, if you plan on expanding nationwide, selling your products/services across the country, or are just concerned that a partnership might use your name, then you should protect your name on a federal level with a trademark.

2. Filing for federal trademark protection
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design (or a combination of any of these) that identifies the source of a product or service and distinguishes it from competitors'. Trademarks can be granted on distinctive names, logos and slogans.

Trademarks are granted at the federal level by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The owner of a trademark has exclusive rights to the trademark and can prevent anyone else from using it. And these rights are protected at the state and federal levels.

When applying for a trademark, expect to pay $275 per class (a little more if you have an expert prepare the paperwork for you). Processing time can take upwards of six to 12 months with the USPTO. The process is more expensive and involved than registering a business name, but it provides you with exclusive rights in all 50 states. And, unlike copyrights or patents, trademarks have an unlimited lifespan so long as you comply with the renewal requirements.

 

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The 15 Most Profitable Small-Business Industries in 2016

Profitable Small Buseiness

 

by: Carolyn Sun

This article originally published March 4, 2016.

Being talented with numbers can really pay off if you’re looking to start a profitable business.

Accounting and tax services takes the top spot on the list of the most profitable type of small business with a generous 18.4 percent net profit margin followed by real-estate services (15.2 percent), law firms (14.5 percent) and doctor’s offices (13 percent) reports Sageworks, a financial data service that analyzed the net profit margin of more than 16,000 small businesses (that earned less than $10 million) between September 2014 and August 2015. Companies like Due.com are helpful for tracking time and invoicing.

What makes these industries profitable? For one, they’re driven by human capital.

“Service industries,” says Sageworks analyst Jenna Weaver, “are very common to find on the most profitable small-business list. This is generally due to lower overhead and startup costs. A lot of these industries you can start from your house.”

While profit isn’t the only matter for an entrepreneur to consider -- other factors to consider are whether the business matches his or her skills, what sort of licensing or training is required and how the business would fare during a recession -- it’s an important place to start.

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