July 2015: Small Business Success

Continually assess your risk levels

Columnist Sarah O'Connell

Columnist Sarah O’Connell

One of the questions that usually appears in one of those “Are You an Entrepreneur?” quizzes is, “Are you comfortable with taking risks?” I think it’s a fairly common perception that risk is inherent in starting up or expanding your own business. [Read more…]

June 2015: Small Business Success

Business networking with Facebook

Columnist Jennifer McCluskey

Columnist Jennifer McCluskey

One of the benefits of running a business in the North Country is being able to build strong face-to-face networking connections with others living in your small town. I often attend business networking groups, chamber of commerce events, shows, and the like where business owners interact together to build both their businesses and the communities. After one of these groups approached me recently to create a presentation about networking with each other through Facebook, I realized that this is an area that may be lacking in our business community. How can these businesses who have formed strong relationships with each other in-person continue to build on their networking with social media? [Read more…]

May 2015: Small Business Success

Take some time to renew yourself

Columnist Sarah O'Connell

Columnist Sarah O’Connell

In my last column I talked about making resolutions in our personal and business lives to improve our productivity and organization; I wrote about de-cluttering and prioritizing. That’s still going really well. This month I said I’d tell you about my third resolution: trying new things. [Read more…]

April 2015: Small Business Success

Set an effective marketing strategy

Columnist Jennifer McCluskey

Columnist Jennifer McCluskey

As spring dawns and businesses prepare for the summer season, it’s a good time to review your marketing strategies and evaluate their effectiveness. The goal of marketing is to get your name out there and have your brand become more recognizable in the marketplace. More importantly, you want to reach the right customers, make sales to them and help them turn into referral sources for future customers. As Andrew Klausner wrote in an April 2013 Forbes.com article, “developing awareness of your brand — who you are, what you do and why you are uniquely qualified — should in turn help you generate leads which will lead to more clients.” As you begin to lay out your marketing plan, be clear on specific goals and action steps, timing, your budget and message. [Read more…]

March 2015: Small Business Success

Cut clutter and prioritize for good

Columnist Sarah O'Connell

Columnist Sarah O’Connell

I am definitely off the New Year’s resolution bandwagon. It’s the worst time of the year to try to take on a slew of new behaviors. We are just coming off an extensive holiday season, we’re exhausted, and the weather is doing its relentless winter thing. I’ve decided that my new resolution month is going to be March. Spring is coming, the sap is stirring, and I always have more energy as the days get longer. So let’s look at a couple of resolutions I’ve made this month for my personal and business life. [Read more…]

February 2015: Small Business Success

Develop the right social media mix

Columnist, Jennifer McCluskey

Columnist, Jennifer McCluskey

It can be difficult to decide which social media outlet you should use to get the message out to your customers. You may feel overwhelmed by the different options, especially if you are not someone who regularly uses social media. This brief overview may help you pick which ones are most likely to reach your target audience. Trying out a new social media platform could be a good way to expand your marketing during a slow winter season. [Read more…]

Is your business a hobby or not?

Small Business Success column || by Sarah O'Connell

Small Business Success column || by Sarah O’Connell

Most businesses we work with at the Small Business Development Center are clearly motivated to be profit-generating enterprises, with business loans or lines of credit, payroll taxes to be paid, liability and property insurance and all the other expenses that need to be matched and exceeded by revenues. [Read more…]

Small Business Success: Trust me, it’s not me, it’s really you

With the rise of social media marketing in the past few years, advertising is much, much different from how it was back when I was a small-business owner. The big buzz words now are “customer engagement.” So when I say, “It’s not me, it’s you,” I mean that my marketing campaign needs to concentrate on you, the customer, not me, the business owner. We business owners have to grab your attention and get you to spread the word for us far and wide. This is one viral situation that you should desire. [Read more…]

Seasonal clients benefit everyone

Michelle Collins

Michelle Collins

Warmer weather is finally returning to Northern New York and it’s not just us natives who appreciate the beauty of our region during the summer months. Tourism is one of the north country’s largest industries and it’s not only the communities that offer seasonal attractions that can benefit from the influx of summer visitors. More and more, travelers are looking for an authentic, localized experience and many small businesses in our communities are well poised to offer just that. [Read more…]

Prepare for your visit to the bank

Sarah O'Connell

Sarah O’Connell

Applying for a business loan can rank right up there with a doctor’s visit or a dental exam in terms of stress. But you can get through it much more easily if you are properly prepared. Here are some things to consider before you make an appointment with your commercial loan officer to see about a start-up or expansion loan.
What bank should you choose? [Read more…]