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Category — Small Business Advice

How to Survive the Peak Seasons as a Retailer

Marc Josephby Marc Joseph, President and CEO of DollarDays

Running a retail business is like getting your report card every single day. It is a business of “thanks for what you did for me yesterday, but what can you do for me today?” It has to be one of the most stressful occupations in this country, yet if you do well, it can be the most exhilarating and fun businesses to live and breathe every day. What causes this stress versus reward cycle in retailing?

Good retailers balance looking into the future and planning for the next season with what is happening in my business today. The future plays to the heart of retailers because you analyze what went well last year and where there are opportunities to improve. Optimism abounds about the future because retailers are a confident and hopeful bunch…otherwise they would be in a profession that looks to the past rather than looking ahead. So planning ahead is the enjoyable part of retailing, because no mistakes have been made, yet.

Living in your business today is a different story. Most businesses measure themselves against what happened last year in sales. Sure there are mitigating circumstances that could alter the numbers you are up against, like more or less competition, change in customers’ taste preferences or suppliers of your key products going in or out of business. But every retailer has last year’s numbers recorded by day and look at these numbers three or four times a day during their peak seasons to see if they are going to beat them. Take my business as an example. Our two peak seasons are Back to School and Christmas. Currently we are in our Back to School season. Our staff meets quickly throughout the day to gauge where we are against last year each day. When we had the biggest day in our company’s history last week, it was the greatest feeling I have had since the day my son was born. When we only did half of what we did last year three days later, I felt like an old man who was on his way to retirement… so living each day in business to its fullest during peak seasons is like riding a roller coaster all day long. You are exhausted at the end of the day on bad days and exhilarated and can’t wait to wake up and start again on the good days.

We will get through the Back to School season, so now I am worried about the Christmas season. Do we have enough products to offer our customers and as important, are they the right products? Have we been watching the trends of the last few months to help give us an indication of what will be successful this fall? Do we have the most sophisticated methods to market to our customers efficiently and effectively during the holiday season? Do I have the right sales staff in place that will be able to relate to our customers? All of these are questions that will keep my staff and me up at night, because they are the unknowns…and then November hits and we are right back into the cycle of living day to day with our numbers much like we are in today for Back to School.

But I would not have it any other way. The ebb and flow of providing customers what they need when they need it at the right price is part of a true retailer’s heart and soul. The highs and lows that go with it are just part of the game of life.

July 18, 2014   No Comments

AgoraPulse is a great find for Facebook management

Tagorapulsewo years ago, Jackie Eldridge, Marketing Director for DollarDays.com, met Richard Beeson, Director of Client Happiness Enforcement for AgoraPulse at a Social Media Conference in New York City. Eldridge was impressed with the platform at first pass; it seemed to be the perfect tool to manage our Facebook promotions and growth. The bonus to a platform that has every feature we’d been looking for is the customer service. Seriously, it’s not even customer service—DollarDays feels like this vendor is more like family, and that’s because they are are genuine in all of our communications AND available nearly on a moment’s notice. They are fun, light and extremely passionate about AgoraPulse.

As a company, we’ve never stepped out and fully endorsed a product, except now.  Give it a look—we recommend it to any company who manages Facebook pages and is looking to grow their audience and reach, while having hands-on reporting tools and cutting edge promotional apps. Watch the video that captures our unsolicited take on AgoraPulse.

One more thing. You will not believe the price. Hint: the monthly fee makes our CFO very happy.

June 5, 2014   No Comments

Dropshipping helps you make money online!

Your OWN business!If you’re an online reseller who sells on Amazon, eBay, etc., or you have an e-commerce site of your own, DollarDays’ wholesale product feed can help boost your sales with over 300,000 wholesale or closeout products! You can pick and choose which products you’d like to put on your site. Plus, we’ll ship the products for you!

We call this DollarDays’ Dropship Program—t’s such a simple way to earn money! With a DollarDays Dropship account, you’ll receive:

  • Access to over 300,000 wholesale products shipped directly to your customers
  • Easy to use administration site for managing and placing your dropship orders
  • Order history details tracked for your convenience
  • Packing slips that reflect your business
  • $9.95 shipping per dropship order in the continental US
  • 5% discount off every order!
  • Dedicated Dropship Specialist to help you

It’s easy to get started. Once you have selected which products you’ll carry, we take over from there! Your customer places an order with you. You order the products from our site and we ship the order to your customers with your logo and address on the packing slip. Pretty easy, right? If you are interested in learning more, click here.

April 10, 2014   No Comments

Distributorships Make it Easy to Start your own Online Store!

something newMaybe you’ve already thought about having your own online store, but realized you’re not tech savvy, nor do you want to put in the countless hours of managing all the functions from inventory to shipping and returns to customer service. It’s just too much time to devote to a part-time income.

You’re looking for a turnkey solution that requires no technical skills and virtually no management. DollarDays’ distributorship is the answer for an easy, extra revenue stream that only requires you to spread the word about your new website.

Here is how a Dollardays’ Distributorship works:
DollarDays will set up a personalized website with your name, company or logo at the top of every page. DollarDays is responsible for adding new products to your site and removing discontinued items as well as the overall maintenance of the site. Promoting your site to the businesses in your town and your neighbors will be the key to your success. Your volume and income will come with satisfied customers who look to you for reorders to keep their shelves full of hot selling merchandise.

Here is what DollarDays handles for you (the time consuming part of the business that most people hate!):

• Full Service Sales Force
• The same personal attention that has earned us an A+ rating with the BBB
• Complete customer service including handling returns
• All customer order tracking and email notification
• Order processing and shipping
• Payment Processing (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, PayPal)
• Responsibility for collections on unpaid or delinquent orders
• Website hosting and daily maintenance of product database
• Manage and warehouse all inventory.

Yep, we handle it all, so you can spend your time promoting your website! Go ahead and compare programs. We guarantee you won’t find any that offers so much for so little. Learn more and get started with a brand new business and revenue stream!

April 10, 2014   No Comments

Helping Small Businesses—Lots of Talk, But No Action

 

blog aprilThe Small Business Act of 1953 established the Small Business Administration (SBA) which came into existence on the grounds that small businesses are essential to a free enterprise system. It was the intent of establishing the SBA to “deter the formation of monopolies and the market failures monopolies cause by eliminating competition in the marketplace,” according to the Congressional Research Service.  Today there are over 5.6 million employer firms who employ 113 million people with a total payroll of $5.16 trillion. Sixty two percent of these employers have four or fewer employees, 89.8% have fewer than 20 and 98.3% have fewer than one-hundred. The SBA has 1,047 different classifications of businesses. The current definition of small business is companies with not more than $15 million in tangible net worth and not more than $5 million in average net income after federal taxes. Overall, the SBA classifies 97% of all employers as small business. These same small firms represent 30% of our receipts in our economy, which means big business is still 70% of our economy. Back in 1953 when the SBA was established, the split was 34% of all dollar value of all sales was small business and 66% was big business. Not much has really changed over the last 60 years despite all the rules,   regulations and the formation of the SBA.

Our country has always been a country of small businesses. In colonial America, 20% of the crops raised and handicraft products made were exported by these small businesses. At the time of our revolution, because of domestic economic growth and exports, Americans had a standard of living higher than most Europeans. Increasing an individual’s standard of living has been the driving factor to open a small business throughout American history. But Gallup just reported that the total number of new business startups and business closures per year, known as “the birth and death rates of American companies,” just crossed for the first time since this measurement began. Annually, 400,000 new businesses are now being born nationwide, while 470,000 are dying each year across the country. This is a trend we must reverse and we need our government’s help to do this.

Sure we can blame it on the recession we have been battling for the last several years, but it is much deeper than that. In addition to new regulations for small businesses in health care reform, an increase in regulatory activity in several industries, and the uncertainty about taxes, several other causes come into play making it hard to open a business today. One reason is there continues to be a shortage of financing alternatives to open a new business. Before the recession entrepreneurs could use the equity in their homes, but in today’s world, how many of us have significant equity in our homes? Another reason is technology, which we think is helping to streamline work and create Internet related businesses, but is also responsible for displacing independent businesses across several verticals. Look at the travel agents who have lost their businesses or the video store, the record store and the bookstore. A third reason is the well-financed big businesses are killing the little guy. Home Depot is pounding the hardware stores, the same thing Best Buy is doing to the electronic stores. Walmart controls close to 50% of some lines of the grocery and general merchandise business, where a generation ago thousands of families made their living selling these goods.

On April 5, 2012 President Obama signed into law the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act. He said at the time “for start-ups and small businesses, this is a potential game changer. For the first time, ordinary Americans can invest in entrepreneurs they believe in.”  This law relaxed regulation for businesses that are emerging growth companies, created a “crowd funding” exemption to allow private companies to raise up to $1M and raised the limit of small offerings from $5M to $50M. It is two years later and nothing in this law is implemented. Anyone close to this new law, such as legislators, practitioners and potential small business owners, have voiced their frustrations with continuing delays in adopting final rules, but to no avail. And we ask ourselves how our government has led us to the tipping point where more businesses close than open.

If the US government, who has good intentions but poor follow through, cannot help small businesses, then who can? The Kauffman Foundation and the Case Foundation created Startup America Partnership, which helps entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground by delivering free or low cost services and connecting them with larger corporations for mentoring.  Score is a nonprofit association that helps small businesses succeed by using volunteer mentors who share their knowledge in an effort to give back to their community. At DollarDays, on our Facebook page in April, we are giving away $5,000 worth of products to help small businesses launch or expand, so please nominate a small business in your community that deserves our help.

Every big company started small.  Look at Wal-Mart, where even today over 50% of the company is still owned by the Walton family. Or Bill Gates who is still the largest shareholder in Microsoft. We as a country can’t afford more businesses dying than are being born. The government has let us down with sequestration, shutting itself down when we need it the most, battles over healthcare and battles over the debt ceiling and budgets. When they finally pass a law that makes sense like the JOBS Act, they still can’t implement it after two years. All of us need to reach out to our representatives and tell them to get their “act” together. Here is the link to contact Congress. And if they do not react, we need to vote them all out and start again.

 

April 3, 2014   No Comments

March 29th was National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day!

apr14contest_160x300 (1)National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day celebrates small business owners, much like the business owners DollarDays serves every day. These individuals spend countless hours nurturing and growing their young enterprises. The workload demands coupled with the lack of a hired staff, often translate into late hours and long days. There are missed family and personal events, but they love what they do because they are their own bosses.

New businesses have always been a vital, yet not fully appreciated, part of the U.S. economy. On they retail side, they bring different and unique products to the marketplace. They provide stellar and personal service support. When you call, you are more likely to get a real, live person. And unlike big national chains, they know their products. They are outstanding performers in niche markets. In manufacturing, they create many new concepts and ideas, making them creators of new products. According to the US Small Business Association, there are more than 27 million small businesses in the US today.

Celebrate National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, every day, by showing your support…shop their stores!

Nominate your favorite Mom & Pop store here and we’ll enter them into a drawing for $5,000 in Merchandise from DollarDays!!

April 2, 2014   No Comments

9 Easy Tips for Writing Good Content

Reprinted from FeedFront Magazine
By Jackie Eldridge, Affiliate Manager, DollarDays
 

Google DOES rule the world. If you don’t keep up with Google’s algorithm changes related to content, you may be traveling in reverse. The freshness and quality of your content are more important than ever before.  Post as often as you can and update trending topics related to your business if you want to make Google happy and ultimately obtain better search engine rankings. The most effective search engine content appeals both to readers and search engines.

Nine tips to help create successful content:

1. Create your “Own Voice”

  • Write in a manner that is memorable and credible. Fresh, well written content will make you the authority in your vertical and ultimately successful.

2. Choosing the Right Keywords

  • Search engines identify your website content with the help of keywords. These are usually closely related to the search terms that are entered by the users in search engines. Use keyword research tools like Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner for help.

3. Relevant Content

  • Remember you are writing for your readers, not search engines. It may be difficult to use some of the popular keywords grammatically, but try.  Although search engines look for the keywords in particular, they want quality, relevant content. Make sure the content is interesting and adds value for the readers.

4. Keyword Placement

  • DO NOT to overuse (stuff) keywords! The best way to use them is in the beginning of paragraphs and subheads.

5. Keep it short

  • Readers want short, succinct information blocks that can help them learn something, solve a problem or make a buying decision. Four to five lines in a paragraph is plenty.

6. Subheads, Bullets and Numbering

  • Each complements short paragraphs and provides a visual break for the reader. People don’t have time to read everything they see.  It’s up to you to make it as simple as possible for them to grasp your message by using subheads, bullets and numbering so they can get the gist of your content in a quick scan.  Since most readers are “skimmers,” subheads can be a terrific tool to engage readers and keep them moving through your content.

 7. The final check

  • Read through it again only looking at the subheads, numbers and bulleted lists. Do you get the gist of your content by only reading these? If so, you have done well.

8. Proofreading!

  • If you’re like most, you are bound to make a typo or two. Make sure you proofread your content for typos, clarity and grammatical agreement.

9.  Never!

  • Never underestimate the value of a professional copywriter on your team.

Eldridge is a marketing professional and currently Affiliate Manager for DollarDays.com (Alexa: 3,913).

December 31, 2013   No Comments

Can small businesses survive this Christmas?

huff-postBlack Friday, Cyber Monday, and started in 2010 Small Business Saturday. November and December sales represent as much as 40% of yearly retail stores sales according to the National Retail Federation.  Because Thanksgiving is falling so late in the calendar, there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This squeeze in shopping days has not happened to retailers since 2002. On top of that, you have Chanukah falling on Thanksgiving which last happened in 1888 and won’t happen again during our lifetime. This leaves only 26 shopping days left to buy stuff and Chanukah in the rear view mirror, so you can’t count on those sales, either. Can small businesses, who many are teetering on survival with the lackluster retail year, that saw bumps along the way like sequestration and a 16 day government shutdown, actually survive into 2014?

Who are these small business owners that may not be around next year? One section is immigrants who since the beginning of America have been the backbone of small business retailers. In Europe for centuries there has been a merchant class that had a long history of selling products into established clientele. Many laws in Europe protect these small retailers against bigger competitors. In America, the desire to throw yourself whole heartedly into your business by putting in long hours and becoming a beacon where relatives follow you and work for you to have room and board, is part of the price of entry into retailing for many of our immigrants. Much like the family farm over the last 150 years on the American frontier, it has become the family store for the immigrant classes to start their life in the New World.

Another section of small business retailers who have emerged are entrepreneurs who are pursuing their dream. Some may have worked for big stores and felt they could do it better. Others may be following an idea they have been honing since they first started shopping. These entrepreneurs are disciplined and are focused on making their business work. These individuals are confident and don’t ask questions about whether they can succeed or are even worthy of success, because they know their business will succeed. They are open minded knowing that every situation is a business opportunity. These entrepreneurs are self-starters, knowing that if something needs to be done, they have the ability to start it themselves. They are competitive, knowing they can do it better than anyone else. They are creative and can make a connection between seemingly unrelated events. But most of all they are passionate and genuinely love the products they sell in their stores

We know we have to support small businesses. The government has an important division known as the US Small Business Administration. Retired successful business people know that our small businesses must survive so they have formed  SCORE (service core of retired executives) whose mission is to mentor and grow small businesses across America, one business at a time. At DollarDays on our  Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to small businesses across the country, so make sure you nominate your favorite local business.

Americans have tried to not forget about their neighbors running the small businesses in their towns. In 2012 when Small Business Saturday fell on November 24, $5.5 Billion was spent at small businesses. 100 Million People participated in Small Business Saturday last year, but obviously this number is surpassed by the 247 million who shopped on Black Friday. Retailers know that an increase in sales cures most problems and evidently a decrease in sales creates most problems. None of us want to see more and more of these small businesses going out of business. But unless all of us step up and buy locally rather than have these local dollars go to an unknown chain corporate office outside of our city, we will see more and more of our neighbors’ businesses disappear. Local retailers give a city its character. When you think America is the true melting pot of characters, we have to support small businesses.

 

December 2, 2013   No Comments

Employee Holiday Gifts on the Cheap

Your employees love to be recognized during the holiday season (actually any time of the year!). How ever you reward your employees—bonuses, gift cards or gifts—they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

But what mugsdo you do when you have 24 employees and have a small budget? If you bought 24 $25 gift cards, you’d spend $600. That’s too much for a small business! Here is how to save lots of money AND give a qaulity gift that will put a smile on each employee’s face.

Do it on the cheap at DollarDays.com. Order a case (24) of high quality travel mugs at wholesale pricing, pick up 24 $5 Starbucks gift cards and put them in festive gift bags (sold by the case of 24)! No one but you will know you only spent $253 ($10.55 per employee) on 24 high quality coffee travel mugs, each with a $5 gift card to Starbucks inside, all in festive holiday bags. It’s a clever way to save money and it’s a gift that will be appreciated.

See the high quality coffee travel mugs here.

See the festive gift bags here.

Easy, right? You don’t have waste precious time driving all over town for the perfect gift. Order it wholesale and online at DollarDays.com. We’ll ship it to your door! Plus, you’ll save a ton of money! Who knows…once you start browsing at all we have to offer, you might come up with a different gift idea!

Happy holidays!

November 25, 2013   No Comments

Converse, Don’t Complain

by Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO, Rakuten Inc., from LinkedIn

ballSometime today, you may take a break from your work and walk around the office. Perhaps you will talk to a colleague. What will you say? Will you complain about the boss? About the workload? About the weather?

That is common. But it’s not helpful. If you work in a big company, chances are this kind of complaining is what usually goes on in the hallways. But if you look at small companies – at venture start-ups – there is a different buzz in the halls. That’s the sound of conversation.

The best part about being an up-and-coming company was always having someone to play verbal “catch” with. Starting a company is an experiment of trial and error, and when something happens you always end up discussing it with those around you. When Rakuten was in its early stages, there were not many employees, and the office was small. It was as if we were playing verbal “catch” 24 hours a day, all year long. It is no exaggeration to say that Rakuten today was born out of the conversations of that period.

In bigger companies, that natural ongoing conversation may fall off. When that happens, the company loses a critical tool.

In the same way that pro baseball players use a game of catch to warm up and check their form, you can use conversation to verify whether your own way of thinking and judgment are correct or not.

Try raising an issue – “throwing a ball around” – with those nearest to you. People are strange creatures. In most instances, if you throw a ball to someone, they will throw it back. And from there you can start playing catch. This is much more constructive than just approaching other people to complain about your boss or coworkers, or to gossip. And more than just helping you to find a good conversation partner, it is fun.

October 30, 2013   No Comments