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Start Up Your Own Community

Starting on February 7th 2011, we’ll be donating $500 in merchandise to the local entrepreneur with the most mentions on our Facebook wall! The winner will also be featured on the DollarDays website and blog.

Click here for more information

February 7, 2011   No Comments

Alternative Funding for the Small Business

Launching a new business entails comprehensive planning, unwavering ambition and implementing appropriate financial strategies. With determination and persistence, the aspiring entrepreneur will certainly succeed, however; maintaining and managing the small business can be a daunting task. Many small businesses, especially new businesses, will encounter monetary difficulties such as inadequate working capital and inability to pay vendors. A steady cash flow and obtainable funding is imperative to keep a business afloat and ensure its continuous growth. There are many financing options available for the small business when additional funding is essential. Since most small businesses will experience complications when trying to obtain funding through the conventional bank loan, many will opt for alternative funding options such as the Merchant Cash Advance, Invoice Discounting and Accounts Receivable Factoring.

In contrast to the traditional bank loan, alternate funding is generally an uncomplicated and effortless process. Whereas a bank loan approval will only be given for a business with superior credit history and prior lending experience, alternate funding providers will base their approval on other applicable factors. Authorization is provided promptly, which is imperative when immediate funding is necessary for the business to succeed.

Merchant Cash Advance

The Merchant Cash Advance Company will supply the firm with a one time loan to invest in the business. In return, the business authorizes the MCA company to withhold an agreed upon percentage amount of future credit card and/or debit card sales directly from the processor. Once the loan’s obligation is met, the automatic monthly retrievals cease. Small businesses benefit from the process of reimbursement as the payments go according to the business flow. If the business is advancing and sales are increasing, the retrieval rate will be expedited. If business is rather slack and there is a decline in sales, the rate of return will take longer. This flexibility gives the business the ability to focus on fortifying and improving, as opposed to being occupied with the demands of repaying a loan.

Accounts Receivable Factoring

Accounts Receivable Factoring enables the small business to obtain immediate cash to stabilize and further invest. The factoring provider will purchase the outstanding invoices from the business at a discounted rate, by this means taking full responsibility of payment collections. The business, in exchange, will acquire instant funds to increase its cash flow and facilitate expansion. The business will also be benefiting of having less time spent on accounts receivable handling and more effort put towards the firm’s development and growth.

Invoice Discounting

The Invoice Discounting Facility will lend the business funds against issued invoices awaiting payment. This option bridges the gap of when the invoices are initially issued and when payment is actually received. Unlike the factoring option, where the business will relinquish its accountability of payment collections, invoice discounting will allow the business to maintain constant interaction with clients and strengthen customer relations.

Many businesses rely on alternative funding options when financial assistance is crucial, especially during tough economic times. The accessibility and convenience of acquiring funds to increase its working capital and pursue new venues, motivates the small business to choose alternative funding when short-term loans are essential.

February 1, 2011   1 Comment

10 Years Old and a Chance to Win Some Cash!

That’s right! DollarDays has turned 10 years old and we’re ready to celebrate by offering our visitors a chance to win some cold hard cash.

Introducing the great Warehouse Hunt!

What is it?
Search around the DollarDays.com website and look for a small icon located under the product image. Once you find an icon, click it and enter your name and email. That’s It!

Every week, we’ll draw a winner and that person receives a $100 gift certificate to DollarDays.

Click here for rules and regulations

February 1, 2011   1 Comment

Easy SEO for Small Business Owners

Establishing a web presence is a vitally important marketing tool for most businesses, but it’s just the first step. Potential customers have to be able to find your site. That’s where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play. SEO is the process of giving search engines the right type of information to help them rank your site above the others jockeying for the top spot. These tips will give you a head start in becoming a strong contender.

SEO is based on keywords, the terms an individual enters into a search box when looking for information. So you’ll need to create a list of keywords or phrases that someone might use to find the services or products your business promotes. Be as specific as possible and keep in mind that you will need a separate set of keywords for every page in your website. It can be helpful to check out the sites of competitors who rank highly with the search engines and learn what keywords they use.

When you register a domain name for your business, consider including the most important keyword or phrase in the name. Selecting unique widgets.com is more likely to bring you targeted traffic than xyzmanufacturing.com. However, if people will look for your business by name, use it in the domain.

Page titles should also include keywords. If you already have a domain name that doesn’t include your key phrases, don’t despair. Descriptive, keyword-rich page titles can give any domain a boost. Your main page will display only your domain, but select meaningful titles for each subpage. Instead of www.yourbusiness.com/catalog.html, choose www.yourbusiness.com/buyblueitems.html.

Tucked away in the HTML code for any website are several more opportunities to add keywords. Visitors won’t see them, but the search engines will. Add key words to the alt tags for all images, making sure the entries are informative. The description and keyword metatags, while not carrying as much weight as they once did, provide additional spots for key phrases.

Content is arguably the most important component of any website. Great information is what visitors hope to find when they visit. So write content with your ideal customer in mind, but also write for the search engines. Include several instances of the relevant key phrases for each page and include them as headers and sub headers, as well. Don’t overdo it. Keep the flow natural and use keywords where they make sense within the flow.

If you plan to create your own site, it will all be up to you. But even if you hire a web designer, you should do your own keyword research. Then go a step further and provide your webmaster with optimized page titles, content, and image alt tags. While additional online marketing strategies may be needed to claim a first-page spot in the search results, a well optimized site is likely to reach that goal more quickly.

January 31, 2011   3 Comments

Wholesale Week in Review

Business Trends 2011

More consumer spending will be done via social network consensus this year. Friends tend to Twitter friends about what to buy, and this trend applies to community shopping sites as well.

Mobile device owners say that what they want now are payment and search options, rather than spammy pleas to buy. Gowalla and Foursquare are the next big thing in social networking.

Look for both preventive medicine and health social networking to surge in 2011. Mobile bodily function monitoring is already big, and will get even bigger. And it looks like the medical establishment will have to get sexy when marketing to monied and discerning consumer.

The catchphrase “trusted network” will be even more meaningful. Content providers’ choice of mobile apps will become more important. Consumers want zero hassle, practical apps, and will pay the right provider to get them.

Frugal CEOs are going green! Eco-businesses that can save small business owners hard, cold cash will themselves be in the green this year.

As part of a full circle movement from the cold, impersonal institutional norm, companies will have to become consumer centric and even warm and fuzzy to nab new business. http://blog.dhgate.com/biz-trends-2011.html

The Best Wedding Trends of 2011

According to Koyal Wholesale, the biggest overall trends will be:

• Personalized services
• Hair adornments: feathers, flowers and headbands
• Cupcakes in boutique wrappings
• LED floralytes
• Dresses: corset top and dropped waists
• Inexpensive jewelry
• Bright color combinations: coral/navy, honeysuckle/lime green
• Birdcage veils

The wedding color of the year is honeysuckle pink. Big themes are eco-weddings, diamonds, damask and monograms. If one is having a diamond-themed celebration, one can decorate with diamond mesh ribbons, sparkly confetti and all things crystal.

Jewelry Trends

For a special accent piece to attend a wedding or other special event, why not some unique ear bling: rhinestone disco ball earrings?

Purchasing fashion jewelry can brighten up any woman’s wardrobe without a strain on the budget. Multicolored fashion jewelry is a great conversation starter, and is sure to draw compliments.

Shower curtain options from Hutter Wholesale

When it comes to bathroom décor, Homedit claims that the humble shower curtain gives the most bang for one’s buck, hands down. For just a few dollars, one can express individuality, and change their mind several times a year if they like. What other decorating feature can make that claim?

Of the four possible material options (vinyl/plastic, nylon and fabric), plastic is the least expensive. It’s easy to clean and lasts a long time. If one prefers a beach or water design, plastic is the best choice.

If one has a big, messy brood or lives in a humid climate, nylon is the material of choice. If the curtain will need frequent washings, nylon stands up to the challenge.

Poly/cotton shower curtains are also washable, repel moisture and don’t adhere to surfaces. They can be waterproofed if desired

January 28, 2011   No Comments

Top 5 Gifts Not To Give Her For Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and, as usual, most guys are getting ulcers wondering what to give their lady that she won’t throw at them. Some guys have a problem thinking romantic, which is what their lady wants to see on this one day given to romance. Ideas are all around, thanks to retailers, but many guys want to think of something personal and special for their lady and still need ideas. If asking other women for advice, such as the girls in the office for instance, beware you might get what they would like to see instead of an idea for the woman you know so well. Here is a list of things not to give her and hopefully, an idea will occur to you.

1. A pink tool set. Okay, so she’s always yelling at you to bring her a screwdriver; she’s trying to get you to do the honey-do stuff instead of getting exasperated and doing it herself before the cabinet door falls off. No woman knows what a ratchet is, much less how to use it and including it in a tool set that is pink is a sure-fire method of making sure she throws it at you. If you get her things like this in bulk, you could get seriously hurt.

2. Things to do with round.
Ultimately, the romantic thing leads to, well, romantic acts. What you don’t want to do is give her round things that don’t remind her of, well, romantic assets. Things such as ped egg refills, nutcrackers and bottle openers, dryer balls, plant watering globes, tomato planters, you know, things like that.

3. Size matters. Women are touchy about their weight and if she thinks you think her un-thin, she’ll be shattered. For your own sake, do not give her waistband stretchers, bra extenders, waist-trimming belts, or workout equipment of any kind. If she asks, by all means work out with her, but don’t give her workout gifts.

4. Body items. Bath products are good, but if the idea is to get her into a mud-wrestling scenario, better get her used to the idea by slathering her with body oils and lotions and painting a picture of a beach in the Bahamas. Wrestling, mud or otherwise, goes over better with that kind of scenery.

5. Health items. It is absolutely legal to hurt a guy who gets his lady a bubble bath mat or a heat wrap for her neck, because she’ll think you’re saying she’s a pain in the, well, neck. Guys, romance consists of giving her a foot rub, massaging her neck and, well, you get the idea.

Whomever thought up Valentine’s Day was trying to bring some romance into lives beset by mortgages, work stress and kids. God bless him, it was a good idea, but some folk are challenged by this. Forget the bills and the job and tuck the kids away for one night and dedicate yourself to her and she’ll love it.

January 26, 2011   No Comments

How to Treat Your Employees Right

Small business owners spend a lot of time and effort looking for ways to cut corners and find ways to add a few dollars onto the profit margin. What they overlook is their most valuable assets: their employees. If employees aren’t happy working for you it really doesn’t matter how much money you’re making or how much work you’re generating. Disgruntled employees can sink the best of ships with waste, poor attitudes, and discourteous customer service. Though you can’t fix everyone, here are a few tips on how to make your good employees even better. After all, happy employees are what makes your business a success.

The first thing to remember when relating to your employees is that respect is a two-way street. If you expect someone who is working for you to respect you as the boss you’re going to have to give it back. Mutual respect invites your employees to be loyal to you as opposed to just giving the job lip service when you happen to be looking. Respect begins with how you view your employees. Each one is an important person, a valued part of your organization, and someone you never talk down to.

Ask anyone what he or she expects from the boss and the answer is almost always “be fair”. This means that everyone is treated the same, the rules apply to all employees equally, and favorite employees aren’t allowed to soak up the advantages of a good relationship with the boss through manipulation or dishonesty. Other employees may not say anything but rest assured, when the workplace isn’t fair and the rules don’t apply to everybody, they all know it. Fairness also means disciplining rules violations or even firing when appropriate.

The best wages and benefits packages possible are great motivators. Not all small businesses can pay well and even fewer can afford to provide insurance for health, dental, and vision. Employees know what you can afford to give them for an honest day’s work without seeing the books. They might not be on the dollar but it doesn’t take a genius to know when he’s only scraping by on what he takes home and the boss is off vacationing in Europe or living in a mansion. A big discrepancy between your benefits as the business owner and what you pay your employees is a sure-fire disaster waiting to happen. Pay as much as you can. You’ll be loved for it.

Everyone wants to know what’s going on. Trust your people enough to be honest about the financial status of the business and where the business is heading. Good employees will help make things happen that you want to see.

Last but not least, go the extra mile. Give an office party once in awhile. Touch base with the janitor to see what he or she might be needing. And it doesn’t hurt to smile.
The overall principle of employee/boss relationships is simple. Treat your employees the way you want to be treated.

January 25, 2011   No Comments

Creating a Marketing Plan

Too often businesses open their doors fully expecting a large customer base to suddenly appear. In reality, it is up to the business owner to draw the customers in. The key to growing and maintaining a profitable small business is developing an effective marketing plan, complete with the following components.

Creating your marketing planProduct or Service Development and Design
Development and design includes deciding what products or services your business will provide, what purpose they will serve, and at what cost. Details such as product color, size and packaging are selected during this process. Development and design turns an idea into a reality.

Research the Competition
Find out how long your closest competitors have been in business, what products or services they offer and how much they charge for them. Learn your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to help improve your advertising plan.

Research Your Target Customers
Knowing details about the customers you are trying to reach helps you create an effective advertising plan. Age, gender and location are common factors when determining your target customers.

Advertising
Although there are many avenues available, generally the most valuable method of advertising is word of mouth. Ask your satisfied customers to share their experiences with their friends and family. Networking groups can also help increase your customer base. Many business owners will display your business cards or brochures at their location if you agree to place their materials at yours.

Another useful tool is your website. Several companies offer free or low cost sites with easy, do-it-yourself instructions. When preparing text for your website be mindful of search engine optimization, or SEO. Using commonly searched for keywords and creating links to and from your site are ways to become more visible to search engines. Be warned that designing a website can be a daunting task If you are unfamiliar with the proper website setup procedures, it might be advisable to consult a professional.

Printed material like newspapers, magazine and direct marketing materials can reach a larger audience. Other media such as radio and television also get your information out to the masses. Make sure your printed material is being sent to people in your target demographics.

Branding
Your brand is the image you want your customers to have of your business. Being known as faster, cheaper or friendlier than the competition are a few of the endless possibilities. Decide how you want your business to be perceived and then take the appropriate actions to make that perception a reality. Create a slogan or motto for your company to support your brand. Make sure your slogan is catchy, compact and easy to remember. A memorable slogan goes a long way toward reinforcing your brand.

Marketing strategies should be reviewed at regular intervals to assure your plan remains effective and keeps up with current market trends and services or product lines offered. Whether you are opening a new business or you have been in business for years, making a marketing plan can be both beneficial and financially rewarding.

January 24, 2011   No Comments

Wholesale Week In Review

Spike In Wholesale Food Prices

Biggest news coming out of the wholesale sector this week is the rise in the wholesale food prices, driven by the cold spell that hit Florida late last year. The freezing temperatures hit just before many truck vegetable crops were due to be harvested. Some tomato growers lost as much 50% of their crop; other farmers reported devastating losses to green beans, cucumbers, sweet corn and squash harvests. Consumers can expect to see this reflected in supermarket price hikes: In December 2010, the wholesale price of vegetables was a whopping 22.8% higher than it was one year earlier, while the price of fruit was up 15.4%.

Fruit and vegetables are not the only comestibles whose costs have spiked. According to a recent Department of Labor Producer Price Index report, the wholesale cost of meat is rising too though as yet these costs have not been passed along to the consumer. The price of beef a rose 2.7% in December 2010 – that’s 15% higher than it was the year before. Pork, fish and turkey are all up around 20% over last year at this time.

Coupled with the escalating cost of gasoline (pump prices rose 5% in December 2010) the rise in wholesale food prices have some economists whispering the dreaded I word – inflation. Not to worry, say other economists, pointing out that apart from food and gasoline, most consumer goods prices have held steady. [From The Christian Science Monitor]

Egg In Your Face

It’s not just the prices of fruits and vegetables that are soaring, it’s also the cost of eggs. But not legitimately, claim a Kansas City organization called Associated Wholesale Grocers who say the price hikes are part of price fixing scheme on the part of a “cartel” of egg producers.

The suit filed in Kansas City’s US District Court, charging that egg producers violated antitrust laws, is the latest in a series of similar litigations filed nationwide by wholesalers and grocers. The price fixing scheme began in 1999, Associated Wholesale Grocers claims; by 2008, the price of a dozen eggs in Kansas City at $2.20 had more than doubled in price from what it was six years before at $1.00.

Egg industry trade groups counter that the increase in egg prices is due to an Animal Care Certified Program that has reduced the number of laying hens per cage.

Two settlements have already been made in comparable lawsuits. Land O’ Lakes has agreed to pay $25 million though it is admitting no culpability, and smaller, Minnesota-based Sparboe Farms Inc. has agreed to provide information about the alleged price fixing to federal authorities. [Kansas City Star]

Wholesale Inventories Decline Unexpectedly

In other wholesale-related news, November 2010 wholesale inventories declined on average .2% throughout the US while wholesale sales climbed 1.9%. The inventory drop was the biggest in almost a year.

Many economists, who’d had been expecting a modest increase in wholesale inventories, see this as a sign that the modest economic recovery that buoyed 2010 has stalled since unchanging inventory levels are often indicators of a stagnant economy. Other economists, however, point to the decline as a positive sign that means supply is outpacing demand. [Marketwatch]

The iPhone’s Role In the Trade Deficit

Finally out of China comes the news that iPhone may be playing a part in the Sino-American trade deficit – at least on paper. While iPhones are assembled in China, only one of the iPhone’s parts is actually manufactured there. Nevertheless, because the iPhone ships from within China, the entire $178.96 wholesale value of the gets added into the trade figures on the Chinese side, leading to a $2 billion trade surplus on paper. A more accurate figure, analysts say, would be $73 million. [TUAW: the Unofficial Apple Weblog.]

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References:

 Rising food prices:  http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2011/0113/Inflation-rate-headed-up-The-impact-of-higher-food-energy-prices
 Egg Price fixing:  http://www.kansascity.com/2011/01/11/2577908/grocers-push-back-over-higher.html
 Decrease in wholesale inventories:  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wholesale-us-inventories-decline-02-in-novmber-2011-01-11?reflink=MW_news_stmp

 iPhone:  http://www.tuaw.com/2011/01/15/iphone-increases-us-china-trade-deficit-by-2-billion/

January 21, 2011   No Comments

Make Her Valentine’s Day Special Without Spending a Bundle

Making do with less is a sign of the times, but when it comes to your sweetie, you really want to make her Valentine’s Day special to show her how much you care. How can you do that when you’re on a budget?

Spend more time and effort instead of spending lots of money.

Carefully arrange for a fabulously romantic dinner at home. Show her how much you care without buying anything but the food and the wine, it’ll be less expensive than a restaurant, and if you take the time and care to set the mood, there will definitely be romance in the air!

How? Tell her she has to disappear for the later afternoon or early evening on Valentine’s Day so you can prepare for her surprise. That will have her anticipating something special, and set the stage for your evening.

Before the big day, do the preparation. Make the arrangements to farm the kids out to grandma or a friend, scope out the linen closet for the right tablecloth and napkins, make sure there are plenty of candles and candleholders to create the atmosphere, have the silver and glassware polished, and check out what might be available for dinner. If you’re not yet married or living together, give your space a good cleaning the day before, and make things shine. If you don’t have nice linens or china or glassware or good silver, borrow them from a friend or family member.

If you aren’t the best cook in the world, see what’s available in the gourmet section of the local supermarket that can be simply popped in the oven and cooked for a set amount of time, and supplement it with fresh greens, some prepared and ready to heat side dishes, and a killer dessert. Pick these up the morning of Valentine’s Day so they’ll be fresh and tasty. Keep her preferences in mind, and buy the seafood she loves even if you prefer the steak.

If you can cook, make the effort. Keep it simple and elegant.

Whether you buy prepared foods, or do the cooking yourself, remember that presentation is as important as the content. Take the time to make things look wonderful. How? Check out http://gourmet.com or http://epicurious.com and look at the images of the dishes. How do they garnish? How do they use the sauces on the plate? Now use your imagination and do something similar. It’s amazing what you can do with a sprig of fresh herbs and a couple carrot curls, or a dash of wasabi across the plate before placing the entree.

Valentine’s evening, meet her at the door, showered, shaved and dressed nicely. Take her coat. Make her feel pampered. Kiss her passionately, then lead her into your carefully prepared candlelit table setting. Have the lights low. Have some soft music playing, and make sure it’s a song that means something to her. Pull out her chair. Then tell her you love her. The rest will come easily.

January 18, 2011   No Comments