Small business information, insight and resources | Thu, 14 Feb 2019 18:32:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 157446745 Fewer Valentine’s Day Participants Are Spending More & More | 2019 Thu, 14 Feb 2019 18:21:31 +0000

Americans are expected to spend a record amount on Valentine’s Day this year despite a years-long decrease in the percentage of people celebrating the holiday, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.“The vast majority of Valentine’s Day dollars are still spent on significant others, but there’s a big increase this year in consumers spreading the love to children, parents, friends and coworkers,” according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay . 

Percent Participating vs. Average Spending Per Perticipant

“Those who are participating
are spending more than ever (probably as a)
result of the strong economy.”

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay

Types of gifts to be given this year (2019)

$3.9 billion | Jewelry
$3.5 billion | A special evening out on the town
$2.1 billion | Clothing
$1.9 billion | Flowers
$1.8 billion | Candy
$1.3 billion | Gift cards
$933 million|Greeting cards


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A Small Business on Valentine’s Day is Like a Box of Chocolates Tue, 12 Feb 2019 14:42:59 +0000

Update: 2.13.2019: If you’ve missed them, here are some heart shaped articles we’ve posted on earlier Valentine’s Days. We hope your small business is filled with love every day!

4 Ways Successful Business-Partner Couples Balance Love and Work

Together, We Can Do So Much

Office Romances Are at a Decade-Long High

Are Americans Losing Their Love of Valentine’s Day?

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Small Business Tools: Start-up Calculator Fri, 08 Feb 2019 15:45:40 +0000

This free and clever online start-up calculator from CardConnect enables a user to estimate the costs of starting a new business. Note: There are aways plenty of “gotcha” costs that you’ll likely discover along your start-up journey. So, use the calculater as a tool for estimating — loosely — but always seek advice from your professional advisors and other experts.

Click over to the startup cost calculator.

Bonus | While the promotional tool uses the term “start-up,” it can also be used for planning any major project or product launch. Just be sure to adjust for the specific costs you may — or my not — need to include in the project.

Also see | An overview of resources that can help you start a business.

What are startup costs?

Startup costs refer to any costs involved in the setting up of your business, including expenses incurred in getting your business to the point where it’s ready to start selling to customers.

Click over to the startup cost calculator.

Credit | CardConnect
  • Firstpick your startup size (bootstrap, medium or large). This choice will serve as the basis for your startup calculator. 
  • Nextname your project. Give your project a suitable name and then click the ‘Save’ icon to create a unique web link for your calculator, which you can return to at a later date.
  • Fill in your calculator. The size of startup you selected at the beginning of the process will dictate the starting point for your overall costs.

There are six broad factors the calculator factors into the start up cost:

  • Pre-trading | These are the costs you’ll incur to set up your business, including articles of incorporation and obtaining appropriate licenses.
  • Administration | Fees related to accounting, bookkeeping and insurance – plus any ongoing professional fees (legal or consultant).
  • Marketing | Market research and marketing for launch.
  • Operations |  Cost off starting inventory/materials, in addition to general supplies, postage/shipping costs, and telephone & internet charges.
  • People | Employee or free-lancer costs. (Labor)
  • Space. Rental charges for office hardware and software

Contengency funds can be reflected in “costs available” in each category.

  • Keep your calculator updated. As you discover new information or carry out fresh research, return to the calculator using your saved web link and update your figures.
Credit | Cardconnect

Examples of start-up costs by category

Each calcuator “guide” contains a link to a pre-set startup cost calculator, to help you get started.

You will need to do a little extra research into your own state/location to ensure you are able to accurately predict your expenses.

Good luck.

Also see |
An overview of resources that can help you start a business.

  • Illustrations and calculator used by permission from CardConnect
  • Start illustration | Getty Images

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It’s Super Bowl Monday. Do You Know Where Your Employees Are? Mon, 04 Feb 2019 20:01:44 +0000

With 17.2 million missing employees, today is anticipated to be the largest-ever anticipated day of “Super Bowl-related absenteeism” since the phenomena started being tracked in 2005 by  The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by The Harris Poll.*

(See 2019 Report)

17.2 million | American workers who say they may not go to work the Monday after Super Bowl LIII. The record-setting number surpasses the previous high estimate.

4.7 million | Workers who said they will take a last-minute sick day even though they are not actually sick.

8 million | Workers reporting they would be taking a pre-approved day off.

1% | Percentage of retail/food service/hospitality associates who will take the day off.

5% | Percentage of medical facility/hospital employees who will take the day off.

22 million employees may go into work late.

31 million | Workers who will leave early

12.5 million | Workers who will work remotely.

Bosses are susceptible to Super Bowl fever

36% | Percentage of senior-level/executive leaders who say they may not work their normal hours on Super Bowl Monday.

9.4 million | Undecided about their Super Bowl Monday work plans.

20% | Percentage of junior and mid-level employees who say the same.

62% | Percentage of senior-level/executive leaders who admit they think it’s funny when co-workers call in sick the day after the Super Bowl

51%| Percentage of junior and mid-level employees who say the same

45% | Percentage of employees aged 18-34 confess they are more likely to have anxiety about going back to work the Monday after the Super Bowl than any other Sunday during the year.

*”The “Super Bowl Fever survey” was conducted online from Jan. 9-11, 2019 among 1,107 employed U.S. adults aged 18 and older.

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What Do All of Those Icons Mean on Websites & Apps? Help us Update this List Sun, 03 Feb 2019 07:00:02 +0000

(Originally posted, May, 2011) We posted this article a few years ago as a guide to the icons found on mobile apps. In general, “icons” mean emoji for grown-up developers. If you notice a missing icon or wonder what one means, send us a link of where you see it and we’ll help all our users learn what the new or confusing icon  means:

As more and more people are using mobile devices to run their lives and businesses, the people who develop applications for these devices face a challenge. Smaller screens mean less space to use words that instruct the user where to go and how to use the mobile website or app. For that reason, a whole new visual language of small symbols called “icons” is evolving. These icons are supposed to convey to the user what will happen when they tap onto or click the image.

The only problem is, sometimes Developer A and Developer B use the same image for various things, or different images for the same thing. For instance, what does and “i” in a circle mean? How is it different from a “?” in a circle? Or, for that matter, an “!”? (We included that last one, as it’s an on-going debate we have among ourselves at

Here are some common icons and what will likely happen when you click or tap on them. The following icons are from the folks at Font Awesome who have open-sourced them as part of development framework called Bootstrap that was created at Twitter and became an open-source project in 2011.

Cog, Widget or Gear


We started with this one because it demonstrates some of the confusion. First off, it’s a symbol that goes by different names. In the real-world, the symbol can mean “widget,” a word that has a meaning among developers that has nothing to do with that real-world meaning. On an app or website, it typically means “settings.” Click it and you can adjust something.



This, also, is what we mean by a confusing icon, as it can, like the cog-gear-widget, also mean “settings.” For example, Google Apps used to have a wrench icon for settings but now uses a “cog-gear-widget.”



An envelope should mean email, right? It may. Or it may have a broader meaning, like “click on this to contact us.” Look for one on and click it and the latter will happen.

Right Swirving Arrow


This means share. Click on it and you’ll likely see a list of ways to post the content you’re seeing onto social media sites or email it to friends or co-workers.

Another Sharing Icon

share icon

Perhaps we didn’t mention that the internet has no governing board that controls how many symbols can mean the same thing, as this one means “share” also., but wait, there’s more.

Yet, Another Sharing Symbol


We feel certain there are some nuance differences in the two previous  sharing icons and this one, but on, we’ve narrowed it down to the middle one. This one is especially confusing because it can also mean “print.” One day, this will all be worked out by the UN.

Exclamation Point


The exclamation point in a circle means, “take note and watch out.” If it’s in a triangle, it means “TAKE NOTE and WATCH OUT.” Or, if it’s part of the logo of, it means, “here’s your answer!”



This should be obvious. It means, click here to play a game of Monopoly.



Sometimes (say, if you use Google+), you may even see a stack of ellipses. We’re guessing this icon is a visual pun that means “the stuff we couldn’t…fit here.”  Clicking or tapping on the icon will reveal options related to what you are currently viewing. (Coincidentally, the next icon means and does about the same.)

Parallel Bars (hamburger or a stack of hamburgers or hot dogs)list-760x219-2

When used as a navigational icon, either of these two “lists” mean there are lots of things the app or website couldn’t fit on a tiny screen. Typically, if you click or tap on them, some form of the navigational bar will slide in from the side or top.



This means “edit” pretty much anywhere you see it.

Triangle in a Circleplay-760x243-2

This is a play button icon. That, or a cattle ranch brand.

Circle Arrowrefresh-760x205-2

This means refresh. Refresh means stay on the same page, but try to make it work, this time.

A Dot with Two Curved Lines


This is an RSS icon. It’s a magical tool that far too few people use. If you want others to be more informed than you, ignore it.

Magnifying glass


This means “search.” Even if you don’t see a search box, click on it. In fact, you can test what we mean by looking for one at the top of this screen (depending on the device you are using). Tap or click on it. We promise a search box will appear.

Beer Mug


This icon means “turn off your computer and go have a beer.”

Infusionsoft Rebrands to Keap; Launches Small Business Services Software Fri, 01 Feb 2019 16:57:17 +0000 Infusionsoft, the 17-year-old customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation software company, announced earlier this week that it has rebranded its corporate name, Keap. The company also introduced a new product called Keap, a client management software (CMS) platform designed for small businesses in the home, personal and professional service industries.

Previously on |Infusionsoft Launches Propel, a DIY Marketing Automation Platform for Small Business

“With the introduction of our new Keap product, we are able to serve an even larger market of small service providers who have been shut out of the benefits of automation because software providers have made it too hard and expensive.” said Keap COO Keith Reed.

Targeted at small service providers such as interior design, home repair, fitness or business consulting, “Keap automates repetitive sales and client-related tasks like appointment scheduling following up on leads/quotes, and collecting payments,” according to Reed.

“As part of a multi-year company and product transformation, we set out to better understand how small businesses meet customer demands today,” said Keap CEO Clate Mask.

Some features of the new Keap software

  • Organizes and centralizes customer information and daily work in one place 
  • Frees small businesses from repetitive tasks to save time
  • Helps small businesses provide great service to their clients –

Photos: Keap by Infusionsoft, GettyImages

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Don’t Forget to Visit Thu, 31 Jan 2019 20:43:35 +0000 Recently, a long-time user emailed me to ask, “Why don’t you post photos on Pinterest anymore?” Later the same day, someone emailed me, surprised they had never run across our Pinterest account before.

Well, yes. We have a Pinterest account and like some other sites we use, it has a simple-to-remember name:

Currently, it has 26 Boards and about 13,000 monthly viewers. However, we have a limited crew here (Translation: my dog, Button, does much of the photo selection). Button and I are fans of Pinterest because we’re fans of creative offices, and funny signs and, well, go see for yourself.

Current Pinterest Boards

If you’d like Button and me to feature your business or idea or category photo, send a link to us at Or if you have ideas for more boards, let us know that also.

Images that indicate content from Pinterest

Below are some of our current PInterest boards we’ve featured in previous articles. While 14,000 viewers visit the boards monthly, we’d like your help to grow our collection and categories. Email a link with featuring something that may go great on a current board, or email with a topic for a new board. (Limited resources means we can’t promise we will include your’s but we’ll try.

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Monday Motivation: If You’re Not Fired With Enthusiasm… Mon, 28 Jan 2019 23:24:45 +0000

If you’re not fired with enthusiasm,
you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.
Vince Lombardi

Monday Motivation, January 28, 2019 | GettyImages

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Super Bowl Spending May Dip Slightly This Year, Here’s Why | 2019 Mon, 28 Jan 2019 11:57:56 +0000 American adults say they will spend an average $81.30 (or $14.8 billion total) as they watch the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams play in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday (2.3.2019), according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The purchasing is down a bit, but there are reasons why.

Spending amounts

$14.8 billion | 2018: Super Bowl LII party related spending
$15.3 billion | 2017: Super Bowl LI party related spending
$15.5 billion | 2016: Super Bowl X party related spending


182.5 million | 2018: People saying they were going to watch the game
188.5 million | 2016: People saying they are going to watch the game

Why are fewer fans purchasing items this year?

According to the NRF, it is primarily because fewer people plan to watch the game. However, despite the viewership dip, the overall spending is still the third-highest on record, after last year’s figure and $15.5 billion in 2016.

“Spending is expected to be at one the highest levels we’ve seen. And retailers are ready whether you need food, team jerseys, decorations or a new TV.”

Matthew Shay, NRF CEO and President

$81.17 (per adult) | Superbowl LIII will be second-highest spending in the history of the survey
$82.19 (per adult) | Record high Superbowl spending (2016)

$182.5 million (2018) | Total estimated Superbowl spending this year

Super Bowl plans

24% (61 million) | Plan to attend a party
17% (44 million) | Will throw a party
  5% (13 million) | Will watch in a bar or restaurant.

Among those watching, planned purchases:

79% | Plan to buy food and beverages
10% | Plan to purchase team apparel and accessories
7% | Plan to purchase decorations
7% | Plan to purchase new television

What is the most important part of the event?

43% | The game
23% | The commercials
14% | Getting together with friends
13% | The halftime show
  7% | The food


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Gallup: Americans More Pessimistic on Economy, Optimistic on Jobs | Jan 2019 Fri, 25 Jan 2019 22:09:30 +0000 According to Gallup research released earlier this week (1.22.2019), Americans’ outlook for the economy has begun to sour in the past two months. In previous months of 2018, Gallup survey respondents set records for their optimism.

48% | Percentage of Americans who say economic conditions are worsening in January, 2019
45% |Percentage of Americans who said economic conditions were worsening in December 2018
36% | |Percentage of Americans who said economic conditions were worsening in November 2018

Americans are still optimistic about jobs

According to the survey, Americans remain positive about the availability of quality jobs and are still split on whether the economy is in overall good shape.

66% | Percentage of participants who believe it is a good time to find a quality job.
48% | Even among those who think the economy is getting worse, 48 percent think is a good time to find a quality job.


“Gallup began asking the question about the availability of good jobs in August 2002, and the percentage saying it was a good time to find a quality job had never reached 50% until January 2017. Since then it has never been below 50% and has held relatively steady over the past nine months, ranging between 64% and 68%.”

Factors that may have had an impact on the survey findings

The following events occurred between the December and January surveys

  • Volatility in the stock market that produced major declines in December
  • The current federal government shutdown that began Dec. 20
  • A government report released Jan. 4 that showed an uptick in national unemployment

Chart: Gallup | Photos: GettyImages