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Tuesday
Dec012015

How Being a Mom Helps My Business

We all know that when it comes to paid maternity leave, American women have a tough deal. Alongside Oman and Papua New Guinea, in fact, the worst deal in the world. As any mother knows, even those blessed with a rare babe who sleeps through the night (apparently that happens sometimes) dealing with swelling and healing, hormones and sleep deprivation, fear of failing and terror of breaking your baby is hard enough without having to worry about your finances.

After six weeks of getting the hang of being a new Mom, most women’s bodies aren’t even physically recovered after the birth, let alone their mental state. In my personal experience, not only was I not fit for work, but I was still struggling with dressing myself and taking a shower in the morning. With the World Health Organization recommending that mothers should exclusively breastfeed for at least six months, that’s a double whammy of social pressure paradoxically making women feel inadequate if they don’t go back to work and guilty if they’re forced to give their infants formula.

The first few weeks of being a Mom for many women are not the magical ones they were promised, where they would be serenely rocking their babes to sleep, while having a “nice rest” from work and uploading joyful photos to a family website.

In my personal experience, the first half of my maternity leave I was desperate about keeping my job and the second half spent worrying about how to manage without it, as I was simply not physically or emotionally ready to go back. As an independent woman used to being and working alone, generating my own income and not asking anyone for help, all of a sudden I found myself adrift and faced with the prospect of being an unemployed stay-at-home Mom; something I didn’t want to be.

Never would I have thought during those first dark days where I circled the edge of the abyss that being a Mom would actually, finally give me the boost I needed to give up my 9-5 and take control of my life and finances; or that being a Mom would be the main reason that I’m able to keep being successful. Here’s how:

Being a Mom gave me the courage to quit my job and start up on my own. OK, so I was sort of forced into the situation, but it made me realize that in a sink or swim situation, I have a mean freestyle.

Being a Mom has made me more confident. There used to be things that I would let slide, like people cutting in line in front of me in a supermarket, or allowing myself to get side-lined by work colleagues. But Lord help the queue-cutter these days. You see now, whatever I do, I’m speaking up for my daughter, not for myself. Before I make a sales call, or ask for donations or contributions (something I previously hated), I think of her before I do it and suddenly I feel calm and collected.

I know how to use my time valuably. Being a Mom makes me appreciate the value of time like I never have before. When you literally have to fit in a meal in three minutes or jump in and out of the shower in between wakings, you learn that you can do many things with two minutes, and I never waste a single one.

I put things into perspective – Nothing is more important than my daughter and I think that actually learning to say no to people and rescheduling a meeting for tomorrow when I have more time, gives people the best version of me. Instead of trying to be everyone to everybody, family fun time is more important. Having my priorities straight in life seems to help with direction.

I know that I can always handle one more thing – I don’t get as stressed as before because I now know I am capable of so much more and that the busier I am, the more I can handle.

I can multi-task for the Olympics – Once you’ve learned how to nurse your infant while replying to an email and eating dinner at the same time, multi-tasking in the workplace is a breeze and I’m way more productive than I used to be.

Above all, I have a new motivator I never had before. I want to be an example to my daughter of something she might aspire to be one day. I want her to know that she can do anything she puts her mind to and most of all, I want my baby girl to be proud of her Mom. The fear that she may feel anything of the contrary is enough to keep me moving forwards.

Sam Jones is a Relationship Manager at Marccx Media. Sam got her start at RazorFish and continues to work with publishers and advertisers on various SEO and SEM campaigns.

Monday
Nov162015

How Moms (and Everyone Else) Can Support Our Local Businesses This Month

While I know most of you hard working moms are working on businesses that primarily function online, there are also plenty of you who are at least partially involved in building your businesses offline in the “real world” where local customers are your bread and butter.

And, even if your entire business resides online, you and your family are still an integral part of your local community and you have money to spend to purchase what your family wants and needs.

So, with those two thoughts in mind, let's take a moment to look at a serious problem that can affect all of us:

Why are our local businesses in danger?

The fact is, between the ease and convenience of ecommerce and the prevalence of huge box stores within easy driving distance of nearly every home in America, the small, local, independent businesses that used to be the only option in most small towns and cities are facing a true crisis. We might call it a figurative “mass extinction event.”

In case you're not familiar with that term, it's the scientific term used to describe cataclysmic events that cause huge numbers of species to die off. Like the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, for instance. And it's not melodramatic to say that the current trends in service trades, food service, and specialty retail could spell similar disaster for the small, local shops and restaurants along Main Street, USA.

Is there a bad guy to blame?

Unlike any other time in history, it's not only possible but it's actually easier for the majority of consumers to avoid small, independent shops and restaurants in favor of one-stop-shopping at Wal-Mart or Target, and consistent menus at large chain restaurants like Applebee's or Chili's.

Now, there's nothing wrong at all with shopping at Wal-Mart or eating at Applebee's. These companies provide a valuable service, convenience, and quality products, not to mention a significant number of jobs in the community. The danger, however, is in patronizing these large chains exclusively in lieu of our smaller local businesses.

While the competition provided by the inclusion of a large box store or popular chain restaurant should theoretically have a positive impact on the local retailers, all too often the huge price differences and overwhelmingly larger marketing budgets of these large stores create an environment where smaller business owners can't afford to compete.

In those cases, it's really up to the business owners themselves to become more creative in their methods of differentiating themselves and adding value to their offerings, and it's up to the local consumers to recognize the importance of helping these smaller shops stay in business.

Why are these small businesses so important?

While the large box stores rake in billions of dollars in annual revenue and can't help but have a tremendous impact on the local economy in terms of job creation and tax revenue, the combined value of the smaller local businesses in the area nearly always exceeds the value of the large store.

The reasons are simple:

  1. In any economically viable community, the number of small independent businesses will likely outnumber the larger national chain locations 10-to-1 or better. All of these stores and restaurants will have employees and tax responsibilities, so they combine to amount to a greater impact than the large store.
  2. Unlike a large national chain or franchise location, nearly all the money spent at a local independent business stays right in the community since the owners and employees all live in the area and there is no national or international corporation taking the lion's share of the proceeds to invest elsewhere. 

So, logically, every dollar you spend at a small local store or restaurant provides a greater investment in your own community than that same dollar spent at a franchise location or box store.

And, there's also the matter of longevity and a commitment to the local community. While the fate of a franchise restaurant or large box store depends completely on the balance sheet and it can be closed down in a heartbeat if an accountant a thousand miles away decides it's no longer viable, a small local business is generally being run by an active member of the community to wants to stay right where they are for the long term. By supporting their efforts, we can support the long term growth and stability of the local economy.

What can we do to help small local businesses THIS MONTH?

You may already be aware that Saturday, November 28th is “Small Business Saturday”.

This is a perfect opportunity to show your solidarity with the local business community and to explore the incredible variety of products and services available from local professionals, retailers, restaurants, and craftspeople.

Small Business Saturday is held each year on the day after Black Friday (when we realize the huge box store savings opportunities are impossible to ignore) and Cyber Monday (when ecommerce holds sway across the nation.) It's the perfect balance to these two annual shopping events that encourage investing your holiday spending outside your community.

Do you know what's going on in your local community on November 28th? Most likely your local economic development organization or Chamber of Commerce already has a series of events planned. If you own a local business, investigate what they're doing to celebrate the day and participate! Even if you don't own a business with a physical location in the area, see what you can do to add to the publicity surrounding the events and make sure you take the time to shop at a local stores on that day!

And, if you don't currently own a local business but you have dreams of entrepreneurship, consider buying a local business that's for sale and keeping the dream alive in your area.

By supporting Small Business Saturday, we set a precedent that can have an impact throughout the rest of the year as well: we stay aware of the great things our local independent businesses have to offer and we let them know just how much we appreciate and need them.

Friday
Nov132015

Google in real time

This infographic is the courtesy of Buddy Loans from UK

Friday
Nov062015

How to Get Your Kids To Read and Love It!

KD Novelties a publisher of personalized children’s books and gifts has been in business for over 10 years.  Their goal is to touch children’s’ lives through personalization, one child at a time.

Their unique children’s books feature the child as the star of his or her own story.  Their books promote literacy; build self-esteem, and confidence in children because they become the heroes of the story.  KD Novelties has been recognized and awarded publishing and best book awards for their creative storylines, uniqueness of each book and illustrations. According to Kim Delgado owner of KD Novelties “we promote ourselves as avid lovers of literacy and believe that the love of reading starts at home.”

If you have a child who is learning to read or one who is reluctant to read, getting them a personalized book of their own will help boost their motivation, get them to read more and love it!  These books are also treasured keepsakes and are not thrown away or donated as most books are but most importantly the expression on the child’s face when they read about themselves is priceless!  

Visit us today!

Reading to your child... IMPORTANT
Reading a personalized book... UNIQUE
Seeing their face light up... PRICELESS!

Thursday
Oct292015

Why Bandwidth is Important for an E-commerce Store

Bandwidth, simply put, is the amount of traffic that passes through your website. All companies that have their own website anticipate a certain amount of traffic per month, and allocate resources accordingly. However, bandwidth is more important to some companies than others. For example, a company that facilitates buying or selling online, like eBay, has to be concerned about bandwidth more than, say, a website that hosts a family blog. If you can’t properly calculate the bandwidth you need, your company could end up with bad deals and misinformation from hosting companies. To avoid this scenario, learn why bandwidth is important for your online store:

A Slow Loading Time Will Cost You Customers

Unless you are Google, don’t expect people to wait for your website to load. These loading seconds matter a lot. According to a survey conducted by two content aggregator companies, web users expect a site to load within 2 seconds or less. More than a half of web shoppers say they won’t return to a site that is slow. An online business could lose a quarter of its customer base if the website takes over 4 seconds to load. If you reach the peak of your bandwidth limit, your website could become slow, which will most certainly cost you in profits. That’s why it’s extremely important that e-commerce sites take bandwidth issues seriously.

Traffic Can Spike Unexpectedly

If you are a budding e-commerce site, you probably dream about the day your traffic stats spike to alpine levels. Some dreams do come true. If your company is mentioned in the news, or if a deal you are offering goes viral, more and more people will begin to visit your site. More page visits require more bandwidth. If the traffic exceeds your current bandwidth package, your site will go down faster than the Hindenburg. A crashed site will bring your business to a standstill, and you’ll have to start attracting customers from scratch. Therefore, you should carefully choose a bandwidth package and web hosting company. Some hosts, like hostgator.com and bestwebhosting.co.uk, offer robust plans and automatic upgrades if your traffic spikes, which is ideal for start-ups.

It’s Necessary for Digital Sales

Does your e-commerce site offer digital downloads? If so, you’ll require a lot of bandwidth. Having a site run smoothly is vital for your customers to have access to any digital content that they might purchase and copy to their personal computers from your server. So if you sell downloads, make sure your bandwidth capacity is at least double that of a regular online seller.

Revamped Websites Can’t Do Without It

If you are a proper business, you will end up redesigning your website time and time again. If you add new graphics or videos to your site, you’ll need a good bandwidth package to ensure that visitors can interact with the new content without a hassle. If you have a devout follower base, introducing a new design can be a tricky business. Don’t let things get worse by making the new website load slower.

Basically, think of bandwidth to your online store as the buying lines in a physical store. You want these lines to move through the counters and shelves quickly if you want customers to come back to your store. Therefore, don’t be frugal when it comes to purchasing a good bandwidth package for your site.

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