Black Friday Safety

Black Friday Safety

When it comes to Black Friday, you either like or loathe the post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza. Black Friday has become so popular that it has started to infringe on Thanksgiving itself, making many people wonder if consumerism is more important than time with family. Regardless of how you feel about Black Friday, it’s a pretty big deal and it looks as though it’s here to stay. Although the major shopping event of the year is good for the economy and for the shoppers who want to save some money, it can also be dangerous for shoppers and retailers. On average, each year, there’s a small handful of reported injuries that take place on Black Friday; however these statistics may be low considering that not all injuries make the news or are reported. If you decide to venture out and wait in line at one of the big box stores, take the time to make sure you’re safe.

Stay Safe in Retail


During the holiday season, retail employees work hard for every cent they earn. Long shifts, extended store hours, holiday music on an endless loop, and stressed out customers are common challenges each day in the life of a retail worker. Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season and it rarely slows until the after the holidays are over and shoppers have made exchanges or returns. Black Friday means job security to many who work in retail, but it can result in workplace injuries and even death. On Black Friday in 2008, a Long Island retail worker was trampled to death by shoppers who had more or less broke down the barriers to get inside of the Wal-Mart. In such a frantic rush to get the biggest deal, Black Friday shoppers may have had no idea that the person who had fallen had been killed by bargain hungry shoppers.


While retail workers strive to make Black Friday shopping safe and organized for all shoppers, employees are often at risk for injuries that can leave them out of work permanently due to a disability, which can put an end to financial security. According to the Virginia SSDI attorneys at Marks and Harrison Law Firm, in order to receive disability pay, an eligible disability should be expected to last for at least one year or expected to result in death. Think about the Long Island worker, had he not tragically passed away, his injuries may have been severe enough that he would never work again.

Safety Plan on Black Friday


Implementing a Black Friday safety plan not only keeps shoppers safe, but benefits employees and the business overall. Here are some Black Friday safety tips to help keep employees safe, and ultimately have safer shoppers, during the mad dash for bargain prices:



  • Delegate Jobs: While it may be difficult to train some employees to a different department, delegate employees to certain responsibilities such as calling the police or emergency responders.



  • Explain Expectations: If employees have never worked when the store is full, explain what they can expect. Employees that don’t do well under the pressure of crowds should be delegated a different role for the day.



  • Have Security or Backup: When a line forms outside before a store opens, there’s almost always a mad and chaotic rush through the entryway (that’s kind of the thrill of Black Friday). Hire security or people who aren’t afraid to face a crowd head on, but can do it safely. This individual should know how to manage a crowd without using force.



This Black Friday, stay safe, be prepared, and keep the post-holiday shopping tradition strong.


Advice for Startups

Advice for Startups

It doesn’t matter if you are a fresh college graduate, recently retired worker or an average middle-aged person just wanting to try something new, there is always an opportunity to start your own small business. That is the beauty of a small business; it can be started anytime you want. That is not to say that starting and maintaining a small business or startup is a piece of cake. On the contrary, you have to be prepared to do a lot of work in order to be successful. Many people invest a lot both economically and intellectually at an initial stage and often don’t plan for the long term. The key is to have a solid plan of action to avoid failure. Let’s face it, there is a chance that your business may not work out the way you want, but if you follow some basic advice, it will increase the chances of success by a huge margin.

How to get started

Obviously, the first thing you need is to find out the kind of business you want to start. Here, it is important to keep a few things in mind. The most common mistake people make at this stage is that they choose whatever is trending. While there is a chance that it may work for a short duration, the odds are low that it will be a success in the long haul. Pick an idea that you are passionate about, and that you are confident about executing. Do your research and be sure that there is a market for your product or service. Choose something that combines both your passion and current market need. These are a few things you must ask yourself at this stage:

  • Will it be worth the time and money spent?
  • Do customers need it? Will customers like it?
  • What is the future of this small business?
  • Am I really confident about doing this?
  • Who are my competitors? How am I different/unique?

Another significant factor which can make a huge impact on business is the location of your company. Ensure that the placement of your small business is within the reach of the customers. Even if your shop is online, make sure you are reaching the right audience and are able to be found by potential customers.

Protecting your investment

It is imperative that you are on the right side of the law when starting your own business. Securing your business from fraud, copyright infringement, and other legal troubles can be vital, especially if you have come up with the “next big thing.” When it comes to online companies, the risk is even greater in the form of cyber-attacks, copycats, and even online scams. Brick and mortars stores are also in danger of lawsuits or other legal issues involving employees. Therefore, it is quite imperative to make your business safe and secure. In this case, knowledge in business law can help significantly. A deep understanding or trusted consultant in Business law can help you steer clear of any unwanted situations that may arise while you are developing out your small business. Be aware of the laws in your area prior to starting your own small business. If this is not an area of strength for you, be sure to reach out to professionals who can help you through the process.

How do you protect your small business from legal issues? Please leave your comments below:

Fight Cyber Attacks in a Big Way

Fight Cyber Attacks in a Big Way

As a small business, if you’ve been keeping your fingers crossed hoping that you won’t become target of a cyber attack, your luck may be running out. Just because big corporations, such as Target, have been hit hard, who’s to say that you’re immune? Sure, you are a small business and maybe you think you’re just a blip on the radar in the business world, but if someone wants to get access to your information they will find a way. If you are a business of any size, you have private customer and employee information that should never get into the wrong hands. Regardless of the size of your company or the number or your employees, it’s vital to protect yourself against cyber attacks. Here are a few ways to stay a little bit safer without losing sleep at night.

Amp Up Security


Many big businesses, avoiding a cyber attack or after the unfortunate success of an attack, move to amp up their security by hiring a privacy analyst. Unfortunately, small businesses may not have the financial means to hire an expensive but valuable employee for their business. Does that mean you should just hope for the best? Not unless you consider yourself a good gambler.


Even though a privacy analyst may not be possible for every business, cybercrime prevention must be a step in any type and size of business. So, maybe if you can’t afford a full-time privacy analyst, you can hire someone to help you implement a cyber attack plan.

Employees You Can Trust


A problematic employee can make or break a small business. In addition to having a good employee that understands and shares your passion for your business, he or she must also be a trustworthy individual. For instance, if your business handles a lot of confidential information, you need to know that your employees will respect and commit to privacy. Additionally, you need to know that all of your personal and professional information will be kept private and not shared with the wrong people.


Educate your employees about cyber attacks and encourage them to have a smart and safe online presence. It may seem like a “no brainer”, but people often forget about online security, particularly if they’ve never been attacked. Teach your employees (and remind yourself) to be cautious when using social media, change and have multiple passwords for accounts, and pay attention to fraudster-like activity such as suspicious customer complaints.


Stay in the Loop

Once you build up your cyber security and have your cyber attack prevention plan in place, don’t think that the work is done. Cyber attackers evolve as quickly as technology and they continuously find ways to retrieve sensitive and confidential information that can destroy even the smallest of companies. One of the best ways to avoid your chances of becoming a cybercrime victim is staying up to date on security technology and other news in the cyber world. If you can’t have an employee solely dedicated to your security, consult with a professional every couple of months to make sure you are on track.

5 Ways to Avoid Startup Failure

These days it’s not uncommon for someone to change career plans and decide to start up a small business. The great thing is that it’s socially acceptable. Everyone is cheering each other on, saying “go for it!” and “what have you got to lose?” and in reality, some startups succeed and some fail. Maybe you’re ready to ditch corporate America and open up that specialty shop or maybe you finally decided to be an independent consultant rather than rely on being part of a company. If you’ve got the patience and the drive, there’s no doubt you can get started. In order to stay on the right track and be successful, there are some things that you should avoid doing that often lead to the failure of a start up. Make a couple of “right” moves to avoid failure and you’ll be happy you went after your dream job.
Be Confident, Even When You’re Not

Once you begin to establish your startup, it’s important to have familial and friend support, but you need to be confident in your startup and your ability to succeed. If you constantly second guess every decision, how do you expect to sell your ideas and promote your business to others? Sure, a startup is a big, scary, and often times risky decision, but you need to be confident for the sake of your customers, your employees, and yourself. If you fail to be confident, your startup is likely to fail.
Ask For Feedback and Advice

Startup businesses can be intensely personal; a part of you. Unless you have years of experience running your own business, you may need a mentor or consultant. Find someone who you respect and trust to bounce ideas off of, yet someone who is not part of your personal circle (spouse, family, best friend).
Hire the Right People

The beginning stages of a startup are often a whirlwind. You may not expect needing employees right away, but then all of a sudden you do. Eager to keep the business moving forward, you hire the first person who seems qualified. Hiring the wrong people can break your business. Choose people who understand your plan and vision and show potential for having the same passion. It may take a while, but it’s worth the search.
Be Original

Many new startup business owners want to own a business, but rather than choosing something they are passionate about, they base their plan on what’s trending. While this is important to do to some extent, don’t “copy and paste” another existing business. For example, if you are really interested in making specialty cakes, you need to create a style or a product that will set you apart from every other trendy cake shop in your city. The most successful startups are a perfect balance of originality and trend.
Listen to Your Clientele

Your customers will make or break your business. If you don’t care how your customers perceive your business or your products, then you probably don’t care whether or not your business will succeed. Ask for feedback, even if you may not want to hear the truth. Whether customer feedback is positive or negative, listening, learning, and taking action can help your startup grow and have a better chance at returning customers.

Newest Innovation in the Small Business Scene

Newest Innovation in the Small Business Scene

The biggest innovation in the small business scene is the creation of the startup. First of all, startups are not the same as small businesses. Small businesses are usually privately owned, exist for profit and usually are not targeted to have much effect on a large scale. Startups on the other hand, are temporary scalable businesses that, though existing for profit, are targeted at searching out major solutions to problems for the sake of disrupting a particular industry.

Why Small Businesses Want to be Startups

Since startups started cropping up all over the world, the business scene has changed. Many people confuse small businesses as startups, and they are not entirely to blame. Small businesses have begun to copy the startup model. The startup style of business is easily recognized for its innovative approaches and flexibility, which has been a proven factor of their success. The necessity for small businesses to improve sales and performance, and the confusion among most on the distinction between startups and small businesses, has led to this copycatting.

The Small Business Goals

The goal of a small business is to gain profit and maximize on sales. Small businesses are targeted towards gaining the maximum amount of customers within the reach of the business. The availability of the internet has dramatically increased the reach of the small business. This is another factor which has led to small businesses copying the startup model. The startup is usually geared and targeted towards a worldwide market, and the twentieth century globalization trend has brought that worldwide market closer than ever, even to the steps of the small business. Small businesses have the capability to target a wide market now.

Small Businesses Evolve Into Startups

Popular knowledge dictates that while startups are not small versions of big companies, small businesses can be. Current trends have blurred that line. Small businesses are more and more evolving into startups. By emulating the model of the startup, the small business scales faster than it normally would, and can become a big company in a shorter time.

Are Startups Still Cropping Up?

Yes they definitely are, and at much faster pace. The present valuations of startups are at an all time high and this is motivation for the entrepreneur with ideas and ambition. Aspiring entrepreneurs are springing up faster as a result of worldwide economic conditions which have ceased to favor the traditional form of business. Starting a startup requires as little as no funding at all, and several VCs and angel investors are lining up to fund startups at a concentration that is unprecedented. The success of the startup –despite being limited to 1 out 9, can also be seen with the proliferation of accelerators and incubators at a level not seen since the dotcom bubble.

The small business world is growing, innovations abound everywhere and the internet has made a market out of every individual on the planet. Small businesses are leveraging on this opportunity to scale faster than ever.

Don’t Let Startup Upkeep Be Your Downfall: Tips for Continued Success

Don’t Let Startup Upkeep Be Your Downfall: Tips for Continued Success

When nearly seven out of ten startups fizzle out before they hit the ten year mark, it’s no wonder the internet is flush with tips of the trade to help you succeed. However, many starry-eyed entrepreneurs get so caught up in the initial launch and logistics of their potential new empire, they forget to save their marketing energy for the long haul. Although launching a small business is always different, it’s imperative that entrepreneurs approach their efforts by evolving traits of both the “tortoise” and the “hare” in the race to the finish line.

Maintain Momentum

Most businesses want to emerge with a big splash, eager to leverage any and all PR or marketing opportunities they can brainstorm. In the early planning stages, figuring out the most fun, exciting and impactful publicity strategies is exhilarating. However, as quarterly reports pile up and daily troubleshooting takes hold of your worries, bombastic early strategies can quickly slow to a trickle. To avoid this, it’s important to utilize all the tools at your disposal to keep your brand presence strong and relevant without breaking your back to do so.

  • Social media aggregation tools: it’s imperative to maintain a strong media presence for your startup, and there are many tools to help you do so without spending hours a day. Sprout Social or Hoot Suite, for example, can allow you to parcel out a posting strategy that allows you to pre-program posts all at once.
  • “The Fortune is in the Follow Up,” is an old saying that pertains strongly to new businesses. Strategize Your Success points out that a little personal massaging can go a long way. Something as simple as a kind follow-up email can be enough to remind your busy potential clients that you’re around and ready to spring to action.

Read the Fine Print

While some people are natural detail-oriented and wouldn’t dare skip a single line of fine-print, many of us, much to the chagrin of our bank accounts, don’t come over details that could have negative long-term effects on a start up. For example, if leasing a commercial space, Lisa Girard for Entrepreneur notes that many commercial spaces are wracked with hidden fees, utilities and the potential for costly misfortune. For example, many buildings built prior to the 1990s still contain asbestos, or lead if built before 1970. If your business offers a unique product or proprietary service, it’s also essential to ensure all the patents are in order. Although it’s tempting to assume there isn’t anyone lurking to ride the coattails of your wonderful idea, Sansone and LauberMissouri Lawyers,  points out that there are many people and companies that are just waiting to “unscrupulously violate patent owner’s right.”

Create a Lasting Culture

Employee “quit” numbers are up, according to Forbes, and the cost of losing an employee is not only astronomical, but the disengaged employees that leave or often disengaged leading up to the decision, which also hurts bottom line and productivity. In a nutshell, employees who feel valued and engaged can help give your company wheels that helps give it those extra miles for the long haul. Bill Conerly for Forbes notes that in order to maximize retention and culture, business owners should:

  • Track retention: look for trends and arcs in employee happiness, engagement and productivity
  • Give employees a path: no one wants to sit around feeling like a cog in a cubicle all day. Giving employees a long term purpose and goals can help them feel like the work they do is leading up to something rewarding.
  • Increase Flexibility: Draconian rules and rigidity can make employees feel trapped and undervalued. Although there needs to be a balanced schedule and professional environment, flexible hours and accommodation of personal schedules can go a long way to keep employees happy.
  • Keep an Eye out for Stressors: whether it’s a jack-hammer outside or a thermostat stuck on 90 degrees . . .or even a particularly loud talker . . . office stressors can quickly turn a tranquil environment into a high-stress zone.
The Pros and Cons of New Overtime Rules

The Pros and Cons of New Overtime Rules

President Obama’s new overtime rules raise the overtime annual salary threshold to $50,400 from $23,600. This change will expand overtime protection to include nearly 5 million workers in 2016, as stated by the President, and reported in Huffington Post.

According to the President, “a hard day’s work deserves fair pay,” and the reform will be good for lower salaried workers who have been putting in long hours of overtime with no additional compensation. The President also stated that the change will benefit employers who are already compensating their employees fairly, as they can no longer be undercut as easily by businesses that have been underpaying their workers with the prior overtime threshold.

As discussed in an article on NPR News, under the old rule, any salaried manager who made more than $23,600 a year could be required to work extra hours with no additional pay, while overtime was strictly limited for non-salaried employees. Employers often misclassify workers as managers – yet at lower salaries – to avoid paying overtime.

Updating the Fair Labor Standards Act with a significantly higher overtime threshold can help put an end to this abuse. In the future, employers will be forced to hire more workers, as opposed to overworking existing salaried employees, or pay their salaried employees overtime rates at time and a half, unless they make more than $50,400 a year.

Some employers consider President Obama’s proposed changes to be unrealistic and burdensome, as discussed in a Rochester Home Page article. New business owners interviewed for the article stated that the change will affect their plan to convert from hourly to salaried employees as the business expands.

One of these owners said that he would simply hire more employees for lower-skilled positions, and if he did hire salaried workers, he would limit their hours to no more than 40 per week. The existing overtime threshold for salaried workers is below the poverty level for a four-person family, according to the Rochester Home Page article.

A Washington Post story on the subject reports that, according to a well-known economist, the change could have the advantage of creating additional jobs. Workers get paid time and a half for their overtime hours. Employers may decide to hire more workers to avoid paying time and a half – hence more jobs may be created.

Some salaried employees may find themselves in the position of working fewer hours instead of being paid for their overtime after the reform goes into effect. Although this may not pad the pocketbooks of those workers, at least they will have more personal time free, and hopefully a higher quality of life.

Make It Like New: Renovating an Old Building for a New Retail Space

Make It Like New: Renovating an Old Building for a New Retail Space

Whether you are starting a new business or are expanding, finding the right space is essential. Depending on your location, there are may be many older and abandoned properties with historical value, loads of potential, and in need of a little TLC. These days, when city dwellers across the country are urging to keep downtown business districts alive, an older building may be the perfect fit for your business; particularly if the price is right.

Whether you love the clean lines on a Classical Revival building or are head over heels about the masonry construction and arches of a Romanesque Revival building, any old building you choose to renovate may require some work. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by your work in progress, look at your purchase as an opportunity to make your business stand out.

Safety First

Much of an old building’s charm is visible on the outside, but in order to capture the original look on the inside, it may require peeling and tearing out layer upon layer of outdated building materials (such as paneling, plaster, carpeting, and linoleum). However, you may also come across a building that looks as though it has never been touched by modern architecture. Either way, you will need to make sure that your building is a safe place for your business and that it won’t put you or your patrons in danger.

  • Inspection: Have the building inspected by a professional. He or she will closely examine every aspect of the building from the roof to the foundation to determine the building’s safety. This report will help you decide how much to invest in the remodel and how much assistance you may need from a designer/architect.

  • Beware of Red Flags: The price tag may be too good to pass up, but are there are some red flags to consider such as hazardous materials like asbestos. Many old buildings contain the carcinogen and should not be destroyed or removed without a professional.

Asbestos can be found in almost every type of building material prior to the late 1970’s. “Asbestos has been used in heating and domestic water systems, including pipes, boilers and tanks. It also has been used in vinyl and linoleum flooring, and drop-in ceiling tiles,” says Belluck & Fox

Design Tips

Once you’re given the green light to go ahead and start renovating, it may be hard to decide where you want to start. While money will most likely be the deciding factor, plan a design that focuses on energy conservation and safety without losing your business’s unique style.

  • Spend to Save: There are many features in the old building that you may want to hang on to such as tall ceilings, ornate light fixtures, and large store front windows. You can keep some of these charming features and add some updated, money saving designs. Consider saving light fixtures, but adding more efficient lighting. Keep the large windows, but make sure there is new weather stripping around the windows.

Additionally, get rid of features such as mail chutes, that may interrupt efficient heating and cooling. If you’re lucky, you may find some inexpensive replicas (flooring or lighting) that perfectly match some of your building’s vintage charm.

Top 5 Metro Areas to Start a Business In

Top 5 Metro Areas to Start a Business In

Certain cities – and states – are much more favorable places for the establishment of a new enterprise. Starting any new business is expensive, and keeping costs low in the initial stages can make it possible for a small business to survive this stage, and become viable. Costs associated with corporate taxes, real estate, and the necessary equipment and materials, as well as marketing and payroll will consume the majority of any investment, whether your own money, bank loans, or funds provided by an investment partner. Choosing the right metro area to get established is an important decision. There are five places that Forbes Magazine reports as offering the greatest advantages.

Raleigh, NC tops the list, due to low business costs and an educated labor pool, according to Forbes. The news source reports in its evaluation of cities that the area has business costs that are 18% lower than the national average, and the labor pool is far more educated than the national average of 30%, standing at 42% of adults with a college degree. Des Moines, Iowa also ranks highly, with a much lower cost of living, standing at 6% below the national average, with the business costs at coming in at 17% lower. Utah has traditionally been a favorable state in which to do business, and has three cities in the top ten metro areas most favorable for business, with Provo coming in third in the list issued in the Forbes report. Colorado has two metro areas that come in fourth and fifth in this list, with Denver in fourth place and Fort Collins listed as the fifth most favorable.

USA Today used a different set of criteria to come up with the top five cities most favorable for starting a business, listing Shreveport, LA, Tulsa, OK, Springfield, MO, Chattanooga, TN, and Jackson, MS. The criteria used in naming these areas did not take into account the education level of the area, which may not be important, depending upon the type of enterprise. This list measured costs of office space, cost of living, and access to resources.

Choosing the location for business requires that you weigh all the factors that will have a potential impact upon the success of your venture, but there are other factors to consider. Your family and “roots” may be in a state or metro area that is tough for business, but your connections and quality of life are not something you are willing to sacrifice. Your new venture may not require that you have a manufacturing facility, in which case a more expensive metro area may not be such a concern, particularly with regard to the cost of real estate. The most expensive cities in which to start a business in the USA, according to USA Today, are Anaheim, CA, San Jose CA, Santa Ana, CA, Oakland, CA and Ontario CA. In fact of the top ten worst cities, six are in California.

Starting any business takes determination, money, and the willingness to devote the time to get the enterprise off the ground and into the black. An interesting fact is that the success of any enterprise is in large part the direct result of the actions of the owners, and the ability to overcome challenges. Corporate structure is a critical point, and ensuring that your new enterprise is legally protected from threats, and that the corporate structure suits the type of enterprise early in the process also gives a new business a better opportunity to become a success.

Big Business Tools on a Small Business Budget

Big Business Tools on a Small Business Budget

All businesses have to start somewhere. There isn’t one huge corporation out there that didn’t start out as a small business. The key to success for a small business will undoubtedly derive from a solid business plan that revolves around 100% customer satisfaction. Many may aim for this, but few actually achieve it. One way to achieve that customer satisfaction is as easy as getting the service or product they paid for to them in a timely manner.

Popular Shipping Systems

Timely shipping is something larger corporations have deciphered, and it is a big reason why they continue to excel. The ability to get your product out to consumers effectively without breaking the bank is key, and yet often overlooked by most start-ups. There are numerous shipping services and software that help small businesses integrate shipping systems to their business plan. Services like Veego, Orderbot, Uship, Ordoro, Shipstation and Shiply make it easy for small businesses to set up shipping systems through USPS, UPS, FedEx, or DHL. These cloud services offer a way for businesses to not only ship orders using a desired shipping service, but also provide a way to manage orders and keep a detailed history of every item purchased.

Orderbot – All in One Hub

Orderbot for instance, allows businesses to centralize all sales channels. It will keep track of all your sales channels in one hub. With a very user friendly interface, Orderbot makes it easy for you to keep track of invoices and to fully manage your orders from beginning to end. What really makes Orderbot stand out from the rest is their comprehensive inventory management feature. It keeps track of your inventory in real-time ensuring that you do not oversell; which can be key when attempting to keep customers happy. Consumers expect to receive what they pay for, and they want it as soon as possible. Ensuring that you do not bite of more than you can chew, the unique inventory management tool offered by Orderbot ensures that you receive orders for the inventory you actually have in stock.

Shipstation – One Stop Shop

Alternatively, Shipstation is a one-stop-shop for all of your ecommerce needs. They offer a free 30-day trial and can integrate sales channels such as Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Bigcommerce and more. They make it easy to ship from any desired shipping service such as FedEx, UPS or USPS among others. They also offer very competitive monthly plans that do not cost an arm and a leg. With the cheapest plan starting at $25 a month, small businesses can set up a strong foundation for effective shipping. Logistics are more important than what people give them credit for. A strong and solid foundation can propel your business to the top and set it up for success.

Having a strong shipping process enables you to get your product out to customers quickly. It no longer requires owning your own cargo trucks. These new methods of transporting goods have become so cost effective that even startups and small businesses can turn a profit. These systems allow you to get products out to customers quickly, and help grow your business into large corporation easier than ever before.