By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

Employees at small and mid-size firms spend more than half their days on necessary but completely unproductive tasks, according to a survey by business phone system Fonality . Roughly 14 percent spent their time duplicating information, including forwarding emails, calling to confirm information and dealing with spam and unsolicited phone calls. With so much time wasted, it’s difficult to know how to streamline your day to stay as productive as possible. Here are a few automation and productivity hacks to help keep your office focused:

Organize internal communication

Some business believe there can never be too much internal communication. If your company falls into this category, streamline your system by carving out a time and space to share information. Hold a weekly staff meeting to discuss internal matters or set-up an account on  Asana  to keep conversation in one place. The software works to unify team members without endless emails. Managers can set up tasks, mark them for follow-up, approve them or set-up a calendar as needed. It keeps communication in one interface without circulating chain emails for weeks to get one thing accomplished.

Go paperless

According to PC World, printer ink alone runs a whopping $20 to $35 per cartridge. But how much documentation do you really need to store in your office? Scan old files, contracts and receipts and store them in a secure cloud system like  Mozy . Such systems allow you to set security features and restrict file access to specific team members. Share links to download paperwork as needed or forward on to clients. Uploading paperwork to the cloud also serves as a back-up to your important documents and files.

Automate tasks

Which tasks do you find yourself doing over and over? Email marketing and correspondence often tops the list. Outsource your  email marketing campaigns  to AWeber or Mail Chimp to automatically deploy specific marketing messages when a customer buys a specific product or inquires about your services online. Consider hiring a remote, virtual assistant to deal with spam, common email questions and client requests to filter and organize into appropriate folders. Simply log in and field important correspondence without ever seeing the mess.

Lease equipment

Skip the hassle of finding a lender to purchase your office equipment and  lease it instead . Negotiate a lease with a maintenance plan to save yourself time and money servicing your equipment and furniture repairs. Want the latest technology in your office? It may prove too expensive to purchase it yourself, but could be well within reach when leasing.

Hold yourself accountable

What are you really doing online at the office? Services like RescueTime can track and chart your daily habits online and time spent on applications. For example, it can tell you exactly how much time you spent on a client call or email, and generates reports to see exactly how you’ve spent your time. It also sets up alerts to let you know when you’ve spent a specific amount of time on an activity, and can even block distracting websites that might tempt you away from real work.

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

The best retail stores have a recipe for success that combines unmatched customer service with a product mix built to meet consumer needs. But why limit the customer experience to in-store visitors? A 2013 study by eMarketer estimates U.S. consumers spent $37.44 billion on retail purchases made via smartphones and tablets. More than sales, your Web prospects offer valuable insight into future marketing strategies. Taking an offline and online approach to leverage the customer experience can catapult your retail business to greater success.

Low-Cost Visibility

Customers seek instant access to wants and needs, be it a drive or click away. A study by Accenture confirms that  88 percent of shoppers look online for products  before deciding to go into a physical store to make a purchase. Not providing consumers with multiple purchasing platforms narrows the window of prospective buyers. Expand your reach without destroying your budget by adding an online shopping experience. In an instant gratification-driven market, transaction ease is key to profitability, regardless of the product. For example, mattress manufacturer Casper takes a digital approach to a once retail-only shopping experience. Rather than limiting mattress sales to in-store-only purchases, Casper expands its reach nationally with a hassle-free solution to bed buying. The appeal of online ordering and fast shipping is enhanced with cost-reduced options made possible, in part, by overhead cost savings.

Get Started Tip:  User-friendly website builders like  Weebly  provide easy shopping cart options that enable fast product uploads. To save time, the program templates are automatically optimized for mobile use.

Build your Brand

Becoming a household name, or even a neighborhood favorite, takes knowing your customer. An e-commerce platform acts as a testing ground for new products and marketing strategies to help you gather valuable insight into consumer needs. More than demographics, it’s imperative to mine personal data including customer likes, dislikes, life stage, and social interests. Take e-commerce giant Wayfair for example. According to Forbes, the company constantly probes and processes information about its customers to interact with them, anticipate their wishful thinking, personalize their home pages and turn search into a form of entertainment. The  Web-only furniture and home decor retailer  hit record numbers with a reported $1 billion in web sales in 2013. Powered by educated consumer observations, the company has expanded their brand portfolio to include Joss & Main, a flash sales site for upscale home goods.

Get Started Tip:  Use your e-commerce site to pinpoint your market. Web-based tools like Get Satisfaction enable small businesses to build online communities and provide a more social support experience to improve customer loyalty.

The Customer Experience

Adding an e-commerce platform doesn’t mean abandoning the brick-and-mortar strategy. Omni-channel retailing isn’t about creating one-way streets. It’s about connecting the cloud with physical space and streamlining the customer experience. Consider the strategy behind Warby Parker. An online retailer that offers $95 single-vision frames in 27 proprietary styles.  A simple concept that has grown  into a growing number of online sales. To enhance the customer experience, full service retail stores have opened New York City, Boston and Los Angeles. Complete with a photo booth that emails visitors their images and a tablet-based checkout, consumers can expect the same modern and engaged feel within Warby Parker’s physical store locations.

Get Started Tip:  More than meeting customers on their own terms and in their preferred platforms, your company culture should transcend across all platforms. Incorporate digital strategies in-store and promote online community by engaging in social media.

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

The following article is excerpted from  

Don’t Overpay Your Taxes: 5 Can’t Miss Small-Business Deductions

It’s tax time and whether they know it or not, small-business owners might be leaving hundreds, even thousands of dollars off the table.

“Numerous businesses overpay their taxes every year by overlooking various tax deductions,”   says Michael Raanan, a former IRS revenue officer who is president of Santa Ana, Calif.-based Landmark Tax Group.

In some cases, entrepreneurs simply aren’t aware of the deductions available. In others, they don’t keep detailed records or shy away from itemizing or complicated number crunching, habits that can be costly in the long run.

To save you headaches, money and time, we’ve reached out to our tax experts for oft-missed deductions to discuss with your tax professional as the IRS’ April 15 tax filing deadline approaches.

The 5 areas of tax deductions to consider include:  

1.) Business related meals & entertainment
2.) Automobile expenses
3.) Home office deduction
4.) Startup costs
5.) Employee expenses

To find out more, read the full story, “Don’t Overpay Your Taxes: 5 Can’t Miss Small-Business Deductions” .  And, as always, the KSBDC recommends that you consult with your local CPA or tax professional to maximize your legal business deductions while minimizing your chances of being audited.

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

As an entrepreneur, you tend to be all things to all people. You are the chief executive officer as well as the chief sales person and the chief light bulb changer. One of the keys to being a successful start-up owner is to understand you do not know everything. You need to surround yourself with good people who are experts in the areas you are not. Hiring an accountant will prevent you from making costly mistakes and may even help you make more money.

Keep The Feds Away

If you plan to have employees, then payroll and taxes become a significant issue. You can hire a payroll company to handle your payroll but they charge for the service and often need a cash reserve for new companies. Payroll and taxes are two areas you want to do right. People depend on their paychecks to survive and the IRS can charge as much as 25 percent in penalties for not depositing payroll taxes properly and within the allotted timeframe. Make sure your accountant has payroll knowledge during the hiring process.

Running Your Business

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants has defined some  best practices for accountants . An accountant organizes data and processes financial decisions. At the end of the day, you want to know how much money you make and how to make more. Your accountant’s job is to organize your revenue and expense information in such a way that you understand where your money comes from and who you need to pay. This allows you to make informed decisions about creating new revenue streams or cutting old expenses.

Financial Advisor

There is a difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant, one of the most important being that a  bookkeeper  does not prepare financial statements. When applying for a loan, you need financial statements. You also need them to attract investors, write a business plan, and for almost any other function of running a business. An accounting degree is not necessary to be a bookkeeper. But a degree and certification is necessary to  become an accountant .

Make Even More Money For You

For-profit businesses can take a page from the nonprofit sector when it comes to the financial officer’s role. One of the jobs of the accountant or the financial executive is to find more money for the company. One of your accountant’s job functions need to be researching other funding streams, including grants, government contracts, and other paperwork heavy revenue opportunities.

Kevin Norvell
Web Project Manager

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015
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By Robbi Meisel 22 Sep, 2015
LEXINGTON, Ky., (Sept. 22, 2015) –The Kentucky Small Business Development Center announced David Stevens, principal accountant, as the recipient of the 2015 Sutton Landry State Star for Kentucky. Stevens was recognized at a private reception during the recent America’s SBDC Conference in San Francisco.

The America’s SBDC honors a state star from each SBDC annually. The award is presented to an individual who is considered an example of excellence, makes a significant contribution to their center’s program and exhibits dedication to assisting small businesses.

“I was honored to accept the state star award at the ASBDC annual conference. I want to give special thanks to our State Director, Becky Naugle, for giving me this wonderful award and opportunity,” Stevens said. “In addition to receiving the award I was given a special tour of Silicon Valley visiting Intuit, Google and Facebook. It was a very educational opportunity which I will never forget.”

Naugle said, “This award is a wonderful way to honor David’s dedication and exemplary service to the small business community and KSBDC.”

Stevens began working at the University of Kentucky in 1980 and joined the KSBDC as the principal accountant in 1989. He is a UK graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.

His dedication to crunching the numbers, proposal preparation and superb budgeting has contributed to the many successes the organization has realized over the past three decades. During his tenure, the network of Kentucky SBDC offices has been noted for extraordinary work, receiving statewide recognition for performance and productivity.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 15 offices located throughout the state that helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, .

Photo provided by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center - 2015 State Star Award winners at ASBDC Conference in San Francisco, CA ©KSBDC

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.
By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky., (May 6, 2015)   – The commonwealth’s best were celebrated in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort on May 6 with an awards ceremony recognizing outstanding small businesses and small-business people. Kentucky Celebrates Small Business was presented by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, the Kentucky district office of the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Lexington chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

“Small Business Week is big in Kentucky! These three organizations share the mission of supporting and encouraging small business and are proud to celebrate the wonderful entrepreneurial talent in Kentucky,” said Becky Naugle, KSBDC director.KSBDC selects Kentucky Pacesetter businesses based on how the nominees are changing Kentucky’s economic landscape by introducing innovative products, increasing sales and/or production, boosting employment and serving their communities.

This year’s outstanding Kentucky Pacesetters are:
• A.C.E. Compressor Services Inc., Mayfield
• Green River Appliance, Owensboro
• Stewart and Stafford Inc., Pikeville
• Sustainment Solutions Inc., Lancaster

Each year, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes outstanding small businesses and entrepreneurs with awards across the country. The Small Business of the Year winner from each state has the opportunity to be acknowledged at both regional and national levels.

The 2015 Kentucky Small Business Administration award winners are:
• Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year: Scott Shinn, president and CEO of Sustainment Solutions Inc.
• Kentucky 8(a) Graduate of the Year: Kathy Mills, president and CEO of Strategic Communications
• Kentucky SBA Resource Partner of the Year: David Oetken, director of Small Business Development Center Louisville
• Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year: Mark Strother, president and CEO of Commercial Bank of Grayson
• Kentucky Home Based Business of the Year: Nicole Mueller, president and owner of Startup Productions LLC
• Kentucky Woman Small Business Advocate of the Year: Michelle Gorman, small business specialist at U.S. Bank of Bowling Green
• Kentucky Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Shane Hamilton, president and owner of Service Maids LLC

“Entrepreneurs are the engines who drive our economy forward,” said Ralph Ross, district director of the Kentucky office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Every year we honor them during Small Business Week, and this year we have an extra reason to celebrate. The Kentucky unemployment rate has dropped to 5.1 percent, and demand for SBA loans has increased 30 percent over last year. Our Kentucky entrepreneurs are hard at work, and we cannot thank them enough.”

The Lexington chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners strives to propel female entrepreneurs to spheres of economic, social and political influence through strengthening economic development, creating innovative and effective changes in the business culture, building strategic alliances and transforming public policies.

Their Winners’ Circle Award is presented annually to a Kentucky woman who has shown outstanding leadership, financial stamina and control, contributed to her community through time and resources, understands and resolves complex issues, and is dedicated to furthering women in business through personal support and mentoring. The 2015 recipient is Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven, past president of the American Medical Association and a Lexington-based infectious disease physician.

The chapter also presented the following awards:
• Woman Business Owner of the Year: Dr. Jennifer Fuson, owner of Lexington Women’s Health
• Member of the Year: Karen Boone, owner of Kreations by Karen
• Tribute Award: Ericka Harney, executive director of Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance
• Rising Star Award: Kelly King Bakehorn, owner and president of The Grand Reserve and The Barrel House
• Legacy Award: Kathy Gornik, president and CEO of Aperture Consulting

“With the latest census statistics showing that the majority of all workers in America are employed by small-business owners, we are reminded that small-business owners are the true unsung heroes of our times,” said Janey Moores, NAWBO Lexington chapter awards coordinator. “That same census also shows that women now own at least a third of all businesses in the U.S. As more and more women follow the dreams of their hearts by owning their own businesses, America grows stronger by the day and remains the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is a network of 15 offices located throughout the state. The center helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. For more information on KSBDC services, visit their website, .

Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-7668

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

By creekmoremarketing 31 Jul, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky., (April 22, 2015) – The Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center and Kentucky Small Business Development Center will host the first GovPro Conference on May 13 at The Campbell House in Lexington. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. and the conference will run until 4:30 p.m. EDT

“We are very excited to have Mildred Quinley from the Office of Small Business Utilization, U.S. General Services Administration as our luncheon speaker. The office of Small Business Utilization advocates for small businesses, and its mission is to promote increased access to GSA’s nationwide procurement opportunities,” said Dee Dee Harbut, Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center director.

Government procurement professionals from federal, state and local agencies will also be on hand at the trade show to talk about opportunities for small-business owners.

Spending more than $500 billion annually makes the U.S. government the largest consumer of products and services. From purchasing items as simple as soap to the construction of buildings to consulting services, the opportunities for businesses to expand their revenue through government contracts are vast. Networking and understanding the “how to” is the purpose of the GovPro conference.

“The Kentucky SBDC continues to strengthen the local economy by offering educational and networking opportunities such as the GovPro conference to small-business owners seeking to grow their revenues with government contracts,” said Shirie Hawkins, Bluegrass SBDC director.

Among the features of the conference will be the breakout sessions led by experienced professionals with solid working knowledge of the procurement process and regulations. Session topics will include: How to Market to the Federal Government, Construction and Architect-Engineer Contracts, An Insider’s Insight to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Accounting Requirements for Federal Contractors.

Along with the workshops, continental breakfast, lunch, a trade show and networking breaks are included for each registered participant. For more information about the GovPro conference or to register, visit or contact Kristy Coates at 859-257-7668. The deadline for registration is May 6.

The Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center falls under the Kentucky Small Business Development Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. KSBDC’s network of 15 offices located throughout the state helps existing and start-up businesses succeed by offering high quality, in-depth and hands-on services. KSBDC is a partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. More information on KSBDC services is available online at .

Writer: Roberta Meisel, 859-257-7668
UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

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