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Small businesses continue to face increased costs as a result of the U.S.-China Trade War. The conflict has been raging for almost a year now, claiming small business casualties with no sign of stopping.The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin dismissed official reports and stated that U.S. companies aren’t affected by the trade war. Numbers indicate that, while this may be true of large corporations, the effects on small family businesses are being overlooked in this assessment. The current tariff package has resulted in a 37% increase in expenditures. Each tariff cent inevitably trickles down to the end customer, which, in turn, leads to lower sales and a never-ending low-investment cycle.As a general rule, startups and small businesses are more sensitive to expenditure increases. Simply put, larger companies have more leverage when looking for new suppliers, while small businesses are more dependent on stable markets.Certain companies have tried to find a way around tariffs by stockpiling goods. While this is a wise short-term strategy, in the long run it may make small businesses rigid to market changes. As a result, small businesses could lose their main advantage over big players — flexibility.As fiery rhetoric continues from Washington D.C. and Beijing alike, it’s still uncertain how long the trade war will last. Nevertheless, one thing is evident — it is seriously harming American small businesses and startups.

By Milja September 16,2019

This holiday season, U.S. consumers are likely to spend up to 5% more compared to last year, according to a forecast recently published by Deloitte. Low unemployment rates and a growing economy are the leading causes of the projected growth.When the holiday season comes around, Americans go into a shopping frenzy. In the period between November 2018 and January 2019, U.S. consumers spent $1.09 trillion, which presented a 3.1% increase. This year, Deloitte predicts that seasonal spending will surpass $1.1 trillion. While retailers selling goods from brick-and-mortar stores can look forward to a spike in sales, online merchants can expect an even more significant boost. According to Deloitte’s analysts, e-commerce year-over-year sales growth will be between 14 and 18%. During the same three-month period last year, holiday spending increased by 11.2%. If this year’s predictions prove to be accurate, e-commerce holiday sales will reach $149 billion.“The projected holiday season growth is, in part, due to the current health of the labor market. Near record-low unemployment rates, coupled with continued monthly job creation, may encourage people to spend more during the holiday season,” said Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s U.S. economic forecaster.While some economists fear that the U.S.-China trade war will slow the economy down, Bachman reminds that the economy is still growing, albeit at a slower rate. “We continue to see consumer confidence elevated, which also helps boost holiday spending,” he adds.“Based on a growth in consumer disposable income and spending indicators, retailers, across channels, should expect a strong holiday season in 2019,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman of Deloitte. Sides notes that retailers have been striving to improve customer experience and increase their omnichannel efforts. “But, convenience is the new retail currency. Retailers who offer seamless experiences, have products available, and can deliver items more quickly than ever are most likely to win this holiday season.”

By Milja September 25,2019

The price of Bitcoin saw a sharp drop of more than 15% in the span of an hour, reaching the lowest point since mid-June. The dramatic decline happened yesterday afternoon as the price fell from $9,352.89 to below $7,800.While analysts foresee more Bitcoin struggle in the upcoming days, a recovery is likely based on similar developments seen in 2017. Cryptocurrency trader Marvin Chebbi writes: “A break down of the descending triangle doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the bull market. We had a similar price action in June ’17 with some sort of descending triangle formation (lower highs+equal lows) that broke down, found support a bit lower, ”This is not to say everyone is taking the drastic price drop lightly. The Crypto Fear & Greed Index, a crypto-market indicator, turned red today as it dropped down to 15, indicating “Extreme Fear” following Tuesday’s collapse. Financial analyst Peter Schiff also foresees more troubles for Bitcoin, writing “Bitcoin has finally broken below the support line of the large descending triangle it has been carving out for months. This is a very a down to $4,000 or lower!”Meanwhile, reports show that investors are turning to gold, which outperformed the leading cryptocurrency today. This turn of events comes in the wake of news that President Trump has allegedly contacted Ukrainian high officials about planning an interference in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections.One of Bitcoin’s main competitors, Ethereum, on the other hand, saw one of its most successful days last week, marked by a rise of over 10%. It is too early to tell whether this marks the beginning of a trend of if it is merely a momentary rebound.

By Milja September 25,2019

Women entrepreneurs have employed a distinctive set of at least seven business strategies to achieve success in startups.That’s the conclusion of a study of women entrepreneurs conducted by Bank of America and Babson College. The report, published on Oct. 17, 2019, delivers unique insights into the challenges and coping strategies of women at the helm of business. Instead of duplicating studies that document the difficulties women face attracting startup capital, the Babson/BofA report highlights useful techniques for overcoming challenges and transforming them into opportunities. In addition to the well-publicized lack of access to conventional funding, BofA and Babson found that women face challenges that include market misperceptions, network exclusion, and managing expansion. The strategies documented in the report help minimize the effects of all three.Based on interviews with more than 30 female entrepreneurs, the study identifies seven proven strategies successful women have used in launching and growing their businesses:They explore capital alternatives. Although venture capital funding is one of the fastest ways to accelerate business growth, fewer than 3% of women entrepreneurs use this sort of financing. Women choose other funding models not only because they have trouble attracting VC investments, but because other money sources allow them to retain more ownership and control of their businesses. They build for the long term. Growing a company is a marathon, not a sprint, respondents said. The interviewed women explained that they attributed much of their success to looking ahead while making short-term decisions.They develop a sustainable and talented workforce. Women entrepreneurs emphasize the importance of investing in employees. They organize seminars and workshops and try to create a positive working atmosphere that will pay off in the long run.They buy from and fund women-owned businesses. Purchasing products from women-owned companies is one of the best ways to help them grow their business, creating a network of firms that help each other. They mentor and seek mentorship. Mentoring comes in many forms - from organizing events and workshops to chatting during a coffee break. These are all great ways to learn new tricks and deepen your knowledge. They join or create networks. When it comes to promoting women-led businesses, more and more women-organized groups have come onto the scene. Creating networks allows women entrepreneurs to share their experiences and learn about new business trends. They utilize personal insights and experiences. Women have valuable insight into what it’s like to be a female consumer. They use their experience to form what this demographic is looking for in a product or service. These strategies emphasize that women can actually benefit by using unconventional business strategies and transform feminine “soft points” into strength. For example, instead of focusing on big purchases and collaboration with big investors, they are more likely to avoid them and concentrate on steady, incremental growth.

By Milja October 21,2019

The owners of small businesses and startups say finding more effective ways to increase workforce productivity is their main concern.That’s the bottom line from a report based on online interviews of 319 small-business owners. According to the study, 54% of them find "improving productivity and efficiency" the greatest challenge they face. The survey was conducted by Oasis, a professional employer organization that provides HR administration, employee benefits, healthcare management, payroll administration, and other services to small-business clients. Oasis is a subsidiary of Paychex.The survey revealed a handful of additional difficulties that small businesses struggle with:- 41% of owners say that attracting quality employees to join the business can be extremely difficult.- 33% are occupied with developing employees to be able to contribute at higher levels.- 33% say that keeping employees focused on what's most important for business can be challenging.“Administering payroll, complying with employment regulations, and offering competitive health benefits are specialized skills that require time and resources. These tasks can be a distraction from the work that needs to get done in acquiring customers and growing the business,” says Melissa Ness, a regional director at Oasis.Furthermore, according to POSQuote, Point of Sale Systems can increase productivity in retail businesses, such systems help manage payroll, sales reports, accounting and many other business functions.Although 87% of small-business owners think time spent on HR and work-related issues is crucial to establishing good workflow, many say they find these employee-related tasks overly time-consuming. Thirty-one percent of company owners say that they lose more than a quarter of their work time to these duties.To save time and resources, more and more small business owners are seeking to outsource these activities: attracting quality employees to join the business, leveraging software for better remote working collaboration, improving productivity and efficiency, and employee retention and engagement.

By Milja October 22,2019

Small businesses in industries sensitive to changes in the housing market are experiencing sales drops as fewer homes are sold — a result of higher home prices and a shortage of listings. Home prices have risen in 95% of cities, with the highest increase noted in the Mountain States, an area which includes Colorado, Arizona, and Idaho, among others. The city of Lansing, MI, experienced the most dramatic increase: 25.1% in year-to-year gains. Despite a promising rise in July and August, the number of existing-home sales fell in September by %2.2. With the median home price at $272,100, lower mortgage rates aren’t enough to entice buyers. Additionally, fewer people are putting their homes on the market. Many current homeowners purchased or refinanced their homes at a time when mortgage rates were lower than the present ones. Moving today would mean paying higher rates, which is disincentivizing.The drop in home purchases is creating a domino effect and impacting a wide array of small businesses. Most people renovate their homes before putting them on the market, so fewer sales mean less business for contractors, many of whom are small businesses. The decline is expected to continue into the third quarter of 2020. Chris Herbert, the managing director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, predicts: “Continued weakness in existing home sales and new construction will lead to sluggish remodeling activity next year.”Besides contractors, furniture sales outlets are also feeling the blow, as people are much more likely to purchase furniture when moving into a new home. The Commerce Department reports that sales are down 0.2% in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period last year. Appliance and electronics retailers aren’t faring any better, with sales down 3.9% for similar reasons. While these figures include retailers of all sizes, small businesses tend to mirror changes observed in their larger counterparts.

By Milja October 29,2019

Amazon is starting the Amazon Small Business Academy to help small businesses, startups, and small company owners to enhance their online presence and increase sales through a series of webinars and classes.That's the bottom line of the announcement released by Amazon yesterday. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses and startups make 99.9% of U.S. businesses. Almost 60 million people work for small companies, which makes this type of business vital for the U.S economy. Amazon's initiative includes a number of online seminars, meetings, and presentations created in order to educate entrepreneurs and help them empower their brands."Amazon Small Business Academy is focused on accelerating small business’ digital capabilities, whether they are a brand new company or one that has been in business for generations,” said Nicholas Denissen, Amazon Vice President of Small Business.The first seminar, held today in Mississippi, presented a special guest, U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker. Amazon hosted around 100 attendees introducing them to the newest business strategies and methods for growing sales.The next event is planned for December, but the location has not been announced. This will be followed by a series of in 2020 held across the United States.Additionally, Amazon Small Business Academy provides grants for supporting digital business courses that will start in February. The courses will be held by the following colleges: Ohio and North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene in Idaho; Bunker Hill Community College in Boston; State Center Community College in Fresno; Houston Community College in Houston; and Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood.The Amazon Small Business Academy also provides webinars aimed at helping small business owners develop digital competences and improve marketing skills. These webinars include information on how to increase sales in an Amazon store, and allow users to ask questions live and communicate with experts.Small businesses and startups sell 4,000 items every minute through Amazon stores. According to the latest statistics, 58% of Amazon's online sales are made by third-party sellers — small- and medium-sized companies. In order to help small businesses increase their sales online, Amazon released 150 tools and features in 2019 as part of their $15 billion investment in the success of their selling partners.

By Milja November 02,2019

Apple card users will now be able to purchase the newest iPhone models with zero-interest over a 24 month period.This Wednesday, Apple announced a new financial feature for iPhone users. In the next several months, Apple users will be able to purchase new iPhone models with zero percent interest for up to two years. Apple Card cardholders will be able to buy Apple products while avoiding traditional fees associated with credit card purchases. Moreover, the newest offer promises a 3% cashback after each iPhone purchase.This could be a starting point for a new "Apple Prime" subscription model. This model would be designed on the same principles as Amazon Prime, providing fast and free shipping."Apple Prime" would integrate a variety of existing Apple tools and features, such as Apple Music, iCloud, Apple TV+, Apple News+, and Apple Arcade in one subscription model. Apple hardware subscriptions would allow users to bundle additional Apple services such as AppleCare when purchasing Apple hardware.This comes as no surprise since Apple already provides a variety of cost-effective options. The company has already started with promotional plans for upgraded packages. For example, the existing student Music Plan now comes with Apple Music and Apple Plus features, while the monthly price stays at $5.Apple trade-ins, one of the company’s promotions which has been on the table for a while now, allows users to buy the newest model of the iPhone for a much lower price. At the official promotion of the new iPhone 11, in September 2019, Apple announced a cost-effective solution for users who already have the latest version of the iPhone. Apple emphasized that the iPhone 11 could be purchased for only $399 instead of $699 if an iPhone 8 was traded in for it. On a monthly level, the costs of purchasing would be only $17. Trading in an iPhone X for iPhone 11 Pro would bring the monthly payment down to $25.

By Milja November 02,2019