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Marketing Your Small Business Using Library Resources

Marketing is just one of the many responsibilities that the average small business owner juggles every day. InfusionSoft’s 2017 Small Business Marketing Trends report found that almost half (49 percent) of small business owners reported handling the marketing for their business. What’s more, in 2018, most small businesses reported that their greatest challenge was finding the time and resources to handle marketing.

The library has a variety of free resources that can help small business owners with major sales and marketing tasks. Databases such as Reference USA, Mergent Intellect, and Demographics Now can be accessed in the library, as well as from home with your Naperville library card number and PIN. You can use them to:

  • Identify potential competitors in a sales territory
  • Generate a list of prospective customers
  • Research demographic data for a market territory
  • Research market share by industry
  • Find trade show and trade association information
  • Create sales call scripts for prospects in a selected industry
  • Conduct competitive analysis

To learn more about these resources and others, check out this month’s NaperLaunch Marketing Series morning meetup on Marketing Using Library Resources, presented by Business Librarian Kent Palmer. (This two-part series will also be offered as an evening workshop in September.)

Can’t make it to the meetup? You can always make an appointment with a Business Services Team member for a one-on-one introduction to selected library resources.

Posted: 
Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 10:00am

Online Career Assistance and So Much More with Brainfuse JobNow!

Resume out of date? Haven't written a cover letter in years? If this sounds all too familiar, not to worry, the library can help!

Brainfuse JobNow! is a library online resource that provides live help combined with links to vetted internet resources to guide job seekers through the necessary tasks to get a job including building a resume, cover letter review, interview coaching, and personality & career assessments.

  • Expert resume and cover letter writing assistance, including resume templates available for download and resources for producing better resumes.
  • Carefully-selected job resources, including an exclusive partnership with eParachute.
  • The ability to connect to an expert JobNow! Coach to learn efficient job search strategies.
  • Live online job interview practice from JobNow! coaches.

Access Brainfuse JobNow! under the Resource and Services menu on the NPL website.

Posted: 
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 4:00pm

Increase your Social Security payments with these tips

Figuring out when to apply for Social Security benefits and what benefits you’ll be eligible for can be surprisingly complicated. The best strategy for maximizing your benefits depends on factors such as your marital status, age, earnings, and financial needs. The Balance recommends several Social Security calculators, including a free one from AARP, that can help you create a personalized claiming strategy.

In addition, because the amount of your payments depends on your earnings history and the age you sign up for benefits, a recent US News & World Report article suggests 10 ways to increase your Social Security benefit:

  1. Work for at least 35 years.
  2. Earn more (for example, by taking on a side job)
  3. Work until your full retirement age.
  4. Delay claiming until age 70.
  5. Claim spousal payments.
  6. Include family; if you have dependent children up to age 19, you may be able to secure additional payments for them.
  7. Don’t earn too much in retirement.
  8. Minimize Social Security taxes.
  9. Maximize survivor’s benefits.
  10. Make sure your work counts by keeping track of what you’re paying into the system before it’s time to retire.

For more on this topic, be sure to attend Maximizing Social Security Benefits on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in the Nichols Library Community Room. Mike Heatwole, certified financial planner and founder of the Dala Group, will discuss the various filing strategies available and how these strategies can provide monthly lifetime social security benefits higher than the standard filing options typically selected. Topics will include social security earned income limits and the taxation of social security benefits.

Posted: 
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 4:15pm

Coworking Works for Entrepreneurs

A recent article on The Balance Small Business website describes four reasons coworking spaces can be ideal for entrepreneurs. All of these benefits—and more—are available to members of NaperLaunch, the business startup services center and coworking space located at the Nichols Library in downtown Naperville.

Coworking space is inexpensive.

NaperLaunch is even better than inexpensive—it’s free! There is no charge to use the coworking space, and you don’t need to have a library card or to make a reservation in advance. Just come in, grab a seat, and start working.

Coworking facilities are all-inclusive.

In addition to offering free wireless Internet, electrical outlets, and a quiet place to get projects done, our coworking space is also adjacent to a wide selection of office equipment and computers with Microsoft Office for public use. Our Tech Buffet includes office equipment such as printers, copier, and fax machine, as well as laptops, a 3D printer, and a green screen and studio photography tent. You can also consult with experienced and knowledgeable library staff and access a variety of business databases and other online resources, books, and newspapers and magazines.

Coworking offers collaboration and synergy.

Working from home can be isolating and often full of distractions that impede productivity. Our 26-seat space allows entrepreneurs and small business owners to take phone calls, talk with other coworkers, and plug in laptops or other electronic devices. We’re open 12 hours every weekday and Sunday, plus 8 hours on Saturday to accommodate a variety of schedules and preferences. If you prefer working al fresco during the warmer months, we even have outdoor seating on the south side of the library.

Our location in the heart of downtown Naperville is also just steps away from restaurants, shopping, the 1.75-mile Riverwalk along the west branch of the DuPage River, and—coming soon—the tech-friendly Naperville Jaycees “smart park.”

Coworking spaces are ideal environments for networking with other entrepreneurs.

NaperLaunch is more than a coworking space—it’s also a community. Users can meet other innovators and entrepreneurs and share ideas, get help developing a business concept, and receive guidance with one-on-one mentoring or via roundtable discussions. We also offer regular workshops, meetups and classes on business basics like marketing and branding.

In addition, our 15-week NaperLaunch Academy offers a focused curriculum to help entrepreneurs develop fundamental business knowledge, improve salesmanship and leadership skills and learn the “lean startup process.”

For more information about NaperLaunch, visit our website or stop by the Nichols Library.

Posted: 
Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 3:45pm

Investing Those Tax Reform Savings

One of the most significant changes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be a 20% deduction for all pass-through businesses. (Businesses that pass income to the owner to pay the income taxes.) This means, as an example, if your revenue in 2018 was $500,000, you will pay taxes on only $400,000 of that revenue. In a 15% tax bracket, the savings will be about $4,500 on a gross basis and even on a net basis the savings will get your attention. It is anticipated that this will impact roughly 95% of the small businesses in the United States.

That sounds like good news, and, to be sure, it is! The more important question, however, may be what to do with those tax savings. One possibility is to pour it back into the business in some form of new business development or promotion – i.e. marketing.

Investing in the business when “surprise” funds become available should help to grow the business and increase future revenues for many years to come, thus magnifying the impact of the tax code changes.

That investment could come in various forms that could lead to increased production and sales. Here are some general ideas to consider:

  1. Hire additional staff who will potentially add operational productivity and increased sales. If the tax savings aren’t large enough to cover the increased salary, don’t forget to measure the value of the increased sales revenue. That increase may make up the difference. Adding staff to a well-run business, meaning one with operational efficiencies that will incrementally benefit from increased productivity and sales, will lead to increased profits.
  2. Spending a little more on an effective advertising campaign will likewise increase profits, as a result of increased sales.
  3. Maybe its time to expand the product line. Have customers been asking for something that you just couldn’t afford in the past? Now, with tax savings, perhaps its time to follow through on meeting those customer requests for slight enhancements in the product line.
  4. Not to be outdone, a service provider can also consider customer requests for additional services. Expanding service offerings that respond to customer needs will certainly increase sales.
  5. Perhaps a discount or coupon offering will get a lagging product or service into an upward tilting sales line. With some extra funds (tax savings) to cover the costs, perhaps a well-placed promotion will help that lagging product get the notoriety it needs.
  6. Another direction where tax savings could be spent is in expansion of a sales territory. If a lack of resources has limited your geographic reach in the past, perhaps now is a good time to expand to new territory.

The tax savings for the tax legislation may be the funding source needed to address some growth tactics that have been set aside in the past. Business owners that can take these steps will reap long-term benefits that will far outweigh the short-term increase in personal income.

While considering some of the marketing and promotional steps mentioned here, don’t forget to check out the SCORE/NaperLaunch Marketing Series workshops and meetups available each month at NaperLaunch.

Posted: 
Monday, January 14, 2019 - 11:00am