With November rapidly approaching and the candidates for President finalized, it's clear that small businesses are going to be at the heart of many political messages in the coming months. Even this week Republican nominee Mitt Romney took President Barack Obama to task for his small business record. Citing the standard political playbook for small business messaging, regardless of party, Romney outlined his plan to help small businesses grow if elected president. He promised to "lower taxes, block health care reform and weed out cumbersome federal regulations." As I've written before, small businesses are a convenient group to talk about during elections, how much help they'll actually get is up for debate.
But, having the news spotlight on small businesses is never a bad thing, and there have been several interesting stories this week that are worth a read. These range from survey data around the growing number of immigrant owned businesses, how small businesses can use Pinterest if they choose, and how you can take the search engine temperature of your website in order to see how Google is ranking it.
According to a report released by the Fiscal Policy Institute, the share of U.S. small businesses owned by immigrants has expanded by 50 percent since 1990, with almost one-fifth of business owners born outside the country. In 2010, the foreign-born share of the workforce had grown to 16 percent, and immigrants made up 18 percent of small business owners. Breaking down by industry, the largest number of immigrant business owners are in the professional and business services sector (141,000 business owners), followed by retail (121,000), construction (121,000), educational and social services (100,000), and leisure and hospitality (100,000).
Yelp helps power Microsoft Bing local search results:
This is a big deal for small business owners, many of whom aren't on Yelp or haven't paid any attention to it. I've talked in the past about the importance of tackling complaints head on in online review forums, and Yelp is at the top of the list. Now that its reviews and content will help power search results for one of the growing search engines, it's important that you at the very least know what's going on in terms of your business on the site. TJ McCue argues that this announcement isn't a bad thing for small businesses, but others disagree.
In this story from the Washington Post, contributor Scott Benson takes you through a step by step process to see exactly how your website is doing in relation to Google, including local search and for specific keywords you're looking to rank on. He walks through some of the tools that Google provides in order to monitor and manage the SEO health of your site, and demystifies some of the complexity around this issue. As SEO is such a hot topic for small businesses, especially on a local level, this is a great read full of insight.
Personally I'm not convinced that Pinterest is going to end up being a viable social channel for small businesses. I would advise any small business looking to start out in social media to still check out Facebook and Twitter first, in that order. But there's no denying the rapid growth of Pinterest, which has quickly become the most popular image sharing site on the web. In this piece, a step by step guide on how to get started and how it could work for small businesses is worth a look.
Have you been working a lot longer at your small business? Chances are you aren't alone, at least according to a survey released by Sage, which cited 42% of small businesses are working more hours than they were five years ago. A further 70% are working nights and weekends. There have been similar studies done in relation to longer work days for small businesses, and one thing seems to be true: you aren't working shorter hours and taking more time off. Let's hope that hard work equates to more money and more customers.
What small business stories have you read this week? Feel free to pass them along in the comments section.
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Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.