Most Clicked SmartBrief on Main Street Stories

1. How to read profit-and-loss statements

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 25, 2015

Monthly profit-and-loss statements should help small businesses gauge how they're doing, but many entrepreneurs are unsure of how to interpret these reports. Doug and Polly White of Whitestone Partners offer pointers on how to make sense of these vital numbers. Entrepreneur online (03/24)

2. Is your brand boring your customers?

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 23, 2015

To actually connect with customers, small-business owners need to do more than simply drone on about the benefits and features their products provide, writes Lev Kaye, CEO of CredSpark. A strategy revamp may be needed if a business isn't responding to customers' questions or tracking relevant data, Kaye writes. Entrepreneur online (03/20)

3. Survival products power 13-year-old's business

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 24, 2015

While his peers were on spring break, 13-year-old Grayson Davey was searching for employees for his business, Alaska Paracord Designs. His products, which are designed for wilderness survival, have generated more than $40,000 in sales. Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage) (03/22)

4. Building a happier team on a budget

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 24, 2015

Instead of throwing cash at disengaged employees, look for other ways to keep staff happy, writes Bhavin Parikh, CEO of Magoosh. Others suggest ensuring that employees have ownership over their assignments, and setting clear expectations for their work. "[I]t comes down to showing people how their work and contributions impact the success of the entire firm," says Jim Harter of Gallup. Fast Company online (03/20)

5. Google program will support small-business listings creation

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 26, 2015

Google has begun Let's Put Our Cities on the Map, a program designed to help small businesses create listings that will give them an online presence. Google has created 30,000 custom websites, one for "virtually every town and city in the U.S.," with instructions to help companies create searchable listings. Businesses can also see how they show up in Google Search and on Google Maps. USA Today (03/25) Entrepreneur online (03/25)

6. Lobster cravings lead to burgeoning franchise business

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 27, 2015

Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac say they jumped on the food-truck craze to create Cousins Maine Lobster in Los Angeles after they realized good lobster was hard to find there. Barbara Corcoran, a judge on TV's "Shark Tank," invested $55,000 in the concept, and the business pursued franchising. The company now has 10 franchisees and has generated more than $8 million in revenue since 2012. Entrepreneur magazine (03/2015)

7. How outsourcing could help your business

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 27, 2015

Outsourcing can offer significant advantages, but it's important to determine whether it is the right solution for your business. Shahira Raineri reviews seven of the key benefits of outsourcing, including potential cost savings and increased efficiency. (03/22)

8. Study links word choice to e-mail open rates

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 23, 2015

Certain words may significantly affect e-mail open rates, a Sidekick study suggests. For instance, the word "free" was associated with higher open rates, whereas "you" was linked to lower open rates. The report was based on one-to-one e-mails rather than messages sent to lists of people. MarketingProfs (03/18)

9. S.D. entrepreneur creates customized shoe designs

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 25, 2015

Augustana College student Brianne Bernard has created a business customizing shoes with acrylic paint. Her designs cost $45 to $50, and she maintains a Facebook page to stay in touch with customers. "Networking is everything. You tell your friend who tells a friend who tells a friend," Bernard says. Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, S.D.) (tiered subscription model) (03/24)

10. How to improve your employee reviews

SmartBrief on Main Street | Mar 23, 2015

Small businesses shouldn't neglect employee reviews, as they offer a valuable opportunity to develop your employees, writes Christian Brim. Conduct interviews more than once a year, and use standardized forms to allow employees and employers to rate performance. Afterward, come up with a plan employees can follow to improve their skills. Small Business Trends (03/22)

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