Is social media a good small business communication tool?

AZ Big Media | January 13, 2020

By Digital channels have completely changed the way businesses operate today. Branded websites, mobile apps, social media handles: All of these are virtually prerequisites for building brand awareness, driving sales, and improving customer loyalty. Even traditional brick-and-mortar stores rely on digital touch points in some fashion, whether that’s posting store hours and parking information on Google My Business or directly selling to a larger audience through e-commerce sites. For small- and medium-sized businesses, social media is one of the most intriguing technologies available at the moment, presenting a lot of potential as a communication platform. Is social media a good small business tool, and if so, how should it be used?

Spotlight

Would you hesitate to buy fire insurance for your lab or office building? Of course not. What about liability insurance in case someone slips on your steps? Same answer. But have you insured what could be your most valuable asset - your top employees? If not, you should consider key-person insurance. The know-how, judgment and experience that build a business are found in people, not equipment or machinery. The company president, its key scientist or other essential employee helps develop new products, attract investors and generate profits. Those people could be your most important asset.


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FINANCE

Lenovo Awards $100,000 in Grants to Minority-Owned Small Businesses Across Ontario

Lenovo | February 09, 2022

Today, Lenovo announced the ten Ontario-based recipients of its Evolve Small grant program aimed at providing relief to Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour-owned (BIPOC) small businesses navigating the challenges and impact of COVID-19. Issued in partnership with the Toronto Region Board of Trade (TRBOT), each small business will be awarded a CAD $10,000 grant. In addition, Lenovo is providing educational programming to all TRBOT member businesses, to help accelerate their digital adoption. Throughout the two-month application window, TRBOT received a total of 203 small business applicants that met eligibility requirements. All applications were reviewed by a panel of experts from TRBOT and grant recipients were selected based on their ability to demonstrate their business’s equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and their completion of one or more of TRBOT’s Recovery Activation Program (RAP) streams, an online support and education program designed to help businesses adapt to a more digital world during and after the pandemic. TRBOT launched its Recovery Activation Program (RAP) to help Canadian small businesses adapt to the increasing need for digital adoption that was accelerated by COVID-19. By focusing on attracting customers, improving supply-chain efficiencies, managing workforces virtually, and streamlining costs, RAP provides a comprehensive toolkit to support the long-term success of Toronto’s small business community “As the pandemic continues to impact us all, we recognize that small businesses, and especially minority-owned small businesses, have been hit the hardest and need support to survive and thrive. We hope that the funding provided through the grant program with the Toronto Region Board of Trade will provide relief to some of the businesses who have been impacted the most, and we look forward to seeing how these funds are used to innovate and build for the future.” Colin McIsaac, Vice President and General Manager, Lenovo Canada “The submissions we received show a remarkable range of engaged, passionate women and BIPOC entrepreneurs,” said Leigh Smout, President of the World Trade Centre Toronto. “Each of these grants, which Lenovo has made possible, will allow the recipients to grow their business and, in turn, their already-significant contributions to our regional economy and communities. We are proud to be associated with Lenovo and these amazing business leaders.” About Lenovo Lenovo is a US$60 billion revenue Fortune Global 500 company serving customers in 180 markets around the world. Focused on a bold vision to deliver smarter technology for all, we are developing world-changing technologies that power (through devices and infrastructure) and empower (through solutions, services and software) millions of customers every day and together create a more inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable digital society for everyone, everywhere. About Toronto Region Board of Trade The Toronto Region Board of Trade is one of the largest and most influential chambers of commerce in North America and is a catalyst for the region’s economic growth agenda. Backed by more than 13,500 members, we pursue policy change to drive the growth and competitiveness of the Toronto region, and facilitate market opportunities with programs, partnerships, and connections to help our members succeed – domestically and internationally.

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FINANCE

Crossroads Systems to Acquire Leading Small Business Lender, Fountainhead

Crossroads Systems Inc. | December 17, 2021

Crossroads Systems, Inc., a holding company focused on investing in businesses that promote economic vitality and community development, announced today that it has reached an agreement in principle to acquire Fountainhead, a leading national, non-bank, direct commercial lender specializing in business financing for small to midsize businesses. Founded by some of the most experienced and accomplished Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders in the industry, Fountainhead finances the growth of small business borrowers, in addition to working with referral partners at community banks, credit unions, and others through their industry-leading referral program. The Fountainhead team has collectively been involved in financing over $28 billion in total projects throughout their careers by providing SBA 7(a), SBA 504, and low loan-to-value (LTV) conventional loans across all 50 states and US territories. Fountainhead's SBA products provide capital to deserving small businesses through the SBA 7(a) program. Additionally, their SBA 504 and conventional loan programs provide low leveraged loan opportunities with up to 65% LTV first lien commercial real estate loans on owner-occupied/operated properties. Over the past nearly two years, Fountainhead has also operated at the forefront of providing aid to support America's small businesses through the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) effort. Since the inception of the program, Fountainhead has closed and funded nearly 300,000 PPP loans, becoming the nation's sixth most active PPP lender in 2021 alone. "Our acquisition of Fountainhead, a national SBA and major PPP lender, allows us to further diversify our small business product mix and offer more financing solutions to even more deserving businesses across the country. This combination, when added to our existing partnerships with Enhanced Capital Group and Rise Line Business Credit, two other leading nationwide lending firms, will enable us to capture additional SBA loan business which fit perfectly within our growing pipeline of small business opportunities. On behalf of our entire organization, I'd like to formally welcome Fountainhead to the Crossroads family." Eric Donnelly, CEO of Crossroads Fountainhead Founder and CEO, Chris Hurn added: "We could not have found a better partner to help us expand our mission of providing the smartest, fastest financing possible to owners of every well-run small to mid-sized business in America. We're looking forward to working alongside the Crossroads team over the coming months and years to make that a reality." This agreement was unanimously approved by the members of both Crossroads' and Fountainhead's Boards of Directors. The deal remains subject to the consent of and final approval by the SBA and is expected to close in the first half of 2022. Additional terms have not been disclosed. Fountainhead is one of only 14 nonbank lenders approved to make SBA 7(a) loans under its Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) license. Additionally, Fountainhead has one of SBA's Preferred Lender Partner (PLP) designations, which roughly 10% of participating SBA lenders earn. The PLP is the highest level of approval and status that a lender can hold, offering full delegation of lending authority. About Crossroads Systems, Inc. Crossroads Systems, Inc. is a holding company focused on investing in businesses that promote economic vitality and community development. Crossroads' subsidiary, Capital Plus Financial (CPF), is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Certified B-Corp, which supports Hispanic homeownership with a long-term, fixed-rate single-family mortgage product. About Fountainhead Fountainhead SBF and Fountainhead Commercial Capital (collectively, "Fountainhead") is a nationwide, non-bank, direct lender specializing in the SBA 7(a), SBA 504, and low LTV (<65%) conventional commercial real estate loans.

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MARKETING AND NETWORKING

B12 launches multi-user functionality, making it easier for professional service providers to work with their teams

B12 | May 05, 2022

To help professional service providers more easily scale their businesses, B12 continues to enhance its online platform, introducing the ability for customers to add team members to their accounts. This evolution of B12's platform enables business owners to invite staff, contractors, and other collaborators to their account, allowing for easier delegation of tasks, centralized oversight of client interactions, and greater team efficiency. "Small business owners work for themselves – but that doesn't always mean they work by themselves, Business growth is such a huge goal for entrepreneurs, and with growth often comes team expansion. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for businesses to grow with B12, and that meant making it easy for owners to work with their teams on B12." -Nitesh Banta, Co-Founder and CEO of B12 B12's new team-based subscription packages provide small business owners with an easy-to-use, all-in-one platform to help them better attract, win, and serve clients online. Designed to meet the specific needs of business owners offering professional services, key features include: A custom-built professional website: An AI-powered website builder creates industry-specific drafts that are then tailored by expert copywriters and designers. The result is a professional-looking, fully optimized website that showcases each business's unique identity in under 30 days. Tools to win and engage clients: Business owners have access to on-site conversion banners, email marketing, client intake forms, and online scheduling, all within B12. Support for business operations: Back-office tasks are streamlined with embedded invoicing, contract management, and the ability to accept eSignatures and online payments. When team members are added in B12, they have access to many of these tools. Specific access is based on the permissions granted by the business owner, which can be changed or removed at any time. This flexibility means that as a business evolves, so can the size and capabilities of its team. "How businesses work is chang While small businesses have core staff, they also do project-based work. When speaking with business owners, we realized that their definition of team included both full-time employees and contractors that pulse in and out of projects. To support the varied needs of small businesses, it was important to make our team tools flexible and adaptable, with as few constraints for owners as responsibly possible." -Adam Marcus, B12's Co-Founder and CTO The launch of B12's new team capabilities comes in conjunction with the company's celebration of National Small Business Week, which runs from May 2nd - May 7th. B12 is honoring the resiliency, persistence, and creativity of entrepreneurs across the country with free online events, resources, and customer recognition. To view past and upcoming activities, visit www.b12.io/nsbw-online-events-2022. About B12 B12 is a web-based platform for professional service providers that helps them attract, win, and serve clients online. Within 30 days, B12 sets customers up with a website backed by powerful tools to help busy owners manage all aspects of winning and working with clients – including appointment scheduling, client intake, contact management, contracts and eSignatures, and online payments. B12 has worked with more than 150,000 businesses and is powered by technology built by the team's MIT-, and Berkeley-trained researchers. The company's open-source automation system called Orchestra pairs experts and AI to make tasks 15x more efficient than other platforms. B12 was founded in 2015 and has raised $28.1M from VCs and investors, including Breyer Capital, General Catalyst, SV Angel, and Tola Capital. Visit www.b12.io to learn more.

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IMPACT

Uber and Visa Announce Grants For Growth Program, Providing $1 Million in Grants and Resources to Support Small Businesses

Uber | January 11, 2022

Uber and Visa today announced Grants for Growth, a program that will provide $1 million in grant funding to small businesses in 10 U.S. cities that are currently active on Uber Eats. The program will be administered by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Focused on restaurant recovery and entrepreneurship, the program was created to support merchants when they need it most. "We know that this year has been trying for many and that independently-owned businesses continue to face significant business challenges. From natural disasters to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber and Visa are committed to supporting SMBs, especially through unexpected events, when they may need us most." Sarfraz Maredia, VP of US and Canada Delivery at Uber Restaurants active on Uber Eats since January 1, 2022 in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Miami, Detroit, the NYC metro/New Jersey area, the San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, and Boston are eligible to apply for the program. Grant recipients will be independently selected by LISC, using criteria to give preference to veteran, minority, women, and LGBTQIA+ business owners. For a complete list of eligibility criteria visit lisc.org/uber. "Independent restaurants are a vital and vibrant part of their communities, and the pandemic continues to impact far too many of them," said Mary Ann Reilly, SVP and Head of North America Marketing, Visa. "Together with Uber, we're proud to help give merchants the support and funding they need, now." "The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce applauds our partners at Visa and Uber for launching this important grant program. Small businesses, especially minority-owned businesses, continue to struggle to survive during this pandemic and are working to overcome new challenges," said Ramiro A. Cavazos, President & CEO, USHCC. "As small businesses reopen their doors and look towards recovering, they need access to capital as well as resources and tools now more than ever before. This program comes at the perfect time." Through Grants for Growth, 100 merchants will receive grants of $10,000, which can be used toward immediate needs such as payroll, paying outstanding debt to vendors, upgrading payment technology infrastructure, and other immediate operational costs. In addition to financial support, selected merchants will receive placement in the Uber Eats app and disaster recovery and resiliency guides from Uber and LISC. Merchants interested in applying for the Grants for Growth program can apply at lisc.org/uber from January 17-24, 2022. About Uber Uber's mission is to create opportunity through movement. We started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get access to a ride at the touch of a button? More than 15 billion trips later, we're building products to get people closer to where they want to be. By changing how people, food, and things move through cities, Uber is a platform that opens up the world to new possibilities. About Visa Inc. Visa is a world leader in digital payments, facilitating more than 215 billion payments transactions between consumers, merchants, financial institutions and government entities across more than 200 countries and territories each year. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, convenient, reliable and secure payments network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. We believe that economies that include everyone everywhere, uplift everyone everywhere and see access as foundational to the future of money movement. Learn more at Visa.com. About LISC LISC is one the country's largest community development organizations, helping forge vibrant, resilient communities across America. We work with residents and partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and places can thrive. Since our founding in 1979, LISC has invested $24 billion to create more than 436,320 affordable homes and apartments and develop 74.4 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit www.lisc.org.

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Spotlight

Would you hesitate to buy fire insurance for your lab or office building? Of course not. What about liability insurance in case someone slips on your steps? Same answer. But have you insured what could be your most valuable asset - your top employees? If not, you should consider key-person insurance. The know-how, judgment and experience that build a business are found in people, not equipment or machinery. The company president, its key scientist or other essential employee helps develop new products, attract investors and generate profits. Those people could be your most important asset.

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