100 episodes

The Small Biz Ahead podcast is a weekly podcast that answers small business owner's most common questions. Hosted by Elizabeth Larkin and small business owner and expert Gene Marks, this weekly podcast will help you to run your business more efficiently. Topics include cash flow management, managing employees, customer service and retention, productivity, and generating new leads for your small business.

Small Biz Ahead | Small Business | Starting a Business The Hartford

    • Business
    • 4.6 • 28 Ratings

The Small Biz Ahead podcast is a weekly podcast that answers small business owner's most common questions. Hosted by Elizabeth Larkin and small business owner and expert Gene Marks, this weekly podcast will help you to run your business more efficiently. Topics include cash flow management, managing employees, customer service and retention, productivity, and generating new leads for your small business.

    How to Guide Your Food Manufacturing Business Through COVID-19

    How to Guide Your Food Manufacturing Business Through COVID-19

    Are you the owner of a food manufacturing business that is struggling due to COVID-19? While this global health crisis has certainly transformed the food industry, these changes don't necessarily have to impact your small business in a negative way. In this episode, Jon Aidukonis and Gene Marks, along with SNACKLINS® founder, Samy Kobrosly, discuss how business owners can actually capitalize on the recent developments in both the food manufacturing and distribution industries.

















    Executive Summary







    0:39—Today's Topic: What is The Future of Food Manufacturing and Distribution?








    4:04—Although grocery shopping continues to embrace the e-commerce trend, many consumers find themselves yearning for the more traditional experiences offered by a physical store.








    6:57—If you own a food manufacturing business, your product needs to be available through a variety of different distribution channels so that you can reach as many customers as possible.








    8:35—One of the benefits of running a smaller business is that you can implement changes faster than your larger counterparts.








    10:34—If you don't have the capital or resources to utilize every distribution channel, focus on the ones that are most popular among your client base.








    12:34—The major drawback to online shopping are the delivery costs.








    15:03—To ensure the integrity of their products, food manufacturers should only allow the core processes to be conducted at their in-house facilities; all other aspects of production should be outsourced to specialized processing plants.








    Links







    SNACKLINS®







    Transcript







    The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are for informational purposes only, and solely those of the podcast participants, contributors and guests, and do not constitute an endorsement by or necessarily represent the views of The Hartford or its affiliates.








    You're listening to the Small Biz Ahead podcast brought to you by The Hartford.








    Jon: Good morning, and welcome back to another episode of Small Biz Ahead, the small business podcast presented by The Hartford. This is Jon. I am joined by my co-host Gene Marks, and we have a very special guest — Samy Kobrosly of SNACKLINS. And we are here to talk a little bit about food manufacturing in a post-COVID world.








    Samy: First off, let's give you a round of applause. That's the first, that's the best pronunciation of my last name of all time.








    Jon: Samy, how does your mom pronounce it again?








    Samy: So I'm from Tunisia originally, so it's Kobrosly, but you didn't slaughter it, and I'll take that all day long, man.








    Jon: Thank you very much.








    Gene: Hey Samy, this is Gene talking. So tell us a little bit about SNACKLINS. First of all, tell us about the company and also what you do at the company?








    Samy: Yeah, so SNACKLINS is probably the biggest joke that's gotten really out of hand at this point. It really started off as me being a Muslim. I never had a pork rind, and friends of mine would tease me and be like, "Oh man, you should make a vegan pork rind. That'd be hilarious." And so this joke to make a vegan pork rind ended up working one day. When we had it, we realized that it was more than just plant-based. It was this crunchy, airy, salty,

    • 19 min
    Tips to Help Lower Your Business Taxes in 2020

    Tips to Help Lower Your Business Taxes in 2020

    For the millions of small businesses that are struggling due to COVID-19, preparing for this year's taxes might seem like the last thing on their minds. Yet, as difficult as it might be to examine your finances right now, taking the time to explore all your options with an accountant can ultimately save you a lot of money in the long run. In today's episode, Jon Aidukonis and Gene Marks discuss several policies that can help you defer and lower your business taxes for 2020.
















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    Executive Summary







    0:29—Today's Topic: What Should Small Business Owners Do to Prepare for Their 2020 Taxes?








    1:46—If your business participated in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and took out a loan, keep in mind that while the forgiveness of the loan is not taxable, the expenses that you incurred while applying for forgiveness are not deductible either. Failure to discuss this with your accountant can result in a significant tax bill at the end of this year.








    5:04—Business owners who are paying payroll taxes have the option of deferring half of that payment until the following tax year, without incurring any additional interest.








    5:59—According to the Employee Retention Tax Credit Policy, businesses that experienced a 50% or more decrease in revenues this year, quarter by quarter, are eligible for a tax credit of up to $5,000 per employee, per quarter. Only businesses that did not participate in the Payment Protection Program are eligible for this tax credit.








    6:58—Under the Emergency Family Leave Act, small business owners must continue to pay their employees, even when they cannot work due to COVID-19. However, you can still receive tax credit for their wages once the year is over.








    12:17—Talk to your accountant about the Acceleration Depreciation policy, which qualifies your business for a deduction on any capital equipment that you purchased.








    13:36—Small business owners should look into developing a Cash Balance Defined Benefit Plan because it would enable them to qualify for numerous deductibles while also saving for retirement.








    14:37—Business owners who have been investing in new products or designs can apply for the Research and Development Tax Credit.








    Links







    Payment Protection Programa href="https://www.irs.

    • 19 min
    How to Successfully Distinguish Your B2B Small Business

    How to Successfully Distinguish Your B2B Small Business

    For many small businesses that operate on a B2B (business-to-business) model, the process of transitioning to the virtual marketplace can pose a unique set of challenges. Unlike their B2C (business-to-consumer) counterparts who can successfully market themselves to a broader audience, owners of a B2B business not only have to target a specific client base, but they also have to stand out from their competition. In this episode, Jon Aidukonis and Gene Marks along with special guest, John Davis, offer advice on how to distinguish yourself as a B2B-oriented small business online.
















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    Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS








    Executive Summary







    0:45—Today's Topic: How Do I Navigate the Online Marketplace as a B2B-Oriented Small Business?








    3:08—As the owner of a small B2B business, you need to find an effective way of holding your meetings online. If you need to conduct business onsite for any reason, make sure you have the proper safety measures in place to protect both yourself and your clients.








    5:18—Because almost all business is done online, B2B businesses with an e-commerce component need to have a prominent SEO presence so that they will be among the first results that their prospective clients see after conducting an online search.








    7:15—Due to the expenses and challenges associated with SEO optimization, B2B businesses should not be afraid to target their prospective clients directly, either through personal connections or social media.








    8:41—LinkedIn can serve as a valuable resource for B2B marketing because it allows you to reach a very specific client base. You can increase your chances of making a strong impression by presenting yourself as an influencer or thought leader in your field.








    10:40—Content creation, whether through blogs or videos, is another way that you can further distinguish your brand. However, you need to produce it on a consistent basis to keep your audience engaged.








    12:18—While you do need a certain level of production value when you're producing creative content, don't try to overwhelm your audience with distracting visuals. Instead, you should focus on making an authentic connection with your storytelling.








    16:19—Because convenience is such a high priority these days, you need an online sales channel just to stay competitive. However, if most of your clients purchase your products through another channel, either due to contracts or rebates, your focus should be ensuring that these arrangements ...

    • 23 min
    How to Move Your Small Business Online

    How to Move Your Small Business Online

    Are you a small business owner who wants to move their operations online? While adapting your business to the e-commerce marketplace seems fairly straightforward, there's more to running a successful virtual storefront than simply setting up a website. In this episode, Jon Aidukonis and Gene Marks discuss the most important factors you need to consider when transitioning your small business to an online sales environment.
















    Podcast: Play in new window | Download








    Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | RSS








    Executive Summary







    0:30—Today's Topic: Should I Move My Small Business Online?








    3:37—Before you move your small business to the virtual marketplace, you need to consider whether your target audience is likely to purchase your products or services online.








    5:35—If you strongly believe that your business would succeed in an online sales environment, then you need to invest in the proper inventory and bookkeeping tools. The best apps to use are those that can not only integrate into your existing system, but will seamlessly bridge your online platform with your physical storefront.








    8:24—Because an online business will enable you to reach a larger client base, you need to familiarize yourself with the various shipping taxes of each state. You'll also need to budget and price your goods and services accordingly in order to maintain your profit margins.








    11:46—If you decide to use an existing online sales platform to host your business, you'll need one of your employees to manage your business's merchant site. Failure to provide an accurate account of your current inventory or communicate with your clients can result in severe penalties from the hosting sales platform.








    14:31—Apart from maintaining your merchant site, business owners who use an intermediary sales platform will also need to invest in their advertising if they want to stand apart from all their competitors.








    15:57—For those with a limited advertising budget, consider using your social media accounts to drive your target audience back to your primary website so that they can purchase directly from your business.








    Links







    Shopifya href="https://www.bigcommerce.com/dm/ecommerce-platform-brand-sem/?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google_Se...

    • 22 min
    Stay Informed About COVID Procedures with Epidemiologist Dr. Trivedi

    Stay Informed About COVID Procedures with Epidemiologist Dr. Trivedi

    Over the past year, there's been a lot of debate regardingboth the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Most of this uncertainty has been due to the ever-changing data surrounding this fatal disease. Still, as difficult as it might be to keep up with the latest CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) findings, small business owners must stay informed if they want to ensure the safety of both their staff and their customers. In this episode, Jon Aidukonis and Gene Marks, along with special guest and epidemiologist Dr.Kavita Trivedi, discuss how small business owners can adjust their current practices to comply with the most recent CDC updates.

















    Executive Summary







    1:21—Today's Topic: How Do I Adapt My Small Business to Conform to CDC Guidelines?








    2:53—If you are symptomatic, the CDC strongly suggests that you get tested to prevent the spread of this virus and continue to isolate yourself in the event of a false negative.








    3:55—The most accurate form of testing for screening purposes is a rapid antigens test that provides immediate results, rather than the PCR or the serology antibody tests. It should be administered by a healthcare provider every couple of days.








    11:58—Because this virus has exhibited unpredictable behavior by medical standards, rushing to resume “business as usual" could lead to a resurgence of infection rates.








    17:12—While cleaning surfaces can certainly help prevent contamination, your business needs to focus more on preventing person-to-person transmission by encouraging your employees to wear masks, observe social distancing and stay home when they are sick.








    21:32—Although restaurants and businesses can legally resume indoor activity in a limited capacity, you need to assess whether your client base is actually comfortable with those conditions. Your business might need to adjust its practices to accommodate both your customers' needs as well as CDC regulations.








    24:13—Even though there is a COVID vaccine currently in the works, there is no way to speed up the process without compromising its safety or efficacy.








    27:33—In lieu of a vaccine, the medical community has used therapeutics to help alleviate some of the symptoms of this virus.








    30:31—Right now, it's best to hold off on attending any business trips unless they are absolutely necessary. If you must travel, do not touch or remove your face mask for the duration of your flight; be sure to wear a face shield in addition to a mask if the airline doesn't observe social distancing.








    Links







    Trivedi ConsultsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention







    Transcript







    The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are for informational purposes only, and solely those of the podcast participants, contributors and guests, and do not constitute an endorsement by or necessarily represent the views of The Hartford or its affiliates.








    You're listening to the Small Biz Ahead podcast, brought to you by The Hartford.








    Gene: Hey everybody. This is Gene Marks with John Aidunkonis from The Hartford, and welcome to The Hartford Small Business podcast. We are really pleased to be here and talking to you about all things today about keeping your business safe and healthy with our favorite guest here, Kavita Trivedi. Kavita is an epidemiologist. I always have a hard time pronouncing that, Kavita.

    • 34 min
    Can My Small Business Benefit from Chatbot Technology?

    Can My Small Business Benefit from Chatbot Technology?

    Does your small business have a marketing or traffic funnel that it's struggling to manage? Then, perhaps, it's time to invest in some form of automation technology. From generating leads to addressing inquiries, modern chatbots have evolved to the point that they are now capable of handling a variety of different customer interactions. In this episode, Gene Marks and Jon Aidunkonis, along with special guest Arvell Craig, discuss how small business owners can use all this new chatbot technology to their advantage.





    Executive Summary

    0:39—Today's Topic: How Can Chatbots Help My Small Business?



    2:29—A chatbot is essentially any software or program that can respond to inquiries in a friendly, human-like manner.



    4:33—Chatbots allow your business to quickly engage with a larger audience without sacrificing the individual attention given to each customer.



    7:04—While a chatbot can never fully replace your business's customer service department, it can function as a “decision tree" to help your customers pinpoint their exact needs before they have access a live representative.



    12:25—Not only can a chatbot can be programmed to respond through a variety of different mediums, but it can also be programmed to recognize your customers' intentions based on the specific platforms they accessed.



    15:33—Chatbots can significantly boost the amount of leads that your business generates if you program them to handle customer interactions during off-peak business hours.



    16:15—The average price of a chatbot can range anywhere between $500 - $2,5000 per month.

    Links



    Chatbot Funnels

    How to Build Chatbots



    Transcript

    Jon: Hello, and welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead podcast. My name is Jon Aidukonis with The Hartford. I'm here with Gene Marks from The Marks Group.



    Gene: Hello, hello.



    Jon: And Arvell Craig, who's here to talk to us about automation and chatbots. Arvell, how are you?



    Arvell: I am doing wonderful. Thank you. How are you?



    Jon: Awesome. Great, thanks. Thanks for joining us today. So maybe we can jump right in, and if you want to tell us a little bit about your business and then we can get right into talking about what a chatbot is.



    Gene: What the heck, a chatbot, we all want to know. We know, right Jon? You know what it is, but we're going to learn a little bit more. Go ahead, Arvell.



    Arvell: Yes, thank you. No, I'm so excited to be here and I appreciate you guys for inviting me to talk, and talk to your audience about my favorite topic, which is chatbots. The company that I'm with, that I started, is called Chatbot Funnels. What we do, we use chatbot to help small businesses who have a marketing funnel, or a sales funnel, or some kind of process where they're taking leads to capture them, talk to them online, and then hopefully book a meeting and make a sale. We use chatbot technology, and we'll get into it more, to help them to expedite that process. And we do a little bit of training, a little bit of teaching as well, those who want to learn and do it themselves.



    Gene: Let's talk a little bit about chatbots. Now here's my experience with chatbots, right? So I have a little dog who's a foster, very sick little dog, and we have all these drugs that we buy for the dog on CVS. So I am constantly getting text messages from CVS saying that Lavender's prescription is... By the way, her name is Lavender. I did not name the dog lavender, that was my wife. But anyway, so we get these little texts saying the prescription is due, and then I respond back, "Sure, please renew." And then I'll get another text back, "You've ran out of renewals, can we contact your vet?" And I'll say, "Sure,

    • 21 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
28 Ratings

28 Ratings

Great practical advice ,

Great practical advice

Great practical advice and an enjoyable format from two of the best people you could ever want to hear talking about small business.

james meehan ,

questionable advice

Just as an example the hosts recommended becoming a home inspector as an easy side business to start. They think it’s a weekend class to be certified but actually takes years of training.

PGSAtlanta ,

Real World Advice!

I really enjoy this podcast and how applicable it is to where I am with my small business. There are a lot of folks out there that talk about theory and strategy from a big picture perspective, and that's fine, but not nearly as useful to me as the very basic suggestions Gene and Elizabeth provide. Gene has been where many small biz people are and it's apparent in his real world examples and how he continually brings the discussion back to the all important bottom line.

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