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How to Host an Online Workshop

virtual workshop

Work from home pivoted how work is done. One benefit is that meetings can now be done virtually. And this applies to events and workshops too! Read on for details on how to host a virtual workshop.

Before the Workshop

So you have a topic in mind, the time blocked off, and the research completed. Now it’s time to create a registration page. Luckily you can customize the workshop page in Zoom to match your branding.

In the registration description you can include event details, instructions on what attendees need to prepare, or even prompt them with questions to think about and ask during the event.

Next you’ll want to configure Zoom to your preferences. This means including a waiting room, polls, breakout rooms, and more.

Last but not least, be sure to promote the event via your social media channels.

Holding the Workshop

Now it’s time to hold your workshop. To start, provide instructions to attendees about what to do in case their connection drops. It also helps if you have a co-host to allow attendees in who may be running late.

To drive engagement throughout your session, include interactive elements. The best way to do this is to include polls throughout your session. Of course, something as simple as a gif or providing a 5 minute break works as well.

At the end of the workshop, send a feedback form so each event can get better than the last. Of course you can do some of this too by asking yourself what did you do well, what can you do better, what questions you couldn’t answer, etc.

And to follow up, a simple thank you email is sufficient, including any material attendees requested.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Small Business Guide to Blogging

blogging

Isn’t it ironic that you can read a guide to blogging from a blog? Every small business should have one—read on to find out how to start yours.

Blogging 101

The first thing to know about blogging is that your customers are your readers. So blog for them!

Second, the content you’re blogging about should be constructive. It’s easy to think of blog ideas when you think of what you’d like to know. Topics can include day-to-day problems, social media tips, display ideas, inventory management, what gets you inspired (including self-help books and self-care strategies), the list is endless really.

Third, you don’t have to write a lot, but you should post often. When it comes to blogging consistent content is more important than thorough content. Speaking of content, people are visual thinkers and learners so images are important. Believe it or not, a catchy title can go a long way as well.

Finally, get the whole team involved. Your blog will go places further than you imagined when you bring in others to help.

Executing your blog

The easiest way to stay consistent with blog posts is to plan them out. A great way to plan your content is to become inspired by customers! What questions have they been asking lately? Is there any sort of product that seems to be in higher demand?

Similar to your physical store, you should interact with your customers online. That is, if someone comments, respond!

Last but not least, analyze your readership numbers. If something doesn’t seem to be working, try something new to see if that fixes it.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Finding Your Financial Sweet Spot

Growing a business is hard but it shouldn’t be impossible. Read on to find your company’s sweet spot and accomplish your financial goals.

The Sweet Spot

According to “The Pumpkin Plan” by Mike Michalowizc, there is something called the sweet spot that helps you grow your business. Just like growing a large pumpkin requires the right seed, growing a company requires the right strategy. That’s where the sweet spot comes in.

There are three elements of the sweet spot including top customers, unique offering, and systemization.

Customers

As you know, top customers aren’t the people who buy the most. Top customers are the people you want to work the most with. Make it a goal to find top customers. Then work feels like helping a friend.

Unique Offering

Your unique offering sets you apart from competitors. Michalowizc refers to it as your AOI or Area of Innovation. The Area of Innovation consist of three things: quality, price, and convenience. Try to focus on one. If you focus on two, it can cause you to fail.

Note, focusing on price is a slippery slope. It’s a long, uphill battle and can be very difficult. So ask yourself, do you want to be BMW (quality), Walmart (price), or Amazon (convenience)?

Systemization

Last but not least, systemize. This means optimizing your employees, technology, and processes to be as efficient as they can be.

Inspiration for this post came from “Finding Your Sweet Spot” by Jacob Curtis, CPA published in the June 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Online Advertising with Digital Agencies

digital agency

Here at AQR we believe in providing you with all of your options. If you’re looking for help with digital advertising consider looking into a digital agency. Read on for what digital agencies are and how they can help you.

What is a digital agency?

Digital agencies help you advertise digitally. There are three primary ways to advertise online:

  1. Social Media: Social platforms allow paid advertising to help you get your message in front of new audiences, generate new leads, gain page likes, or increase website traffic. This is the easiest option of the three.
  2. Search: Search engines (like Google or Bing) allow advertisers to pay to show ads above or below organic search results. Bids are placed on keywords so when searched, you show up on the results page. Advertisers are only charged if the user clicks the ad.
  3. Website Remarketing: Website remarketing is a great trick to reengage past website visitors. This tactic places ads in front of a targeted audience and is a great cost-effective tool for small businesses.

Why do I need one?

In a sentence, digital agencies outsource online marketing for you. This means you can continuously advertise, even when you’re on vacation.

Additionally, the process can be time consuming. Setting advertising goals can be outside of your scope of knowledge. Search advertisements use detailed data and analytics. A digital agency will do all of this for you as well as use the data to optimize campaign results and keep track of status updates.

In conclusion, if this sounds like something you can benefit from, make an appointment with a trusted digital agency to receive advice on what would be best for your business.

Inspiration for this post came from “Get Vacation Ready” by Lillie Huhndorf in the June 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Monthly Planning

monthly planning

Take control of your time through planning.

This post is for anyone feeling overwhelmed and like they never have the time to get projects done. Read on for tips on how to can clean your calendar and schedule the time to reach your goals.

Start Fresh

Similar to any cleaning project, what’s the first thing you do? Empty it out of course! Emptying your calendar is a little more difficult than that, but there is a work around.

First, start with a blank calendar. Next, fill in nonnegotiables, like working out, picking up kids, etc. Then block off any appointments that happen each week. Finally, fill in projects that move you and your business forward. The time this takes will vary person-to-person, but make sure it becomes a date on the calendar and not just something to do someday.

Last but not least, finish with your tasks. This can be working on books, social media, marketing, etc. If any of these can be made into categories put them on the calendar on days you’d like to complete them. The best part about this piece is that some tasks only need to be done once or twice a month.

Planning Around Your Schedule

Now, reality sets in. It’s time to compare your ideal calendar with what’s really happening. Is there anything you can move to be more intentional with your time? Can anything be integrated so you can be closer to the ideal?

Patience is key here as the ideal is just a goal. Remember, you control your calendar. Don’t let your calendar control you!

Inspiration for this post came from “Take Charge of Your Calendar” by Julie Miller Davis published in the June 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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How to Prepare for Inflation

inflation

Everyone is feeling the effects of inflation. For small businesses this means a dip in customers and cutting back on inventory (among much more). Read on for tips on how to prepare for the long run of high inflation.

Improve Cash Flow

According to Forbes, small business have two options: commit to staying small or commit to growth. Both of these tactics are different ways to manage your business until inflation returns to a more normal range.

If you plan on maintaining the status quo, the goal is to save money and improve your cash flow. There are a variety of ways to do this including cutting all nonessentials and finding ways to minimize production costs. Another way is to focus marketing efforts on your current customer base.

After you save money you have to invest it wisely. Your investments should be outpacing or, at the least, keeping up with rising inflation.

Commit to Growth

The second option is committing to growth. The goal of this tactic is to generate enough revenue to stay ahead of inflation. There are several ways to stay ahead including evaluating your pricing strategy, increasing marketing, and investing in your own business.

Of course, there are several ways to invest in your business. One way is through investing in technology to improve productivity. Another is through applying for a small business loan or taking out a line of credit. The Federal Reserve expects six more interest rate hikes in 2022, so the sooner you take a loan out the better.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Employment Laws: Part Three

employee handbook disclaimers

To complete our Employee Handbook series, we conclude by covering handbook disclaimers. Read on to learn more about the At-Will and NLRA-Protected Activity Disclaimers.

At-Will Disclaimer

Disclaimers are important. A great disclaimer to start with is the disclaimer that the intent of the handbook is not to be an employee contract.

Another disclaimer to include is the at-will disclaimer. Every state assumes private employment is at-will. (In some states however, employees are at-will for only the first six-months). Therefore, your handbook should include an at-will disclaimer that hits on the below points:

  • Employment is at-will and may be terminated any time for any legal reason. This applies to both the employee and the employer.
  • The intention of the employee handbook is not to be a contract of employment.
  • The at-will nature of employment may not be modified by any oral or written statement made before or after employment.
  • The company reserves the right to amend or change the policies at its discretion with or without notice to employees.

NLRA Protected Activity Disclaimer

The purpose of the National Labor Relations Act is to protect collective bargaining rights of employees. This disclaimer can get tricky, but the main thing to remember is this disclaimer can help clarify that nothing in the handbook restricts employees from discussing their wages, hours, or other working conditions.

In summary, the most important thing about a handbook is to keep it current. A fabulous resource is the Society for Human Resource Management, specifically their resource library on HR law.

Inspiration for this post came from “Employee Handbook 2.0: Aligning Your Policies With Employment Laws,” by Melisa Morrison, published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Employment Laws: Part Two

employment laws

To continue our Employee Handbook series, this week we cover wage laws and drug testing. Before we jump into employment laws, read on for upcoming AQR Academy events.

AQR Summer Camp

There’s still time to register for AQR Summer Camp! For a limited time, $100 gets you access to the next three AQR Academy Workshops. See below for details:

  • June 7th 3:00 p.m. — 4:30 p.m. CT: Tips and Tricks for Stress Free Payroll Processing
  • July 25 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. CT: Do Your Best Work: Take Back Control of Your Calendar
  • August 9 4:00 p.m. — 5:30 p.m. CT: Your Employee Handbook: The What, Why, How and Who

Last but not least, if you feel like you missed out from the previous AQR Academy LIVE event, you’re in luck. AQR Academy LIVE is coming back Fall 2022 in Des Moines, Iowa from September 27 — 29. Simply email info@americanquiltretailer.com with “Add me to the list” in the subject line and we will contact you as soon as registration opens!

Wage and Drug Testing Laws

Employment laws are constantly changing.

This year 21 states and 26 cities changed their minimum-wage rates. This means that the minimum salary an employee can earn to be overtime exempt automatically increased as well. You can check out a handy Minimum Wage Monitor for your location here.

Other pieces to take into consideration include the number of consecutive days an employee can work, break periods, meal breaks, and more. But the most important thing to keep in mind is your employee handbook can help explain why some employees qualify for overtime while others do not.

Drug testing on the other hand is more of a gray area. Medical marijuana is still illegal in 37 states, but until there are federal guidelines, employers are subject to state law.

This week was part two of Employee Handbook obligations. Stay tuned next week where we’ll cover handbook disclaimers.

Inspiration for this post came from “Employee Handbook 2.0: Aligning Your Policies With Employment Laws,” by Melisa Morrison, published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Employment Laws

Equal Opportunity Employment Laws

Several weeks ago we covered how to write an employee handbook. In our next series, we outline the local, state, and federal laws that you should include in your employee handbook.

Equal Employment

Equal Employment Opportunity prohibits unlawful discrimination based on age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and genetic information. This also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file discrimination complaints.

On top of this, many states and localities have added additional antidiscrimation laws such as health disabilities, gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. Be sure to firstly check what your state and city’s entitlements are and secondly, include them in your employee handbook.

Leave of Absence Laws

Some leave of absence policies, such as personal time off, are based off employer discretion. Others are governed by state and federal laws. Some examples include medical, military, and jury duty leave.

Additional obligations to consider include:

  • FMLA: The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (for employers with 50 or more employees)
  • USERRA: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act (for employers with 15 or more employees)

As you can see, number of employees influence some of these entitlements as well as location. Another growing trend is paid sick leave. This varies greatly from state to state, so we recommend checking your own locations state and local laws.

This week was just the beginning of Employee Handbook obligations. Stay tuned for next week where we cover wages and drug testing.

Inspiration for this post came from “Employee Handbook 2.0: Aligning Your Policies With Employment Laws,” by Melisa Morrison, published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Payroll Made Easy: Part Two

payroll

Last week we learned how to calculate payroll as well as how to pay yourself an owner’s salary. In part two of Payroll Made Easy find out if you can afford additional employees and how your payroll can be covered through cash flow management.

Managing Cash Flow

To alleviate the stress of wondering if you have enough money to pay yourself and your staff, we revisit the term real revenue.

First, open a separate payroll bank account and fund that account with a percentage of real revenue. To calculate the percentage, determine the percent of real revenue to payroll costs you’ve used in the past.

For example, a company determines their real revenue is $600,000. Their payroll costs were $120,000 (less than the the suggested payroll costs). Since $120,000 is 20% of $600,000, 20% of your revenue should be contributing to the payroll account each pay period. Since revenue fluctuates each month this number will be lower some months and higher others, but the extra cash flow should cover future shortfall.

Payroll for Additional Employees

According to “Profit First,” by Mike Michalowicz, your business should generate real revenue of $150,000 to $250,000 for each full-time employee.

This metric is great to determine if you’re overstaffed or understaffed. Additionally, another good test for hiring is to set the projected salary aside for a few months. By the time you’re ready to hire, you’ll have enough salary saved to afford time for adequate training.

Inspiration for this post came from “Meeting Payroll” by Marcia Donaldson published in the April 2022 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.