Getting Your Knowledge On: 7 Blogs to Follow

As a small business owner, you probably never get tired of learning new things. This is a great quality to have – after all, the more you know, the better you are able to respond to new information as a business owner and entrepreneur.

Thankfully, today it is easy to find pretty much any information you are looking for online. There are hundreds of blogs dedicated to business operations, retail, marketing, technology, small business trends and more. If you are looking for a substantial reading list going into the new year, the content is out there.

We’ve narrowed these hundreds of blogs down to a list of just seven. These seven blogs cover a wide range of topics (though a healthy amount focus on e-commerce and marketing). Most of the blogs post every day, and you can spend hours going back to cover old posts and topics. Happy reading!

Retail Geek – Online or In-Store Retail Experiences

For brick and mortar retail small businesses, this blog is a goldmine of information. It covers everything from new tech in retail to healthy management practices. The author is Jason Goldberg, a customer service designer for some of the retail giants.

Smarter Finance USA – Financing Equipment for Your Small Business

Talk about a niche topic and niche blog. Smarter Finance USA focuses primarily on just one thing: how businesses can finance equipment. It may not be the most exciting topic in the world, but it is a must-know for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Small Business Labs – Emergent Research on Small Business Trends

According to their About Us, Small Business Labs covers the most important social, technology and business trends that specifically impact both small businesses and freelancers. The articles cover everything from the cities with the most self-employed workers to the pros and cons of co-working spaces.

A Better Lemonade Stand – Resources for Young Small Businesses

With blog titles like “How to Start an Online Business When You’re Not Ready to Start an Online Business,” A Better Lemonade Stand is dedicated to making the process of starting and sustaining a small business easier.

Buffer Blog – A Marketing Blog Focused on Social Media

Social media is important for business marketing – even for small businesses. The Buffer blog dives deep into the topics and trends that are most important for their business leader audience. If you know nothing about social media marketing, this is a good place to start.

DIY Marketers – A Marketing Blog Focused on Small Businesses

Marketing doesn’t have to break the budget, and DIY Marketers shows you why. The marketing blog helps small business owners find both cost-effective and creative marketing ideas without breaking the bank. This is a good one to follow on a weekly basis, especially since marketing trends change so quickly.

Sleeknote – A Marketing Blog Focused on E-Commerce

So much of business is based online today that there are entire blogs dedicated to e-commerce. Sleeknote takes small business owners through all of the basic marketing strategies for an online business – from Facebook ads to email marketing. If your business is based online, this small business blog is sure to prove an invaluable resource.

A New Year’s Resolution for Your Small Business – Build the Website You Want 

It’s a New Year, and with that naturally comes New Year Resolutions. This year, we have a suggestion for a resolution that you can actually keep: making the website that you want for your small business.

Maybe you don’t yet have a website for your business (or business idea!). Or maybe you have a static website and you’ve been meaning to get around to making it more powerful, more engaging, and more dynamic.

Either way, we have a few suggestions for what to include on your small business website. In fact, we can help you get started!

Tip #1: Include Call to Action Buttons

A website is really all about connecting with your customers and potential clients. How are you supposed to connect with them if you don’t offer them the opportunity to engage? Call to Action buttons give website visitors a clear path to connection with your small business.

Tip #2: Integrate Your Website with Social Media

Social media is no passing trend. It is here to stay, and it is only going to become more integral to daily life. Connecting your website to your business Facebook and Twitter pages opens up more avenues for communication, engagement and connection with both current customers and leads. If you don’t yet have social media accounts, we suggest you go set them up today.

Tip #3: Invest in Engaging Content and Blog Posts

Nothing quite says “I care about you and I care about this business” quite like engaging content on a website. Instead of keeping the language business-like and ‘salesy’, change it up. Use personal pronouns. Make jokes. It will make a difference. In that vein, consider taking the time to keep a business blog that you update at least once a week. This can prove to be a valuable resource for your customers – and a nifty marketing tactic.

Tip #4: Do Your Due Diligence for Search Engine Optimization

 A successful website is never of the ‘set it and forget it’ variety. An engaging website, especially for small businesses, responds to the needs of potential customers. To respond to the needs of potential customers, you need search engine optimization. SEO essentially recognizes what customers are looking for and tailors your website accordingly. It is a crucial step to building the website that you need.

Yearly Recap: Thank You from HubRunner! 

Before we move on to the excitement that 2018 brings, we want to take a bit of time to highlight the insight we have shared together in 2017. This year we have covered a wide variety of topics that all come back to one thing: helping you with your website.

In pursuing this goal, we have shared a few key insights about small business websites and an online presence.

A Dynamic Website is Crucial for a Dynamic Small Business

One of the things that we are absolutely convinced of is that small businesses need an effective and engaging website. First impressions are everything; for better or for worse, most people’s first impressions of businesses come from their website. With this in mind, small businesses should do everything they can to have a dynamic and responsive website.

A Good Website Needs SEO and Social Media Integration

With a dynamic website as a foundation, small businesses can move to bringing in new customers and creating leads through SEO and social media integration. Search engine optimization essentially makes your business literally stand out from the crowd by bringing it to the top page of Google results. With this tool, people who have never heard of your business can find themselves on your website. Similarly, social media integration connects your online presence with literally millions of people – all with a personal touch.

A Website For Your Small Business is All About One Thing – Connection With Customers

More than anything, your small business’ online presence should have just one major goal: connecting with your customers. A dynamic website allows you to connect with both current and potential customer. By continuing to offer a personal touch, you ensure that you keep customers coming back for years to come.

We look forward to what’s to come in 2018!

The year is coming to a close – but thankfully that doesn’t mean that all the knowledge sharing has to! In 2018 we look forward to continuing providing the best in website design, creation and maintenance.

On top of that, we look forward to continuing to share our knowledge about small business websites. We hope that this makes it easier for you to have a dynamic online presence for your customers!

The Keys to Keyword Research for Your Small Business Website 

Here’s a topic we haven’t yet covered this year: keyword research. You may think this is something for marketers and e-commerce types, but as a small business owner it is important to understand at least the basics of this element of search engine optimization.

What are Keywords, Anyway?

 Keywords are the words and phrases that you put into a search engine like Google. They serve as the basis for search engine optimization. If you are an accountant, you will want more keywords on your website that have to do with that area. When people search for these words and phrases, they are more likely to find your small business website if you do search engine optimization right.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is exactly what it sounds like: it is researching and identifying the most relevant keywords for your small business. To use the same example, let’s say you are an accountant. For effective SEO, you do not simply want the phrase “accounting services” on your website to draw in customers. It’s simply not effective.

Instead, you want to find out which keywords your customers and potential leads are searching for. This is where keyword research comes in. Instead of just “accounting services”, you can include “2018 tax season,” “affordable accounting options,” and more. With keyword research, you can identify hundreds of words and phrases that are relevant to your small business.

How Does Keyword Research Work?

There are quite a number of ways to go about keyword research. The most straightforward method is to just start by making a few Google searches yourself. Change up the words, add additional words, and get more specific. Look at the results and see what related keywords come up. At this point you will have a good starting list of keywords relevant to your small business.

From there, you can enter these keywords into specific keyword research tools to get additional ideas.

 Why is Keyword Research Important?

As we mentioned above, keywords are the basis of search engine optimization. Keyword research allows you to identify the keywords that your potential customers are searching for and tailor your blog and website content accordingly.

Social Media Integration: The Why and How for Your Business

Social media has become an integral part of daily life for most people. It’s almost 2018, and it almost seems like a cliché to say it. But we cannot make it more clear for small business owners: social media must be part of the way that you plan, market and relate to both current and potential customers.

In fact, over 300 million consumers used Facebook Messenger to contact a small business for the first time in 2017. Whether they used the social media platform to ask a question, follow up on a product, or make a complaint does not really matter. What matters is that customers are increasingly seeing social media as a useful and valid means of connecting with small businesses.

So how can you take advantage of this new interest? The answer is social media integration.

Why is Social Media Integration Important for Small Businesses?

Even if it seems fancy, social media integration is actually less scary than it sounds. All the phrase means is connecting a business website with that business’ social media accounts. But why is this so important?

There are quite a few reasons integrating social media with your small business website is beneficial. The most obvious benefit is that this integration allows you to better connect with both current and potential customers. Instead of getting linked to an impersonal contact form, visitors will have the choice of heading to your business’ Facebook page and messaging directly on the platform that they use the most.

But that’s not the only way social media integration goes. Integration means that your Facebook page or Twitter account links directly back to your small business website. When done right, social media can work as an extremely inexpensive advertising option for businesses of all sizes. In the same vein, social media integration also has the potential of expanding your reach.

How Can Social Media Integration Work for Small Businesses?

Social media integration is not as complicated as it sounds. It simply involves connecting your website and your social media accounts, making your relationship with customers more dynamic. There are a few steps to integrating social media with your small business website.

Add Social Media Buttons on Your Website:

Those little blue and red buttons you see on the website footers and sidebars are there for a very specific reason. They allow site visitors to get to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube page with the click of a button. You can do the same, at the very least for Facebook and Twitter.

Include Sharing Buttons With Your Blogging Efforts:

Those handy social buttons should not be limited to a website footer. If you have a business blog (as you should), it is important to include the option for sharing the articles to social media. If a customer finds your article interesting, you want to make sure they easily share it with their friends. Maybe you get a new customer through it. This is quite literally free advertising.

Engage in Social Media Marketing, Linking to Your Website:

As we mentioned before, social media integration goes both ways. By regularly posting to social media with links to your small business website, you are opening up the opportunity for easy lead generation.

Small Business Trends – A Focus on the Future

The small business sector has changed drastically from two or three decades ago. But these changes did not just happen over night. Small business trends slowly shifted year to year, creating the business environment that we have today.

It’s an environment marked by technology, engagement, new products, new marketing techniques and more.

We may not be in the business of making industry predictions. But we are interested in helping you and your small business succeed as we all move into 2018. With this in mind, we want to present some of the most valuable insights that we have found in research small business trends and predictions for next year.

Trend #1: The Focus Will Increasingly Be on Connection

With millennials on track to spend almost $1.5 trillion in 2020, small businesses will need to focus on how to connect with this large market share.

In a phrase, the glitzy advertising of the early part of this century will not work. Today, many potential customers are looking for a connection with the companies that they do business with. This is doubly true for small businesses.

Instead of making sales pitches, small businesses in 2018 will have to figure out how to start connecting with their potential customers. Whether that’s personalized newsletters, an engaging website, or targeted Facebook ads depends on who you are and what you do. Just make sure that it connects.

Trend #2: The Demand for Local Products and Services Will Grow

 Even in the face of increased globalization, there has been a recent pushback against outsourced services and imported products. This places small businesses at a great advantage in the market.

As a small business, your goods or services are almost certainly local. In 2018, you should take advantage of that by truly ‘going local’. With local produce and ‘farm to table’ becoming increasingly popular, small businesses in other industries can take a similar approach with their customers.

The key here is to show your local community that you both understand and care about their needs. Many small businesses are successful because they show their community that they want to be part of something outside of simply day-to-day business exchanges.

Trend #3: Remote Work Will Become More of an Option – Even for Small Businesses

It’s hard to imagine a business world that is completely free of front offices – especially for small businesses. But there is no question that remote work is becoming increasingly common for enterprises of all sizes.

In fact, 4 out of 10 American workers do at least some portion of their work from home. This opens up an opportunity for small business owners and managers.

Depending on the focus of your company, you can make it more efficient and your employees happier by employing some kind of remote option. The idea is to give more trust and responsibility to your employees. In turn, this should make them more productive.

This also holds a benefit for you as the small business owner. Remote work allows you to broaden your potential talent pool. This opens up the opportunity to outsource anything from accounting to web design.

Making Time – Here Are 5 Things You Can Outsource as a Small Business Owner

Let’s be honest: being a small business owner can be absolutely overwhelming at time. Often it feels as if you need to take care of everything, all at once. Payroll needs to be processed, that social media post needs to go up, this invoice needs to be delivered, that bill needs to be paid.

In today’s sharing economy, and with the services offered online, the good news is you don’t have to do everything as a small business owner.

Instead, you can choose to outsource quite a few of your tasks. These should be things hate doing, can’t do, or shouldn’t be doing. This may cost money in the short term, but it can save you huge amounts of time in the long run. The end result is the freeing up of your time.

From there, you can use that freed time to connect with customers, better your product, or even create another stream of revenue. The options are pretty much without limit. So consider some of these tasks and roles that you can outsource as a small business owner.

#1: Hire a Virtual Personal Assistant

 There are hundreds of virtual assistant services available online. Depending on the service and your needs, you can hire a Virtual Assistant for just a few hours a week or full-time. A Virtual Assistant can take care of all of those annoying but necessary tasks for you: scheduling, emailing, market research and more.

#2: Leave Your Small Business SEO to an Expert 

With most people finding their information online or on social media, Search Engine Optimization has become crucial even for small businesses. Unless you run a social media or marketing company, you don’t know all that much about SEO. The good news is you can easily find someone who does know everything about SEO online. Take advantage of this expertise, and don’t try to do it on your own. 

#3: Use a Professional for the Web Design for Your Small Business Website

 Just as with SEO, you most likely have never designed a website before. Instead of spending hundreds of hours trying to figure out WordPress plugins and HTML all on your own, consider outsourcing the entire process. The experts can take care of it for you. The same goes for graphic design.

#4: Save Time By Outsourcing Content Development

 Are you a people person, but not so great at writing? Do you find yourself taking an entire day trying to come up with a compelling blog post for your small business blog? Not everyone is a writer, and there is no pressure for you to be either. You can assign copy for your website, weekly blog posts, newsletters and more to someone who is comfortable and competent at writing.

 #5: Focus on Current Customers by Outsourcing Marketing

 Online marketing can be extremely effective for small businesses, but it can also take an incredible amount of effort. If you find yourself spending too much time on building those back links, creating social media content, or fiddling with Google AdWords, it may be time to outsource all of these processes.

After all, your focus should be on the customer, right?

Getting Social: Bringing Social Media to Your Website

The world is a social place. After all, still one of the most reliable marketing strategies for small businesses in the United States is word of mouth. But what if this word of mouth approach could be harnessed through social media?

Here’s the thing: It’s no longer enough to just have a small business website. With over a billion people on social media, one of the best ways to connect with customers and create leads is social media integration. In a phrase, social media integration connects your website with your presence on various social media platforms.

Interested in talking with a small business website specialist? Click Here!

Social media integration essentially harnesses the power of social media to spread the word about your small business, the services that you offer, and the satisfaction of your current customers. It is a powerful marketing strategy, and often very cost-effective for small businesses.

So how can you bring social media to your small business website?

Include Social Media Buttons on Your Small Business Website

If your small business has a social media presence – as it should – it is beyond important to include links to these platforms on your website. By including buttons leading to your small business Twitter feed or Facebook page, you allow visitors to your site easy access to reviews, updates, messaging and more.

Add Sharing Buttons on Your Small Business Blog Posts

Do you publish blog posts for your small business? If you do, you should make sure that each posted blog has social share buttons. Usually this means branded buttons at the top or bottom of the post that allow readers to easily share your content with their own followers. This is essentially a free marketing opportunity, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Focus Your Marketing Efforts on Social Media – With Connection Back to Your Website

Sales pages on your small business website are important for converting leads. But you should not underestimate the importance of sales content on your social media pages. People will often engage with your small business via social media. Because of this, you shouldn’t limit your sales copy to specific pages on your website. Instead, include images for sales and calls to action on your social media platforms that lead directly back to your website.

Do you have more questions about social media integration or getting your small business website set up? Don’t hesitate to contact us today!


Small Business Trends & Predictions from 2017 – How Many Have Come True for You?

Each year holds something different for business large and small. On January 1st of this year, Business News Daily published a compilation of predicted small business trends for 2017.

Ranging from the business climate to technology, these small business trends and predictions attempted to bring some stability and certainty to the year. Stability isn’t always possible, but knowing what to look for in the coming years always helps create a little more certainty.

Below are just a handful of the forty predictions for small business trends in 2017. How many of these reflect the reality of your small business operations for this year?

#1: Businesses With a Niche Will Find Success

“Business success will come from further focusing on smaller, very specific audiences. Going extremely deep with customized messages and specialized platforms to a highly receptive and loyal audience will replace wide approach “shot gun” marketing. [We’ll see] more soft or no ask/call to action marketing focused on community building, experiences and lifestyle over product specific messaging.”

– Kyle Golding, chief strategic idealist at The Golding Group

Interested in talking with a small business website specialist? Click Here!

#2: Support Services Will Shift to a Freelance Workforce

“2017 will herald a lot of additional services and products that will enable freelancers specifically to have access to credit or additional payment options. If I were an entrepreneur with a service or product that could be tailored to freelancers, I would be looking at how best to service this growing segment of the economy. This segment will only continue to grow and represents the most disruptive segment in terms of growth and innovation.”

– Keisha Blair, co-founder of Aspier-Canada

#3: Small businesses will take advantage of easy payment options 

“[Companies] that use newer online payment options such as Square, Bitcoin currency, Apple/Google payment options, etc. have a major edge over competitors. When you’re a young company that was built to begin with on a fluid, ever-changing, Web-based economy, it’s easy to adapt. On the other hand, larger companies, even when they are willing to step out of their comfort zones, have to overhaul larger, more-entrenched payment-processing systems that have existed for years or decades.”

– Joel MacDonald, founder of

#4: Social media will be used more and more as a platform for sales

“You can now buy through Facebook and even Instagram through third party apps. This is great for startups and those who don’t have the resources for an ecommerce store.”

– Joselin L. Estevez, digital marketing and social media director at X Factor Media

#5: Technology will offer the a “paperless office” even for small businesses

“The paperless office will be a growing trend in 2017. In the past, businesses would physically print paperwork to be reviewed, signed and scanned. In addition to hurting the environment, this causes a significant drain on employee productivity. Fortunately, new software tools are being developed that allows companies to securely manage files online. This means improved efficiency at a lower cost.”

– Sofie Knowles, web developer and co-founder of PDF Pro

9 Questions to Ask a Website Designer

Let’s face it: we can’t all be experts at everything. Thankfully, in today’s small business environment, we don’t have to be.

Technology works for the small business owner. Today the small business owner sees online platforms for freelancers, fast communication with marketing firms and website designers, and the cost-efficiency of outsourcing. With all of this, a small business owner can choose to make the most of his or her time.

This is where outsourcing website design and maintenance comes in. But you want to make sure you are getting the best. Before you jump into creating your small business website with a freelancer or firm, here are some key questions to address.

#1: Can you provide me with a few websites you have designed in the past?

Taking the time to look at other sites that the web designer has created can save you a lot of hassle later. Do you like the look of one website in particular? Ask for yours to be modeled after that.

Interested in talking with a small business website specialist? Click Here!

#2: How much will you charge for creating my small business website?

 Is there a set fee or is it hourly? It may seem like a no-brainer, but it is crucial to make sure that you are both on the same page before jumping into a contract.

#3: Who will I be in contact with about my small business website?

Clear communication is important when creating your small business website. If you have edits, suggestions, or concerns, it is always best to have one person you can contact.

#4: Will I be able to edit the website myself? If not, how will edits work?

Some packages include access to the dashboard to make changes yourself. If you’d rather have a professional do it, other packages include a set amount of edits each month after the creation of the site.

#5: How long can I expect the creation of my website to take?

Set a clear timeline for the creation of the small business website, as well as a hard deadline for the designer or firm to abide by.

#6: Do you provide any other additional services?

Some companies (and even individual freelancers) provide additional web services like SEO, creating and publishing copy, monthly edits, etc. Find out which of these are available and which will fit your needs.

#7: How will you ensure that my small business website is SEO-friendly?

SEO is about more than just keywords. Even if you don’t know a lot about SEO, make sure that the company designing your website knows more than you do. 

#8: What kinds of changes and suggestions can I make for the website design?

 Before even starting the process, make sure you know how many times you can send a website back for edits and changes. It’s your small business website, so you should be allowed the freedom to hone in on what you want.

#9: What do you need from me to get started on my small business website?

A website requires more than the design. Any small business website needs copy, contact information, photos, and other media. Make sure you have all of this readily available for whoever you choose for your small business website design.