The Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) local business coalition announced Milwaukee will be the first community in the U.S. to develop an entrepreneurship program using a model developed by Daniel Isenberg, founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Projects. As part of a bipartisan effort to grow the economy by stimulating high-growth ventures and encouraging job creation, the OPEN for Enterprise model is based on testing and validating entrepreneurship ecosystems abroad, including successful programs in Colombia, Brazil and Denmark to foster policies, institutions and cultures that stimulate long-term economic growth, development and prosperity through programs and workshops. Coalitions for High-Growth Entrepreneurship is designed to help high potential urban communities connect a diverse group of stakeholders, including city planners, private investors, academics, entrepreneurs and public officials, to help maximize the social and economic value of the community’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Merging their collective expertise, the coalition can help to develop community programs that identify new ways to stimulate, support and “scale up” new and existing ventures.
The American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor shows just 20 percent believe economic conditions are the biggest barrier to growth (compared to 23% in the fall of 2011), fewer have cash flow concerns (53%, versus 58% in the spring) and fewer are stressed out by the economy (59%, versus 64% in the spring). Small business owners’ top priority, is maintaining their current business and sources of revenue (32%) and as a result they have adopted a “wait and see” approach for growth plans. Only 29% of businesses surveyed have plans to hire new employees, down from 35% in the spring.
Only 16% of entrepreneurs say the economy has caused them to lay off employees versus 21% six months ago. The Success Index, profiling High achievers, strivers, sustainers and strugglers, shows high achievers represent 6% of the total survey sample, and on average, have spent twenty-six years in business, employ eighteen people in their firms and have attained business growth of thirty-four percent over the last three years (versus 10% growth for the total survey population). The Success Index was developed based on self-reported responses to questions regarding business growth and characteristics correlated with high-performing entrepreneurs.
Five small businesses will be trained by American Express OPEN and Facebook on how to build their brands, better market products and services, and target new customers. With a growing need for training on social media marketing, evident with more than 12,000 small businesses having entered the 2012 American Express “Big Break”- up from 11,000 in 2011- marketing experts from American Express OPEN and Facebook will travel to each of the five winner’s small businesses to provide in-depth marketing and strategy sessions as well as $25,000 in cash to put the strategies into action.
Each winner will also receive practical and personal training on best practices using Facebook Pages, Ads and Social Plugins, and will receive consultation on how to maximize their current usage of Facebook. The winning small businesses will have the opportunity to share their winnings and pay it forward by inviting other small business owners within their communities to meet a panel of social media and marketing experts from Facebook and American Express OPEN to teach them how to best utilize social channels for their businesses.
American Express OPEN announced enhancements to the Plum Card (www.plumcard.com) to help small business owners better manage cash flow and free up working capital by taking advantage of the card’s built-in trade terms. With ‘Early Pay Discount,’ Cardmembers pay at least 10% of their balance within 10 days of the statement closing date, they will earn a 1.5% discount on the portion they elect to pay. Previously, Cardmembers were required to pay the balance in full to enjoy this benefit. They also get ‘Extra Days to Pay,’ when Cardmembers pay at least 10% of the balance, they can take up to 60 days from the statement closing date to pay the remaining balance without penalties or interest charges. Both options are designed to help Cardmembers better manage cash flow. The payment flexibility allows Cardmembers to adjust to changing business needs and also have the option to choose the most convenient time for the billing cycle to close — either at the beginning, middle or end of the month.
American Express OPEN announced FedEx Freight, Microsoft Store and Dunn & Bradstreet Credibility have the OPEN Savings program as partners. As partners, they will save 5% on all freight services; 5% on purchases made at www.microsoftstore.com and Microsoft Store retail locations; 5% on all transactions with the company, including generating D-U-N-S numbers and credit monitoring services at DandB.com. American Express OPEN Cardmembers just use their credit or charge card for purchases with any OPEN Savings partner to take advantage of discounts, which automatically appear on the monthly statement.
American Express OPEN launched its “Business Gold Rewards Card,” offering double points for all spending on online marketing. With small businesses rapidly moving marketing dollars online, American Express is offering richer and more innovative ways to help them get more out of their investments. American Express’ Rewards programs, including the industry-leading Membership Rewards, are a featured benefit used by millions of American Express Cardmembers. The new card gives 3X points on airfare; 2X points on advertising, gas and shipping; and 1X points on everything else. The Marketing Suite includes “YourBuzz,” to help small businesses manage their online presence, learn what is being said about them and their competitors, and connect with customers in the places where they are most vocal”social media, “AdManager” for helping small businesses create, target and measure the results of their online advertising campaigns, and “SearchManager” online solution for managing paid search campaigns across all major search ad networks.
American Express OPEN and M Booth creative communications company took home two of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Silver Anvil Awards for the “Small Business Saturday” campaign. PRSA’s Silver Anvil Awards reward public relations campaigns that successfully address a brand or organization’s challenge with skill, creativity and resourcefulness. American Express OPEN and M Booth were named winners for best Business to Business Integrated Communications Campaign and best Consumer Services Integrated Communications Campaign. The team built an integrated marketing campaign that responded to a critical need of small businesses. American Express OPEN and M Booth also received a Gold award from The Holmes Report’s SABRE Awards for the best integrated marketing campaign for “Small Business Saturday” this year. M Booth is a global communications agency focusing on creative science.
American Express OPEN launched “AdManager” for helping small businesses create, target and measure the results of their online advertising campaigns. Software tools for managing digital ad campaigns are traditionally too expensive and often too complicated for time-stretched entrepreneurs, but “AdManager” simplifies the process by offering a start-to-finish platform for creating ads and determining where they will be placed. Powered by AdReady, “AdManager” is American Express OPEN’s latest Business App that help small businesses market their products and services.
SCORE and American Express OPEN has opened the curtain on the “Small Business High Speed Growth” multi-city tour schedule. Helping small business owners develop strategies and provide educational and coaching programs on new opportunities for business growth, “Small Business High Speed Growth” expands on the “Small Business Speed Coaching Test Drive” event series to allow participating small business owners to ask questions on a variety of topics ranging from surviving the current economy to finding the “right” customers. With businesses for the first time since 2006 indicating growth takes priority over survival, economic recovery is imminent and reaching Main Street, given 35% are currently seeking to expand their workforce.
The “Small Business High Speed Growth” kicksoff in Washington, DC on May 9, then it’s off to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN on June 7, followed by Portland, ME on June 21, Orange County, CA on July 13 and in New York, NY sometime in October. Sessions offer small business owners sessions with experienced business coaches from SCORE in roundtable sessions with an experienced SCORE coach discussing issues facing challenges that small businesses face, as well as, exclusive one-on-one evaluations and discussions. The marketing workshop offers an interactive discussion of cost-effective, creative, integrated marketing solutions”including online marketing tactics and everyday promotional resources business owners may not have considered.
Monster.com job matching engine and flagship brand of Monster Worldwide introduced a Small Business Resource Center in collaboration with American Express to better equip small business owners with guidance and cost effective solutions for staffing and managing their enterprises. The Small Business Resource Center on Monster.com includes a wealth of information for small business owners. This information includes Management Best Practices; Marketing and Social Media; and Business Growth. With it, American Express is also offering an incentive program for any small business that opens a Business Gold Rewards Card account from American Express OPEN. If they use it within a month to make a purchase on Monster.com, American Express OPEN will reward its customers with a statement credit up to $350.
Yahoo! and American Express have expanded their partnership to offer small businesses the tools to help them grown their businesses with its “Business Solutions” website. The “Business Solutions” microsite will offer Yahoo! Small Business users American Express OPEN’s “AcceptPay” online payment and invoicing solution; “SearchManager” pay-per-click campaign manager; and “InsuranceEdge” real-time quote comparisons. The Business Solutions’ content will be integrated into relevant sites across the Yahoo! network, including Yahoo! News, Finance, and Local, to extend its reach to a targeted audience interested in small business topics. Further expansion of Business Solutions and the tools it offers is scheduled for early 2011.
One-in-four small businesses are planning to hire over the next six months, but only 45% have a positive outlook on the economy and their business, a drop from 51% in March and 55% in the year-ago period. Many business are in stronger financial positions thanks to cost-cutting and streamlining operations with only 53% reporting cash flow issues, down from 60% this spring, and 10% intending to hire full time employees in the next six months, doubling the spring figure. This, according to the American Express “OPEN Small Business Monitor” semi-annual survey of business owners now in its ninth year, shows confidence in the overall economy declined as 39% of business owners said they thought sales over the next six months would be higher compared to last year, vs. 34% in the spring. Additional findings show 40% use a social media platform, compared to only 10% last year; over 75% of those business owners looking to hire are doing so âto handle growing businessâ; 17% reported the morale of their employees has improved, nearly double from a year ago; 38% plan to make investments over the next six months; AND The number of businesses with cash flow concerns has dropped to pre-recession levels (53% versus 49% in fall 2007).