New Study Ranks Charleston, S.C. the Worst Place to Start a Small Business

Read More

RewardExpert has its study on the Best and Worst places to start a small business.? The study compared 177 metropolitan areas with more than 250,000 residents, using 30 data points in nine categories to determine which metropolitan areas will give your small business or tech startup the best chance to survive and succeed, and which ones will present you with the most daunting of challenges.

Based on the results, Charleston, South Carolina is ranked as the worst city to start a small business.

First let us provide a list of the Top 10 cities

  1. Denver / Aurora / Lakewood, Colorado
  2. Boston / Cambridge / Newton, Massachusetts
  3. Bridgeport / Stamford / Norwalk, Connecticut
  4. Minneapolis / St. Paul / Bloomington, Minnesota
  5. Madison, Wisconsin
  6. Lincoln, Nebraska
  7. Hartford / East Hartford / West Hartford, Connecticut
  8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  9. Fort Collins, Colorado
  10. Austin / Round Rock, Texas

Worst Places to Start a Small Business

  1. Charleston / North Charleston South Carolina
  2. Florida Panhandle Region
  3. Inland Empire and Bakersfield, California
  4. California’s Central Coast (Santa Maria-Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo-Salinas)
  5. Central Valley, California (Fresno-Visalia-Porterville-Merced-Modesto-Stockton-Lodi, California
  6. Huntington-Ashland, West Virginia-Kentucky
  7. Provo / Urem, Utah
  8. Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Mississippi
  9. Port St. Lucie, Florida
  10. Clarksville, Tennessee / Kentucky

Charleston / North Charleston, South Carolina Logic

The Charleston, South Carolina, metropolitan area comes in as the number one least-favorable place to start a small business for a number of reasons. In the first place, office rents are a sky-high $23.60 per square foot, well above the national average of $17.15 per square foot. Second, housing costs are above the national average for both renters (median monthly rent is $975 versus $803 nationally) and owners ($1,367 versus $1,217). Third, public transit is infrequent and underutilized, with only 1 percent of Charleston area commuters using public transportation. And finally, the area business ownership rate is below average, in the 8th percentile, with a very low percentage of startups (0.89 percent), and a below average five-year survival rate of 48.32 percent.

Compete Study Results

5 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

Read More

By Mark A. Leon

Small business owners take on many hats when they conceptualize, design, finance, launch and manage their small business.? Whether it is a brick and mortar space, mobile business or online, marketing and branding is a critical part of a business growth and success.? Often, small business owners are not versed in marketing side of the business.? They know their product/ service and their customers, but the connecting the dots on how to reach and engage them is a challenge.

We have developed five key tips to help small business owners maneuver through the challenges of developing and maintaining a strong marketing presence.

  1. Don’t get on social media if you do not have a plan – We have all heard it said, you must be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Pinterest if you want to be successful. Before you jump on the bandwagon, remember these few points:
    1. Simplify – Select one or two platforms to focus your content
    2. Have 2 – 4 weeks of prepared content before you launch (Images, testimonials, blog posts, product images)
    3. Learn how to build your audience (Tagging, Content Development, Imagery, Partnership)
    4. Diversity your content (Video, Imagery, Stories)
    5. Ensure your communication strategy is intelligent, visually stimulating, engaging and relevant to your target customer base.
    6. Learn how to measure results of your communication campaigns – Many social platforms have built in analytics and they are very user friendly. Also, ensure you have Google Analytics built into your company website.
    7. Don’t get caught up in the numbers game. The number of followers is not as critical as the engagement level (% of your followers that react to your content).? Never lose sight of that.
  1. Everyone is a potential customer, but don’t structure your marketing that way – A common mistake in small business marketing is the “throw it and see what sticks approach”. If there is a holiday, we must do a holiday post; if there is a major festival, we must piggyback on that; if there is a major weather event, we need to link that to our business.? Stay focused on the content that is important to the customers that are loyal to your business and those that will embrace your products and services.
  1. Over Marketing Will Kill You – Respect your audience. Too much content can kill your brand.? Try to put out one or two pieces of content daily.? There are always exceptions.? If you are running a special or have an event, keeping your audience aware is critical to its success and justifies an exception to the rule.
  1. Quality over Quantity – Your target audience would rather see a great post with relevant and engaging content once every two days than five irrelevant posts in one day. Quality and relevancy will always be valued.
    1. EX: GOOD:? For all first-time customers, use the code FIRSTSALE for 25% off vs. BAD:? It is a hot one today, so come to our store and see what we have in stock.
  1. Customer Service and Engagement is Key – Don’t ever make your marketing plan a one-sided affair. Your customers and audience have a voice.? Listen, respond, and engage.? An online presence must be a partnership between business and customer.? The customer is your number reason you open your doors (physically or metaphorically) every day.? Don’t be afraid to solicit their feedback.

BONUS:? Share your success stories.? Every business has great stories of customer loyalty, great product experience, relationships, community partnership and more.? Share your stories.? Whether that is a short video, blog or a testimonial, stories paint a visual of your business and bring awareness to others previously unaware.

Good Luck and please share your brand in the comments section

Charleston Girl Perfume – The Fragrance of Elegance

cg pic2
By, Minta Pavliscsak

I had the pleasure of sitting down and getting to know Kelly Gaskins, creator and owner of Charleston Girl Perfume. She has got to be one of the most driven young ladies that I have ever met. Since launching her brand in 2012, Kelly went from 300 bottles that she filled, packaged, marked and sold by herself, to having a multiple product line that can be found in 70 stores, along with her online store. And she’s not stopping there! She is continuously coming up with ideas to grow the brand, and will be attending the largest retail trade show in America in just a few days.

How does one go from having such a small product size to having body lotion, shower cream, a rollerball, and of course the original eau de parfum? Kelly built her business slowly, smartly, and with a lot of passion. She believes in her product and believes that her customers deserve nothing but the best. Her products are paraben-free, without any harsh chemicals, and she wouldn’t dream of animal testing! They are also all made right here in the USA. She even gives each bottle a touch of love with her signature red bow that is handmade right here in Charleston, SC.

What makes Charleston Girl stand out against other perfumes? ?Aside from it’s enchanting scent, cg2Charleston Girl products are easy on the skin. As a redhead who is sensitive to products with a lot of smelly stuff in them, I was excited to try Charleston Girl. As someone who also has eczema, I can personally attest to the sensitiveness of these products. I can’t use a lot of fragrancy lotions and such, but I had no problem with Charleston Girl products!

The perfume will become one of your favorite fragrances without overpowering you or those around you. The shower cream will leave you feeling extra refreshed, and the body lotion leaves your skin feeling silky smooth.

When Kelly found herself unhappy with her situation as a journalist in Tennessee, she did some soul searching to figure out where her true calling was. She found it back here in Charleston, right where she started. She won’t hesitate to admit that it hasn’t been without obstacles, but nothing that a strong Charleston lady like Kelly couldn’t overcome. ?She also gives back to the community through her business. Just this past December, Charleston Girl Perfume donated 5% of all online sales to Keeper of the Wild, a local non-profit who cares for injured, sick, orphaned or displaced wildlife with the intention of returning them to their homes in the wild.

Charleston Girl is more than just a perfume. It is a symbol of what Charleston is. Whether you have lived in Charleston all your life, or have visited for the weekend, Charleston is a place that never leaves your heart. Charleston Girl is a reminder of those fond moments you have while you are here. Even if you have never visited Charleston, you can feel the sophistication, elegance, and sexiness when you wear Charleston Girl products. It is a fragrance that goes with every season, and every occasion.

cg

For more information on Keeper of the Wild, and their upcoming oyster roast, check out their Facebook page.