Welcome to CO—'s news feed for small businesses. We bring you all the news you need to run a successful business and keep on top of the latest trends. Updated regularly and always found right here... all in one place.

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All the news you need to run your small business.

Crate & Barrel’s CB2 spinoff chain taps text messaging to fuel holiday sales

CB2, Crate & Barrel’s hip, younger spinoff chain, is betting on a text-centric sales strategy for the holiday season “to break through the noise, meet customers where they are… and deliver rich and inspiring content in a highly targeted way,” Samie Barr, SVP of Marketing for the home furnishings retailer, told CO—.

Since 2018, the modern-design focused chain has run text-based campaigns for sweepstakes events, promotions, and general consumer outreach. CB2’s SMS strategies have paid off: The retailer grew its customer file nearly 30%, while also driving 24% year-over-year growth among both new and existing customers, according to Barr.

Learn the SMS tactics CB2 is leveraging to prompt shopper purchases this holiday season here.

Amazon’s Small Business Director on helping SMBs boost their holiday sales this season

More than half of the transactions on Amazon, the world’s largest online marketplace, involve third-party sellers, most of which are small- to medium-sized businesses.

Now Amazon is tapping into the growing consumer interest in supporting small businesses by identifying those sellers on its platform.

The e-commerce giant has added several tools, including new shipping software, analytics, and marketing features to help small businesses boost sales during the holidays.

Learn from Keri Cusick, Director of Small Business Empowerment for Amazon, on the tools the company is leveraging — such as “small business badges” that identify merchandise from SMBs — to help small businesses during the holiday season and throughout the year drive sales here.

Website creation platform Wix is helping small businesses adapt to an increasingly omnichannel selling landscape

Just as small shops rushed to get online during the pandemic, website creation for service businesses like personal trainers, teachers, and therapists also surged.

In turn, it’s become increasingly important for all businesses, not just stores, to be able to operate both online and offline.

Against that backdrop, website builder Wix is creating new ways for both entrepreneurs and SMBs to manage and grow their businesses — from offering payment solutions and marketing analytics to e-commerce fulfillment services.

Learn from David Schwartz, Vice President of Product at Wix, on the tools the tech firm is offering to address key needs of small businesses here.

New BLS data shows the accommodation and food service industries have the highest employee quit rates

A new study from document management company SmallPDF identifies the industries with the highest quitting rates and levels. The accommodation and food services industry had the highest quit rate and levels, with an average of 5.8% of its workforce leaving between April and August. According to the study, on average, more than 773,600 employees resigned each month. The retail trade industry comes in second on the list with a quit rate of 3.82% and 600,400 employees quitting on average each month.

The study analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, specifically looking at changes between April and August 2022. It defines quit rate as the percentage of total employees quitting each month within an industry, while quit levels measure how many employees quit in total each month.

To increase employee retention during this time, small businesses can offer greater flexibility and have deeper conversations to understand why employees are looking for other opportunities.

Customers are projected to spend an estimated $88 billion in small business shopping this holiday season

New data from an Intuit Quickbooks Report reveals a unique opportunity for small businesses for the 2022 holiday season. Based on survey data from 5,500 consumers and 1,500 businesses, consumers are planning to spend over 40% of their holiday shopping budget at small businesses — an estimated total of $88 billion. Small businesses are also projected to hold 70% more revenue in 2022 than in the 2021 holiday season. From these survey responses and projected numbers, it’s the perfect time for small businesses to lean heavily into their holiday marketing campaigns and possibly even launch a new product in time for the season of giving. With heightened inflation and supply chain challenges, ensure your business is considering affordable shipping options, providing efficient customer service, and selling products on multiple channels.

WOC-owned startups lean into purpose-led, conscious consumption in the competition to win wallet share of female consumers

Representing just about half of the U.S. population, women also make up an outsize proportion of consumer spending in many categories. According to Nielsen, women’s purchasing power in the U.S. ranges from $5 trillion to $15 trillion per year.

What’s more, women consumers increasingly identify as conscious consumers, interested in supporting sustainable and minority-owned brands when possible. Despite this, women — and women of color in particular — have long been underrepresented among founders of new brands.

To capture the interest in conscious consumption and tap into the multitrillion-dollar women’s market in the U.S., brands founded by women entrepreneurs of color across categories from beauty and personal care to grocery are working to deliver products and experiences tailored to the demands of today’s consumer.

Learn how period care startup Viv, personalized skin care brand Pure Culture Beauty, and plant-based nutrition company Tejari, all women-of-color-founded, mission-driven startups, are setting out to making a difference while growing their brands, too, here.

Brands from Michael Kors to Kendra Scott are appealing to deal-seeking consumers with broad product assortments and special perks for the critical holiday season

Holiday spending is expected to increase 4%, but inflation means retailers will be watching their budgets carefully and looking for deals.

Retailers and brands are preparing for a holiday shopping season in which consumers will be buying early and spending cautiously, according to panelists at a CommerceNext event attended by CO—.

Retailers can avoid relying too heavily on discounts by offering a range of merchandise at different price points, and by granting perks to their best customers, such as early access to product launches and exclusive in-store events where loyal customers can shop in a more private setting, according to retail executives.

Read how retailers and brands including Michael Kors and Kendra Scott are courting shoppers this holiday selling season here.

Startup executives across categories on generating customer acquisition growth in an uncertain business landscape

Consumers are savvier and have more options than ever. Startups from personal care and home cleaning brand Public Goods to sustainable apparel business Girlfriend Collective are looking to a variety of strategies to catch their attention and create meaningful brand-customer relationships, founders told CO—.

These include tapping social media, which offers new brands a low-overhead opportunity to connect with new customers, for example, while more established brands can benefit from shelf space at mass market retail, founders said. And interactions in non-retail spaces like hospitality can generate brand awareness that eventually translates to sales.

Learn how six founders and executives have achieved growth in the face of changing consumer expectations, unpredictable market forces, and ever-intensifying competition here.

Big brands are tackling their top challenges this year — inflation, competitive discounting, and staffing — to drive business during the holiday shopping season

With consumers worried about inflation and economic uncertainty, retailers and brands are looking for creative ways to show that they offer good value, without deep discounting.

Retailers have invested in tech to help personalize their marketing messages and to strategically time inventory markdowns.

And as more consumers expect to return to stores this holiday season, getting and keeping staff has become critical, and retailers have responded with wage hikes and enhanced benefits.

Read about the top five hurdles retailers must overcome this holiday season, and what they are doing to prepare for them here.

Latino app founders rack up revenues and customers by tapping an underserved, multitrillion-dollar market

The purchasing power of Latino consumers in the U.S. is poised to surge to $2.6 trillion by 2025, up an estimated 150% in the last decade.

Although technology exerts an ever-growing influence on culture, commerce, and business, Hispanics make up a mere 8% of employees in the U.S. high-tech sector, compared to 68.5% of their white counterparts.

Against that backdrop, apps founded by Latino tech entrepreneurs such as video-calling platform Caribu, job-search startup Chamba, and teletherapy app Yana have generated millions of downloads and amassed a robust following by speaking directly to a Hispanic audience and spreading their message via good old-fashioned word of mouth, founders told CO— at an Apple event.

Learn business growth strategies from Latino app founders, who are breaking ground in the tech sector, on how they’re finding success by delivering content and services to an underserved audience here.

Startups and big brands tap the booming, multibillion-dollar pet industry for growth

Americans spent $123 billion on their pets in 2021, up 13% over the previous year.

With 32% of millennials and 14% of Gen Z owning pets, spending on pets is expected to show continued growth for many years.

Companies ranging from small startups to America’s largest pet retailers are capitalizing on the pet humanization trend — whereby a growing number of Americans think of their dog or cat as a bona fide member of the family — to sell new products and services ranging from human-grade fresh meals to fitness trackers to medical diagnostic tools. Learn how businesses are tapping into the multibillion-dollar pet industry for growth here.

DEI leaders from Carter’s, Thumbtack, and Fossil Group share best practices for creating a winning diversity strategy

For top executives at children’s apparel brand Carter’s, home services tech platform Thumbtack, and Fossil Group, the global design firm known for its watches, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is much more than a feel-good philosophy or a passing trend. They know a commitment to DEI backed up by action — from building a knowledge base about employees’ concerns so you know where to make improvements to measuring diversity metrics with respect to pay equity and promotions — is a business strategy that pays off in a concrete return on investment, executives told CO—. Read how three executives are leading their companies’ quest for DEI via employees, customers, products, processes, and in the communities they serve here.

Businesses are tapping ‘employer branding’ strategies to drive employee recruitment and retention

New phrases like the “Great Resignation,” “quiet quitting” and “Say No to RTO” (return to office) point to a fundamental shift in the power dynamic between employer and employee.

Younger workers in particular want to be part of an organization that shares their values and demonstrates a commitment to an employee’s happiness and sense of purpose. If your business needs a steady stream of engaged and productive workers, the solution may be hiding in the field of “employer branding.”

An employer brand lives and breathes in the minds of your current, former, and future employees and how those people feel about your company. An employer brand also reflects how your workforce thinks your company does, or doesn’t, live up to the promise of your customer-facing brand. Learn how your business can leverage employer branding strategies to recruit and retain workers here.

BIPOC executives from big brands on the secrets to business success

Strategies for success in the business world include staying in touch with contacts over time, educating yourself about finances, reaching out to successful executives for advice, and developing close relationships with trusted coworkers, according to leaders from four very different companies: hair care and beauty startup Mielle Organics, financial services firm UBS, job board Indeed, and social network Twitter.

“Most people who are at a decent point in their career don’t mind when people reach out to them and say, ‘How did you get here? I would love to spend time with you,’” according to Javid Louis, Senior Brand Strategist for Twitter.

Learn more business success strategies from these leaders, who spoke at Yelp’s 2022 Black in Business Summit attended by CO—, here.

Submit your nominations for the 2023 SBA National Small Business Week Awards

In recognition of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced the call for nominations for the 2023 National Small Business Week (NSBW) Awards. Each year, the NSBW Awards honor the achievements and contributions of SBA-assisted small business owners. Nominations will be accepted for the following categories: Small Business Person of the Year, Small Business Exporter of the Year, Phoenix Awards for Disaster Recovery, Federal Procurement Awards, Awards to SBA Resource Partners, and Small Business Investment Company of the Year. To nominate a small business owner, visit the SBA’s NSBW homepage.

3 scaling startups drive big sales growth via TikTok

TikTok has rapidly emerged as a sales-driving platform for brands, enabling companies to reach hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers with short-form videos often set to popular music.

Brands that have found success on TikTok, including baby gift registry Babylist, Eterneva, which converts the ashes of cremated loved ones into diamonds, and Liteboxer, an online boxing platform, have discovered that a test-and-learn approach helps them refine their content and strategy. They also pay attention to the trends that make other videos go viral on the platform, and they offer a mix of entertainment and education that gets consumers excited about their brand.

Learn insider strategies from Babylist, Eterneva, and Liteboxer executives on how they generated exponential sales growth via TikTok here.

Amazon Business launches small business grants program

To help kick off its own Small Business Month, Amazon Business is launching a Small Business Grants program, which will award a handful of small businesses more than $250,000 in small business grants. If you’re an Amazon Business customer with annual revenue of $1 million or less, you can apply for a grant and potentially receive monetary grants, Business Prime Memberships, Amazon Web Services credits and training benefits, and other perks. The application deadline is September 30 and winners will be announced on October 25. To apply, visit Amazon’s Small Business Grants homepage.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce announces finalists for annual Dream Big Awards

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today announced the finalists for CO— by U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Dream Big Awards program, presented by Spectrum Reach, with support from MetLife. The awards celebrate the achievements of small businesses and honors their contributions to America’s economic growth. The 2022 Small Business of the Year award winner will receive national recognition and a $25,000 cash prize. This year, 27 finalists were selected from more than 3,000 applications, and include some of the most innovative, diverse, and successful small businesses from across the country. Award winners will be announced at the Dream Big Awards Ceremony, part of the CO— Start. Run. Grow. Week virtual event on Tuesday, October 18, 2022, at 6:30pm ET. Register here.  

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s ‘ChallengeHer’ program returns to help more women secure government contracts

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman recently announced the return of ChallengeHer, a free government contracting education initiative to help women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) gain greater access to federal contracts.

ChallengeHer is designed to promote the WOSB Federal Contract Program, bring more women-owned firms into the federal government’s supply chain, and provide an avenue for government agencies to meet qualified women-owned small business contractors. This national initiative, now in its 10th year, is a joint effort with Women Impacting Public Policy and American Express.

ChallengeHer events are offered in person and online in a virtual environment. Attendees can take advantage of matchmaking and networking opportunities between government contractors and enjoy world-class programming and training presented by subject matter experts. Interested entrepreneurs can learn more here.

Twitter is now integrating podcasts into its platform

As part of its reimagined “Spaces” tab, Twitter is now adding podcasts to its platform. This new option allows Twitter users to personalize their hubs so they can group audio content using certain themes and easily access the podcasts that interest them.

This feature can be especially helpful for small businesses that have podcasts as part of their brands, as it helps them reach a larger audience and establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry. Additionally, business owners looking for podcasts about entrepreneurship and related topics can more easily sort through popular shows and episodes to add to their libraries.

To stay on top of all the news impacting your small business, go here for all of our latest small business news and updates.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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