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    • Help your business survive in a crowded sector

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      Mary Tague, owner of Florida-based Toy Town, a small retail business, has a few tips for small-business owners hoping to stay afloat in the rugged retail sector.

      Tague believes it is important for a company to realize what it does well and what it needs to improve. From there, a business owner can try to find the right people for the job to help in some of those places that need adjusting.

      For her part, Tague recognized the importance of online branding and social media channels, but she admitted to the Miami Herald she wasn't as sharp as she needed to be in those areas to get the job done.

      So what did she do? She made investments in the right people, one being her 27-year-old daughter, Megan, who designed the store's website and showed the ability to do a little bit of everything.

      "I wasn't very savvy," Tague said of her online expertise. "You have to do what you're good at, and hand off what you're not good at. We found that we get a lot of feedback from those platforms."

      Tague said Toy Town's presence on social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook has provided a boost to the store. During the holiday season, she also found it was important to double the inventory and offer some in-store promotional events to go along with Toy Town's online presence. It's worked well.

      Tague has owned the store for the last 18 years and has noticed the same customers coming back year after year for Christmas or birthday shopping.

      "We have a captive audience," she said. "Loyalty is a hard thing to find these days."

      Tague's largest in-store promotion is geared toward the holiday shopping season and is called Toy Town's Santa & Elf Magic Party. It usually takes place at the start of December.

      "That kind of kicks everything into double-throttle," Tague said. "People realize that Christmas is around the corner, and business picks up quite a bit."

      Small-business owners must realize the importance of marketing
      While large retail corporations have bundles of cash to use on marketing campaigns, smaller companies need to stretch their dollars a bit more to make an impact on their market.

      Entrepreneur reported small businesses should tie all of their social media channels together, meaning one site is linked to another for easy navigation from consumers.

      It also entails a company keeping all of its social media channels on one digital page. This allows a small-business owner to post a picture on Instagram and simultaneously post the same picture to their Twitter account, giving businesses a broader reach without taking up any additional time.

      What if a business needs capital?
      While an online marketing campaign can go a long way in helping a small business acquire a few extra consumers, some small businesses need some extra working capital during down seasons in order to survive.

      If that's the case, don't fret. Small-business lending is on the rise, according to Biz2Credit's Small Business Lending Index, which stated loan approval rates improved slightly in November from the previous year, a trend that should continue.

      In order to acquire a business loan, small companies should keep track of all their expenses in order to be attractive to a lender. Banks and financial institutions are taking a risk when they loan money to a small business, so they want to know the business is headed in the right direction.

      A small-business owner can make their venture look more attractive by keeping tidy records, paying their bills on time and keeping inventory levels at a reasonable level, according to Fox News.



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