Small business owners and companies from across Long Island gathered at the Carltun in Eisenhower Park to hear WCBS Business Anchor Joe Connolly lead a panel on the ways businesses are changing. The panel consisted of Milena Berry, the Co-Founder and CEO of PowerToFly, an online marketplace that matches women with jobs, SEO expert Andrew Hazen, founder of Angel Dough Ventures and co-founder of LI Launchpad, a Long Island small business incubator. Rounding out the panel was Daniel Stokar, the Administrator of the family business Housecalls for the Homebound, a Brooklyn-based medical practice that focuses on healthcare in the home and Adam Berkowitz from Pharmapacks.com, an online health and beauty website named by Inc. as one of New York’s fastest growing privately held companies.
In every breakfast Joe opens the program up by going right to the microphones and polling the audience on the current state of their business and how their sales numbers are doing. Three quarters of the attendees said their business was up with health insurance, publishing and tech support companies all reporting an uptick. The owners of these tech companies pointed out to Joe they are seeing new opportunities blossom as businesses of all sizes look to boost web security. With more business conducted through the web and record keeping becoming data driven, it’s inevitable there’s more demand for security and support services.
As the panel got underway it became evident one way business is changing, is the expansion of social media as a tool to promote your small business with paid digital clicks on twitter and Facebook being a common method. An understandable prospect to open doors to new business leaving some professionals leery because fraud is a known occurrence.
One audience member cited examples of foreign companies making billions by digitally clicking on ads leaving small business owners paying for clicks not generating any new business or sales. Andrew Hazen, founder of Angel Dough Ventures says he uses coupon codes as a way to measure if his ads are working and not filling the coffers of a fraudulent company. For his bobble head doll business Hazen said he “will mark digital ads with coupons labeled FB or TW as a way to track digital clicks on Facebook or Twitter ads.” But what if your company isn’t product driven and don’t sell anything? Hazen recommends conversion tracking or google analytics to better measure your traffic and see where it is coming from. It all comes down to knowing what to look for.
Business owners at the Carltun clearly recognized the role social media plays in business growth, and one audience member posed the question about hiring a ‘Social Media Manager’. The business owner who stages homes in Long Island currently outsources the role of social media to a woman in Atlanta Georgia, she wanted to know if that is sufficient enough as she sees her sales grow. Hazen was all for an employee tasked specifically with handling social media, especially in the image driven marked of home staging. He also pointed out in the long run you will wind up paying closely the same and can have someone focused solely on your company.
Milena Berry of PowerToFly presented a counter point telling the woman, “You do need to know how to work with people remotely. Berry said there is not a reason to stop a working relationship with a company or employee because they are not local. PowerToFly will often bring remote employees together periodically.
Aside from Social Media, the search for “downstream opportunities” and “parallel markets” are changing the ways business operate. Daniel Stokar, the Administrator of Housecalls for the Homebound cited how his company is now providing discharged patients with transitional care programs once they are out of the hospital. With Medicare and Medicaid looking to remove patients from the hospital sooner, Stokar said this became “downstream” from what they set out to do.
The breakfast wound down with a question from a local doctor who is dealing with the changes presented as part of the Affordable Care Act. After noting how Doctors are Small Business Owners, Connolly turned it over to Stokar who used an example showing businesses need to fall back on what they know as business changes. Now that Doctors and their care is tech driven they fail to do a simple thing, “Look Up”.
The next WCBS Small Business Breakfast is in March of 2016 and will bring us back to the Northern Suburbs.