Category Archives: business

3 Things You Should Never Do After a Job Interview

3 Things You Should Never Do After a Job Interview
By Sammi Caramela, B2B Staff Writer

Many candidates believe that the interview is the toughest and most important part of the application process. However, how you follow up after the interview is just as crucial.

You might have made a positive impact on the hiring manager, but you need to maintain your efforts. There are many critical, yet avoidable, mistakes applicants often make after participating in an interview. Hiring experts outlined a few of the most common, and how to recover.

  1. Following up to much

It’s alright (and even expected) that you follow up after your interview, but don’t overwhelm your potential employer with multiple messages and phone calls. If you reach out too often, you’re going to turn off the hiring manager.

“Many of us have been programmed to send thank you notes immediately following an interview, and sometimes that’s the right plan, but … be respectful of any communication parameters the interviewer may [have] set,” said Jodi Chavez, president, Randstad Professionals and Life Sciences at Randstad US. “For example, if your interviewer requests email communication, stick to that and don’t reach for the phone.”

Additionally, she added, your follow-ups will differ depending on how far along you are in the interviewing process.

“In general, the earlier you are in the process, the more quickly you should check in,” Chavez said. “An initial phone interview with no response may require follow-up within the week. However, you may want to wait seven to 10 days after a second or third interview.”

During the interview, you should ask the hiring manager when you should expect to hear back, and when it would be appropriate to reach out if you haven’t heard from them, said Jennifer Akoma, human resources director at Android Industries. Don’t take it upon yourself to reach out to people who haven’t given you permission to do so.

“We had one candidate [who] … used an organization that many of our employees were involved with to get their internal emails and phone numbers,” Akoma said. “Their guerilla tactics ended up leaving a huge negative impression on me and many members of our staff.”

2. Don’t get too comfortable with the interviewer.

You might hit it off with the hiring manager, but you should remain professional and appropriate through the entire hiring process.

“Be polite, but never become too familiar,” said Chavez. “Many people assume comfort early on in an attempt to build rapport, but this could put off your interviewer.”

This goes for social media as well. While it’s a great tool for marketing or showing your personality, it’s not good for socializing with a potential hiring manager.

“[One mistake is] asking to connect on LinkedIn with a hiring manager or one of the interviewers as soon as the interview is over,” said Richard Orbé-Austin, career coach and partner at Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting. “This request may seem too presumptuous and be a turnoff to the hiring manager or interviewer.”

3. Don’t change your salary expectations.

Mike Astringer, founder and principal consultant at Human Capital Consultants, Inc. noted that HR professionals interview candidates based partly on their initial compensation expectations.

“We [need to] know that they fit into our overall compensation range,” he said. “All too often, a candidate will interview for a job, become overconfident [and] then dramatically increase their compensation expectations.”

Astringer said he makes an offer to a candidate based on those initial salary expectations. Candidates should avoid greatly increasing their expectations at the final hour, he said.

“It makes the candidate look bad, it makes me look bad, and it wastes everyone’s time,” Astringer added.
What happens if you mess up?

Mistakes happen. If you handle them with pure intentions and grace, depending on how serious they are, you might be able to recover.

“I haven’t had anyone recover [from a mistake], but I also haven’t had anyone try,” Akoma said. “For example, if someone noticed an error on their thank-you letter and owned up to it quickly, I think I would still consider them. It shows accountability and willingness to admit and correct a mistake.”

But no matter what happens following a mistake, don’t burn bridges.

“If you don’t get the particular position, you always send a gracious follow-up to the hiring managers and/or the HR person expressing interest in future opportunities,” Akoma added. “It will make a good impression and could get you considered for other opportunities.”

Additional reporting by Shannon Gausepohl and Brittney Morgan. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn’t working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she’s writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn’t play it safe is when she’s writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at

How to Make Your First Trade Show a Success

How to Make Your First Trade Show a Success
By Bennett Conlin, Editorial Assistant

Trade shows offer businesses a chance to showcase their services and meet potential clients in a competitive, yet extremely beneficial environment. While it’s never easy to set up shop alongside competitors, performing well at a trade show can lead to noticeable increases in sales.

Like many facets of running a business, your performance and comfort level at trade shows improves with time. Running a booth for the first time generates feelings of anxiety. Between the logistics of travel plans, setting up your booth, worrying about your display’s appeal and interacting with customers, there’s no shortage of stress when it comes to attending a trade show. Luckily, there are several ways first-time trade show participants can hit the ground running and turn their first experience into an instant success.
Understand the basics

You never want to go into a trade show blind. Learning, and understanding, the different rules of the trade show should be your first step. The rules for each venue and show vary, which means you should start with this step for every trade show you attend. Thoroughly review the list of rules and regulations to ensure you don’t face unwelcome surprises when you arrive to the show.

“When [exhibiting] at a trade show for the first time, it’s important to communicate directly with the trade show staff to understand what your booth comes with and what you have to pay extra for,” said Nellie Alkap, CEO of “Some shows provide carpet; others you have to buy it [for] extra. Some provide a table and chairs; others you need to source. Every show is different, so don’t assume that your booth will come with the necessities. Have your team and the trade show staff on the same page so there are no last-minute issues when you arrive.”

If you’re having concerns imagining what a trade show atmosphere is like, you might want to go to a different show with similar participants and wander around the different areas.

“I always recommend [attending] a show as an attendee first before committing to a new show,” said Jacqueline Voss, the director of marketing and business development at Russo’s Restaurants. “That will give you an idea of the attendees and what other vendors are doing to attract attendees to their booth.”
Attract attention

When it comes to drawing people to your booth, it’s about standing out. Handing out flyers and business cards may boost exposure of your business a little bit, but nearly every booth will have these basics. Ask yourself the question, “What can we do to get noticed?”

Editor’s note: Looking for a trade show display service? Fill out the below questionnaire to connect with vendors that can help.

“Think of what you can bring to the booth that’s completely out-of-the-box,” said Ben Hindman, the CEO of Splash, which sells event marketing technology. “For example, indulge all five senses by exposing attendees to a specific scent, giving them something textured to hold or offering unique foods. Provide entertainment that will shock and delight your booth visitors, such as having food prepared by a local chef.”

Depending on your budget, hiring a chef or even a magician can easily attract crowds to your booth. Once other attendees see a swarm of people crowding your booth to get a taste of fresh food or view a magic trick, they’ll make their way to your booth to avoid missing out on the fun. If it’s not affordable to hire a chef for the event, there are other ways to think creatively and draw a crowd to your booth.

“When business owners attend their first trade show, they should think about what to offer at the booth that will attract the attention of attendees and also coordinates well with their brand,” said personal brand consultant Devoreaux Walton. “For example, a helicopter supplier can have little helicopter key chains or bottle openers as giveaways and have a remote-control toy helicopter race with prizes for each winner.”
Communicate genuinely

Trade show attendees realize that you’re hoping they use your business for its services or products, but that doesn’t mean you should become an overly pushy salesperson. Focus most of your conversations primarily on interested potential customers, but don’t blatantly ignore those that likely won’t buy from you. A friendly conversation and interaction can still help boost your brand’s overall reputation. There’s no downside to having memorable conversations with trade show attendees.

“Build relationships,” said Jonas Sickler, the marketing director at “Don’t try to close a deal, or you’ll drive people away. Trade shows can be a sensory overload, and potential customers are wearing their sales armor most of the time. You’re more likely to stand out and be remembered when you build personal relationships. This may not lead to an immediate deal, but it could result in new sales down the road.”

Make sure you jot down the information of these customers and follow up with them when the event concludes. Including a personal note that addresses your previous conversation with them can go a long way toward their willingness to do business with you.
Observe the competition

This step should occur both before and during the trade show. By researching your competition before the show, you can craft a message that addresses why you’re the best solution in your industry.

“Begin by completing an audit of attending competitors,” said Nick Holland, an account coordinator and marketing master at ARPR, a public relations firm. “This audit should include a deep dive into their messaging, branding, booth location, pre-show visibility, etc., so you can position your company and booth accordingly.”

At the show, it’s important to visit the booths of your competitors. Consider taking notes on what you like and don’t like about their display. By observing competitors, you gain valuable insights into their marketing tactics, and you may leave with display ideas that you want to implement at your next trade show.
Appreciate the opportunity

From budgetary restrictions to travel time, there are plenty of reasons why some small businesses can’t, or don’t, participate in trade shows. If you’re fortunate enough to attend a trade show, be grateful for the chance. Despite all the logistical stressors involved, trade shows serve as an opportunity for you to build relationships with potential customers and eventually turn those leads into actual customers.

“With so much interaction going digital, trade shows are a rare opportunity to get some face time with your customers, the media and even your competitors,” said Michelle Barry, the founder of Mesmerize Media Consulting. “It’s a chance to put faces to your company’s brand and show off what makes you unique. Also, think of attendees as your captive audience, all in one place. How often do you get a chance to do that?”

Bennett Conlin

Bennett is an editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU’s student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing. Contact him through email or Twitter.

G Suite vs. Office 365: Which Is Best for Your Business?

G Suite vs. Office 365: Which Is Best for Your Business?
By Matt D’Angelo, Staff Writer

Microsoft and Google are locked in a colossal battle to rule business productivity. Office 365 and G Suite both provide excellent, cloud-based toolkits that can ensure your team collaborates and stays in sync. But which is the right choice for your business? Each offers distinct advantages. Here’s a breakdown of both products to make the decision easier.
What you get

Both G Suite and Office 365 have a lot of overlap. The core suite of apps is essentially the same: email (Gmail vs. Outlook), word processing (Docs vs. Word), spreadsheets (Sheets vs. Excel) and slideshows (Slides vs. PowerPoint).

G Suite throws in some additional options, like the popular Forms for soliciting feedback online, Sites for creating internal pages for your team, and various other business productivity solutions. The real driver behind most of Google’s products here is collaboration – the ability for team members to work simultaneously on a Google Doc, Sheet or Slide is still best in class.

With Office 365, you get a lot of software with the bundle beyond the traditional Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There are multiple payment tiers, and all but the most basic service package gives you the core Office suite and additional software, such as Microsoft Teams, Yammer or Bookings. Microsoft also just introduced some new security features for some of its small business plans, which include things like phishing protection. Microsoft introduced a new workplace analytics software called MyAnalytics where you can analyze your business’s productivity. Keep in mind that some of these additions are only available in certain Office 365 plans.

G Suite, like most of Google’s products, integrates well with the web. Your work in Docs and other services will function best in the Chrome browser, which means that you can get work done from any PC or Mac. If your company is considering deploying Chromebooks, it’s an even easier setup. The company also continuously updates its mobile apps, and they’re consistent across iOS and Android, even though the latter is Google’s own platform. Google recently unveiled some new updates to Docs and other G Suite programs. Docs now has advanced grammar tracking, so you won’t miss errors ranging from a, an usage to properly using subordinate clauses. This change accompanied a few others from Google, including smart replies in Hangouts chat and some enhanced G Suite security features.

On the other hand, Office 365 now has functioning web versions of all its applications, plus all that Office software has its advantages. Microsoft has done an admirable job of bringing about rapid updates that work well offline and can handle some more demanding tasks than G Suite. Office also has more robust mobile apps, so give this some thought if some team members do lots of work from mobile devices or have ditched laptops for iPad Pros. The company’s new “work on any device” ethos means you don’t ever have to touch Windows to get a good Office experience.

Collaboration is more of a challenge with Microsoft’s products. Even though Word does offer Google Docs-like collaboration features, work must take place through OneDrive, and sometimes changes must be manually synced. It’s a good effort, but still not quite as smooth as Google Docs.
What to watch

Both Microsoft and Google are putting major efforts into artificial intelligence. You’ll begin to see more of this as the technology matures. Current examples are the Explore tab in Google Docs, which pulls up relevant information from your work and the web.

Microsoft has also gone this route, with the Editor feature that makes suggestions for your writing by pinging you about frequently used works. The Research tool lets you find relevant information in the Word document. The feature continues to undergo development, and over time it may cut down on how much time you need to spend researching in the browser.

Microsoft offers several pricing tiers, ranging from $5 per month to $35 depending on your needs. Mid- and high-tier plans give you access to communication tools like Yammer or HD video conferencing through Skype. All Microsoft plan holders will have access to teams, as the company recently announced it would be offering a free version.

Google’s pricing structure is a little more straightforward. Each user costs $5 per month, with the price jumping to $10 per month for additional security and storage enhancements from the Business plan. There’s also an enterprise level for those with larger needs, although you’ll have to contact Google for pricing.

In the end, the right choice depends on your team’s needs and which best fits your workflow. Some are more familiar with a set of tools and may prefer the Microsoft or Google route given their background. Make your choice, then get to work.

Matt D’Angelo

Matt D’Angelo is a Staff Writer based in New York City. After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in Journalism, Matt gained experience as a copy editor and writer for newspapers and various online publications. Matt joined the team in 2017 and covers technology for and Business News Daily. Follow him on Twitter or email him.

10 Best Android Apps for Business

10 Best Android Apps for Business
By Mona Bushnell, Staff Writer

Apps aren’t just for social media and gaming anymore. Small business owners, freelancers and side-hustlers rely on business-ready apps to help them stay organized, productive and connected. We checked out some of the hottest new business apps on the market, as well as some of our old favorites, to bring you our top 10 best Android apps for work.

These apps include powerful add-ons, existing SaaS (software as a service) products, and one-off applications that are free and easy to use. No matter your business size or needs, these 10 apps are worth a look.


If you don’t already use QuickBooks and you’re in the market for an affordable, user-friendly accounting solution, we highly recommend trying it out. The company offers a free 30-day trial, and even users with the entry-level SaaS subscription ($10 per month) get full access to the mobile QuickBooks app. Through the app, you can access customer information, send invoices, save photos of receipts, manage late invoices, send email estimates, track expenses and more.


Another outstanding Intuit app for SMBs, Gusto offers an all-in-one place to manage payroll, benefits and human resources. Unlike other payroll solutions, Gusto was built specifically for small businesses, and the bright visual interface is easy to use even if you have no experience with payroll software. The Core (entry-level) Gusto plan starts at $39 a month (plus $6 for each additional user), and the mobile app is included in that price.


TSheets is, you guessed it, also an Intuit solution, but that’s not why we included it on this list. TSheets is hands-down one of the best time-tracking software solutions out there for SMBs, and the app makes mobile access a breeze. With this SaaS and app combo, you can officially get rid of paper timesheets and manual time entry. If your business has lots of remote or field workers, you’ll love the GPS location tracking, which allows you to view employee location data, and the timeclock function, which uses facial recognition to confirm identity. TSheets also makes it easy to create and disseminate employee schedules and integrate with any other Intuit products you use. The entry-level subscription is $25 a month (plus $5 for each additional user), and the app is included.


Even the tiniest businesses can accept credit cards thanks to Square. Once you download the free app, you can sign up to receive a credit card reader dongle (for free) in the mail. Once the dongle arrives, you can plug it directly into your Android device, and voila, you have a portable POS system at your disposal. While there are similar apps out there, Square is our favorite because it’s easy to use and the flat-rate pricing (regardless of card type and whether you run a card as credit or debit) is ideal for small businesses.


One of the first major communication apps, Skype is still our favorite free small business app for hosting video conference calls and chatting in general. You can take Skype on the go with the Android app, which allows you to use the front-facing camera on your phone or tablet and stay connected with your team no matter where you (or they) are. One of Skype’s best features is the ability to call non-Skype users, and even international numbers, at a competitive rate through the Skype Credit program.


Slack is a free (with optional paid tiers) chat app that’s ideal for teams. You can create channels for different topics or members, send direct messages, host video calls without leaving the app, search archived conversations, and drag and drop images, videos and PDFs. One major reason Slack is so popular with SMBs is because it can integrate with more than 1,500 different apps, including Salesforce, Dropbox, Google Drive, Concur, Asana and Trello.

Zoho One

Zoho makes lots of great business apps, and Zoho One offers business users access to all 40 of them for one flat rate ($30 per user per month). While this cost may seem high for an app bundle, Zoho’s products are packed with functionality and just as easy to use on a laptop or desktop as they are on a mobile device. While it’s impossible to cover every task Zoho One can handle, the outstanding tools are CRM, reporting, a sales mail client, social media management, helpdesk ticketing, web conferencing, project management, presentation tools, inventory management, payroll and more.


Trello is a free app (with optional paid tiers) that’s a must-download for entrepreneurs, side-hustlers and professionals who want to stay organized at the office and at home. The lightweight project management features allow you to create workflows and invite other users to collaborate on projects. Users can also assign tasks to themselves (and others), comment on ongoing projects, attach relevant files from Google Drive or Dropbox, and upload photos and videos. There’s also a handy checklist for to-dos, boards to organize multiple projects side by side, and the ability to work offline.


Another organizational powerhouse, Evernote is one of the most popular free, business-friendly apps out there. Evernote is ideal for organizing your personal and professional life side by side, thanks to the ability to create different notebooks, clip web articles, insert media (including video), search old notes based on keywords, share notebooks for collaboration while locking down private notes, create to-do lists and perform lightweight project management, scan documents with your camera, create and search handwritten notes, and access info across all your devices. Evernote is increasingly adding functionality for team collaboration and third-party integrations, and the paid features are worth checking out.


This free app is super simple compared to the others on our list, but it’s an invaluable tool for SMB owners, freelancers and contractors. CamScanner makes it easy to scan documents using the camera on your Android device. You can then save those documents as PDFs and email or download them directly from the app. The interface takes a minute to get used to, but for a free scanning app, CamScanner is top-notch.

Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a New York City-based Staff Writer for and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT Technician, a Copywriter, a Software Administrator, a Scheduling Manager and an Editorial Writer. Mona began freelance writing full-time in 2014 and joined the team in 2017.

Successful Businesses Founded in College Dorm Rooms

Successful Businesses Founded in College Dorm Rooms
By Carlyann Edwards, B2B Editorial Intern

Facebook’s dorm room origins may be the most famous of college startup stories, but it’s hardly the only one. To name a few, Microsoft, Yahoo, Insomnia Cookies and even The Onion can all be traced back to college.

Universities want to avoid the cliche of the 20-year-old dropout founder. Steve Jobs did it. Mark Zuckerberg did it. Bill Gates did it. But that doesn’t mean all college-age entrepreneurs must. The share of incubator programs associated with universities has grown to a record high of 42 percent, according to the International Business Innovation Association’s 2016 IMPACT Index.

Achieving long-term business success at a young age while juggling a full course load isn’t easy. But with hard work and a lot of luck, you may catch a break like the entrepreneurs below.
Eat Your Coffee

In 2013, Johnny Fayad and Ali Kothari of Northeastern University got into the habit of running late for their 8 a.m. financial accounting class, leaving them with no time for breakfast and coffee. Their solution: a vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO snack bar packed with 80 milligrams of caffeine from real, fair trade, roasted coffee.

The Eat Your Coffee Bar was first created in a dorm room, sold around the library and officially launched on Kickstarter in late 2014. Since the launch, the 2017 graduates have gotten their product into more than 1,000 locations throughout the country and sold more than 1 million bars.

“Luckily, we had the product that helped us not sleep: caffeinated snack bars,” Fayad said. “We were really stretched thin and it was definitely difficult, but it was all around priorities.”

The two Northeastern graduates relied on many resources provided by the university. Both Fayad and Kothari participated in the university’s co-op program, and each took a semester to focus on the business.

“Play the student card and ask for help,” Fayad said. “We’ve had almost every aspect of our business touched and improved upon by someone else.”
Kanga Kase Mate

Founded by three students at Clemson University, Kanga LLC offers a convenient solution that’s “kooler than a cooler” to keep your on-the-go beverages chilled.

“It’s like a koozie for your case of beer,” said Austin Maxwell, Kanga’s head of marketing.

With a tailgate culture like Clemson’s, it’s easy to see why founder Logan LaMance wanted to provide his peers an alternative to the clunky coolers they dragged to Memorial Stadium every Saturday during football season.

“After a few beers, it hit us: If the case starts out cold, why not just keep it cold for the entire time you actually drink it in the most easy, portable and convenient way possible?” LaMance said. Kanga’s patented Kase Mate weighs less than a pound and uses five layers of insulating fabrics to keep drinks cold for up to seven hours without ice.

“Kanga is a brand that revolves around fun,” said Teddy Giard, head of content. But as fun-loving as the five young entrepreneurs are, they’ve sacrificed a traditional college experience for the betterment of the Kanga brand. “We’ve described it as working a 9-to-5 job, then a 5-to-12.”

The Kase Mate generated $34,295 in less than two months after launching on Kickstarter in March.

“We are preparing for an incredible football season with collegiate licensing partnerships, forming strong relationships with retailers, and getting our foot in the door with major beer companies to bring the most fun and convenient beverage-cooling solution to as many people as possible,” LaMance said.

After Ritwik Pavan had continuous trouble finding parking for his job in Chapel Hill, he decided to formulate VADE in December 2017.

“Is there any application out there that can show me where to park?” he asked. He discovered the problem isn’t locating parking lots, but finding available parking spots. According to his company’s website, “VADE is a smart parking solution using a network of sensors to provide real-time parking availability and give cities new insight into driver behavior.”

“Initially we were just looking to make an application for users, but then we realized that cities and governments are a much bigger client,” Pavan said.

VADE uses beacon technology to provide big data to local and city governments on parking and traffic patterns, something typically only found through costly case studies. The team of five plans to raise $240,000 by mid-July and have one city up and operating by the end of the fiscal year. Several cities in North Carolina have already shown interest in the company’s services.

But VADE isn’t this UNC Chapel Hill student’s first rodeo. Pavan has been working on startup companies for the past five years, beginning with an app that reached half a million downloads when he was a sophomore in high school. By May 2014, he had received so many inquiries from colleagues about help with app and web development that he created Linker Logic Technologies. In the last four years, the company has served more than 60 clients and grown to 42 to employees, eight of whom are students.
ROSEN Skincare

After Jamika Martin finished two rounds of Accutane and was still dealing with breakouts, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She developed ROSEN Skincare, an effective brand of plant-based products with a few ingredients.

“We started ROSEN because we were tired of the thoughtless formulas in acne care,” the website says. “We were tired of choosing between safe ingredients and genuine results. We wanted cleaner options to treating acne.”

Martin received her bachelor’s in business economics from UCLA in just three years so she could pursue ROSEN full time.

“I think being at UCLA was a huge bonus for what I was doing,” she said. “Not only was I able to take courses on entrepreneurship and connect with resources like Startup UCLA, but there are just so many creative and hardworking people around you.”

After launching in January 2017, the company grew 225 percent within the first six months of generating revenue. ROSEN has even begun to develop customer loyalty, with 40 percent of its revenue coming from repeat customers.

“As a founder with a personal history and need for my product, seeing the joy and result people get from using ROSEN is the most rewarding component,” Martin said.
Advice for student entrepreneurs

Many entrepreneurs have proven that a college degree is not a prerequisite for running a successful business. At the same time, the opportunities of simply being a student can give a startup substantial leverage.

“The level of risk you have as a student is so little that you might as well start something if it is something you’re truly passionate about,” Fayad said.

Everything you do seems more impressive the younger you are. People are more willing to help students, so reach out to mentors, ask questions, and take advantage of competitions. On a college campus, there is a sort of cushion to explore ideas that isn’t available anywhere else.

“You can fail and make no money and no one really cares,” Martin said. “It’s when you graduate and you’re all on your own that the pressure is on.”

With low stakes and minimal expectations, the spirit of entrepreneurship is flowing through undergraduate campuses. However, exploring bright ideas fueled by university grants and scholarships and connections is very different from independently running a sustainable business that will continue after you graduate. The founders of Eat Your Coffee, Kanga, VADE and ROSEN have encountered the necessary sacrifices firsthand.

Martin said prioritizing was easy for her because she was always excited to work on her business. But these young entrepreneurs all agreed you shouldn’t explore your own student-led venture unless you’re prepared to seriously prioritize.

When asked how he manages it all, Pavan said, “I don’t really sleep that much.”

Carlyann Edwards

Carlyann is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Business Journalism with minors in sustainability and music at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and will graduate in 2020. She is incredibly interested by the intersection of business development and environmental preservation. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys working for non-profit organization Carolina Thrift, running and playing the ukulele. She can be reached by email or LinkedIn.

Starting a Business? 8 Tips for New Entrepreneurs

Starting a Business? 8 Tips for New Entrepreneurs
By Chad Brooks, Business News Daily Senior Writer

2014 will be the year many aspiring entrepreneurs finally take the leap and open their own business. And, while the thought of quitting a full-time job with a steady paycheck to finally launch a business can be terrifying, Justin Beegel, an entrepreneur who founded Infographic World in 2009, said there are steps new business owners can take to help ensure the venture is a success.

Beegel offered eight tips for those who are ready to launch their own company:

Make sure you have a support system in place. If you don’t, go find one. Make sure you have a few people in your life you can go to, who know what you’re going through, whom you can bounce ideas off of, have them point out things you’re doing wrong, and just talk to in general. [10 Sanity-Saving Tips for Entrepreneurs]
Expect the worst. Forget any glamour you see in movies about entrepreneurial success. Taking the leap to start a company sets you up for the most indescribable roller coaster you can possibly imagine. When it’s your company, you live it and breathe it — every day, all day. When things go wrong, you will feel like you are a failure and that the world is crashing down. While nothing can prepare you for this journey, just expect a rocky ride, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Have passion and perseverance. Chinese philosopher Confucius famously said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day of your life.” This has tremendous significance in the startup world. In order to succeed, entrepreneurs must find a business they are passionate about because it will consume their entire life. Nothing in the work environment is more fulfilling than owning a company.
Recruit the best people. This may be the most important part of growing a business. Bring in the most talented and hard-working people possible, and keep them happy. At some point, you will not be able to do everything yourself (nor should you), and your business will be only as good as its people.
Take advantage of the unprecedented digital reach in 2014. The digital and social media landscape in 2014 offers businesses the ability to reach millions of customers at no cost, and on a global scale. Major social media sites — such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — as well as digital marketing can make a tiny business global. This unprecedented digital reach, as well as the cloud revolution and the ability to work remotely, has drastically reduced the amount of startup capital needed to launch a business.
Set realistic goals and timelines. Most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by March or sooner. Typically, they were great ideas at conception, so it is critical to regroup quarterly and make sure your business goals are on track. Set goals that are realistic and measureable. This may be the difference between success and failure.
Make time to read a little each day. Grab a copy of your favorite newspaper or magazine, or log on to your favorite online publication, and read occasionally throughout the day. Reading helps spark ideas that you can apply to your business, and reminds you of things that caused other businesses to fail.
Just jump. The time will never feel quite right. There will always be reasons — real or imagined — to wait. If you have a good idea, believe in yourself and are prepared, take the leap.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years’ experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

How to Start a Photography Business

How to Start a Photography Business
By Pamela S. Stevens, Senior B2B Editor

Starting your own photography business is a great way to add a second income or a main income, if you work hard. While the photography market is competitive, many photography business owners have been able to find their niche and build a sustainable career. Like most creative endeavors, you need to balance your passion for photography with real business skills in order to be successful.

To build and grow your business, you need both raw talent and a knack for marketing. One photographer we spoke with said an ability “to market yourself” was one of the most important factors in success. You should continually be working to improve your craft and evolving your product, and work consistently on your own branding, online marketing and people skills. Without the two, the results will likely just be an expensive hobby rather than a viable full-time business.

In this article…

1. Startup costs
2. Your branding and reputation
3. Pricing
4. Customer expectations and contracts
5. Where to find work
6. More resources
Startup costs

Quality photography equipment is notoriously expensive, so you’ll want to start off with the minimum: Buying a $5,000 lens doesn’t make sense if your business isn’t making money yet. Many professional photographers say to plan on budgeting about $10,000 to start your photography business.

According to professional photographer Austen Diamond, “building slow and smart” will help you stay nimble. Allow the organic growth of your business to fund gear improvements, and avoid debt if possible, he said.

Based on interviews with professional photographers, here is a basic budget for starting your business, not including studio or office space. All prices are yearly estimates or one-time purchases.

Two cameras: $1,500 to $2,000 each
Multiple lenses: $1,000+ each
Two flashes: $700
Multiple memory cards: $50+ each
Two external drives: $120 each (keep one backup off-site)
Computer or laptop with sufficient memory: $2,000
Website (Wix, PhotoShelter, SmugMug and/or Squarespace): $60+
Lightroom and Photoshop subscription: $120 per year
Business licenses: $150 (varies)
Insurance: $600 per year (varies)
Accounting: $300+ per year (varies)
Contracts: Free to $1,000+ (varies)
Online proof gallery, such as ShootProof: $120 per year
Business cards: $20+

Optional expenses:

Business training, such as classes
Photography workshops and classes
Stylish camera bags and straps
Second computer
Printed marketing materials
Studio and office space

Other things you’ll need to do (that may be free or low-cost):

Market your business via social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to start)
Create your business name and logo
Research the best business structure (LLC, S corporation or other)
Acquire sales tax permit and employer identification number (EIN)
Obtain image licensing and usage contracts; Creative Commons offers free services
Set up business bank accounts
Find a way to manage client contact information and emails (see BND’s list of the best CRM software)
Choose a spreadsheets and scheduling solution (Google Docs is free)
Find an expense tracker (mileage, expenses, billable time), such as Expensify or BizXpenseTracker
Research credit card payment processing, such as Square or PayPal
Establish a referral program

Your branding and reputation

Our expert sources offered the following advice for building your personal brand and reputation as a professional photographer.

Your person and gear: If you work with people, you are your brand. Even the little things affect your reputation, and most of your business will come by word-of-mouth referrals. When you go to a shoot, dress appropriately. Iron your shirt. Wash your car. Be organized. Bring your own water and snacks. Charge your electronics. Thank-you and referral gifts should be classy. Being ready shows respect and professionalism.

Being timely: Always arrive to the shoot early, and don’t fail to deliver your product when promised. Print out directions so you don’t get lost. Ensure that your clients understand your production schedule and how long it will be for them to receive their proofs and final product, and stick to your agreements. Answer phone calls and emails in a timely manner.

Online: Anonymity is nearly impossible these days. Many potential clients will be searching for you and your work online. The images you post online should not only be high-quality but also the kind of images you want to be taking to attract the kind of work you want to be doing. Avoid contentious social media posts, and keep your language positive. Keep your LinkedIn profile and contact information on all sites up-to-date.

Many photographers have difficulties with setting their price and determining their value. Certainly, you should never price work to result in lost money or less than minimum wage, but many do. You can research your area to see what your competitors charge, but ultimately, you’ll need to charge what you are worth.

Generally, you’ll want to estimate 3 hours of editing time for every hour of shooting. Some photographers use a gauge of roughly $50 per hour to cover standard costs. Be sure to factor in travel and preparation time. Consider your ongoing costs, such as insurance, gear, accounting services and your website.

Once you start adding up the numbers, you can see why undercutting your competitors may not always be the best strategy and may result in you losing money on a gig. If you cannot seem to make the numbers match, you’ll either have to consider whether you are OK with having an expensive hobby or if you need to branch out into a different, more profitable market.

You should also always require an upfront deposit for high-priced gigs. To avoid credit card stop payments, you should require cash, cashier’s check or bank transfer for paying the deposit.
Customer expectations and contracts

Managing your clients’ expectations is important to your success. Your clients should know exactly what to expect of you and also what is expected of them. For weddings, timelines and group pictures should be organized in advance. For infant photos, your customers should know what clothes and accessories to bring. If you are taking corporate headshot images, people should know how to dress.

For contracts, your clients should know how much is due in advance and how to pay it. You should set terms on how far in advance you need them to commit so you can schedule. Contracts should be explained carefully, and if applicable, your customers should know how they are allowed to use the images — and that should be in writing as well. While not everyone is comfortable with legalese, your professionalism will help make this necessary part of your business agreement go as smoothly as possible. You can find free contracts online, such as model release, photo licensing, wedding agreements and other common photography contracts, on sites like Less Accounting.

Finding your niche market not only allows you to focus on a specific skill set but also offers the opportunity to find networking prospects in a specific genre. Wedding and infant photographers are abundant. You can still book these types of gigs, but if you can offer something that others do not, you may find more work.

The product you offer may cover a specific genre, such as sports, or even a style or mood, such as humorous photos. Or perhaps you are also a writer and can create beautiful picture books with family stories. Maybe you work in the medical industry and have the knowledge to create quality educational medical photography.
Where to find work
A note about wedding photography

With weddings, you get only one chance to do it right. If you have issues with your camera or memory card and don’t have the proper backup gear, you may miss the whole thing and damage your reputation quickly. If you are not prepared for lighting challenges or the chaos of working with emotional, opinionated family members, you will not produce your best work. Although weddings are usually profitable gigs, many experienced wedding photographers recommend that you start as a second shooter with an established wedding photographer before going solo. Many part-time or freelance photographers are trying to get in the wedding game, but there are other ways to make money while you work on your skills and purchasing the proper gear.

It’s also important to note that the wedding market is seasonal, and business will likely fluctuate in the fall and winter. If you’re getting into this market, be sure to plan ahead and save for the off-season.
Other photography markets

Not interested in competing in the oversaturated wedding or baby market? Here are some other avenues you can explore:

Stock photography: You can start your own stock-photo website or sign up as a contributor to popular sites such as Shutterstock or iStock. Pay may be low, but licensing is managed for you, and you can sell in volume.

Contract work: Some photographers have obtained contracts that pay a set monthly amount to cover local events or to be on call. For example, perhaps your local tourism or business development department may pay you monthly to cover local events.

Commercial photography: All businesses need web images these days. You may be able to find work capturing images of their products or services, facilities, and even headshots of their board members and management team.

Real estate: Oftentimes, real estate agents will contract with photographers to capture professional images of homes, business properties and land. They may also want you to capture 360-degree or interactive video footage.

Pets: People certainly love their pets, and some pet owners want professional images of their furry companions, either as portrait-style images or on location with natural movement and action.

Boudoir or glamour: Many people like sensual pics of themselves or images taken of them with their hair and makeup professionally done. These can be done in a studio with other professional artists if you cannot do hair and makeup yourself.

Sports: A wide variety of sports organizations want professional images and video. You may even be able to obtain contract work to cover a full season or a specific event, such as a local marathon, rodeo or bike race. Keep in mind that lenses for capturing sports moments can be costly.

Local news: Local print, TV and online news sources may pay you for images of local events, weather disasters or crime scenes. It would require you to go out and cover events upfront on your dime, but it could pay off later.

Image or video editing: A busy local photographer may need assistance with his or her workload. The pay may not be ideal, but it is a good opportunity to work on your editing skills.

Product images: Many local artisans and retail businesses sell products online and need good product images for their own websites or shopping sites, such as Etsy or Amazon. The pay per image would be low, but the work is relatively easy.

Food images: Like every other business, restaurants need to have an online presence. You may find ample work in helping restaurants create online menus and promotional images.

Music: Working bands need promotional images for their websites, CDs and media packages. Some also desire video of their live performances.

Paparazzi: To some people, “paparazzi” may seem like a dirty word, but someone has to snap pics of the Kardashians in their less-than-flattering casual moments. If you live in a city such as Los Angeles, New York or Las Vegas, you may be able to make money from selling your celebrity photographs.

Prints: Some photographers have found success selling their prints. It’s a tough way to make money but worth exploring if it fits your genre. Prints can be sold online and in galleries.

Contests: If entering a photo contest is easy and doesn’t cost you anything, it may be worth trying to garner a little extra income.

There is a lot to know about becoming an exceptional photographer and making money doing it. With skill, careful marketing and a professional reputation, you have a good chance of creating a lucrative photography career.

Pamela S. Stevens

Pamela has one personal business motto: “If I ever lose money, I quit.” And that has not happened yet through the past 20 years and five small businesses. Pamela is a California transplant who now resides in Ogden, Utah, where Business News Daily’s parent company, Purch, is headquartered. She started with Purch in 2005 as one of the first writers for Top Ten Reviews (TTR), where she reviewed all types of products including business, security and financial software and services. Now she writes and develops content for all Purch B2B properties, covering a broad range of small business and IT topics. Her formal education includes a degree in Creative Writing and Geography, with a special interest in smart planning and urban development.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent

How to Become a Real Estate Agent
By Elizabeth Peterson, Business News Daily Contributor

real estate agent Real estate agents guide clients through the complex processes of purchasing, selling, or renting properties. / Credit: Andy Dean Photography | Shutterstock

If you’ve ever bought or sold a home, then you know how important the work of a real estate agent can be. Real estate agents and brokers guide clients through the complex processes of purchasing, selling, or renting properties.

If you’re considering a career as a real estate agent or broker, then keep reading for some important information, including the responsibilities you can expect to take on, what your schedule may be like, and what qualifications you must possess to get the job.

What real estate agents do

Those pursuing a career in real estate sales typically choose to become licensed as either a broker or a sales agent. The two jobs are similar in their responsibilities, but brokers typically have more experience in the industry than agents and are additionally licensed to manage their own real estate businesses.

Sales agents must work with a broker, and many agents become brokers after gaining several years of experience and obtaining a broker’s license. The term Realtor identifies a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

For both brokers and agents, the demands of the job are as broad as the sales process itself. People hire real estate professionals because the process of buying, selling, and renting property is nuanced and time-consuming, and brokers and agents can help make sure that no part of the process is overlooked.

The job of a broker or an agent begins with the solicitation of potential clients and does not end until a property is bought or sold and all terms of the purchase contract are met. Agents and brokers are responsible for advising clients on different aspects of local markets, helping clients compare properties, and mediating negotiations between buyers and sellers. They are also responsible for keeping up-to-date, detailed portfolios of properties for sale, promoting properties with open houses and listing services, and preparing documents such as deeds and purchase agreements.

Real estate professionals must be knowledgeable about the market in which they are working, possessing a well-rounded understanding of quality-of-life factors such as crime rates, nearby school systems, and access to services such as public transportation, hospitals and grocery stores. It is also important for those in this line of work to stay abreast of trends in financing and best mortgage options, government programs, zoning regulations, and fair housing laws.

Because trends and laws in the real estate industry are continually changing, more states require that brokers and agents participate in ongoing educational programs to maintain their licenses.

Where real estate agents work

The majority of real estate brokers were self-employed as of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, with others employed at real estate firms. Sales agents, who must work for brokers, typically find employment with a brokerage, leasing office or other real estate establishment. Because of the vast differences in real estate markets in different areas, workplaces in this industry can range in size from one-person businesses to large firms with numerous branch offices.

Some brokers have franchise agreements with national or regional real estate companies in which the broker pays a fee to be affiliated with a widely known real estate organization, such as Century 21, Coldwell Banker, or Sotheby’s.

Regardless of where a broker or agent works, he or she will typically spend much of the workday away from the office, scouting and showing properties or holding meetings with clients. Sales agents who are new to the industry may also spend a good deal of time at networking events in order to build a reputation within their communities.

Real estate professionals notoriously work long, irregular hours, as they must be available to clients on weekends as well as after business hours. Many agents and brokers work more than the typical 40-hour workweek, though some do keep their real estate careers part-time and work at other jobs, as well.

Brokers and agents earn most of their income through commissions on sales, the rates of which vary depending on the type and value of property sold. Real estate incomes vary greatly depending on the area in which one chooses to work, the experience one has in the industry, and how motivated one is to sell. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, real estate brokers earned $54,910 annually as of 2010. Sales agents earned $40,030 on average in that same year.

Becoming a real estate agent

Though the licenses for real estate agents and brokers differ, the basic requirements for each are the same. In the United States, almost every state requires that agents and brokers be at least 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a written exam, and complete a certain number of hours of real estate courses. Some states have additional requirements, and most licenses are not transferable between states.

Broker licenses can be obtained by agents who have several years of experience selling properties and who complete additional training courses. In some states, brokers may substitute a bachelor’s degree in place of industry experience.

Because of the popularity of this career, many colleges and universities now offer courses in real estate, as well as certificate programs. Some institutions also offer associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs in real estate.

Most states in the United States require that licenses for brokers and agents be renewed every two to four years, and many states additionally require real estate professionals to attend continuing education classes throughout their careers. For a comprehensive list of the requirements for sales agents and brokers by state, visit the Real Estate Library or the National Association of Realtors.

Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth writes about innovative technologies and business trends. She has traveled throughout the Americas in her roles as student, English teacher, Spanish language interpreter and freelance writer. She graduated with a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University. You can follow her on Twitter @techEpalermo or Google+.

How To Become a Commercial Drone Pilot

How To Become a Commercial Drone Pilot
By Richard Baguley, Contributing Writer

Drone pilots are in demand. In fact, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, projected more than 100,000 new jobs will be created in unmanned aircraft by the year 2025. And analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that the global market for commercial use of drones could reach $127 million by 2020. That’s because more professionals, like realtors, security firms, advertising agencies, architects, construction firms and developers looking for aerial video to do business.

If you want to get in on this groundswell and become a commercial drone pilot, you will need three things:

A Drone Pilot License
Professional Drone Insurance
A Drone

Get Licensed

The first thing you will need is a license. Selling drone photos without a license could earn you a $1,100 fine from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The government has mandated that anyone who flies a drone for a commercial, non-recreational or governmental purpose needs to have a special license to do so. This license is called a Part 107, after the rule that governs it.

To get this license, you have to register with the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (ICARA), then register online for the written test, which costs $150 and can be taken at an FAA approved location. These are often local flying clubs or airports. This test involves 60-plus multiple-choice questions that cover setting up, operating and safely using a drone. You need to answer 70 percent correct to pass.

Applicants must be at least 16 years old and have a government-issued picture ID. Note: It may take a couple of weeks, depending on your location, while you sit on a waiting list. There are about 700 locations in the United States.

To give you some idea of the test’s difficulty level, here’s a sample question:

A stall occurs when the smooth airflow over the unmanned airplane’s wing is disrupted and the lift degenerates rapidly. This is caused when the wing:

A) exceeds the maximum speed.

B) exceeds maximum allowable operating weight.

C) exceeds its critical angle of attack.

You don’t have to go into this test cold, though. The FAA offers a free two-hour training course that you must preregister for and an online study guide. If that’s not enough, there are plenty of sites that can help teach you the rules and regulations of flying a drone, such as RemotePilot101 and UAVGroundSchool. The latter of these offers to pay the fee for your Rule 107 test if you don’t pass.

After the test, your score will be uploaded in 48 hours. Then you can apply for your Remote Pilot Certificate. The TSA will run a background check on you before you can print out a certificate.
Purchase Insurance

The next thing you will need is professional drone insurance. Don’t assume that your home, personal or professional insurance will cover this. Most modern policies exclude drones from their coverage. Instead, you should look into getting a professional drone insurance policy from a company such as AIG or Agion that offers sufficient coverage for any accidents. This should include coverage for your equipment, the cameras that you attach to your drone and enough coverage to protect you if your drone crashes into something or somebody (something that’s probably inevitable).

One interesting and usually lower cost option is called Verifly. This offers policies that you can buy on the spot that offer up to $10 million in coverage. There’s even an app that allows you to buy on location for a fixed amount of time.

Editor’s Note: Need to protect your business with general liability insurance? Fill out the questionnaire below, and our sister site BuyerZone will connect you with vendors that can help.

Pick a Drone

Finally, you’ll need the drone itself. If you are shooting video for a client, they are going to want professional-looking video that has sharp detail and bright, clean color. Although you might be able to get away with a cheap drone like the $799 Mavic Air, you would be better placed to look at investing in a larger, more flexible drone, like the DJI Inspire Two, combined with a camera like the Zenmuse X5. This combination will allow you to shoot the same beautiful, smooth 4K video that you see on nature documentaries. It isn’t cheap, though: this combination will cost you about $5,000.

Whichever drone you decide on, you’ll need to register it. The FAA requires anyone who flies an unmanned aerial system (UAS) or drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds be registered. It will cost you $5, and you must renew it every three years.

If you pick a drone that weighs more than 55 pounds, you’re going to need a 333 exemption, which are hard to get and generally require a real, full-on pilot’s license.
Get Flying

There are a few rules you’ll need to abide by as a commercial drone pilot. For instance, unless you get a 107 waiver, you can’t fly a drone at night, over people, higher than 400 feet or further away than you can see with the naked eye. Also, avoid any place within five miles of an airport.

Assuming you follow all these, you could be quickly on your way to making legal money flying a drone. Now you’ll just need to practice your skills.

The Small Business Guide to Sustainability Certifications

The Small Business Guide to Sustainability Certifications
By Carlyann Edwards,

Today, companies face pressure to expand their corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. SolarCity’s sustainability briefing found that 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if the company is making an effort to be sustainable, while 82 percent are more likely to purchase a product that represents CSR over one that does not.

How can businesses effectively market their environmental responsibility while avoiding the pitfalls of greenwashing?

Many companies have turned to accredited CSR certifications and awards. Sustainability certifications are voluntary norms and standards relating to environmental, social, ethical and food safety issues.

“These certifications help consumers and stakeholders understand that the company has gone through a third-party verification process to make sure the company is actually walking the walk regarding sustainability,” Josh Prigge CEO of Sustridge said.

With sustainability reporting on the rise and a lot at stake for companies, there are several certifications businesses can choose from. Choosing the best one can be difficult, but here are some of the more popular ones to make your decision a bit easier.
B Corp

B Lab certification requires companies to pass an online assessment for “social and environmental performance,” integrate B Lab commitments into company governing documents, and pay an annual fee ranging from $50 to $50,000. “B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk,” its website reads. Today, there are more than 2,564 Certified B corporations from 50 countries and more than 130 industries.

“We chose this certification because we feel it is the ‘gold standard’ for sustainable business,” CEO of Vert Asset Management Samuel Adams said. “For small businesses like ours, it is not hard or costly to get.”

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an ecology-oriented building certification program run by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is currently the most widely used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all buildings. According to the company’s website, LEED buildings attract more tenants, cost less to operate, and boost employee productivity and retention. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several categories, including energy use and air quality. Depending on the number of points achieved, a project will either earn a Silver, Gold or Platinum rating.

The TRUE Zero Waste certification system recognizes those businesses that are working toward achieving zero waste, cutting their carbon footprint and supporting public health. Administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), certification is available for any facility and its operations.

To be certified, companies (or projects) must have a zero waste policy in place, and they must have achieved an average of 90 percent or higher in diverting non-hazardous waste from landfills, incineration and the environment for the past year. A detailed list of requirements can be found here. Businesses pay a fee between $1,200 and $1,500 and a certification fee based on the square footage of your facility.

Developed through a collaborative effort of the American Society of Landscape Architects, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden, SITES (used by architects, landscapers, ecologists, etc.) provides performance measures rather than prescribing practices, supporting the unique environmental conditions of each landscape it certifies.

SITE-certified landscapes consume less water, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, and improve air quality. The combined registration and certification introductory fee ranges from $8,000 to $9,500.

“My decision to earn a SITES credential reflects not only my commitment to the highest environmental standards but my commitment to provide consumers and the green building industry with the same shortcut for understanding the impact of landscapes that LEED provides for indoor environments,” said Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping.

The Green Business Bureau’s (GBB) certification process is entirely initiative-based, so your company will receive points for each activity it completes. GBB’s sustainability assessment identifies and communicates sustainability efforts that your small business has already completed, while also helping to guide and formulate future efforts. GBB certification differentiates itself from other organizations by making it easy for small businesses to customize their sustainability practices.

Member companies choose and prioritize different green initiatives. After completing each initiative, companies are encouraged to promote their accomplishments and continue their progress by focusing on new initiatives. GBB specifically targets small and medium-sized businesses. The cost of the program is dependent on the size of your business, with annual costs ranging from $375 to $875.
Choosing a certification

If these five certifications don’t provide exactly what you’re looking for, don’t fret. There are thousands of sustainability awards available. Victoria Kate Burrows, project manager of Advancing Net Zero for the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) said the organization doesn’t prefer any one certification due to a multitude of varying local conditions.

The WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment challenges businesses around the world to set ambitious targets to eliminate operational carbon emissions from their facilities. Because of the complexity involved with metrics and various certifications, the WorldGBC has developed a few core principles to increase recognition among the various certification organizations.

“Even if you’re developing a very specific tool to your market, you need to ensure that … key principles are met and that helps achieve alignment and commonality across a huge universe of certification schemes that are out there,” Burrows said.

The same approach can be taken when choosing which sustainability certification makes the most sense for your business. Identify what certifications and measurements your competitors are using, find out what your customers prioritize, and look for a suitable certification.

Certification is an investment. David Veca, a family manager at Veckridge Chemical, stated, “The certificates that are worth paying for are ones that align with your business’s values, and, importantly, your target customer’s values,” he said.