People come to Instagram expecting visual inspiration. Storeowners looking to spice up their Instagram feed can now try out Boomerang, a new Instagram tool that lets you produce a one-second video loop. It works from within the app: You shoot a one-second burst of five photos, which becomes a video that plays forward and then backward, again and again. To test it out, try asking an employee to pirouette while modeling a new leo, or capture a customer twirling in a new tutu.
In other news, businesses wanting to explore advertising on Instagram can now get some help. Instagram has announced a new Instagram Partners Program with 40 expert partners that have experience helping Instagram marketers be successful, whether it’s targeting the right audience, creating an ad or driving more foot traffic into your store. Partners have expertise in three areas: ad tech—planning, buying and optimizing ads; community management—understanding how to work with the Instagram community; and content marketing—creating, curating and sourcing content. Find the full list of partners at: partners.business.instagram.com/#find-a-partner.
Checklist for Winter Storms
If your business is located in a region where blizzards or power outages can give you a nasty surprise, Paychex has a “business continuity” checklist to prepare your business for a big storm. “Many businesses don’t have a plan,” Paychex points out, but having one can keep your employees safe, leave your store unharmed and get your business back online as quickly as possible. The checklist covers:
• Contact lists: Have updated, printed lists on hand with contact information for employees, vendors, local and state police, fire department, EMS, all your utility providers and so on. And have copies of your insurance policies, with broker and insurer information.
• Office preparation: Think about what items you’d want to have at the store in case anyone is stuck there overnight.
• Data and customer files: Take steps to protect your business information. For instance, make sure that you have backups, including remote backups in a different location, and that they’ve been updated recently. Notify customers about the impending situation if it is causing you to close early.
• Before you leave the store: If there’s time, verify smoke detectors are working, ensure spare batteries are stocked, test fire extinguishers, communicate your emergency plan to all employees.
For the complete checklist go to: paychex.com/articles/payroll-taxes/business-continuity-checklist-for-big-storm.
The U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery, who have teamed up to offer advice on disaster planning at preparemybusiness.org/planning, also have a good preparedness checklist. You’ll find it at: agility
recovery.com/assets/SBA/wntrweathersba.pdf, with specific tips on dealing with winter hazards. For example, check your insurance coverage for protection against these specific hazards ahead of time and have the phone numbers of your heating contractor, plumber and building owner easily at hand.
Have These on Hand If You Want a Business Loan
If you’re ever seeking a business loan, say to expand to a second location or buy the building that houses your store, SCORE, the small-business mentoring and advice service, has created a handy list of documents you’ll likely need to give your lender. Even if the bank doesn’t ask for them all, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the information and have it at your fingertips. Here’s the list:
• Your business financial statements: profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet
• Bank statements, probably the last three months
• Current loan documents and lease agreements for property or equipment
• Income tax returns, probably three years, both business and personal. Online lenders may be more willing to work with newer owners so may not require the three years.
• Your personal financial information: For small businesses, the credit history of the owner will be considered in judging the creditworthiness of your business. You will likely have to sign a personal guarantee for the loan.
• Ownerships and affiliations: Do you have a financial interest in any other business?
• Your business license, corporate seal, perhaps proof of a business checking account
• A business plan. Many lenders won’t require one, but some do, including any SBA guaranteed loan. Even if they don’t, preparing a business plan is always a good exercise that will improve your chances of growing successfully.
Freed of London Unveils New Pointe Shoe
Long Island City, NY—Freed of London has released a hard-shank version (style SBTCP90/H) of its Classic Pro90 pointe shoe. Available in pink satin, the shoe is currently shipping. For more information, visit www.freeddirect.com, or call 866-693-7333.
Russian Pointe Launches New Website for Retail Affiliates
Chicago, IL—Russian Pointe has created a new website for its retail partners at russianpointe.com/wholesale. The new site, which requires a password to log in, allows retailers to manage their accounts, pay bills, check stock anytime, place and track orders 24/7, and access marketing, branding and informational materials. For more information, visit www.russianpointe.com or call 866-776-4683.
From top: courtesy of Instagram; Thinkstock; courtesy of the manufacturer