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Small Business Strategies in Chicago: Part II

Last week we covered the first 6 approaches to small business development recommended by members of the Forbes Chicago Business Council. Chicago’s small businesses do exceedingly well as a result of these marketing strategies. Ready for the next 6? \

7. Think about social responsibility. “Giving back” and appealing to people on a personal level garners more support than aggressive marketing techniques. ShoppingGives’ Ronny Sage explains that the company’s recent TechweekGives campaign brought more than 50 local companies together and raised more than $1 million.

8. Pull users in to marketing efforts. Encourage them to become your brand’s advocates by sharing their experiences, photos and reviews on social media, as suggested by Jonathan Treble of PrintWithMe, Inc.

9. Form ties with larger networks. Have them share you vision for you, such as FanFood’s Carson Goodale’s message: “You don’t need to be the sharpest tool in the shed to pursue a dream, rather to have the self-discipline to overcome obstacles, time and time again. ”

10. Recruit within your region. Don’t neglect local talent- keep recruiting within your community, if possible, for real investment and a stronger local network, according to Darren Guccione of Keeper Security.

11. Collaborate with universities, says Civis Analytics’ Dan Wagner. These connections will help your business locate unique, fresh talent.

12. Street teams are important, says Adam Hirsen of UPShow. Get people on the ground who encourage others to advocate for and get enthusiastic about your product.

Small Business Strategies in Chicago: Part I

Local businesses grow and thrive via their communities, making them a different organism than their larger-scale counterparts. In Chicago, small businesses are doing especially well due to the efforts of numerous professionals and the local residents. According to members of Forbes Chicago Business Council, there are several approaches that have made small businesses in Chicago so successful:

  1. Partnerships with other local startups. According to Ben Margolit of Rentgrata, Inc., networking and exploring partnerships with other businesses cultivate relationships that have the potential to stimulate significant growth, especially when both organizations share a similar target customer base.
  2. Transit advertising. Seemingly old-fashioned, advertisements places on trains and other means of public transportation generated a lot of traffic for Augmented Retail Company, according to Anne-Marie Kovacs. She also listed social and influencer marketing as impactful tools.
  3. Joining the local tech scene proved valuable to Devbridge Group, according to Aurimas Adomavicius, allowing the company to generate organic referrals and efficiently meet their clients’ needs.
  4. Showcasing stories. An alumni blog series captured the essence of Victory Lap’s graduates, allowing their story to stand out and their content to be seen by a wider audience, according to Brian Bar.
  5. Events and relationships. Nothing beats natural interactions and personal referrals when it comes to building up a reputation. According to Bobby Goodman of Truss, attending events and meeting other startup teams helped the company cultivate strong relationships and generate new business.
  6. Organizing events and tours. According to Ross Freedman of Rightpoint, sponsoring and speaking at industry-focused events and summits grants immeasurable exposure and legitimacy to a company as well as invaluable insights and knowledge into different business ecosystems.

WOW Opens Chicago-Delhi Flight

Chicagoans now have access to a new, more affordable flight to Delhi thanks to WOW Air. The airline, which has been offering cheap flights to Iceland from all over the U.S., has begun to expand beyond Europe and North America, opening a whole new world of travel options. WOW’s new flight to Delhi starts at $199, and will also be departing from Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C., among others.

WOW Founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen said: “I am thrilled to broaden WOW Air’s offerings and bring low-fare international flight service to India.

We are passionate about continuing our mission of enabling everybody to fly by making international travel accessible and affordable for all, and look forward to expanding our global service to provide travelers with the opportunity to see many parts of the globe, whether for business or pleasure.”

Every WOW flight has a layover in Reykjavik, which, while possibly inconvenient, gives travelers an opportunity to see a bit of WOW’s native country. The airline also offers a stopover feature to help make your delay more enjoyable.

 

West Chicago Business Park Expects New Business

Chicago mayor Ruben Pineda recently revealed that efforts to boost a business park in West Chicago are finally paying off.

According to Pineda, the city is teaming up with park owner DuPage Airport Authority and Choose DuPage to encourage additional growth on the 800-acre campus and “develop incentive plans for new development.”

“These efforts have led to several exciting prospects already bubbling to the surface,” Pineda said during his State of the City address.

The details of the plan have yet to be revealed, but Pineda shared several hints, including a plan to build 800,000 square feet of warehouse distribution space, as well as another 750,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution.

“For the first time in over 10 years, I have been informed that we might be running out of available property in the DuPage Business Center,” Pineda said during the address. “That, my friends, is a great problem to have.

“We are committed to our pledge to our residents and businesses to  provide exceptional service and transparent government while focusing on doing what we can do to relieve the financial burden on our customers.”

 

Chicago: Adding Jobs

When a region creates more jobs, it is pretty much great news for everyone.  Last month, the ADP Regional Employment Report  recorded an additional 5,700 new positions in the private sector. And for those in Chicago still seeking employment, there is good news too; a new law has forbidden potential employers from asking job applicants to reveal their salary history in an increasing attempt around the country to create gender equal salaries.

The additional jobs in Illinois saw the most in Chicago but the state as a whole added a staggering 41,000 jobs in 2017.  Over half of these though were in Chicago – nearly 24,000.

And with this, the executive order to mark Equal Pay Day was signed by the Chicago Mayor.  This shows how far into the year women have to work – on average – to earn as much as their male counterparts did the previous year! This comes at a time when lawmakers in the region are looking at two different pieces of legislation that are seeking to close the wage gap.

Label Insight Named One of Chicago’s Best Places to Work

Crain’s Business Chicago and Best Companies Group recently revealed Chicago’s Best Places to Work, a survey and awards program which recognizes the top 100 businesses to work for in Chicago. The choices are made based on each company’s workplace policies, practices and demographics, as well as employee survey’s which assessed their attitudes towards their workplaces.

Final scores revealed Label Insight, a leading company focused on transparency and digital transformation, as one of the winners.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the best places to work in Chicago,” said Label Insight chief executive officer Paul Schaut. “Label Insight was founded with the mission of providing greater product transparency to consumers- and that impacts everything we do from the products we create, to the companies we partner with, to how we run our business.

“Our team believes in this greater mission and collectively works toward our broader goal of helping consumers better understand what is in the products they use and consume,” he said. “I am grateful to the tremendous Label Insight team for their outstanding contributions to our company’s growth and continued success.”

Upcoming Attractions!

There are some great things going on in the Chicago area over the next few days.  From 13thto 15thApril there is the I Heart Halal exhibition at the Navy Pier.  At this, attendees will get the opportunity to learn about the Halal lifestyle, food and culture prominent in Muslim life.

Get healthy with skills, knowledge and education at the Rally HealthFest on April 14th.  With no charge, it’s a no brainer. Combining fitness activities, healthy snacks and more, comedians will be on hand to add a bit of an edge to the day. For anyone who wants to find new – and fun –ways to improve their health this is a great event.  And, considering Rally is intent on bringing health to the workforce too, this is a good opportunity for local businesses to get on board.  With a kid zone it’s good for those looking for a family day.

The core of the Rally movement is having a cohesive effort made between payers, providers, employers and embers together “recognizing the crucial role they play in the ecosystem.” Through this, employees can get practical experiences to facilitate their understanding of how to manage healthcare benefits at the workplace as well.

 

City Monitoring

There could soon be a way to monitor things like air quality and vehicle traffic in the city of Chicago.  Thanks to the Array of Things project, real-time data on a city will be assembled to make this happen. With scientists, government officials and just lay people from the community, this data will be formulated for predictions on current environmental fluctuations.

The project is being navigated by the University of Chicago and Argonne’s Urban Center for Computation and Data director, Charlie Catlett who is seeking to install 500 sensor nodes around the city. The plan ultimately is to install a network worldwide to “improve living and working in the city.”

Catlett added:

“We talked to people in the city of Chicago to understand what their challenges are. And we found from talking with them and from our own work there’s a lot of data that’s missing, that should be able to be measured, and that requires data analytics, it requires data integration infrastructure, and it requires a measurement strategy.”

Workers Compensation

Rep. Laura Fine, D-Glenview just proposed a Bill (H.B. 4595) for the establishment of an (Illinois) state-sponsored insurance company.  If it becomes law, it would result in the creation of the non-profit Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Co. providing local workers compensation in situations in which companies where they work cannot afford to do so.  The Illinois Workers Compensation Commission Operations Fund would provide a $10 million loan to get this going.

While this seems necessary, last year, Gov. Bruce Rauner – also of Illinois – attempted H.B. 2622 which was vetoed.  Indeed, a recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that Illinois mine workers who are the victims of injuries and illnesses are less likely to report these to tracking federal agencies