Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.


  • In 2023, Businesses Face Changing Sales Landscape, Arrival of New Technologies

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The only constant in business is change.

    Businesses are beginning the year with the damaging impacts of high inflation and lingering COVID-19 supply chain woes after mixed holiday results.

    Bill Aulet, Ethernet Inventors Professor of the Practice at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, said business owners should brace themselves for new challenges.

    “The biggest thing for business people.. is understand change,” Aulet said on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    “When you see something new, sit down, talk to your kids, talk to somebody else and say, ‘How does this affect my business?’ And do it before the other people do it. Use change as a competitive advantage for you because you have the right mentality. You don’t fear change. You embrace change.”

    In a speech once, the former IBM executive told an audience that business owners must have the “mindset of a pirate and the skillset of a Navy SEAL.” In 2023, that means learning and accepting new technologies.

    Most business owners, Aulet said, can no longer deny the use of artificial intelligence just like they had to embrace payment processing software and spreadsheets. Those that didn’t are no longer in business.

    “I have a son who’s based in Brooklyn, started a company, he’s doing millions and millions of dollars the first year. I said, ‘How many salespeople do you have?’ He said, ‘None.’ Why? Because they’re using technology to do that now.”

    He said AI is the future for sales because it will lower customer acquisition costs.

    “What happens over society is you change to new jobs. You change the customer success jobs,” said Aulet on whether AI replacing salespeople is bad for the economy.

    The new types of businesses being started by young entrepreneurs are not necessarily technology companies, though.

    “They’re actually solving the problem of how do we identify when COVID or Zika virus, or now, polio shows up in a city in a region with a company like Biobot Analytics,” the MIT Entrepreneurship head said. “That’s the kind of stuff that young people are starting, and it gives me great hope because we as a society face great challenges.”

    Watch the full conversation with Bill Aulet on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • WATCH: Mark Cuban Shares 5 Business and Life Lessons

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mark Cuban, one of America’s best known entrepreneurs, spent an hour with WCBS 880 for a special Virtual Business Breakfast, presented by Dime Community Bank. It was a program filled with lessons on business and life.

    Here are some of the actionable and inspiring takeaways from the “Shark Tank” star. The full event is available to watch on-demand above.

    1. Always Be Learning

    Cuban told the WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast he tries to spend an hour a day trying to learn something new about the many industries in which he’s invested. That can be anything from reading about algorithm changes to Instagram and how that impacts digital sales strategy to new technologies.

    “I think one of the easiest ways to get a competitive advantage in any business is just to put in the time to learn,” he said.

    The self-made billionaire said the business owner must be the best salesperson in a company because he or she cannot hire someone to know their business better than them.

    “I call it home run hiring. And it might be you’re trying to find an employee and you think, ‘Well, if I just hired the right marketing person or the right SEO person or the right salesperson, they’ll solve my problems,'” explained Cuban. “That rarely, rarely, rarely, if ever, works. If you find yourself having to turn to someone on the outside because you haven’t been able to put in the time, not only is it hard to find a person that’s going to solve your problems, but you don’t even know the right things to tell them because you don’t understand the issues that you’re trying to solve.”

    He advised business owners to put the time in to learn their business inside out, so they can ask the right questions of a potential new employee.

    2. Don’t Overspend on Inventory

    “Every entrepreneur does it,” said Cuban.

    The Shark tells the business owners he’s invested in on the show to be realistic or they risk spending themselves out of business.

    “When they write a business plan, they get in front of their spreadsheet and they start thinking, ‘Okay, if I can sell six of these, this covers my cost here. Twelve of those—no I can sell more than 12, I’ll sell a hundred.’ And all of a sudden, you know, you’ve got these pie in the sky numbers that have no base in reality.”

    3. Don’t Rack Up College Debt

    It’s not worth it, says the business mogul and father of three.

    “If you can’t afford college without taking out a loan, which for many people that’s a reality, I’m a big believer (that) you go to community college for the first two years because introduction to sociology, introduction to accounting, introduction to calculus, it’s the same at Harvard as it is at Richland Community College.”

    Cuban told WCBS 880 debt will hurt you more than attending an expensive college will help.

    4. Teaching Financial Responsibility to Kids

    How does a billionaire teach financial responsibility to his kids? “It’s hard,” Cuban admits, but said it’s important to teach money lessons early.

    “(My kids) had to find ways to earn money to be able to buy the big things they wanted because we weren’t just going to buy them whatever they wanted,” he said. “And they also had to understand what things cost and if something was too expensive, they weren’t going to get it.”

    5. Practice Self-Care

    You may think someone like Mark Cuban works 24/7, but he said it’s vital for him to take mental breaks.

    “I always have one thing that I do that allows me to de-stress, and I go shoot baskets,” said Cuban of his passion for basketball. “I have a little basket out in the backyard, I can go to the gym, I can go to the arena or (the Dallas Mavericks) practice facility when no one else is there and just get up shots. And that allows me just to feel good because the sound of the ball going through the net, all problems go away for that second, right? And if I’m missing shots, I’m thinking about my shot. I’m not thinking about, ‘What about this customer?’ Or, ‘Can we add this drug to,’ etc.? Everybody’s got to find that one release that they have that just diverts their attention from everything that they’re doing.”

    The Mavs and Cost Plus Drugs owner also declared “nice sells” and helps to reduce stress for yourself and company stakeholders.

    “Be nice. You know, nice sells. Nice is one of the easiest assets that you can have in your company. And when you have a culture of being really nice to each other and nice to customers, nice to prospects, things work out a lot better.”

    See more tips for business and life success from Mark Cuban on the WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast, presented by Dime Community Bank. The hour-long program is at the top of this page.

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  • How to Win at Business featuring Mark Cuban: WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast LIVE, sponsored by Dime Community Bank

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    Wednesday October 12 – 10 AM EDT

    Streaming at and @WCBS880 on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Join WCBS business reporter Joe Connolly LIVE for a discussion with Mark Cuban, the self-made billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, on Wednesday, October 12 at 10 AM ET.

    You will learn how to capitalize on new opportunities no matter the economic climate. Cuban will also answer your business questions, which you can submit in real time by commenting during the livestream on our TwitterFacebook, and YouTube pages.

    Cuban will opine on what New York’s businesses must do to be competitive and thrive post-pandemic. We know the outspoken shark will be brutally honest when it comes to sales and marketing strategies and economic policy!

    Mark Cuban started his first business at 12 years old by selling garbage bags door-to-door in the Pittsburgh suburb where he was raised. He founded and sold a software company to CompuServe, a subsidiary of H&H Block, in 1990.

    Mark Cuban
    Mark Cuban Photo credit ABC/Christopher Willard

    His next venture was evolutionary. He helped launch one of the first sports streaming networks,, where fans could listen to niche sporting events in other markets online. Cuban always believed streaming would surpass television and saw growing demand for those who wanted to watch games at their desks. The serial entrepreneur sold to Yahoo! in 1999 for $5.7 billion.

    Forbes ranks the Mavericks owner #227 on the Forbes 400 Richest People in America list with an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion.

    Cuban is one of America’s best-known investors on ABC’s “Shark Tank” where he has inspired future generations to pursue entrepreneurship.

    Mark Cuban evaluates an investment opportunity on "Shark Tank."
    Mark Cuban evaluates an investment opportunity on “Shark Tank.” Photo credit ABC

    The shark recently founded Cost Plus Drugs to add transparency to the pharmaceutical industry by communicating drug costs to patients who pay a 15 percent markup on the manufacturing cost of their medications, plus a $3 pharmacy fee and $5 shipping charge. Cuban hopes it will help lower national drug prices of lifesaving medications. He even encourages competition to accomplish that larger goal.

    On the WCBS Virtual Business Breakfast, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, you’ll come away with inspiration and actionable ideas from Cuban to grow your business and pursue your entrepreneurial dreams.

    Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a conversation with one of America’s most popular entrepreneurs!

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  • Slice Keeps Local Pizzerias Thriving through Digital Apparatus

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — This tech company is on a mission to empower independent pizzerias.

    Slice is a digital platform tailor-made for small pizza shops. Ilir Sela founded the company in 2010 when he saw local pizzerias being squeezed by delivery app fees.

    “Slice exists to keep local thriving,” said Sela on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    His love for the pizza business is personal, growing up visiting the pizzeria his grandfather and uncle owned in Manhattan, and later, Brooklyn. That’s also where his father worked.

    Sela chose to pursue computer science at the City University of New York and used his expertise to introduce technology to an old-fashioned industry he knew best.

    “When you apply technology to a business, it becomes a lot more turnkey, becomes a lot more automated, and the more turnkey a business can become, the less reliant it is on actual human labor,” he said, adding, “That’s one of the biggest challenges that these operators have is access to part-time labor in this really challenging environment.”

    Sela said over time, Slice helps to increase revenue, keep costs down and allows blue collar pizzeria owners to spend more time with their families.

    It’s a big change for pizzeria owners who are used to taking orders over the phone, but Sela notices that customers of his 20,000 pizza shop clients are generally placing larger orders and ordering more frequently. Plus, there are fewer mistakes and returns.

    “Most pizzeria owners, they will mail menus, physical menus, to these households in order to remind them to reorder. It’s sort of this old snail mail kind of operation. But if you move that customer online, you have a direct relationship with the customer in real time,” he said.

    While the pizzerias are responsible for their own deliveries, Slice provides upselling and marketing tools.

    “We can send them text message notifications, push notifications, email marketing,” said Sela. “You kind of know who the customer is, you know their behavior, and you can personalize offers for this customer to come back more often.”

    “The real opportunity for every business is how to make your existing customers more valuable.”

    “So the combination of these things, we’ve seen in many cases, double the business of a pizza shop through the same customer base.”

    Sela told WCBS 880 he sees tremendous growth potential for local pizzerias that use the Slice technology to market to existing and new customers.

    “A Domino’s location on average makes $1.2 million a year in sales. Most of that is digital. An independent pizza shop does about $500,000 a year, and the delta of that $700,000 difference, that’s all online volume.”

    Slice began as a New York tech startup. It now has a staff of more than 900 local representatives, coordinating orders and marketing for small pizzerias across the country.

    See what’s behind Slice’s software and get sales and marketing ideas on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • 3 tips for growing your business using social media

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Many businesses rely on social media for marketing, which can be quite stressful when companies like Meta and TikTok experiment with algorithm changes that impact sales.

    Socialfly is a leading social-first digital agency and one of the first companies to enter the space nearly a decade ago. The New York-based company works with brands such as Madison Square Garden, Conair and Hudson Yards to modernize their social media strategies and reach younger audiences.

    “The reason why a lot of brands will partner with agencies like Socialfly so we can take that over for them and we stay on the forefront of all the updates and changes and can be those eyes and ears to everything that’s changing, so we can help performance continue to grow and scale,” said Sociafly co-founder Stephanie Cartin on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    For small businesses that cannot afford Socialfly’s services, Cartin and her co-founder Courtney Spritzer launched Entreprenista to offer resources such as events and podcasts to female entrepreneurs who are just starting their business journeys.

    “We always see what works and what doesn’t work, and then, we share this with all of the business owners in our community,” said Cartin.

    The events are recorded for Entreprenista members to watch on-demand.

    Cartin shared some advice for small business owners on the Small Business Spotlight.

    1. Create Videos

    Cartin told WCBS 880 both Instagram and TikTok now prioritize video content. Still photos no longer get the same level of engagement in terms of likes and shares.

    “The key on Instagram right now for success as a, especially a small business owner, is using Instagram Reels,” she said. “So what you want to do is turn the content that maybe you were creating as static photos and turn them into Reels.”

    The social media expert recommends using mobile apps Temply and TrendTok for converting photos to Reels and following trending topics and songs to maximize engagement.

    2. Post Consistently

    Going viral is a thrill, but it has a shelf life when it comes to sales. Socialfly works with companies to tap into an initial strong response to make the business sustainable.

    One example is a business Spritzer started during the height of the pandemic called WorkRobe. Billed as “work from home apparel,” the company makes a robe that doubles as a blouse on Zoom meetings.

    “This is a TikTok creator who loves this robe, and when these videos were posted, her sales went through the roof and she sold out of specific inventory,” said Cartin.

    “When you really lean into different trends on TikTok, you can definitely have your business take off from one video. The key after that is to be consistent. So once you gain that initial traction from these viral TikToks that you’re posting, TikTok sees that, and the more content you’re creating, the more they’ll start to show it to the right audience.”

    3. Be Authentic

    Your followers can probably tell if an influencer actually uses a product. That’s why Cartin and Spritzer only work with clients they truly believe in and use the products themselves. #LoveIt is Socialfly’s guiding principle because they want to love the brands they serve.

    “Can we really embody that brand, understand the ins and outs of the brand, who the customers are?” asked Cartin, rhetorically. “If it doesn’t feel right and it’s not a good fit, like that’s okay. We have also built an incredible strategic network over the years with other agency partners and other business owners, and if it’s not the right fit for us, there’s enough business out there for everyone. That’s what we’ve learned and we’ll pass that and refer that to other business owners as well.”

    Socialfly’s growth has led to three new businesses, including Entreprenista, that spun-off from their original idea. That doesn’t include additional companies Cartin and Spritzer founded during the pandemic.

    Get growth ideas for your business and see examples of successful and profitable social media video campaigns on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight above.

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