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After decades of watching others thrive, merchants in Historic West End have taken up the branding cause. In shops and local businesses, they meet to brainstorm ideas they hope will spur economic growth. The effort is part of a broader initiative sponsored by Historic West End Partners, a nonprofit formed in 2010 to promote the area’s culture and development while honoring its history and heritage.

When we hear the phrase “small business,” rarely do you conjure an image of a company engaged in global trade. But as technology renders the world ever smaller, more and more small business owners are fixing their sights on overseas markets to find new customers.

If you’re looking to set up a home-based business, the Internet is brimming with practical advice. This column is meant to give an insider’s view.

Someone asked me recently whether I had any regrets about leaving a job I loved to walk the lonely and uncertain path of entrepreneurship. Well, that question defies a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

Not everybody is cut out for it, according to this expert: ‘Just because you own your own business…you may not be the best person.’

I’ve always considered myself a good listener. But when it comes to running a small business, am I really hearing what my customers are telling me?

Here are five big things a small business owner can do in the coming year that will have lasting impact.

I’ve learned to appreciate the time that falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day. For me, it offers a period of reflection – six days to ponder what has past and plan, as best I can, for what I want to achieve in year ahead.

Forget that train set, Santa. I’m submitting a new Christmas wish list this season.

When it comes to technology, my smartphone and my laptop are my ever-present companions. Slowly, I’m learning to do better.

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Glenn Burkins is editor and publisher of Qcitymetro.com, an online news site targeting Charlotte’s African American community. He is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Charlotte Observer business editor.