Small Biz Daily

Subscribe to Small Biz Daily feed
Ideas, Insights and Information for Entrepreneurs
Updated: 4 hours 13 min ago

How to Market Your Boring Small Business; Avoiding Business Burnout and More

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 11:37
Small Business Reading List Articles You May Have Missed this Week

By Rieva Lesonsky

Best Practices

 

HR

 

Marketing

 

Miscellaneous

 

Productivity

 

Sales

 

Tech

 

 

The post How to Market Your Boring Small Business; Avoiding Business Burnout and More appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

How to Avoid Typical Social Media Marketing Mistakes: Tips for SMB Owners

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 11:00

By Yana Yelina

In a hard try to boost sales, raise visibility, and attain a broad array of new clients and partners, small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) may commit errors that will lead to negative outcomes.

If you are a SMB owner and want to avoid unfortunate results and reputation damage, it’s vital to understand what’s wrong, detect typical mistakes, analyze them, and start seeking new smart solutions for promotion and generating huge sales.

So, what are those common mistakes?

Underestimating the importance of online reviews

If you still believe that comments and reviews posted by users of your products/services are not paid scrupulous attention by potential clients and are not able to influence the company’s reputation, you are under the delusion. The data from this report is a clear and convincing proof that online reviews are essential:

– customers tend to post comments and express their opinions (7 out of 10 persons agree if they are asked to do that);

– 84% of users have faith in reviews as much as personal advice;

– 90% of consumers read reviews to form their own point of view on the organization;

– 58% of users consider the star rating practice to be of overwhelming importance.

Taking into account the above-mentioned assertions, it seems reasonable to track mentions about your business and react fast, without deleting negative opinions posted on your social media account pages or business blogs.

To gain more visible results, you can allocate funds and use linguistic tools for reviews analysis to be able to find and examine all the comments and opinions on the Internet, thus, tracking your online reputation.

Excessive social activities

Social media sites are really popular among Internet users with Facebook leading the pack. That’s why it is a bright idea to be active in social networks and engage customers. Moreover, if your business is intertwined with massive sales and you own an e-commerce website, mull over the possibility of integrating it with social media using custom social network software.

However, try not to overdo being too social and too active. Analyze the size and sphere of your business, decide who is your target audience (people of which gender, age, location, profession, activities, intentions, etc.), choose your key social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn; Instagram or Pinterest). After that, concentrate considerable efforts on additional promotion of your goods/services there by conducting constructive and vibrant dialogues with present and future customers.

Exorbitant sales in social media

As a rule, social networks serve as an extra source of advertising and sales. Users usually check social accounts with the aim to get detailed information on the company’s activities, read original content, participate in talks, express their thoughts on a particular issue, or clarify something with a company’s representative via a chat.

That’s why strive to engage your clients and promote products/services through captivating and useful content (articles, case studies), create videos featuring some lessons, tutorials, or outstanding examples of your product usage.

Do not oversell, making your customers feel bored and change the direction while surfing different social communities.

Ignoring rivals’ actions

It is certainly a nice idea to aspire to outstand, make your business unique amidst the competition in the market. But while looking for new marketing strategies and methods of engagement do not forget about your rivals – the companies that offer similar goods/services and focus on the same target audience.

You can track competitors’ activities by carrying out a careful Google search and getting fresh information on their mentions on various websites and blogs. Beyond that, try to assess their social networking engagement by implementing an array of free tools and conduct a comparative analysis of your and your opponents’ social media usage effectiveness.

The article has mentioned only few but common mistakes made by SMB owners. Their number may be even higher depending on the sphere and type of a business. All in all, try to follow the above-mentioned tips and save your company from a crash.

Yana Yelina is a website design and development expert at EffectiveSoft, a custom software development company with 250+ specialists who boast expertise in different business domains (healthcare, trading and finance, logistics, e-commerce, etc.). You can reach Yana at contact@effectivesoft.com or connect with her via LinkedIn or Twitter.  

 

The post How to Avoid Typical Social Media Marketing Mistakes: Tips for SMB Owners appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

How to Create an Amazing Conference Room Design

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 09:30

By Michael Zhou

For large and small businesses, the conference room is very important. Used for everything from board meetings to birthday parties, it must be designed to accommodate gatherings of all kinds. Because of this, much thought needs to be put into the room’s design, taking into account factors such as technology, room capacity, the company’s image, and much more. If it’s time to give your conference room a makeover, here are some great ideas to help you create a design that will leave everyone who walks through the doors in awe.

 

                                               Image Credit: ledlightingproductsindia

 

Glass Doors and Partitions

If you want to convey an image that tells the world your company is cutting-edge and progressive, make sure you include modern glass doors and glass wall partitions as part of your conference room design. In addition to looking great, interior sliding doors made of glass will make the room appear bigger while also letting in natural light. While many people may think light is light, numerous studies on workers have shown office productivity goes up immensely when workers are able to spend most of their time in natural light. By doing away with old-school solid wall partitions and instead going with glass wall partitions and modern glass doors, you’re sure to create a conference room that not only looks great, but will also showcase how much of a difference interior sliding doors can make in the looks of a conference room.

 

Image Credit: brandhype.co/

 

Conveying Your Company Image

Whether you are using the conference room yourself or have folks from other companies attending a meeting with you, it’s extremely important to know the exact image you want to convey about your company. Also, use activity based commercial design in your workspace. For example, if you’re a small but trendy company, you’ll want to make sure you have a modern and striking decor. To accomplish this, try using bold colors, unusual artwork, and chairs that are of various shapes and sizes. However, don’t get too bold with your colors or shapes, as this will tend to take away from any presentations being given. If you want to play it safe, go for traditional tables and chairs, which will show you still respect the past while looking to the future.

Table Configuration

Of all the decisions you’ll make in designing a conference room, how to position your tables will be one of the most important. While many companies prefer a standard rectangular boardroom table that has chairs all around it, others may prefer different styles. One of the most popular styles today is the classroom model, which has numerous small rectangular tables placed so that everyone faces the front of the room. With two or three people at each table, it allows everyone to focus their attention on the presentation being given, while also making it easy for people to come and go if necessary.

 

Image Credit: myofficeone.com

Food and Beverage Storage

As we all know, most meetings held in conference rooms ultimately involve breaks for food and snacks. Therefore, along with the tables and chairs, be sure you include stylish cabinets that give you plenty of room for storing dishes, glassware, and cutlery. And of course, find a compact refrigerator with a sleek, modern look to store food and beverages.

Technology

Needless to say, all companies today need conference rooms that have as much technology as possible integrated into the surroundings. For starters, telephone and data ports should be located throughout the room, enabling people to plug in or charge up various mobile devices. Along with this, get rid of the white board and erasable markers and instead install a smart board, which will allow for information put on the board to be saved into digital files. And if you want to be sure you’ll have a meeting that is not interrupted by outside noise, make sure you have sound-absorbing materials installed in the ceiling, walls, and floor.

 

Image Credit: billmillerphotography.com

Maximum Capacity

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when designing a conference room is failing to keep in mind the maximum capacity. When this happens, the result is usually too much furniture being put into the room, forcing people to constantly twist and turn in order to move around. Therefore, always know the maximum capacity of the room, and remember to allow plenty of room to walk around. And don’t forget that when you start putting the chairs into the room make sure they are roomy and have comfortable back supports and cushioned upholstery. Otherwise, you’ll see plenty of squirming while you’re making your presentation.

By implementing these and many others design aspects into your company’s conference room; you’re sure to have a room that everyone will love walking into and hate to leave. Whether it’s sitting in a comfortable chair or grabbing a cold drink from the fridge, there’s no doubt your conference room will be a big hit at every meeting.

Michael Zhou Senior VP of Business Intelligence Development, I have assisted the Fortune 1000 company with expertise in the web as a whole, including ground-zero marketing efforts that benefit both consumer and vendor. I’m a thinker, communicator, marketer, competitor, people person, and all-around busy bee. I’m a relentless networker with several years of real world experience and two college degrees under my belt. He is also currently contributor of The General Post.

 

The post How to Create an Amazing Conference Room Design appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Why SMB’s Should Utilize Video Marketing

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 08:00

By Tom More, CEO and Founder, Promo by Slidely

If “a picture is worth a thousand words” how much is a video worth? With smartphone and tablets allowing people to watch videos in the palm of their hand, there is certainly enormous value and opportunities for small and large businesses alike.

While many people still read online content, it is videos that are grabbing a significant amount of consumer attention these days. Our computers and phones are bursting with video content, and this has not been lost on SMBs searching for new ways of advertising on social media and websites.

Video Advertising and its Reach

Statistics show that online video is now the most accessible and successful medium for advertising. Television advertising has always been dominated by larger companies with large budgets set aside for TV campaigns. With the internet now a major source of product information, doors have opened to smaller businesses to advertise on a platform that is more affordable and can be more carefully tailored to their audiences. Not only is producing a video now more accessible, recent statistics show that by including a video on a landing page, companies can increase their conversion rates by 80%.

Many SMB’s in recent years have even seen their promotional videos go viral, vastly increasing revenues. In 2012, California-based company The Dollar Shave Club released a promotional video on a budget of around $4,500 which brought them 12,000 new product orders in the first 48 hours alone. The video itself now has 24 million views on YouTube, and the company eventually sold for a billion dollars to Unilever. Although this is clearly not the case for every video released by SMBs, virality is not the only measure for a video ad’s success – creative concepts and a great script go far with consumers.

Challenges for SMB’s

Despite increasing ease of video creation along with evidence of their success with consumers, SMBs are still not fully utilizing this opportunity. Why not? The major concern of SMBs is, of course, resources and uncertainty. At what stage of a business should a promotional video be made? What if the video does nothing for sales? SMBs are faced with this dilemma when drawing up their marketing strategy – whether to invest time, money and creative capital in producing a high quality video to promote their product or service.

Many SMBs are ultimately concerned that no one will watch their video ad, with the money spent down the drain. B2B businesses in particular, which find that their potential clients are strapped for time, are concerned about the viability of a video. A business that focuses on selling machinery parts, for example, may view a video ad as extraneous. Many SMBs also lack the technical knowledge to create a video, and view it as time consuming, resource draining and ultimately, unnecessary. Other SMBs conclude that video advertising is a passing phase not suited to smaller companies. They may also conclude that their target audience is too narrow or believe they have sufficient tools to market their product without the use of video.

Why Video Advertising is Still Worthwhile

While these concerns are valid, the exponential growth of resources available to small and medium businesses in recent years should suffice to guide them into successful video advertising. All it takes is a simple google search to find video making software that can help small businesses shift their marketing strategy. There are hundreds of available tools on the market, from tools that filter through your raw footage to find what’s best for your video needs, to tools using quirky cut-outs to explain products and then to Promo by Slidely which gives you the tools to create a marketing video for your business. Statistics show that short, well-made videos are useful to target consumer audiences and business clients alike, and it is time small businesses utilized them.

Tom More is the CEO and Founder of social video creation platform Slidely. Prior to launching Slidely in 2012, Tom founded and led Eyespell, an internet and multimedia solutions company. He is also self-taught musician, photographer, digital marketer, autodidact creative, and tenacious entrepreneur.

The post Why SMB’s Should Utilize Video Marketing appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Tips to Make Company Premises More Secure

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 11:00

 

By Eileen O’Shanassy

As a business owner, it is essential to make the premises of your company more secure to prevent theft or violent behavior from criminals inside or outside a building. You need your employees to feel safe, as well as keeping the exterior safe for customers and clients. Follow these tips to create a secure business premises to prevent internal theft of products or cybercrime that involves theft of private information.

Add Locks to Doors and Windows

You must have secure locks on the windows and doors of your business’s building. Contact a professional locksmith to evaluate your company’s door and window locks to modernize the locking systems. You may also need to add locks to your company’s interior doors to protect its sensitive equipment. Keep track of your company’s keys and door lock codes to prevent internal theft from current or fired employees.

Have Computer and Internet Security

Hire a computer expert to make sure your company’s computers and internet connections are protected from all malware viruses or criminal hackers. Not only do you need to protect your own company’s information, but also, you must maintain your client’s privacy to avoid a lawsuit from the damages of a criminal stealing social security and credit card numbers. For additional security, you should have private passwords to protect your company’s data. Be sure to change your passwords occasionally.

Have an On-site Security Department

If you are too busy to handle all the security problems in a larger company, then you must have a security department with trained experts. The employees working in security will monitor a building using camera and television systems, or the security guards can walk through the interior of your building to check for problems. Check companies locally and nationally as well and you might find you can use ADT security system without Landline or a better deal on a local company.

Make Sure Your Employees Carry Identification

Your employees should carry identification while entering and walking through your company’s building. Provide identity cards with photographs for your employees that they must wear at all times. Make sure that your security team keeps track of your employees’ locations while they are on your company’s premises.

Use a Building Security System

If you have a small company and you are on a tight budget, then select a home security system to protect your business. A home security system is an affordable option for new or smaller companies that have only a few employees and limited funds. Contact a home security system’s representatives to learn more about this type of equipment.

Keep your company up-to-date and secure by making security a priority for your building, employees, clients, and customers. This will make sure you stay on track and keep moving your bottom line up.

Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.

 

The post Tips to Make Company Premises More Secure appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

A Conference for the Serious Web Retailer

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 09:30

By Cliff Ennico

I had the privilege last week of speaking at The Seller’s Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (www.thesellersconference.com).

This event, formerly known as the Seller’s Conference for Online Entrepreneurs (SCOE), was and has always been the leading U.S. conference for people who sell merchandise on Amazon.com. But last week’s event demonstrates how a virtual team headed by event organizer Rhonda Schneider (rhonda@scoe.biz) has successfully adapted to change in this marketplace.

First of all, the event is no longer just for Amazon sellers. The majority of programs at the event focused on tools for selling across multiple platforms (eBay, Amazon, etsy and so forth) and challenged attendees to explore relatively new venues such as jet.com and Google Shopping.

Second of all, the event is no longer just for West Coast people. Originally an annual event held in Seattle, Washington, The Sellers Conference now is held twice a year – once in the spring in Philadelphia, and again in the fall in Seattle.

But most importantly, the event’s organizers have made the entrepreneurial decision – an extremely brave one – not to try to be “all things to all people.”

When it comes to conferences for Internet retailers, there are two basic flavors:

  • Large-scale events such as the Internet Retailers Conference and Exposition (www.irce.com), held in Chicago each June, which offers dozens of programs for sellers at all experience levels and which frankly can be a bit overwhelming, and
  • Smaller scale events such as eBay Open (http://tamebay.com/2017/02/ebay-open-is-back-in-2017-this-time-in-las-vegas.html), held in Las Vegas each July, which focuses strictly on eBay selling and targets primarily “newbies” and early stage sellers.

Looking at this landscape, Ms. Schneider and her team realized that there was no event for serious intermediate or advanced sellers with annual sales in the six or seven figures (or beyond). Taking a gamble, they rebranded SCOE as “The Seller’s Conference” and targeted high-end sellers by imposing a $699 per person fee for the three-day event.

As a result, only about 100 people attended the Philadelphia conference, but from what I heard, no one was complaining. Most of the speakers, exhibitors and event sponsors I spoke to said they were delighted at the quality of the attendees, while one exhibitor said “it’s a pleasure to speak only to people who can actually use our services and understand what we’re about without a lot of explanation.”

Some of the program titles demonstrated the event’s focus on sophisticated sellers, such as:

  • “Flywheels and Feedback Loops” (if you have to ask what these are, you probably didn’t belong at the conference) by e-marketing consulting firm Efficient Era (www.efficientera.com);
  • “How to Plan for a Winning Exit with Your e-Commerce Business”, by London-based business brokerage firm FE International (www.feinternational.com);
  • “Trademark Law for e-Tailers” by attorney C. J. Rosenbaum (www.amazonsellerslawyer.com), author of the “Amazon Law Library” series of legal guides;
  • “Expanding Internationally” by Gianni Munday, founder of Extra Direct UK Ltd. (http://extradirect.co.uk); and
  • “Stop Making Private Labels; Make Private Products!” by Tim Jordan, co-founder of Hickory Flats (www.hickory-flats.com), a firm that helps U.S.-based Web retailers source product in China and elsewhere in Asia.

Speaking of private labeling (buying generic merchandise and putting your trademarked brand on them) — a major topic at the conference — the following advice was offered by branding consultant Anthony P. Fichera (www.theprivatelabelteam.com): “When starting white label/private label product projects, regardless of the channel you choose to sell on, start with a reasonable, low exposure quantity, 24-96 units. Secondly have a plan in place to differentiate your product great images, excellent well thought out bullets and content/description. Think about a creative, easily printed label (with your logo!) that you can apply to the box and upload as a secondary image. Create instructions or an insert that also has your brand logo applied, have a clean photo of that and use that as one of images. Creating a value added document that you upload as an additional image, recipes, tips on how it may be used to get the best value. A short ‘eBook’ pdf that is offered as a follow up to purchases, always with your brand logo included on them and emailed to the buyer after purchase.”

As for me, I spoke on “Legal and Tax Issues for Web Retainers” and focused specifically on dealing with accusations that your firm is selling counterfeit merchandise online. In many cases, these letters are sent by product manufacturers (or their attorneys) who are upset you are selling their – quite legitimate – merchandise outside of their authorized chain of distributors.

A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case – Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirtsaeng_v._John_Wiley_%26_Sons,_Inc.) – gives Web retailers broad defenses against such claims, and very often if a seller asserts its rights under the Kirtsaeng case the offending letter simply goes away.

The Sellers Conference is now positioned as the “must attend” event for advanced and professional Web retailers. Congratulations to Rhonda Schneider and her team on a job well done.

Cliff Ennico (cennico@legalcareer.com) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2017 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

The post A Conference for the Serious Web Retailer appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

More Than Determination: What it Takes to Run Your First Business

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 08:00

By Hannah Whittenly

Starting a business takes many things, including a great degree of willingness to risk whatever money you put in on the chance that it will succeed. There are, however, several factors that will help to determine whether or not you run your startup successfully. Here are the top four things you need to run your first business and turn it into a resounding success.

A Good Business Plan

The first thing you need if you want to be successful in your startup is a solid business plan. This plan should include basic elements like what your startup will do and how much profit every product or service sold will make. It should also include more specific strategies, such as how you’re going to promote your business or make it preferable to your competition. Begin with a good plan, and you’ll be starting your business with a good foundation for success.

Excellent Organizational Skills

If you’re going to run your own startup, be sure you’re prepared to stay organized. This applies not only to managing jobs and invoices, but also keeping track of products and parts. Have good organization systems in place for handling paperwork and ensure that you have well-organized storage bins, like those at Quantum Storage, so that everything will have a place. Along with that idea, you should make sure that you have enough space for all the necessary materials that go into your enterprise.

Ability to Delegate

Many small startup owners start out by trying to be one-person operations. While this can work on a very limited scale, it will put a major obstacle in the way of startup growth. Instead, take on employees or freelancers and delegate parts of your business to them. Doing this will allow you to leverage your time more effectively to concentrate on core tasks in your business.

Patience and Persistence

Many startup owners shut their businesses down before they actually start turning a profit, usually out of simple frustration. If you want to start a business, however, you need to be committed to it for the long haul. Stick with your startup as it develops, and once it begins to take off you’ll be glad you did.

Building a business is no easy task, but with the right tools and mindsets, anyone can do it. Remember that creating a successful startup means putting in consistent and often difficult work every day, but the rewards of financial freedom are well worth it. If you’ve always wanted to start your own business, don’t put it off any longer, as every day you spend not working for yourself is one day closer you could be to total financial independence.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

The post More Than Determination: What it Takes to Run Your First Business appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

How to Create Brand Advocates, Should You Build Your Own Website, Real-Time Consumer Consumption and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 12:00
7 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

 

1—Hispanic Small Business Owners are Significantly More Optimistic

Owners of Hispanic small businesses are incredibly optimistic about the year to come—much more so than their non-Hispanic counterparts, according to the inaugural Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight. They are significantly more hopeful about revenue and hiring plans in 2017—which, as the fastest-growing segment of the small business sector, cements their roles as a critical driver of local economies and growth.

The study, which focuses on the aspirations and pain points of Hispanic small business owners across the country, reveals:

  • 71% of Hispanic entrepreneurs expect their revenues to increase in 2017, 20 percentage points higher than that of non-Hispanic respondents (51%).
  • More than half of Hispanic entrepreneurs plan to hire more employees over the next 12 months, compared to one-quarter of non-Hispanic small business owners.
  • 76% predict business growth over the next five years, compared with 55% of non-Hispanic small business owners.

“For our community of Hispanic small business owners, the American dream of prosperity through hard work is alive, real and inspiring,” says Elizabeth Romero, Small Business Central Division executive, Bank of America. “They see opportunity for themselves, as well as their families, and are leveraging personal networks and communities to help them realize their dreams. Even in the face of the same challenges and economic concerns that affect all small business owners, they are proving to be not only resilient, but incredibly bullish about their future plans and prospects for success.”

If you’d like an in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s Hispanic small business owners, read the 2017 Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight.

There are many more details in the infographic below.

 

2—Creating Brand Advocates

Our friends at JitBit tell you how.

What if you could build an army of sales of reps for your business, for free? What if each sales person had a massive influence over your target audience, and regularly shared positive information about the stuff you sell?

A powerful formula for passive leads, sales and revenue. But, how do you get there? Two words: brand advocates.

These people are the bedrock of your business. Highly satisfied customers who scream your company’s name from the mountain tops without being incentivized to do so. Brand advocates are twice as valuable as your average customers, and 90% will write something about their purchase experiences. Considering 92% of people trust the recommendations of people they know, it’s clear how big of an impact advocates can have on your bottom line.

While advocacy is the driving force behind 20-50% of all purchases, there is still a massive advocacy gap. In the U.S., over 80% of companies are not using advocates in their marketing strategy, and 58% don’t even know who their advocates are! This gap creates a huge opportunity for most businesses, no matter what industry you’re in.

But, who are your brand advocates? Where do they share information online? How do you build an army of advocates that will sell your stuff without being asked or paid to do so?

Check out the infographic below, which covers the who, what, where, how and why of brand advocacy.

 

3—St. Patrick’s Day is Only 51 Weeks Away

I know we just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s never too early to prepare for next year’s holiday. One of the coolest promotions I heard about came from Clover, which sponsored the Food Truck Park at the Savannah, Georgia’s St. Patrick’s Day festival. The event usually draws around half a million and for the first time ever the food trucks and the Savannah downtown business association (SBDA) were able to accept cashless payments.

Since cash is always in short supply at events like this, the ability to take cashless payments is game changer. If your city doesn’t have St. Patrick’s Day festivities, you might talk to your local chamber or business association about creating some. A look at these 2016 numbers from the First Data SpendTrend Report shows restaurant sales in Savannah increased for a 10-day period around the holiday. Transactions at bars in Savannah in 2016 were up 24% over average sales and 42% on the weekend after the holiday.

This year, instead of festival goers having to carry cash around with them, they purchased 21+ wristbands using their debit and credit cards via First Data’s Clover Point of Sale solutions. You can read more about it here.

 

4—Mobile Ads

The mobile ad business is booming. So how do SMBs compete with the infrastructure and scale of a Facebook when it comes to applying data and insight to their mobile advertising strategies?  StartApp democratizes social and mobile data, and enables apps without the infrastructure or the scale to compete with Facebook.

SmartApp CTO and cofounder Ran Avidan explains, “One of the biggest challenges that small publishers and businesses face on mobile today is the amount of user data locked in so-called ‘walled gardens’ like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. Each of these companies has an incredibly large user base with the infrastructure to collect and analyze bulk amounts of user data. Beyond just collecting the data, each of these companies also uses analysis and insights to their advantage to stay at the top of the marketplace by creating extremely personalized and hyper-relevant user experiences that keep customer interest and build customer loyalty.

“At StartApp, we aim to democratize access to mobile data so that small businesses and publishers can have access to the data they need to optimize apps and products that are competitive in today’s market. Our database of over 1 billion mobile users gives small businesses insights into a global audience across a variety of channels, including our network of over 300,000 mobile apps that are active on our ad platform and SODA, our social data platform. SODA enables partners to share small pieces of the mobile data puzzle that they have received from their users. This raw data is analyzed in real-time, as opposed to other aggregative platforms, and then combined with the raw data shared by all our SODA partners and our database of SDK partners. Once analyzed, the newly processed data is made available to partners, giving them a more complete data puzzle for a mobile user.

“With this complete data puzzle, social app publishers can offer more dynamic and tailored experiences for every user, giving them the kind of mobile experience they have come to expect from today’s social media. Mobile marketers are also better able to target campaigns on a more granular user level, helping them focus their campaigns only on the highest-value users from the most relevant mobile traffic sources. To use a specific example, one of our partners, Bel Media, increased their meaningful user engagement rate in their WeMeet dating app by 17% after 3-months with the platform and also saw a 30% increase in their users’ time-in-app.

“StartApp doesn’t collect any personal identifiable information, as each user data profile is built on the advertising ID or IDFA level. In addition, partners only have access to the final processed data so any raw user data is protected.”

 

Quick Links 5—U.S. Consumption (Best chart ever!)

This is one of the coolest things ever. Couponbox.com has created a real-time view of consumption in the U.S. For instance, last night (9:30 pm Pacific time, 12:30 am Eastern time), in 4 minutes $15,000 worth of sex toys, $470,000 of beer and 13,500 Dunkin Donuts were sold.

6—DIY Websites

Do you have what it takes to build your own website? Learn about best practices. And read the reviews of DIY website building companies so you can make a more informed choice.

 

Cool Tools 7—Data Solutions

Radius, a leading business-to-business predictive marketing platform, recently added Radius Data Stewardship to its solutions. Radius Data Stewardship gives marketers “access to the highest quality data for deriving precise insights that expand visibility into new and existing markets, effectively informing decisions for campaign planning and more accurately predicting and driving pipeline growth.”

According to Radius, recent research finds only 70-75% of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation Technology (MAT) data is accurate. For many businesses, this equates to tens of thousands, if not millions of inaccurate records. Faulty data delivers sub-optimal insights, leading to ineffective results across pipeline. As marketers continue to adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) based systems, this data problem will become increasingly important to solve, since the strength of any AI-based system is directly related to the underlying data. Left alone, inaccurate and incomplete data hinders revenue growth, regardless of any AI-system introduced.

Radius Data Stewardship allows customers to leverage the best foundational data available for all marketing and sales activities. Radius Data Stewardship analyzes the overall health of internal ecosystems and identifies within CRM and MAT systems duplicate records, records no longer in business, incomplete records and additional information relevant to businesses—leveraging the over 450 attributes Radius tracks.

More information about additional services from Radius can be found here.

 

The post How to Create Brand Advocates, Should You Build Your Own Website, Real-Time Consumer Consumption and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Seeking Millennials? Corporate Wellness Programs Are Attracting the Next Generation of Workers

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 11:00

By Simon Davies

According to research from recruitment company Glassdoor, millennials are less likely to be wooed by traditional HR benefits and bonuses than older generations, and more interested in a company’s corporate wellness culture.

Increasingly, companies around the world, from startups to corporate giants, are recognising the importance of supporting employee wellness in their workforce, with many implementing programs that promote a positive lifestyle. Such programs can boost productivity and create a more positive working environment. Across all generations, wellness perks can also improve rates of employee retention.

Corporate wellness is about more than just working out

Corporate wellness is commonly assumed to mean providing employees with gym access and health insurance policies, and leaving it at that. In reality, there’s little return on investment for such token measures. Instead, a complete corporate wellness solution is key to promoting the health and wellbeing of employees.

Jon Denoris is personal trainer and fitness coach to the likes of former London Mayor Boris Johnson and US reality star Whitney Port. Despite operating a successful fitness studio in London, he launched the Pop-up Gym revolution, a program which focuses on innovative wellness programs for the workplace beyond gym access.

He claims that corporate wellness solutions need to involve a gym or expensive fitness equipment: “Staying fit is not always about going to the gym, losing weight or having the perfect body it can offer you so much more. It is about having the energy and drive to reach your true potential as a human being.”

The benefits of corporate wellness programs aren’t just about working out, but rather spending more time working on behavioural change and helping put in place complete lifestyle solutions. This includes working to reduce stress levels, improve morale and enhance general productivity.

Why is corporate wellness important?

Millennials are among the generation of workers who seek a favourable corporate culture over perks. What this means is that younger job seekers are more attracted to a company that respects them as individuals, and invests in their personal development and wellbeing.

Given the high rate of job-hopping by millennials these days, a good corporate wellness programme might just be the key to securing top talent for your business, and keeping hold of that talent once you do.

But it’s not just about making your business more attractive to potential employees. Corporate wellness is about making an investment in them too.

These days, as ever more of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace, corporate wellness is key to supporting their physical and emotional health. Given that an estimate 75% of all chronic illnesses are preventable, the need to implement an effective corporate wellness programme is hugely important.

Encouraging employees to participate in stress relieving practices, promoting healthy eating and facilitating and affording time to exercise are all easy ways to go about creating a wellness culture in your business.

What are the challenges faced by employers when it comes to corporate wellness?

Despite the need for wellness programmes, there remains a big disconnect between their perceived importance and rates of participation.

While 70% of employees who responded to a survey conducted by wellness solutions provider GuideSpark said they considered wellness to be valuable, only 9% reported taking full advantage of wellness programmes.

They cited among the top reasons for their lack of participation the fact that they were “too busy with their jobs” or that programmes did not suit their lifestyle. More than half responded that they had little to no understanding of what corporate wellness means.

It’s therefore vital employers looking to reap the rewards of a wellness programme see to it that they enable active participation from employees.

Corporate wellness solutions for your business

It can be very simple to educate and put into effect simple practices for employees’ well being. Among the top three ways to better facilitate participation in any corporate wellness program are tailoring programmes to suit employees lifestyles, allowing flexibility and time to participate in programmes and incentivising participation with contests and rewards.

This guide to designing a corporate wellness plan that actually works from Inc. is a great place to start. It offers advice on how to build a culture of health, fitness and nutrition in your workplace.

Making a corporate wellness programme accessible to all employees can be achieved by inviting their input in the development process, and requesting their feedback on what solutions they found to be effective or not. If you’re encouraging your employees to take part in mindfulness or meditative practices during the workday for example, you may struggle to get employees to participate if their workload doesn’t permit them to take time away from their desk.

A successful health promotion program starts with a commitment from company leaders, so remember to practice what your preach. Its continued success depends on ongoing support at all levels of the organisation, meaning it’s vital to communicate what the programme comprises, what the benefits are, and how to get involved.

Simon Davies is a freelance journalist interested in marketing, tech and small business. Follow him at @SimonTheoDavies.

The post Seeking Millennials? Corporate Wellness Programs Are Attracting the Next Generation of Workers appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

10 Tech Innovations Your Small Business Should Embrace This Year

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 09:30
The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Success in 2017

As a small business owner, innovation is part of your DNA—so you should be excited about 2017. Technologies that once seemed far in the future, like artificial intelligence, “bots” and virtual reality, are poised to explode this year, becoming widely available for consumers and businesses of all sizes. Tech innovators are exploring creative ways to harness these tools. Here’s a closer look at 10 of the top technology trends for 2017, and how you can take advantage of each one to build a more innovative, more successful business. Click on image below to download the free eBook.

The post 10 Tech Innovations Your Small Business Should Embrace This Year appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

How Small Businesses Can Boost B2B Content Marketing ROI

Wed, 03/22/2017 - 08:00

By Joydeep Bhattacharya

Whenever the subject of business-to-business (B2B) content marketing strategy comes up, small businesses automatically turn their attention towards content creation instead of return on investment (ROI).

However, the number of content marketers realizing the need for definite, measurable results is increasing; they intend to meet the financial demands of their executives. This is easier said than done, as content marketing strategies for small businesses rarely determine ROI. They find it hard to sell their executives, like CFOs and CMOs, on the merits of this investment, cannot wait around for their content marketing strategy to yield suitable results, and face trouble quantifying content marketing due to its inherently complex nature.

In fact, most small businesses have no knowledge on current returns; without this detail, they cannot focus on improving their strategy. Still, there are a few ways for small businesses to boost ROI from their content marketing efforts. Read below to know what they are.

Know Your Target Audience

Use different analytics tools, like Google Keyword Planner, to find out the number of people using Google to search for key terms in the industry and build your audience personas. These people constitute the target audience for your business. Focus your attention on those people who keep looking around the industry for any details. Draw the attention of these visitors instead of the ones who are already searching for your business brand.

Analytics of your website easily let you know how many people visiting your website from unbranded searches. Use this information and deduct it from the overall number of users searching industry terms to locate your potential audience base. Now tweak your content in a way that meets the demands of users searching for these terms. Reaching out to more people in this manner will automatically cause your ROI to surge.

Measure Your Content Marketing

Use quantifiable measures understood by your business, like sales revenue, leads, and retention. Value every lead generated by your content marketing efforts, every user who registers for one of your events or white papers, and every subscriber you generate for creating your list. Identify this information to calculate the return on investment of generating leads, subscribers, and sales against the overall marketing ROI. Measure each user engaging your content marketing, and find out if they stay longer or spend more as buyers. Use content marketing strategies to deliver more profitable and engaged clients.

Focus on Organizing Your Content

Create a customizable editorial calendar to devise and implement your content marketing strategy effectively, while meeting your publishing deadlines. Assess what’s working and what’s not while inputting associated analytics and data along the way. Use software, like Basecamp or Kapost, to ensure smooth flow of operations.

Utilize Gated Content

Maintain a blog for your small business to serve as an educational resource for users looking around. Use gated content to take your blog to a deeper level, and figure out who is ready for the next step. Gating your content enables you to know who is qualified, but you still have to produce content that makes them like, and more importantly, trust you. Gate that content which is valuable enough for a user to be willing to exchange their contact information and currency for it. As soon as they provide their details, they become leads, and an integral part of your ROI. Use tools like Leadfeeder’s social selling lead capture solution to engage with qualified site visitors who have not left any contact information.

Leverage All Your Existing Content

Milk every single piece of content for what it’s worth. Promote it properly via newsletters and social media channels. Make your content outstanding enough to be syndicated to high-authority publications. When your content has been around the block long enough, revisit it and update it to make it even better. In the end, try and get every single drop of return you are able to from it.

Yes, it is challenging for small businesses to increase the ROI of their B2B content marketing strategy but the aforementioned steps can help you do so. Overcoming the challenges is worth it as you’re able to put a value on this investment to show executives what they would lose out on without the proper content strategy.

Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist and author of SEOsandwitch.com. He is a regular contributor on publications like Wired, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Hubspot and several other sites.

 

The post How Small Businesses Can Boost B2B Content Marketing ROI appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

YouTube Content Marketing Tips and Strategies for Brands

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 16:39

By Alastair Brian

YouTube is becoming a mainstream video sharing network that is helping brands to maximize their reach by creating innovative, creative and compelling content for their audiences. The videos are regarded as the most effective medium of communicating a corporate message. Gone are the days when users tend to read a whole lot of articles that were written for dodging the search engines for higher rankings.

The art of video making is not limited to entertainment industry alone. The latest video sharing platforms have made it a mandatory promotional tool for brands, marketers, and advertisers. If you have ever experienced buying a product online, you can relate to the fact that along with the description and key features, a media gallery is also included on the landing page. It may include images, visual tutorials, and videos for the understanding of end users.

The eCommerce websites that are either powered by PrestaShop, WooCommerce or Magento, need to provide such information to make the brands attractive and compelling. With tools like PrestaShop Media Gallery, one can easily set up add relevant images and videos directly to a brand’s landing pages and supplement the content marketing campaigns. It is among the top-notch strategies to help your potential customers understand how it looks and how it works in real life.

YouTube is facilitating the online users to grab more information about their favorite brands and manufacturers, and what’s happening around them. This is also an amazing opportunity for the content marketers to circulate content that is engaging, enticing, and meaningful. Following are few of the amazing strategies a content marketer must need to consider.

1. Develop worth sharing content

The presence of numerous social media websites has made it a hassle free job to find and curate content according to the interest of users. The content marketers are required to carry research and create concepts that make the content really impressive for the audience.

Develop worth sharing content and let it make viral to your loyal followers. A brilliant video has the power to compel users in sharing it on social media. Here are a few strategies to consider for making the content shareable.

  • Try to add keywords to the video title and description that are used in a video. You never know the exact search terms a user enter in finding a video. But, a user, most probably, searches a video by its script. So, do optimize a video with key terms spoken in a video.
  • Trigger the emotions of your target audience. The reason behind most of the viral videos is touching emotions that a common man easily relates and frequently shares to its community. It can be a moment of happiness, joy, sadness, excitement, or any social cause that penetrates deeply into their hearts.
  • Sharing information or valuable advice is also among the highest performing topics. The users will dearly share the content if they relate a personal behavior, a common misconception or social wrongdoings.
  • For producing worth sharing content, you first need to review statistics about eCommerce and social media. It will allow you to understand user behavior and the prevailing trends. A number of relevant statistics are combined in this infographic.
2. Work in-line with other YouTubers

The users are searching for entertaining videos. It is a brand strategy as how to reach them. The most impressive strategy is to work in collaboration with the established content creators. They have a loyal fan following who doesn’t miss a single vine. They have a million of subscribers who actively watch their videos, share them on social profiles and praising it through comments. So, contacting them to endorse a brand, product or service is an effective solution for reaching to the masses.

The YouTube users are quite sure when their favorite celebrity endorses a brand. So, the endorsement has to be clear and meaningful. You need to inform the readers about the co-working creation. It will allow the users to recognize the brand and thanks the creators for not shattering their trust.

Finding individuals or a group of YouTubers is difficult when you need to reach a specific region. For example, most of the channels have viewership across the globe, which may promote a brand to an irrelevant audience. So, it is better to find the influencers who are reaching out a community your brands belong to.

Working in partnership with prominent YouTube content creators is a rewarding solution because each creator’s channel is recognized a brand itself. They have spent years in securing a huge fan following through consistent content creation, advertising, events and other promotional campaigns. You avail the favor of their endless efforts with collaboration. Promoting your products through these influencers would simply mean endorsing by a brand.

3. Be honest and authentic

The technology has allowed every user to easily interact with a brand and know them in person. It is the time that brands can turn to be authentic for a stronger customer base. Back in the days, contacting a manufacturing concern or their representatives was impossible, but now they can feel more attached to informative and useful videos. Stay honest and authentic with your audience, and they would like to become ardent followers soon.

  • Try to quote and honor the experts, influencers, and professionals of your industry. It can make your brand trustworthy.
  • Sharing real life stories count your authenticity among the followers as they relate the same experiences from their real life.
  • Mentioning the brand at the beginning or the end of a video conveys the background of your company and the viewers easily understands the context.

Content marketing is all about creating top of the line content that focuses on a specific community and delivers a message effectively. YouTube has become a powerful platform for promoting brands, products, and service through visual content that do not annoy the users.

The advertising agencies have been making videos about products and showing them between TV serials, shows, movies and dramas, but people switch to another channel as soon as the ads are displayed. They are high in quality, but the pure promotion restricts users from watching these ads.

So, YouTube content marketing came up with a brilliant solution for producing and sharing videos that are appealing to the viewers and promotional for the brands. With the above-discussed tips and strategies, we have tried to help you plan a powerful content marketing plan that earns you true followers and not mere spectators.

 

Alastair Brian is a professional blogger with a sound grip on addressing eCommerce problems with their possible solutions. He is working with FMEModules, which specializes in developing interactive modules and appealing themes. Apart from web development, the company has also got expertise in PrestaShop ecommerce Development. To Hire PrestaShop Consultant for quick insights, follow him on TwitterLinkedIn.

 

The post YouTube Content Marketing Tips and Strategies for Brands appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

5 Lessons Apple Can Teach Small Businesses

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 16:02

By Anna Johansson

When someone mentions technology, Apple is one of the first companies that likely jumps to your mind. Apple’s global profits topped $72 billion in 2015 thanks to their diligent efforts and their ability to cut costs while delivering incredible products. They are a brilliant tech company and have set a major standard for how companies can make it big.

But Apple was small once too, albeit briefly. They built their empire through a variety of methods, and small businesses would do well to follow their example. Any business can benefit from some of the following, groundbreaking lessons from Apple.

1. Clean Branding

If there’s one thing that can be said about Apple’s company, it’s that it has incredibly clean branding. Their products are sleek and uncluttered. Their software works smoothly and is very user-friendly. The same can be said for the layout of their stores, both online and in-person.

Their logo is memorable – you always know something is an Apple product by its shape and color scheme. They don’t have to spend as much on advertising as some of the other major technology companies, either, because their brand is so clean and recognizable.

2. Excellent Teams

When was the last time you called an Apple customer service representative and found them to be unpleasant, unaccommodating, and rude? It’s probably been a while. Apple has one of the highest customer service ratings because team members love their jobs and feel valued in them.

Anytime you enter an Apple store or Apple repair facility, you’ll have a warm, enjoyable experience with people who know what they’re doing. Apple takes the whole customer experience very seriously, and they don’t allow just anyone to work for them.

Steve Jobs himself created the model for building excellent teams. He firmly believed that great businesses were only as great as the people who worked for them.

“My model for business is The Beatles,” he once said. “They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”

3. Put People Before Profits

Another aspect of Apple’s excellent customer service reputation is their ability to put people first. They’re very focused on making incredible, innovative products, but that’s only because it’s what people want.

Overall, the primary purpose of Apple is to enrich people’s lives. Everything from their customer service to the quality of their products shows their dedication to the people who make it all possible.

4. Create Fans Instead of Customers

When Apple first became popular, people loved it because it was revolutionary. They created new products that no one had ever seen with new features that were easy to use. However, other companies like Samsung, Nokia, and Asus have learned some of the tricks of the trade, and now many of their products are similar to Apple’s.

What makes Apple customers stick around is their obsession with anything Apple. The products are so attractive and high-quality that people will camp out in the snow for three days just to be among the first to purchase a brand new Apple product.

5. Being Different Can Be Incredible

One of Steve Job’s most famous quotes goes as follows:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

As a small business, you have the opportunity to bring something brand new and innovative to the world. People might not get your concept now, but if it’s truly valuable and you believe in the product, you can turn it into a business platform that could change the world.

Anna Johansson a.m.johansson88@gmail.com is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

The post 5 Lessons Apple Can Teach Small Businesses appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

How AI is Changing the Predictive Marketing Game

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 10:00

By Larry Alton

If you attended Dreamforce last year, or you’ve followed the announcements relating to the annual conference, you might know that Salesforce, one of the most popular online commerce programs, is making great strides in the use of predictive marketing.

Known as Salesforce Einstein, the program is introducing Artificial Intelligence features across the Salesforce ecosystem. Salesforce may not be the first company to reorganize its business model around AI and predictive marketing, but it appears poised to shake up e-commerce.

This effort has caused many people to ask: What is AI in terms of commerce, and why is it so important?

A Changing Language

When you hear the word AI, the first thing that may come to mind is something from the movies, such as the robot-child from the 2001 film, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” Robot children are not the factor that’s transforming e-commerce, obviously; instead, companies are using the term AI to refer to predictive analytics: the strategy we’ve employed in marketing for years, in which we draw upon data to predict future purchasing behavior.

It’s instructive to grasp that AI doesn’t represent a dramatic change in e-commerce practice so much as a linguistic shift that demonstrates an increasingly data-centric sales perspective. AI isn’t new, but what many call “AI-first” is a fairly innovative way of orienting both technology development and marketing strategy.

Beyond Analytics

Another thing to understand about AI is that it’s taking analytics, now the core of most marketing decisions, to another level. Google Analytics could look at your site and tell you how visitors behave when they use it, where they came from, and where they were when they left, for example.

That’s all highly useful, but it’s also only retrospective. The purpose of AI is to tell you what your customers will do next, not what they’ve already done.

Of course, AI also relies on retrospective data to do its job, but the goal of programs like Salesforce’s Einstein is to go beyond that old information. It takes that old information and turns it into a behavioral model that may tell you when customers are ready to buy, which empowers you to target them at the perfect moment.

Then, if they don’t take the bait, AI-style products aim to integrate that new data into the model so the program can determine why the sale wasn’t successful.

“AI Is For Everyone”

“AI is for everyone” is Salesforce Einstein’s slogan, but it’s much more than that. It highlights a new reality, one in which other firms will also need to embrace predictive analytics if they want to keep up.

So it should come as no surprise that Salesforce competitor SunView Software released its own new program at roughly the same time. What does the SunView program do? It uses data intelligence – essentially, predictive analytics again — to drive the decision-making process.

If we ponder the notion that companies will have to adopt AI in order to be competitive, it’s useful to recognize that what sets AI apart from older forms of analytics is its ability to grow smarter. New programs like Einstein learn from every interaction, each success and each failure.

In the past, companies had to update their systems and reformulate sales models on a regular basis to reflect the changing market. In contrast, AI changes itself.

AI is probably inescapable, and since it learns all the time, companies would be wise to adopt it as soon as possible. Unlike other programs that often reward early adopters by letting them work out all the bugs, AI-based programs will only grow if you use them. Starting early has a data-driven edge.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The post How AI is Changing the Predictive Marketing Game appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

How to Market With Social Video

Tue, 03/21/2017 - 09:30

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you tapping into the marketing power of online video? Video is influencing consumers’ buying behavior more than ever before—especially social video (videos people share on social media). MediaPost reports that:

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of social video viewers have bought something after watching a branded video on social media, while one-third have considered doing so.
  • After watching a social video, respondents say they “like” it 47 percent of the time, share it 37 percent of the time, and click through to get more details about the business 33 percent of the time.
  • 67 percent of respondents watch more video on social networks than they did a year ago.
  • The average consumer watches 49 minutes a day, or six hours per week, of video on social networks.
  • 60 percent expect to watch more social video in the coming year.

Social video viewing is dominated by YouTube, which accounts for half of social video views, and Facebook, which accounts for 36 percent. The remaining 14 percent is divided between social networks such as Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. However, since the various social networks have different audiences, success with social video requires adjusting your strategy to suit the social network/s you’re using. Here’s what you need to know about the Big Three social networks:

YouTube
  • Longer videos do well on YouTube. Those between 16 seconds and 2 minutes long account for more than half of all YouTube views and tend to have higher engagement.
  • The most successful videos on YouTube are instructional/how-to videos.
  • More than half of YouTube views are on mobile devices.
Facebook
  • Facebook is where users are most likely to ‘like’ (51 percent), share (44 percent) or comment on (32 percent) a social video.
  • Facebook’s audience skews female and ranges from relatively young (18-29 year olds, followed by 30-49 years old, are the biggest demographics). But it’s also the favorite social network for older people (50-64 year olds, followed by 65+ year olds).
  • The ideal length for a video on Facebook is 15 seconds. Forty percent of a Facebook audience will watch until the end of a video that long; only 18 percent watch more than 30 seconds.
  • The most successful videos are personal in nature, use emotion, focus on community and tell local stories.
  • Native Facebook video posts reach approximately 22 percent of users.
Twitter
  • Twitter’s audience is younger (18-29 year olds, followed by 30-49 years old, are the biggest demographics) and skews slightly more male than Facebook.
  • Eight in 10 Twitter users will only watch a full video if it’s 30 seconds or shorter in length.
  • The most successful videos promote brands and educate viewers.
  • Native Twitter videos get 2.5 times more replies, 2.8 times more retweets and 1.9 times more favorites than third-party players.

No matter which social channel you use for your social video, the following tips will help get results:

  1. Encourage your customers to post their own videos on your social media pages. User generated content (UGC) is among the most popular kinds of social video; more than half (53 percent) of survey respondents watch it.
  2. When you post your own social videos, encourage users to like and share them. Over three-fourths of respondents in the survey are more likely to watch a social video if friends or family members recommend it to them, and 49 percent say they typically discover social videos when the videos are shared by someone in their network.
  3. Think about your customers’ needs when developing your videos. The No. 1 attribute survey respondents look for in social video is content that’s relevant to their interests. Can you share something surprising, teach customers how to do something or answer common questions?
  4. Make sure your videos are mobile-friendly. The percentage of videos viewed on smartphones will only continue to grow. Ensure your customers get the full experience no matter what device they’re using.

 

 

The post How to Market With Social Video appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Social Media Habits by Generation, Are Late Payments Crippling Your Small Business?, What You Can Learn from Dating Apps and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:31
11 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know

By Rieva Lesonsky

 

1—Late Payments Can Cripple Your Business

Fundbox, a leading cash flow optimization platform for small businesses, just released findings from a survey conducted to better understand the microeconomic impact of unpaid or late payments.

According to recent Fundbox studies, 64% of SMBs get paid late—and that the total in unpaid invoices across all U.S. small businesses is about $825 billion. Fundbox designed this  latest study to find out what happens to businesses when paid late, where spending cuts are made first, how it affects employees, and what would happen if they were paid on time.

Key findings include:

  • 79% of small business owners can’t pay themselves
  • 23% can’t hire new employees
  • 23% can’t invest in new equipment
  • 20% stop their marketing efforts
  • 18% hold off giving raises or bonuses to employees
  • 17% cannot build their inventory

If paid on time, Fundbox estimates that these SMBs could hire an additional 2.1 million employees, reducing unemployment in the U.S.

These results show small businesses are not paid on time they ultimately fall behind on bills and mortgage payments; they can’t take on new projects to grow; they are unable to fill large orders; revenue stagnates; employees leave and they lose their competitive edge.

If paid on time, Fundbox estimates that each SMB owner could pay themselves an incremental $30,990, purchase $9,207 in new equipment, invest an incremental $8,308 in marketing, spend $7,411 in pay increases or bonuses to employees, and build up an incremental $6,737 in inventory.

“Being paid late is an unfortunate reality faced by most small businesses. This has a massive trickle-down effect on the owner, the company, and the economy,” says Prashant Fuloria, Chief Product Officer for Fundbox.

Check out the infographic below for more information.

 

 

2—Do You Have Separate Checking Accounts?

You should—and I’m not talking about with your significant other. A recent survey from TD Bank shows more than one-quarter of small business owners use the same checking account for their business and personal finances. If you are serious about running a business, this is simply not ok. TD Bank points out that doing this can “create several problems, including inaccurate cash flow reporting, miscalculated tax write offs and lack of access to credit card processing systems.”

The survey also reveals:

  • 69% of small business owners handle their business finances themselves—they don’t outsource to an accountant or third-party service.
  • Female business owners are less likely to separate their checking accounts compared to their male counterparts (68% vs. 82%).
  • 5% of small business owners say getting a better handle on cash flow is a top priority this year.

There’s more information in the infographic below.

 

3—The On-Demand Workforce

Intuit and Emergent Research released their 2nd annual Dispatches from the New Economy: The On-Demand Workforce report, exploring the growth of the on-demand economy and the sentiments of on-demand workers.

Key findings include:

  • There are now 3.9 million Americans working in the on-demand economy
  • 41% of these workers are female.
  • Average age of an on-demand worker is 40.
  • 64% are white; 11% are black; 10% are Hispanic; 7% are Asian; 9% identify otherwise.

People engaged in on-demand work are looking for flexible opportunities to smooth out unpredictable income:

  • 20% of on-demand workers turned to the sharing economy due to a financial hardship such as unexpected major expense, job loss, health emergency or having work hours cut.
  • 66% of people working on-demand have variable monthly income.
  • 41% say that a financial hardship impacted them during the prior year. By comparison, just 18% of all Americans in a recent U.S. Federal Reserve surveyreported encountering a financial emergency.
  • 44% say the largest emergency expense they could pay without borrowing was less than $400
  • 34% have no retirement savings
  • 81% plan to continue working an on-demand job over the next 12 months
  • 41% of on-demand workers also have either traditional full-time or part-time work.

 

4—Social Media Habits by Generation

Use of social media is not limited to younger generations. But social media habits and preferences vary widely by generation. The latest Sprout Social Index reveals how social behavior differs by generation and platform and delves into how businesses should adjust to make the most of customer engagement.

The social media management company found each generation has a unique identity when it comes to how it used social media to interact with businesses. Millennials embrace the ability to communicate directly—30% engage with a brand at least once per month. Baby boomers are more likely to observe silently with only 14% regularly initiating a dialogue with a brand on social. And Gen Xers have obvious shopping ambitions in following brands; nearly 7 in 10 will likely purchase something from a brand they follow—more than any other generation surveyed.

Other insights from the report include:

  • Millennials are twice as likely than other generations to turn to social, rather than phone or email, to communicate with a business.
  • Facebook is the most popular network for 43% of respondents.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers are nearly twice as likely to follow a brand on social media than baby boomers.
  • Only one in 10 social messages actually get a response from a brand.
  • Gen Xers are twice as likely to unfollow a brand that says something offensive or in opposition to their personal beliefs than any other generation.

For more information and the full data report, go here.

 

5— What Your Business Can Learn from Dating Apps

Guest post by David Lester, managing director and finance lead at Brightworks Interactive Marketing, a mid-sized, independent, creative agency specializing in digital marketing for financial institutions and health care.

Want customers to swipe right on your business? Here are some tips for what you can learn from dating apps.

Be Visually Sexy: You want your dating profile to lure people in just by the first impression, right? Well that means making it visually appealing. The same goes for your business. The first move you make on a potential customer will leave a lasting impression. Use your design skills or hire a designer to make your website, social media, newsletters, videos and any other content you provide eye-catching and sexy. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text, so if efficiency is your goal – think photos.

Be Yourself:  You’ll never find someone you click with if you aren’t truly being yourself—both in your personal life and as a business. New customers and/or clients won’t be attracted to you if you’re putting out false pretenses. Many businesses miss the mark on targeting customers because they try to be everything to everyone. Find the niche that works for your company and go after the people who fit within that category. And don’t be afraid to be approachable and make the first move (“How you doin’?”).

Close the Deal: Once you’ve found your perfect match, close the deal with a call to action. In dating, this may be dinner or drinks. In business, you should give your audience a reason to interact with you. Once customers visit your webpage, you have about 10-20 seconds before they move on—so make it count by quickly telling your story and capturing their email addresses.

Be Honest: It’s not you, it’s me. Breaking off a relationship or telling the other person it’s just not working out isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s what has to be done. When you screw up and have a customer service or operational melt down, be upfront and direct with your customers so they know exactly where you and they stand.

Use Kaizen (constant change, constant improvement): Is your dating life just not taking off, or are you attracting the wrong people? As in business, you should constantly be reviewing your progress and tracking your success. Are you achieving your set goals? Are you analyzing trends and adjusting to changes? You won’t know until you try, so put yourself out there and figure out what works best for your company.

 

6—5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Market an App

Guest post by Jordan Edelson, founder and CEO of Appetizer Mobile, a leading mobile app development agency specializing in offering marketing and consulting related services for applications, ASO, and social media influencer marketing programs. 

With more than 800,000 apps in the world, it’s important to not only develop a great app, but also market it in a way that both attracts, and more importantly maintains, interest from consumers. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd in a cluttered digital world:

  1. Be conscious of having an idea that is marketable and focused: It is important to start with an idea that has the potential to attract a very large demographic. At the same time, it’s prudent to focus on niche marketing within that large demographic by initially focusing on smaller segments. This strategy will help you maximize early marketing spends and gather key data on how to position future campaigns. The key is to focus first before going too wide.
  2. Focus on prelaunch marketing activities: Come up with a marketing strategy while the app is in the development phase. Plan an aggressive prelaunch strategy with early tactics like a whisper campaign. Start planning a grassroots campaign and finding possible brand ambassadors for the app. A lot can be done on the marketing front in the pre-launch phase and most app developers don’t properly utilize the time before the launch of an app. I also highly recommend installing analytics software to track and analyze customer data once the app is live. It is important to have access to this data to see trends and better know where and how to invest marketing dollars.
  3. Figure out a proper launch strategy: Don’t spend an exorbitant amount of money on a launch party. When it comes to an event, be budget conscious. Money should always be spent in an impactful way. For instance, consider establishing into strategic partnerships or aligning with existing events to cover/split the costs with like-minded brands. Reallocate money that would have been spent on a large party into social media marketing that will generate buzz and word of mouth activity.
  4. Post-launch: Assess what has worked and what has been successful throughout the launch. Have a data driven strategy in place (if a pilot was done prior to launch you should have some data to base your launch marketing strategy from). Have KPIs established ahead of time (to determine what success is for your app—viral, social media activity, downloads, etc.) and be agile to dynamically changing your marketing strategies and redefining/adding to your KPI metrics.
  5. Make sure your product stays relevant and is optimized to go viral: Ensure your marketing efforts are supported by your development efforts. It is important for developers to issue new updates for their apps on a fairly consistent basis to illustrate commitment to the app and community. It is also important for the developer to monitor and accept constructive user feedback from the ratings and reviews posted in the app store(s). As the product continues to be developed developers should be conscious of things like building viral loop marketing into their application (i.e. affiliate programs, word of mouth incentives, etc.). A lot of this can be planned during the early phase and should be reviewed as the app matures.

It is more important than ever for apps to have solid marketing plans and strategies in place, yet remain flexible as the app and market matures. To stand out, developers need to keep up with both the marketing and development sides of the app. This synchronous approach typically creates a more favorable environment for the app to be successful.

 

7—Help for Freelancers

AND CO, a proactive app that keeps freelancers focused on their work, and Freelancers Union, the leading advocacy organization for the independent workforce, just launched The Freelance Contract—the first standard service agreement for independent workers to build fair and strong relationships with companies. Co-created by the two organizations to create a common standard, the free and customizable agreement was built around the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, a law that goes into effect in New York City on May 15, 2017 and requires anyone who hires a freelancer for work over $800 to have a contract.

Today, 55 million Americans—more than one-third of the U.S. workforce—earn income through some form of freelance work. Recent research from Freelancers Union shows getting paid fairly is one of the top concerns among independent workers. Even though 70% of freelancers have been stiffed by a client at least once, only 28% always use a contract—likely due to the costs associated with seeking legal counsel.

The Freelance Contract establishes trust, eliminates back and forth, and speeds up the signing process—making it faster to start a secure work relationship. Freelancers may tailor the agreement to specify ownership rights, charge cancellation and late fees, and add other custom protections. The agreement is equally fair for companies, setting a clear scope of work, establishing confidentiality terms, and more.

There are a lot of features built into the platform, which is easy to navigate. You can edit and extend contracts to suit the needs of a project and turn clauses on or off.

Other features include:

  • Integrated E-Signing: Built into a smart workflow with e-signatures and more.
  • Smart Alerts: Get alerts if contracts are not signed in time, when projects start.

Layman Guidance: Helpful, easy to understand guidance outlines the basic contract elements and how to tailor the agreement to support various projects.

Companies and freelancers can begin creating their agreements for free today at AND.co/the-freelance-contractfreelancersunion.org/contract, or by downloading the AND CO app for iOS or Android.

 

8—5 Things You Need to Know to Successfully Market an App

Guest post by Jordan Edelson, founder and CEO of Appetizer Mobile, a leading mobile app development agency specializing in offering marketing and consulting related services for applications, ASO, and social media influencer marketing programs. 

With more than 800,000 apps in the world, it’s important to not only develop a great app, but also market it in a way that both attracts, and more importantly maintains, interest from consumers. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd in a cluttered digital world:

  1. Be conscious of having an idea that is marketable and focused: It is important to start with an idea that has the potential to attract a very large demographic. At the same time, it’s prudent to focus on niche marketing within that large demographic by initially focusing on smaller segments. This strategy will help you maximize early marketing spends and gather key data on how to position future campaigns. The key is to focus first before going too wide.
  2. Focus on prelaunch marketing activities: Come up with a marketing strategy while the app is in the development phase. Plan an aggressive prelaunch strategy with early tactics like a whisper campaign. Start planning a grassroots campaign and finding possible brand ambassadors for the app. A lot can be done on the marketing front in the pre-launch phase and most app developers don’t properly utilize the time before the launch of an app. I also highly recommend installing analytics software to track and analyze customer data once the app is live. It is important to have access to this data to see trends and better know where and how to invest marketing dollars.
  3. Figure out a proper launch strategy: Don’t spend an exorbitant amount of money on a launch party. When it comes to an event, be budget conscious. Money should always be spent in an impactful way. For instance, consider establishing into strategic partnerships or aligning with existing events to cover/split the costs with like-minded brands. Reallocate money that would have been spent on a large party into social media marketing that will generate buzz and word of mouth activity.
  4. Post-launch: Assess what has worked and what has been successful throughout the launch. Have a data driven strategy in place (if a pilot was done prior to launch you should have some data to base your launch marketing strategy from). Have KPIs established ahead of time (to determine what success is for your app—viral, social media activity, downloads, etc.) and be agile to dynamically changing your marketing strategies and redefining/adding to your KPI metrics.
  5. Make sure your product stays relevant and is optimized to go viral: Ensure your marketing efforts are supported by your development efforts. It is important for developers to issue new updates for their apps on a fairly consistent basis to illustrate commitment to the app and community. It is also important for the developer to monitor and accept constructive user feedback from the ratings and reviews posted in the app store(s). As the product continues to be developed developers should be conscious of things like building viral loop marketing into their application (i.e. affiliate programs, word of mouth incentives, etc.). A lot of this can be planned during the early phase and should be reviewed as the app matures.

It is more important than ever for apps to have solid marketing plans and strategies in place, yet remain flexible as the app and market matures. To stand out, developers need to keep up with both the marketing and development sides of the app. This synchronous approach typically creates a more favorable environment for the app to be successful.

 

9—LinkedIn Changes—What You Need to Know Now

Guest post by Lisa Rangel, an Executive Resume Writer and Official LinkedIn Moderator at ChameleonResumes.com, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website and recently named one of the top 28 resume writers in 2016 by Career Toolkit. She recently launched a podcast The Pretend You’re Fired Today podcast. For more LinkedIn tips download her cheat sheet.

LinkedIn recently rolled out new changes, including changes to:  the LinkedIn profile; the search function; tracking metrics; and messaging.

Cleaner Navigation Menu: The New Navigation Menu makes it easier to find what you need with the most used functions. My Network, Jobs, Messaging, and Notifications are now listed at the top menu bar together, making them easy to find. And the lesser used, but equally as valuable functions, such as Learning, Groups, Profinder, Salary, Lookup, Slideshare, Post a Job functions are now more easily found in a drop down “More” tab which is right next to the most used functions just listed.

The LinkedIn Profile Sections: The New LinkedIn Profile now has less sections and each section label is clearer as to what the section depicts. The redundant or nebulous sections have been removed. According to LinkedIn, these are the sections that remain in the profile: Work Experience, Education, Volunteer Experience, Skills, Publications, Certifications, Courses, Projects, Honors & Awards, Patents, Test Scores, Languages and Organizations.

There are two main changes: (1) the advice for contacting section is gone so you will want to include your contact details in the summary, and (2) the sections cannot be rearranged in your profile, so factor this in when you are writing to ensure you draw the reader’s eye to the sections you want them to see.

How to Search for Information on LinkedIn: The Advanced Search feature is not in the original form for free users any longer. However, the search platform differs even more between free and paid memberships. The free membership uses a Boolean search term element in a search box, similar to searching on a search engine like Bing. Type in the search term(s) you wish to use and then you can view the search results for that term for People, Jobs, Posts, Companies, Groups or Schools. For People, you can search within your connections based on their location, current company, past company, industry, profile, language, nonprofit interests and education. You will have to upgrade to LinkedIn Recruiter or Sales Navigator to get access to the following search parameters: years of experience, groups, function, seniority level, interested in, company size, and when joined. When you click on Jobs, you will also be given an opportunity to further filter your results.

Tracking Your Progress & Effectiveness: The “Who Viewed Your Profile” stats and your posts and article activity record are still there. The “Strengthen Your Profile” function still exists, which helps users quite a bit. The ranking of profiles among your connections seems to have been removed. Now, a user can look at activity to gauge profile effectiveness.

Access to InMails & Messaging: Free InMails no longer exist, they are now only a part of a paid LinkedIn Membership and the amount of InMails  (from 3  to 30) you receive are based on the membership level you invest in. If you still wanted to contact people as a free member, if the contact you want to reach is working but does not have contact details listed in the summary, you can research the email format and email the person directly. This is a little more work, but can help you stay at a free membership, if that’s the goal. Messaging now exists on LinkedIn similar to DMing on Twitter or communicating on Facebook Messenger. You can also still message Group members, which will help you not need InMails.

There are more small and inconsequential changes in this new LinkedIn rollout, which you can find out more about in LinkedIn’s Help section.

 

Cool Tools

 

10—New Inkjet All-in-Ones

Brother International Corporation has added two devices its INKvestment line—the MFC-J5930DW and the MFC-J6935DW. The INKvestment line addresses one of the biggest challenges facing small office and home office (SOHO) users: the high cost of ink. A single INKvestment Super High-yield black cartridge delivers approximately 3,000 pages, for less than $302 and a single INKvestment Super High-yield color cartridge delivers 1,500 pages for less than $202. This translates to printing for less than a penny per page in black and less than a nickel per page in color.

The MFC-J5930DW and the MFC-J6935DW include an additional paper tray for extra paper handling flexibility, the convenience and cost savings of automatic duplex printing and single-pass duplex copying/scanning. Both devices can also print up to ledger size (11” x 17”) documents. The MFC-J6935DW offers the ability to copy and scan ledger size documents directly on the glass.

The new INKvestment all-in-one devices have additional business features, including:

  • Amazon Dash Replenishment—Brother printers are smart printers, equipped with low ink intelligence that automatically triggers an ink shipment from your Amazon account to your home or office. Users can register with Amazon Dash to automatically receive Brother Genuine ink cartridges avoiding last minute ink emergencies.
  • Integration with Popular Cloud Services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote
  • Users can scan documents to Brother Cloud Apps, such as Office, Outline&Copy, Outline&Scan, Outline&Remove, NoteScan and CreativeCenter4.
  • Mobile Capability for Work On-the-Go—Wireless connectivity allows users to print from smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
  • Dedicated Support to Ease Worries—Brother provides a two-year limited warranty in addition to free technical support for the life of the products via online, call or live chat.

Availability and Pricing

Brother’s new INKvestment color all-in-ones are available through online retailers and distributors. The MFC-J5930DW is priced at $299.992. The MFC-J6935DW is $349.992.

 

11—Transforming Accounting Practices

Xero has introduced an automation system that is set to transform the accounting practices of small businesses and their partners, saving valuable time and money. Xero says its new technology is the first example of specialist, personalized machine learning in an accounting system. Developed in-house by a specialist team of engineers working full-time for a year across three different locations, the system uses detailed statistical analysis to learn from and assist the individual business and their partner based on their own specific circumstances.

The automation will mean small businesses no longer need to worry about where their invoices are filed—an invoice for time spent on site should be recorded against Sales-Labor, not Sales-Materials, for instance. The machine learning automation evolves with the processes used by the business owner and their advisor — when the small business comes to create their next invoice, Xero automatically suggests the account code so they don’t inadvertently make a mistake.

The new technology is the first step in Xero’s plan to build a personalized assistant for small businesses and their accountants to cut the administrative burden, prevent mistakes, and enable them to spend more time growing their business.

The machine learning automation will initially be made available to a small group of small business customers and their accounting partners for testing, before being launched to all Xero customers by the middle of the year.

Small businesses take an average of 1 minutes and 38 seconds to create an invoice in Xero — that works out to 13,600 hours or 6.8 years worth of time every day. For every second machine learning helps to shave off that average edit time, Xero’s latest innovation will save the world around a working month every day.

 

.

 

 

The post Social Media Habits by Generation, Are Late Payments Crippling Your Small Business?, What You Can Learn from Dating Apps and Other Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Is It Time for Your Small Business to Upgrade to Mobile POS?

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 12:00

Sponsored by Total Merchant Services

By Rieva Lesonsky

Should your small business upgrade to a mobile point-of-sale system? Installation of mobile and tablet-based point-of-sale systems (mPOS) is projected to grow to 17.4 million in the U.S. and Canada by 2019, a compound annual growth rate of over 20 percent. But should your business “join the club”? To make the right decision, you need to weigh the costs against the benefits. Here are some factors to consider.

mPOS Benefits
  • You can accept new forms of payment. When you choose a mobile POS solution like those from Total Merchant Services, you’re ready for any way customers want to pay—including EMV chip cards, traditional magnetic-stripe payment cards and even contactless NFC payment options like Samsung Pay and Apple Pay.
  • You gain greater flexibility. Whether you’re selling products at a trade show or street fair, taking orders in your restaurant or accepting payments at your retail store, being able to take payments on the go gives your business the flexibility you need to capture more sales. Total Merchant Services’ payment processing tools include wireless credit card readers and its card swipe device, which lets you take card payments on your smartphone.
  • You can bridge the gap between virtual and physical stores. Do you have both a brick-and-mortar and an e-commerce store? Web-based payment solutions like Groovv POS let you accept customer payments both in person, so payment is quick and easy for customers no matter where they buy from you. You can sell products online through a hosted payment page connected to your website, set up recurring billing and process payments securely and automatically, or integrate payments online from your website shopping cart with Groovv Online Payments.
  • You’ll power up your marketing. The right mPOS system does more than accept payments; it also has marketing tools built in, like Groovv POS. The system includes a loyalty program that lets you sign customers up right at checkout, plus geo-fencing technology so you can send customers smartphone offers whenever they’re near your
  • You can better manage inventory. Choose an mPOS tool that includes inventory management software, like Groovv mPOS and you’ll always have the products customers want in stock. Customize inventory with categories and modifiers, track sales, and get alerts when inventory is running low.
  • You get business intelligence. Detailed business intelligence makes it easier to run and grow your business. Whether you have one location or several, Groovv POS reporting software lets you track time, manage back office operations and see which products or services are the most profitable.
Understanding Costs

What’s the tradeoff for all these benefits? Here are some costs to consider when deciding on an mPOS:

  • Cost of transitioning to the new system. Setting up a new POS can be time-consuming, and downtime can cost you money. With Groovv POS, however, you get help setting up the system, including free inventory loading and free, ongoing support to make sure you get the most from the product.
  • Cost of educating employees. Training staff to use a new POS system can mean downtime. But a touchscreen mPOS system like Groovv POS is so intuitive to use, it won’t take your staff much time to get up to speed.
  • Cost of hardware. An mPOS system can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars—but qualified businesses can get the Groovv mPOS system for free. Just open a new payment processing account with Total Merchant Services or switch from another provider, and you’ll get all the processing equipment you need, including mobile credit card readers, tablet, cash drawer, receipt printer, stand, EMV/NFC payment device and inventory management, marketing and reporting software.
The Right Choice

Don’t let concerns about costs keep you from investing in or upgrading your payment processing solution to an mPOS. With a solution like Groovv mPOS from Total Merchant Services, you can start using the latest mobile, EMV and NFC payment technologies with no upfront cost.

For more information on Total Merchant Services’ product family and/or to see if you qualify for free placement of payment processing equipment, call (888) 610-1025.

 

 

The post Is It Time for Your Small Business to Upgrade to Mobile POS? appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Going Global: 5 SMB Essentials for International Trade

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 11:00

By Frederick Crosby

Expansion into global markets can catapult small to medium businesses (SMBs) into greater revenues, better products, and more diverse and less costly supply chains. And SMB owners are catching on. According to the Small Business Administration, since 2006, the value of small business exports has brown by 16%—a full 35% faster than large business exports.

But going global for an SMB can be daunting. Doing business in the global marketplace is more complex than just doing business at home. Without access to the big resources of big business, globalization has traditionally been out of reach for most small businesses. However, with the dramatic technological advances we’ve recently seen, you now have access the same powerful tools used by large enterprises in order to compete—and win—in the global marketplace. Whereas technology innovation previously catered only to large enterprises, today, there are countless tools available to SMBs that allow them to develop in the same ways once only available to big business. Today’s digital technology has become so inexpensive, so powerful, and so accessible, today’s SMBs can now:

  • Have a web presence as sophisticated as any large enterprise.
  • Engage in e-Commerce.
  • Design and source products for international markets.
  • Manage complex foreign taxes and regulatory compliance.
  • Tap into online lending sources.
  • Deliver on payment security.

…and, go global.

Now, let’s unpack the essentials for going global and take a look at some resources and new tools you can tap to help you get there.

Developing a Web Presence

You’re a small business. By definition, you are few people doing many things. Two things SMB owners consistently report they need more of are time and money. Which might account for the fact that 45% of SMBs don’t have a website—something that takes time and money to develop.

Here’s some great news: Getting your business online has recently gotten pretty darn easy. Back in the day, you’d have to hire a team of web design professionals to build a hack-proof website and develop a safe e-commerce capability. But today’s environment is full of plug-and-play turnkey solutions for web design like Wix, Web.com and Squarespace, all of which make it very easy for SMBs to get up and running online. Some, like Magento, even come with baked in e-commerce capabilities—things like shopping carts, being able to show your inventory levels online, and the ability to accept secure payments.

The bottom line is that setting up a web site and e-commerce platform has gotten way, way easier—and far less expensive. Cloud technology has brought the cost of keeping data down tremendously. It also makes it far easier to launch platforms, share and collaborate. Today’s SMBs don’t have to invest in traditional resources like web designers, IT experts, coders and servers to jump online and open their businesses to the entire world.

The truth of living in the digital world is that you simply must have a website. Your website travels to places you and your business card can’t. The first and best reason to get an online presence is that it exposes your business to people who are looking for your products that you didn’t even know were there. But going global means more than just accessing more customers. It can also mean growing your business faster by finding distributors or resell partners, and lowering your cost of goods by optimizing your supply chain.

Web Building Resources
  • Wix (wix.com)—free websites, easy drag and drop, designer-made mobile optimized templates.
  • Web.com (web.com)—build your own, or hire a team to help with websites, marketing and e-commerce.
  • Squarespace (squarespace.com)—award-winning templates for websites, porftolios and online stores.
  • Magento (magento.com)—omni-channel, multi-national e-commerce experiences.

 

Understanding Foreign Markets

It’s not always the case that what you design and build for U.S. customers will be received well internationally. But there are a number of things you can do to break into and remain competitive in global markets. Some are obvious and have to do with your product—like changing power sources from 110v to 220v. Some are less so, like making sure your messages are getting through. Calling a car trunk a trunk in the UK, for instance, won’t fly. It’s the boot. Some differences between U.S. and overseas markets are even more nuanced. Do your Chinese customers speak more colloquially, or do they like a more formal tone? There’s a lot to consider, but here are a number of resources you can tap for help:

Foreign Marketing Resources

Highway1 (highway1.io)—helps you adapt your products to foreign markets, source them overseas and build product roadmaps that keep you competitive internationally.

RKS (http://www.rksdesign.com)—helps position your company and products relative to new markets in ways that build your brand and help you make real connections with international customers.

Financing Going Global

Going global can be a big step and might mean you need financing. There are plenty of new loan tools out there like Credit Karma aimed at consumers, but there a few that focus on small businesses.

The Export Import Bank of the United States can help you with financing—get working capital, borrow against export-related assets, insure your exports, etc.—as well as help you develop an import-export strategy. There’s also Nav, a Credit Karma-like offering that can help you assess your credit rating but also access funds so you can pay your product brokers.

Financial Resources
  • The Export Import Bank of the United States (exim.gov)—working capital, loans, import-export strategy.
  • Nav (nav.com)—helps manage your business credit profile and access financing
Navigating Trade, Customs and Compliance

Large companies have purchasing departments and plenty of people dedicated to sourcing products. They likely even have employees abroad managing their global supply chains. Without all these resources, SMBs often wind up using the same services consumers do—the US Post Office, FedEx and UPS. Which means they get the same consumer rates.

To minimize costs, get better shipping speed and greater visibility into your shipping, take a look at self-service freight forwarding portals like Flexport. There are also turnkey partners like Farrow, who can manage your international freight forwarding, compliance, customs brokering, even warehousing and logistics to make sure everything stays on schedule.

When it comes to paying foreign taxes and dealing with foreign regulations, things can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. International trade means everything from figuring out how to comply with anti-money laundering laws to keeping your supply chain free of conflict minerals—those deemed by the Secretary of State to be financing conflicts in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For help navigating these tricky waters, traditional consulting groups like PwC can be out of reach for SMBs, but there are a few like Asset Compliance and Vistra who specialize in helping small to medium businesses comply with foreign regulations.

Trade, Customs and Compliance Resources
  • Flexport (flexport.com)—air and ocean freight forwarder, accessible online with tracking and management capabilities.
  • Farrow (farrow.com)—proactively helps with compliance to ensure expedient cross-border trade
  • Assent Compliance (assentcompliance.com)—a self-service platform for managing compliance, ethical sourcing, inspections and supplier management.
  • Vistra (vistra.com)—international finance, law, and accounting services to help you structure your overseas business.

 

Payments

Paying and getting paid in overseas markets can be cumbersome and complex and can certainly make for confusing cash flow. The process involves a number of parties, each of which have to get paid, each of which adds time to the payment process. And then there are all the fees.

There’s the cost of sending payment, the cost of receiving payment, foreign exchange fees and passing through clearing houses such as the SWIFT network—all of which mean more fingers are touching the money and there’s less of it at the end of the line. Tracking international payments has also traditionally been a sticky business because you have to go through each link in the chain to find out what’s happening, and the links don’t talk to each other.

Companies like Fundbox can tap into your bookkeeping software and help you manage cash flow by advancing payments on open invoices. And with new and innovative approaches to global payments, paying and getting paid in overseas markets has gotten much easier. Companies like Veem have developed a self-service global payments systems based on blockchain technology—which eliminates all the middlemen. Both you and your recipient or sender can log into the platform, send and receive money in local currencies, keep products and supply chains moving, and keep your business running.

Payments Resources
  • Fundbox (fundbox.com)—self-service tool for managing cash flow by advancing payments for outstanding invoices. (Fundbox is a client of SmallBizDaily)
  • Veem (veem.com)—a self-service global payments platform that helps you make and track overseas payments.
Go on—go global!

Going global can help you open new markets, drive revenue and find global suppliers and talent—and the barriers to entry have come way down for small businesses. Easy to use, inexpensive self-service platforms and apps can help you solve your design, shipment, compliance and payment problems. Here’s a summary list of all the resources we’ve discussed.

  • Web design – Wix, Web.com and Squarespace
  • Ecommerce – Magento
  • Product design and marketing – RKS, Highway 1
  • Freight forwarding – Flexport, Farrow
  • Compliance – Assent Compliance, Vistra, Farrow
  • Import/Export Bank, Nav.com – financing
  • Payments – Fundbox, Veem

Frederick Crosby has spent much of his professional career focused on solving cross-border challenges for both consumers and businesses.  In the early days of PayPal, he helped the company unlock its potential as the first widely accepted global payment device for buying international items on-line.  He later jumped to the eBay Marketplaces side of the business to balance global supply and demand and enabled small businesses to trade with consumers all over the world.  Frederick joined Western Union Digital as Chief Revenue Officer, unlocking the remittance giant’s reach to a new age of immigrants who transfer money digitally.  Currently, as CRO of Veem, Frederick has teamed with payments innovator Marwan Forzley to help bring consumer-like simplicity of payments to world of business bank wires, making it easier for small businesses to pay and receive fund from their overseas partners.

The post Going Global: 5 SMB Essentials for International Trade appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Eating Gold

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 09:30
From donuts to burgers, food gets the Midas touch.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Last week, I was half-watching the local news when they captured my attention by mentioning a golden donut. The treat, from a Los Angeles restaurant called Birdies, is a vanilla-glazed donut covered with edible 24K gold leaves and topped with champagne. It sells for $100. Now I love donuts, but first, I’m not sure about eating 24K gold and second—$100!

But apparently golden donuts are not the only food that looks as if it were touched by Midas. The same week I saw the news report, the newsletter Cassandra Daily, which covers Millennial trends, reported, “Young consumers crave food and beverages that stand out in their [social media] feeds, giving rise to unexpectedly colorful culinary concoctions. While purple food, particularly ube, is poised to be a major food trend this year, edible gilded creations are also proving to be worth one’s weight in gold.”

They noted golden hamburger buns, developed by The Roadery, a food truck business from the U.K.; sushi wrapped in gold leaf, from Japan and also costing in the vicinity of $100; and ice cream (also originating in Japan) “wrapped in an edible gold leaf” resembling a golden-dipped Dairy Queen cone (or golden-dipped Brown Bonnet for you East Coast Carvel fans.

Cassandra Daily reports the golden food is intended to appeal to Millennials’ sense of luxury. The trend was reported on last year by Mashable, which noted gold leaf has no taste, is chemically inert and easily passes through our digestive systems. They mentioned part of the popularity of gold food is it stands out in posters’ Instagram feeds, and they quoted someone who said this trend is a “flash in the pan.” However, it’s still being buzzed about a year later.

Obviously, no restaurant is going to focus on serving golden food, but creating a golden concoction or two could be a good way to drum up some local publicity.

The post Eating Gold appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Avoid Small Business Burnout, Focus Your Energy on Customers, Secrets to Email Marketing & More

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:00
Small Business Reading List Articles You May Have Missed this Week

 

Best Practices

 

HR

 

Inspiring Success Stories

 

Marketing

 

Productivity

 

 

 

The post Avoid Small Business Burnout, Focus Your Energy on Customers, Secrets to Email Marketing & More appeared first on Small Biz Daily.

Pages