Small business equals small staff, a fact that has many benefits but also some drawbacks. For example, at some point you’ve likely encountered tasks that go beyond your team’s skill set or available time, causing you to hire outside freelancers or independent contractors to complete the work. With the growth of platforms, finding a qualified freelancer is easier than ever before. However, it does present some difficulties, such as the process of selecting the right worker, setting prices and the length of delivery time.
Fortunately a new outsourcing platform called SuperTasker has a solution.
SuperTasker is a platform that streamlines outsourcing to make it easier and faster than ever before. It is a one-stop-shop for all your digital tasks. Just select a task from the list and the SuperTasker algorithm will select the perfect freelancer for your project. The task will then be completed right away, typically under one day and even as fast as one hour.
About SuperTasker Freelancers
SuperTask has simplified outsourcing by finding quality freelancers and automatically assigning them to your tasks. Taskers are hand-picked by SuperTasker and are held to strict quality standards. Taskers receive scores from internal metrics as well as customer reviews. If a Tasker’s score drops below a certain level, they are dismissed from the platform. SuperTasker also wants to see its freelance workers improving and moving up in rank. For this reason, if a Tasker fails to move up in rank they will also get removed, regardless of their score. These checks are designed to maintain the quality of work you receive when you outsource with SuperTasker.
The SuperTasker Task List
So what tasks can you outsource to SuperTasker? Pretty much anything in the digital realm, including:
- Websites fixes for WordPress, Magento, Joomla and Drupal.
- Graphics tasks such as creating custom images, logos, infographics and more.
- Advertising tasks like business cards, flyers, brochures, email templates and SEO analysis.
- Web content such as blog posts, press releases, SEO articles and email newsletters.
- Video & audio tasks like voiceovers, transcriptions and video editing.
- Social buzz tasks including tweets, Facebook posts and blog comments.
You can see a full list of SuperTasker tasks here.
SuperTasker is designed to streamline the process of outsourcing so your tasks can be completed quickly. Each of the tasks in their task list has timing information so you know when you can expect the work – and for most tasks you can expect delivery in one day or less. For example, WordPress fixes are delivered in one hour, a 400-word blog post can be sent to you in three hours, and you can get an infographic created in one day.
SuperTasker has standardized the system to offer specific tasks, completed quickly, at set prices you can rely on. Each task in the task list has a set price so you know what you are paying. For example, the one-hour WordPress fix is $20, a custom image is $25, and a 400-word SEO article is $45 dollars.
In addition to these individual tasks, SuperTasker also offers a subscription service for WordPress fixes. Plans include four one-hour fixes for $49/month, or unlimited WordPress fixes starting at $69/month.
SuperTasker Solutions for Small Business
SuperTasker can help small business owners quickly complete tasks when their own staff does not have the skills or time to take on the task. By streamlining outsourcing, SuperTasker can take away your limitations, giving you access to quick, quality work for your digital projects.
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eCommerce giant Amazon recently released plans for another strategic move that they are hoping will help them secure more business that local retailers are getting: Free Shipping on smaller items purchased through their site.
In a recent blog post on electronic postage solution provider, Endicia, they shared that the new offering from Amazon will provide free shipping on smaller items purchased through their website, but the items will take 5 – 7 days to arrive versus the typical two-day turnaround on most purchased items. The plus for consumers is that they do not have to be Prime Members in order to take advantage of the free shipping service.
Want to know more? you can read the full article from Endicia’s site here.
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6 Tips for Video Marketing Success
by Brad Jefferson, CEO and Co-Founder, Animoto
Video has become an integral part of marketing strategy for businesses. A recent study of 1,000 consumers found that one in every four actually lose interest in a company if it’s not using video, and four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product or service than read about it. Consumers are hungry for video and businesses must respond if they want to keep up with their competitors.
But with more and more businesses jumping on the video marketing bandwagon, how can companies stand out? What can you do to maximize your video success?
#1: Make it personal
There could be tens, hundreds, or even thousands of businesses selling what you sell. Showcasing your personality and uniqueness is a great way to differentiate yourself from these competitors. Through video, you can let the audience get to know your business on a deeper level. When you make an impression through sharing the personal details behind your business, it not only makes your video content more interesting, but also fosters engagement and leaves a positive brand impression.
The following example from McCrea’s Candies illustrates just how effective a personal video can be. Wouldn’t you would rather purchase caramels from a company with a video like this than one that only features photos and descriptions of their product on their website?
#2: Show, don’t tell
Video is a visual medium, yet many business videos are very text-heavy, using titles and captions to spell out every little detail about a product or service. Rather than telling us about your business, show us through photos and videos. Video testimonials can also be a great way to show viewers about your business through the eyes of happy clients.
#3: Less is more
As part of Animoto’s recent Online and Social Video Marketing Study, we asked consumers what they viewed as the ideal length for specific types of videos. We found that keeping your videos between thirty and sixty seconds is ideal. For more in-depth product videos, consumers are willing to sit for a bit longer, but not for much (1 to 2 minutes).
In today’s fast-paced, content-packed world, it’s no surprise that viewers are hungry for bite-sized content. Fifty nine percent of consumers indicated that a video being too long would strongly deter them from watching, and nearly two thirds of consumers prefer videos under 60 seconds.
#4: Include your branding
Make sure viewers know the video is coming from you so they know how to find you when they’re finished watching. You can brand your video by adding your logo at the start and/or end or displaying a logo bug in the lower corner throughout. Make sure any text, images, and colors in your video are also on-brand.
#5: Include music
Music is a great addition to video because it helps set the mood and makes the viewing experience more enjoyable. Make sure to select a track that fits with the atmosphere of the video as a whole. How do you want people to feel when they’re watching your video? Select a track that evokes those emotions. Watch this video with examples and demonstrations on how to strike the right chord when selecting a track for your promotional video.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a voiceover or have someone talking in your video, avoid music with lyrics.
#6: Call to action
Finally, help your viewers take the next step – whether it be to visit your website or to contact you – by including a call to action in your video. You can have on-camera talent actually tell viewers what to do next, include a text call to action during or at the end of your video, or even include a call-to-action button to let viewers click through to wherever you want to direct them.
By now it’s clear that every business needs to be incorporating video into their marketing strategy. With these six tips, you’re ready to get a leg up on the competition.
About the Author
Brad Jefferson, CEO and Co-Founder, Animoto
As founding CEO of Animoto, Brad leads the charge in driving Animoto to be the global standard for automated video creation. Prior to co-founding Animoto in August 2006, Brad spent eight years with Onyx Software, an enterprise software company. At Onyx, he was Director of Sales Operations and managed the national team of sales engineers. Previously, Brad managed Onyx’s Professional Services team and customer base in the western US. Through Brad’s career at Onyx he saw the company grow from a 17-person start-up to an 800-person public company, and eventually an acquisition. Brad graduated from Dartmouth College and currently resides in Oakland, California, with his wife and their two children, both of whom are stars of his frequent Animoto video creations.
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Multi-national corporations spend millions of dollars developing products and market testing them before they move to a full-scale launch. Huge retailers and restaurant chains will study traffic patterns and demographics on a scale that puts political pollsters to shame.
I’ve always been envious of these types of research. It seemed to me that market research budgets the size of your average emerging nation gave the big guys an unfair advantage.
However, the Internet has become something of a great equalizer in this arena and even small business owners with a little web savvy can judge market potential enough to keep them from making big mistakes. This is especially true if your plans are to offer a product or service via an ecommerce platform. Here are five (increasingly) sneaky ways to get a good gauge of how successful your product or service can be.
Google trends. A good place to start is Google trends. You simply enter search terms related to the product or service you’re considering and see which way the trend is moving.
For example, if I were thinking about selling ultra-long knitted scarfs I would start out with that search term and I would quickly find that there’s not enough search traffic to generate a graph. When I simplify it to merely “scarfs” I get some results and as I look at the trend I see that it seems to be on a downward slope. Uh-oh. Plus the trend graph shows quite starkly how seasonal the interest in scarfs is.
Keyword competition. Next I would turn to Google’s keyword planner tool, and you’ll need an AdWords account for that. Again, there was no data on the keyword “long knitted scarfs” but the competition for “knitted scarfs” is high. I would probably have to bid around $30 a day to get about eight click-throughs to my site. During November 2014, fewer than 600 people were searching for knitted scarfs on Google and that’s when interest peaked out. Competition for these eyeballs is high.
This information from Google is fine, but maybe your scarfs are so incredible, once people see them they will love them. Also, maybe they are so incredible people would be willing to pay a premium for them. Now we’re talking! We need to show them to potential buyers.
eBay. Test out your products on eBay. You can do this with limited stock, and frankly, some people do it with no stock. The great thing is you can actually get a feeling for how much people would be willing to pay. If you have an item that lends itself to the auction format, you have a great test market that is just a few clicks away. Some people set up auctions, gauge interest and then cancel the auction. They never even have the products they are listing. eBay auctions can be canceled when 12 or more hours are left before the scheduled end.
Presales. Taking presale orders is a good way to measure demand with little risk on your part. Many credit card companies won’t allow you to charge people before the product ships and it’s certainly good practice to follow that guidance even if it’s not required. However, the fact that people are willing to give a credit card number to reserve their product shows that demand is real. Excellent website builders like WIX, Weebly and Square make it easy to create a small ecommerce site. You can have one up and ready to test demand with preorders very quickly and with little expense.
Poll your prospects. Ryan Levesque – author of “Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Formula to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy” – has developed a very thorough system for using surveys or polls to determine if there is demand for a product and exactly where the “sweet spots” in that demand are. If you have an online community or popular blog that has some related products you could offer, poll your community to discover their pain points.
With this system you’re looking for truly motivated people. You want to find problems that people are passionate about solving. If you decide to put a poll on your website to make some inquiries, allow your users to enter their own comments. If their comments are no more than a few words in length, they aren’t passionate. If they go on a rant, you’re probably onto something.
Leverage several of these fast, easy and cheap ways to gauge demand for your offering and you will be able to weed out the bad ideas in almost no time. Once you’ve done that you can concentrate your talent on the remaining good ideas and dramatically increase your odds for success.
Image: Public Domain.
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AMI analysts had the opportunity to attend an APAC-level analyst update on Cisco Consulting Services (CCS) recently. Martin McPhee, SVP Cisco Consulting Services and Caspar Herzberg, VP APJ & GC Cisco Consulting Services were some of the key Cisco personnel who played an active role in briefing Analysts at this telepresence session. As technology trends […]
Today’s business landscape is more challenging than ever before – technology is changing the way that customers want to engage with small businesses, the internet is bringing new customers into reach, and businesses need to be leaner and more innovative than ever to stay relevant amidst emerging competition.
For many small business owners, a modern small business office equipped with the right technology is key to turning these challenges into opportunities. Three business and IT trends driving business growth and opportunity are collaboration, data management and mobility. Take a look at how adapting your small business office to enable these concepts can bring value to your business:
Collaborating to Overcome Business Challenges
I recently attended a business conference where one of the speakers shared how collaboration takes shape within his business. The owner noted that one of his brightest designers lives in Iran and, for political reasons, cannot travel freely. As you can imagine, that presented quite the challenge for the owner, who needed easy access to his team of designers, often at a moment’s notice.
Rather than view this as a challenge, he turned to his existing technology for the answer. Through the use of an online conferencing tool, the Iranian designer is now able to meet and brainstorm with team members across the world. His communication is no longer limited and he can focus on the real challenge: designing complex engineering vehicles.
Small business owners: take note. The “traditional office” has evolved and smart business owners are taking advantage of the perks of having a remote workforce. Technology allows you the opportunity to recruit and hire top talent across the globe. All it takes is the right technology and an open mind to break through the existing barriers of distance.
Let’s say that your small business isn’t going global. In fact, your entire staff is located in the same city. You may be wondering, How can my office benefit from collaboration? First, you should start thinking of your office as more than just a place to work. Think of it as a productivity tool that can help you meet the demands of modern business. You might design your office in a way that sparks creativity by developing open work spaces that allow for greater employee interaction. Whether it is a central meeting room designed for cross-team brainstorms or open cubicles, pairing employees of all levels of
seniority and experience can lead to discovering new ways to solve problems, spark new ideas and build sustainable solutions for the company.
Mastering Data Management
One of the biggest challenges for businesses of all sizes is best navigating the flow of incoming and outgoing data. Data security often makes news headlines as corporation after corporation reveals detailed accounts of their costly data breach. For small businesses, however, data theft may not be a primary concern. Many small business owners may spend most of their time trying to find a cost-effective solution for managing the influx of paper and digital data that cycles in and out of the office. One of the most visible forms of data is the printed documents that you often see on desks and around the office.
As you choose technology tools to enhance your new, modern office, you should consider upgrading one of the most commonly used pieces of office technology – your printer. While many businesses are dreaming of a minimalist, paperless office that dream isn’t today’s reality. Most business owners aren’t looking for a paperless office, they’re looking for better ways to manage the paper they print and receive. Regardless of your preference for ink or toner, HP has two affordable printing solutions for your small business:
Leveraging Mobility for Smarter Business Travel
- HP PageWide Technology powers the HP Officejet Pro X series printers, a class of desktop printers that fire out prints at up to twice the speed of laser printers, at up to half the cost. Coupled with cloud-based software solutions, these printers offer greater productivity and easy, secure access to your most critical information.
- HP’s JetIntelligence technology enables new models of HP LaserJet printers to print faster and more efficiently, giving you more prints out of each toner cartridge. In addition to being fast, these new printers are smaller than their predecessors and can fit comfortably on your desktop. That’s saving you time on printing, money on printer supplies and office space!
Can you remember what life was like before we had mobile devices? I remember it being a bit quieter than it is today, but I certainly can’t say that I miss doing business without having my smartphone or tablet within arm’s reach.
According to SMB Group analyst Laurie McCabe, I’m not the only one doing more on my mobile devices. “Our data shows that about 60% of small businesses view mobile solutions as critical to the business, and mobile solutions account for a growing share of small business technology budgets.”
The more I travel – which is often – the more it seems like everyone is a frequent flyer. For those who aren’t airborne as often, may find themselves traveling more locally than they would have ten years ago. Whether it’s traveling to a sales conference or working from, today’s professionals are working outside of their offices nearly as much as they are inside their offices, if not more.
When you’re on the road, it’s important that you have the tools and services you need to be most productive. You can check inside of any business traveler’s carry-on and you’re sure to find a smartphone, tablet and a lightweight notebook, preferably one with a long battery life. These technologies are key as traveling means that you must be able to connect more quickly than you would if you were working from your office.
One aspect of working remotely that is often overlooked, but increasingly important is mobile printing. You’re probably wondering how easy it is to print from smartphone to your office printer, or even the printer in your hotel’s business center. It’s actually easier than you think, thanks to the Mopria Alliance, a consortium of technology companies that have joined together to goal of providing simple wireless printing from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. With new Mopria-certified printers, printing from your mobile device is as easy as touching your smartphone directly to the printer.
So there you have it, three of the biggest industry trends that are shaping the small business community: collaboration, data management and mobility. As you work to grow your business, consider utilizing technology as an ally to help you better connect and with your employees and customers. The business landscape will continue to evolve, don’t get left behind.
I am blogging on behalf of HP and received compensation for my time from HP for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not HP’s. You can learn more about HP and their small business products by visiting them online at http://www.hp.com/country/us/en/uc/welcome.html
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A few weeks ago I coordinated a large exhibit space for Infusionsoft’s exhibit at the 2nd Annual Market New York trade show. See the pic below.
I knew the trade show would have hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees, so I had to create an experience to catch the attention of people as they were walking by. In just a few seconds, attendees would decide to stop by our booth – or not.
Sure, we had a great display – but I know we needed more. I reached out to my friends at Turnstone. My thinking was that if I stocked the exhibit with great looking furniture , instead of traditional “exhibit furniture” our exhibit would look better.
Guess what? It did.
We used Turnstone’s Campfire line of furniture to spruce things up and attendees took notice.
People not only commented on the furniture, but we could feel how the modern and smooth LOOK, combined with the functionality the furniture provided, helped our display look smart and snazzy.
Lesson learned? If furniture can make a trade show display look good – how much more could it make your office look good.
Your office won’t just look good, but better furniture will add enhanced functionality and productivity to the people who have to work in your office.
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Video marketing is one of the easiest, most economical and fastest ways to build your brand and generate sales for your business.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s posted a short, substantive and easy to read overview of why video marketing is so POWRFUL.
I’ve been doing videos for a long time and while many of them are not well polished, a bit dorky and maybe even a bit shaky – my tribe (that’s you) enjoy and like them. I had not posted an inspiration video in a few days and someone said “Hey Ramon, I miss your videos”. Because of video my brand (and sales) has grown and yours can too!
Gary is the ultimate video marketer. While my buddy Robert Scoble birthed the world of video education, Gary Vaynerchuk birthed the world (as far as I know it) of using VIDEO TO MARKET ONE’S BUSINESS.
If you look at what Gary has done and is doing – it’s pretty simple (deceptively simple). Post often, be engaging and educate. Smells a bit like Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
One of Gary’s latest pieces is a short but solid overview of WHY video is so powerful as a marketing tool for business. In this piece he also shares how the various social platforms differ in their use of video – Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube.
Here’s a short introduction of the article…read the full article here.
The single most important strategy in content marketing today is video. Whether it’s video on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Youtube, the content you need to be thinking about creating and marketing on social for your business is video. Period.
No matter what you’re selling, no matter what your company does, if you don’t have a video marketing strategy for the biggest video platforms, you are going to lose. And in case you haven’t noticed, the platforms of distribution for video content online have shifted drastically over the last 18 months. Facebook is getting more daily minutes watched than YouTube, Snapchat’s daily views are now in the billions, and video on Twitter has taken listening and one to one branding to a whole new level.
Now, maybe I’ve scared you a bit, but don’t worry because I’m here to make sure you understand the landscape of all the biggest social platforms that matter right now. By the end of this article, you’ll have the information you need to kill at video. I promise.
Quick guide to create great video content:
- Audio is important – reduce background noise. Consider investing in a good microphone (clip on microphone or a “shot gun” microphone).
- Keep the camera steady – get a tripod
- Have good lighting (natural lighting or buy a simple lighting kit)
- Capture video on your phone or buy a low cost dedicated video camera. Use HD settings.
- Get editing software (Windows Moviemaker, Apple iMovie, Adobe has various video editing tools and you can do an online search for more).
- Use a video editor from Elance, Fivr or other marketplaces to have someone help you edit video
- MY PERSONAL FAVORITE – Work with a video professional (my friends Jimmy Newson, Multi Vision Digital, Clear Online Video are three who come to mind). These folks can shoot the video for you, or edit video once you’ve taken it.
The post Why Video Marketing Is Your Ultimate Marketing Tool. Guide To Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Snapchat Video. appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
Collaborative technology is shrinking the space between you and your remote workers, increasing productivity and boosting the efficiency of communication. If you have remote workers in your business or employees who frequently travel, one tool that should be on your radar is join.me.
join.me, LogMeIn, Inc.’s popular online meeting tool, makes having meetings so simple and seamless that you can literally join or start a meeting with a click of a button. This is why 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies use join.me and why it is a beloved and essential app used by small businesses.
join.me offers a range of benefits for small business owners, including:
- Collaborating with team members on projects
- Giving personal consultations to clients
- Training new employees
- Holding video seminars
- Showing presentations
“join.me is an absolute must in our business tool kit,” says Carolyn Crummey, Editor-in-Chief of Smart Hustle Magazine and owner of VirTasktic, a virtual assistant agency that works with entrepreneurs and small businesses. “We use join.me to connect our staff, which is located all across the world, in order to hold staff meetings and trainings. Unlike other online meeting software that we’ve tried, join.me is so simple to use and access. It takes all the work out of getting my teams together.”
Mobile Meetings Made Easy
join.me recently expanded their mobile options with an update to their iPhone app and a brand new app for the Apple Watch. These changes add unique add-ons to extend and boost your collaboration specifically on these devices.
With the new Apple Watch app and iPhone app join.me introduced the ‘One Touch Meeting’ technology. With this technology you can start a scheduled join.me meeting with the touch of a button, directly from your Apple Watch or iPhone. Just one touch and you are automatically entered into the meeting. Your phone then calls you and launches join.me on your desktop or device of choice. This eliminates any set up time and gets your meeting going, with both audio and visual, in mere seconds.
Need to start a meeting on the fly? No problem. The new app also allows you to trigger an ad hoc meeting by simply tapping the “start meeting” button on your device. And to ensure you never miss a meeting, the new app sends a push notification directly to your iPhone or Apple Watch when it’s time to meet.
Check out this quick video on all the great features of the new apps:
join.me Apple Watch Giveaway
join.me makes it simple to be productive both in the office and on the go. With the new additions, it brings the Apple Watch beyond a cool tech gadget, to an important tool that you can use to grow your business.
As a part of the new mobile update and debut of the new app, join.me is offering our readers a chance to win an Apple Watch and one year of join.me Pro! One lucky winner will be randomly selected and notified.
To enter the contest, simply tweet the message below by 6/26/15. One winner will be randomly selected from all entries. You may enter as many times as you’d like. View full contest rules, terms and conditions here.
I want to #MeetWithOneTouch & WIN an Apple Watch from @joinme & @smarthustlemag
True Collaboration with Mobile Whiteboard
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Knowing the importance of true team collaboration and the essential use of whiteboards in the process, join.me has also released a new mobile whiteboard for iPad that makes team brainstorming and collaboration easier than ever. Unlike many digital whiteboards that are difficult to use and share, the new mobile whiteboard from join.me incorporates capabilities and functionality of the highly acclaimed Zamurai mobile whiteboard app. Users are provided with an infinite canvas to draw, add shapes, lines and connectors, to convey ideas. Don’t like to draw? No worries. The app includes a custom icon library that you can pull images from, or simply upload your own images.
This new whiteboard feature has been fully integrated into the join.me iPad app and users can create and share up to four mobile whiteboards for free. Additional whiteboards are available for those who upgrade to a pro or enterprise subscription plan.
Here’s a quick video that showcases the mobile whiteboard features:
With the addition of these new tools to their already popular online meeting platform, join.me has taken team collaboration to a whole new level of simple and easy without the restrictions of being tied to specific device or location. If you are looking for an online meeting tool that allows you to work the way you do, while on the go, check out join.me today!
Smart Hustle Magazine and Ramon Ray received compensation from join.me by LogMeIn to review this product and promote this contest. All comments are their own thoughts and opinions.
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Adobe believes in the importance of mobile access and therefore created apps that connect mobile devices with desktops. The CreativeSync technology ensures that the end-user’s settings, assets, files, etc. appear in their workflow wherever and whenever they want to access them. Users can begin working on a project on say their desktop and continue working on the same project on a different device without losing a stroke.
Google is heating up the competition by adding “buy” buttons to its search ads. With so many different search engines and social media platforms stepping up their advertising game, Google hopes to gain a competitive edge by making it that much easier for businesses to reach consumers through their ads.
In recent years, Google has suffered in ad revenue, but with this being such a big part of their business model, Google is doing as much as they can to make it better. Their goal is to give consumers direct access to purchase pages through business ads. This will, in turn, increase the likelihood of a customer purchasing a product in that moment, rather than putting it off for a later time.
In a recent article on Endicia, “Google Confirms It Will Add “Buy” Buttons to Search Ads”, Ramon Ray covers how the “buy” button will effect Google, how it will change online shopping for consumers and what effect it will have on online businesses.
To get more information about Google’s new “buy” buttons on search ads, read Ramon’s article here.
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Knowing that all entrepreneurs are not created equal, Infusionsoft recently went on a quest to discover what makes entrepreneurs different and what makes them tick. They surveyed nearly 850 entrepreneurs and small business owners and then analyzed all the data. What they found – there are four general ‘types’ of entrepreneurs.
Check out this quick video to see more about the study and how you can find out what type of entrepreneur you are:
So, are you ready to take the quiz and find out what type are entrepreneur you are? Do you think you are a Freedom Seeker, Passionate Creator, Legacy Builder or a Survivor?
Based on results of the study, here’s where those surveyed fell between the four types:
So, did you take the quiz? What type of entrepreneur are you? Share with us in the comments below!!
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Many small business owners fear getting left in the dust by rivals popping up on new on-demand platforms. They worry that if they aren’t selling their services there, too, they’re at risk of becoming irrelevant.
Court Cunningham, CEO, Yodle shares his insight on growing businesses and the on-demand economy.
In the on-demand economy, consumers and businesses can use smartphone apps to hire independent contractors and hourly workers to provide services for them. The platforms range from Handy, where on-demand workers will perform work like plumbing or cleaning your home, to Zeel, where you can have a licensed massage therapist come to your residence. There’s no denying that the industry has been growing at a clip. CB Insights, a venture capital database, reported that in the first four months of 2015, investors sunk $3.78 billion into on-demand and mobile startups. With this quick growth, more startups may emerge offer on-demand services in other service categories.
Despite the hype, if you’re a small business owner, there are plenty of other smart ways to grow your business without having to be subservient to on-demand platforms. And these alternative approaches will likely have a much greater positive long-term impact on your business.
Some consumers turn to on-demand platforms because they recognize the business name, so they trust that they will get good service. However, small businesses can combat this – and greatly expand their customer base – by, for example, soliciting reviews from satisfied clients on widely used sites like Facebook, Yelp! and Google+. Optimizing your website to make it mobile friendly can also be a direct route to more sales. Google recently began rewarding mobile-friendly sites in its organic search algorithm, which will help firms whose sites are easy to read on the screens of smartphones and tablets appear higher in mobile searches. Couple this with other smart marketing approaches such as providing compelling offers as well as leveraging technology like online appointment booking and accepting electronic payments, and you can compete with on-demand apps that draw customers in with the promise of a seamless online experience.
If you do decide joining an on-demand platform is the right thing for you, make sure to look at it as just one tool in your marketing and sales arsenal—but not the only one. Don’t think that this is going to be a quick fix that will solve all ills for your business. Many service providers do not make much money on these sites. Recent research by MBO Partners, a firm in Herndon, Va., that studies the on-demand economy, found that most people who work on on-demand platforms do it part-time. Among them, 56% earn $40,000 or less—from all sources of income, including their day jobs; another 36% report total earnings of $25,000 or less. Only 17% bring in $75,000 or more.
On-demand platforms also aren’t the only new players in the game. Small service businesses should also be considering new local marketplaces, like Amazon Local, which integrates services and online purchases. These options may be far more helpful to your business than joining an on-demand platform–but make sure to investigate them thoroughly and estimate what the likely return on investment will be.
Ultimately, deciding to join these new platforms or marketplaces, like every other business decision, will depend on your specific situation. You may be glad to bring in any income at all if you are just starting a business. But owners of more mature businesses may find that on-demand platforms are a small, ancillary source of income at best. When you’re in business for yourself, time is your number one commodity. If you market your business through the channels where it will really pay off—even the ones that don’t get a lot of hype—it will likely grow much faster.
Court Cunningham is the CEO of Yodle, a local online marketing company with 50,000+ customers, where he is responsible for developing and executing the overall strategy and direction of the business. Court has been the CEO since 2007.
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Mobile is no longer just a growing trend, it’s becoming a way of life for many, including today’s worker. With three out of five workers saying they no longer need to be in the office to be productive, it’s clear that those who aren’t jumping on the mobile bandwagon are going to get left in the dust. This includes business software and product companies – especially those in the printing sector. Understanding this, Xerox is staying ahead of the curve and recently released their new Print Service Plug-In for Android, making mobile printing on the go, or in the office, easier than ever!
With the upward swing of mobile use and BYOD, it’s imperative that workers don’t lose functionality and productivity when working from their mobile devices. The infographic below shows just how many people are moving to mobile and requiring easier, and increased, functionality from mobile apps.
While printing from standard desktops and laptops was typically quite simple and only required the download of a driver, mobile devices are not configured in this same way, making mobile printing a bit of a challenge. Xerox has simplified the process with their new android plugin. The plugin will allow Android users to print from their smartphones to Xerox printers and Google Android phones will now come with printing technology embedded in the phone so long as it is The KitKat (4.4) version or above.
Find out more about this new technology in the full article, “Why Mobile Printing is Invading the Office – A Look at Xerox’s New Android App”, and see how the new plugin will effect printing in and out of the office as well as a video on what features the plugin offers.
The result of the plugin allows individuals to be better connected and better integrated between devices. To find out more about the Xerox Print Service Plug-In for Android check out Ramon’s article here.
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Ramon Ray, Founder of Smallbiztechnology and Publisher of Smart Hustle Magazine, recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Nina Kaufman, Founder of Business Exponential, on “Simplifying Your Life Through Automation“. As a technology evangelist, Ramon knows how important it is to make smart and strategic tech decisions as a way to help grow and automate your business.
Here are a few of the key points that Ramon shares in the interview:
Important Marketing Buckets
Prioritizing Your Tech Points
- Marketing automation involves using CRM platforms where leads come in and you are able to further explore why and where prospects interests are.
- Systematic automation is about automating your business overall and implementing systems and processes so that you know how to handle specific situations.
The best way to prioritize tech solutions is to identify your biggest pain point. This could be anything from creating a canned email response to using a social media scheduling site, such as Hootsuite or Buffer.
Automating a Newsletter
3 of the Biggest Tech Mistakes
- Having the mental discipline to write the content that is needed.
- Using programs such as Maven or CRM platforms to highlight your content and blog posts through newsletters.
How to Screen Vendors
- Thinking technology will solve everything
- Not buying technology that can grow with your business
- Not buying technology that can connect with other parts of your business.
Here are three important questions to ask yourself when it comes to finding a vendor that works for you and your business:
- Do they have good referrals?
- Are they listening to what YOU want or are they just trying to sell you a service?
- Are they familiar with your industry?
Listen to the interview here to hear more of Ramon’s tips on using technology to automate your business as well as Ramon’s views on expanding to a new and different business model and how and why you can do it.
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In 2004, when Facebook was founded, the sole purpose of the site was to serve as a social networking platform for individuals to stay connected with their social circles. Whether that be friends or family, many people sought out Facebook for their own personal use. Over the past many years, Facebook has continued to not only serve as a great social media channel, but as a very strong marketing tool for small businesses.
From business pages, ads and call-to-actions, Facebook is continually catering new services and opportunities to small businesses around the world. Their newly added “call now” button is just one of many ways that Facebook is connecting consumers with small businesses. Businesses can simply create an ad from their page and insert the “call now” button to allow consumers to call you right from your newsfeed. When an individual clicks on the button, their phone will then automatically dial your business, making it easier for consumers to contact local businesses in their area.
In addition to the “call now” button, they have also added the ability to get directions directly from an ad. All you have to do is click on the “get directions” button in the add and your phone will guide you from your current location.
Though these may seem like small changes, they will no doubt make a huge difference for small businesses. By eliminating those extra clicks, connecting with consumers has never been easier. Small businesses are able to target the right audience by using local awareness to reach consumers in their area and spend less money reaching more people per dollar area spent.
You can also track your result directly from your ad page. This includes tracking the number of people in your area that you have reached as well as the number of people that have clicked “get directions” from your ad.
These new features continue to make it that much easier for small businesses to connect with consumers as well as track their traffic patterns and where your marketing dollars should be spent. If you haven’t already, make sure to take advantage of these new call-to-actions for your business and increase local awareness in your area!
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What recruiting software tool would you recommend to automate the candidate sourcing process?
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
When I was first introduced to Greenhouse, the first thing I admired was how different it was from existing ATS systems and how obvious the product manager built something that answered modern needs efficiently, rather then improve existing (pretty poor) options. That’s probably why it’s so expensive. But it’s worth it.
– Tarek Pertew, Uncubed
RemoteInterview is a great resource that we have used to recruit the best tech talent in the world. We are able to see the work they are doing right there in front of us as they are doing it. This allows us to immediately screen the best candidates.
– John Rampton, Due
It’s affordable, simple and easy to use. It’s focused on email integration, which makes it easy to bring in all the people on your team who need to be a part of the process.
– James Avery, Adzerk
TalentBin is useful because it doesn’t only let you manage the candidate follow up, but also allows you to reach out to and engage with passive candidates on various social media channels.
– Randy Rayess, VenturePact
Hired helps me automate the sourcing process for qualified applicants from a pool of active candidates. More importantly, the applicants are far more engaged than I’ve seen on any other platform. They’ll actually tell me why they declined or passed on my offer, helping me better understand the job market for my needs. Plus, Hired offers employees a 2,000 dollar sign up bonus.
– Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP
I love this tool. It’s basically a free, personal assistant for hiring. It’s phenomenal for many reasons — most notably for making the process seamless.
– Josh York, GYMGUYZ
HackerRank works brilliantly well for sourcing and hiring programmers. HackerRank has an existing active community of over a million developers who actively participate and solve coding challenges in order to get discovered, making it truly unique. Not only do you get an awesome product to interview andrecruit developers, but also a competitive pool of top developers to source from.
– Vishal Shah, NoPaperForms
At When I Work, we enjoy using themuse.com. It allows candidates to get a quick view of our office space, available jobs and other features of the company. Our applicants are directed right to our HR person rather than through several forms.
– Chad Halvorson, When I Work
Looking to reach the utmost point of organization within your candidate sourcing process? Look no further than Bullhorn. This tool is fast, fully cloud-based, mobile-friendly and helps us never skip a beat in the recruitment industry. We never miss an important candidate meeting, and we know that we will always have the best talent on hand at all times.
– Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com
If you are looking for software developer candidates, Sourcing.io is probably one of the best options out there. It crawls GitHub, Bitbucket and other developer communities like Stack Exchange to mine the top developers with the highest credibility and following. In addition to smart sourcing, it also provides a simple tracking system to help you take the candidate through the recruitment funnel.
– Pratham Mittal, VenturePact
Lever makes it really easy for you to arm your team with the tools they need to submit and collaborate on new applicants in the hiring process. They have a one-click browser extension that lets people import candidates directly from places like LinkedIn, Angellist, Github and Twitter. And it’s used by big companies like Quora, Box, Lyft and Slack.
– Mattan Griffel, One Month
At Realty ONE Group we utilize JobVite as a recruiting source. It allows candidates to enter their information, which is then utilized to track their progress. The system also allows tracking by position so we can see what is doing well and what isn’t.
– Kuba Jewgieniew, Realty ONE Group
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Social Media marketing has become an essential for small businesses today. With almost half of the world’s population being active on the internet, it is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reach consumers. However, with so many different social platforms to choose from, knowing how to get started is often the biggest challenge that businesses will face.
G/O Digital Marketing conducted a study to better understand how consumers respond to content and advertising on Facebook and how that affects their decision to further explore local businesses.
The reality is, if you’re not already taking advantage of social media marketing for your business then you’re missing out. The misconception that using social media as a marketing tool will not payoff is proven to be a false assumption. According to the study, sixty-eight percent of respondents said that they have used social media sites to search for local businesses. These statistics support an even greater finding from a study done in 2013 that found that businesses who had experienced a significant increase in overall revenues had increased their spending in social media management and advertising the previous year.
This clearly shows the significance of social media marketing for small business. Now, how do you know which platforms to focus your attention on? Do you spread yourself thin across them all or, focus on just a few? Each and every platform will target a different audience. Some consumers may prefer Facebook, while others only use LinkedIn and Twitter. This may tempt small businesses to cater to all audiences by marketing across all platforms however, the study shows that eighty percent of the respondents said that they expect a local business to only be present on 1-3 different social media platforms. Knowing this, businesses can start out by marketing across multiple platforms and based on their results, they can choose the platforms with the most customer engagement and responses and focus solely on those.
One platform that seems to trump them all is Facebook. The study shows that seventy-three percent of respondents said that they think Facebook is the most important social media platform to have a presence and that the average person spends 40 minutes a day checking their Facebook. Here are a few reasons why respondants preferred Facebook over other social media platforms:
One of the main reasons that consumers look to Facebook to communicate with local businesses is for the customer experience. Twenty-five percent of consumers said that they communicate through Facebook for one of the following reasons: ask for business recommendations/referrals from friends, request customer support, compliment customer service and praise the quality of products bought and services hired. This is important for businesses to remember when implementing their marketing strategies.
Quick Response Times
Many consumers look to social media platforms as a quick and easy way to communicate with small businesses. Whether they are inquiring about a product or have a complaint, consumers expect a response on Facebook (58%) and Twitter (42%) within 24 hours. This is imperative to businesses to make sure that they respond to consumers in a timely manner.
Targeting Your Audience
Based on the study, the two major ways that people prefer to see ads appear on their newsfeed is based upon their location (15%) and interests (34%). This gives small businesses the flexibility to choose how they target their consumers.
When consumers see an ad through social media, they are much more motivated to shop after seeing content that promises savings or promotions. This is the single biggest influence that drives consumers to take action and visit a businesses website.
The Offline Affect
What happens on Facebook will often times progress to other places. Forty-seven percent of consumers said that they would click through a company’s website or mobile site after seeing an ad on Facebook. This is important for small businesses to think about when trying to drive traffic to their websites or brick and mortar location.
Are you using social media as part of your business marketing strategy? Tell us how you are using Facebook and what you find most effective for your small business in the comments below!
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Facebook is an integral part of marketing for businesses large and small. Over 30 million small businesses use the platform for organic social media marketing and in February, 2015, Facebook announced that there are over two million who use their advertising services. As organic reach declines, more and more businesses are looking to Facebook ads to boost their online presence. However, setting goals, choosing the right post, and creating a successful campaign can be tricky.
Enter Hootsuite Ads, a service that facilitates Facebook ad creation so you can stop wasting money and advertise with confidence.
Hootsuite Ads was officially launched in mid-May as a new tool that can take your top performing Facebook content and transform it into promoted posts. The service takes the stress and guesswork out of creating high-impact advertising, using automation to simplify the process. Here’s how it works:
(1) Start by choosing a goal for your advertising. For example, you may want to reach more people, get more followers, drive engagement, or increase your web traffic.
(2) Hootsuite Ads takes that goal and finds your best organic Facebook posts that match the objective, allowing you to choose a top performing post to use in your advertisement.
(3) After you choose your post, Hootsuite Ads then suggests a budget, target audience and duration that will work for your ad.
(4) Once your promoted posts are live, you can manage them right from your Hootsuite dashboard, with simple metrics that can help you judge performance and measure success.
While you still have to pay for your actual Facebook ads, the Hootsuite Ads service that helps you set them up is completely free with any Hootsuite account (even the free version). You can learn more about Hootsuite Ads here, or by watching the video below.
Hootsuite Ads makes creating Facebook ads as simple as two clicks, saving you time and stress in creating the perfect advertisement for your business. With two million businesses (including your competitors) already using Facebook Ads, Hootsuite Ads makes it easy for you to jump into Facebook marketing today.
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If you are a small business, odds are that you have a Facebook page set up for your business to help promote your products and services and to interact with your customers and clients. And while the platform provides many marketing advantages to businesses, in many ways it fell short, mostly because Facebook’s focus for many years was on the personal experience. Well that’s all changing and Facebook is starting to schmooze small business by offering more functionality in hopes for increasing ad sales.
In a recent article I wrote for the Endicia blog, I outline a number of new tools that Facebook is introducing for small business, including:
The new Facebook for Business page outlines all the tools and tactics small business can use to help them with their marketing.
To learn more about the changes at Facebook, you can read my full article on the Endicia blog HERE.
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