Technology and Smiles: Brooklyn Bakery Brings In the Dough With iPad POS and Analytics

SmallBiz Technology - 9 hours 14 min ago

New York City is filled with all kinds of neat bakeries and little shops to please your palette.

What separates those who succeed and those who don’t succeed are two things. First, an executive and team who has the vision and passion to make a great product and treat customers well. Second, is the strategic use of technology to boost efficiency, save money and ensure overall business operations are humming along effectively.

I took a visit to Brooklyn and visited with the team at One Girl Cookies. Check out our video interview here or further below.

When Joel Branson, a manager, started working at One Girl Cookies they were using old school cash registers. Joel knew that if he was going to take the company to the next level he needed technology that could help him mange One Girl Cookies locations from anywhere – not just in the store.

Joel was looking for a solution to give him analytics and intelligence about what the numbers MEANT – such as how were sales this quarter compared to last quarter or what baked goods are most profitable during the day and which ones are better at night and all sorts of other intelligence.

In his search for a solution, he found Shop Keep POS an iPad based point of sale system all manged online – no software to install.

Using Shop Keep Joel could now know, how many staff he should have in the store at certain times, how many customers could he expect on the weekends, which products were most profitable and other data points to help him drive more revenue and lower costs.

For example, during Valentines day Joel’s point of sale analytics enabled him to sell out of all of his Valentines Day inventory – this is every retailer’s dream. Joel used very granular analytics to make an educated estimation of how to best prepare his store for the holidays – which basked items to have and which ones to NOT have.

While other retailers might have to GUESS in how to run their store – and waste time and money – One Girl Cookies efficient use of technology is making them a well run operation.

The Shop Keep point of sales system is not the only tool in One Girl Cookies tool kit. Joel explained how they use Evernote to closely communicate with other managers.  The store also uses Sonos speakers to remotely control their customer entertainment from an iPhone

Beyond technology, another lesson I learned while looking at One Girl Cookies is that not only does their store look great inside (well designed) but their web site is a delicious manifestation of One Girl Cookies attention to detail as well. (10WebSiteMusts.com is a great resource)

Finally their cookies and cupcakes taste great (make sure your product or service are awesome) and their customer service is simply splendid.

What does every retailer need to succeed

  • Great product
  • Great location
  • Great customer service
  • Great employees
  • Great management with vision
  • Awesome use of technology

PS – check out this image from ShopKeep which shows a sample screen of their analytics. Not only are analytics important for social media they’re also VERY important for retailers.

 

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Categories: SMB

11 Tips for Putting Together a Strong Company LinkedIn Page

SmallBiz Technology - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:13
What tips do you have for putting together a brand page on LinkedIn that supports company growth?

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 StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Upload Product Images

The LinkedIn corporate pages allow you to upload images and product descriptions. This becomes searchable content and makes your page look a lot better. For example, we include screenshots of our software product with descriptions of what each screenshot is for on our page. Images always make the page easier and more interesting to look at.
- Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

2. Showcase Your Personality

LinkedIn followers are very different from those on other social networks in that you know why they’re there — they’re considering working for you one day. That means you can showcase the best things about your company, especially the personality of your culture and team. Don’t shy away from being clear — they need to love it as much as you do!
- Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

3. Edit Your Company Description

LinkedIn brand pages are very SEO friendly. Google previews up to 156 characters of your page’s text in its meta description. Edit your company page description so it leads with powerful, keyword-rich sentences. LinkedIn users can also search for companies by keyword, so include words that describe your business, expertise and industry focus.
- Brett Farmiloe, Digital Marketing Company

4. Add Keywords

Add the keywords you want your company to rank for to your LinkedIn company page. This will help people find your profile and will also help your company rank better with search engines. Also, connect your employees’ profiles to your LinkedIn page so there’s more activity and connections leading their contacts to the page.
- Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union

5. Highlight How Cool Your Company Culture Is

Highlight how much employees love working at your company and how much you love the work they do for you. Show the outside world that your company’s values extend beyond providing a terrific product and include having a terrific in-house culture, as well.
- Brooke Bergman, Allied Business Network Inc.

6. Use Video

You need to stand out among the crowd. Not many companies are doing video or visual content. Showcase this on there, and it’ll attract a lot of people.
- John Rampton, Adogy

7. Have Others Share Your Story

I really think having others tell our story for us is much more valuable than us telling our story. Having employees, interns, clients and partner organizations share their experiences working with us provides a unique frame of reference that we can’t achieve.
- Chris Cancialosi, GothamCulture

8. Feature Employees

Showcase your company culture by using status updates to feature employees who went above and beyond and awards the company has received. After, review engagement metrics, and sponsor your best posts.
- Adam Root, Hiplogiq

9. Support It With Content

LinkedIn thrives on quality content. When people aren’t reading personal profiles, they’re often reading the best articles that are being shared on the site. Having a strong company network that engages with your quality content is going to drive people to your brand page (which will be quality, as well).
- Michael Seiman, CPXi

10. Keep It Appropriately Updated

So many businesses are bad at keeping the page updated with new announcements or content, and any new visitor is going to think it’s dead and not happening and then move on. Keep the page active, even if you don’t see a ton of immediate ROI. We’re not talking a huge time investment here. However, don’t get overzealous without a good plan and just post anything just to be posting it.
- Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

11. Post Relevant Information Often

Whether you want to grow your client base or add new employees, LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your company’s talents and unique offerings. Make the most of the tabs LinkedIn offers by listing recent updates on your company’s homepage and current job openings along with videos of employees discussing what it’s like to work at your company on the careers page.
- Björn Stansvik, MentorMate

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Categories: SMB

Office Furniture Buying Tips For The SMB

SMB News - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:16

Outfitting your office space with the latest and greatest styles of office furniture can either be an exciting experience or a daunting task, depending upon how you go about shopping. If you go into the process without any forethought, you may end up frustrated and overwhelmed. If you take the time to carefully plan and consider what you need, Los Angeles office furniture stores can provide a fun adventure as you search and shop for the perfect pieces for your needs.

One of the first things that you should do before you buy any furniture is measure your space. Buying furniture without knowing the dimensions of your office can result in incorrect sizes and pieces that may not fit. Start your space planning by deciding on the size of desk that you want, where you plan to place it, and how you plan to use it. Doing this gives you a guide for the style, size, and types of furniture that you will need for your office.

Finding the right pieces for your price point can be impossible if you don’t know what your price point is. Los Angeles office furniture can be expensive, so it is important to come up with a budget before you spend all of your money on one item. Budgeting allows you to set aside money for all of the furniture that you need so that you don’t run out before you are completed with the project. Remember that if you work with a designer you may have to pay an additional fee.

Because you will likely use your furniture every day while working, comfort and ergonomics are essential considerations that you should give close attention. Do some research on the types of chairs or desks that will be the most comfortable for you and your employees so that you can pick the best pieces for optimal comfort.

The shopping process for Los Angeles office furniture does not have to be difficult when you plan ahead. 

Categories: SMB

Rawstream – New Internet Monitoring Software Services Lets Employers Manage Internet Use

SmallBiz Technology - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 19:00

If you’re considering enabling an internet monitoring software  services for your employees, there’s a new service, Rawstream that you might want to check out.

Rawstream gives businesses peace of mind by identifying how much time employees spend on Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, even downloading movies overnight with office bandwidth (it actually happens). Rawstream also identifies shared docs which infringe company policies. Rawstream doesn’t just track Dropbox, but also users who share files via Google Drive, OneDrive or Cubby. As Rawstream’s founder Brian Azzopardi says “we’re for facilitating the use of powerful consumer IT in business, while other vendors, and some IT Depts – want to block them.” Rawstream gives managers transparency into office related online activities (including remote workers) to increase productivity. I asked Brian a few questions about Rawstream and he gave me a bit more input. How Rawstream Works

Agent-Deployment: depending on the OS, the Agent uses the appropriate method to hook into the internet activity to be able to monitor and filter internet traffic. On Windows/Mac Agent acts as a local proxy. On ChomeOS, the agent is a Chrome Extension that cannot be removed or disabled by end-users. Agents enable per-user policies, wherever the device is located.

DNS-based filtering: Rawstream supports monitoring and filtering based on DNS. Set the DNS config on the WIFI or internet router to use Rawstream DNS.

Hybrid Monitoring and Filtering: This is where Rawstream is innovative: you can have both DNS and Agents on the same network. The Agents override the DNS filtering. This allows an organisation to have a default network-wide policy for any device on the network, including guest devices. This makes BYOD simple and without adding to admin workload. For known devices, install the Agent and those devices will get their own policies.

This hybrid approach is innovative, unique and simplifies IT management.

ENDPOINT SUPPORT

Windows 

Rawstream Agent for Windows is a lightweight application. Can be deployed using existing deployment tools such as Active Directory Group Policy, WSUS and other third-party software deployment tools.

Chromebooks and other ChromeOS devices

Rawstream Agent for Chrome is deployed via the Google Apps for Business, or Google Apps for Education Management console. Deployment is completely automated – whether to a few devices or to an entire school.

Mac Support

Public Beta by June.

Why Rawstream Works Like It does

Speed

Other cloud-based competitors are either proxy based or VPN based. The problem with both of these is that all the traffic has to go to the vendor servers which is a potential security issue. Secondly, due to the extra hops, browsing speed suffers. Sometimes massively: a leading competitor’s support forum had one customer complaining of a 50% speed reduction.

Rawstream does not suffer from any speed problems: by pushing out filtering and monitoring out the endpoint, there are no speed or privacy problems (we do not see your web-email, we merely know you visited gmail.com)

Better data

All the other competitors show incorrect, inaccurate data for time spent on websites by users. They merely count all web traffic, including background traffic and all web traffic, not just the web page an employee is currently looking at. This makes all the reporting unusable for business use.

By having an Agent on the endpoint we can collect high quality data to deliver on the productivity promise. We show the business reliable accurate, reporting for how people spend their time online, correctly accounting for background tabs, background traffic, etc.

Consumer IT 

By having agents on the endpoint we are in a better position to shine a light on consumer IT in a business, and to be better able to secure it. Our Dropbox/GDrive/OneDrive reporting is the tip of the iceberg.

BYOD

Hybrid deployment makes protecting guest devices simple and automatic. None of the proxy-based competition can offer this.

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Categories: SMB

Google Will Index Disqus Comments. Small News, Big Impact.

SmallBiz Technology - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 17:00

You know that search engines mine data on web sites – hence the content you produce is important.

Disqus recently announced that now Google can search Disqus comments as well.

This is not earth shattering news, but it does indicate one thing.

Your web site (blog, social) content is important but you can also gain some “keyword” love by commenting on discussing boards – in particular Discus.

Happy Chatting.

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Categories: SMB

Is It Time To Stop Using Checks? GoDaddy and Dwolla Encourage Move Electronic Payments

SmallBiz Technology - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 15:00

I was at my local Shopright last week and saw an older lady pull out her check book and write a check (cheque) for groceries. On one hand, it is quite “old fashioned” to write a check, but on the other hand, I bet that lady has little, if any debt. Yesterday I was at the auto body shop and a lady brought about $2,000 in cash to pay for something.

Cash and checks are nice – but they slow things down and are not so secure.

GoDaddy recently partnered with Dwolla to make it even easier to send and receipt payments. Dwolla competes with Paypal and Zipmark and makes it easy for you to send money to others and for others to send you money.

What’s nice about this partnership is that it

  • Extends GoDaddy’s offering to small business owners – lots of offerings from one company
  • It validates Dwolla and gives users more peace to use this relatively young company’s services
  • The partnership will grow and mature the market for online payments

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Categories: SMB

Why Bitcoin Is Not For Small Businesses. 4 Ways To Know When To Use New Tech In Your Business

SmallBiz Technology - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 19:00

Bitcoin, virtual currency,  has awesome potential. It’s used by people to buy and sell all over the world and etc, etc. It’s great. However, it’s fraught with problems. One of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges Mt. Gox, shut down, US regulators are still figuring out how to deal with Bitcoin and I could go on.

My advice for we small business owners is to NOT jump on every wagon that comes by, filled with new technology that’s not matured and been proven by the market – especially if you have a lot to lose.

Brent Leary spoke about this on an episode of  The 3TechGuys Show

Some of you might want to test accepting Bitcoin – that’s fine – if you are testing it with a small amount of money that you can afford to lose.

We have seen and we will continue to see the coming and going of lots of new, upgraded and different technology – this is GOOD (thank you iPhone, Netflix, search engines and Shark Tank).

My caution to you is to not base your business on new technology and when things don’t work out – then you’re business is in jeopardy.

Always wait until the following conditions happen before deeply investing in any new technology – and even then – start small and test.

  1. If you hear lots of customers talking about using the technology – listen up
  2. Watch what your competitors are and are not doing
  3. See what the main stream media has to say – Small Business Trends, OPEN Forum, Big Ideas Blog, Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Atlanta Tribune and other publishers have to say.
  4. Test the new technology with friends and long time, loyal customers – let them know it’s a TEST

Focus on loving your customers, getting a great web site, investing in social media and building your business. Let other people test new technology – but keep your eyes open.

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Categories: SMB

Corel WordPerfect for iPad Launches…WordPerfect Still Going Strong

SmallBiz Technology - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 18:00

Like many older tech professionals (those of us about 30 years or older), you grew up on Corel’s Word Perfect. But over time Microsoft Word’s more feature rich and well marketed product, Microsoft Office took over market share.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Corel Wordperfect for iPad launched – but more pleasantly surprised to see that Corel Wordperfect is around and I would suppose doing well.

It’s my understanding that Wordperfect has a loyal following in legal professions and in the government.

The new WordPerfect iPad app is the official WordPerfect Office companion. It lets users open files in Dropbox, make edits and create PDFs and documents in a familiar WordPerfect interface. Users can save their work in a cloud service and continue working from their desktop by accessing their files from Dropbox.

Recently Corel also released the latest version of WordPerfect X7 as well.

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Categories: SMB

Repeat Customers Are Awesome. Paper Loyalty Cards Don’t Work. Huzzah Has A Solution

SmallBiz Technology - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 17:00

I have loyalty cards for Walgreens, CVS, Rockin’ Joe’s Cafe, Pathmark and a few other retailers.

I never carry the reward cards in my wallet so if I can input my telephone number, great, if I can’t then I don’t buy the item I wanted or more likely than not I just pay the additional money for what I want.

Huzzah has a neat loyalty reward system, which is only $1 a month to try out. It’s regularly $70 a month.

When you sign up for Huzzah they send you an iPad.

Your customers download the Huzzah app and when they visit your store they scan their loyalty card barcode or the barcode on their phone on your Huzzah supplied iPad. After they earn the required number of points they can redeem them for a variety of rewards from your business.

Do you like rewards? Do you like repeat business? Try out a digital rewards system.

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Categories: SMB

3 Tips for Preparing Your Small Business for the Unexpected

SmallBiz Technology - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:54

Many small businesses operate in a reactive, rather than proactive, mode. Business owners spend so much time putting out fires that setting aside resources to prepare for future fires is usually not an option, but a necessity if you want to be able to refocus your business and achieve greater success. Here are three tips that will help prepare your small business for the unexpected.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow@VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business. 3 Tips for Preparing Your Small Business for the Unexpected

Unfortunately, when a business owner is always in “firefighter” mode, it’s impossible to work hard on winning new clients or tackling more lucrative projects. By working with your team to put an infrastructure in place to deal with future issues, you’ll have help in dealing with the issues that emerge each day. Once your team is able to respond to problems without escalating it to you, you’ll be able to gradually shift your focus to building your company. Here are three tips on how you can make that happen.

Document Processes

As your business’s owner, you likely have a great deal of knowledge that you haven’t shared with your team. They turn to you to resolve various issues, then resume their daily tasks while you work things out. Each new emergency needs immediate attention, so there’s no time to train someone else on how to handle it.

On a sheet of paper, scribble down the different fires you’re asked to put out during the day. As time frees up later, quickly document the process you underwent to resolve each of them. Once you have your documentation in place, meet with your team to assign different team members to handle various issues the next time they arise. Promise to be available if they need you, but step away and trust your team members to take care of things.

Choose an Apprentice

Another option for busy professionals is to choose a trusted team member to serve as an apprentice. Ask that team member to stay close by and note how you handle various issues throughout the day. Gradually you can turn tasks over to that apprentice. You may even designate different employees to learn different tasks and ask them to observe with the intention of eventually taking them over.

Delegate Selectively

Freeing up time for yourself doesn’t mean you have to delegate everything to team members. Choose those items you enjoy doing and delegate the rest. If an employee possesses talents you don’t, train that employee to take over something you feel he might do a better job at than you.

It’s also important to look around and make sure your lack of delegation isn’t an issue of being surrounded by inadequate team members. Poor hiring decisions can haunt a business owner for years, forcing him to continue to bear the brunt of the work while ill-fitting employees sit idly by, collecting a paycheck.

On a regular basis, evaluate your infrastructure and take a close look at the workload. If your team is already overloaded, consider outsourcing some of the more mundane tasks to free up in-house workers to deal with pressing issues on a daily basis. An employee who exists solely to do data entry could be moved into a more challenging position while data entry is outsourced. In-house employees can often be trusted to handle such sensitive issues as client relations and late payments.

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Categories: SMB

What’s Your Marketing Score? Free Tool To Grade Your Marketing and Get Expert Advice: SmallBizMarketingScore.Com

SmallBiz Technology - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:00

Online marketing is easy – yet challenging at the same time. It’s pretty easy to create a Facebook page, but having profitable business success through that Facebook page can be elusive (see The Facebook Guide to Small Business Marketing).

You know you can buy advertising – that’s easy. But how do you ensure the ad is working and generating sales.

Tweeting is pretty easy – but how do you “Tweet” so that it drives online engagement and business results.?

There’s a new free tool from Infusionsoft – the Small Business Sales and Marketing Score Card, which is designed to grade elements of your marketing and give you guidance in what to do better.

The Score Card is based on Infusionsoft’s popular (and free) Lifecycle Marketing process comprised of Attract, Sell and Wow.

Greg Head, Infusionsoft’s chief marketing officer, says the tool helps small business owners overcome the daunting task of creating a powerful sales and marketing strategyBy entering their website URL into the tool, businesses receive a grade on the Attract phase. The Scorecard then guides small business owners through a quick Q&A about the other two areas of Lifecycle Marketing: Sell and Wow. At the end of the test, Infusionsoft will provide free resources to help the small business owner put a sales and marketing plan in place, resulting in immediate, meaningful improvements.

 

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Categories: SMB

Eventbrite Enables Event Organizers To Sell Tickets Based on Seating

SmallBiz Technology - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 19:00

Eventbrite is one of the best services enabling small businesses to manage ticket sales at events. I’ve used Eventbrite for over 5 years to manage dozens and dozens of big and small events.

Recently Eventbrite launched a new service letter event organizers sell tickets to specific seats in a venue.

Eventbrite Seat Designer, according to Eventbrite is an intuitive, self-service product gives event organizers the power to generate more revenue from their events and guarantee a better experience for their attendees.

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Categories: SMB

Tactile, New Salesforce App, Adds Team Synchronization and Better Collaboration To Sales Teams

SmallBiz Technology - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 20:00

Tactile is a new app, by a former Salesforce executive, which gives sales executives an easy to way keep track of their contacts, synchronization information between sales staff and connect with the social information of a contact.

According to the press release: “The company’s technology and approach is a natural fit for customer relationship management (CRM), which is notorious for low salesperson adoption. The company’s first mobile app, Tact, syncs a sales professional’s essential business data from email, calendars, tasks, contacts, LinkedIn, and Salesforce. With all this disparate information linked and available in one place, salespeople can better prepare for, capture and follow-up on their daily conversations, creating deeper relationships and ultimately, greater personal success. Further, with a simple swipe, important details can be synced back to the company, giving management the visibility they want.”

Check out this video of Tacticle here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXT2iuzbCWo&feature=youtu.be or below

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Categories: SMB

New Hiring Service To Help Non HR Professionals: YouAreHR

SmallBiz Technology - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 18:00

YouAreHR has launched YouAreHR.com, an online service that makes it simple for non-HR professionals to identify, review, and hire employees for their businesses. YouAreHR.com turns the complicated process of hiring new employees into a streamlined process that hiring managers can use to fill personnel vacancies. YouAreHR.com lets your company collect job applications and evaluate potential employees online. Alternatively, business managers can add a custom YouAreHR “help wanted” section to the company website.

Founded by Alex Kolesnichenko, I asked him for more information.

What are businesses using who are NOT using YouAreHR.

1.       Usually businesses do not use anything at all. The smaller, the younger the company, chances are every round of requiting  is pretty chaotic.

That said, of course, we’re not the only company that targets this audience and not all target companies are unaware of applicant tracking software and services. The Resumator, RecruiterBox, ZOHO are targeting this market and we see people using it. As businesses grow, they start looking into more comprehensive solutions, where applicant tracking is just a feature, not a product.

What are they missing if not using an HR management tool?

2.       Well, first of all, companies that do not use any tools for recruitment process are spending a lot of their time dealing with miscommunications surrounding recruiting, data and feedback collection and organization, complexities of time management (especially if company looks outside their local job market for new hires).

Hiring wrong people is pretty expensive in the long run.

YouAreHR establishes a pipeline for hiring people. We guide the company by establishing well-defined recruitment stages, collect information and team feedback, help with scheduling. We put recruitment-related communications and data into one place, so companies would make an educated hiring decision. On top of that, all our offerings are very transparent, we don’t require any mandatory sales calls – we are always there to help out with your recruitment process, you may even schedule a call with us for free, if you need help. In case if the company is done with recruitment, they may stop using our service and we’ll preserve their data for free, so they could jump-start their new recruitment season.

What about using Monster or other hiring services

3.       Monster is a gigantic job board with additional services they offer to companies. It’s probably great for mid-to-large-size companies, but they might be out-of-reach for small biz. I do see that one of our customers had posted their listing on Monster and linked to our intake form. Usually companies simply post their job ads on Craigslist, their sites, small job boards, on Facebook or Twitter. WRT hiring services – for temps, maybe, but not for your core staff. There you want to control all steps of recruitment and where we come in handy.

What are your best practices for hiring the right candidate?

4.       We’re preaching staged approach to recruitment – the company should go through the pre-screen, phone screen, then face-to-face.

  • Our default template for a job opening contains all of these.
  • Most of the filtering should be done during pre-screen and phone screen, so we suggest for teams to sit down and come up with a decent number of questions that they think are important for making quick decision to reject an applicant – this will save tremendous amount of time otherwise spent on meeting face-to-face. Use our pre-screen forms and phone screen questionnaires for that.
  • Only a small fraction of potential hires should make it to face-to-face stage.
  • There also – have a general plan for interviews, so you would compare apples-to-apples when choosing between candidates.
  • Use our calendar to make sure everybody’s on the same page.
  • We even handle situations when applicants are in a different time zone. There should not be an excuse for missed appointments, because it wastes everybody’s time.
  • Last but not the least – keep all data and feedback on candidates in one place. There should not be a situation when you’re trying to make a hiring decision by combing through everybody’s emails, trying to find resumes or thoughts after the interview.
  • We also urge people to read on how other companies are dealing with their hiring – it’s always very interesting to see how fellow entrepreneurs are solving this problem.
  • We have a (currently) small section of featured articles we’re collecting on youarehr.com, where we link to articles in biz publications that touch this topic.

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Categories: SMB

Yelp Pissing You Off? Here’s 5 Simple Ways Your Small Business Can Fight Back and Win

SmallBiz Technology - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 03:00

Are you pissed that the good reviews you’ve collected on Yahoo or other web sites are gone, thanks to a deal with Yelp?

While it might be a challenge to understand how Yelp works, here’s a few things you can do to ensure you are in control of your reviews and not Yelp, or anyone else.

  1. Train your staff to capture reviews from customers via video, email or other wise.
  2. Encourage your customers to email in their reviews or write them down by hand
  3. Capture reviews through a form on your web site and display them prominently on your web site
  4. Ensure you encourage your customers to regularly and frequently send good reviews to Yelp and other online local directories
  5. Update your local search directory listing – ensure the telephone number, address, link to a men and more are up to date

 

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Categories: SMB

Heartbleed and Small Business Security. Hearbleed’s Affect on 7 Small Business Web Sites.

SmallBiz Technology - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 01:45

As you might know by now, Heartbleed is a security flaw that enables unauthorized users to access your encrypted information.

When you visit a web site, through a “secure connection”,  in theory the information is encrypted and can’t be accessed.

According to CNN, “Cybercriminals could exploit the bug to access visitors’ personal data as well as a site’s cryptographic keys, which can be used to impersonate that site and collect even more information.”

Just do a Google search for “Heartbleed” to see what you need to do.

But in short, you need to a) ensure that the web sites your use have fixed the Heartbleed security flaw b) if they’ve done this you need to then change your password.

There seem to be so many security holes, flaws and ways for un-authorized users to access your network. Here’s what you should do to be as secure as possible:

  • Be vigilant and aware when major secure flaws are announced by the general media
  • Sign up and/or be aware of security notifications from your software vendors
  • Regularly update your computer software (browser, operating system, software)
  • Backup your data and related software and applications
  • Train your staff (and you) in the basics of computer security
  • Be vigilant and smart (don’t write your password on a piece of paper, for example)
  • Consider “two factor authentication” to have not only a password to access your web sites but also a secret code provided on a cell phone or other 3rd party device

Here’s some popular small business online software and how they been affected by Heartbleed

Quickbooks online - not affected

GoDaddy – if you use their SSL services read this statement in what to do

PayPal – not affected

Dropbox – was affected but has patched it’s servers – password reset probably needed

Evernote – never affected, was secure

Asana – was affected, fixed their servers – you might want to change your password

Most all banks appear to have not been affected

Infusionsoft – not directly affected at all. However read this thorough blog post for more details.

The post Heartbleed and Small Business Security. Hearbleed’s Affect on 7 Small Business Web Sites. appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Twitter Profile Page is Changing. Here’s 4 Reasons You Should Care.

SmallBiz Technology - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 23:26

Twitter is changing its profile page, as announced on their blog. The main changes Twitter is making are:

  • Best Tweets: Tweets that have received more engagement will appear slightly larger, so your best content is easy to find.
  • Pinned Tweet: Pin one of your Tweets to the top of your page, so it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about.
  • Filtered Tweets: Now you can choose which timeline to view when checking out other profiles. Select from these options: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies.

Visually you’ll find a much bigger profile photo you can use – mimicking Facebook’s profile pages.

  • Pictures and video rule in social
  • Engagement is priceless – thoughtless Tweets are no longer acceptable; every Tweet matters
  • Twitter is not just for geeks, but for more main stream communication
  • Keep using Facebook, it’s great, but don’t ignore Twitter. Explore it.

 

The post Twitter Profile Page is Changing. Here’s 4 Reasons You Should Care. appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Should Phone Companies Force You To Get Rid of Old Phone Lines?

SmallBiz Technology - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 22:55

While many of  us are leveraging digital phone systems in our homes, home offices and corporate offices, there’s a number of folks who are using circuit switched (old fashioned) telephone lines for communications.

A Wall Street Journal article reads, “AT&T says the transition will create faster, cheaper networks that speed creation of improved high-definition voice and video calling. Circuit-switched phone networks require separate, point-to-point connections for each call. Because Internet protocol systems zap traffic in small packets, AT&T could reduce the number of places where it hands off traffic to other carriers to a handful from thousands now”.

If you’re still using old school telephone lines for your communications be in serious consideration to update and leverage the advantage of higher speed, digital, data lines.

What are those advantages:

  • Faster communications
  • Ability to more easily connect multiple devices to the Internet
  • Leverage software based voice communications (voice mail as email for example)
  • and other benefits

Read the entire WSJ article to get both sides of the issue, but overall, for sure, broadband, digital lines or much better for small businesses than old fashioned circuit switched telephone lines.

The post Should Phone Companies Force You To Get Rid of Old Phone Lines? appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

How GPS Tracking Helps Small Vehicle Fleets Fire or Reward Employees (@Fleetmatics)

SmallBiz Technology - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 21:25

So you have a fleet of vehicles for your local delivery company, installation service or anything else. If you’re using paper and pen, or a spreadsheet to manage these vehicles you’re wasting money and/or being highly unproductive.

I spoke with the owner of Hidden Fence who told me that by using GPS tracking software for this fleet of vehicles, he’s able to save time, save money and overall be more productive. Those business owners who are not using technology to manage their fleet are wasting fuel, increasing costs and overall not squeezing every bit of profit they can from each vehicle.

One more thing we often don’t realize is that vehicle tracking technology can help you reward good drivers and re-train or fire bad drivers. Furthermore GPS tracking is a powerful tool to boost customer service.

Check out my interview the CTO of Fleetmatics (maker of GPS tracking software) here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsBKiyJ5rSo or below.

 

The post How GPS Tracking Helps Small Vehicle Fleets Fire or Reward Employees (@Fleetmatics) appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

A Startup SMB Tech Company 30 Years Ago

SMB News - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 21:00

by John Beagle

Tom Hornyak, founder of Micro Rental Service, Inc., a Pittsburgh-based technology rental firm celebrates 30 years in business this month. Congratulations Tom. No easy feat considering that only 37% of companies in the IT industry survive more than 4 years according to a University of Tennessee research report.

How did Tom get his SMB off the ground and why the technology rental industry?

Photo: Tom Hornyak, Owner Micro Rental Service, Inc.

Tom graduated from Penn State and passed his CPA exam on the first try and immediately went to work with one of the 'Big 8' public accounting firms.

So why six years later did Tom start a company that rented computers to business? Tom said, "The reason that I left public accounting was that I found out that I wasn't going to make partner as they weren't admitting new partners at the time. I had been an audit manager for about 6 years and I could have stayed as a principle but I decided it was time to leave. At the time I was the only one in the entire firm that had a computer, an IBM XT with a 10 gig. hard drive. I saw the potential in this new [computer rental] industry and decided to go out on my own."

"I saw the potential in this new industry and decided to go out on my own."

At first Tom was doing computer training and installing PC based accounting systems in other SMBs.

As the owner of a small business, Tom was responsible for just about everything, from selling, purchasing, managing, payroll, finance, everything. Hell, I even cut the grass in the summer and plowed the snow in the winter.

Tom explains that Micro Rental Service, Inc.is a relatively small company by design as much as by circumstance. Although the Pittsburgh market isn't all that large, they have found a nice niche. Micro Computer Rentals, Inc. is the largest and oldest computer rental business in the Pittsburgh area.

When Tom started, he was doing a lot of PC training in Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect. He had some out of town clients from his accounting days that requested that they come to Pittsburgh for him to train them.

They requested that Tom's company find a suitable space and rent some PCs for them to use for the training and they would pick up the cost. At that time, there were no companies renting PC's in the area or anywhere in the US for that matter.

Tom borrowed some money and purchased computer equipment for the training business. The rental business sprang from that.

One of MRS's first customers was Ticketron, the national ticketing company. Tom did a small deal for them at Pitt Stadium where they rented an IBM XT to connect to their ticketing machine. A few months later they requested that a couple more XT's be shipped to their main office in New York City. Tom tried to get out of the New York conrtact, suggesting that they could find someone in New York City to handle it. They told him that since they were so satisfied with his service in Pittsburgh, they wanted to use him nationwide. Over the next 4-5 years he had systems as far away as Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, the Milwaukee Bucks Arena, Florida, New Jersey, and Chicago. Those were the great rental days when the customer kept the equipment for years and years. This one customer helped me pay for my building and get my start in the rental business.

This month marks the 30th year in business for Micro Rental Service, Inc. Congratulations, Tom Hornyak!

About:
Legal Name Micro Rental Service, Inc.
State of Incorporation and date PA 4/1/1984
Current Address of Business 4390 Rt. 8, Allison Park, PA 15101
Main Products or Services Short-term technology rentals, computer network installation and consulting, computer repair and equipment sales
Industry Certifications , Microsoft, Cisco
Website: www.mrsmmc.com
 

Categories: SMB
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