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Updated: 2 hours 43 min ago

GoDaddy Makes A Big Upgrade To Domain and Marketing Services

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 16:51

Godaddy is one of the biggest and most well known web hosts around. Of course more than just web hosting, GoDaddy also offers an array of marketing services for businesses.

What caught my eye about GoDaddy’s announcement was it’s marketing services. GoDaddy enables it’s customer to not only turn to GoDaddy for hosting but for a comprehensive array of digital marketing services from domain name, to web site hosting, to web site building to, ecommerce and more.

This is a bid opportunity for GoDaddy customers who might have been seeking more from GoDadaddy.

Some of their new and updates services include:

GoDaddy Email Marketing:

  • Addition of “Second Send” functionality (available to select users), allowing them to automatically resend a message to recipients who have yet to open it, using alternate subject lines
  • Online Store users can now drag and drop products they want to promote directly into their email campaigns via GoDaddy Email Marketing
  • Free trials of GoDaddy Email Marketing for both new and existing Online Store customers

Online Store:

  • A new shipping integration with UPS, which will get products into the hands of customers more quickly
  • Over 10 new features to help merchants manage their products, search inventory and manage their sales, including the ability to access order data more quickly and easily

SEO Services:

  • GoDaddy provides a team for SEO experts for both on-site and off-site SEO optimizations on the user’s behalf, including dedicated account managers to develop SEO strategy
  • A comprehensive customer dashboard for tracking all SEO activity, including ROI and ranking improvements

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Categories: SMB

Smart Hustle Recap: Small Business Week Events + 3 Amazing Interviews

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 15:13

Small Business Week has officially begun! Maria Contreras-Sweet, the administrator of the Small Business Association (SBA), declared May 1-7 as the dates for Small Business Week 2016, so it is officially time to boost your small business knowledge and celebrate your favorite small businesses. In this Smart Hustle Recap we have a huge list of Small Business Week events to share with you. Our other stories feature three amazing interviews that can teach you about new technology, business growth, and the importance of follow-ups. Let’s dive in!

Small Business Week Events

Small Business Week is an initiative of the SBA so they are running a special series of Small Business Week events which includes live events (with live streaming online) and webinars to educate small business owners. However, many other companies are joining in on the fun with their own events, including contests, promotions, training, and dedicated content. This article covers all the main events so you can participate.

Click to read Small Business Week 2016 Events.

The Importance of Follow-Up

In this interview with SCOTTeVEST founder Scott Jordan, he tells us about what he says is the “one reason for my success” – following up on every opportunity that comes his way. He explains how follow-up is important in nearly every aspect of your business, whether it is customer and advertising inquiries or daily business operations. The informative audio interview is bolstered with a list of Scott’s top 6 tips for successful follow-up.

Click to read Follow-Up: The Most Powerful Tool for Your Small Business Success.

New Tool to Generate PR Buzz

As it stands right now, the PR process is pretty messy. Businesses want media coverage, but reporters often feel ‘spammed’ by PR teams who fill up their inboxes with pitches. At SXSW 2016, Ramon learned about a new tool called Babbler that is aimed at improving the process. Babbler works like a social media site and helps to connect business marketers with right reporters who are looking to cover stories on that topic. The result – reporters get content they need to make great stories, and businesses get the media coverage they are looking for.

Click to read How Babbler Can Help You Generate Buzz about Your Business.

It’s Time to Grow Your Business

In this video interview, Ramon gets the opportunity to chat with Amanda Holmes, CEO of the business growth company Chet Holmes International. The video full of tips on how to take your business to the next level. In the article, we’ve also pulled out some of Amanda’s tips as the must-follow rules for business growth. This article is sure to put you on the path to success.

Click to read 5 Rules of Business Growth from CEO of Chet Holmes International.

What Small Business Week events will you be participating in? Which interview are you going to check out first?  Let us know in the comments and check out SmartHustle.com for help on your other small business questions.

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Categories: SMB

Greg Waldorf of Invoice2Go on Why You Need to Switch to Invoicing Technology Today

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 15:00

Invoicing is an important aspect of running a business, especially small businesses that are all about cash flow. So why, in an era where technological solutions are abundant, are so many small business owners still using Excel or Word templates for invoicing, or running to Staples to get invoice books? This was the main question addressed in one of my most recent interviews, a discussion with Greg Waldorf, CEO of the app Invoice2Go. During the interview, Greg explained what is holding small businesses back from using invoicing technology and why they need to make the switch today.

Why Is Invoicing a Challenge?

As Greg mentions in the interview, many small business owners are still using traditional methods of invoicing, like invoice books and computer files. Sure, these methods will get the job done, but small business owners often feel overwhelmed and disorganized.

It’s not just about the method of preparing an invoice either. The problem goes deeper, into how you accept payment on your invoices. “People forget, small businesses in the U.S. are driving in their cars to pick up checks,” says Greg. “Something is wrong with that in 2016. You shouldn’t need to be driving to pick up a check.”

So why are so many small business owners using dated invoicing methods when invoicing technology is readily available? Greg says that it’s because small business owners are simply very busy people. They feel pressure to make improvements in so many areas of their business that it’s hard to choose what to start with, and even harder to get started TODAY.

Why You Should Switch to Invoicing Technology Today

“I wish I had done that sooner.”

That’s the feedback Greg gets from new small business owners who have made the switch to Invoice2Go. He says that it’s not hard to convince people that there are better invoicing solutions. Small business owners know there must be a better way of invoicing because they feel disorganized all the time and particularly stressed at tax time. Invoice2Go has made it their mission to make it easy to switch to invoicing technology TODAY.

Invoice2Go is an app that includes a free trial. Simply visit the app store on your phone to download the app and claim your free trial. During the free trial, you can explore how Invoice2Go works. As Greg mentions, the system is so simple that you will be ready to send invoices in minutes. Small business owners also use their free trial to send test invoices to themselves and to set up invoices that will look similar to their current invoices.

Beyond the simplicity of Invoice2Go, there are several benefits of switching to invoicing technology:

  • The ability to quickly send invoices, no matter where you are, right from your mobile device.
  • The peace of mind knowing that the work is done, the invoice has been sent, and you are closer to getting paid.
  • Not being held back because you don’t have access to physical or computer invoice files.
  • The ability to accept credit card payments and electronic transfers.
  • Better organization of invoices, which is particularly helpful at tax time.
  • The ability to present a more professional appearance of your business.

There are many invoicing technology options on the market, but what makes Invoice2Go special is their dedication to small business owners. The company has found its “sweet spot” working with small businesses and they have no plans to move out of the small business space. Invoice2Go’s niche is solving the invoicing problems of small business owners, so they have developed solutions specifically for you.

In the end, Greg’s main piece of advice is to make the switch TODAY. “Just do it today. Don’t do it tomorrow or the next day. You’ll be really happy with how much more organized you feel. You will feel so much better about your business.”

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Categories: SMB

Pitney Bowes Makes Shipping via Fedex, UPS or USPS Much Easier

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 21:00

Shipping is never easy. However, lots of companies are making it easier and easier. Newly launched by Pitney Bowes is a solution, SendPro, which is  a family of office shipping, mailing and payment solutions.

Pitney Bowes press release reads, “The SendPro solution revolutionizes shipping for businesses of all sizes by streamlining the sending process in a single, one-of-a-kind multi-carrier office shipping solution, which includes the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS.

The SendPro solution is an integral part of the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, a commerce enabler, providing access to solutions, analytics and APIs across the full commerce continuum with speed and agility to help clients identify customers, locate opportunities, enable communications, power shipping from anywhere to everywhere, and manage payments.  The SendPro solution is also available through the Windows Store and featured on the Windows 10 platform.  Pitney Bowes unveiled SendPro today at a client reception in New York City at the flagship Microsoft store.

From addressing and label printing to comparing shipping options, package tracking and consolidated reporting, the SendPro solution allows users to manage multi-carrier shipping online or from one of a series of devices.  Customers have access to the best rates available across carriers through the SendPro solution.  The software allows users to access via the cloud the information they need to select the best option for each item based on service level and price.  With the SendPro solution, small and medium businesses can now cost-effectively utilize the same technology used by large shipping companies and online retailers.   “

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Categories: SMB

In 2021 Passwords Will Be Gone. Biometrics Will Be the Gatekeeper for Your Device Says Wells Fargo.

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 18:33

 

I’ve used passwords since I started dialing numbers of a lock on my school locker. They’re a pain and easy to forget. How much more difficult do you think it is to have a many passwords you must remember and enter from device to device and from app to app? A royal pain.

Secil Watson, executive vice president and head of wholesale Internet services at Wells Fargo predicts that passwords will be gone within 5 years.

Instead of passwords expect to use eye scans, fingerprints, voice or other biometrics to replace passwords.

You can read the WSJ article here.

 

 

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Categories: SMB

Why Segmenting Your Customers Is A Must For Your Business. Lesson From Cruise Boats.

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 16:00

Cruise boats are offering very exclusive areas of access for their highest paying customers, as reported by the NY Times. They can offer regular cruises for $4,000 and offer cruises for the very wealthy for $30,000.

What can your business learn?

If you’re not using CRM sales and marketing software, then you’re not able to properly segment your customers. You want to segment your customers based on your needs. For example, should you segment customers by zipcode (geographic location), what about by product they purchased, what about by gender, age, ethnicity and more.

By understanding who your customers are, you’ll be able to better serve them and generate better revenue in your business.

You can offer customers of type A one product and know that’s exactly what they want. You can offer customers of type B yet another type of product and know that’s exactly what they want.

If Cruse ships can segment their customers, surely your business can.

What more information on segmenting your customers?

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Categories: SMB

What Every Business Should Learn from Apple. Sell More Than Hardware, Boost Revenue with Services

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 21:00

Sure, Apple sells great looking hardware, but as reported by the WSJ.

It’s array of services is what will keep the profits coming, over and over again. The WSJ writes, “The bulk of Apple’s services revenue comes from apps. Apple keeps 30 cents of every dollar that flows through the App Store. In January, the company said customers had spent $20 billion on apps in 2015, suggesting Apple generated roughly $6 billion in revenue. Mr. Cook said App Store revenue grew 35% in the March quarter.”

So here’s the lesson. You can sell a product (or simple service) to your customers, but by selling a recurring service you’ll always be connected to your customer and have a steady stream of revenue.

An accountant just selling annual tax services is not an accountant for the longer term. One for the long term sells retainers.

This goes with every industry.

For companies selling a “product” consider how you can turn also sell a service, of value to your customers.

If they know, like and trust you – it shouldn’t be too hard to sell them a service that they need.

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Categories: SMB

For Small Businesses, Facebook Is the Dominant Media Pillar

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 18:30

There’s 4 big pillars of advertising – print (newspapers, magazines), radio, TV and Facebook. End of story. It’s not …and social media…it’s “and Facebook”.

Facebook’s $5.2 billion of advertising revenue in the first quarter, 1.7 billion users, profit of $1.5 billion continue to make Facebook a POWERFUL contender far beyond it’s rivals such as Twitter or Snapchat.

Dear business owner ensure your business is getting all you can out of Facebook organic posts and paid advertising. Hire a consultant or agency who can help you navigate the best way to use Facebook.

Sure, depending on your audience, definitely look into other digital advertising options, but Facebook is the frontier everyone’s playing in. If you’re not there – you’re making a mistake.

Read the WSJ’s coverage of Facebook’s earnings here.

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Categories: SMB

Smart Hustle Recap: SXSW 2016 Coverage, Mark Cuban Quotes, and More

Mon, 04/25/2016 - 15:26

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual set of conferences and festivals that takes place every year in mid-March in Austin, Texas. Although much of the event is tailored to the entertainment community (film and music), it also includes interactive media where businesses from around the country and the world set up booths to demonstrate the latest technology – from software and apps to physical tech gadgets. Recently on Smart Hustle, we have been featuring a roundup of interviews from SXSW 2016. Some of this SXSW 2016 coverage is featured in this edition of the Smart Hustle Recap. We also have Mark Cuban quotes and a story about how to find clarity and consistency in your small business.

SXSW 2016 Coverage

SXSW 2016 took place from March 11-15 in Austin, TX, and Ramon Ray visited to learn about the latest technology relevant to small businesses in order to report back to readers. Some of the SXSW 2016 coverage featured recently includes:

  • Fluidstance – An innovative product helping to incorporate more natural movement while you are using a standing desk.
  • Knokal – A new B2B website that uses a “Match.com” approach to connect small businesses.
  • United Airlines – New developments in first-class seating that make your travel more comfortable and productive.
Mark Cuban Loves Hustle

At SXSW 2016, Ramon also ran into Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and investor on ABC’s Shark Tank. In a short video interview, Ramon asks Mark why he loves hustle so much and Mark delivers another quotable answer. In this article you can listen to the interview and hear his new quote – and we also explore a range of other quotes that demonstrate how much Mark Cuban loves hustle.

Click to read 8 Reasons Why Mark Cuban Loves Hustle.

The Importance of Clarity & Consistency

Finally, in a recent audio interview, Ramon spoke with Dr. Will Moreland, a speaker, author and coach who focuses on leadership and personal development. When asked about the problems he sees small business owners make, he mentions that many business owners come to him lacking clarity and consistency regarding the values and goals of the business. Knowing these things is important because they will help guide all the other smaller actions in your business. This article will help you focus in so you can solidify and execute your business identity.

Click to read Clarity and Consistency: 2 Keys to Finding Small Business Success.

Once again, the weekly Smart Hustle roundup provides both information and inspiration to help propel your own small business forward. For more knowledge – and more SXSW 2016 coverage – visit SmartHustle.com.

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Categories: SMB

Credit Card Processing and 5 Processing Vendors You Should Know About

Tue, 04/19/2016 - 20:31

When you run a small business, you know how critical it is that you offer your customers multiple payment methods. And even though it costs you money to accept credit cards, it is pretty much mandatory in today’s movement toward cashless commerce. In 2014, U.S. consumers purchased over $4 trillion worth of goods and services via credit and debit card, and 40 million new credit accounts are being issued every year.

I’ve asked Brad Hanks, a veteran marketing consultant with ZipBooks, a free accounting software program for small businesses, to shed some light on this topic. He is also the father of three precocious girls and an avid drone hobbyist.

But while credit card processing service is mandatory if you want to be in business, it’s not cheap. By accepting credit and debit cards, you’ll pay fees every time a customer makes a purchase, and those fees can take a big bite out of your company’s profitability.

Traditional Pricing Models

Traditional pricing models among credit card processing companies are notoriously complex and difficult to parse. You may choose the company you think is offering the lowest rate, only to find hidden fees that completely blindside you.

Processing companies usually offer a bundled pricing model, which separates your transactions into tiers, usually labeled “qualified”, “mid-qualified” and “non-qualified”. These tier definitions are not standard, and each processor can set its own. The processor then charges you based on how your customers’ transactions are sorted into these tiers.

However, because you cannot see those prices, you generally will have no idea if you are receiving a fair deal or not.

Interchange-Plus Pricing Models

Some traditional processors have switched to a more transparent model in which they charge a fixed amount per transaction, which is a percentage markup over their own cost. In this way, you can compare markup percentages among companies and choose the one with the lowest markup.

New Technology Disrupts the Processing Industry

You no longer have to choose the traditional bank partner for your credit card needs, and you no longer have to pay the fees associated with those entities when you offer credit and debit card payment options to your customers. New technology companies are putting pressure on “business as usual”. Existing fee structures reflect a pre-internet world and technologies like PayPal have left brick and mortar banks behind, but the latest round of innovators are thinking bigger than just a marginally lower processing rate.

Braintree Payments

Braintree Payments is an offshoot of Paypal, and is an integrated payments provider which permits your business to accept Paypal, Bitcoin, ApplePay, AndroidPay, and credit/debit cards, whichever way your customers want to pay. It’s currently in use with companies such as Uber, airbnb, and Stubhub.

And the best part? Your first $50k in transactions will incur no processing fees!

After that, fees are competitive with other processors, at 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. They do offer discounted pricing models for higher-transaction businesses (more than $80k in transactions monthly.)

The advantages of Braintree, aside from the first $50k for free, include support for 40 countries and 130 currencies, consistent pricing across all card brands (so, American Express transactions do not cost more than MasterCard or Visa transactions) and no fee for refunded or failed transactions.

Dwolla

Dwolla launched its money transfer services in 2010 as a competitor to Paypal, permitting users to perform ACH transactions (bank transfers) without incurring money transfer or bank fees. Instead of per-transaction fees, users pay a flat monthly charge that starts at $25.

Dwolla is trying to rethink the whole way we process payments. Think of Dwolla as trying to be the next Visa, not the next PayPal.

Stripe

Another credit card processor making waves is Stripe, an e-commerce company that offers payment processing tools for online retailers. The company was born from the poor experience offered by other online payment options available at the time, and founded on the principle that an option should be simple, instantaneous, and able to scale to any size organization.

Stripe operates under a transparent pricing model of 2.9% plus 30 cents per successful transaction, with no additional fees or limitations. The solution also permits ACH and Bitcoin transactions at 0.8% with a maximum fee of $5.

Stripe has recently launched a new tool, called Atlas, which is targeted to global small companies. This tool helps entrepreneurs from around the world establish a U.S. presence, including a U.S. bank account, that permits these companies to benefit from the vast, secure and established banking infrastructure in the United States. Stripe is specifically targeting entrepreneurs in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, areas which are currently underserved by large banking institutions.

ZipBooks

Credit card transaction fees may be shrinking in the long-term but today’s startups are already baking that inevitability into their business model. ZipBooks, a QuickBooks alternative, is accounting software that makes their service completely free by focusing on capital needs instead of capturing transactional fees. They are providing free software as a way to introduce small businesses to sophisticated financial instruments like invoice financing.  

In the best of worlds, these software solutions can intersect so you can get great benefits from both parties. For example, ZipBooks uses Stripe as a payment option that lets customers enjoy the benefits of both ZipBooks and Stripe at the same time.

Venmo

Venmo is a free app that allows you to pay and request money from your friends, has made quick money exchange easier than ever. You simply download the app and add your bank account to get started. If you ever forget your wallet, just tell your friends that you will ‘Venmo’ them and you can easily pay them from your phone. As soon as they receive money from you in the app, they can have it get sent directly to their bank account.

Venmo has made paying back friends a social experience because every time you pay your friends, it will show up on a feed in the app, making paying your friends back almost addicting.

Venmo is completely free to use as long as you insert your bank account instead of a credit card. They do have a 3% transaction fee for those that choose to use a credit card and with some debit cards. However, paying back and forth among your friends does not require a transaction fee.

Closing thoughts

Long-term credit card processing fees might be going away, but in the meantime, when it is time for your small business to get serious about accepting credit and debit cards from your customers, there is a lot to consider other than the top-line price that a company may quote. Be sure to dig into set-up, monthly and other hidden fees, and make sure that your choice is really the best one for your business.

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Categories: SMB

Are You Maximizing Tools Like Google To Improve Your Life? Get The Most Out of Your Apps.

Mon, 04/18/2016 - 19:00

Photo Credit – http://www.makeuseof.com/

The awesome thing about online software is that a) big companies have armies of staff to keep it running b) when things go down or don’t work, they’re fixed pretty quickly c) the software is constantly being updated for the better.

Recently Google’s come out with a variety of new solutions to make your life easier. These solutions are not limited to Google, but Nimble, Evernote, DropBox, Asana and other online services are on the constant move of improvement.

Google for example has added “tasks” and “reminder” functions to your calendar, making it easier and easier to function day to day.

One very new feature is reported by the NY Times: Google is introducing new features to its popular calendar that will enable people to program in their aspirations for times when they don’t have work or meetings scheduled.

Google’s algorithms will then seek appropriate gaps in a schedule in which stuff like exercise or discussing life with one’s spouse might be appropriate. While this means putting more of ourselves inside the machine, Google argues that its method is more efficient.

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Categories: SMB

Smart Hustle Recap: Small Business Community Launched, Peter Shankman Joins the Team & More!

Mon, 04/18/2016 - 16:46

Last week was a busy week for the Smart Hustle team, so there is plenty to share in this Smart Hustle recap! As you know, we typically feature 3-4 of the hottest stories in our recap. This week, we also have some exciting news to share with you. Smart Hustle has welcomed Peter Shankman as a contributing editor and advisor, plus we launched a small business community on Facebook! Read about these new developments plus our top stories below.

Smart Hustle Small Business Community Launched

Smart Hustle is proud to serve the small business community by providing informational articles and inspiring stories. Earlier this year, we conducted a survey to find out what other things our readers would like to see, and an overwhelming majority relayed their interest in more community activities. This week, Smart Hustle answered the call by launching a small business community on Facebook. Everyone is invited to join this group, where you can ask questions, give advice, discuss small business topics, participate in live video chats, and even win prizes!

Click here to join Smart Hustle’s Small Business Community

Peter Shankman Joins Smart Hustle

Peter Shankman is the epitome of a smart hustler. As a successful entrepreneur, Peter created HARO (Help a Reporter Out), a service that helps journalists connect with small business owners (who can then benefit from free marketing). He is also an author, speaker, consultant, and an entrepreneurial investor whose projects include SCOTTeVEST.  This week, Smart Hustle announced that Peter will be joining the Smart Hustle team as an advisor and contributing expert. Stay tuned for great things – Peter Shankman and Smart Hustle will be an unbeatable team!

Click to read Celebrity Author & Entrepreneur Peter Shankman Joins Smart Hustle Magazine as Contributing Editor & Advisor

The Little Steps that Lead to Success

Have you ever given up on a dream because you were intimidated by the journey you would have to take to reach that dream? It’s true: our biggest goals are the hardest to reach, taking countless days, months and even years of our blood, sweat, and tears. That shouldn’t stop you, though. In this interview with Chris Capehart, you’ll learn about his new book that breaks down the ‘proverbial mile’ to your goal into smaller, achievable steps. As Chris explains, if you focus on the small steps instead of the long journey, you can reach any goal you have.

Click to read Pursuing Your Dreams One Small Step at a Time – An Interview with Chris Capehart

Team Collaboration with Intraboom

Today’s technology has made it easier than ever to collaborate with your small business team members. The problem is that there are so many collaboration tools to choose from that it can be difficult to know which will work best for your business. In this article (and video interview) we learn about a new collaboration tool called Intraboom which offers features such as messaging, calendars, file sharing, a main dashboard and more.

Click to read SXSW 2016 Interview: How Intraboom Is Changing the Way Teams Communicate

As I mentioned, it was a very busy week for the Smart Hustle team! In addition to the articles and announcements listed here, there were several other articles and interviews, including what you need to know before starting a business, how to create a positive work environment, Kevin O’Leary’s 3 rules for giving a perfect business pitch, and so much more! Check out the Smart Hustle website to catch up on these and other stories.

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Categories: SMB

Think You Can’t Compete Against Bigger Competitors: Target Niche with Tech

Sun, 04/17/2016 - 20:00

So Uber and Lyft are the BIG guys in the market for car service – right? There are some companies who are following them – but in narrow markets. These new companies are choosing to target seniors, children and other demographics that might want an added level of safety, security or comfort.

Could Uber or Lyft do this? Of course. But right now they’re not – leaving a nice opening for other services.

What about your market. Do you have some big competitors? Find out what they are NOT doing and fill that void for your customers and theirs.

The NY Times writes,

She now schedules three rides a week for her daughter, which costs about $45 to $50 a week. While ride-hailing services have been popular in the start-up economy, new entrepreneurs are going after a specific niche: providing rides for children.

These start-ups are nibbling at the industry’s fringes, where Uber and Lyft — at least officially — don’t go. (Per policy at Uber and Lyft, drivers are not supposed to give rides to unaccompanied minors.)

Although they are still testing the waters in a small number of markets, the sector is already becoming competitive. It’s part of a bigger trend of ride-hailing, with services finding ways to capture a very specific market segment, said Harry Campbell, who writes about the industry at his blogTheRideShareGuy.com and is a driver for Uber and Lyft.

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Categories: SMB

10 Tools To Invest In To Make Your Tax Return and Your Business Better.

Sat, 04/16/2016 - 18:00

Tax season is that annual event that some people dread more than their dentist, an eye exam and a few other things. However, I’m grateful that I live in a democracy where I can pay taxes and live in a peaceful and productive republic.

As you get ready to file your taxes there’s a few things you can do to save money, invest money and claim deductions and/or just think of great ways to improve your company overall.

  1. Invest in hardware that works harder for you: Small business owners can skip a trip to the local FedEx with the HP OfficeJet Proink printer series, which provides print shop quality color printing right from your desk. Businesses can save valuable time with fast print speeds and take advantage of the printer’s space-saving, sleek design. SMBs can afford to take advantage of more than one investment tip this year with the OfficeJet Pro line printing at up to 50% lower cost per page than a laser printer.
  2. Choose a “smart service” that plans ahead so you don’t have to: Compatible with the OfficeJet Pro line, HP Instant Ink ensures that your printer is always stocked and ready. Never again will you have to worry about running out of ink for that big business proposal because the printer orders it for you before you run out, and it¹s delivered to your door with plans starting as low as the price of your morning latte.
  3. Reduce travel costs, increase face time: GoToMeetingencourages face-time with colleagues and clients without having to be in person. With more small businesses allowing their employees to work from home, GoToMeeting provides a platform for teams to meet and collaborate in a single space with the ability to share screens and build better relationships.
  4. Run your small business from a cell phone: With Grasshopper, entrepreneurs and micro-small businesses can set up corporate phone directories complete with toll-free numbers, department/employee extensions, and voicemail. Plus, incoming calls can be forwarded to mobile or home phone lines, or even Skype accounts.
  5. Access important files when and where you need them: ShareFileprovides a collaborative workspace whenever you need to securely exchange, track, edit or e-sign content. Whether you’re on the go or sitting in front of your desktop, you can manage your documents and feel confident in sharing secured files.
  6. Automate workflows and document processes: Power PDF by Nuance eliminates document format-dependent bottlenecks that hinder workflows and slow down business. Small businesses can scan paper or convert electronic documents into searchable, editable PDF files – the standard format for business document collaboration. Users can also add mark-ups and comments directly within the PDF to simplify editing processes, while maintaining control over the original file with secure encryption and permission controls.
  7. Change the way you tackle to-do lists: Trello is an online tool that can help streamline project management in your organization. With a simple, easy-to-use interface that tracks tasks, owners and deadlines, this system keeps your team organized and encourages collaboration. Perfect for small business owners who handle every aspect of their businesses, Trello can help manage a variety of projects from the launch of a new product to organizing an office remodel.
  8. Book a company trip straight from your mobile device: Your team deserves a reward after a stellar year but you don’t have to blow your entire return on a getaway. With Hotwire you’ll get big discounts of up to 60% off hotels so you can take your entire staff out for a company retreat and still enjoy big savings. Plus, savvy travelers can control every aspect of their trip on phone, iPad or Apple Watch at the touch of a button.
  9. Expand your network of advisors: Many small business owners rely on a handful of associates or mentors to provide insight and feedback about their businesses. Consider growing that network of trusted supporters by attending a local networking event or conference geared towards small business owners in your area. These events are ideal for making new connections and learning best practices from experts in your field. – 11th Annual Smart Hustle Conference
  10. Keep learning with continued education: Invest in your personal growth and master a skill that will impact your business by enrolling in a specialized course. General Assembly offers online and in-person classes and corporate trainings on a variety of topics from web development and digital marketing to design. Choose a course that can help you tackle an immediate issue your business faces and finally get your website perfected or implement that online marketing campaign you’ve been dreaming about.

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Categories: SMB

Bots or Humans: Ready To Chat With A Computer When You Chat? Facebook Messenger Evolution.

Sat, 04/16/2016 - 16:00

Thankfully Barry Moltz is not a robot

For sure companies have tried to use computer programming as an interface in a variety of human interactions.

This is quite a bit more intelligent than what you’d experience in an interactive phone system at some big company. This is about having a conversation with a computer – about buying your next pair of shoes, shopping for an airline ticket or something else.

Facebook’s Messenger service is going to get very intelligent, as reported by the NY Times:

The experience is akin to chatting with a friend, “the one whose taste you always trust while you’re shopping,” said Alan Tisch, chief executive of Spring.

There’s just one thing: The entity on the other end talking to you and helping you choose the shoes is not human. It is a chatbot, a relatively simple piece of software that uses artificial intelligence to carry on a conversation.

While chatbots have been around for some time — think of SmarterChild, the friendly buddy that was popular on AOL Instant Messenger more than a decade ago — companies are now increasingly betting that a grand bot resurgence is coming, one that will change the way people interact with their most beloved brands.

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Categories: SMB

5 Ways Facebook Messenger Customer Support Can Help Your Business

Tue, 04/12/2016 - 18:32

Facebook Messenger used to be just a tool to “chat” back and forth. For many it’s replaced email, Skype chat and other forms of rapid-fire communication. For businesses – it could be a powerful support tool.

For many it’s replaced email, Skype chat and other forms of rapid-fire communication. For businesses – it could be a powerful support tool.

Facebook Messenger is quickly evolving into a tool, a service, to provide enhanced customer support to the over a billion active users on Facebook who might want to interact with your company.

Techcrunch has a great overview of Messenger’s evolution here.

Some of the highlights:

  • Get your vanity business name – NOW. A Facebook vanity business name is JUST as important as a traditional domain name.
  • Educate yourself in HOW to use Messenger for business and not just chatting with your nieces or a colleague
  • Facebook has tools enabling your customers to quickly open a Facebook Messenger chat session

Customer support will never change – serve your customers. The METHODS of customer support is changing with the rise of digital support tools.

This truly is “The Age of the Customer“, as penned by Jim Blasingame in his latest book.

 

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Categories: SMB

Smart Hustle Recap: Marketing Strategies That Work Including Return on Relationships, Hashtags, Logos & More

Mon, 04/11/2016 - 18:34

Marketing is one of the major challenges for small business owners. There are a staggering number of marketing strategies to choose from, so you must carefully select those that will be effective for your specific business while also fitting into your time and budget.

If you’re still looking for marketing ideas to try (and master) then this is the Smart Hustle Recap for you! Today we will be featuring a number of marketing strategies that work for small business owners, including developing a return on relationships, designing personalized products, creating a stunning business logo, and using hashtags to your benefit.

Marketing Strategies that Work #1: Return on Relationships

You have likely heard of ROI, or return on investment, but what about ROR? ROR stands for return on relationships, and in this Smart Hustle interview, Ted Rubin (who coined the phrase) will tell you what it is, how you can grow ROR through social media, and how ROR will impact your bottom line.

Click to read Ted Rubin on How to Maximize Your Return on Relationships (ROR)

Marketing Strategies that Work #2: Personalized Products

In this second Smart Hustle interview, we hear from Gustav Reyes, who has found success creating wooden rings. In addition to inspiration, the article will teach you about the benefit of creating your own niche, including personalizing the customer experience with customizable, intimate gifts that are sure to draw the customers in.

Click to read How to Pursue Your Business Dreams – An Interview with Gustav Reyes

Marketing Strategies that Work #3: Business Logo

Your business logo gives your company a visual identity. It sends a message about what your business is about, and it helps customers recognize your brand when they see it. Certain elements of the business logo, (like meaning, color, representation, design contrast, and a timeless appearance) should be planned out in advance to get the biggest impact. If you’re just starting out (or looking to rebrand with a new logo), this article has the essential design information you need.

Click to read 5 Essential Elements of an Eye-Catching and Memorable Business Logo

Marketing Strategies that Work #4: Hashtags

Hashtags were made popular on Twitter almost a decade ago, but now they are a staple of all social media sites. Used correctly, hashtags can help categorize and publicize your social media messages to reach a wider audience, but if done wrong, they can scare your followers away. If you’re still struggling with hashtags in your small business, this article offers 3 simple ways to use them effectively.

Click to read Hashtags Can Help Your Small Business Be One of the Big Guys

Marketing will always be somewhat of a mystery because it is not an exact science, but if you take the time to do your research, you can create a solid marketing plan for your small business. Explore the above articles to learn about these marketing strategies that work, and for help with other marketing and business questions, check out the Smart Hustle homepage.

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Categories: ICT, SMB

Is 3D Printing A Fad. MakerBot Shrinks Brooklyn Presence

Mon, 04/11/2016 - 18:18

When I saw the headline in Crain’s New York about 3D tooling company MakerBot downsizing its Brooklyn headquarters office space, I wondered – what does it mean for the 3-D printing industry?

3-D printing has definitely transformed how large companies are able to quickly test hardware designs before going into full production. It’s also helped smaller companies operate faster, more nimble and more efficiently.

However, I don’t hear about many “home users” buying 3D printers for their families and cuddling up to the fire place.

MakerBot was one of the first movers to really provide 3D printing solutions to the masses. It might need to QUICKLY innovate to provided more solutions to new markets, or more solutions to its current customer base.

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Categories: SMB

Are You Ready To Fulfill Your Entrepreneur Dreams? Attend The Dream Project – April 21

Fri, 04/08/2016 - 02:30

Founded in 2013 by Teneshia Jackson Warner, CEO of EGAMI Group, The Dream Project Symposium, a 2-day conference takes place at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia on April 21st and 22nd. At The Dream Project Symposium, hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners will have the opportunity to network, and gain the education and wisdom needed to grab hold of their dreams and advance their careers. Attendees will benefit from key insights into the success stories of others and learn business best practices from experienced professionals.

At The Dream Project Symposium, hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners will have the opportunity to network, and gain the education and wisdom needed to grab hold of their dreams and advance their careers. Attendees will benefit from key insights into the success stories of others and learn business best practices from experienced professionals.

This year’s speakers include: Magic Johnson (Magic Johnson Enterprises), Jennifer Fleiss (Rent the Runway), Miss Robbie (Sweetie Pies), Ty Hunter (Beyonce’s stylist, Designer), Christian Martinez (Facebook), and many more. Be sure to check out the sizzle reel from Dream2015.

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Categories: SMB

Business Owners As Publishers and Producers Not Salesmen: Learn from Donald Trump and #AskGaryVee

Wed, 04/06/2016 - 15:14

Traditionally, the way to get press and publicity was that a journalist or producer or some other gate keeper would deem your business worthy to be covered.

Donald Trump is one of the first candidates where media (CNN, Fox and MSNBC) beg him to be on their shows and not the other way around.

Sure – he has an organic HUGE following due to his TV show, The Apprentice and due to the Trump brand overall.

However, he’s build up a surge of followers (and haters) by just being himself and using social media (and main stream media) as a powerful communication tool.

Mr. Tump’s political candidacy is an example that shows, instead of waiting for the media and hoping they give you attention, that you can create your own story and be “the media”, as reported by the New York Times.

Several months ago Gene Marks, Brent Leary and myself started a show, 3TechGuys – we didn’t wait for someone to anoint us – we just did it. It ended up being syndicated to Fox Business.

Of course there’s many successful “Youtube” stars who are rocking their own shows as well.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s #AskGaryVee reaches thousands (like hundreds of thousands?) of readers every week and he’s turned this into a best seller – by far.

Dear small business owner focus on educating your customers, focus on building tribes.

Invest in education and sales will come. If you invest in sales – sales might not come.

While sales are important, what’s more important is to build trust with a community of potential customers. What’s more important is to build a TRIBE of fans – you only need a small percent to buy from you.

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Categories: SMB