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Updated: 2 hours 28 min ago

Infusionsoft Announces the Addition of New Products at ICON15

Tue, 03/31/2015 - 18:04

Infusionsoft, the leading sales and marketing software for small businesses, announced today at #ICON15, their 9th annual small business conference, the addition of several new products designed to make small businesses more successful.

With more than 30,000 customers and 100,000 users worldwide, Infusionsoft plays a vital role in the growth of their small business partners. In light of that, they are constantly looking at ways to improve their software so they can meet the changing needs of the customer and fuel their success.

The new products they announced today, that will be rolled out over the next several months, include:

  • Infusionsoft Payments: This new product makes it easy for small businesses to get approved and set up with a merchant account. Infusionsoft Payments offers low, competitive fees and includes mobile payment capabilities, so small businesses can capture payments on the go and in the field.
  • Infusionsoft E-mail Builder: Set to debut later this year, this product includes a library of responsive, mobile-friendly email designs and templates. It is now easier than ever for small businesses to send professional looking emails. 

    Infusionsoft users experience the new email product being released.

  • Infusionsoft Help Center: This offering will shorten the learning curve and help Infusionsoft customers find answers faster. The Help Center was totally redesigned with mobile in mind.

Infusionsoft is a tool that provides small businesses the easiest way to get organized, grow sales and save time. With the inclusion of these new products, Infusionsoft is recognizing and incorporating the newest features that their customers need in order empower their small business and up their marketing game and customer interactions.

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Categories: SMB

Hiring Is So Important. Here’s 5 Awesome Tips To Do It Right.

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 21:09

Hiring, regardless of size of your company, is one of the most daunting, anxiety ridden and costly tasks you will be faced with as a business owner. For small businesses, however, it comes at a much greater cost, both in time and dollars. So getting it ‘right’ is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula to finding and hiring the perfect employee. But, luckily there are some solid tips and strategies that reveal the secrets to successful small business hiring.

1. Define the Position. It’s important that you clearly outline exactly what the position is that you are hiring for and what responsibilities will come with that position. This will allow you to determine the skillset that the ‘perfect’ candidate must have in order to be successful in the position. Start by creating a list of all the duties the person will perform and the skills needed to complete each. This will allow you to see exactly what the key skills are that are needed and also allow you to write a thorough job description that you can use to advertise the position and when onboarding your new hire.

2. Go Fishing.  Once you’ve determined the type of person you need to fill the position, it’s time to go fishing and catch them! The easiest way to do that is to ‘Fish Where the Fish Are’. Figure out where the type of candidate you are looking for would go to find a job opportunities, either online or in person.  Conferences and events are a great place to find candidates because they allow you to open dialogue, often with people of the same industry or interest, in a more casual environment. This allows you to see more of the ‘person’ you might be hiring than a resume. Looking for someone technical? Drop by a local tech Meetup. Looking for a great salesperson? Try asking a salesperson you buy from and enjoy dealing with if they happen to know anyone like them looking for a position. Because they know you, and your business, they would have a better insight to the type of person that would fit into your business.

Check out this video below, about hiring. (if it does not play check it out here)

3. Don’t Forget Who You Are. Small businesses typically have small staffs and a company culture that is pretty clearly defined. Don’t forget that when you start interviewing. Finding someone that can fit into your company culture is key, and often as critical as ensuring they have the skills needed to be successful. A fish out of water simply won’t survive.

4. Don’t Get Desperate and NEVER Sell Yourself. If you are hiring, there is a strong chance that you are in serious need of help, possibly even desperate. This is the worst position to be in when hiring. When a business owner is desperate to hire, they tend to try to ‘sell’ the position and company versus forcing the candidate to sell themselves. This is never good! Even if you are desperate, always keep in mind that a bad hire will be three times as costly as waiting a few extra weeks to find the right person.

5. Be In Perpetual Hiring Mode. While you might not always have an open position to fill, as a business owner you should perpetually be in hiring mode. Keep a pool of names of those you met through the hiring position. Perhaps you met someone who didn’t fit one position, but they’d be perfect for a new position you are filling. Or maybe you got an application for a great IT person, but you were hiring for Sales. Start creating a database of people that could be possible candidates for future positions. This will save you time, and money, the next time a position opens.

Hiring should be an exciting time for you and your business. It’s a sign of growth and success. Instead of dreading it, use the tips above to approach the task with a positive, well-thought out plan. This will help you simplify the process and find the ‘perfect’ person to bring into your business.

This post was written in partnership with Progressive Insurance. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional small business tips, check out Progressive’s Small Business Big Dreams program.

 

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Categories: SMB

Save Time and Secure Your Business with a Password Management Tool

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 14:02

How many passwords do you have? If you’re like most business owners, the answer is “too many.” In the course of a month, the average individual visits over 25 different password-protected websites. That’s a lot of information to remember.

To make it simpler, some people use the same password for multiple sites; in fact, 65% of people use the same password everywhere. However, the practice of using the same password across many sites makes your business vulnerable. 90% of employee passwords can be cracked within six hours. When you’re using the same password that means that one simple crack unleashes ALL of your important information to hackers.

The solution is to use secure passwords that are virtually impossible to crack – long passwords consisting of upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters. Many websites even require users to create secure passwords like this.

The catch 22 is that while secure passwords are a must, they’re also impossible to remember. If you’re creating different, 10+ character passwords for each app, that’s the equivalent of 250 random letters, which is nearly impossible to remember.

If only there was a better way to remember strong passwords. Meldium is a password manager from LogMeIn with single sign on that helps businesses access web apps quickly and securely. How does it work and is it a good option for business owners? We recently reviewed the product and here’s what we found.

The Ins and Outs of Meldium

Meldium provides automatic login from every major browser with extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, and Safari or with apps on iOS and Android. You can instantly access password-protected websites and apps without typing or remembering a username and password. Here’s a little tour of the basics.

Available Plans

Meldium offers a 14 day free trial subscription that includes all the ‘Pro’ features to those looking to try the service. They offer a free plan that allows you to add up to five users and includes the basic features.

Their paid plans start at $29/month for the Basic, which includes unlimited apps and 20 users. The Premium plan is $79/mo for 100 users and the Professional plan is $199/mo for 250 users. Each plan offers a discount if you choose to pay annually.

From the smallest of organizations to the larger enterprises, Meldium has a plan that fits everyone.

The Launchpad

The Launchpad, or dashboard, is where you land once you log in and is the place where you’ll access all your websites and apps. Adding existing websites and passwords is easy:

  • Click on +Add an Application.
  • Scroll through the HUGE list of applications and websites – 2018 and counting.
  • Choose your application, enter the username and password, then click add.
  • Continue to add all your accounts.

All apps that you add will now appear on your Launchpad. The next time you need access, simply click on the icon for instant access.

Easy Management

The Manage section of Meldium allows admins and business owners to manage your apps, groups, users, events and settings.

  • Managing Apps: From one screen you can view and manage all your Apps, including:[checklist]
    • Launching the app
    • Editing the password
    • Editing the app settings including App name, login credentials and organization it’s assigned to
    • Deleting the application

  • Managing Organizations: For each organization you can manage all components including:
    • Creating groups of users within the organization and assigning applications
    • Quickly and easily onboard new employees
    • Invite users to the organization by email
    • Manage existing users access and permission levels
    • See all members of the organization

  • Managing Team Services: The team services management screen allows you to quickly add new services that specific teams within your organization will use. You can also update credentials and allow Meldium to monitor the service for new data to facilitate accurate user lists.
  • Managing Events: Wondering who’s doing what? The event management screen will show you all activity by user during time periods you can specify.
  • Managing Settings: The settings screen allows you to manage your Meldium account information, change your plan and set security specific security settings. You can also export data and delete any existing organizations.
One Click Access

Meldium offers an extension that allows you one-click access to all the apps you’ve added to your Launchpad. There are extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer, Safari, iOS, and Android.

When you add the extension, a Meldium icon will appear on your menu bar (see image below). Clicking the symbol will bring up a list of your apps – then just click the one you want in order to log in.

Safe and Controllable Access to Your Accounts for Team Members

One of the major features, and in my opinion one of the most valuable, is the ability to share account access with team members that is controllable and secure.

When you share access to an application with a team member, they are sent an invitation that allows them instant access. What’s so wonderful about it is that while they have access to the account, they do not have the ability to see the actual password that accesses that account.

Additionally, you can control access from your management screen, including adding or revoking access. This makes the onboarding of new team members and the management of exiting team members super easy. No longer do you need to worry about spending countless hours getting someone all the account information and logins they need to get started. And no longer do you need to worry about team members that have left having access to your accounts. It’s all managed with just a few clicks through Meldium – keeping your accounts safe and secure.

Why Meldium is Right for Your Business

When it comes to evaluating technology for business, I typically look at three major factors:

  1. Will it save time?
  2. Is it easy, user friendly, and easy to manage?
  3. Does it make my business better?

In my opinion, Meldium receives a solid ‘YES’ on each of these factors.

It’s a definite time saver (and stress reducer) for anyone who is trying to manage multiple logins to multiple applications and programs. Meldium user, David Petersen – founder of BuildZoom, says, “One of the biggest stressors used to be keeping track of 50 passwords. Every site has different requirements: Numbers, upper case letters, lower case, punctuation, no punctuation – it caused me serious stress. I couldn’t get into my accounts and then I started using Meldium.”

The one-click access feature is pure genius. Additionally, the ability to quickly add and manage users is ideal for anyone with a team.

I found Meldium to be incredibly user friendly. It has a basic, yet powerful, design and after a little exploration I was navigating with ease. Menus are clear cut and directions appear on pages to help guide and instruct. If those aren’t enough, there is also an extensive help center and an email contact for support.

Whether or not it will make your business better can be somewhat subjective. But, given the fact that more and more small businesses are becoming victims of today’s sophisticated hackers, there is no doubt that increased password protection is the first of many steps to help safeguard your business. It’s the deadbolt on the door of your business. Coupling this with other solid security measures will increase your chances of avoiding costly security breaches.

Overall, Meldium is a solid password management program and security measure for small business. Because LogMeIn offers plans to fit every size organization and budget, Meldium should be a staple in the technology arsenal of every small business.

Smart Hustle Magazine and Ramon Ray were thrilled to partner with LogMeIn and the Meldium product to provide this review.

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Categories: SMB

3 Secrets to Big Small Business Growth

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 22:12

Growing a small business consumes a lot of your time. Since there are only 24 hours in a day, and at least some of them have to be devoted to sleep and personal hygiene, the best you can do is make the most of your time with helpful tools. Here are three that will help you find  big small business growth.

#1. Use a Great Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Solution

CRM is a vital part of business success, regardless of industry. It’s never too early to implement CRM software into your business systems. Using CRM helps you discover who your customers are and how to market to them. With this information you can craft strategies that will keep your customers coming back for more, draw new customers in, and ultimately increase your profits.

The information within a CRM gives you the insight necessary to better serve the needs of your customers and enhance your overall customer service. You can see who is likely to respond to a product upsell or cross-sell. The data from your CRM will help you tailor marketing campaigns toward segments of your audience that you’d like to reach. The notes in your CRM can also clue you in to why customers leave you for your competitors – so you can change course before the situation becomes dire.

With integrated tools, your business can get more done in less time. Full-featured CRM software offers a multitude of integrated functions to save you time and money. Insightly CRM integrations include: Dropbox, Google Apps™, QuickBooks®, Proposable™, and more.

#2. Automate Tasks

How much time do you spend on mundane, repetitive tasks every day? With Zapier, you can automate tasks by creating “zaps.” These zaps are two part functions, set to automatically take action when the trigger event happens. For example, when a customer fills out the lead capture form, you can automatically create the new lead in your CRM. Since Zapier works with more than 200 apps, you can automate everything from saving email attachments to cloud storage to automatically tweeting from your Facebook.

#3 Get Better Control of Your Inbox

Research shows workers spend about 25% of their workday reading and replying to email. Two hours a day over the course of the year adds up to 27 days of nothing but email. With Boomerang for Gmail, you can save time every day, and get some cool extras to go along with it. Boomerang works with personal and business Gmail accounts, and allows you to:

● See when someone has read your email
● Schedule emails to send later
● Create follow up reminders so you see emails when you actually need them
● Send reminder messages so you can be sure to follow up after a certain amount of time, so nothing important gets lost in the shuffle

It works with mobile devices, so you can wrangle your email account from wherever you are.

These tools will squeeze precious minutes from your day that were once used on necessary, but not always productive tasks. With CRM, task automation, and your email box under control, you’re free to move on to more important tasks, like landing that next big contract.

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Categories: SMB

11 Reasons to Considering Bringing on SEO Expertise

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 15:00
Should my growing company hire an SEO Expert? Why or why not?

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. Maybe: Consider the Long-Term Investment in Your Marketing Budget SEO is a vital long-term strategy. Plan for about nine to 18 months before you start seeing returns. If your growing company is taking off like a rocket and has revenues that can be reinvested knowing this time frame, then do so. It’s a question of numbers in your marketing budget. Vetting the link-building tactics your SEO company uses is critical to your site not getting penalized by Google. – Joshua LeeStandOut Authority

2. Yes: Worth It for Attracting Talent Alone If your company is growing, your top priority is attracting the right talent. Recruitment options range from hiring recruiters (expensive) to posting jobs (ineffective) to relying on employee networks (limited). Hiring someone to create a SEO strategy around attracting talent is worth it alone when compared to the other recruiting options. Plus, they can attract customers as effectively as talent. – Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

3. Yes: Critical for Building a Foundation SEO is especially crucial in the early stages of business when you are laying your foundation. A good SEO consultant will help you design your website in an SEO friendly way so it ranks well. As you build your online presence, your website will become a key component of your inbound marketing strategy. It will help you attract leads and nurture them into paying customers. – Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

4. Yes: If You Build It, You‘ll Need SEO SEO can help with traffic and awareness, so it’s relevant to any growing company. If you build it, people don’t just come — unless you‘ve optimized. If you have limited budget, you can start with an audit and action plan to inject into your own content strategies. Then grow into a more robust, fully managed program over time or as your budget allows. When done right, it’s a cost-effective marketing channel. – Kayla WagnerRevel Interactive

5. Depends: You Need Content First Getting found online should be a priority, especially for a growing company. Hiring an SEO will help with that. But assuming you have a limited budget, start by working on a content strategy. Think about value that you can provide to potential customers and create content to do so. For example, answer questions, create how-to’s, informative infographics, etc. Do this and SEO will be easy. – Ryan WilsonFiveFifty

6. Yes: It’s Part of Online Marketing SEO is only one part of the huge world of online marketing. I recommend having an online marketer on your team as soon as you have a web presence. Try to hire one with knowledge of organic and paid forms of marketing. – Elliot BohmCardcash.com

7. No: Focus on Social Web While the old web is built upon the strength of search optimization, the new web is built around social. If you’re investing in someone to expand your reach, I recommend hiring someone strong in building social communities and leveraging social ads, specifically for Facebook and Twitter. Search is still important, but much of our growth is coming from leveraging opportunities in social. – Emerson SpartzSpartz

8. Yes: SEO Can Create and Grow a Company As the CEO of an online business, there has been nothing more important to our success than SEO. I am an SEO (that’s my background) and it allowed me to grow a multi-million dollar business. I would always suggest bringing an SEO in-house, because it will greatly benefit your company. If you‘re looking for one outside it, you‘ll need to do heavy due diligence and ask the right questions first. – Pablo PalatnikShadesDaddy.com

9. No: SEO Is a Dangerous, Ambiguous Catch All Too often, SEO is seen as a black box containing some magic pill for ranking higher in search engine results. This can be dangerous, because there is no way to beat the Google gods with optimization alone. Instead, consider hiring a head of content marketing. Create content that is relevant and informative for users, and traffic will follow. – Joel HollandVideo Blocks

10. Maybe: Only if Your Company Is Ready Don’t get too hasty in searching for and hiring SEO talent. Although having a SEO can put your company out there quickly and successfully, there are also many ways that you can easily optimize your search presence on your own. Strategies such as creating original content, using searchable keywords in titles and content, ensuring fast page load time and more can be used to optimize engine presence. – Miles JenningsRecruiter.com

11. Yes: But Make Sure They Can Also Do More It would be good if your SEO person at least knew SEM at a minimum, but preferably online analytics as well. This way you can keep them busy continually and get extra value from the hire. If you‘re early stage, there are some simple SEO tactics that you can apply to your site in order to rank better. Most online marketers or developers know the basics which include keywords, titles, etc. – Andy KaruzaSpotSurvey

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Categories: SMB

Social Media Is The Ultimate Tool for Small Businesses Says @GuyKawasaki #sxswi

Sat, 03/14/2015 - 16:00

Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick gave an excellent presentation with 10 practical ways to do better with social content marketing. During the Q&A I asked Guy, what does he say to the many small business owners who feel social media is not giving them the return they want? What does he say to those who complain that they are not making a sale?

Watch this short video for his answer. Spoiler alert: He says that in summary – it’s too expensive for most small businesses to do traditional advertising so social media is all we have. He shares the story of a taco truck being able to Tweet to their 100,000 followers where they’ll be at on a given day. What other tool enables this kind of communication with your customers?

Check out the PDF download here.

Check out the video here or below:

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Categories: SMB

10 Tips From @GuyKawasaki – The Art of Social Media – 3 Page Downloadable PDF

Sat, 03/14/2015 - 07:35

At SXSW 2015 Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick dispensed simple and awesome insight in how everyone can get the most from social content marketing. I took notes and put them in this handy PDF.

 

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Categories: SMB

Canva – An Imaging Tool Built For Social Engagement

Sat, 03/14/2015 - 05:24

The best social media is all about how well you can engage your audience. One of the best ways to engage your audience is with good imagery. Just posting a photo is easy to do. However, for some of us, adding text and/or ensuring that image is formatted properly for a particular social network is challenging.

I’d hear of Canva a service backed by Guy Kawasaki, before, but never used it. Today, hearing him speak about it during SXSW, I tried it out. It’s simple and awesome to use.

Canva lets u take an image, format it for a particular social network and add text to it. Check it out for yourself, it’ll make your use of images so much easier and fun.

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Categories: SMB

8 Remarketing Tools You Should Be Using

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 15:00
What is your favorite remarketing tool and why?

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. AdRoll

Adroll partners with companies like Facebook and Google for advertising, and it’s particularly well-suited for geo-targeting and customer segmentation. It comes with an easy to understand analytics interface as well.

– Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

2. Facebook Email Remarketing

Facebook enables you to upload your existing email list and will match your emails to user accounts. Since your email list contains your best customers, you‘re able to extend offers and enjoy a high advertising ROI by remarketing to this group.

– Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

3. Hubspot

Hubspot has a lot of great functionality as it combines your email marketing, your content management, your social media and your sales CRM in one interface. The great part is that you no longer need five or six tools for all of your marketing initiatives, as you only have to use Hubspot and it integrates all the tools together.

– Randy RayessVenturePact

4. Smarter HQ

This software presents a new way of thinking about the customer journey. Smarter HQ was built by a founder with decades of experience in online sales. It does so much more than simply remarket. By using all available data, Smarter HQ is able to create highly customized experiences and reengage prospects in a way that maximizes sales and lifetime value. I love it.

– Matt HuncklerVerge

5. Analyzing Online Behavior

My favorite remarketing tool is not actually a remarketing tool – it’s customer and web data. Anyone can run ads. But for competitive advantage, analyze customer attributes and online behaviors to predict high probabilities for sales. Creating segments out of these lets you target with just the right offer at scale. You’ll never stop finding interesting segments to create highly effective campaigns.

– David Booth, Cardinal Path

6. LinkedIn Groups

Our company manages and takes part in many LinkedIn Groups, some with hundreds of thousands of members. To remarket our top content and reiterate our message, we make sure that we are active within these groups. We send out announcements and make connections with other professionals so that our marketing comes more naturally through meaningful relationships and word of mouth.

– Miles JenningsRecruiter.com

7. Vertical Mass

Hands down, Vertical Mass is the best tool that any musician or public figure can use in regards to gathering data on their fan base. What’s even better – you can use the same technology for remarketing purposes if you choose to do so. This platform has given my clients a true, quantifiable way to show that data about their consumers is extremely valuable.

– Cassie PetreyCrowd Surf

8. Google Ad Words

Google Ad Words is our favorite remarketing tool that is underutilized. Many companies go out and try other tools before they explore what is right under their fingertips. Try it out and see how effective it is.

– Joe ApfelbaumAjax Union

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Categories: SMB

Is Facebook Advertising The Favorite Option for Small Businesses?

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 15:00

Google has long been the dominate advertiser of choice for many small businesses – in part because that’s all we’ve had. But over the years as more and more eyeballs have consumed more and more content on more and more platforms. there’s a lot more options.

One of these options is Facebook. They reported that they have about 2 million advertisers and most of them are small business owners.

Yep, I’m one of those two million advertisers who have clicked the “boost post” button and then spent even more to get more engagement with this or that post.

What’s nice about Facebook is that it makes it VERY easy to spend money to advertise. With one click “boost post” you can start to advertise. If you want to do more, you can do that as well – targeting specific users, testing different advertisements and more.

The NY Times writes, “Getting more advertisers onto its platform is critical for Facebook as it tries to increase global share. Facebook’s fourth-quarter revenue grew 49 percent to $3.85 billion from the same period a year ago, with mobile accounting for 69 percent of advertising revenue. Google is the worldwide leader in digital advertising market share, at 31.1 percent, according to estimates from research firm eMarketer. But Google’s slice has shrunk slightly, down from 33.6 percent in 2013. Facebook, on the other hand, increased its share to 7.8 percent in 2014 from 5.8 percent in 2013, according to eMarketer.”

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Categories: SMB