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Updated: 4 hours 52 min ago

Your Biggest Security Threat Is Not Hackers: It’s Poor Passwords

Wed, 06/29/2016 - 19:00

There’s a lot of talk about hackers getting into computers, mobile devices and networks. This talk should not be ignored, but one of the biggest security threats is really, small business owners, having poor passwords.

In partnership with LastPass, Joe Siegrist, VP and GM of LastPass, shares his insight on how and why to create better passwords for your business. LastPass remembers your passwords, so you can focus on the more important things in life.

Keeping an organization secure is no longer just the IT team’s job. Today’s digitally connected workplace requires that security is a shared responsibility in order to protect sensitive information at work. For many small business owners, keeping data secure may seem like a daunting task due to the lack of IT staff or budget. However, educating employees on proper password practices is a simple and cost effective way to create a security conscious work environment that limits security risks.

People are inherently bad at creating secure passwords. Left to our own devices, most of us will make passwords that are easy to use and remember, ultimately leaving personal and company information vulnerable to hacks and phishing attacks.

Whether you’re a small business with a handful of employees or a major corporation, companies of all sizes can benefit by following these essential tips for improving your first line of defense online.

Password hygiene.

Most people know they should be updating their passwords, but how often do you really do it? Creating unique passwords and updating them regularly is critical to a secure workplace. If you’re a smaller organization with employees who share password credentials for access to certain company information or applications, make sure you are updating passwords every time an employee leaves the company.

And don’t just “change” each password to the same word or phrase – unique passwords for each website and subscription is key. Everyone knows you should have a long password, and that it should be a mix of characters like numbers, symbols, and upper and lowercase letters. But using a unique password is arguably even more important. Every single online account should have its own password. It’s the only way to reduce the risk of a breach.

Go for passphrases, not just passwords

When you do need to create a password, “passphrases” are a simple way to make a strong one. The key with a passphrase is to string together words or phrases to create one long phrase that’s easy for you to remember, but pretty hard for anyone else to guess or crack. Then you can add in a few random symbols and characters to further increase its strength.

Here’s an example: mydogFido’sbirthdayisNovember19

A passphrase is the best of both worlds: It’s easier to remember because it’s a phrase you can repeat and commit to memory, but it’s also very strong by virtue of its length and mix of characters. Using a passphrase is a simpler way to create a super strong password.

Turn on Two-Factor Authentication

Two is always stronger than one. Whenever possible, turn on two-factor authentication with your accounts; many websites now offer this option for added security. Two-factor authentication requires an additional step before logging into an account, even if the correct password is used – this is usually through a push notification, text message or email that will require the user to verify that they are attempting to login to said account.

The benefit of two-factor authentication is that, should your password somehow be compromised – perhaps in a phishing attack – the attacker still won’t be able to get into the company’s account without the two-factor authentication information.

Add a password manager to your toolbox

The reality is that it’s extremely hard to practice good password habits without something to help you remember, organize, and create passwords. Using a password manager is a great way to ensure company credentials are kept organized, updated and secure. A password manager like LastPass helps centralize passwords in one secure place, and keeps passwords synced where you need them.

But to really get the most out of your password manager, you need to use it to create unique passwords for every single online account. The password generator makes it easy to create a new password whenever you need one, and the LastPass Security Challenge helps you identify old, weak, or reused passwords that still need to be changed. Once your employees are set up with a password manager, it’s critical that they take the next step and update every single password to a better one.

For as long as we continue to use them, passwords are an important part of staying secure online. By following these tips, you’ll make sure your company passwords are working hard for you and doing everything possible to keep your company’s data secure.

In partnership with LastPass, Joe Siegrist, VP and GM of LastPass, shares his insight on how and why to create better passwords for your business. LastPass remembers your passwords, so you can focus on the more important things in life.






The post Your Biggest Security Threat Is Not Hackers: It’s Poor Passwords appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Will The Courts Decide Your Estate Distribution? Lessons From Prince.

Wed, 06/29/2016 - 00:53

Prince’s estate is wroth hundreds of millions of dollars, by some estimates. It’s sad that his entire estate is now in the hands of a judge, because Prince did not have a will. As reported by USA Today there are several people coming out  and saying they are relatives of prince and etc.

While you have the chance, take the time to get your affairs in order and create a will so that YOU can not a judge can decide what happens to your estate.

Get a lawyer to help you.

At the very least, work with an online legal service like CorpNet, LegalZoom, RocketLawyer.

The post Will The Courts Decide Your Estate Distribution? Lessons From Prince. appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Ten Ways Micorosft Office 365 Can Help Streamline Your Business

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 19:00

Microsoft’s Office 365 suite is eliciting quite the buzz from enterprises and small businesses alike. Companies are becoming increasingly more comfortable with the idea of using a cloud service and are intrigued by the software’s ability to increase business productivity at a flexible cost. Four out of five Fortune 500 companies use Office 365’s services, and this trend extending to small and medium sized businesses as well. In Microsoft’s 2015 Annual Report, the company claimed more than 50,000 small businesses subscribed to Office 365 every month for the 22 months preceding the survey. As more businesses begin to implement the service into their everyday operations, it’s important they understand the unique features included in the suite and how to utilize these tools to suite their specific business needs.

With so many businesses using Office 365, it is important for business owners to understand all aspects of the service to get the best result.  Here are 10 ways Office 365 can help business streamline their operations and meet their projected goals.

Coediting documents

Within Office 365, users can simultaneously coedit documents via SharePoint. SharePoint functions as an intranet site where an organization’s important information and files can be stored in a single, secure location. Users can share links to files with other members of the company and view any changes being made in real time. Additionally, individuals can restore previous versions of documents and compare these versions throughout the editing process.

I’ve asked Jamison West, President and Founder of Arterian to share how you can get more out of Office 365. Arterian is a technology solutions provider, specialized in cloud solutions.

Essentially, Office 365 users have access to an archived collaboration platform that avoids the communication silos likely to occur when employees are forced to email documents across the office.

OneDrive for Business and sharing documents

OneDrive for Business enables users to store, access, and share documents on any device with an available internet connection. The feature is integrated within the whole of Office 365, so when a user makes changes to a file, the changes are saved across all applications and devices. Administrators can set access and editing permissions that reflect the structure of the organization and ensure the business adheres to any compliance standards for which it may be responsible.

OneDrive for business also permits organizations to securely share documents with clients, vendors, and partners outside of the company, specifying whether a guest can view, or view and edit, the shared document.

SharePoint Calendars

Businesses can centrally host information regarding company deadlines and events using the SharePoint calendar. This feature mirrors an office’s whiteboard or paper calendar that would be displayed in a communal area. Anyone within the organization is able to view the calendar, which makes it easier to keep track of important dates on a company-wide scale. Like Outlook, SharePoint calendar allows users to schedule single or recurring events. Users can easily add their SharePoint calendars to their Outlook and can overlay Outlook calendars with SharePoint calendars to allow them to see all of their events at once.

SharePoint Notebook

SharePoint teams can create Notebooks specific to their roles within the organization. Shared notebooks can be used to brainstorm projects, aggregate materials and files, record and distribute meeting minutes, and list tasks to be completed. Like the coediting document feature, users can set access and editing permissions, restore older versions of the notes, and coedit pages as if they were in the same room.

This centralized notetaking enables employees and departments to easily collaborate and share information in one place.


Planner acts as a virtual project manager.

The application is displayed on an easy-to-use interface where teams can cooperate, share documents, assign tasks, and coordinate projects. Assigned tasks are represented by “Cards” and each card can include specified due dates, attached files, and corresponding conversations and categories. The Planner “Hub” records and displays the progress of individuals and teams using real-time data analytics.


Delve is a feature of Office 365 that develops a collective display of documents most relevant to users at a specific day and time. The application consolidates data from across the Office 365 platform and uses this information to predict the what resources a user needs and when. Delve allows users to readily access the most popular documents being edited within the organization, as well as develops a home page of relevant information specific to the individual’s role and needs.

If an employee has a client meeting scheduled in their Outlook calendar, Delve will pull any associated documents onto the user’s home page before it begins.

Power BI

Microsoft’s Power BI is a cloud-hosted business analytics service that compiles all of a company’s data into single interface and displays this information on live dashboards that can be tailored to the visual needs of the business. The feature creates insightful visuals using combo and funnel charts, fill and tree maps, gages, and additional data representations that empower organizations to make more informed business decisions.

Power BI works with a variety of storage options, whether the data is hosted on premises, in the cloud, or a combination of both. The feature can be used on almost any device, and its live dashboards can be shared both within and outside the company. Visuals can also be embedded within a company’s blog or website to enhance the presentation and appeal of the organization’s content.

Skype for Business meeting capabilities

Office 365’s Skype for Business can be a valuable asset for any business looking to improve its communication and collaboration capabilities. The application supports instant messaging, voice calling, and video chat on any internet-capable device. Users can continue to communicate uninterrupted while coediting documents, sharing screens, hosting presentations, switching devices, and more.

Skype for Business supports seamless communication throughout all of the Office 365 applications and across a variety of devices.

Easy conference calling

Hosting conference calls is simple using Office 365’s Skype for Business. Users can check the availability status of the people they want to contact, select participants, and begin a conference call all within the application’s user-friendly interface. If another person needs to be added to the call, users can simply drag the person’s name from their contact list directly into the meeting. The application is suitable for both small and large businesses. Users can hold conference calls with up to 250 people and can broadcast a meeting for up to 10,000 participants at once.

Single sign on across several services

Office 365 uses a software component developed by Microsoft that provides users with single sign-on access to numerous online applications during the duration of a session. This feature eliminates the needs for a user to enter their credentials for every application. Single sign-on includes the Box, Citrix, Citrix GoToMeeting, SalesForce, Google Apps, Office 365, and more. Once a member is logged in, they can easily switch between any application until their online session expires.

Correctly understanding these unique features found in Office 365 tools will enable a seamless workflow. However, business owners should take the time to properly assess their employees and company’s needs to determine which Office 365 tools are the best fit.


The post Ten Ways Micorosft Office 365 Can Help Streamline Your Business appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Your Digital Afterlife: How to Manage Your Business’ Digital Afterlife

Tue, 06/28/2016 - 16:00

It’s impossible to know what could happen in the future, but you can (and should) plan for it. The future of your business and its digital legacy depends on how you’ve planned ahead for the unknown. Not implementing a specific plan for your business if you pass away unexpectedly or need to take an extended leave of absence could cause serious problems for your family and business associates, and could ultimately lead to the demise of your business itself.

In partnership with Lastpass, Joe Siegrist, VP and GM of LastPass shares his insight on how to ensure that your business data is safe and secure, long after you’re no longer involved in your business. LastPass remembers your passwords, so you can focus on the more important things in life.

In today’s connected world, the complexity of our digital lives has caused us to think differently about the way we prepare for the unexpected. Sensitive company data like healthcare information, employee records, client contact information and financials could all be lost if they are easily accessible to unauthorized personnel. As technology reshapes interpersonal communication and document storage, it’s crucial for small business owners to make arrangements for what should happen to your digital property after your death.

Here are a few tips for small business owners to manage their digital afterlife and ensure the future safety of their business:

Assess your business’ digital assets

The first step in owning your company’s digital afterlife is maintaining an inventory for business-related digital assets, referring to electronically stored, intangible personal property such as email accounts, social media accounts, and domain names, among others. For those with only a single laptop and one email account, the evaluation may be simple because they may not have many assets. For a business owner whose day-to-day work involves managing employees, clients, vendors, suppliers, and a variety of technology, there are many more assets to address and a clear plan needs to be put in place. Small business owners should catalog passwords and usernames for any online accounts, like those for paying bills, managing payroll and employee benefits, suppliers and vendors, even computer logins and WiFi configurations. Password managers such as LastPass provide and simple and secure option to keep track of these. The question business owners need to ask is: Would someone have access to everything they need in order to step into my shoes and run the business, or to settle my business after my death? All digital assets should be accounted for and securely logged.

Prepare a digital estate plan

When preparing for the unexpected, you want to be sure that your digital assets stay with the business and that someone remaining with the business has the proper authority to access what you leave behind. A digital estate plan is an online document where you can upload wills, trusts and all directives for how to handle your business and assets after your passing. Creating a digital estate plan will help your business’ successor easily locate any accounts you have online and access those accounts or the information in them. They’ll also have clear directions for how to carry out your final wishes. Designate somebody you trust to be your business’ digital heir. This person will need to access your accounts – store any and all information they need in a secure but accessible location.

Protect your passwords

You can save a lot of heartache and hassle by ensuring the person you’re passing your business information down to has all the passwords they need to carry out your plans in your absence. This person will need access to your accounts, so using a password manager for business is a helpful way to store everything in one place. LastPass features a Sharing Center to manage shared passwords and an Emergency Access feature that enables users to easily hand down passwords to their heirs. Your designated Emergency Access contact(s) can request access to your account and securely receive your passwords and notes, so they are able to keep your business running smoothly.

Plan for your social media accounts

If you’re the only person with access to your business’ social media accounts, it will be difficult for someone else to access the accounts when you’re gone. Some social media accounts may also be deleted. To avoid this, you can either give somebody you trust access to your accounts or appoint a legacy contact to manage the account. Some programs, like Google and Facebook, have settings for managing your accounts after your passing. Facebook allows users to designate somebody as a “legacy contact” to manage their account, while Google allows users to pick a trusted contact to receive data from its services including Gmail, Google+, YouTube and more. All websites have their own policy, or lack thereof, so you should make plans for your business’ social media accounts based on how you would like them to continue. Will you pass on your company’s social media account to another team member to control, or have the accounts deleted? Make specific plans for your company’s online persona so it’s clear how to manage it when you’re gone, and make sure those passwords are recorded if they’re ever needed.

Educate your employees

In order to keep your business and its assets safe in your absence, make sure your employees are informed when it comes to security threats. Holding IT trainings, offering general best practice tips, setting them up with a password manager and educating employees about the importance of creating unique passwords can help increase awareness of these potential risks.

Don’t leave the future of your business to chance. The inevitable may be out of your control, but with proper planning you can prepare for your digital legacy and the future of your business.

In partnership with Lastpass, Joe Siegrist, VP and GM of LastPass shares his insight on how to ensure that your business data is safe and secure, long after you’re no longer involved in your business. LastPass remembers your passwords, so you can focus on the more important things in life.

The post Your Digital Afterlife: How to Manage Your Business’ Digital Afterlife appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

10 Ways Instagram Can Help Your Business Find New Customers

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 19:10


My wife has been using Instagram for about a year, helping home school moms (and dads) better home school their children. She started out with zero follows but by being consistent and frequent, relevant to her audience, engaged and watching what works and doesn’t work she’s done a great job in building her following and having a VERY engaged fan base. She’s even able to make money from it with consulting and speaking (that’s coming).

Overall, the power of social media is so important for all businesses to understand and do more of. I’ve asked Kati McGee, SMB Brand Development for Instagram to share her tips on how to get the most out of Instagram.

Small businesses around the world turn to Instagram to capture and share the moments, products, and services that matter most to their business. The community on Instagram is over 500 million strong, more than 300 million of whom use Instagram every single day. Small businesses have always been an important part of this community, using Instagram to turn their passions into livelihoods. Take Janine, a woodworker that turned her hobby into a well-run business of selling custom-made art and furniture creations, or Stance Socks, which breathed new life into a traditionally unremarkable category by dedicating its brand to art and self-expression, posting playful imagery to its Instagram account.

With nearly 50 percent of people following businesses on Instagram and 60 percent of people learning about a product or service on the platform, Instagram is a natural place to introduce people to your business, connect with your community and acquire new customers. It’s never been easier to get started — Just recently Instagram announced a new set of business tools that will help you develop more meaningful relationships with your followers, better understand how content performs and find new customers on mobile

As we introduce these new tools in the coming months, we want to share 10 tips for how to use Instagram to help your business be successful. From creative content to community mentors, we encourage you to experiment and learn in order to identify strategies that work for you and your business.

  1. Showcase your passion — Think of Instagram as your virtual shop window where you can demonstrate what makes your business unique. A picture, after all, is worth a thousand words. It’s the perfect place to showcase your passion and inspire existing and future customers.
  2. Engage your community — Play an active role with your community. Engage with comments and questions on your own posts and use hashtags, location tags and view content your business is tagged in to discover and join the conversation on other community members’ posts. A lot of great small business accounts feature content posted by followers, which helps strengthen the relationship between a business and its most enthusiastic customers.
  3. Establish your voice — Instagram is where people connect around their passions so be authentic and create a visual voice that reflects that of your business or band.
  4. Take your customers behind-the-scenes — People come to Instagram to get a behind-the-scenes look. Use Instagram to tell the world how your business operates, the team that makes it all happen and the effort that it takes to bring your product or service to market.
  5. Get creative with video —The total time people spent watching video on Instagram has increased 150% over the last six months.  That said, lots of people aren’t able to consume sound when on mobile so ensure your video will be engaging with or without sound.  And don’t forget to try out our new video tools like Hyperlapse and Boomerang to create simple and engaging videos.
  6. Choose quality over quantity — Instagram is where people go to connect around their passions and interests. Developing content that is authentic and well crafted will help businesses stand out by fitting in.
  7. Experiment with advertising — To find new customers, consider experimenting with advertising on the platform. Instagram introduced ads to businesses of all sizes in September, and offers all of the same targeting capabilities as Facebook while utilizing the same simple ad buying interfaces. We also offer many ad formats – landscape, up to sixty-second video and multi-image or videos for example. When our new business tools roll out soon, you’ll also be able to promote a post directly from the Instagram app.
  8. Search for inspiration — Businesses have been a part of the Instagram community from the beginning. Follow your business partners, advocates, and influencers in the community whose content may relate to your business or inspire you. What do they do well that you can learn from?
  9. Seek advice and feedback Your community of fellow entrepreneurs on Instagram domestic and abroad is one of the best resources you can go to for advice. Make sure to also visit our Instagram for Business blog or follow our @instagramforbusiness account, which we created as a source of inspiration for the business community.
  10. Keep your eyes peeled for Instagram Business Tools — These tools will give small businesses like yours the support they need to grow. Profiles with a contact button, insights on your posts and audience, and the ability to promote a post from your account on Instagram will make it easier than ever for your business to find new customers.

With these 10 tips in mind, you’ll be able to continue to build your business on Instagram, which is a place to turn your passion into livelihood.


The post 10 Ways Instagram Can Help Your Business Find New Customers appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Smart Hustle Recap: The Importance of Existing Customers, Surcharging Credit Cards, & More!

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 16:52

What part of the sales funnel does your business focus on? Are you constantly looking for and finding new leads? Or is your main goal to nurture your existing leads, so they become customers? Or do you make your existing customers the spotlight of your sales and marketing efforts? Clearly, there is something to be said for investing in all of these areas, but in this Smart Hustle Recap, we just might convince you that focusing on existing customers is the key to growing profit. The Recap also includes stories about surcharging credit cards, learning management systems, and the hidden blocks that are holding you back from the success you deserve. Dive in by learning about the articles below.

The Importance of Existing Customers

These days, people do business with companies that they’ve formed “relationships” with, which means that a focus on existing customers can boost your customer retention, customer loyalty and, therefore, your profit. This article features four best practices for paying attention to existing customers, including how to deepen your relationships, stay in contact, and give your customers exactly what they’re looking for.

Click to read Why and How Successful Businesses Grow Revenue by Paying Attention to Existing Customers

Should You Surcharge?

Surcharging has definite benefits and costs. On the one hand, it helps you recoup the costs of credit card charges. However, on the other hand, your customers might not appreciate these extra fees. This article is designed to help you decide if surcharging is right for your business, sharing pros, cons, considerations, and alternatives to surcharging.

Click to read Surcharging Credit Cards in Your Small Business: What You Need to Consider

Boost Your Training with a Learning Management System

Training is an important part of bringing new employees aboard, implementing new systems and procedures, and keeping all of your team members at the top of their game. Have you ever considered a learning management system? These online systems help you create training programs that standardize the training process in an online e-learning program that you can customize to employees and also use to track their progress.

Click to read Why Your Company Needs a Learning Management System

What Is Holding You Back from Success?  

Do you ever feel frustrated because you seem to be hitting an invisible brick wall – that there is something holding you back, but you can’t quite pinpoint what it is? It’s time to let go of these hidden blocks so you can find the success you deserve! This article reveals three potential sources of your hidden blocks, so you can resolve the issue and move forward in your business.

Click to read 3 Ways to Uncover Your Hidden Blocks to Business Success

Smart Hustle aims to tackle the various problems that small business owners face, whether related to sales, marketing, business operations, technology, or any other area that is crucial to small business success. So what is on the top of your mind these days? Bring it to our attention in the Smart Hustle Community, and for other great stories, visit

The post Smart Hustle Recap: The Importance of Existing Customers, Surcharging Credit Cards, & More! appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

New Staples iPhone App Feature: Interactive Store Maps Makes OmniChannel Shopping a Breeze

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 17:12

The growth in omnichannel shopping is bringing out creative solutions from brands like Staples, which has recently launched an innovative feature for its iPhone app that merges your online and in-store shopping experience. I recently had the opportunity to review this app, so I’ll tell you all about it below, along with some more information about omnichannel shopping.

This article was written in partnership with Staples, an office supplies store that is committed to making it easier for businesses of all sizes to find the products and technology they need to succeed.

Below is a short demo video of how the app works:

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, omnichannel shopping refers to the growing number of consumers who shop both online and in physical stores, often using a hybrid method to browse and buy the products they need. For example, they may start out by researching products online, then go to a local physical store to make the purchase. Or they may see a product in a physical store but then make the purchase online. They may even choose in-store pickup when checking out online, which brings them back from the online realm to the physical store all over again.

Omni-channel shopping has retailers trying to figure out how they can create a seamless experience across all their platforms to make shopping both convenient and fun. Some examples of omnichannel retail strategies include:

  • Apps that save a customer’s shopping cart so they can access the cart again if they switch devices (for example, if they add something to the cart using their smartphone, it will be there later when they come back to the site using their tablet).
  • In-store associates armed with iPads, allowing them to give shoppers more information about products or to ring up customers on the spot.
  • QR codes in print advertisements or on product packaging that allows a person to scan the code with their phone to visit a special URL that gives them more information.
Staples iPhone App – The Latest Omnichannel Retail Strategy

Staples’ iPhone app just got an amazing omnichannel upgrade in its 5.0 update. More specifically, 83 select stores in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Seattle have been mapped out so you can see a complete map of the inside, allowing you to know exactly where products are and plan your shopping trip accordingly.

This new feature allows you to:

  • Search for products within the app to find out if they are available at your local store.
  • Pinpoint the exact location of the products you need, so you know where to find them inside your local Staples store.
  • Plan your route inside the store, so you can find the easiest and most efficient way to grab your items and check out.

The majority of Staples shoppers are omnichannel shoppers, which is why Staples created the new functionality. In fact, statistics show that 70 percent of Staples iPhone app users are omnichannel shoppers, making this the perfect update for those who want an easier shopping experience.

Staples iPhone App – My Review

Fortunately, I live in the New York/New Jersey area where the new functionality has been launched, so I was able to try out the in-store map function. As I mentioned, the function is currently being beta tested for 83 stores in select areas; if you don’t live nearby, hopefully, it will come to your area soon!

My opinion: the in-store map of the Staples iPhone app is a great feature for the busy business owner. Time is money! The app will ensure that you are not wasting any of your valuable time. For example:

  • Check the app before you leave to make sure the product you are looking for is available at your local store. If it isn’t, then at least you haven’t wasted a trip! You can use the app to check availability at other stores nearby, or to make the purchase online instead.
  • If you just walked into the store but aren’t sure where your product is located, just pull out your phone! You’ll avoid wandering around looking lost, and quickly discover where the product is hiding.

The in-store map isn’t the only feature of the app either. You can also use the Staples iPhone app to find store information (like address, phone number, and store hours), view the latest deals and coupons, search and research products, purchase online-only items, or purchase items online and then pick them up in your local store on the same day.

If you ever have to purchase items for your business, whether office supplies, coffee or technology, I recommend downloading the free Staples iPhone app today. Not only is it perfect for omnichannel shoppers, but it’s also great for any business owner who wants an easy, convenient and stress-free shopping experience.

Staples is an office supply chain with a 30 year history of helping businesses of all sizes. Staples promises: “We make it easy to make more happen” with more products, more ways to save, & more ways to shop. The Staples App demonstrates the commitment to making it easier to shop by unifying online & in-store shopping.

The post New Staples iPhone App Feature: Interactive Store Maps Makes OmniChannel Shopping a Breeze appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

YouTube Will Create Your Business Video If You Spend $150 In Advertising

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 23:43

YouTube has a new service, called, Director on Site, which creates professional videos for your business.

YouTube will create a professional video for your business if you spend at least $150 to advertise on Youtube. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

Basically you pick a video template, plan for the video shoot with a video producer who comes to your office and then work with YouTube to advertise your video.

I like it when big companies like Google (who owns YouTube) offer deals like this to small businesses.


The post YouTube Will Create Your Business Video If You Spend $150 In Advertising appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

SH Recap – Market Your Business, Improve Your Sales, and GROW!

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 16:44

Sales and marketing are two of the biggest concerns for small business owners, and admittedly these are two of our favorite topics to cover over on Smart Hustle. In this week’s Recap, we’re sharing some of the best marketing and sales articles recently published that are sure to give you new strategies to think about – Snapchat ads, pitching to the media, negotiation skills training for your sales team, and clever growth hacks used by the most successful startups. If you’re looking to market your business and boost your sales, check out our stories below.



Snapchat Announces a New Advertising Option

If millennials are your target market, you probably know about Snapchat by now. This social media platform is a hit among 18-34-year-olds, who use the platform to share pictures and videos. Snapchat has offered various advertising options for a while now, but on June 13th, they announced a brand new option that shows promise for reaching the millennial market. This article explains your new Snapchat advertising option, and also presents an infographic full of tips on how you can use Snapchat to market your business (both organically and paid).

Click to read New Snapchat Advertising: Target Millennials with Video Ads

Pitching the Media

Another way to market your business is to get coverage in the media. Although small business owners typically don’t have the budget to hire a PR person, the DIY strategy can work when executed properly. This article shares tips on how to pitch the media, including where to pitch as well as the length and timing of your pitch.

Click to read 3 Ways to Pitch Your Small Business to the Media

Improve Your Sales with Negotiation Skills Training

Sales are the most important aspect of building a successful business. Think about it – no matter how great your marketing is, you won’t get very far if your sales team can’t seal the deal. In the days of fierce competition, your sales team must be able to build a strong argument for your product and service, but they also must be prepared to negotiate the final terms and price. This article presents six reasons why you should provide negotiation skills training to your sales team to set them up for success.

Click to read Negotiation Skills Training: Why Startups Need It

Growth Hacks to Try in Your Small Biz

Growth hacking refers to a wide range of activities spread across marketing, sales, programming, and design that help a business grow FAST. Taking examples from successful startups like Apple, Google, Dropbox, Pinterest and more, this article shows you how you can also use growth hacks like referrals, email signatures, communities, piggybacking and more in your small business.

Click to read 9 Growth Hacks from Your Favorite Startups (And How to Use Them)

What do you say – are you ready to market your business and bring your sales to the next level? Get guidance in the articles above and for more ideas and inspiration visit

The post SH Recap – Market Your Business, Improve Your Sales, and GROW! appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Canva Presentations Launches. Is It Time To Ditch Microsoft PowerPoint?

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 16:17

I’ve used Canva for several months. It’s a powerful design tool to create images/designs for your blog, social media and more.

Google Docs has been offering presentations for some time, Prezi just launched Prezi for business and now Canva enables design creation as well. Of course Microsoft Sway is an online presentation tool as well.

So, is it time to consider using a lighter and online tool to create your next presentation?

I’ve used Microsoft Power Point for years, it’s feature rich, compatible with most every computer and is a staple of just about every presenter.

However, if you want something light (and often free) and that’s built online – something other than Microsoft Power Point might b e good for you.

For me, I’m so used to Microsoft Power Point and like it’s outline and text based format, versus, a more visual and graphic format that some of the other tools have.

I’ll continue to use Microsoft Power Point – but hey – maybe one of the other tools could work for you.

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Categories: SMB

What the Microsoft LinkedIn Deal Means for Businesses

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 20:38

On Monday, June 13, Microsoft made a surprise announcement, saying that it had purchased the social media site LinkedIn for $26.2 billion – Microsoft’s biggest acquisition ever. The move has many wondering why Microsoft would make such a large investment and what the future of each company will look like. Although many of the details are speculative at this point, we’re examining these questions as well as what the Microsoft LinkedIn deal means for businesses.

The Reasons Behind the Deal

The purchase of LinkedIn was the first acquisition for Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. In an email, he explained the move, saying:

“With the new growth in our Office commercial and Dynamics businesses, this deal is key to our bold ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes. Think about it: How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market, and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world. It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics.”

Others say that Microsoft sees LinkedIn as a way to access a professional network of over 433 million members, and if they can leverage that platform then they can drive usage for their many business apps and programs. Some say that this is part of a broader shift that has been taking place for a while but had gone relatively unnoticed by consumers – a shift away from PC software to online services for business owners.

The Future of LinkedIn and Microsoft

Although LinkedIn will operate as “a full independent entity within Microsoft” we are sure to see integrations in the months and years to come. However, experts say that these integrations will likely roll out slowly, for fear of alienating LinkedIn users.

Many of the possible integrations were outlined in a presentation to investors. This includes:

  • Gathering data to create complete professional profiles, which you can call up using Microsoft products like Outlook or Cortana.
  • Creating a more intelligent newsfeed so professionals can stay connected with what is happening in their network, industry, and profession – and integrating the LinkedIn newsfeed with Office 365.
  • Connecting the LinkedIn Sales Navigator with Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM to improve social selling.
  • Providing insights about your employees and team members to better understand their capability and productivity.
  • Integrating LinkedIn Learning ( with Office to provide educational experiences and on-demand courses.
What The Microsoft LinkedIn Deal Means for Businesses

First and foremost, the acquisition demonstrates Microsoft’s shift away from the consumer market and toward business customers. It reaffirms that Microsoft is putting businesses first in product creation, so we should see even more online and cloud-based services that improve productivity, efficiency, and connection.

While those who don’t like Microsoft products may find the acquisition annoying, many experts say that the move will be good for businesses. For example, Lee Odden, the CEO of TopRank, says,

“I think the combination of Microsoft, especially Office 365 and Dynamics, with LinkedIn’s network will create opportunities for companies and marketers on several levels. Empowering individuals with customized news, learning and access to relevant professionals, to increased advertising options and sales through Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, are a great start.”

The Wall Street Journal echoes this sentiment, saying, “We now work by toggling between our productivity software and our social networks. But why should the two be separate?”

When announcing the acquisition, the presentation to investors pointed out that Microsoft and LinkedIn share a common mission of empowering people and organizations. If the acquisition plays out correctly, it should create several products, services and features that empower small businesses and improve business operations.

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Categories: SMB

Smart Hustle Recap: Smart Hustle Conference, Digital Tools for Small Business & More

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 16:28

In this edition of the Smart Hustle Recap, we want to talk about an amazing upcoming event for small business owners – the Smart Hustle Conference, which will be held on October 20th in New York City! The official announcement came out recently, so we’re covering the event in our Recap, along with other articles in the categories of marketing, technology, and lifestyle.

Smart Hustle Conference – A Must-Attend Event

Ramon Ray recently announced the 11th Annual Smart Hustle Small Business Conference, a day-long event specifically for small business owners and entrepreneurs. On October 20, 2016, over 400 will gather to learn from some of the smartest small business minds of our time, including Peter Shankman, Joe Connolly, Gene Marks and more. The Smart Hustle Conference will feature lessons, seminars, and an exhibit of the latest small business products and services. Early bird pricing is available until August 20, so click to learn more about the event and buy your ticket.

Click to read 11th Annual Smart Hustle Small Business Conference Launches October 20th – NYC

B2B Marketing Mistakes

We often cover marketing from a general perspective, but if you’re a B2B business, you’ll want to check out this article that is just for you. Mobile marketing is hot right now, but it’s only effective if you do it correctly. The article covers the seven top mobile marketing mistakes that B2B businesses make – and how you can avoid them.

Click to read 7 B2B Mobile Marketing Mistakes that Chase Away Buyers

Digital Tools for Small Business

Let’s be honest – there are way too many digital tools available for the average small business owner to sort through. However, choosing the right digital tools is important to the success of your business. This article is meant to help by offering a three-step system for evaluating, choosing, and implementing digital tools (such as CRM social media managers, project management systems, etc.). If you want to cut right to the chase, Ramon also offers up his five favorite digital tools for communication and connection.

Click to read How to Choose the Right Digital Tools for Your Small Business

The Conversations You Need to Have Before You Start a Business

Starting a business is a decision that will impact the whole family, and we’ve all heard stories of families who have been torn apart, unable to withstand those hard start-up years. To ensure your family makes it through the hard times, there are several conversations you must have upfront. This article covers the three most important discussions to have before you dive into entrepreneurship.

Click to read 3 Important Family Discussions to Have Before Starting a Business

At Smart Hustle, we like to cover a range of topics including marketing, technology, lifestyle, sales, operations, finance and more. If you like staying up-to-date on these topics, then I know you will also love what we have planned for the Smart Hustle Conference! Get more information by clicking that link above, and for other information and inspiration, check out

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Categories: SMB

Prezi Upgrades: Adding Business Features To Power Point Competitor

Mon, 06/13/2016 - 16:00

Prezi the leading “non-linear” presentation creator. Whereas Microsoft Power Point is linear, meaning your points are in a traditional outline format and go from point to point, with Prezi you can have multiple pathways throughout your presentation.

If you have been wanting to “jazz” up your presentations, consider Prezi. But remember, whatever you choose, your digital presentation is only a PROP. YOU are the main actor and your speaking skills should be amzing!

Prezi recently launched the business edition which includes the following features:

  • Advanced Collaboration – Co-editing and commenting features support real-time collaboration and eliminate the need for version control, allowing users to talk to each other directly in their prezis, no matter their location. Prezi Business also stores presentations in the cloud, letting users sort, select, or link them together from a single location. This content can then be shared with colleagues for collaborative development, and with customers who may then bring it into their own organizations to continue the conversation as needed.
  • Prezi Analytics– Real-time analytics give organizations feedback to help sales and marketing departments focus on customers with the highest need. Presenters can employ real-time usage data to determine when to follow up with a prospect, or learn which topics resonated with their audience. Managers can use the analytics leaderboard to track their entire team’s performance and improve productivity. 
  • Integration with Slack — Slack gives Prezi Business users a unique way to enhance collaboration on the presentations they build through the communication channel that has significantly improved business productivity. Prezi users can now receive Slack notifications when  someone has commented on their prezi; when someone has shared a prezi with them; and when someone has edited their prezi. It also sends notifications when their prezi is being viewed and analyzed so they can get real-time feedback from their audience.
  • Remote HD Presenting – Every Prezi Business customer gets their own password-protected virtual meeting room, where they can host remote presentations to be viewed by anyone, anywhere. Remote presentations are smooth and unpixelated. They can be viewed or presented in HD, without the need for screensharing software.

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Categories: SMB

This Is A Sad Day In US History: Let’s All Pause To Reflect and Mourn #Orlando

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 22:16

As I sit at my keyboard, getting ready to report on small business technology news of the day – it feels so inappropriate to do so.

50 (or more) people have been killed today, in America’s largest terrorist attack since 911.

This is a short note, just to acknowledge this horrific, horrific violence.

There will be lots of talk, politics and posturing about all kinds of issues in the coming days.

But for today – it’s a unified sadness at such loss of life in Orlando.

As a Christian, it’s even more sad as those who died are not just “fellow American citizens”, but souls whose life was cut short by another soul.

This is a tragedy and time for reflection and shared grief.

The post This Is A Sad Day In US History: Let’s All Pause To Reflect and Mourn #Orlando appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Screen Capture Gets Easier With Snagit 13

Sun, 06/12/2016 - 16:00

Capturing video and computer images is pretty easy to do, but doing it with full featured software is even easier – enter Snagit 13. Some of the new features include:

  • New design for the capture tool, including an innovative panoramic scrolling capture that lets users capture images tall or wide
  • Updated editor that increases user efficiency in the tool, as well as a new crop and text tool
  • New animated GIF functionality, allowing users to create a GIF from a video recording
  • Improved image stability, which improves performance when dealing with images with 10 or more items on the canvas
  • New callout shapes, magnifying tool and updated stamps, providing more personalization to anything a user snags
  • New webcam feature, with the ability to toggle between webcam and screen video when recording
  • Redesigned video capabilities, allowing users to capture and create videos without being a video pro

If you often capture images and want to do it better – Snagit 13 looks pretty compelling!

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Categories: SMB

GoDaddy Hosting & Ecommerce Helps SmallBiz Owners Set Up an Online Presence

Thu, 06/09/2016 - 15:00

This article was written in partnership with GoDaddy, a company that offers domain name registration as well as hosting and ecommerce services to help you develop your online presence.

The phrase rings out on websites all over the Internet – if you’re a business, “you HAVE to be online!” Although most small business owners will recognize the importance of an online presence, many have held back for fear that setting up and running a website is a complex process that they can’t possibly understand or manage. It’s not true! As small business owner Fred Magnanimi said in a recent Smart Hustle interview, technology is a lot more accessible than many people assume. He set up his website and e-commerce store all by himself and with the tools available today (like GoDaddy hosting and e-commerce services), so can you.

I recently had the chance to review GoDaddy hosting and e-commerce options. My conclusion? These are the sort of tools that empower small business owners to take control of their online presence and reach a larger market. They are affordable, simple to use, and include everything a small business owner needs for success.

Want to know what I think about GoDaddy hosting & e-commerce services? Check out my personal review by clicking play on the video below, plus read on to learn more.

The Importance of Hosting and E-commerce

Before I cover the GoDaddy services and features, let’s talk about why you would need them in the first place.

Hosting (or web hosting) refers to a service where a company (in this case GoDaddy) provides access to, and storage space for, a website. It’s a lot like renting your space. Just like you pay to rent your physical location, you pay a web hosting service to rent your online location. The host gives you a certain amount of storage space (for pages, website content, files, pictures, etc.) and they store your information on a server. When someone wants to view your website, they type in your address, their computer connects to the host’s server, and your website is displayed in their browser.

There are some sites that offer free hosting, but that comes with downsides that aren’t ideal for business. For a few bucks a month (as low as $3.99 with GoDaddy hosting) self-hosting gives you perks:

  • Choose your own domain name (you want to be not!)
  • Fully customize the design of your website
  • Use plugins – tools that extend and improve the functionality of your website
  • Add Google Analytics to learn about your website visitors

It’s clear that any person who is serious about their business should choose a self-hosted site over a free site. And why do you need a website? Because it’s where your customers are and where people will go to find you! Even if you are a local business, your customers (and prospective customers) will want to go online to find your location, phone number, business hours, contact information, menu, and so on.

If you have a product you could potentially sell online, having a website gets even more important. That’s where e-commerce comes in. E-commerce refers to the selling and purchasing of goods online. It takes your website to the next level – not only do you have a site that gives information about your business and your physical location, but you also have the ability to sell your products. This expands your reach and opens you up to millions of potential customers. E-commerce is a natural progression for any local product-based business that wants to expand.

GoDaddy Hosting

GoDaddy offers WordPress hosting services for small businesses who know it’s time they set up a website. WordPress is the most popular website building tool because it’s completely customizable and user-friendly. If you don’t feel comfortable setting up your own site, there are also plenty of WordPress experts out there who can help you get set up. The GoDaddy plans allow you to choose the hosting that is right for your business:

  • Basic Plan – As low as $3.99/month and $7.99/month when you renew, you’ll get hosting for one WordPress site with a capacity for 25,000 monthly visitors and 10GB SSD storage.
  • Deluxe Plan – As low as $4.49/month and $9.99/month when you renew, you’ll get hosting for one WordPress website with a capacity for 100K monthly visitors and 15GB SSD storage, plus extra perks like an SEO plugin.
  • Ultimate Plan – For as low as $7.99/month and $14.99/month when you renew, you’ll get hosting for two WordPress sites with a capacity of 400K monthly visitors and 30GB SSD storage, plus extra perks like malware scan and removal.
  • Developer Plan – For as low as $13.99/month and $24.99/month when you renew, you’ll get hosting for five WordPress sites with a capacity of 800K monthly visitors and 50GB SSD storage, plus extra perks like a free one-year SSL certificate.

If you purchase an annual plan, you’ll also get a free domain (your chosen URL). All plans include free daily backups and one-click restore so you won’t lose your data, plus free 24/7 support for questions and issues.

GoDaddy E-commerce

If you want to sell products online, you can choose GoDaddy’s e-commerce service which includes your website, hosting, and shopping cart. Currently, you can try it for free for the first month then get a discount of $19.99/month for the first year (after that, the normal price is $29.99/month). With GoDaddy e-commerce you can:

  • Easily set up your store, choosing from many customizable themes that allow you to drag and drop product images and add descriptions.
  • Take payments online, with the ability to accept all major credit cards and PayPal. You are only charged a fee when you make a sale, which is 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction.
  • Sales are automatically transferred to your bank account.
  • Enjoy 24/7 support for advice and answers to all your questions.
My Experience with GoDaddy Hosting & E-commerce

There are several things to look for when considering an e-commerce solution for your business. Of course, the specific needs of your business and your goals are most important. But in general, I look for simplicity and the ability to easily add products online. Other things, such as security and integration with other apps, are important as well.

I explored GoDaddy’s e-commerce solution by making a test store of my own. You can see my test e-commerce store here –

In my experience, GoDaddy’s e-commerce was fast and easy to use, allowing just about any business to get up and running quickly to sell online. You can sell through QuickBooks or Stripe, for starters.

GoDaddy’s hosting solution is pretty seamless as well. When I tried out GoDaddy hosting, I wanted to see how easy it was to migrate over to GoDaddy. After entering a few bits of information, GoDaddy’s migration tool took over the rest and began to automatically migrate my managed WordPress site to the GoDaddy platform. From my experience, it will be easy for anyone who currently has a website to switch from their current host to GoDaddy hosting. Doing so will allow you to lock in the low prices and features I mentioned above.

Also, if you don’t have a website yet, I’m sure you’re now amazed at how easy and affordable it is to set up your online site and store. GoDaddy hosting and e-commerce services are perfect for small business owners who are ready to embrace technology and all the perks that come with it – more leads, customers, sales, and profits. The online world is your oyster, small business owner!  It’s time to set up your website or e-commerce store today.

GoDaddy is the world’s largest domain registrar, with over 14 million users worldwide. Their services also include website creation, hosting, design, ecommerce for small business, security, marketing services, bookkeeping, and productivity tools. GoDaddy has 62 million domains currently under management and is committed to empowering small business owners to successfully start, grow and run their businesses.

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Categories: SMB

Choosing the Right POS Technology for Your Small Business

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 20:03

This article was written in partnership with ShopKeep, an iPad POS System used by over 20,000 small businesses in the United States and Canada.

Choosing the right point of sale (POS) technology is one of the many tasks for setting up your small business, and like other areas of building your business, it is complicated by the variety of choices available. There are hundreds of POS systems to choose from, and they’re certainly not created equally. Choose the wrong system and you’ll encounter headache after headache, including lost productivity and unhappy customers. Make the right choice and you’ll streamline your processes, with the ability to simplify and automate tedious tasks that you used to handle manually. In an effort to help you make the RIGHT choice of POS technology for your small business, ShopKeep has just released a free resource called the Ultimate Guide to Choosing a POS System.

Goodbye Cash Register, Hello Modern POS Technology

Historically, the cash register has been the go-to device for ringing up sales. However, today people pay with a variety of methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and even contactless payments. These multiple payment methods make calculating daily transactions much more difficult than simply counting up the cash in your till. POS technology can efficiently handle daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual sales tracking, and it can even perform additional duties, such as inventory management.

The earlier generations of POS systems were PC-based, which came with drawbacks such as software costs, crashes, repairs, maintenance and more. However, technology has progressed so that today small business owners can choose iPad-based POS systems that are cheaper, more reliable, and easy to use.

#Smallbiz owner: learn how to choose the right #POS tech for your #biz in this free @ShopKeep guide.
Click To Tweet

What to Look for When Choosing POS Technology

The ShopKeep Ultimate Guide to Choosing a POS System walks small business owners through what to look for when choosing POS technology. This includes:

  • Usability – The technology should be easy to set up & use.
  • Customer Support – The system should come with 24/7 support.
  • Simple Pricing – You should look for simple, pay-as-you-go pricing.
  • Quality Hardware – The hardware should be both durable and stylish.
  • Cloud Data – The POS data should be held in the cloud and accessible anywhere.
  • Security – The technology should keep customer and business data safe and secure.

The guide reviews these and other important aspects of POS technology. You’ll learn how making the right choice in POS can also help you with sales reports, business insights, accounting, and even building better relationships with your customers.

It’s Time for a POS Makeover

Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in business for a while, it’s definitely time to look at the latest POS systems and update accordingly. The ShopKeep Ultimate Guide to Choosing a POS System features a variety of quotes about payment systems, and this one by Greg Burch, VP of Strategic Initiatives U.S. for the Ingenico Group, really stood out to me:

“It’s crucial for small retailers to keep their payment technology up to date both to ensure security and to let customers pay the way they want to pay. Ultimately, small merchants who don’t keep up with payment technology are likely to lose business to their competitors.”

Your customers ARE looking for the convenience and security of modern systems, where their transaction with your business can run smoothly. Having the wrong POS can make your business look dated, and any mishaps with the POS transaction will cause customers to shop elsewhere.

Choosing the right POS technology can also help small business owners who run brick-and-mortar businesses to streamline their processes.  Since modern POS systems can automate many tedious manual tasks, business owners can become more efficient and productive. This gives them more time to devote to the most important aspects of running and growing the business.

The ShopKeep Ultimate Guide to Choosing a POS System has everything you need to make an informed decision about POS technology. Grab your free download today and you’re one step closer to choosing the right point of sale system for your small business.

ShopKeep is a cloud-based iPad POS System, created by a merchant who was tired of dealing with archaic PC POS technology. ShopKeep features smart, speedy hardware; fast, versatile transactions; inventory management; analytics; staff management; the ability to capture customer email addresses for marketing purposes; and integrations with QuickBooks accounting software, MailChimp email marketing, and the AppCard customer loyalty program. Over 20,000 small businesses use ShopKeep every day; learn more by reading customer testimonials here.

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Categories: SMB

Make It, Ship It, Test It on Social Media, Then Sell It To Your Fans. The Power of MVP Creation.

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 19:29

I was reading the Wall Street Journals article about how designer Michelle Smith, sketched a dress “Selena” and after seeing the interest on social media, decided to accelerate it’s manufacturing.

The Journal writes, “Over several weeks following Milly’s September show, the Selena dress garnered more than the usual attention on social media, particularly, which showed how often people were sharing photos of it. Ms. Smith posted photos of the Selena alongside other dresses from her collection on Sept. 18 and Oct. 20. Both times, interest in the Selena was strongest. “Dat red sleeve flounce doh,” wrote an Instagram follower whose handle is QueenDemakos. Others asked to buy it immediately.

“That’s the beauty of social media for a retail business. You can gauge people jones-ing for something,” Ms. Smith says.”

This story goes to reinforce and echo the power of social media for big and small brands.

Build a minimal viable product, test it online, gauge the reaction, then sell it appropriately.

The post Make It, Ship It, Test It on Social Media, Then Sell It To Your Fans. The Power of MVP Creation. appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.

Categories: SMB

Smart Hustle Recap: Developing the Right Pricing Strategy, Using Color in Your Branding, & More

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 21:43

The Smart Hustle Recap took a break last week as the team celebrated Memorial Day with friends and family. We hope you also enjoyed the unofficial ‘kickoff to summer’ with your loved ones! Now it’s back to work, and we have a lot to share with you from the past couple weeks. The stories featured below cover your favorite topics, including sales (tips for choosing the right pricing strategy), marketing (using color in your branded designs), and other topics that are important to the success of your business. Read on for information and empowerment!


The 3 Biggest Mistakes in Pricing Strategy

Finding the right pricing for your products and services is vital to your success. Price too high and your target market won’t be able to afford your product; price too low and your target market won’t trust your product. To increase sales, you must find the right pricing strategy – and to help you out we spoke with Lisa Hendrickson of Spark City, who shared the biggest pricing strategy mistakes and why you should be careful about adopting the lean startup model.

Click to read Why Small Business Needs to Rethink Pricing Strategies and the Lean Startup Model

Branding: Design & Color

Your branding elements are the visual representations of your business that will drive brand awareness and customer loyalty. Since many of us need help with design, we conducted an interview with Pam Webber of 99designs. In our discussion, Pam gives advice on the role of color in branding and the importance of design for small businesses.

Click to read The Importance of Color and Design When Branding Your Business

Review of Robert Herjavec’s Latest Book

You know Robert Herjavec as an investor on ABC’s Shark Tank, but according to his new book, you DON’T have to be a shark – success is available to anyone who is willing to work hard enough for it. The book touches on issues such as hard work and the importance of selling effectively. As a small business owner, will the book help and inspire you? Should you add it to your reading list? Find out by checking out Ramon’s review.

Click to read You Don’t Have to Be a Shark: Review of Robert Herjavec’s Latest Book on Sales, Hard Work, & More

Do You Have an Accountability Partner?

An accountability partner is somebody who helps you stay on track and reach your goals. It could be a mentor, a group of advisors, a business coach, or some other confidant whom you can turn to for a fresh perspective. Being an entrepreneur means that you are your own boss – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have someone who will help you stay accountable. Find out why you need an accountability partner and how to do accountability the ‘right way’ in this article.

Click to read Why Every Small Business Owner Needs an Accountability Partner

Small Business and Health Insurance

The current rules say that small businesses that have fewer than 50 full-time employees do not have to offer health insurance to employees – but should you offer it anyway? This article looks at the pros and cons of offering employee health care benefits and also shares information on how and where to explore health insurance for your employees.

Click to read Should Small Businesses Offer Employee Health Benefits?

This issue of the Smart Hustle Recap will help you take control of sales with the right pricing strategy, create beautiful branding elements for your company, contemplate thought-provoking topics like health care and accountability, and even add a new business book to your library. In addition to that, there are plenty of other stories you may have missed in the past couple weeks while we took a break from our weekly Recap. Take a few minutes to catch up at

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Categories: SMB

Social Media and Websites: How Businesses Can Get it Right

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 20:08

This article is brought to you in partnership with Verisign, the global leader in domain names and internet security.

When today’s customer wants to learn more about a business, the first place they usually turn is the Internet. This has made an online presence essential to a brand’s success. Setting up both a website and social media accounts means when customers enter search terms in Google, information about your company will appear.

But merely having an online presence isn’t enough. Studies have shown that businesses that actively engage customers can expect to grow 40 percent faster than they would if they didn’t have an online presence at all. The first step is to online success is choosing a domain name, but the work only begins there. Here are a few steps you should take to build and maintain an active online presence.

Putting Your Domain Name to Work

Once you’ve registered a domain name, you’ll likely begin immediately working to publish a winning website. But there are several different ways you can use this domain name to build your business’s online presence. Building and launching a new website that shows off your products or services is one of the most common ways. But there’s another option.

Instead of building a new website, you can actually redirect your domain to an existing website. This could be an existing platform for your business, like a WordPress or Blogger blog. However, you can also redirect a new domain name to a social media site, which can act as your business’s temporary landing page. While having both a website and social media presence that work together is ideal, sometimes new businesses can’t realistically do both in their early, more formative days.

Starting on Social Media

For any new business, social media is a great way to set up on an online presence at no cost whatsoever. Social media sites come with a built-in base of potential customers, making them the perfect outlet for testing the online waters. However, unlike your own website, you won’t have the level of control you’ll have with your own website. By registering your business’s web address and directing it to point to one of your social media accounts, you’ll be able to set up your online identity, build your brand, and market your business with a professional web address that customers can easily remember.

Of course, social media is at its best when it’s being used as a marketing tool. As soon as possible, though, brands should begin working on developing and deploying a website, which will give a brand optimum control. With so many drag-and-drop-based website development tools, businesses can create their own websites without even calling upon a design professional to help. Once a website is in place, a brand will have the benefit of a scalable online presence that can be updated as needed.

Once designed, your business’s website should serve as your central hub, providing a place for customers to go when they need information. All of your other marketing efforts should drive customers to that website to engage, learn, and, hopefully, buy. Over time, your website and social media presences will serve to complement each other, offering similar information but in different ways. Your business should use its website alongside its social networking efforts to connect with customers and get the word out about the great work you’re doing.

This article was written in partnership with Verisign, the global leader in domain names and internet security. All opinions and experiences expressed are my own.

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Categories: SMB