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Just a little over a month after its release, WordPress version 4.7 has been downloaded over 10 million times, according to the official WordPress.org blog. WordPress Version 4.7 was released to the public on December 6, 2016.WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan”
WordPress 4.7, nick-named “Vaughan” in honor of legendary American jazz vocalist Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan, made significant improvements to previous versions of the popular blogging platform.
According to WordPress.org, Vaughan brings your site to life with immersive featured images and video headers in a brand new default theme dubbed “Twenty Seventeen.” Twenty Seventeen focuses on business sites and features a customizable front page with multiple sections.
You can personalize the default theme with widgets, navigation, social menus, a logo, custom colors and more.
“Our default theme for 2017 works great in many languages, on any device, and for a wide range of users,” writes WordPress lead developer Helen Hou-Sandi in a post announcing the release of Vaughan on the official WordPress.org blog.
Check out the video below for key features of WordPress 4.7:WordPress 4.7.1 Security Update Available
While Vaughan has been enthusiastically received since its release in December, developers say versions 4.7 and earlier are affected by at least eight security issues and a number of bugs. To fix these issues, WordPress developers this week announced the immediate availability of WordPress 4.7.1 security and maintenance updates. WordPress 4.7.1 also fixes 62 bugs from 4.7.
Websites that support automatic background updates are reportedly already beginning to update to WordPress 4.7.1. If your business website has not automatically updated, you can download WordPress 4.7.1 or head over to Dashboard -> Updates and simply click “Update Now.”
“This is a security release for all previous versions and we strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately,” explains WordPress Core Contributor Aaron Campbell in a recent post announcing the release of WordPress 4.7.1.
This article, "WordPress 4.7 Reaches 10 Million Downloads, Releases New Security and Maintenance Update" was first published on Small Business Trends
Like its subject, the man who took McDonald's from a single burger shop to a globe-straddling child-fattener, John Lee Hancock's The Founder can't stop selling. The first fast-food kitchen, set up in 1953 by the solemn McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, gets celebrated here as rousingly as John Glenn's first orbit in Hidden Figures .
Yelp’s second Small Business Pulse survey reveals millennials expect 69 percent more revenue growth than their older counterparts for 2017.
Minority-owned businesses are also feeling positive about their growth. They expect 49 percent more revenue growth for 2017.Most Businesses Say 2016 Was a Good Year
It may come as a surprise, but most businesses felt 2016 was actually a pretty good year for them.
According to a majority of respondents (68 percent), business performance met or exceeded their expectations last year.
And despite all the strong reactions it elicited, most millennial respondents felt the 2016 political climate benefited their business.Businesses Expect a Lot From the New Government
As the new administration takes office in 2017, businesses are hoping for some big bang reforms.
Reducing their regulatory burden (44 percent) is on top of their wish list. Furthermore, they want the new government to reduce the complexity of the tax code (31 percent) and ensure they have access to capital (28 percent).What Businesses Perceive as Their Challenges
Although they are in an upbeat mood, businesses acknowledge the challenges facing them.
Most businesses (57 percent) say attracting and retaining customers is going to be their biggest challenge. They are also worried about managing a limited marketing budget (35 percent) and competition from larger businesses (31 percent).
The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Yelp. For the study, 1,191 Yelp-listed businesses were surveyed using an email invitation and an online survey.
Millennials Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Yelp Report: Is This the Year of Millennial and Minority-owned Businesses?" was first published on Small Business Trends
Want to make your business more efficient, reputable and profitable? That might seem like a lofty task, but there’s one key thing that can lead to improvements in all of those areas.
That thing is: collaboration.
Collaboration is not just a nice thing to do. By fostering a collaborative environment you can drive better bottom line results. Here are five key benefits of collaboration for small businesses.More Efficient Processes
Have you ever encountered an organization where “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”?
What happens in such an environment? Lots of duplicated activities. Things fall through the cracks. Someone drops the ball on something, and a mini crisis ensues. Employees end up having to re-do work or fix errors that could have been avoided in the first place.
And what’s the impact on the company? Projects take longer to finish. Customers are unhappy and may go away. The company ends up spending more time, people resources and money than necessary, hurting the bottom line.
But through better collaboration, your employees gain clarity in their roles. Clarity helps each person know what they are supposed to do. They know what others are doing — or not doing. Clarity through collaboration frees employees to focus on specific parts of your mission, at specific times — without costly overlap or gaps. Things flow more smoothly and get done right the first time. And that means lower costs for the business, and faster turnaround times.
And the good news is, inexpensive technology tools can aid collaboration. Cloud collaboration tools like Microsoft Sharepoint eliminate gaps and make hand-offs of activities easier to do. Processes flow more smoothly. Get good collaboration tools in place, and your team can work together in a way that’s effective, leading to more efficiency.Better Communication
If you don’t have a true collaboration system for your team, that likely means that your team has to rely on communication methods like phone systems, text chat or email. While phone and email are essential, they can lead to fragmented, incomplete or siloed information.
Instead of important information being readily available to all those in the organization who need to know it, it’s buried in individual inboxes. Or one person was told about something, but never shared that with others on the team who need to know.
In short, despite all the communication tools, you have an information gap.
But with one of the many cloud-based collaboration options available like Microsoft Teams, for example, information is more widely available to everyone who needs to know. Remember, information is only valuable if it’s available to the right people at the right times, so they can make use of that information for your business.Tapping into Employee Strengths
When you encourage your employees to work together on projects, you also get the benefit of each person being able to work on activities that are most suited to their specific strengths. Projects can be divided up more effectively based on skills. In other words, you are able to tap into your employees’ strengths.
When employees are doing work they are suited for and good at, they will do a better job. And they will achieve more – for themselves and for the company.
This gets you improved productivity over the long run and also saves you money on things like hiring and training new employees.Access to Better Workers
Through use of cloud collaboration tools, you widen the potential pool of employees. For instance, with today’s collaboration tools like Yammer, you may be able to hire more remote workers who otherwise wouldn’t want to relocate. Also, employees may be able to work from home a few days a week (something important to those with family obligations).
In essence, you can attract and retain valuable workers by giving them geographical flexibility.
Instead of limiting yourself to just those in your immediate area, you can hire the person who’s best for the job, regardless of their location. And if you’re able to hire the best possible workers, you’re more likely to get more done and be more effective as a business owner.More Satisfied Customers
There’s a direct correlation between happier, more effective workers along with more efficient processes — and the level of satisfaction among customers.
When you have team members who are happy at work, good at what they do and able to work in an efficient way, that will translate into better service for your customers as well.
Once again, the benefit of collaboration tools like Skype for Business in the mission of satisfying customers is clear. In a recent Twitter chat David Smith, Microsoft’s VP of worldwide SMB sales, tweeted that nearly half of small businesses think that cloud collaboration and similar cloud based tools have led to more satisfied customers.
— David Smith (@DavidSmithSMB) November 10, 2016
Make 2017 the year that you increase collaboration to improve your company. Investigate and implement a collaboration tool, and you’ll see payback on multiple levels.
At the time of this writing, Anita Campbell is participating in the Microsoft Small Business Ambassador program.
Teamwork Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "5 Benefits of Collaboration In Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends
As some people have had to learn the hard way, chicken isn't vegan . Lucky then, that Temple of Hackney is on hand for London's vegans, opening a permanent vegan chicken shop.
Just as there are B2B business opportunities on main street and in big urban areas, similar opportunities exist that are mainly online. The internet offers so many different opportunities for entrepreneurs that you can build a B2B business entirely on the web. And there are no shortage of options out there either. Here are 50 different B2B businesses you can start online.Online B2B Business Ideas Virtual Call Center
Businesses that handle a large call volume can often use the help of a call center. And you can start one that works mainly online.Virtual Assistant
You can provide a variety of different services for businesses and work completely online as a virtual assistant.Ecommerce Order Fulfillment
To help ecommerce businesses fill and ship their orders, you can start your own fulfillment service and communicate with business clients online.Ecommerce Consultant
You can also help ecommerce businesses just by offering consulting services where you look over their sites and provide tips or suggestions for improvements.Virtual Accountant
For financially savvy entrepreneurs, you can start your own accounting business and offer services to business clients virtually.Payroll Service
Or you can get even more specific and start your own payroll platform for businesses with paid employees.Tax Service
Many businesses can also use help with tax preparation. So you could start an online business that caters specifically to that need.Web Designer
If you’ve got an eye for design, you could start your own web design business and put together sites specifically for businesses.Logo Designer
You could also specialize in designing logos and other basic branding elements for business clients.Niche Graphic Designer
Or you could focus on basic graphic design for a specific industry or niche.Social Media Manager
For social media savvy entrepreneurs, you can start your own business by offering to manage social accounts for other businesses.Social Media Consultant
Or you could take on a lesser role and simply offer consulting services for businesses looking to step up their social media efforts.Social Media Influencer
There’s also another way to leverage social media to build a business. You can build up your own social media account, and even if you target messaging to consumers, you could offer promotional opportunities for brands on your accounts.Business Coach
More generally, you could offer business advice and coaching services to other businesses online.Business Plan Writer
Or you could simply offer to write business plans for clients who reach out to you online.Business Blogger
For those with marketing expertise, you can offer consulting services specifically related to online marketing.Press Release Service
You could also show off your writing skills and help business clients get press coverage by starting your own online press release service.Copywriter
Copywriters can specialize in a variety of different types of content. So you can start your own online business where you specialize in writing anything from online ads to product descriptions.Freelance Blogger
You could also offer your writing services to other businesses looking to produce quality blog content as a freelancer.Ghost Blogger
Or you could offer your services as a ghost blogger, where you provide copy that is published under another name.Editor
In another capacity, you could provide editing services to other bloggers or businesses that produce online copy.Proofreader
Or you could get even more specific and simply offer proofreading services to other entrepreneurs like authors or bloggers.Online Course Creator
Online courses are another great way to earn revenue online. You can set up your own online classes that are specifically aimed at business clients.App Designer
For entrepreneurs who are especially tech savvy, you could start a business where you develop apps for business clients.Mobile Consultant
You could also provide consulting services to businesses looking to leverage mobile technology in their marketing or overall strategies.Online Event Promoter
If you’re interested in building an events business, you could start one where you mainly promote events on social media and other online platforms.Social Media Recruiter
Recruiting isn’t normally just an online business. But with social media platforms like LinkedIn and even Twitter, you can build a recruiting business that operates mainly online.Online Research Service
Or you could provide research services to businesses looking to enter new markets or release new products.Online Advertising Consultant
You could also help businesses looking to take advantage of all the online advertising options out there by offering consulting services in that area.Online Advertising Designer
Or you could provide actual design services for those businesses looking to take advantage in online ads.IT Consultant
For tech savvy entrepreneurs, you could help other businesses with their tech issues by providing virtual IT support or consulting services.Software Developer
In addition, you could develop software programs to sell to businesses or even work on custom projects for specific business clients.Financial Consultant
Financially savvy entrepreneurs, you could provide consulting services for businesses looking to organize their expenses and investments.SEO Service
Businesses that operate online could also often use some help with search engine optimization. So you could provide a service that helps them get their website and various other online entities found online.Online Fundraiser
Or you could work with businesses, non-profits and other organizations as a fundraiser that works to raise money through various online platforms.Niche Business Site
If you want to build a website specifically for business customers, you could choose a specific niche and make money through a membership program or even ads or affiliate links.Online Sales
For skilled salespeople, you could offer your services to business clients and work to increase their sales online.Lead Generation Service
Or you could get more specific and offer services to businesses looking for online leads to increase their sales.Eco-Consultant
Since environmental issues are impacting businesses in many different industries, you could offer your expertise to business clients as an eco-consultant.Stock Photographer
If you want to build a photography business that caters to other businesses, you could take stock photos and sell them online to businesses looking to add great visuals to their websites and other content.Video Marketing
Or you could focus more on creating video content for businesses that want to leverage YouTube and similar online platforms.Video Editor
You could even get more specific and just offer editing services for businesses that want to use video marketing and can actually shoot their own footage.Custom Illustrator
For artistic entrepreneurs, you could offer your talents to businesses online as a custom illustrator offering hand-drawn logos or similar visuals.Business Lender
You could also help other businesses succeed by offering some startup capital as an online business vendor.Crowdfunding Platform
Or since crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular fundraising method, you could start your own crowdfunding platform to help businesses get the startup capital they need.Domain Reseller
Pretty much every business needs its own website, which means they need a domain. You could purchase various domains and then sell them directly to businesses online.Ebook Author
If you’re interested in writing a book aimed at business readers, you could turn your content into an ebook and then sell it on various online platforms.Translation Service
For those entrepreneurs who know more than one language, you could offer translation services to businesses that need documents or other items translated online.Voice Artist
And if you have a strong or unique voice, you could offer your services to businesses looking for voiceovers or similar voice work. And if you have the right equipment, you can even record it on your own and send it online.
Tax Accountant Photo via Shutterstock
Social Media Photo via Shutterstock
Light Bulb Photo via Shutterstock
If we listen to conventional wisdom, businesses should be using TV, radio and online banner ads to attract new customers. But when it comes to local businesses, these channels simply aren’t as effective as turning to local marketing.
Many local businesses are finding that hyperlocal advertising — in any media channel that is primarily focused on the needs and issues of the people in that immediate vicinity or community — are more effective than traditional mass-market ads.
Community-based newspapers and magazines, metro blogs, online neighborhood community platforms, plus out-of-home advertising (OOH) like posters at bus stops and digital screens at the gas pump are all good examples of powerful hyperlocal channels.
Let’s take a closer look at why they work so well.Why Hyperlocal Advertising Works Local Tribes for Local Brands
In the digital age, it’s become easier than ever for small businesses to gain global attention. But is this really the right way to go? It depends on what niche you’re operating in, but in many situations, what local businesses really need are more local customers. The smart use of targeted, hyperlocal advertising can be a powerful way to connect you with a growing, passionate, local tribe.
Because local businesses generally have more budget limitations than the bigger players in the market, they must invest their advertising dollars more strategically, focusing solely on the most effective channels. For many local businesses, this means investing in hyperlocal media to get immediately in front of a local, relevant audience.
This strategy works, because people are paying loser attention than many marketers realize — especially when presented with contextually relevant opportunities as they move throughout their daily lives. This is definitely the case when we’re outside: Research from the Outdoor Media Association found that consumers are 2.5 times more alert when they are out and about than when they are at home consuming content on their own screens.
You can also create a powerful branding tool when you tap into a culture that’s unique to a local community. For example, a bank that advertises a good luck message to the local college team will be viewed as a relevant partner in the community. Finding these local events, associations and hot topics can help local businesses engage prospects in a more relatable manner.
As a local business, your marketing should feel local. Take advantage of local stereotypes that could help personalize your marketing campaign, as well as any challenges that you’ll need to factor into your campaign planning. Does your area get hit with a lot of snow? Create a campaign around that challenge and offer customers a “snow day special.” Find out if there are any local events that may be relevant to your campaign, or local partnerships that could provide a mutual benefit. Understand that in order to build a loyal local customer base, it’s important to be viewed as a part of the community. Hyperlocal advertising is a great way to achieve this kind of relevance.Rediscovering OOH in the Local Context
As mentioned earlier, OOH works especially well on the hyperlocal level, simply because it adapts to how people are living and moving through their cities and towns — with billboards and signs near transit hubs and along the main traffic routes, and smart screens in stores and public spaces with lots of foot traffic.
Consider these statistics about the power of out-of-home ads:
Video screens are great for OOH advertising, largely because they’re great for other engaging, locally relevant information too. Location-based video screens often offer content relating to local events, traffic and weather information, nearby special offers, and useful tips and recommendations. For instance, grocery stores can include recipes that highlight ingredients that are on sale for the week. This translates to a better experience for consumers, which is absolutely necessary for better, sustained engagement.
In addition, OOH gives businesses the chance to place visually engaging messaging in strategic locations — such as at the front of the store in full view of checkout lanes — when customers are most bored with the shopping process. According to research from Millward Brown and supermarket video ad platform Impax Media, digital signs are better at capturing attention and promoting specific items than static ads. Not only that, but they resonate well with customers:
Solutions like Impax’s represent a milestone in OOH advertising. Retailer content drives the programming mix, while additional non-retail information like local weather and news, event listings and other information keeps customers’ attention while they wait. By giving people the information they find most useful alongside relevant ads, it’s easier for brands to create strong positive associations in the customers’ minds. And brands can tailor their content based on locale-specific attention data, translating to higher relevance and engagement.
As we navigate what marketers are calling “the attention economy,” this kind of in-retail OOH ad delivers exactly that attention, in a way that shoppers find interesting and enjoyable.A Holistic Local Media Mix
The most effective advertising strategies for any brand must take a holistic media approach. OOH ads, in the context of a larger media strategy, can make all your advertising more effective by reinforcing it on the local level.
When advertising includes a hyperlocal out-of-home element, its impact spikes. As the chart below from UK-based OOH trade group Outsmart demonstrates, the return on traditional media is compounded when combined with OOH advertising:
Local OOH placements also perform better than any other paid media types when it comes to audience recall:
The strategy behind where and when to use OOH is based on a simple idea: People in certain contexts will be more likely to pay attention, remember and take further action — such as making a purchase, for example — than others. For instance, customers who are already in a store are more likely to make purchase decisions that stray from their original intent — and to take advantage of relevant on-the-spot offers.
If you go into a store to buy a new coffee maker, it’s reasonable to think that you’re also going to buy coffee beans and coffee filters; while you’re there, you may also see an in-aisle ad for doughnuts and think, “Mmm, I could go for a doughnut with my coffee in the morning.” You didn’t originally intend to purchase those doughnuts, but the advertising, viewed in the right place at the right time, influenced you to make the purchase.
It’s also straightforward enough to augment your offline local ad buys with online ones. Facebook Ads, for example, allows you to target people based on location, and you can combine these geo parameters with other targeting methods to reach only the people who are truly most likely to benefit from your product.
Google’s new Map Ads feature allows businesses to advertise in map search results, promote locations with map pins, and connect those map pins with in-store promotions. If you’re using promoted pins, you can customize your local business page to highlight products that are currently in stock in a way that’s easily accessible to prospects — with the end goal of getting more physical traffic to your store.
With local, targeted, social campaigns, brands can reach customers as they journey their way through various cities and towns, and keep their attention afterward by using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for continued engagement.Putting It All Together
For local business, it all comes down to finding and engaging the local customer, in a way that enhances (rather than disrupts) their everyday experience in the community. Context provides powerful motivation to make purchases, and is the key to making products and services more relevant. Using local insights along with local reach is the fuel behind hyperlocal media like community publications, events, targeted ads and OOH media.
Going local delivers highly relevant and highly targeted offers throughout the various stages of the customer’s journey, both literally and metaphorically. When done correctly, your customers will feel like you’re speaking directly to them, understanding what they want and need in a highly personal way. When this happens, you’re fostering higher brand affinity and bringing people closer to doing business with you.
Locals Sign Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Why Hyperlocal Advertising Works So Well for Local Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends
Engaging customers is tricky business. But a well-designed landing page can make your life easier. It can significantly increase conversions for your pay-per-click (PPC) and email marketing campaigns.
But what exactly is a landing page and how can you use it in your business?What is a Landing Page?
In plain terms, a landing page is where a website visitor “lands” on. The visitor could be directed to it from a social media link, online ad or newsletter.
A landing page is meant to limit the visitor’s options by presenting specific information. By doing so, it aims to optimize conversion. Most marketers use landing pages for sales announcements, contests and product launches.
If done well, a landing page can generate leads and give you more bang for your buck.How Can Small Businesses Use Landing Pages Effectively? Be Specific
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and picture this. You see an interesting restaurant ad about lip-smacking seafood from Korea. But when you click on it, you are taken to a page that talks about seafood, in general.
How would you feel? Will you stay on the page for long?
Presumably not, and who can blame you? When users don’t get exactly what they are looking for, they tend to lose interest. That’s why, it’s very important to not beat around the bush and be specific.Include a Clear Call to Action
So let’s assume you create a specific landing page that provides the exact information to the visitor.
What next? What do you want the visitor to do now?
Go back to the goal that you set for the landing page. For example, if you created the landing page to announce a special offer on Korean seafood dishes at your restaurant, add a call-to-action that explicitly mentions that.Keep it Simple
Don’t make your customer scroll down the page too much for all the information you want to provide. Reduce text and strike the visual balance to keep your customers intrigued.
You may also add some bullets to capture your key messages. Remember a clutter-free layout draws more attention and serves your overall purpose.Tools to Create Your Own Landing Pages
There are two ways to create landing pages: you hire a web design company or you simply do it yourself. Luckily, the second option is easier than you can imagine.
Here are some tools worth exploring.
LeadPages is user-friendly for beginners and marketers who want to save time. It also has some cool templates to explore.
Unbounce is a bit more sophisticated option. It has several options in a drag and drop format.
Instapage is great for those who can’t spend too much time on creating landing pages. It takes about ten minutes to get one done.
PageWiz is yet another option for beginners. It features in-depth analytics and A/B testing.
Landing Gear Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "What is a Landing Page and How Can I Use One for My Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends
In a recent blog post, venture capitalist Jason Lemkin made an interesting point about the valuation of seed stage companies. He said that the right valuation for a seed round is “one-third or less of what the next round investors will pay … If not, it’s a bad deal. It’s way too much risk versus the next round. Anyone logical would wait and invest later.”
Jason is proposing a decision rule for early stage investments that is based on his experience. The rule is based on how the risk of loss changes as start-ups develop. Whatever a company is worth when its exit occurs is the same regardless of when the investors put their money in. What changes is the valuation at which investors buy their shares and the probability that the positive outcome actually occurs.When to Invest in a Startup Company
There are three possible scenarios, each of which affects the best timing of when to invest in a startup company. If the valuation of the businesses rises proportionately to the increase in the odds that a business will have a positive exit, then it’s a wash whether you invest early or you invest later. The risk adjusted value of your investment is the same at both stages.
But if valuations rise more slowly than the probability of a positive exit, then you are better off investing later. The risk adjusted value of your investment would be higher for the later stage investment than for the earlier stage one because the valuation of the business did not keep pace with the fall in investment risk.
On the other hand, if the valuation rises faster than the probability of a positive exit, then you are better off investing earlier.
Jason’s experience suggests that the probability of a successful exit and valuations tend to triple between the seed stage and Series A rounds, which is where he gets his one-third or less ratio from. He’s probably right, on average, for the SaaS companies in which he invests.
However, the really interesting situations occur when his one-third rule does not hold. For instance, there are probably some industries in which it is systematically better to be a later stage investor than an early stage one because valuations tend to rise more slowly than the probability of a positive exit. My gut tells me that companies selling to businesses are more likely to be in this camp than companies selling to consumers. Companies that sell to consumers often see a rapid rise in valuation when their product “takes off.”
My intuition is also that it is generally better to be a later stage investor in the biomedical world than in the software world. Valuations tend to rise more slowly than the probability of a positive exit in the biomedical world than in the software world because biomedical products have more binary outcomes and face a larger number of later-stage threats to their success (e.g. regulatory approval) than software businesses.
The venture capital cycle might also affect the odds that the one-third rule holds. A valuations have risen dramatically in the last two years, nearly doubling in inflation-adjusted terms. At the same time, there is no evidence that the odds that start-ups achieve a positive exit has changed much over the same period – the fraction of new businesses getting acquired or going public has not increased much at all. Thus, in the past two years, valuations have tended to rise more quickly than the odds of a positive exit. As a result, investors would have been better off investing at the seed stage rather than at the Series A stage in recent years.
Business Owner Photo via Shutterstock