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Small business events dot the map this week. From Atlanta, which of course hosts Digital Summit Atlanta to New York, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, events for small business owners and entrepreneurs seem to be happening everywhere. Other events include “Winning the Game of Business — Entrepreneur Night,” several HackerX events aimed at connecting tech talent with some of the most innovative companies, and “BizBash Five,” a South Florida expo.
Where you attend depends greatly on your location and, of course, your personal interests as an entrepreneur. But no matter what, you’ll be looking for the whole small business schedule for this week and beyond to make up your mind. To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.Featured Events, Contests and Awards
Digital Summit Atlanta
May 24, 2016, Atlanta, Ga
Join us for the ultimate digital marketing and strategy event in the south! If you’re involved at all with online marketing, digital strategies or web creative – this is a can’t miss event.
DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award
June 14, 2016, Washington, DC
The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club®, celebrates the success of small business and honors its contributions to America’s economic growth. The Small Business of the Year, 7 regional finalists, and 100 Blue Ribbon winners will be honored on June 14 during America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. There are two ways to participate: 1. Nominate a local small business that’s making a big impact in its community. 2. Apply directly if you are a small business that’s committed to your community, employees, and customers.
Small Business Market Expo & Job Fair
August 27, 2016, Atlanta, Ga
Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with small businesses, market your organization and tap into a network of entrepreneurs, service providers, financial organizations, business coaches, and franchises.
VIP (25% off)
Orlando Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Events in Atlanta, New York, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale this Week" was first published on Small Business Trends
Technology offers plenty of opportunities for businesses to make things like marketing and managing a team easier. But with so many different tech tools out there, it can be difficult to even know where to start. For tips on utilizing technology to better your business, check out the list below from members of our small business community.Achieve Better Business Performance With Wearable Tech
Wearable tech products, like Fitbit products and the Apple Watch, are gaining popularity among consumers. But they can also have legitimate applications in a business environment. In this SBA post, Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell explains a bit about why wearable tech might be able to positively impact your small business.Use Twitter to Steal Customers from Your Competitors
You likely already know that Twitter can be a great tool for promoting your products and services to potential customers. But you can actually get even more specific with it to target the right customers and grow your business. Michael Akinlaby explains more in this post on the Social Marketing Fella blog.Don’t Fall for These Bogus Social Media Beliefs
To effectively use social media for your small business, you need to stay up-to-date with all of the latest trends and techniques. That means that you can’t fall for the bogus beliefs listed in this Strella Social Media post by Rachel Strella. You can also see discussion surrounding the post over on BizSugar.Measure Reader Engagement and Loyalty Using Google Analytics
Google Analytics isn’t just a great tool for measuring website traffic. You can use some of the features to actually get an idea of your reader engagement and customer loyalty, as Neil Patel details in this post.Keep Up With Instagram Trends
Instagram recently got a whole new look. But the actual functionality hasn’t changed – yet. In this post on The Social Media Hat, Mike Allton discusses the possibility of future Instagram changes that could impact business users. And BizSugar members discussed the post further here.Use Video Production to Market Your Business
Online video is a growing marketing tactic for businesses, even those that aren’t based completely online. In this Optimize Worldwide post, Marlene Slabaugh explains why video production can benefit small businesses.Read These 30+ PPC Blogs
Blogs can be amazing sources of information for all different aspects of running a business. The blogs listed in this post by Amy Bishop on the Clix Marketing PPC Blog all focus on providing information about PPC. BizSugar members shared thoughts on the post here.Know These Social Media Facts
Social media is always changing. So it’s important that you know all the latest data about the platforms that you use for your business. This SteamFeed post by Mandy Edwards includes some social media facts that you should know right now.Use Facebook Video to Engage Your Audience
Social media and video content can both be great methods for interacting with potential customers. And you can actually have the best of both worlds by utilizing Facebook’s video feature to engage your audience, as Monique Craig details further in this RightMix Marketing post.Take Advantage of These Gmail Tips
Managing your email can be a time consuming task. But with the Gmail tips explained in this Process Street post by Vinay Patankar, managing that crowded inbox can seem a bit easier. For more commentary on the post, check out the discussion on BizSugar.
If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business Tech Photo via Shutterstock
As small businesses change and grow, the ability to quickly scale up — or down — becomes a necessity. Adding new employees, for example, requires the company to adapt its phone system to accommodate the need for more lines.
That is harder to accomplish using traditional on-premise telephony systems due to higher setup and maintenance costs, the need for hardware on-site and reliance on IT support. A cloud-based phone system, on the other hand, would enable small businesses to manage communication services in a less costly, more streamlined and agile manner.
The following points, gleaned from an email exchange between Small Business Trends and Aaron Charlesworth, VP of product marketing at Vonage, outline the benefits that small businesses can accrue by switching from traditional PBX systems to cloud-based VoIP technology.Benefits of a Cloud-Based Phone System 1. Fully-Integrated Communications System
A report from the research firm Gartner points out that integrating a company’s communications with its everyday applications for business processes and workflows helps increase efficiency.
Business tools that operate in the cloud are easy to deploy, enabling employees to stay connected whether they are in the office or on the go. In this way, the cloud provides a consistent business presence and helps to increase productivity with seamless access to CRM tools, email, instant messaging, voice and videoconferencing.2. Control Over Modes of Communication
A cloud-operated system puts businesses in the driver’s seat, allowing them to pick and choose what features they need, with access to turn them on or off easily.
Also, cloud solutions give employees anytime, anywhere access via a smartphone, desk phone or softphone to all their calling features. Even better, they can have real-time access to their critical business software.3. Top Line Business Features
A cloud-based phone system would give small businesses access to the types of network applications that one would typically find at larger corporations. These include features such as a Virtual Assistant, Auto Attendant, Never Miss a Call or Call Center solutions.4. Mobility and Ease of Use
Today’s workplace is increasingly mobile, and small businesses especially need to be able to operate from multiple locations.
With a cloud-based system, small business employees have access to features that allow them to log in from anywhere so that they can be reached while on the go, giving customer-facing and revenue-producing employees greater control over their productivity.5. Time Management and Efficiency
Web-based customer portals enable IT staff to manage their system more efficiently. With insight into the installation, service configuration, trouble tickets, training, billing and call analytics, this full access to a customer’s system and account allows them to spend fewer resources on project management and focus more on work that adds to the bottom line.
Also, cloud solutions can easily integrate with other cloud-based applications, providing mobile employees access to all the features and functionality they need to work just as efficiently as if they were in the office.6. Flexibility to Scale Up (and Down)
As a business grows, so does the need to hire new employees, open new offices and onboard new customers. This requires a communications system that can scale up — or down — as the need arises.
With a cloud-based phone system, businesses can add as many extensions as they need to accommodate heightened call volume, or, if necessary, simply call in to deactivate these extra extensions. Unlike traditional systems, businesses only pay for the extensions they need for as long as they need them.7. Business Continuity
Working with a phone system “in the cloud” allows businesses to remain connected to their customers no matter the environment. A cloud-based communications system is likely to be unaffected by outside factors such as severe weather or other issues that may keep employees from getting to the office.
With a cloud-based system, businesses can maintain a consistent presence — and access the tools needed — to keep things running smoothly.8. Improved Customer Service
With the Virtual Receptionist (VR) or Auto Attendant feature, businesses can easily direct calls to various departments and even create greetings unique to a given department.
For example, a business could set up a holiday greeting in advance (via the administrative portal) and pre-set it to revert to the non-holiday greeting on a specified date. It could also add an on-hold message about special promotions or commonly asked questions.9. New Service Features Added Easily
During busy seasons, some businesses will add premium calling features to increase call-taking efficiency and maximize staffing. Call Groups, for example, allow incoming calls to ring on multiple extensions.
Call Queues provide a “dynamic waiting room” for callers that let businesses customize the on-hold experience and better manage call volume. Both help to decrease voicemails, missed calls and busy signals, enabling service to as many callers as possible.10. Cost Savings
Cost savings are another benefit of cloud-based phone system. Moving telecommunications off of PBX platforms and to the cloud can be less expensive relative to monthly service rates versus that of a traditional system, helping to reduce costs and, ultimately, increase profitability.
Cloud Phone Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Top 10 Benefits of Switching to a Cloud-Based Phone System" was first published on Small Business Trends
The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience Into Your Competitive Advantage, according to Roland Smart, is about ushering a new “Age of the Marketer” complete with a new purpose and toolset. Specifically, the book discusses how marketers can get ahead of the trends through collaboration, flexibility, and a powerful shift in mindset.What is The Agile Marketer Is About
Marketers, according to The Agile Marketer, are facing an increasingly complex and evolving marketplace. On one side of this marketplace, you have customers who have more control, more options, and less time. On the other side of the “marketing department”, which is often tasked with reaching out to these customers with a myriad of constantly evolving tools (often with little to no help from other departments).
In short, there is a big gap between where marketing is and where it could be.
It’s why marketing is so hard in the “Age of Customers” in the first place. Technology, globalization, and attitudes are all changing the ways marketers and customers interact. While many books have attempted to make sense of those, most stick to one of two solutions:
1. Focusing on vague concepts like “engagement”
2. Attempting to prove ROI through numbers (aka metrics).
Unlike the above options, The Agile Marketer says marketers need to change their process in order to survive. The specific process the book endorsed is the Agile process, an approach adopted from software development that focuses on incremental changes based on feedback, collaboration, and flexibility.
Using the Agile marketing approach, marketers don’t focus on broadcasting their message to the largest audience possible, as in the past. The goal is customer nurturing using technology and products that are fine-tuned for efficiency. The key is having marketers with cross-functional support and a deep knowledge of current and prospective clients. In this scenario, marketing serves as a bridge to customers, rather than a byproduct, of product development
Roland Smart breaks all of this down into a marketing context through the book demonstrating how a company can adopt the Agile approach and a particular specialized approach within the Agile framework known as Kanban.
Roland Smart is the current VP of Social & Community Marketing with Oracle after serving in executive-level businesses (some of which he founded) and board member for several topics related to marketing.What Was Best About The Agile Marketer
The best part of The Agile Marketer is the new approach offered by marketers in a rather confusing environment. As noted above, most books focus on either vague concepts or metrics as the key to marketing success. The Agile Marketer book argues that neither metrics or enhancing your engagement isn’t enough. Businesses need the right process (in this Agile) to make use of customer data and drive engagement.What Could Have Been Done Differently
The book does a rather thorough job of breaking down how a business could implement Agile processes in their business. That being said, the book isn’t a beginner’s guide to using the Agile approach. Rather it is a discussion of the key components and rationale for using it.
In other words, Roland Smart makes the case for using Agile. He doesn’t detail how to tailor it a reader’s specific needs.Why Read The Agile Marketer
If you are a marketing executive who wants to improve the efficiency of your marketing team, The Agile Marketer will introduce you to the philosophy and need for an adaptive and customer-oriented marketing approach rather than a “Let’s just make funny cat videos and hope someone clicks on our link” approach. The Agile Marketer provides a strategic alternative that will work with books like Hooked: How to Create Habit-Forming Products or The Three-Box Strategy: A Strategy for Leading Innovation. If you ever wanted to see how continuous innovation would look on a day-to-day level, this book might provide some guidance on the approach to get started.
This article, "The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience Into Competitive Advantage" was first published on Small Business Trends
Billy Sims BBQ will celebrate its grand opening in Burlington, IA on Saturday, May 14th. In honor of the opening, restaurant founder and legendary football player Billy Sims will make an appearance...
(PRWeb May 13, 2016)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/05/prweb13409486.htm
Juice It Up! promises to enlighten taste buds with the launch of its Nirvana Matcha Green Tea Smoothie. Juice It Up!’s mantra is to Live Life Juiced and the brand strives to transcend flavor and functionality by creating products that not only taste great, but are also chock-full of antioxidants, proteins, and nutrients. Available for a limited time, this creamy and refreshing beverage features an uplifting and healthful blend of Matcha Green Tea powder, raw spinach, banana, nonfat milk, and nonfat frozen yogurt.Chains: Juice It Up!
There’s a dynamic and emerging trend in America and that is healthy fast food. Arizona-based food+juice restaurant Grabbagreen has signed its second franchise deal in Dallas with franchise group, Prometheus Worldwide LLC. The new franchise is led by Eric Tautfest and Todd Everett who will develop the six locations in the Dallas and Forth Worth market over the next few years; opening their first Grabbagreen in downtown Dallas in 2016.Chains: Grabbagreen
LinkedIn is advising some 100 million users reset their passwords after data from a 2012 breach of the social network surfaced earlier this week.
In 2012, the platform fell victim and LinkedIn was hacked in an attempt that compromised millions of accounts (6.5 million to be exact), exposing members’ passwords and publishing them online.
LinkedIn assured its members at that time the compromised passwords were not published with their corresponding email logins and that the vast majority of passwords remained encrypted, although a subset was decoded.
It also conducted a password reset campaign for the affected accounts and advised all members to change their passwords.
All was well — until this past Wednesday, May 18, when LinkedIn made this announcement on its official blog:
“Yesterday, we became aware of an additional set of data that had just been released that claims to be email and hashed password combinations of more than 100 million LinkedIn members from that same theft in 2012.”
According to the post, LinkedIn is taking “immediate steps” to invalidate the passwords of the impacted accounts. The company said it will contact users who need to reset their accounts. LinkedIn also affirmed that there was no indication that this was the result of a new security breach.
If your account was affected, you will need to reset your password. Also, it’s not a bad idea to enable a two-step verification, a feature that LinkedIn provides, to better ensure the safety of its members.
These are steps all LinkedIn members may care to take, regardless if they fell victim to the breach or not.
For more information on protecting your password, refer to this Small Business Trends article, LinkedIn Security Breach: A Reason to Change Your Passwords (At Least!).
This article, "LinkedIn:100 Million Now Affected by Release of Data from 2012 Breach" was first published on Small Business Trends
Bruegger’s Bagels, known for its authentic New York–style bagels prepared in the traditional method using just five simple ingredients, has named its top baker in the company’s first Ultimate Bagel Bake-Off held during its annual conference at the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh.Chains: Bruegger's Bagels
Potbelly Sandwich Shop will bring a second location to Toledo, Ohio, opening later this year in a unique three-story building at 413 Madison Avenue in the downtown area. The widely acclaimed neighborhood hangout is known for its signature toasted sandwiches, hand-dipped milkshakes, and live, local music.
Potbelly shops have earned a reputation in communities across the United States for having delicious food, fun décor, and fresh tunes. Local resident Jeff Gibbs, the shop’s franchise owner, also owns the existing Potbelly location in Toledo at 4038 Talmadge Road.Chains: Potbelly
Popular search-focused email client CloudMagic has added a useful feature to its service. The feature known as Sender Profile was specifically created to aid those who receive lots of email from people they don’t know. Similar to services like the newly launched Connect from Clearbit for desktop email or LinkedIn’s Rapportive, CloudMagic email app allows users to quickly view a summary of information about the individual who sent the email, including their location, job title, social profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook as well as their place of work.CloudMagic eMail App Tells You “More”
Cramming all this information into a mobile email client application can be difficult, given the small amount of space available on the screen. Therefore, instead of trying to present all of the sender’s information on the screen, the application displays a more subtle notification. When you receive an email from someone you don’t have in your contacts list or someone who hasn’t emailed you before, Sender Profile subtly places a small summary below the email message. If you want to know more about the person, click the “Know More” link and a pop up card will appear with more details about the sender.
In addition, the feature allows you to access the sender’s profile at any time by tapping on their contact picture right from your inbox.CloudMagic eMail App Keeps You From Being A Stalker
CloudMagic says that it created this feature because it takes too long to stalk someone using social media. The company says that Sender Profile will save you a solid 10 minutes of searching per email.
Another CloudMagic email app feature small business users might find interesting is its email integration that allows users to attach or save emails and files directly to their favorite productivity apps.
Both the email integration and Sender Profile are possible features for businesses that receive lots of emails on a daily basis. Sender Profile isn’t free though, as users have to part with $24.99 per year. The beauty of it is that it will work on all your devices — Mac and mobile. It also works with Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Exchange, Google Apps, iCloud and all IMAP accounts.
This article, "CloudMagic Creates Sender Profiles from Recent Emails" was first published on Small Business Trends