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Trump, Republicans plan regulatory cuts

SmartBrief - Mon, 2016-12-05 15:12
President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that he may halt current regulatory activity and roll back regulations passed unde -More
Categories: Latest News

How franchises can manage joint-employment concerns

SmartBrief - Mon, 2016-12-05 15:12
Franchisees and franchisors are concerned about the joint-employer issue, although the new administration could provide some  -More
Categories: Latest News

Whiten Your Teeth and Give Yourself Flawless Skin with this Selfie App

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2016-12-05 14:30

If you’re looking for the perfect selfie image that looks a cut above for business profiles or company websites, the new Facetune 2 app is one option.

The original Facetune app offered photo retouching for selfies and was known for its easy to use interface and powerful image-editing and beautifying tools. This made it a popular photo app on the App Store, and the second version appears to offer even more features.

In addition to fixing blemishes, red-eyes, whitening teeth and changing shapes, Facetune 2 claims to have other updates too.

A Peek at the Latest Facetune App

The first noteworthy feature is Live Preview, a way to view the modifications you make to your selfie before saving the image. You can now see if you have made your teeth a little too white, or have gone a bit too far in using the face-reshaping tool.

The Live Preview feature compliments Relight, another feature that lets you control the light source illuminating your image. With this tool, the app’s developers claim you can dramatically change the mood of any picture by simply adjusting the lighting and where that originates.

If you like creating caricatures with your image — not appropriate for some business profiles perhaps — face manipulation has been improved with a 3D modeling engine that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI). The apps developers claim it can quickly identify and determine your natural facial structure and manipulate it for a desired affect.

These features and more including perfect eyes and smiles and flawless skin features, professional tools, artistic tools, and magic mirror camera features are available with different pricing structures.

You can get each tool a la carte with an in-app purchase from 99 cents to $2.99. And if you want to subscribe, you can start at $3.99 per month or pay $19.99 for a full year.

Facetune 2 is available at the iTunes App Store.

This article, "Whiten Your Teeth and Give Yourself Flawless Skin with this Selfie App" was first published on Small Business Trends

Opportunity Fund Targets Minority Businesses, Loans More Than $60 Million in 2016

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2016-12-05 13:00

Small businesses in California that can’t access capital through traditional lenders have another option. Opportunity Fund is an organization that provides microloans to small businesses. Since it was founded in 1994, the organization has loaned more than $164 million to more than 5,500 businesses.

And in its 2016 fiscal year, Opportunity Fund provided over $60 million in loans, with a special focus on helping minority owned businesses, though that is not a requirement to obtain funding.

Small Business Opportunity Fund Loans

Anna Suarez, Small Business Marketing Director for Opportunity Fund said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “Opportunity Fund’s philosophy is that small amounts of money and financial advice can help people make permanent and lasting change in their own lives, driving economic mobility and building stronger communities.”

David Anderson is one entrepreneur who has taken advantage of Opportunity Fund’s microloans. Anderson is the owner of Sage & Company, a business that sells household items like mops and cleaning equipment at events.

Anderson said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “When the recession hit, everything changed. The distribution channels like home shows where I sold products wouldn’t bring in as many people, but costs remained high. So it was difficult to keep up with inventory and other costs.”

So when Anderson heard about Opportunity Fund, he applied for a small loan and used it to build up his inventory so that he could have a more reliable supply of products.

Anderson also appreciated the ability to access a small amount of money. In the past, when he had tried to work with larger financial institutions, he said he actually had a more difficult time securing a small loan from banks that normally work in larger amounts. Opportunity Fund’s median loan size is $18,000.

And for some small businesses, securing any amount of money from traditional banks or lending institutions can be difficult or even impossible. But to work with Opportunity Fund, businesses just need to be located in California and be in business for at least a year with credit that is currently on time. Even if you have past credit issues or no credit history, Opportunity Fund will consider your loan.

Suarez says, “Most Opportunity Fund borrowers are unable to obtain funding from traditional financial institutions, so they seek an Opportunity Fund loan due to our specialization in affordable and responsible small business microloans and our understanding of their circumstances from having worked with thousands of similar borrowers.”

Image: Anderson with a customer at a home show

This article, "Opportunity Fund Targets Minority Businesses, Loans More Than $60 Million in 2016" was first published on Small Business Trends

Saladworks refreshes brand with innovative technology, featuring Life Bar kiosks

FastCasual.com - Mon, 2016-12-05 12:59
For those who are technology savvy who don't want to sit through a queue, speed is more important than human interaction.

Dodge considers return to NASCAR

AutoNews - Mon, 2016-12-05 12:03
Dodge wants to get back into NASCAR, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Sunday. "Yes I'd love to," he said. "I talked to Jim France (executive vice-president of NASCAR) about this just last night."
Categories: Latest News

50 Tips for Marketing Your Business This Holiday Season

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2016-12-05 11:30

The holiday season is upon us. And it provides many unique opportunities for all different types of businesses to market to customers in new and unique ways. Whether you own an online business, a local store, or even a B2B company, there are ways you can promote your business throughout the coming months. Here are some ideas you can use to market your business this holiday season.

2016 Holiday Marketing Ideas Include Coupons With Purchases

The holiday season is a great time to garner some repeat business. And you can do that by including a coupon or special offer in each purchase so that customers can take advantage at a later date.

Cross-Promote With Other Businesses

You can also use a similar strategy to attract customers from other local businesses. Just exchange coupons or go in on a special offer and give those items to shoppers at each store.

Host a Thank You Dinner

If you have some really loyal customers or clients, you can say a special thank you at the holidays by taking them out to a lunch or dinner.

Partner With a Local Charity

You might also want to do some charity work during the holidays. If you have a local business, you can invite representatives from a local charity to collect money or share their message at your location for a day.

Donate Money to a Cause

Or you could simply choose to donate a portion of your profits throughout the holidays to a particular group or cause.

Invite Santa Claus

People love visiting Santa Claus around Christmas time. So you can invite him to your store or business to attract some families who are out shopping.

Exhibit at Holiday Shows

You can also get your products in front of more eyes by showcasing them at special shows or events throughout the holiday season.

Offer Gift Wrapping

Whether you sell products in a retail store or online, your customers are likely to want some of their purchases gift wrapped. So you can offer that as an extra service or even as a complementary add-on.

Publicize Your Returns Policy

When people purchase gifts, they want to know that they can be returned if by chance it doesn’t work out. So you can create a flyer for your store or display your policy prominently on your website so customers know what to expect.

Hand Out Hot Chocolate

For local businesses, handing out hot chocolate or other seasonal beverages can be a great way to spread some cheer and attract passersby.

Create a Fun Lights Display

You can also show off your spirit by creating a festive lights display that people will go out of their way to visit.

Create Holiday Window Dislays to Attract Customers

Or you could use your store windows to create a festive environment that also showcases some of your popular holiday products.

Let Kids Decorate Cookies

You can also get the kids involved in the holiday festivities. Host a cookie decorating party or give them a similar activity they can do while their parents shop.

Have a Party for Another Holiday

Holiday parties are incredibly popular around Christmas. But you could make yours stand out by celebrating a different holiday, like Bake Cookies Day on December 18 or Bacon Day on December 30.

Send Early Cards

If you plan on sending out holiday cards to customers or clients, you can also make those stand out by sending them out early.

Contact Bloggers Who Make Gift Guides

If you have products that could make great gifts, you can get them in front of more potential buyers by getting in touch with bloggers and asking them to feature your items in their holiday gift guides.

Give Away Free Samples

For those businesses that sell food items or anything that customers might want to try out before buying, giving away free samples can be a good strategy to encourage more sales and get more people through the door.

Have a Pampering Station

Holiday shopping can be stressful. So if you want to create a great experience for stressed out shoppers, you could offer some kind of pampering activity, like massages or guided meditation.

Hold a 12 Days of Christmas Sale

To keep people shopping throughout the holiday season, you can host a special sale where people can get specific products or deals for twelve days leading up to Christmas. You can even throw in some fun themed days to really get people into the spirit.

Give Away Stocking Stuffers

For those shoppers who are trying to finish off their holiday shopping, little stocking stuffers can be a real attraction. So you can give them away with each purchase or offer them at a discounted rate for people who spend a specific amount on other items.

Put Up Stockings for Customers

You could also help customers feel more connected to your store or business by displaying stockings or similar items with their names on them. Even little paper stockings can help you decorate your business and reward customers for shopping with you.

Play Christmas Music

You can’t create a festive environment without a little holiday music. Create a custom playlist or find a radio station with holiday music that really sets the perfect mood for your customers.

Decorate Your Website

Even if you only do business online, you can still show off your holiday spirit. Add some holiday inspired elements to your website, like snowflakes, a flying Santa, ornaments and more.

Send Out Festive Emails

You can also cater your email marketing efforts specifically to the holiday season. Add festive titles and touches that will appeal to those in the holiday spirit.

Display Holiday Themed Art

For local businesses, you can dress up your store and support local artists by displaying holiday themed art at your location. You can even offer it for sale to help those local artists find buyers.

Offer Gift Cards

Gift cards are very popular around the holidays. So you can offer them to your customers and make sure to display them prominently around the checkout area so even last minute shoppers know they’re an option.

Include Gift Card Bonuses

If you do sell gift cards, you can make it an even more intriguing option by offering bonuses. For example, you might include a $5 gift card with the purchase of a $20 gift card.

Create a YouTube Video

Video marketing is a great way to attract new customers throughout the year. And the holidays are no different. You can even create a themed video that shows off your holiday spirit with a song or a spoof of some popular holiday stories.

Host a Twitter Chat

For B2B or online businesses, you can get more customers involved around the holidays by hosting a special Twitter chat on a holiday related topic.

Have a Photo Contest on Facebook

On Facebook, you can encourage your followers to get involved by asking them to share their favorite holiday photos. You can even make it into a contest to give them an incentive to participate.

Create an Instagram Hashtag

If you want to increase engagement on Instagram throughout the holidays, you can create a specific hashtag that people can use to show off how they use your products in holiday gifts, recipes, parties and more.

Update Your Logo

Your logo can offer you a really simple way of showing off your holiday spirit. Just add some holiday themed elements or even just change it to a holiday color scheme just for the season.

Offer Extended Shopping Hours

During the holidays, you’re likely to do more business than you normally would the rest of the year, so it might be a good idea to extend your store hours on some popular shopping days just to offer a better experience for some customers.

Include Free Shipping

For online stores, free shipping can also be a very effective way to get more customers to actually purchase from you during the holiday season.

Sponsor a Holiday Event

For local businesses, look for local events like parades, races or other popular destinations and see if they accept local business sponsors. This can be a great way to get your business in front of more potential customers.

Offer a Grab Bag of Gifts

Some holiday shoppers just aren’t sure what to buy. But you can help them out and offer a sort of fun experience by offering grab bags or surprise gift items that they can purchase at a discounted rate and unwrap to reveal later.

Put Together Gift Baskets

You can also potentially sell more of your products by bundling or creating gift baskets that include multiple items in one.

Create a Holiday App

For mobile businesses, you can create a holiday specific app that’s catered to holiday shoppers or offers a holiday-specific experience.

Offer Gift Delivery

Even for local businesses that don’t normally ship products, you can offer to ship or personally deliver gifts for busy customers around the holidays as an extra service or offering.

Change Product Names

Whether you have a product based business or even a restaurant with specific menu items, you can show off some festive spirit by changing the names of your products to something that works with the holiday theme.

Have an Ugly Sweater Contest

Ugly sweaters are a big part of the holiday season for many consumers. So you could have a fun contest in your store or online to reward the customer with the ugliest one.

Create Holiday DIY Projects or Recipes

The holidays are a big time for people to get creative with homemade gifts, recipes and more. So if any of your products might work in those types of projects, you can create a tutorial and post it online.

Launch a Local Search Campaign

Local search is also very important when it comes to attracting local shoppers who are looking for specific types of businesses. So it can be a great time to run a local search advertising campaign.

Suggest Product Combinations

For people who are looking to make multiple purchases but aren’t necessarily sure exactly what they want to buy, you can make suggestions based on the items they’ve browsed or the items in their online cart.

Start a Remarketing Campaign

You can also target past customers or people who have browsed products on your site already by taking advantage of remarketing options.

Create a Holiday Themed Landing Page

For any holiday marketing campaigns, it can also be a good idea to set up a special holiday landing page. This can show off any themed promotions and also help you measure the effectiveness of those campaigns.

Have a Secret Online Sale

To reward your email subscribers or best customers, you can have a secret sale that you don’t publish anywhere else. This can make them feel important and give them the opportunity to get a really great deal.

Launch a Holiday Blog Campaign

If you have a blog for your business, you can also create themed blog posts to show off gift ideas, recipes and more.

Make a Downloadable Holiday Resource

You could also make a downloadable resource, like a shopping guide, recipes or even an ebook that customers can access on your website or through email.

Give Client Gifts

And finally, giving gifts to your best clients, customers and colleagues throughout the holiday season can be a great way to show your appreciation and create a great experience for all.

Snow Globe Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "50 Tips for Marketing Your Business This Holiday Season" was first published on Small Business Trends

What To Consider When Joining A Hotel Association

Hotel Interactive - Mon, 2016-12-05 11:03
Multiple Departments Need To Weigh In On This Critical Decision For Your Hotel

With weak traffic, casual dining targets catering, takeout and lunch

Nation's Restaurant News - Mon, 2016-12-05 11:01
Chains look for new areas for sales Chains look for new areas for sales

read more

Fast food franchise owner buys Richmond mansion

Topix - Mon, 2016-12-05 10:54

A Ginter Park mansion built for a granite magnate and on the market for more than a year was among the five priciest home sales in the Richmond area last month. While the early November sales of the 10,000-square-foot Windemere mansion and the 40-acre Walnut Hill estate in Rockville snagged the month's top and third spots, at $3.5 million and $1.49 million respectively, the century-old Gresham House at 3501 Seminary Ave. rounded out the top five as the fifth-highest sale at $1.3 million.

Categories: Today's Food News

Sushi Burger: This Japanese fusion food trend has foodies going crazy on Instagram

Topix - Mon, 2016-12-05 10:54

From improvised version of grilled and fried patty to traditional tuna and salmon variety, world is going crazy over this Japanese fusion food trend. Japanese food is known for its precision, intricacies and amazing presentation.

Categories: Today's Food News

Habit Burger CMO chats about taking the California brand national

FastCasual.com - Mon, 2016-12-05 10:54
Matt Hood, CMO of Habit Burger Grill, chats with Tim Tang about what it takes to expand a regional concept nationwide.

YouTube Users, Would You Switch to Twitch?

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2016-12-05 10:30

Twitch’s plan to have a piece of YouTube’s pie is no longer a secret. The Amazon-owned video-streaming platform has been adding more and more services that have traditionally only been available on YouTube.

In August this year, Twitch updated its video upload feature, allowing users to upload videos directly to the platform. This means that streamers can now apply their production and video editing skills to archived clips for their audiences.

The company also made it possible for Android and iOS users to create and share clips from live streams within the Twitch app. And now, the company has made things even more interesting by announcing a slew of improvements to the manual upload feature.

The content creators who have been testing Twitch’s new Uploads Open Beta are now set to enjoy new language settings, increased tag character limits and wider support for common video file formats.

In addition to the existing MP4 support, you can now upload H.264-encoded videos in FLV, MOV and AVI formats. These are, of course, only half as many as YouTube supports, but it’s definitely a step that will accommodate the needs of many users.

The company has also fixed a whole lot of glitches, including a bug that caused videos to restart near the end of their runtime and issues that kept users from uploading custom thumbnails.

While Twitch cannot boast of having all the features that YouTube has, its continuous updates of competitive features shows how serious they are in competing with YouTube. And though Twitch is mostly used for video gameplay, some entrepreneurs like Chris Pirillo already have a presence there.

YouTube or Twitch?

In your opinion, is it possible that Twitch’s moves to compete with YouTube might attract more business users — particularly businesses connected to the gaming industry?

Image: Twitch.tv

This article, "YouTube Users, Would You Switch to Twitch?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Radisson Grows Its Presence In California With A Hotel Opening Near The Oakland Airport

Hotel Interactive - Mon, 2016-12-05 09:48
MINNEAPOLIS—Radisson, one of the best-recognized hotel brands, today announced the opening of Radisson Hotel Oakland Airport. The recently refreshed hotel has ...

Bing Adds Holiday Hours for Business Listings

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2016-12-05 09:30

As the holiday season gets into full gear, businesses of all sizes are keeping odd hours. Whether you are shopping for a last minute gift or you just need to grab a bite to eat, the Bing holiday hours feature will let you know who is open and when.

Bing Includes Holiday Hours on Business Listings

According to Bing, it is collaborating with business owners and trusted partners in order to provide consumers with real-time accurate holiday hours.

All you have to do is search for local businesses on Bing, and if the hours of operation have changed for the holidays, you will receive the latest update. With Christmas and the New Year fast approaching, this can be a very useful tool so you won’t waste time searching for businesses that are open.

If you want customers to discover your business on Bing local, it only takes three simple steps, and best of all, it is absolutely free.

First, claim the listing of your business. In most instances, Bing probably has a listing for your business, and if it doesn’t you can add a single or multiple locations.

Second, complete your listing profile, which includes hours of operations amongst other details, such as services and contact information.

Third, verify your listing and you will receive a PIN on your phone, email or place of business to protect it from unauthorized changes, and you are done.

If you are a small business and don’t use Bing as part of your overall digital presence, you should consider adding it. According to Forbes, Google currently has 64.5 percent of the US search market share, while Bing, which also powers Yahoo, has 32.6 percent, so it is a considerable portion.

Bing has stated on its blog the business hour feature is now available on desktop and mobile for all of the holidays moving forward.

Images: Bing

This article, "Bing Adds Holiday Hours for Business Listings" was first published on Small Business Trends

VW's new Moia brand hires high-profile former Daimler executive

AutoNews - Mon, 2016-12-05 09:27
VW Group's new mobility services brand, Moia, has hired Robert Henrich from Daimler as its chief operating officer. Henrich launched Daimler's Car2Go and is one of the leading figures in car-sharing services.
Categories: Latest News

BMW sees battery costs weighing on EVs

AutoNews - Mon, 2016-12-05 08:52
BMW sees no quick way to boost profit from electric cars, with battery capacity and cost set to weigh on EV development for the foreseeable future.
Categories: Latest News