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Do I Need a Business License for Remote Employees?

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 15:30
Sponsored Post

Your small business is growing nicely, taking on more and more clients and gradually increasing revenue and profits. In order to sufficiently cater for its growth and additional workload, you’re contemplating taking on remote workers.

By recruiting remote employees, you’ll benefit from having access to a wider pool of talent without geographical restraints, and from a number of cost savings, such as no additional office space to pay for.

However, despite the many benefits taking on remote employees brings, it is not without its potential issues and problems. One primary issue is related to compliance and licensing, an important aspect of remote working that a small business might not anticipate.

If you are deliberating rolling out a remote team that operates from a different state than you do, take a look at some of the biggest compliance/licensing issues and what small businesses need to be aware of.

Be Aware of Payroll Requirements for Remote Workers

If members of your team work in different states than your own, the general rule of thumb is that the employees must pay taxes to the state where they are located and where the work is carried out.

Known as the ‘physical presence’ rule, you must withhold state and unemployment taxes in the state where your remote staff members work, even if your business or main office is located in a different state.

However, the same rules are not applicable in every state. In certain states, remote workers are subject to paying income tax in the state where they are located and work and the state in which their employer operates.

Things become even more complicated if an employer works part of the time from home and part of the time in the company office — in two different states! Due to the complex nature of such a situation, it is advisable to seek advice from a tax expert.

Consider Foreign Qualification Requirements

Foreign qualification involves companies applying to be able to carry out business in a state other than the one where their limited liability company or corporation was set up. Depending on the type of business you run, you may need to apply for foreign qualification if your employees work in states other than the one where your limited liability company or corporation was formed.

In addition to applying for foreign qualification, further compliance may also be required. For example, you may need to file an annual report through a registered agent who has a physical address in the state where your employees operate so you can receive legal documents on behalf of your business.

You May Need Permits for Remote Workers

Certain states require employees who are working from home to acquire a home occupation permit. It is important to check county zoning or local city laws where your remote employees are operating to see whether a permit for remote workers is required.

Be Mindful of Issues Related to Tax Nexus

‘Tax nexus’ refers to the scenario in which a business has a tax presence in a state which is not its principle location. Your business may need to comply with the income, sales and use and other tax laws of the states where your remote employees are operating. This does however depend on the type of work your remote employees are doing.

Be Compliant with Privacy and Data Security

Remote employees rely on wireless networks, mobile devices and other technology and practices potentially making business and employee data vulnerable via public WiFi and other networks. In short, the greater number of remote workers you have working for you, the greater risk of your business becoming victim of a cyber-attack.

It is therefore vital that your business has the correct security, privacy and data policies in place to protect important data and prevent data loss.

Consider Worker’s Compensation

It is typical for states to require businesses to provide worker’s compensation coverage for their employees. If a situation occurred where a remote worker was injured at work, it is important for you to set out clear guidelines involving the duties and working hours of your remote employees. This is so if work-related claims for compensation are made, it is easy to define what is a true work-rated accident.

It is also vital for small businesses with remote workers in other states to get the appropriate guidance and advice on complex licensing issues. This is important for avoiding the potential problems non-compliance could cause.

One way to help ensure you are managing your business licenses properly is to purchase a license research package.

CT Corporation understands that growing a business requires a minefield of legal hoops to jump through. With more than 125 years of licensing and compliance experience, they can provide you with the guidance and support to ensure your business stays on top of statutory requirements when recruiting remote teams.

From Foreign Qualification guidance to Business License Compliance Research, CT Corporation can provide you with the resources you’ll require to expand your business and take advantage of the benefits remote employees provide.

POST DISCLAIMER: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of CT Corporation. The opinions and text are all mine.

READER COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Do I Need a Business License for Remote Employees?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Service Companies Bolster Small Business Job Totals, ADP Reports

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 13:30

The March ADP (NASDAQ:ADP) Small Business Report revealed the service-providing sector was greatly responsible for the 47,000 jobs small businesses created in March. Although the number for small businesses came in 19,000 lower than February. Still, overall the national employment numbers were higher at 241,000, compared to 235,000 last month.

March 2018 ADP Small Business Report

There are fluctuations in the different segments of the employment report, but the economy has been generating well over 200,000 jobs for the past four months. According to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, this is double the pace of the labor force growth, which is further tightening the labor market.

Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute, commented on the job market in a press release. Yildirmaz said, “We saw impressive momentum in the first quarter of 2018 with more jobs added per month on average than in 2017.  Midsized businesses added nearly half of all jobs this month, the best growth this segment has seen since the fall of 2014. The manufacturing industry also performed well, with its strongest increase in more than three years.”

The ADP National Employment Report is a monthly publication produced in collaboration with the ADP Research Institute and Moody’s Analytics. The data for the report comes from ADPs payroll data by measuring the change in total nonfarm private employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis. The report measures around 24 million U.S. workers with statistical methods similar to the ones used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Small Business

The lion’s share of the ADP Small Business Report saw the jobs for March coming from very small businesses of 1 to 19 employees, which created 35,000 of the 47,000 jobs. The remaining 12,000 jobs came from larger small businesses with 20-49 employees.

Regarding the sectors responsible for the jobs, service providing businesses generated 36,000 jobs, while the goods-producing sector delivered only 11,000 jobs.

National Employment

Nationally, the employment numbers were driven by midsized businesses with 50-499 employees. This segment generated 127,000 jobs, which is a 3+ year high as Yildirmaz pointed out in the release. Large businesses delivered 67,000 jobs, a 3,000 decline from February compared with the 47,000 jobs created by small businesses.

Here too, the service sector produced the highest number of jobs at 176,000 with the goods-producing sector creating the remaining 65,000 jobs.

National Franchise Report

According to ADP, its National Franchise Report is the first and only report of its kind. The report provides a monthly snapshot of U.S. nonfarm private franchise employment based on actual transactional payroll data.

March 2018 ADP National Franchise Report

The numbers for March were lower with restaurants seeing the highest decline. Compared to February when it was at 19,600 jobs, this month the number was at -7300. Food retailers also came in lower but this  segment wasn’t hit as badly as restaurants going from 500 to -400.

 

Regional Report

The regional report provides a glimpse into the way the total 241,000 jobs created break down by region. The South and West are faring much better than the rest of the country, accounting for 174,000 of the jobs created for the month.

California and Texas were responsible for creation of 33,000 and 35,800 jobs respectively.

Images: ADP

This article, "Service Companies Bolster Small Business Job Totals, ADP Reports" was first published on Small Business Trends

Small Business Advertising Guide: How to Advertise a Small Business

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 12:00

Advertising is a proven way to market your small business and gain customers and revenue.

But there are so many ways to advertise a small business, it can be confusing and overwhelming.  To get the best return on your advertising spend, we compiled the insights and advice from a number of sources — from experts to small business owners, along with our Editors’ guidance.

In this Small Business Advertising Guide, we walk you through how to advertise your business, including what advertising is, what types of advertising are out there to choose from, the relative costs for each and even places where you can advertise for nothing or for very little cost.

We also walk you through a simple step by step process to set up a small business advertising campaign.  And if you need some idea starters, we’ve got those too.

Business Advertising is Thriving

You hear lots of things online about how about this type of advertising or that type of advertising is supposedly dying.  The reality is, the advertising market is growing every year, as the Standard Media Index shows:

Even banner advertising and display advertising has been predicted to have died years ago. But to roughly mimic the words of Mark Twain, rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated.  

The Online Advertising Revenue Index, tracked by Ezoic, shows that online advertising is also showing strong healthy growth.

“As for small businesses interested in advertising, there has never been a time in history when it has been easier to reach your audience. Digitally you can find the exact type of person you want to target, understand the cost to reach them, and objectively measure the impact of that ad on your business goals. In the history of advertising, we’ve never had this granularity of data. It only makes sense to take advantage of it,” Tyler Bishop, Head of Marketing for Ezoic told Small Business Trends.

Despite wild fourth quarter swings each year due to budget cycles, the overall trend line is going up as this index shows:

And projections show that growth will continue. Business advertising is expected to grow about 4 percent during 2018, according to forecasts from Zenith Media and Magna.  

In other words, even in today’s world of content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, search marketing, event marketing , influencer marketing and more, advertising is still a thriving way to reach out and draw in potential new customers.

As you can see, a good deal of growth in advertising spend is coming from digital advertising, including online advertising and mobile advertising.  

But don’t be too quick to ditch your ad campaigns in local newspapers, print magazines, cable TV and the like.  Print advertising, radio advertising, TV advertising and other forms of traditional advertising are by no means dead – they still account for many billions of dollars of ad spend each year. Traditional forms of advertising will continue for years to come.  

It’s just that they are not growing the way digital advertising is.  Digital advertising, especially display advertising, is where all the growth is today.

In the following sections of this small business advertising guide, we bring you an overview of advertising options for a small business. We also explain each of the options and how they work, along with cost estimates, benchmarks of what other small businesses spend, practical tips and how-to advice specifically for small business owners and marketing managers.  After all, what Fortune 500 companies do and spend — while it may be instructive in some ways — is often not relevant to a small business with 5, 10, 20 or 100 employees. We try to make the information relevant to your size business, even while we learn from the big boys do.

Small Business Advertising Guide

In this Small Business Advertising Guide, we walk you through:

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Small Business Advertising Guide: How to Advertise a Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

Save Your Biz Money at Tax Time by Going Greener with this Free Ebook

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 10:30
Sponsored Post

Did you know making your small business greener could not only help save the planet but also save you money around tax time?

A free Small Business Energy Tax Savings eBook sponsored by Constellation shares some secrets for saving money on your small business tax bill while also saving the environment.

Here’s how it breaks down.

Up until the end of 2017, small businesses were permitted to deduct up to $1.80 per square foot of space if they made certain improvements to their new or existing buildings.

Small business owners interested in claiming the deduction were required to change lighting, building envelope or heating and cooling systems.

And these changes needed to result in at least a 50 percent decrease in total power and energy cost compared with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers standard established in 2007.

Though the deduction ended at the end of the 2017 tax year with no guarantee it will be reinstated, here’s something to consider.

The cost of improvements made to your building to meet the new energy standards can still be deducted on your taxes.

And you’ll be paying less for heating and energy once the improvements are complete.

Here’s another option.

There are federal tax credits available for certain alternative energy improvements made to a business property.

For example, small businesses can get a 30 percent tax credit for solar energy investments through 2019. That tax credit drops to 25 percent in 2020 and then again to 22 percent in 2021.

You can learn more about how making your business greener can save you money around tax time by downloading your copy of the Small Business Energy Tax Savings eBook today:

Download it Now!

This article, "Save Your Biz Money at Tax Time by Going Greener with this Free Ebook" was first published on Small Business Trends

20 Insider Tips When Using Google Hire for Your Small Business

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 09:30

Google unveiled its Hire by Google recruiting tool last year, offering a streamlined hiring solution specifically for small and medium sized businesses. The app is available for users of Google’s G Suite tools that have fewer than 1,000 employees.

How to Use Google Hire Effectively

If you’re already using Hire or are considering getting started with it, here are some tips for making the most of it to grow your team.

Take Your Hiring Seriously

The first step in getting results from Hire is to recognize the importance of hiring great people and finding the best process for doing so.

Meagan Hency, product marketer for Hire by Google said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “When working with small businesses, one of the things we hear over and over again is that hiring is one of the most important factors that contributes to the growth and success of their business. When you can find the right talent for your business, you can spend more time building relationships and focusing all of the other things that go into building a successful business.”

Don’t Assume You’re Too Small for a Hiring Tool

Even if you take hiring seriously, you might not realize how much a dedicated hiring system can help your business.

Berit Hoffman, senior product manager for Hire by Google said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “One of the things we hear over and over again from customers is, ‘We didn’t know how much we needed this, and now we can’t imagine what we’d do without it.’”

Get Familiar with G Suite Tools

In fact, Hoffman said that one of the things that drove them to create Hire was the realization that many companies were already using G Suite tools like Gmail, Calendar, and Google Sheets for certain parts of the process. So Hire natively integrates with all of those platforms, meaning you need to use them in order to make the most of the system.

Get Your Jobs Found

One of the first steps in the hiring process is creating a job listing. With Hire, you can create a job description and then publish it directly to a jobs page on your website or to third party job sites. Google also includes a feature that makes sure your postings will be easily found when job seekers search on Google.com.

Create a Process for Hiring

Once you’re in the process of sifting through applicants and setting up interviews, it helps to have a process already in place. Hoffman suggests taking some time to familiarize yourself with Hire beforehand and considering what you want your actual hiring process to look like.

Hoffman says, “It’s worth taking a little bit of time as a team to create a process so that you have some structure. Ultimately taking the time up front can serve customers better in the long run.”

Be Specific for Each Type of Role

More specifically, you might include different tasks or sections for applicants in different types of roles.

Hoffman explains, “For example, if you’re hiring for engineering jobs, you might want to have an extra page in your application for a coding review. Or if you’re looking to fill sales jobs, you might have an extra pitch interview as part of your process.”

Aggregate Resume Information

Finding the best resumes to move on in your hiring process is an important step. And hire aggregates the information from resumes and applications so that you can streamline the process of finding the candidates with the most relevant skill sets and experience.

Reference Search Data

In addition, Hire includes some information from online searches of candidates, like their LinkedIn profile and social media accounts. So you can also take that information into account when making decisions.

Use Email Templates

To save time on communicating with candidates, you can also set up email templates for various parts of the process. For example, you might have a template for scheduling interviews with candidates you like and another one to let people know that they won’t be moving along in the process.

Sync with Your Calendar

Another component of hiring that tends to take up a lot of time is scheduling interviews. However, Hire lets you sync up your Google Calendar and the calendars of the rest of your hiring team so that you can quickly identify time that’s available for interviews.

Specify Time Blocks for Interviews

In order to make the most of the time that you and your team do have for interviews, it can be beneficial to set aside blocks of time so that you can all get together for multiple interviews. You can create specific time slots so that candidates can select the times that work best for them and you can bundle all of those interviews together rather than going back and forth between tasks.

Confirm Appointments to Cut Down on Wasted Time

The Google Calendar functionality also allows you to send invitations to candidates that they can respond to. So when you have that confirmation, you can hopefully cut down on wasted time waiting for candidates who will never show up.

Take Consistent Interview Notes

Once you’ve interviewed candidates, it’s also a good idea to add some notes to that section of the Hire app so that you can easily sort through candidates both in the immediate and distant future.

Hoffman says, “Having a structured system for interview feedback allows companies to quickly identify candidates and understand why a particular candidate might be a great fit for a different job, maybe the timing was just wrong the first time around. Using those interview notes also signals as a factor into the ranking of those candidates when you go to search through them later on.”

Get Your Team Involved

Whoever you end up hiring for a position is ultimately going to make an impact on the rest of your team. So it can be a good idea to have other members of your team get involved in the process, either by including them in the interviews or giving them access to the information from resumes and Google searches. Google Hire lets you share all that information with all of your relevant team members so that you can be sure to find someone who’s a good fit with everyone.

Include Relevant Keywords in Communications

At some point in the hiring process, you might want to go back and find a particular candidate so you can communicate with them or get some extra information. Hire does include a search function to help you find the information you’re looking for, though the function doesn’t just work by identifying exact keyword matches. So as long as you know the general skill set or experience you’re looking for, you should be able to pull up some relevant candidates.

Take a Look at the Insights

Hire also includes an insights feature so you can view analytical data about your candidates or hiring process as a whole. Taking a look at this data periodically can help you potentially identify some areas for improvement in the future.

Identify Previous Candidates for New Roles

Once you’ve filled a job, there’s a good chance that there are still some good candidates out there who you didn’t hire. So when you have new job opportunities become available, you might want to get back in touch with some of those candidates to see if any might be a better fit for your new opening. Use Hire’s search function to locate the most relevant candidates and reach out to them.

Set Reminders

You can even set reminders through each part of the process to help you stay on track through your deadlines for posting an opening, organizing applicants, scheduling interviews, and making final decisions.

Build a Stronger Collaborative Team

One of the major benefits of using Hire for recruiting is that your whole team can get involved. This can allow you to find the candidates that are most likely to really mesh with your company culture. So make sure you keep that benefit in mind throughout the process.

Use Extra Time to Grow Your Business

Finally, the app should also make the process go significantly quicker. So use all of that extra time wisely and enjoy the opportunity to focus on growing your business in other ways.

Hency says, “A lot of companies are seeing their hiring process move faster since they don’t have to spend time on something simple like scheduling interviews, especially with a small team.”

Image: Google Hire

This article, "20 Insider Tips When Using Google Hire for Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

14 More Tips for Publishing Your First Business Book

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 08:30

Thanks to self-publishing platforms like Amazon, anyone with a great idea can create, publish and sell their very own book. But aspiring authors be warned: Just because it’s easy to publish a book doesn’t mean writing and marketing it has become any simpler. You still need excellent writing skills and a thorough plan to make sure your book is well-read and well-received. If you’re working on publishing your first book, follow this advice from Young Entrepreneur Council members to make sure it’s a success.

“What advice do you have for small business owners who are working on publishing their first book?”

Tips for Publishing Your First Book 1. Get Very Clear On Why You’re Doing It

“Books are generally not a money-making endeavor. You want to write a book because either it’s a credibility-building tool you want to use as a calling card to get you in the door or to upsell if you’re a speaker, coach or consultant. You may have an idea which you want to share to help the world and not for the sake of monetary gain.” ~ Darrah Brusteindarrah.co

2. Write the Marketing Plan First

“Write a book’s marketing plan before the book. Why? A plan provides clarity on who will buy the book, which provides clarity on who to write the book for. That’s big. A plan also forces an author to get real with the financial realities of writing a book. What are the costs to produce the book, and what’s the expected return? A plan raises questions and prepares an author for the journey ahead.” ~ Brett FarmiloeMarkitors Website Development

3. Start Building Your Credibility Now

“Whether you’ve started outlining the first chapter or you’re getting ready to turn in the final copy of your book to your publisher, start generating visibility for your name now because it’ll be easier to generate awareness when the book launches. Contribute articles to online magazines and blogs, pitch yourself for interviews and publish your own blog.” ~ Kristin MarquetCreative Development Agency, LLC

4. Use a Publishing Service to Help You

“Using a service like CreateSpace can help expedite and facilitate many of the processes of writing a book. You can upload a word doc to their site, select the size, style and details about the book, and then you can get an idea of what the book will look like before it’s published. From there you can order a proof to review/edit, and in 48 hours you can have a book available.” ~ Marcela De VivoMulligan Funding

5. Build an Email List for Bonus Content

“Writing a book is a great way to build authority in your niche. However, it’s difficult to sell from a book compared to email. As you map out your book, you need to focus on creating bonus content that can only be obtained by joining your email list. For example, I wrote a free book and as part of the content, I promoted a personality quiz that once completed would get them into my sales funnel.” ~ Bryan KeslerCPA Exam Guide

6. Treat It Like Any Other Team Project

“People over-romanticize the idea of book writing. I used to think it meant I needed to disappear into the woods until I had a complete manuscript. Then, I would emerge back into the world with my masterpiece. An alternative approach that helped us produce our first book was to treat book writing as a team effort just like any other team project. We built divided up the tasks and went to work.” ~ Tom KrieglsteinSwift Kick

7. Start Small, Then Go Big

“I recommend writing and publishing something manageable and small rather than writing a large tome. The most important part of publishing your first book is to actually publish it to demystify the process and learn a lot about yourself. If you go big you will end up delaying publishing the book, if you publish it all. Write and publish something small then go big with your newfound expertise.” ~ Eric MathewsStart Co.

8. Self-Publish

“Don’t have visions of getting a huge publishing contract. Instead, start small and affordable with a self-published book where you can control distribution and grow your readership over time. It was a much more empowering experience and put me more in control of what I wanted to get out there in the book.” ~ John RamptonCalendar

9. Talk to Publishers

“It’s a good idea to do a little bit of networking and try to spark a conversation with a publisher. You can learn more about what criteria they look for in the books that they take on and publish and what will help you to get there as well. Also, a little secret from pros: Do a private presale through your own marketing channel then take those numbers to the publisher.” ~ Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

10. Invest in a Professional Editor

“If you plan on self-publishing your first book, a professional editor is almost certainly worth the money. A decent editor will help you clarify your ideas and their expression, remove unnecessary verbiage and clean up the typos and grammar mistakes that even the best writers make.” ~ Vik PatelFuture Hosting

11. Read Every Book in the Industry

“I read 50 books in my industry before I started writing my book. I wanted to bridge the gap between the information out there and what my audience wanted to hear. If I didn’t do my research I wouldn’t have been able to write a book in the first place. Read books and then write. It makes a world of difference.” ~ Sweta PatelSilicon Valley Startup Marketing

12. Get Ideas From Customers

“Your customers, website visitors, followers on social media and anyone else you talk to can provide valuable insights into the kind of content to include in your book. If you’re writing a book to build authority, it’s important to cover topics that your audience really cares about. Take the time to ask questions and find out what people want to learn about and how you can provide answers.” ~ Shawn PoratScorely

13. Share Your Passion

“Rising above the noise when attempting to write and market your book is very challenging for a new author. With self-publishing, everyone is in the business of selling books. One of the biggest hurdles you will face will be to get your name out. To do this, you have to write a great book and to do so, you have to be honest. Write about what makes you passionate, this will get you noticed.” ~ Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

14. Make It ‘You’

“There are so many books out in the world, make sure that yours is unique to who you are. If you try to be like everyone else, it will simply get lost in the mix.” ~ Abhilash PatelAbhilash.co

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "14 More Tips for Publishing Your First Business Book" was first published on Small Business Trends

Best 15 Slack Bots for Small Business Users

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 07:30

On the popular cloud-based team collaboration service Slack, bots are available in many guises. Acting like hardworking virtual assistants, Slack bots can answer your questions and help you and your team get things done faster.

Once you are up and running with Slack you can install Slack bots onto your PC or mobile device and start reaping the benefits of these ultra-reliable virtual assistants.

Best Slack Bots

If you run a small business and are unsure which Slack bots would work best for you, check out the following 15 best Slack bots for small business users.

WorkBot

WorkBot for Slack allows you to generate workflow connecting various apps and chat inputs together. No coding is required for this intelligent workflow bot, which can be connected to more than 200 apps.

PaperBot

Your busy team shares large amounts of links to Slack week-in-week-out. The incredible PaperBot organizes the links shared on your Slack channels so you and your team can view them at anytime and from anywhere via iOS, Android or a web interface.

AstroBot

By becoming your new intelligent email and calendar assistant, which connects email and Slack, AstroBot can help your small business run more smoothly and efficiently. Let this intelligent email and calendar assistant manage your inbox for you.

HuBot

Hubot is a chat bot for your business. Using simple scripts written in CoffeeScript, Hubot is easy to program, enabling Hubot to connect and interact with your Slack workspace.

PixiBot

PixiBot is a great Slack bot that enables teams to organize and tag pictures shared on Slack. This useful bot extracts text from the images uploaded to Slack and adds it as a file comment.

GeekBot

Keeping teams synced is a vital part of running a business and when you operate remotely, syncing teams can be challenging. GeekBot takes the challenge out of syncing meetings by organizing asynchronous stand-up meetings in Slack and keeping teams synced.

BirthdayBot

Forgetting employees’ birthday doesn’t do staff morale any favors, and a dejected workforce can lead to high employee turnover rates, which isn’t conducive with running a thriving business. Remembering and acknowledging staff birthdays can go a long way in boosting morale and creating a happy, loyal workforce. BirthdayBot collects a list of everyone’s birthdays on the team and keeps everybody informed about forthcoming birthdays so each teammate gets a proper birthday celebration.

TimeBot

Without the budget to spend on Human Resources departments, managing HR tasks can be difficult for many small businesses. By responding to time-off requests, holidays and sick leave, the TimeBot app for Slack can be a godsend for many small businesses.

TomatoBot

Tomatobot helps give small businesses a productivity boost by timing short, distraction-free tasks. The app records any reminders that may distract you and your team, so you can forget about them until the next break.

StatsBot

Using analytics tools such as Google Analytics is a great way for small businesses to track their website and marketing campaign performance. The Statsbot app is a great Slack add-on as it integrates with tools such as Google Analytics. Whenever you require an update about your metrics, all you have to do is ask Statsbot, which will provide you with the information you require in an instant.

FlexBot

Similar to GoodRipple, Flexbot inspires a more positive, contented team of workers by encouraging healthy habits automatically. The app reminds team members to improve their posture and drink a healthy amount of water throughout the day.

BusyBot

By tracking tasks and activity progress within your team, the BusyBot team task manager is a great way to make it easier to assign work to your team in Slack chat.

DiggBot

If your small business relies on receiving the latest and greatest content, Diggbot is a great way to discover fresh content such as video and news. Each day Digg aggregates 10 million RSS feeds and collects 200 million tweets. The Diggbot app sieves through the data and brings you relevant stories and videos within Slack.

GrowthBot

GrowthBot helps small businesses with marketing and sales people be more productive by providing them with answers, as well as managing data and informing them of important notifications.

AttendanceBot

Tracking attendance and managing leave isn’t an easy feat for many time and cash-strapped small businesses. AttendanceBot takes much of the stress out of attendance and time management for tracking and managing it all for you!

Save your small business time, money and effort and give productivity levels a boost in the process by taking advantage of Slack’s incredibly useful bots!

Image: Slack

This article, "Best 15 Slack Bots for Small Business Users" was first published on Small Business Trends

Knowing These 4 Secrets About Self Employment Will Help You Decide if it’s Right For You

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2018-04-23 06:30

Having choices in life is always great. What about too many choices? That’s what comes with self employment. The freedom to choose is both the best and worst thing about being self employed. While it’s great not to report to anyone, it’s also a lot of responsibility to take on.

That said, here are four things about self employment you should know before making the leap. It’s not always easy being your own boss.

One of the biggest perks people associate with self employment is the fact that you get to be your own boss. Nobody telling you what to do sounds awesome right? For those who’ve never tried it, yes it sounds pretty great. For those that have, they know it’s less glamorous than it seems.

You get to make the big decisions now. You get to decide which hours you work and which hours you don’t. You’re also going face the full consequences of those decisions. You’re the CEO now. While you probably won’t have to give a statement to the press, you still have to face the music when things go south. Worst part is, there’s nobody else to back you up. No colleagues to blame and no boss or manager to hide behind. That added pressure can be stressful to anyone, even the most self sufficient professionals.

Sure you have more time freedom, but managing that time will get tougher.

When you’re self employed, you get to dictate your own schedule. Your calendar is an open canvas! You’ll be able to wake up whenever you want, set your own meetings, schedule breaks, and much more! So what’s the downside in that? Key word – scheduling.

The majority of individuals aren’t so great at managing their time. In fact, that’s why many of us like the structure of a nine to five job. In addition, if you work for a larger organization, the majority of your scheduling is done for you. That said, many people who work in larger companies underestimate what it takes to manage your entire calendar.

You need to be strategic about which jobs you take, and which clients you work for.

There’s a misconception that you need to take every job you can get as a freelancer. In the beginning, yes you should try to take on jobs as they come. However, you need to focus on building relationships with quality clients rather than always finding new ones.

When working with a new client, it takes a while to kick things off. All that time spent on-boarding new clients can be costly to your bottom line. After all, time is money, and you need to spend it wisely – especially when you’re on your own.

Once you’ve built strong relationships with clients, you need to be strategic about which jobs you take on. Always go back to your existing customers for work, and most importantly ask for referrals. The last thing you want is to get sucked into a long project with a deadbeat client.

It may start to get lonely.

When you work for yourself, things do start to get lonely. Sure you can get out and attend networking events or industry conferences, but most of the time you’re spending on your own. For social people, this can start to weigh down on them. When you have others around you, it motivates you to keep working.

At the end of the day, many people will end up trying life out as a self employed business professional. For those that are interested, make sure you’re well aware of what you’re getting yourself into.

Image via Due.com

This article, "Knowing These 4 Secrets About Self Employment Will Help You Decide if it’s Right For You" was first published on Small Business Trends

App Confusion Can Cost Your Small Business 32 Days of Lost Productivity Per Year

Small Business Trends - Sun, 2018-04-22 18:00

If you’re like a lot of other small business owners, you likely rely on several different apps and pieces of software to get through the day.

However, if your employees rely on all this software, too, it may also be causing your small business to hemorrhage money.

How could this be? These are the apps and software developed to make us work smarter and faster.

Well, according to new research from RingCentral, the plethora of apps is causing a lot of confusion in the workplace. In fact, of the 2,000 “knowledge workers” surveyed, the research has revealed 69% waste as many has 32 days a year because of app confusion.

App Overload

Ring Central’s study, “From Workplace Chaos to Zen: How App Overload Is Reshaping the Digital Workplace” looks at how this confusion occurs.

For example, the report notes the biggest problem is with communication apps. Specifically, it’s the multitude of these apps ooftwn used in business.

“Today’s workforce is under siege by a flood of communications apps. More than ever, our attention is scattered across a wide array of different apps and communications channels,” says Riadh Dridi, CMO at RingCentral, in a release accompanying the survey results.

Think about how many communications apps you use. It’s close to a handful, probably.

RingCentral’s data shows the average number of communications apps per person is 4. And 20% of those responding to the survey said they use 6 or more. That’s a lot of conversations in different places and certainly it’s easy to see how wasted time can add up quickly. If you need to reference those conversations, you’ll first have to remember where they took place!

The survey shows as much as an hour per day can be lost to communication app confusion. The average worker in the survey said they will flip between these communication apps as much as 10 times per hour.

Workers surveyed say having a single communications platform would be the most ideal. However, this may not be possible for small businesses on a budget. What a company could do is to attempt centralizing all work communications within the company to a single platform.

Image: RingCentral

This article, "App Confusion Can Cost Your Small Business 32 Days of Lost Productivity Per Year" was first published on Small Business Trends

1 in 4 Organizations Using Public Cloud Services Experience Data Theft, McAfee Reports

Small Business Trends - Sun, 2018-04-22 15:00

McAfee’s third annual cloud adoption and security report says 97 percent of organizations, including small businesses, now use cloud services from public, private, or a combination of both platforms. The bad news is 1-in-4 of organizations using the public cloud have experienced data theft.

2018 Cloud Adoption and Security Report

The McAfee report, “Navigating a Cloudy Sky: Practical Guidance and the State of Cloud Security,” looks at the state of cloud adoption and the challenges organizations face in protecting their digital assets. This year’s report also addresses concerns with private and public cloud services and the impact of Shadow IT. The term refers to IT resources built and used within an organization but without its explicit approval.

With cloud adoption nearing 100 percent, the technology is being used by organizations of all sizes. This includes small businesses who are beginning to appreciate the full benefit of cloud computing despite the risks.

In a press release, Rajiv Gupta, senior vice president of the cloud security business unit for McAfee, explains how businesses counteract the risk by having the right security protocols in place. Gupta says, “By implementing security measures that allow organizations to regain visibility and control of their data in the cloud, businesses can leverage the cloud to accelerate their business and improve the security of their data.”

The survey for the report was carried out between October and December of 2017 with the participation of 1,400 IT professionals. McAfee said a diverse set of industries and organization sizes across 11 countries took part in the survey.

Data Theft

When it comes to data theft, it is the number one concern of the IT professionals who were surveyed. This is because more than 25 percent of the IaaS and SaaS users have fallen victim.

McAfee attributes the problem to a shortage of security skills. Only 24 percent of the respondents said they are not facing skill shortages. This means 76 percent are experiencing different levels of shortages in cybersecurity skills.

Other Data Points

Asked what type of data these organizations store in the public cloud, 83 percent said they store sensitive information and 69 percent indicated they trust these public platforms to keep their sensitive data secure.

Again, this is despite the fact 1 in 4 organizations (or 25 percent) have suffered data theft while using the public cloud, and 1 in 5 have seen advanced attacks against their public cloud infrastructure.

You can download the full report here.

Best Practices and Recommendations

As the result of the study, McAfee has come up with three best practices organizations should adopt to ensure the security of their cloud infrastructure:

  • Improve code quality and reduce exploits and vulnerabilities with DevOps and DevSecOps and Integrating development, quality assurance, and security processes within the business unit or application team.
  • Automate with tools such as Chef, Puppet or Ansible. (McAfee says use of these tools is fundamental to modern IT operations. The same tools should be used when migrating to the cloud, the company says.)
  • Move away from multiple management tools and deploy a unified management platform across multiple clouds to reduce the complexity and cost while increasing security.
The Cloud Has More Benefits Than Risks

Still, when all is said and done, the cloud offers too many benefits to ignore. Ninety percent of respondents trust it more now than they did a year ago. This is attributed to an increased knowledge of cloud technology. Native security and third-party integration for commercial security technologies have also made cloud technology safer as has an increased sense of responsibility by all parties involved.

Images: McAfee

This article, "1 in 4 Organizations Using Public Cloud Services Experience Data Theft, McAfee Reports" was first published on Small Business Trends

Contribute to our Big List of National Small Business Week 2012 Events

Small Business Trends - Sat, 2018-04-21 13:30

National Small Business Week runs from April 29 to May 5, 2018.

As a co-sponsor of the event, Small Business Trends (SBT) is putting together a Big List of events and offers of interest to the small business community in commemoration of this week set aside to celebrate U.S small businesses.

If you are taking part in the week-long celebration by hosting an event to go along with National Small Business Week 2018, please let us know and we’ll share your event with our community.

The event can be anything from special promotions and sales to commemorate the week, to live or online events. The goal is to support fellow small business owners with valuable information so they can continue to grow.

You can also take a look at the U.S. Small Business Administration site for more information and additional events here.

The Big List will be updated until the National Small Business Week 2018 takes place, so make sure you get in touch with us as soon as possible by emailing your information at sbtips@gmail.com.

 

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Big List of National Small Business Week 2018 Events
April 26 2018, Online

National Small Business Week is fast approaching. The annual event is being held from April 29 through May 5, 2018. And we know there are lots of special events to celebrate the week.

This year, again, Small Business Trends has the honor and distinction of being a co-sponsor of the event.

So, we’re putting together a Big List of National Small Business Week events and offers. This list will reach small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country on the Small Business Trends website. Share your event.

DigiMarCon East 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
May 10, 2018, New York, New York

DigiMarCon East 2018 Digital Marketing Conference takes place May 10th to 11th, 2018 at the luxurious New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square, New York City.
It’s the one digital marketing event you can’t afford to miss! Whether your goal is to reinforce customer loyalty, improve lead generation, increase sales, or drive stronger consumer engagement, DigiMarCon East 2018’s agenda will help attendees enhance their marketing efforts. Sessions will focus on building traffic, expanding brand awareness, improving customer service and gaining insight into today’s latest digital tools. Register today!

WEBINAR: Small Business Doesn’t Mean Small Security: 3 Major Threats You Need to Combat
May 16, 2018, Online

Data breaches, inventory shrinkage, theft, oh my. On average, data breaches cost $3.62 million per breach and stolen customer data costs $141 per record. And inventory shrinkage in the United States is a $60 billion a year problem. Believe it or not, your business exists within both of those realities. Do you know who is accessing your most valuable assets and sensitive information? Do you know what your employees do when you are not physically onsite? On May 16, 2018, at 2PM ET join Nicki Saffell, Senior Security Consultant at Brivo, Sara Polon, Owner of Soupergirl, a DC area small business, and Anita Campbell, Founder and CEO of Small Business Trends, for a discussion on these challenges and discover modern ways to combat these threats – including electronic access control.

TECHSPO Houston 2018
June 06, 2018, Houston, Texas

TECHSPO Houston 2018 is a 2-day technology expo which takes place JUNE 6 – 7, 2018 at the luxurious Houston Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel in Houston, Ontario. TECHSPO Houston brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and evangelists looking to set the pace in our advanced world of technology. TECHSPO Houston 2018 promises to be better than ever and we’re excited to see all the amazing tech companies and talent that will join us. Register today!

Growth & Success Con
September 17, 2018, Online

This small business virtual conference is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs at all stages who are stuck in the daily grind of building their businesses and struggle to get solid advice and guidance. An amazing panel of experts in various disciplines and business coaches will share tips & tricks on topics including Growth, Marketing, Management & Business Building for Success. Register today!

More Events More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Contribute to our Big List of National Small Business Week 2012 Events" was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Tips for Stepping Up Your Content Marketing Game

Small Business Trends - Sat, 2018-04-21 12:00

Content marketing has become an incredibly popular strategy for small businesses — and for good reason. But creating great content isn’t enough. You need to take some extra steps in order to make a real impact. In order to accomplish that goal, check out these tips from members of the online small business community.

Use These Growth Hacks for Your Next Content Marketing Campaign

As your business grows, your content marketing plan needs to grow with it. In order to make your content more effective so that it can continue making a major impact, check out the crazy effective content marketing growth hacks included in this Search Marketing Team post by Hasel Smith.

Brainstorm and Prioritize Your Best Content Ideas

Not all content ideas are created equal. Some are likely to yield major results while others might be less exciting. So it’s a good idea to prioritize your top pieces of content in order to optimize results. Learn more in this Content Marketing Institute post by Garrett Moon.

Boost Your Social Media Engagement Creatively

Social media can be a very important part of a content strategy. But you need to actually engage with followers in order to make an impact. Here are some ideas for boosting social media engagement from Elechi Emekobum of On a Platter of Gold. BizSugar members also shared thoughts on the post here.

Future Proof Your Marketing Strategy

It might not be possible to know exactly what’s going to happen in the future of your business, but you can do your best to create strategies that optimize your business for what’s to come. In this Social Media HQ post, Steve Olenski discusses future proofing strategies for businesses.

Be Deliberate with Your Link Building Strategy

Too many of today’s marketers cast a wide net when trying to build links for their online content. But Tony Wright of Search Engine Journal argues that this strategy isn’t beneficial for anyone, and offers some alternative strategies for marketers in this post.

Don’t Ignore These B2B Marketing Trends in 2018

Trends can make a major impact on your marketing strategy, whether you run a b2c business or a b2b one. Sam Hurley offers some insights on b2b trends for this year in this post on the Digital Current blog. And the BizSugar community commented on the post here.

Consider This Simple Re-engagement Email Marketing Strategy

The content that you create for your email marketing campaigns needs to have a specific goal. One of those goals might be to re-engage with former customers who haven’t recently interacted with your business. Here, Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers details a strategy for doing just that.

Make Email Inboxes Spring to Life

For years, email marketing has looked more or less the same. But Len Shneyder of Marketing Land believes that more innovations are finally on the horizon. This post includes some more information that you can use to step up your email marketing game.

Learn How to Set Up a Blog for Your Business

Before you can make use of any great content marketing tips, it can help to have a blog for your business. If you don’t have one already, David Reimherr shares an interview and several helpful insights in this post on the Magnificent blog. And BizSugar members offered commentary on the post here.

Find Amazing Places to Promote Your Blog or Website

The actual content that you create online in important. But it can only make an impact if people are able to find it. So you need to find amazing places to promote your blog or website, including the ones listed in this SMB CEO post by Ivan Widjaya.

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: sbtips@gmail.com.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Tips for Stepping Up Your Content Marketing Game" was first published on Small Business Trends

Roadie Uses Crowdsourcing to Help Small Grocery Stores Create Home Delivery Services

Small Business Trends - Sat, 2018-04-21 09:30

Grocery delivery is a competitive business. However, Walmart, Amazon and Instacart aren’t the only players battling for a stake of this thriving market. Now there’s an alternative designed to help the smaller grocery store competing with the bigger names in the space. Small Business Trends spoke with Marc Gorlin, Founder and CEO of Roadie to find out more.

Roadie Delivery Service

He told us this self described “app-based community” was founded on two of the principles that make America great—innovation and hospitality.

“Roadie was founded on the southern notion of neighbors helping neighbors,” Gorlin said. “It’s a new crowdsourced delivery model that leverages existing resources.”

Great Business Ideas

Like a lot of other great business ideas, Gorlin saw a need and a way to fill it. When he needed some warehouse custom tile to complete a bathroom renovation, a notion for a great practical way to get them same day occurred to him.

Going Somewhere

“I started to think, there’s always someone going somewhere, surely someone who was already headed in that direction would be willing to transport a couple boxes of tile,” he said. “Roadie was created to unlock this massive, untapped resource to create convenient, inexpensive delivery solutions for consumers and businesses.”

The Right Direction

Those resources are in fact the unused spaces in vehicles from drivers already on the road—whether they be local commuters, customers or even employees en route from one store to another. In short, Roadie matches small businesses shipping things with drivers already going in the right direction.

Smaller retailers and grocery stores are challenged to meet client expectations of no cost same-day and next-day delivery. Roadie is a way to fight back against the low-cost shipping offerings of Instacart and Amazon by supplying  delivery with no contracts, daily, or mileage minimums.

There are some other big advantages to small businesses.

“The Roadie model empowers retailers to ramp up service in new markets almost instantly and to quickly scale up by adding employees, customers and other nearby drivers to the platform,” says Gorlin.

More Effective

Roadie’s on-the-way delivery model is more effective than on-demand since most of these courier-style delivery providers labor under higher fixed costs, smaller geographic areas they work in and package size restrictions.

This app that specializes in fragile and oversized deliveries has been making a dent too. According to data supplied by Gorlin, Roadie has already made deliveries to over 9,000 cities across the country.  There’s a dashboard where you can track deliveries in real time and provide customer notifications upon delivery.

There’s even employment opportunities available too.

Roadie has over 60,000 pre-qualified drivers covering all 50 states. Drivers can sign up and match up the deliveries they take on with their schedules. In that way, Roadie is flexible like Uber or Lyft for people looking to work for the company.

If you’re a small business looking to use Roadie, you can sign up here.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Roadie Uses Crowdsourcing to Help Small Grocery Stores Create Home Delivery Services" was first published on Small Business Trends

‘Transform’ Shows How to Use Digital Technology to Boost Customer Experience

Small Business Trends - Sat, 2018-04-21 07:00

It’s one thing to launch a business, but a different issue to change how a business operates to fit a major shift in the marketplace.  That “but” is at the heart of success or failure of a business.  Businesses recognize that they are in a customer-centric environment. But what should an operation that is customer-centric look like to be effective?

One book that strives to answer that question is Transform A Rebel’s Guide for Digital Transformation by Gerry McGovern.  The book covers a digital agency and the building of a business culture around it.  McGovern knows the challenges well — having written 6 books on the subject.  McGovern has been a web consultant since 1994, working in over 30 countries for organizations such as Microsoft Cisco and the European Union. McGovern is the founder and CEO of Customer Care Words, a research company focused on understanding customer behavior.

I discovered the book a while back at a conference and was impressed with the emphasis on culture McGovern brings to explain the value of digital transformation.

What Is Transform About?

Transform is meant to outline the steps involved in creating operations and processes that align organizations to customer activity. Throughout the book, McGovern advocates monitoring how balanced resources are among management, employee and customer.  He believes that “a new management model” will lead to customer-centric organizations.

McGovern outlines how businesses that do not work to establish better operations risk losing the customer.  He also shares commentary about empathy and how fleeting online attention impacts campaigns.

“The challenge is that as we need to become more empathetic, the opportunities to develop empathy are declining.”

What I Liked About Transform

I liked that serious thoughts aim the reader towards simplifying processes.  The ideas are timely, given that many long time conglomerates like General Electric are exploring similar operations to stay competitive.  A mention about how complexity creates distrust is a timely example.

“Every time you do something that makes things simpler and easier for your customers you build trust. That’s why your job is critical to customer trust building,” McGovern said.

McGovern writes that consumers are turning to online options for researching products and services and for purchases. That trend puts customers in the driver’s seat, demanding that businesses fully enable those digital paths to purchase.  Each chapter provides insights into how to create an organization to deliver on those demands and how to adjust marketing to be more transparent and honest.

A nice touch is how McGovern expands the importance of trust to other institutions businesses typically encounter.  In fact, McGovern states clearly that much of the book speaks to culture and history, and he does a good job of making his points with this approach.   He recounts the experience of Dimitrius, a small business owner in Greece who has paid “about a fifth of his revenue in bribes to tax collectors, health inspectors, police and other officials.”  Dimitrius notes how small firms are obligated to conduct business this way because of the legal barriers.

McGovern also notes the faux posturing of working long hours — a sign of inefficiency. He calls upon professionals to find purposeful tasks in their work.  He writes, “New model organizations will focus on creating the simplest, fastest and most useful possible environment for the knowledge worker.”

That leads to another aspect I appreciate about the book — its tidy size.  The book’s 16 chapters are a quick read, coming to just under 200 pages.  Yet the ideas are explained in a ready to implement fashion. Chapter 10 offers a map for a digital workplace, while Chapter 13, The Business Case for Self-Service, explores the impact of self-service processes where digital media and data are involved.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

While the book focused on establishing digital workplaces, Chapter 13 does not delve too deeply into emerging data influences, such as data science and regulatory use of data.  These things can get overwhelming. I’ll admit you could write several books on Amazon and Google separate of the open source cloud products. But a few further treatments could spark imaginations. (I also should note, Chapter 12 shares companies that have done well with their data to service customers).

Moreover, McGovern does rightly advise throughout the book how “organizations use to have all the power…not anymore.”   And reading the given examples, such as Cisco’s Task Performance Indicator, may inspire a few ideas on how to develop metrics that monitor progress on an organizational transformation.

Transform is a good read for a manager who is not looking for a heavy-handed textbook but needs reminders of why his or her workplace must incorporate aspects of web culture into its operations.  If you have managers that adore the status quo for status quo’s sake, have them read Transform to begin their own transformation to be competitive in a digital world and to be a better provider of customer experience.

This article, "‘Transform’ Shows How to Use Digital Technology to Boost Customer Experience" was first published on Small Business Trends

Jeremy Epstein of Never Stop Marketing: Blockchain May Move Us from CRM to WRM – Wallet Relationship Management

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2018-04-20 15:30

The interest in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies is growing rapidly. And Amazon’s announcement earlier this week of a new patent that may allow them to sell the identities of cryptocurrency users added even more fuel to the fire of interest.  This high level of interest was obvious at last week’s CRM Evolution conference, as Never Stop Marketing founder and blockchain expert Jeremy Epstein’s session — ‘Blockchain and the CMO: The Next Era of Marketing’ — was a real crowd pleaser.

For those who weren’t able to attend Jeremy’s session, you really missed out. Fortunately, conference co-chair Paul Greenberg and I were able to record a conversation with Jeremy to get a taste for a few things he talked about during his session.  Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. And while it’s worth reading the transcript, watching the video definitely adds important perspective because of Jeremy’s passion for the subject. I mean the guy paces and lifts weights during our conversation because he’s so jacked about the subject.  So do yourself a favor and check out the video if you can to not only be educated and informed, but also get a glimpse as to why we dubbed him The Blockchain Gangsta. And you might also want to check out his free new ebook,  The Decentralized Marketing Organization: How Crypto-Marketers Can Increase Token Value by Empowering Community Members.

* * * * *

Small Business Trends: What do marketers today have to know about blockchain in order to really survive and go into the future?

Jeremy Epstein: One of the things I looked at over the last couple hundred years is how marketing evolved with the arrival of each new technology. There are the fundamentals of marketing — I call it Peter Drucker marketing — like customer value. That stuff hasn’t changed since we’ve been painting on the walls of caves, fine. But as each new technology comes along, marketing as a function, as an execution, evolves. So the penny papers in New York City in the 1800’s changed the game of advertising. Radio makes it auditory. TV makes it visual. Internet makes it faster. Social, as we all know really well, makes it two way. Mobile makes it location independent, right? So the question I’ve been asking for the last two years is this crypto decentralized thing. What’s that going to do?

What we did is we broke down six areas: advertising, loyalty, customer experience, data management, and how this can change. The answer is honestly, I don’t really know, but there are a couple things to think about. This thing is a technology that allows us to replace the trust in third party intermediaries, and remove people, and rely on the map that is sort of the heart of these machines and these algorithms.

You and I may not agree on politics or sports teams, for example, but we can all agree that 10 times 10 is a hundred. And we may not like the fact that 10 times 10 is a hundred, but it is, and there’s nothing that can change that. So that creates this uniform layer for trust. That’s what the technology does for the first time ever, and it’s 9 years old, since January 3, 2009, when the bitcoin blockchain was released out into the wild. Then you have to ask yourself, ‘Okay. If this removes those intermediaries, where in the marketing tool kit, stack of activities, are there intermediary laden activities and executions?’ And one of them, of course, is advertising. You need to study advertising for all of three seconds to know that is a total cluster when it comes to advertising. A stat that I quote often is basically, for every dollar that a brand spends on advertising, by the time all the middle men have taken their pieces out along the way, you’re ending up with like $0.44 of value.

That just has blockchain written all over it. There are DMPs (data management platforms)  and SSPs (supply side platforms) and all that stuff sitting there. That’s just asking to be ripped and replaced, which is no surprise why if you look at the blockchain marketing technology landscape,  centralized organizations, SaaS companies, are basically centralized entities. Well, if the theory of decentralization holds, and if the value that is normally amass in these centralized systems … excuse me, in a decentralized, token fueled world, then instead goes out to the participants, is it possible that we will see decentralized marketing offering alternatives to everything that’s sitting on Brinker’s [Marketing Tech] 5000 Landscape.

One thing we know about marketers is that they need technology to do their job at scale. It’s just not going to happen otherwise. Okay, so you start looking at these things, and I started to go out and find how many decentralized crypto projects are trying to solve these marketing problems, but in a decentralized way? We found 22 back in September. The large majority of which were concentrated, not surprisingly, in display and programmatic advertising. Because they all see what we all see, which is, let’s go blow this thing up and make it more efficient.

Now if crypto enables self-sovereign identity, where I am the total owner of all of my own data, and I can grant permission on an as-needed basis and then withdrawal it and there’s no trace left on your quote en quote servers, if that becomes the case, then help me understand, why would I need a CRM platform? I might need what I call a WRM, a Wallet Relationship Management platform, where I have relationships with the wallets on my network as people hold their tokens for participation in those networks on their phones or on their laptops or whatever. And I might say, this wallet has been holding its coins for a long time, this one doesn’t have that much, I don’t care who the person is, but I know based on the number of transactions, maybe in my network, I want to incentivize transactions, so the people who transact a lot, using my crypto? Fantastic, I’m going to incentivize them by having the protocol written in such a way that it automatically gives them bonus coins or whatever.

You can see all that, but I don’t actually know at any given moment it’s Brent, and here’s his Gmail, and here’s his phone number, and it doesn’t matter. It’s just this wallet. And you might have six of them and I don’t care because it’s about the growth of the overall network. I realize that this stuff is way out there. I totally understand that, but if you combine that technology with the larger macro scenario of Equifax being exhibit A-Z, our current systems are not designed for this heavily centralized, information rich … these honey pots that attract either hackers, ransomers, Russian guys, or even bad actors internally, and there’s so much data there.

So if you’re the CMO or the lead marketer, I don’t even think it’s going to be chief, because it’s going to get decentralized eventually, but if you’re the lead marketer of one of these organizations, that’s a very different kind of landscape that you’re operating in. You still have the same objectives of you need to drive awareness about what you’re doing. You need to drive perception, and you need to drive leads or activity or whatever, but you’re doing it with different sets of information. You’ll have decentralized identity and wallets, and you’ll have decentralized advertising, and how are you going to deliver a meaningful customer experience, which has to be there? Basically, customer relationship management as we’ve always thought of what it’s supposed to be, this ultimate Peppers & Rogers one to one future, why I fell in love with marketing in like 1997,  the promise of CRM to me is totally there.

You want that, you believe in that, and you know that’s a differentiator. I’m just starting to say, wait a second, that optimal customer experience that we’re going to deliver, we’re going to have an entirely new tool set, and with that, good things that we’ll be able to do, like much more innovative loyalty programs that drive better customer experience at very, very hyper-local levels because you can have the brand governance that you need, but you’ll have the local flexibility that empowers innovation in the customer experience on these edge use cases.

I know that’s a lot. You guys let me go on. The coffee’s really kicking in, here. And my wife is always like, ‘Why are you yelling?’ I’m like, ‘I’m not yelling. I’m just super jacked up about this stuff.’

Paul Greenberg:  All right. I know you’re time short, so one last question. I’m a marketer, just a regular old marketer. I’m a junior marketer. I just got into the idea of it. I just heard everything you said, and my boss totally gets everything you just said. I don’t get a damn word of it, though. I’m a junior, man. I just want to do what I’m supposed to do. How’s my life changing? What am I doing differently?

Jeremy Epstein: Great question. If you’re a young junior marketer now and you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to keep yourself relevant and add value in a crypto first world, which the only thing I don’t know is whether it’s going to be here next week or in 20 years, but it’s going to be somewhere between that. Odds are, it will be closer to the nearer side than the farer side, given how fast things are evolving, but we’ll see. Better to be early than late, I suppose. I think there are a couple things you need to do because marketing is continuing its march towards more data, so you have to really be savvier. The data is going to move to these data utility lakes that everyone can just access on blockchains, so you have to start thinking like a quant almost. You should be able to use an Excel pivot table and understand what’s going on there. You should be able to run queries and talk with data scientists, and you have to understand that’s a hard skill, but the soft skill is curiosity.

Any good AI or machine learning person will tell you it’s not the technology, it’s what questions are you asking. And that’s the first thing that marketers really have to do is the curiosity. The second thing is you really need to work on your integrity. Everything’s going to become visible, clear and transparent. You can’t be like, ‘Oh, we promise our coffee is organic.’ But the blockchain says it’s not. You’re done. That’s over. It’s good for ethics. It’s bad for corrupt politicians and people like that. So sorry for that guys. Then I also say I think it’s important to start learning more about the code itself because so many marketers don’t have a good understanding of the technology, and I think that’s continuing to erode.

If you don’t understand … you don’t have to be a world class JavaScript programmer, but the raw concept of how a token is a programmable asset that you can now create an entire series of smart contracts around. If you’re really smart, as a marketer, you can create all types of scenarios that deliver value to people based on all types of marketing objectives, but if you don’t understand the fundamental concept that you can take this release of value based on certain external conditions and have it verified and deliver that to some person on a given condition and have the whole thing working on an automated scale, you’re going to have a hard time. So I think those are the kinds of things I would look up. There’s actually a section at the end of this ebook about, what are the skills, and I’m actually partnering with someone now to build an online course about it.

This article, "Jeremy Epstein of Never Stop Marketing: Blockchain May Move Us from CRM to WRM – Wallet Relationship Management" was first published on Small Business Trends

Top Stories: Starbucks Deals with Racial Discrimination, Tech Startups Struggle with Compensation

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2018-04-20 12:00

Whether your business has single or multiple locations, having a great management system in place for everyone to follow is critically important.

Starbucks became aware of this fact with an incident that took place in Philadelphia which made national headlines. The issue should teach businesses of all sizes some valuable lessons. In other news, tech startups struggle to provide adequate pay in expensive Silicon Valley. Do you struggle to keep your compensation ahead of cost of living?

Read more insightful small business news in our roundup below.

Management What Can Your Business Learn from The Starbucks Fiasco About Preventing Discrimination?

Starbucks is shutting down all 8,000 stores for one day to offer racial bias education training to employees, the company announced Tuesday afternoon. Starbucks Racial Bias Training The 8,000 company-owned stores will close down May 29 to educate employees on how not to discriminate against people in their stores.

 

Economy California Tech Startups Struggle with Hiring, Are You Covering Employee Cost of Living?

Silicon Valley tech startups are establishing satellite locations or moving entirely out of the California’s Bay Area to find affordable workers who don’t have to cope with the state’s high cost of living, The Mercury News reported on Monday.

Marketing Tips Promo Partners With Shutterstock Giving Small Businesses More Video Options

Promo, a video creation solution made by Slidely, has announced it has formed a partnership with Shutterstock (NYSE: SSTK). This arrangement will increase Promo’s 3.5 million video library to more than 12.5 million premium quality videos. Slidely and Shutterstock Partnership As part of the partnership, Shutterstock is making more than 9 million videos available to Promo.

What Can Bud Light’s Dilly Dilly Campaign Teach Your Small Business about Creative Marketing?

“Dilly Dilly” — Bud Light’s new catchphrase — has taken the world by storm. Bud Light’s vice president of marketing Andy Goeler talked to The Washington Post about the slogan in an article published Thursday. Goeler told WaPo that the slogan Dilly Dilly means, “a cheers, a Bud Light cheers.

Landbot Lets Small Businesses Automate Customer Engagement on their Landing Pages

Landing pages have become a space for introducing and promoting new products and services for websites. But when visitors get there, engagement is key. Landbot.io allows you to create chatbots based on a Conversational User Interface for your landing pages to improve engagement levels and conversion rates. As the company describes it, Landbot is a conversation that lives on your website.

Retail Trends 59% of POS Systems in the US — including at Small Businesses — Now Accept EMV Cards

When the deadline for the “liability shift” was almost up on October 1, 2015, the number of small businesses having switched to EMV was at 8.33 percent. According to Visa, 59% of U.S. POS locations now accept the chip, a 578 percent growth since 2015.

Small Biz Spotlight Spotlight: Keyk Founder Filled Need for Baking Supplies in a New Market

Selling baking supplies might not seem like a completely unique business idea to many U.S. consumers. But in parts of the world, those supplies can be more difficult to come by. A U.S. expat learned this lesson the hard way when she moved to Germany years ago. But she took the opportunity to turn the problem into a business, now known as Keyk.

Taxes 64% of Small Businesses Spend At Least $1000 on Tax Administration Work

The new tax reforms passed by the Trump administration were supposed to simplify the tax system. However, The National Small Business Association’s (NSBA) 2018 Small Business Taxation Survey reports administrative burdens still outpaces those of finance as 63 percent said they spend more than $1,000 annually on the administration of federal taxes.

Technology Trends Those who Stand at Work Experience 31% Less Back Pain, Study Explains

While digital technology has introduced new levels of efficiency in our workplace, it comes with the negative consequence causing workers to be more sedentary. This has resulted in more people using standing desks to counteract the effects of sitting all day. A new study conducted by Start Standing reinforces the importance of standing while at work.

Uh Oh! Only 10% of Companies are Fully Implementing New Business Tech

A new report finds only 10% of small businesses have fully implemented digital tools like artificial intelligence and automation. According to the  Workplace 2025: The Post-Digital Frontier study from Randstad US, these same businesses are lacking in the strategies to make their workforces digitally savvy to the degrees workers want.

PaySimple Teams with Profit Rhino to Benefit Home Service Businesses

The new payment integration between PaySimple and Profit Rhino will remove many of the obstacles home service businesses face when trying to accept payment in the field. PaySimple and Profit Rhino Partnership Plumbers, electricians, gardeners and handymen are all examples of the home service businesses keeping homes up and running when something goes wrong.

TaskRabbit Cybersecurity Incident Leaves “Taskers” Temporarily without Customers

Customers and 60,000 “taskers” — many of whom work as freelancers —  were in for a rude awakening Monday, April 16 when TaskRabbit announced its site had been taken down following “a cybersecurity incident.” After alarm bells were sounded by several TaskRabbit users, a tweet by the company confirmed the situation.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Top Stories: Starbucks Deals with Racial Discrimination, Tech Startups Struggle with Compensation" was first published on Small Business Trends

YouTube Addresses Monetization Gripes, Is Your Small Business Affected?

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2018-04-20 10:30

In trying to get rid of materials its advertisers deemed offensive, YouTube instituted policies that hit small creators hard by demonetizing their channels or certain content.

Some of these creators include small business owners who had come to rely on YouTube as a major part of their revenue. Months later, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki addressed the creator community with a letter on the company blog.

The post follows a horrifying incident earlier this month when YouTuber Nasim Najafi Aghdam went on a shooting rampage at the YouTube offices in San Brunno, California injuring several employees and eventually killing herself. Aghdam’s motive is believed to be connected to issues she had over the company’s policies regarding her channel.

YouTube Monetization Concerns

Wojcicki started by stating the obvious, “We know the last year has not been easy for many of you.” Since YouTube started removing materials advertisers found objectionable around March of 2017, small creators have been taking a hit. They lost ad revenue, subscribers, and viewers, fostering the negative relationship that currently exists between the company and many of its small creators.

This all started when more than 250 brands pulled ads from YouTube after they discovered they were running along content they didn’t want their brands associated with. Although creators are aware YouTube is driven by advertising, the sudden implementation of the companies’ policies caught many by surprise.

The letter is supposed to start mending fences, and Wojcicki said her company is, “Committed to listening and using your feedback to help YouTube thrive.” One of the biggest gripes by creators was changing the parameters of YouTube’s Partner Program.

The new changes stipulated a Partner status for creators requiring a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of total watch time in the past 12 months. This, of course, made it much harder for new and small creators to monetize their channels. The previous criteria only required 10,000 total views to join.

Wojcicki said, “For those who have not yet met the new threshold keep creating and building your audience.”

How Does YouTube Plan to Help Creators?

In addressing the frustration of the monetization of their channels, YouTube is going to be launching a program to test a new video upload flow so creators can provide information about their content as it relates to the company’s advertiser-friendly guidelines. The goal is to make the monetization process much smoother. And if advertisers, YouTube, and the algorithm all know what is in the content, it will be much easier to sell ads and generate revenue for creators with fewer false positive demonetizations.

YouTube is also going to roll out different ways to make money from videos.  Wojcicki said the company is expanding the sponsorship/subscription model it has been testing with some creators. These creators have to be selected by YouTube and the model is currently limited to gaming channels. Subscription models are getting more traction as creators look to fund their channel without having to worry about ad revenue.

Wojcicki also promised to do better at responding to its users. She said the company has increased replies by 600 percent and the reply rate has improved by 75 percent when tweets are addressed to its official handles.

The changes Wojcicki plans to implement will help, but small and many established creators who have seen their revenue shrink will have to wait and see if the changes will come as fast as they were taken away.

You can read Wojcicki’s letter here.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "YouTube Addresses Monetization Gripes, Is Your Small Business Affected?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Marketing Ideas for Dentists

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2018-04-20 09:30

Marketing is not usually the first thing on dental professionals’ minds. However, it’s an important part of building a successful dental practice. So for those who are relatively new to the marketing game and simply want to get their message in front of as many local dental patients as possible, here are 20 tips you can use to shape your marketing plan.

Marketing for Dentists Find the Local Market That Is Most Likely to Choose Your Practice

Pinpointing a target audience is an essential component of marketing any business. But for dental practices, it’s not just about choosing a few demographics or interest groups. You have to find the people in your area who are actually the most likely to appreciate the specific services and branding messages that your business has to offer.

Holly Hutchison Patrick, managing editor of Patient News, said in an email interview with Small Business Trends, “In today’s fiercely competitive market, defining your marketing audience solely by age, gender, and income isn’t enough. It’s absolutely critical to identify your target audience — those who are in your local market (live in your practice neighborhood) who have the highest propensity to call your practice. When you target these people, not only will your in-bound call volume increase, but so will your call-conversion rates because the people who are calling are seeking the experience you offer. These are also the prospects who are most like your best patients-of-record and who will accept treatment plans at a higher rate, bring their family, refer friends and colleagues … and who will stay with you and positively impact your bottom line year over year.”

Call Attention to Your Unique Value Proposition

Another must for every marketing tactic, your UVP should be the thing that makes your practice stand out from all the other options that patients might have to choose from.

Patrick says, “It needs to solve a patient problem, appeal to your strongest decision makers, communicate specific value unlike your primary competitors, and be the top reasons your practice is distinctly the better choice over other practices. Your UVP will drive everything else you do when making decisions about marketing your dental practice.”

Focus on the Results

Beyond simply pinpointing your niche, it’s important to always frame the conversation, whether it’s talking with patients in person or creating a page for your website, in a way that calls attention to what the patient gets, rather than what you do for them. “You can enjoy a completely painless experience” sounds more appealing than “we use techniques that lessen the pain during dental procedures.”

Build a Responsive Website

Building a website is another must. But since so many people today use mobile devices to research local businesses, it’s just as important for that website to be responsive and have a professional design that looks great on everything from desktop computers to smartphones.

Include Calls to Action

Each page of your website or content you create online should also be very clear about what a prospective patient’s next step should be. Do you want them to call? Fill out an online form? Be very deliberate and make it super easy for them to reach out to you.

Focus on SEO

For today’s customers to find you online, it’s also incredibly important to optimize that site for search engines. Find keywords that correspond with your unique value proposition so that it goes beyond “dentist/location.” For example, a cosmetic dentistry practice might create pages dedicated to teeth whitening and straightening, while still optimizing tags for your particular location.

Manage Business Listings

Lots of dental patients also find practices by perusing sites like Yelp and Google My Business. So you need to sign up for all of those platforms and make sure your business information is fully updated.

Monitor Your Online Reputation

From there, you also need to monitor those sites, reviews, and other mentions of your business online. Even a couple of negative reviews can drive patients away and make your site more difficult to find. So be sure to respond to reviews and encourage friendly interactions among your loyal patients as well.

Engage With Customers on Social Media

Signing up for a Facebook page or Twitter account isn’t enough to move the needle for a dental practice. If you want these platforms to make an impact, regularly share funny content, ask questions, offer helpful resources, and respond to followers in a really genuine way. The more you can interact with patients and get people to share your content, the greater your reach becomes.

Try Video Marketing

Video is becoming more and more popular on social media and elsewhere online. So creating a series of educational videos that frame your team as experts and show off your expertise can potentially be very valuable.

Brand Your Business Consistently

Throughout all of these marketing materials, make sure you use the same name, logo, tagline and design elements to describe your business. Customers who see those elements more and more are likely to remember them when they are in the market for a new dentist.

Be Active in the Community

As a local business, it can also be beneficial for you to be an active part of the community. Attend events, network, sponsor local sports teams, etc. This can really appeal to those who want a friendly, neighborhood dental practice that shares their values.

Frame Yourself as an Expert

Being active in the community or contributing your expertise to events of local publications can also help you become known as an expert. When people in the area see your name over and over again, you become known as the go-to within your particular niche.

Don’t Ignore Email

Email has become the marketing tool du jour in a lot of industries. For dental practices, it can help to remind current patients to schedule appointments or share helpful resources. Patrick does say that it’s a worthwhile tactic in some situations, but it shouldn’t be your main point of focus either.

Focus on Direct Mail Too

That’s because she believes direct mail can be a much more impactful way to actually get people’s attention.

She explains, “Because email has become the preferred transactional communication style, personally addressed direct mail stands out and gets noticed. Direct mail is key to ushering a new-patient’s journey directly to your practice. It ensures brand awareness … which, for potential patients who search online, leads to a direct “name-based” search for your practice. Contrary to the belief that the journey starts with a random online search, name-based searches ensure you jump the queue and are first in line, ahead of your competitors.”

Educate Patients

In all of your marketing materials, from direct mail to social media, your goal should be to create content that offers genuinely helpful points and tips that patients can use to improve their oral health.

Patrick says, “The educational component is really important. Content-driven marketing campaigns really support a practice. Rather than a promotional drop, patient education contributes to the trust, love, and respect they get from your patients, team, and community. It’s really one of the most effective, proactive, and positive marketing methods to represent their practice and philosophy of patient education.”

Be Ready to Convert

Once your marketing tactics start to work, you’re likely to have more and more people calling into your practice to inquire or schedule appointments. So you need to be sure that you’re ready with enough staff and friendly help to answer those calls and dedicated the time that can be necessary to convert those inquiries into actual patients.

Monitor and Analyze Results

No matter what your initial marketing plan consists of, it’s likely that you’ll make some tweaks along the way.

Patrick says, “Set your perceptions aside. You must know — definitively — what campaigns are driving results. Impartial dental marketing results data give incredibly valuable insights that enable you to make immediate changes and build effective long-term strategies to grow your practice.”

Exercise Patience

However, you do have to wait for a large enough sample size before completely changing your marketing plan.

An effectively designed, targeted, educational dental marketing campaign that is sent regularly and consistently into a dentist’s local market will deliver results. And because marketing lives and breathes, each campaign should be tweaked continually to respond to real-time metrics to capture ever-increasing results and maximize return on investment. When a direct mail campaign is abandoned after one or two mailings, effective frequency – the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made — is never reached … which means your campaign, your ROI, and your patient acquisition goals are immobilized.

Consider Outsourcing the Work

Lots of local dental practices are very lean. So if you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to creating thorough marketing campaigns for your business, it could be beneficial to find a dental marketing firm like Patient News or a consultant who can guide you through the process.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Marketing Ideas for Dentists" was first published on Small Business Trends

Those who Stand at Work Experience 31% Less Back Pain, Study Explains

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2018-04-20 08:30

While digital technology has introduced new levels of efficiency in our workplace, it comes with the negative consequence causing workers to be more sedentary. This has resulted in more people using standing desks to counteract the effects of sitting all day. A new study conducted by Start Standing reinforces the importance of standing while at work.

For one thing, the study reveals 31 percent of standers experience less back pain than sitters.

Standing While Working Helps Back Pain

The Office Lifestyle Study carried out by Start Standing was designed to figure out if standing more and sitting less has a beneficial impact on back pain, neck pain, and body mass index (BMI). According to the organization, most of the studies about standing desks were related to weight loss and productivity.

The study highlights the importance of keeping your workforce fit and healthy, no matter how big your company is. And it all starts by limiting the amount of time your employees stay seated at any given time.

This particular study surveyed 800 office workers who sit or stand at a desk when they are working. The participants provided information about how much they sit or stand at their desks throughout their workday and the level of back or neck pain they experience. The survey also reported details on the gender, weight, and height of each participant.

Key Findings From the Study

In addition to the 31 percent of standers who experienced less back pain, 28 percent also had less neck pain compared to sitters. As far as their BMI, standers saw lower numbers at 24.9, while sitters had an average BMI of 27.1.

The average back pain level for standers was 2.39 and for sitters it came in at 3.47. For neck pain, standers reported average levels of 2.61 and sitters 3.61. The pain level was measured on a scale of 1-10.

The report quotes Dr. Simmons of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, explaining, “A healthy lifestyle, including minimizing musculoskeletal pain and maintaining a healthy BMI, is the cumulative effect of dozens of dietary and physical behaviors. Standing at work is a relatively easily modified behavior that can have a profound impact on quality of life, especially when we consider the close relationship between BMI and musculoskeletal pain.”

What Dr. Simmons is saying is, it takes a comprehensive approach to benefit from all of the positive actions you take to improve your overall health. No one thing will resolve all of your health problems.

Recommendations

Start Standing recommends you get up at least once every hour of every day from your seated position. Set goals you can achieve when you first start out so you don’t get discouraged and stop, and stay informed. The Start Standing site has a 30-day challenge so you can get on your way to standing at work, and it provides valuable resources with research, reviews of standing desks and chairs.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Those who Stand at Work Experience 31% Less Back Pain, Study Explains" was first published on Small Business Trends

Data is Better if You Know What it Means

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2018-04-20 07:30

This cartoon came from a scrap of paper on which I’d drawn a graph and then scribbled something underneath in the middle of the night.

In the dark.

Without my glasses.

So, needless to say, I couldn’t read what it said or remember what the joke was the next morning.

The funny part is, after a good deal of racking my brain, that very situation actually inspired the caption for this cartoon.

Maybe I should write more captions in the middle of the night.

This article, "Data is Better if You Know What it Means" was first published on Small Business Trends