1. Featured Articles

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    1. How to Start a Pet Care Business

      When we walk by pet-store windows and see the puppies in the window, what person doesn't want to stop right then and take one home? As pet lovers, we often care about our animals as much as our family members (sometimes even more). So it makes sense to be interested in starting a career in the pet store industry. According to ownership statistics gathered from the American Pet Products Association's 2009/2010 survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, equating to 71.4 million homes. And in 2010 alone, it is estimated that $47.7 billion will be spent on our pets in the United States (or roughly $658.23 per pet owner, on average). So how you can get a chunk of that? "I am a firm believer that you could open a specialized pet business across the street from a PETCO or a PetSmart ...
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    2. 3 BIG Reasons to Have a Strong Presence on LinkedIn

      With over 65 million members, LinkedIn has become an essential tool for small businesses. More and more people are joining and using the site to connect with others in their field and in related fields, creating connections that they can use in may different ways. If you have not yet joined LinkedIn, you’ll want to do so as soon as possible. Here are three reasons for you to have a strong presence on that the social media site. LinkedIn I
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    3. How to Focus on Your Ideal Customer

      How to Focus on Your Ideal Customer
      From Maria Ross, Wise Bread: Small business owners are ambitious. You want to capture as many sales as you can — and want to build a brand that will get you there. You drool with envy at big businesses like Apple or Nike who can rally their "tribes" with ease when they introduce new offerings.    Wouldn't it be great, sigh, if you I could just launch and the masses come running, Twitter lights up like a house on fire, and the launch video I created with my Flip camera and my dog goes viral?   This is what I love about creating brand strategies for small businesses. They are hungry and they are "biased towards action," as an old manager of mine used to say. That's exciting.   What becomes less exciting is being the headmistress forcing them to walk before they can run. That kind of brand loyalty can't ...
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    4. How to Resonate With Your Audience

      How to Resonate With Your Audience
      From Guy Kawasaki, Alltop: Nancy Duarte is the CEO of Duarte Design and author of two books on business communications. Her first book, Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, distills her years of experience creating presentations for some of the world’s best brands and thought leaders into best practices. On the occasion of the publisher of her second book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, I conducted this interview with her to help people understand how to use stories in business.   Q: Why are presentations so boring despite years of everyone complaining and people like you and Garr Reynolds providing so much good advice? A: Great presentations take time and discipline. People are strapped for time and there have been no best practices in this medium until Garr’s book and then mine. Business schools don’t teach visual communications yet professionals spend an ...
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    5. Review Sites Lead to Brand Insights

      Review Sites Lead to Brand Insights
      From Susan Kuchinskas: Two years ago, Michael Grant hadn't heard of Yelp. Today, it's his best source for new customers.   "I have Yellow Pages ads and Google ads, but Yelp is my best advertisement," says Grant, co-owner of Albion Plumbing in Oakland, Calif.   Consumer reviews, on sites including InsiderPages, Fav Rav, Angie's List and TripAdvisor, have become an important source of leads for small business owners of all kinds. It makes perfect sense. Word of mouth has always been recognized as the best kind of advertising, and the hardest to get. So-called social media tools -- like Facebook, blogs and these review sites -- have made it a lot easier for customer to spread the word about your business.   A recent survey by Internet marketing company R2integrated found that almost 90 percent of respondents (who were all marketers) were at least somewhat influenced by online reviews, with critiques written ...
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    6. No More Yawns: Tips for Better Staff Meetings

      No More Yawns: Tips for Better Staff Meetings
      From Ken Ross, ExpertCEO: If only all staff meetings could be as entertaining as they are when TV boss Michael Scott on NBC’s sitcom The Office is in charge. Alas, for most of us, staff meetings can be a big yawn. Having attended and run thousands of these meetings, I know they are often brimming with bickering, minutiae, absenteeism and an overall lack of focus.   So why bother? The answer is two-fold: communication and collaboration.   I have always felt well-informed about what was happening in and around my companies. But I am often frustrated by the lack of initiative other members of my teams have taken in communicating with one another. The folks in product design needed to speak directly to the people in marketing. Marketing needed to be in close contact with sales and engineering. The times they did reach out to one another, it was often through ...
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    7. Google Media Solutions Series: Part 1, Back-to-Basics with Google AdWords and Search Marketing

      Over the next four weeks, the Google Agency Blog will be debunking common myths, passing on easy implementation tips, and sharing general how-to of Google advertising. We'll be cross-posting to this blog, since most of the tips are relevant to small businesses. You'll be able to find all the tips in one place under the label 'Google Media Solutions Series'.So, let's get started with Google’s search marketing product, Google AdWords. Using Google AdWords, you can target Google.com and the Google Search Network. This is a great solution to connect with potential customers who are searching for your clients’ products and services. It is flexible, measurable, and accountable. With AdWords, you can easily manage the spend of the account and control costs by setting a daily budget and maximum cost-per-click (CPC). Another benefit is that it’s easy to make changes to your clients’ ad ...
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    8. How to Spot a Lying CEO

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: Fibbing in the corner office. After a decade blighted by massive accounting frauds and scores of angry investors, researchers have finally detected ways to spot a lying CEO. A professor and student from Stanford's Graduate School of Business studied thousands of corporate earnings calls for common indicators of deception, and today NPR reports the findings. It found top signs to include using words like "we" and "our team" and emphasizing the positive as a form of overcompensation. The Stanford researchers have also put the data into a computerized speech detector that can issue red flags when signs of deception occur. While the researchers have received a lot of requests to use the technology, not everyone has responded so optimistically. At least one commenter said basically: "Thanks ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    9. 5 Tips for Creating Winning Small Business Videos

      5 Tips for Creating Winning Small Business Videos
      Video content is in – it has been proven that websites yield better responses when a video is featured. It’s no surprise; the average Web surfer has a short attention span, and prefers a shiny moving picture to wading through pages of text. Videos grab attention, engage viewers and, if executed properly, can succinctly communicate your entire value proposition in as little as two minutes. The power of video continues to impress me. Some of my company’s videos have beenRead More From Small Business Trends5 Tips for Creating Winning Small Business Videos
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    10. How the Recession Inspired One Banker to Quit His Job and Start His Own Business

      How the Recession Inspired One Banker to Quit His Job and Start His Own Business
      From Bianca Male, Business Insider: During a time when most Americans are just trying to hold on to their jobs, it’s not common to hear about someone choosing to quit, and doing so to launch their own business. Yet, that’s exactly what Dan Leahy, 25, did last year when he abandoned his Wall Street job to co-found VillageVines, an online membership club that helps New York City restaurants fill last-minute empty tables and gives diners discounted access to high-end restaurants. Although Leahy originally went into finance with the goal of eventually starting his own business, he never expected it to happen so fast. The recession changed things, as it did for many, but in Leahy’s case, the downturn was actually a blessing in two-fold. The impact of the economy on the restaurant industry opened up a unique entrepreneurial opportunity, and the resulting change in the environment on ...
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    11. Small Business, Washington D.C. Style

      Small Business, Washington D.C. Style
      Many of us agree that small business owners and entrepreneurs are the engine of growth for the U.S. economy. And yet we watch big business pulling at the levers of power and wonder what they know that we don't. When it comes to the economy, changing tax law and politics, you need to know what big business knows--especially if it will impact your business decisions for the next 12 months or more ...
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    12. The DIYMarketers Quick Start Guide to Marketing With Video

      The DIYMarketers Quick Start Guide to Marketing With Video
      From Ivana Taylor, Small Business Trends: Are you using video to market your business?  If not, you’re going to be lost in a sea of search results and all the time, effort and money that you’ve put into your online marketing won’t be getting the return you were hoping for.   Why video?   All the traffic is going to video. By 2013, 90 percent of all web traffic will be video.  To say that videos are an untapped marketing opportunity for small business would be a gross understatement.  As you’re reading this article, take a moment to go over to Google and search on a keyword for your industry.  If you don’t see videos at the top, then you have the opportunity to own that space. Google gives videos valuable real estate. Since Google purchased YouTube, they’ve given video’s some coveted top space in ...
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    13. Journey to the Center of the Marketing Universe

      Journey to the Center of the Marketing Universe
      Journey to the Center of the Marketing UniverseThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing Journey to the Center of the Marketing UniverseThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing There was a time, just a few short years ago really, when small businesses finally concluded they must use the web to supplement their marketing efforts and create another potential channel for marketing messages. Today’s business must evolve that thinking radically again [...]
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    14. New Contests and Competitions for Growing Businesses

      New Contests and Competitions for Growing Businesses
      Our list this week has some great chances for small businesses to win recognition, cash prizes and business services. This list of contests, competitions and awards is brought to you by Small Business Trends and Smallbiztechnology.com. ********* British Airways Face of Opportunity Contest Enter by October 21, 2010 As part of its Face to Face program, British Airways is holding an entrepreneurial competition, with the chance to win free international airline tickets to help you do business globally. Some 250 small business owners will win international airfare to anywhere British Airways flies. The top three video entrants will have the opportunity to present their pitches to a celebrity panel, and the grand prize winner gets 10 international airline tickets. To enter, answer this question: “If you could travel to any city outside the United States to grow your business, where would you go and how would the trip help meet ...
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    15. 4 Ways to Manage E-Tailer Shipping Costs

      4 Ways to Manage E-Tailer Shipping Costs
      From Paul Nolan: Delivered by FedEx.   While browsing in a hotel gift shop during a recent vacation, I saw a Halloween figurine that I thought my wife would like. This created a “bad news, good news, bad news” situation.   The bad news: I didn’t have my wallet with me, and I forgot to go back and buy the item before returning home. The good news: I found the same item online through an independent retailer. The bad news: the $15 figurine cost $9.95 for ground shipping.   I called the online retailer to ask about this. She explained that it was a flat fee designed to encourage shoppers to buy more. “You can order up to $99 in merchandise and pay the same $9.95 shipping fee,” she said. While that’s great for someone who wants to buy more, it left me feeling cheated.   How to handle shipping ...
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    16. Customer Service Is Everyone’s Job

      Customer Service Is Everyone’s Job
      Customer Service Is Everyone’s JobThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing Customer Service Is Everyone’s JobThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing The International Business Series is brought to you by UPS. Discover the new logistics. It levels playing fields and lets you act locally or globally. It’s for the individual entrepreneur, the small business, or the large company. Put the new logistics to work for you. [...]
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      Mentions: Discover
    17. U.S. gives small firms more access to microloans

      U.S. gives small firms more access to microloans
      Under the Small Business Administration program, firms can now borrow up to $50,000 — up from $35,000. And Congress has tripled the amount available to lend out. More accustomed to allocating money by the million, the federal government is stepping up efforts to make loans as small as a few hundred dollars to some of the nation's tiniest companies. The goal is to create jobs, one little loan at a time. "In this environment, every job is crucial," said Eric Zarnikow, who helps run the Small Busin
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