1. Featured Articles

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    1. How Business Owners Get Results through Social Media

      How Business Owners Get Results through Social Media
      From Sophia Lundberg, American Express OPEN: Earlier this year, I spoke at the American Express OPEN Women’s Business Summit, where I met many amazing business owners and learned more about the challenges and opportunities facing them.  I also learned that among the educational discussions offered, those on social media generated a lot of excitement.  So we’ve created an online resource – openforum.com/socialmedia – to provide articles, videos, and other educational content on social media.  With the constantly changing landscape of social media, it seems that even if you know a lot, there is always more you can learn.     We also recently hosted a social media roundtable discussion, moderated by Small Business Trends founder and OPEN Forum author Anita Campbell.  An Insight Guide from the discussion will soon be posted to OPEN Forum, but the following are some highlights:   Establish Expertise: Suzanne Cerra, partner in the law firm Nukk-Freeman ...
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    2. Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire

      Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire
      From Matthew E. May: One of the most popular innovation blogsites is Braden Kelley’s Blogging Innovation. Braden has a number of well-known contributors—including myself—which makes for varied and interesting reading.  His company, Business Strategy Innovation, advises companies both big and small.   Kelley just published the book, Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire: A Roadmap to a Sustainable Culture of Ingenuity and Purpose. I liked the title and found the book to be practical and representative of my own experience in working with companies on innovation strategy and culture change, so I asked him a few questions.   Q: First of all, explain the title.   A: My focus is not on imagining some idealistic, utopian model for innovation, but instead on helping existing organizations (warts and all) identify and remove their unique barriers to innovation—thus making their capacity for innovation burn brighter. My thesis, my going-in proposition, if you will ...
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    3. Ready For Your First Mobile App? It's Not Just For Big Companies

      Andrew Chalmers is the founder of Bizness Apps and he claims to have the simplest way for small businesses to create their own iPhone app. Bizness Apps uses a 5-step process to help small business owners create and customize apps, and utilize technologies such as GPS check-in, push notifications, and sharing to social media. The solution costs $39 a month, with no contract. I asked Andrew a few questions: Should every business have an app? Any business who wants to engage customers on a mobile level should definitely create an app, and the sooner the better. Having a mobile presence will prove to be vital to a businesses success within a few years. There are so many app creation tools what are some of the differences in the services and how to decide which app creation tool is best for you? While the Bizness Apps platform has many tools and ...
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    4. 12 Business Founders Who Succeeded Without a College Degree

      12 Business Founders Who Succeeded Without a College Degree
      From Glen Stansberry, Wise Bread: As the cost of college education rises, it leaves many young people (and their parents) with a hard question: Is college really worth it?   In fact, I almost dropped out halfway through my junior year, but after a chat with my father and a semester break, I managed to eventually squeak by with a degree. It certainly didn't keep me from asking myself what I would have done with those five extra years of my life. Seth Godin made waves last year by providing an opportunity for an "Alternative MBA" program. Seth designed this because most colleges have a system for students built on life avoidance and racking up debt (to quote Chris Guillebeau).   Here are a few incredibly successful business founders who decided to take the leap and start a business without going to college. Not only did they succeed — many have some ...
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    5. Feed Your Head

      Feed Your Head
      From Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs: Are you reading regularly? Are you finding business books that change your perspective? If not, why not? Reading is like getting inexpensive advice from mentors. You just have to do the applying part.   Some of My Top Reads   Business Stripped Bare by Sir Richard Branson   This book gave me a lot of perspective on how Branson configured his various Virgin businesses and also gave me advice on what to focus on, and what to let slip past. It even gave me the fuel to launch my Human Business Works, when I started seeing how it would make sense. I felt like Branson gave me the nod with what he said in his book. You might find it of similar value.   How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis   The book itself has lots of personality, and I liked his thoughts on running businesses, as well ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    6. Are Small Business Loans Getting Easier to Obtain?

      Are Small Business Loans Getting Easier to Obtain?
      Here’s some good news for entrepreneurs seeking financing: Big banks are starting to look more favorably on small business loans again. A growing number of large banks are taking a second look at small business loan applications that had previously been rejected, The Wall Street Journal reports. In these “second look” programs, banks review rejected loan applications. Some banks are giving rejected applications a second look automatically; others will do so if the loan applicant requests it. Some banks focusRead More From Small Business TrendsAre Small Business Loans Getting Easier to Obtain?
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    7. The Worst Elevator Pitch Ever

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: How not to approach an angel. Elevator pitches can be painful, but self-proclaimed "social media strat" expert Alex Blagg takes pain to a whole new level. Check out the hilarious, if awkward, exchange between Blagg and an unsuspecting super angel (read: actor), in this video posted on TechCrunch, if only for the line: "Give me your seed, super angel man." The Verizon iPhone saga continues Can you hear me now? According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple might soon be ending an exclusive deal with AT&T that will enable Verizon to begin selling the beloved iPhone. The article intimates that the success of the Android has played a key role in this development. "The touchscreen handset is facing pressure in the U.S. from phones running ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    8. New Facebook Groups Could Be Big for Business

      New Facebook Groups Could Be Big for Business
      New Facebook Groups Could Be Big for BusinessThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing New Facebook Groups Could Be Big for BusinessThis content from: Duct Tape Marketing Facebook rolled out a few unpredicted changes this week with an eye of getting users to communicate with friends in new ways. Probably the most important announcement was the Facebook groups function. (Not to be confused with the ability to create public [...]
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    9. 4 Technologies to Help You Out-Innovate Larger Companies

      4 Technologies to Help You Out-Innovate Larger Companies
      From PRASAD THAMMINENI, Small Business Trends: A business can’t grow unless it can meet its customers’ needs. Large companies can hire consultants to run focus groups and take surveys, but how can a small business solicit customer feedback to spark innovation? I believe that smaller companies can use their size as an advantage – forging closer, personal relationships with customers. And leveraging these relationships, and the conversations they spark, to out-innovate the big guys.   Here are four technologies my team and I use to let our customers do the hard work of coming up with innovative ideas! Taking advantage of the ease of email communication. Every time someone signs up for our service one of our team members sends them an email. These welcome emails have sparked a number of interesting dialogs where customers have told us about their problems and how they hope our service will help them. Understanding ...
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    10. The Importance of Not Being Earnest

      The Importance of Not Being Earnest
      From Richard Branson, The Virgin Group: The four P's -- people, product, price and promotion -- are often cited as the keys to a successful business. Yet this list omits a vital ingredient that has characterized Virgin companies throughout our 40 years: Fun, with a capital F!   When we started Virgin Atlantic in 1984, we had some great people and lots of good ideas about how to do things differently. Sadly, we did not have a lot of money to take it to the streets. Compared to the giant establishment players of the time -- TWA, Pan-Am and British Airways -- we had a tiny fleet, if one plane qualifies as a fleet, and a minuscule advertising budget.   We could not do much about the single plane -- leased from a generous man at Boeing. We had to make the most of our meager marketing money. At the urging of the late Sir Freddie ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    11. How to Manage Your Presence on Google Maps

      How to Manage Your Presence on Google Maps
      From Samuel Axon, Mashable: Did you know you can use Google Maps to promote your business? Many of the features that you might normally associate with Yelp are actually included in what Google calls Place Pages. And since they're integrated tightly with the hugely popular Google Maps, you won't want to ignore them.   Even if Google already lists you, you'll want to claim your page and make sure all the information is accurate. Either creating a Place Page for your business or acquiring its existing one is easy if you know how to do it.   Below is an introduction to using Google's provided tools to incentivize would-be customers or clients to stop by. It will get you started with managing your presence on Google Maps, but for the deeper cuts you might eventually want to refer to Google's vast guide to Google Places.   Claim Your ...
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    12. Sometimes No is the Best Way to Earn Future Business

      Sometimes No is the Best Way to Earn Future Business
      By Erin Verbeck Recently my husband and I experienced the epitome of poor customer service during an already stressful time when we were moving, selling one home and purchasing two others.  This story is too good not to share as it has such a great lesson for small business owners. We had been scheduled to close on an income property for four weeks. Knowing the date we were closing, we made several arrangements to have the property all set up to move in the day we closed. Not only had we loaded the Uhaul for my younger sister to move across country to begin a new life in the property, but we’d scheduled utilities to be set up so she could hit the ground running when she started her new job the following Monday. My parents had even made the 12 hour trip to town to help with the ...
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    13. Media Platform Thinking

      Media Platform Thinking
      From Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs: Part of the beauty of social media is that you can build a free (or inexpensive) media platform to accompany your business. Small places like AJ Bombers in Milwaukee and Jaguar Data in in Fort Myers can build the communications platform they want to represent their business. But to simply sign up for various accounts and use them willy nilly will get you pretty bad results. Here are some ways to build a useful media platform.   Start with a Home Base   Where do you want all this attention to go in the end? Here's a hint: you're only renting your space on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you don't build a site of your own, then you're missing an opportunity to build a sustainable business media platform. Remember, Facebook owns all the marketing data for your site and they don't ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    14. Eight Questions Before Starting Up

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: Tough questions for new entrepreneurs. Taking the leap to start your own business means asking yourself some tough questions, and not all of them have to do with business plans and funding options. In a guest post on VentureBeat, Patrick Driessen, CEO of the Asian-Pacific tech incubator Seed Accelerator, lists some of the up-close and personal questions entrepreneurs need to ask themselves before attempting to start their own businesses. For example, do you have enough supportive friends and family? As Driessen explains, starting a business "can be depressing, which is why it's important to have a support system--to console you or kick your ass when necessary." 4.5 million and counting. Sales of Apple's iPad have officially reached epic proportions, according to Bernstein Research. CNBC ...
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    15. Jim Collins: 16 Key Insights For Taking Your Business from Good to Great (World Business Forum - WBF10)

      Jim Collins: 16 Key Insights For Taking Your Business from Good to Great (World Business Forum - WBF10)
      I'm honored to be one of the 60 bloggers at HSM's World Business Forum NY (WBF10). We've just heard Jim Collins give a stunning presentation about the principles of "good to great". Inspiring and thought provoking. His presentation was NOT about technology but I did glean several principles related to technology from his presentation. First I'll cover some highlights of his presentation overall, then in a subsequent post I'll offer my take on how his presentation applies to technology. Search on Twitter for WBF10 and you'll find links and Tweets on more coverage. Jim Collins Presentation Overall 1. Greatness is not a function of circumstance. It's a function of choice. Greatness is not hampered or defined by how things are around you. You can take several companies all with the same circumstances (good or bad), and it is the leadership who will define ...
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