1. Featured Articles

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    1. What Comic Sans and Stan Lee Can Teach You About Marketing

      The other day, Naomi and I were tossing around some playful banter about the font “Comic Sans,” my personal grudge against such an innocent font, and her suggestion that as ugly as it is, Comic Sans actually has a place in society (for which I am sending her a t-shirt that says “Sometimes when I’m [...] Related Posts What Tiger Woods Can Teach You About Marketing
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    2. Prepare to Be Interrupted: Part 2

      Prepare to Be Interrupted: Part 2
      From Jim Blasingame: Delivered by FedEx. “Well, it’s really happened,” you say to your employees. “What we hoped would never happen — but always knew could happen — has happened.”    Any one of the following could qualify as the subject of your lament:   You were hit with an area-wide, multi-day electrical outage. A fire or storm damaged or destroyed your business. A major hard drive with significant files crashed and is unrecoverable. The world’s most destructive computer virus infected your computer. [Insert your nightmare here.] Whether it’s an act of God or human error, you’re out of business until your team executes Plan B. You know, the three-point recovery plan we discussed in Part 1? You developed and structured Plan B, didn’t you?   Good. Now let’s implement that plan based on three areas of importance:   1.     Operational recovery. This is what you have to do to ...
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    3. How to Create a PR Crisis Strategy Before You Need It

      How to Create a PR Crisis Strategy Before You Need It
      From Thursday Bram, Wise Bread: The day you realize that you need a crisis strategy is usually the day you have a crisis. It's rare for small business owners to think about how to handle a crisis when they aren't in crisis mode. Having a strategy in place, especially when it comes to public relations, is absolutely necessary. With the help of the Internet, a negative story can be widespread in a matter of minutes, leaving no time to formulate a response on the spot.   If you already have a plan on how to respond to a problem, however, you have a better chance of making sure that your side is heard and reducing the impact of a negative situation.   Think Worst Case Scenario   It's not easy to think of every potential crisis ahead of time — there are just too many variables. But you can put a ...
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      Mentions: Discover
    4. Small Business News: Are You LinkedIn?

      Small Business News: Are You LinkedIn?
      By now you’ve probably heard of LinkedIn, the business oriented networking social media site whic appeals primarily to business two business networking encounters and has even begun being used for job recruitment and other business functions. Groups and status updates make LinkedIn even more unique and usable for small businesses enabling you to customize the site for your purposes. But is it time fr Facebook to move over. Well, maybe not yet. LinkedIn is distinctly different than both Facebookand TwitterRead More From Small Business TrendsSmall Business News: Are You LinkedIn?
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    5. 5 Ways To Put Your LinkedIn Profile To Work For Your Business

      5 Ways To Put Your LinkedIn Profile To Work For Your Business
      LinkedIn is a VERY powerful way for business professionals to make connections and grow their business. But if your profile is not working for you, it's a wasted asset. Jerry Allocca is the founder of CORE Interactive (www.CORE.bz), an award-winning team of Internet specialists. He's given us 5 easy to do and concrete tips in how to make your LinkedIn profile work (and work hard) for your business. Jerry is a frequent industry speaker and author of the much anticipated book “Connected Culture: The art of communicating with the digital generation.” Jerry teaches a popular hands-on workshop in a computer lab where he shows professionals how to If you are like many business professionals, you have a LinkedIn account (your professional online profile), but you don’t really know how to use it beyond the basics like accepting invitations or doing research on someone and his ...
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    6. How SMBs Can Start Using Facebook Places Now

      How SMBs Can Start Using Facebook Places Now
      From Jolie O'Dell, Mashable: If you're a business owner and you've heard the recent news about Facebook's attention-grabbing new feature for location-sharing and checkins, you're probably itching to find out what Facebook Places can do for your business and how it can help you reach out to would-be customers and loyal regulars in your community.   While Facebook isn’t ready to announce any special brand-platform relationships or tie-ins just yet, one Facebook ad exec told us that the company does have plans to integrate Places with its larger marketing offerings for SMBs. The best thing a business owner can do to prepare for those offerings is get familiar with the ins and outs of Facebook and location marketing now.   Here are a few pointers for how SMBs can use Facebook Places and other marketing tools starting today.   1. Start a Facebook Page   In our conversation ...
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    7. Would You Do It All Over Again?

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: On second thought... Building a business from scratch can be a grueling process, that's why tech entrepreneur Neil Patel says, "If I could do it all over again...I wouldn't." That's not to say that he would go back to a normal 9-to-5 job. Instead, Patel says he enjoys the challenge of growing an existing business. So if he had it to do all over again, he would look to purchase an underperforming business and help it achieve its potential. To that end, Patel gives step-by-step advice on finding businesses that would make good purchases, how to negotiate with owners, and even how to raise money to finance an acquisition. A new way to alienate airline customers. Sure you can raise prices, charge for ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    8. 7 Easy, Low Cost Ways to Generate Leads and Keep Customers

      7 Easy, Low Cost Ways to Generate Leads and Keep Customers
      From Ivana Taylor, Small Business Trends: The latest Vistage International Confidence Index results for Q2 2010 were just released on July, 2010.  The good news is that small business CEOs are WAY more confident today than they were at the same time last year.   Realistically, you can say that the 2500 responding CEOs were cautiously optimistic about the future.    According to the survey, small and medium sized businesses have accepted the new state of the economy and have positioned themselves to do more with less so that they can be profitable throughout the next year.   The survey also showed that CEOs hoped that their profitability would come from getting and keeping customers through innovative products and services.    Now that you’ve read that, you’re probably thinking that this sounds great, but where should you begin?   Since small business CEOs are most concerned with innovation,  lead generation, and funding their ...
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    9. 7 Ways Web Analytics Can Improve Your Marketing

      7 Ways Web Analytics Can Improve Your Marketing
      From Ramon Ray: For most of us, the term web analytics is synonymous with the free Google Analytics tool that many small businesses use to track site traffic.  If you’re using analytics of any type to gloat (or mourn) over your page views and unique visitors,  you could be missing a powerful opportunity to use web analytics to improve your marketing. Pierre DeBois of Web analytics firm Zimana, who happens to be a friend, is an analytics expert who has crafted seven ways you can start using web analytics today. Try them to improve your marketing and grow your business: 1. Measure the cost effectiveness of offline advertising Your business might spend hundreds of dollars on a flier but you are not sure if people will check out the website for more information. Why not include a URL to a tagged landing page that provides more specific information and ...
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    10. Leverage Virtual Workers for your Start-Up

      As we pass Labor Day, it is a good day to look at the changing labor force in the US, and how that affects startups. In April, I wrote about “Virtual Workers as a Start-Up Resource” and the trends we saw then have accelerated. Independent workers make up 30% of the nation’s workforce, according to the Freelancers Union.I spoke with Gary Swart, CEO of ODesk (#286 on the INC 500), a marketplace for online workers and companies that hire them. With over 715,000 contractors and 215,000 employers, ODesk shows an increase (up until the past quarter) of Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) utilizing contractors via their online marketplace. They report that contractor earnings were up 82% from this time last year. The average overall rates that ODesk contractors make is pretty low compared to US minimum wage – but that reflects the global nature of their business ...
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    11. Norm Brodsky on Solving the Pricing Riddle

      Dear Norm, In October, I parted ways with my former employer. I have decided to start my own business creating mobile websites and apps for businesses. The trouble is, I have no idea how to set pricing. My overhead is $7,044 a month, and it takes me about two weeks to develop each website or app. I have one client, a friend of the family, whom I charged $500 for a huge website, which I know was too little, but I'm worried about losing customers by setting my rates too high. Then again, I need to eat! What do you advise? Kate McGinley, founder, McGinley Media Pittsburgh Everything has a price, as the saying goes, but a lot of people struggle with figuring out what the right price is. I get more inquiries about pricing than about any other subject. The classic mistake is the one Kate was ...
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    12. Norm Brodsky on Keeping Your Business Concept Simple

      Norm Brodsky on Keeping Your Business Concept Simple
      The final query this month comes from Meri West, who asked about choosing a name for her home-cleaning business in the July/August issue: Dear Norm, Can I ask you a follow-up question? How many add-ons can I have before I start looking desperate and willing to do anything? For example, I'd like to offer swimming pool maintenance -- balancing chemicals, scrubbing walls, cleaning skimmers, and such. And I could also do light pet care, such as walking or brushing a dog or taking pets to a vet. I could offer basic plant care as well, and light home maintenance such as cleaning lint filters, dealing with air and water filters, and replacing toilet seats. How much can I offer without appearing to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none? Meri West, founder, A Well Kept Home Jacksonville, Florida At least Meri understands the risk she runs by offering to ...
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    13. Solving the Pricing Riddle

      Dear Norm, In October, I parted ways with my former employer. I have decided to start my own business creating mobile websites and apps for businesses. The trouble is, I have no idea how to set pricing. My overhead is $7,044 a month, and it takes me about two weeks to develop each website or app. I have one client, a friend of the family, whom I charged $500 for a huge website, which I know was too little, but I'm worried about losing customers by setting my rates too high. Then again, I need to eat! What do you advise? Kate McGinley, founder, McGinley Media Pittsburgh Everything has a price, as the saying goes, but a lot of people struggle with figuring out what the right price is. I get more inquiries about pricing than about any other subject. The classic mistake is the one Kate was ...
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    14. Search Marketing, Twitter-Style!

      Search Marketing, Twitter-Style!
      From Danny Sullivan: By now, plenty of businesses get the concept of search marketing: ensuring that customers can find you when they do searches on major search engines like Google or Bing. But you can do search marketing on Twitter, too. You just have to think differently about your approach.   “Regular” Search Marketing   At the major search engines, people are constantly asking for answers. For example, someone searching at Google is basically saying "Hey Google, do you know the answer to..." whatever they're interested in. Google responds by providing a list of possible answers, a list of search results.   How do you get to be one of the answers that Google or Bing provides? If you have a great website, perhaps helped by a little search engine optimization, you might be included in the top results for free. Alternatively, or in addition to free listings, you might also try ...
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    15. A Must-Read List for First-Timers

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: A list every first-time entrepreneur needs to read. We've already given you a head start by highlighting the best industries for starting a business today. Now, at VentureBeat, VC and former entrepreneur Don Rainey provides would-be entrepreneurs with a fantastic list of the eight things he wished he knew before starting a business. In short, successful projects show positive signs from Day 1; bad employees never quit; and when something isn't working, cut your losses quickly. Does the U.S. education system foster entrepreneurship? Our education system may not be perfect, but a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans credit their schooling for instilling an appreciation of entrepreneurship far more than our European counterparts. 51 percent of Americans polled said their education made them interested ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    16. 10 Things to Do Before You Start Your Start-Up

      Is your great idea good enough? Can it grow in this slow economy? Can it become profitable, and return on any investments it requires? Well, there's no way to know until you try, right? Hardly. There are some ways to prepare yourself, test your idea, and improve it before you actually found a company around it. We've compiled the best examples from recent Inc. articles and Inc.com guides of tips for the very early steps of building a start-up. 1. Scope out your industry. Or, if you're just starting to think about entrepreneurship in general, find the best industry to fit your style and talents. For example, this year's burgeoning industries include interactive technology (from mobile app design to tech-savvy translation), wellness (healthy beverages), and little luxuries, such as baked goods. When you start honing in on a specialty area, seek out counselors and talk ...
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    17. Put Your Business to the Test

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: Is selling your business the ultimate test? According to entrepreneur and Inc.com contributor John Warrillow, it is. Writing in Canada's Globe and Mail, Warrillow responds to a reader who asks why an entrepreneur would ever want to sell a business that he or she has spent a significant amount of their lifetime building. Warrillow opines that building a business involves an increasing amount of difficulty as the business grows more complex. As he sees it, each step--from working out of a home office to running a thriving business with multiple layers of management--is building up to the point of being able to sell that business. As he explains, "The hardest part, and in my view, the ultimate test, is being able to sell it to ...
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    18. A Nation of Schizophrenic Spenders?

      Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today: The new abnormal economy. With unemployment still hovering at almost 10 percent, who are all those folks at the mall? How is it possible that Starbucks, the cliche indicator of the splurge economy, is enjoying a 61 percent increase in operating income? How is Apple's net income up 94 percent last quarter? BMW's profits surging? Bloomberg Businessweek attempts to nail this down, by writing about the "nation of schizophrenic consumers. "They splurge on high-end discretionary items and cut back on brand-name toothpaste and shampoo." The chief economist or the International Council of Shopping Centers says "It was all dollar stores and luxury. You have this bifurcated market. This year, it started to move to the middle a little. Now it's kind of moved back ...
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    19. Congrats, Graduate. Here's A Franchise.

      Happy graduation! I got you a business. Hiring a kid to work in the family business after graduation is one thing. Buying them a business for graduation is quite another. According to the Wall Street Journal, more and more parents are buying businesses, especially franchises, for their kids to take over when they graduate. According to the story, "many parents see business ownership as a better bet for their kids' future than a graduate degree," and they believe franchises have a built-in marketing system and brand recognition. Though there are obvious risks involved, one parent who bought his son an internet-consulting franchise told the Journal, "As a parent, the best gift you can ever receive is to see your children happy and successful." Study shows dismal outlook for small-businesses. The National Small Business Association released its 2010 Mid-Year Economic Report yesterday, and the picture it paints isn't pretty. According ...
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