1. Featured Articles

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    1. 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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    2. 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
    3. 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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    4. 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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    5. 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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    6. 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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    7. 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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    8. 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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    9. 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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    10. 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
    11. 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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    12. 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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    13. 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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    14. 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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    15. A Parliament of Night-Owl Entrepreneurs

      Who needs sleep when there are start-ups to launch? Between endless e-mail conversations and talkative co-workers, getting actual work done during the day isn't always an easy proposition. The New York Times has an interesting article about a group of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and software developers who have come up with a nocturnal solution to that problem. Calling themselves the New York Nightowls, this group of roughly 30 techies meets every Tuesday night from 10 p.m. until about 4 a.m. to to work on pet projects and side ventures that they normally don't have the time to focus on during the traditional workday. As one of the group's co-founders explains, "It's six hours of uninterrupted, productive time where you're surrounded by other creative people doing awesome things." The concept of late-night work sessions seems to a perfect fit for New York, it is the ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    16. The Internet Never Forgets

      The Web of regret. Memory in the age of omnipresent Internet is the subject of The New York Times Magazine's cover story this week, which highlights some fascinating (or disturbing, depending on which side of the equation you fall into) statistics. One: 75 percent of recruiters and HR professionals research candidates online - from blogs to Twitter to last night's photos on Facebook. And 70 percent say they've rejected candidates due to findings. The story cites a British gal fired from her office job for posting on Facebook: "I'm so totally bored!"? And remember the 25-year-old teacher denied a degree (and, ostensibly, a job) due to an MySpace photo of her posing as a "drunken pirate?" A federal district judge rejected the teacher's claim that the university had violated her First Amendment rights. The Times's take-away? "It's often said that we live in a ...
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    17. The Old Spice Video Phenomenon

      Behind the scenes of the Old Spice viral videos. If you haven't seen Old Spice's incredibly successful (and hilarious) attempt to translate its TV campaign into an Internet phenomenon, expect a forward from your co-worker, cousin, or junior high prom date any minute now. Advertising firm Wieden + Kennedy took Isaiah Mustafa, the manly, shirtless baritone from the absurdist Old Spice TV ads and had him respond to queries on Twitter with personalized, funny 30-second spots. When you watch them, the first question that comes to mind is how exactly they're churning them out so fast--and what kind of Internet genius is writing the copy. Along with a bunch of regular Twitter users, Kevin Rose, Guy Kawasaki, Demi Moore, and Alyssa Milano already got their own video personalized spots in real time. Fast Company's Mark Borden spoke with Wieden's global interactive creative director Iaian Tait about ...
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    18. Google's Play on Gaming

      Google's secret social-gaming investment. Tech Crunch reports that Google quietly invested somewhere between $100 million and $200 million in Zynga, the social gaming giant that is projected to earn $350 million in revenue for the first half of 2010. Sources tell Tech Crunch that Zynga will be the cornerstone of Google Games, to launch later this year. "Not only will Zynga's games give Google Games a solid base of social games to build on, but it will also give Google the beginning of a true social graph as users log into Google to play the games," the post says. Zynga has now raised around $500 million in venture capital during the past year alone. How to survive the early years. With a popular iPhone app and loyal Web traffic, online-music service Pandora is thriving. But back when it launched in March 2000, amidst the bursting dot-com bubble, things ...
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    19. A New Gig for Larry King

      From CNN host to bagel pitchman. Fresh off his announcement that he will be retiring from his long-running CNN talk show, Larry King has already moved on to his new career. King has signed up with Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., a Delray Beach, Florida-based bagel eatery to serve as the company's pitchman and help to develop franchises in the Southern California region. Hawking bagels may seem below the famous talk-show host, but these aren't just ordinary bagels. According to the company, they have developed a "14-stage patented water technology that creates Brooklynized water, allowing franchises to produce a distinctive Brooklyn bagel anywhere in the world." In a press release, the Brooklyn-born King said of the bagels, "One bite and I was back in Brooklyn." Why entrepreneurs are ditching blogging. Sam Lessin, CEO of Brooklyn-based media start-up Drop.io, is just the latest in a growing line of entrepreneurs ...
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      Mentions: new york times
    20. The Start-Up Economy

      Early this year, an op-ed column by Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times caught our eye. Titled "More (Steve) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs," it was a call to action. Barack Obama, Friedman wrote, "should make the centerpiece of his presidency mobilizing a million new start-up companies that won't just give us temporary highway jobs, but lasting good jobs that keep America on the cutting edge." We couldn't agree more. For 30 years, Inc. has been covering how entrepreneurs form companies, how they operate them, and what separates the most successful of them from the rest. In every issue, we publish stories that speak to the interests of our readers, the founders and principals of entrepreneurial companies. Friedman's column struck us as an opportunity to step out of our usual way of doing things and report on the importance of entrepreneurship from a larger economic perspective ...
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