Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Choosing a Business Name: 5 Interesting Things to Know

There’s plenty of advice out there about choosing a business name, such as the need to do a name search in your state, a trademark search, register the name, and other key legal issues.  Those are all important factors to consider as you choose a business name.
But I’d like to focus today on five considerations you should also be thinking about. These five things may be overlooked when choosing a business name (or thinking about a re-branding of your business):

Dot Com Domain Names Still Rule

Today’s small businesses depend on Web presence to generate leads.  Prospective customers are researching businesses online before they buy, so being findable online is crucial. 
Before you settle on a choice for a business name, go to your favorite domain registrar, and search to see whether the .com URL is available.  The “dot com” version of a name is still the go-to address that most of the public thinks of automatically.  So whenever possible, try to get the dot com version of your chosen name. 
Otherwise, you may end up like me – buying that dot com extension at auction on the secondary market later –for thousands of dollars. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tips for Marketing Live Events in the Era of SMAC

Today, four technologies are driving live-event marketing: social, mobile, analytics, and the Cloud—"SMAC."

SMAC technologies provide myriad new ways to get to know your fans, reach them at the right time through the right channel, and measure results to ensure you spend your precious event marketing dollars wisely.

The days of spreading the word about concerts or other live events with fliers and radio spots have all but disappeared, laid to rest alongside the cassette tape and the Discman in the graveyard of Music Industry Past.

Here are four ways that live event promoters and venues can use SMAC in their digital marketing.

Read more from MarketingProfs

Monday, August 31, 2015

Employee Development a Weakness in Many Nonprofits

As we prepare to move office, I came across a set of booklets we have. They are from BoardSource and they cover topics such as Structures and Practices of Non-Profit Boards and Ten Basic Responsibilities of Non-Profit Boards. I went looking for current editions of these works and discovered this article:
The BridgeSpan Group surveys non-profit organizations to help them get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses. When they surveyed 131 non-profits, what they discovered was that for all their strengths, they were falling behind in other areas.
The average score across all statements is 2.92. Overall nonprofit organizations exhibit important strengths: leadership’s vision, having skilled and effective staff, and having an inspiring culture that promotes values and produces results. However, those very strengths are often undermined by what they consider to be their organizational weaknesses, which include their nonprofits’ ability to develop and build staff skills over time.
The BridgeSpan Group 

So, they claim they feel their staff are "skilled and effective" but haven't and have no plans to develop them. You can see the full article at the The Bridgespan Group site.

The 10 Most Expensive Paid Search Keywords

The high cost of these keywords is the result of competitive bidding, according to the report. For mesothelioma-related keywords, attorneys set high bids in Google AdWords because they stand to receive large sums of money when a plaintiff in a lawsuit gains a favorable judgment or settlement.

One thing to note is that keywords with the highest average CPCs tend to be more niche and do not generally correlate to the biggest overall ad spends.

An analysis of 2014 data by Adgooroo found the top keywords by spend are for the most part broader terms, such as "free credit report" and "car insurance."

Read more from MarketingProfs

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Booming Mobile Health Industry

The use of technology for bettering health is on the rise. Indeed, wearables and similar markets are projected to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years. In this slideshow, PersonalTech MDM shows where the boom is expected to happen and what practitioners should know. Special thanks goes to the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s online Master of Science in computer science program for allowing us to use this data.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

What Can Businesses Learn From Katrina?

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When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans ten years ago this week, it devastated the local business community as well as individual citizens. According to a report by ABC News, insured losses alone totaled $40 billion.
That’s a sobering statistic given the inevitability of disasters and emergencies. It can be especially daunting when you think about the whole range of potential events. Natural disasters, technological failures, pandemic—the list goes on. The good news is that you can take steps now to prepare for disasters, mitigate potential damage and plan for how your business will recover. 
Hurricane season is already underway in the Atlantic and Pacific, and September starts National Preparedness Month with this year's theme of "Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today," so read on for tips, resources and training to help make sure your business is prepared and can recover when disaster strikes.

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What Did We Learn?
Hurricane Katrina left disaster and loss in its wake. But it also left behind countless lessons about how businesses can better prepare for and respond to devastating storms.

Friday, August 28, 2015

U.S. small business sentiment slips on outlook

Sentiment among sole proprietors and other small business owners fell in July, according to the latest Thumbtack survey, suggesting similar readings in other surveys. Thumbtack noted concerns about future conditions and referenced headlines about Greece. Inflation expectations fell further and employment sub-indexes were lower. The Thumbtack index of small business sentiment has shown a tendency to anticipate moves in other sentiment indicators.

The Thumbtack sentiment index dropped... Its three-month moving average has also declined modestly, bringing it in line with declines in major consumer sentiment surveys, although it has remained somewhat more resilient than the Small Business Optimism Index published by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). All four indexes have declined over the course of 2015.


See Thumbtack

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Labor board says franchise workers can bargain with parent company

Per the New York Times:

The National Labor Relations Board in Washington on Thursday made it substantially easier for unions to bargain for higher wages and benefits, potentially opening the door for organized workers at fast food chains and other franchises to negotiate with the larger corporations, like McDonald’s and Yum Brands, rather than with individual restaurants, where they would have a harder time achieving their goals.

The ruling, which may eventually be challenged in court in a variety of individual disputes, changes the definition of a crucial employer-employee relationship that had held in some form since the 1980s. Now, a company that hires a contractor to staff its facilities may be considered a so-called joint employer of the workers at that facility, even if it does not actively supervise them.

A union representing those workers would now be legally entitled to bargain with the upstream company, not just the contractor, under federal labor law.

How stress affects business owners, executives and employees, and what to do about it.

Are You Stressed? 
Saturday, August 15, was National Relaxation Day, a day dedicated to unwinding and enjoying our personal lives. But for most of us, relaxing on the weekend isn't the challenge. We could all do with a little less stress at work, too.
In this newsletter, we look at how stress affects business owners, executives and employees as well as what to do about it.  

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The Biggest Driver of Stress: Lack of Control
No one is surprised to learn that owning a small business is intensely stressful. It certainly isn't a surprise to business owners.  
One study points to lack of control as the largest source of stress. Even worse, obsessing over things that you don't have the power to change can have physiological effects such as raising your blood pressure and emotional effects like reduced confidence. 
Read more about the leading causes of small business stress and recommendations on how to manage them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing Content

Few would argue that a finely-tuned message is key to the success of an email marketing campaign. At the same time, the styling and delivery of the message can be equally, if not more, important than the message itself. The way your email appears to both people and spam filters can make or break your campaigns.

Unfortunately, the preferences of users and spam filters are directly opposed in some cases. The only way to ensure that your email gets delivered and received well is to create email content with both sets of preferences in mind. For your convenience, here are our set of email content do’s and don’ts.


Proofread Your Content – This one should be self-explanatory. Spam filters key in on typos and sentences that don’t make sense as signs of spam. For human recipients, errors look unprofessional and careless.

More from HiP

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

States take aim at HR and social media of employees

Employees' Twitter and Facebook accounts may be a rich source for HR analytics, but laws in many states could block or limit access to some of the data.

A top employment lawyer said that at least 21 states have HR and social media laws that restrict employers from accessing employees' Twitter, Facebook and other such accounts.

Most of the laws prohibit employers from requiring an employee or applicant to disclose a username and password for a social media account.

MORE from TechTarget

Monday, August 24, 2015

Preliminary Statistics From the 2012 Survey of Business Owners are now Available

The preliminary results from the 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) are now available from American FactFinder.
As part of the Economic Census, which is conducted every five years, the Survey of Business Owners uses a sample of 1.75 million employer and nonemployer businesses. The results provide estimates on firms, receipts, payroll and employment by gender, ethnicity, race and veteran status.
The preliminary release provides a high-level snapshot prior to the final release.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What Small Businesses Need to Know About The Switch to Chip Card Technology webinar 8/26

Did you know that an important shift is occurring with card payment technology that might impact your business? Keeping up with the newest, most secure card payment technology is very important for small business owners. SBA has teamed up with Square to help small businesses navigate the upcoming transition from magnetic stripe to chip card technology.

Webinar | What Small Businesses Need to Know About The Switch to Chip Card Technology
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | 2:00 pm ET


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Quarterly Lending Bulletin for First Quarter 2015

The Office of Advocacy has released its Quarterly Lending Bulletin, Small Business Lending: First Quarter 2015. This report shows that small business borrowing conditions continued to improve gradually in the first quarter of 2015. For example, the percent change in small business loans outstanding (in amounts of $1 million or less) remained positive or unchanged for the sixth consecutive quarter. Small business loans outstanding totaled $595 billion and remained relatively flat from the previous quarter, but year-over-year (Q1 2014 to Q1 2015) showed an increase of 1.7 percent.
Small Business Lending: First Quarter 2015, can be found on Advocacy's website here.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Basics of Branding

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does "branding" mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be both, and you can't be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials--all of which should integrate your logo--communicate your brand.

More from Entrepreneur magazine.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Grant Money for Artists in the Capital Region

PrintOur well loved Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy is sending out a call to artists and arts organizations. The NYS Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Decentralization program is in partnership with the Arts Center to reach possible applicants in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady Counties. Even more money has been allocated this year than last. The Arts Center will even help with the process.  Deadline to register is October 23, 2015. All the details are available on their website along with other programs for playwrights, poets and other creatives.

Top 5 Email Marketing Blogs to Follow

An article from Expanded Rambling.

Also, Infographic: The history of online advertising from My Customer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Effective Business Signage: 6 Factors

What’s the first thing that prospective customers see when they approach your business? Your signage tells them where you are, draws their attention and attracts them into your business (or possibly drives them away). Summing up your business brand for the world to see, your business signage creates that all-important first impression. How can you ensure it’s a good one? Whether you’re developing signage for a new business, or updating signage for an existing business, here are some things to consider.
  1. What are the constraints affecting signage in your area? 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Managing employees

Employee Handbooks

The company employee handbook is one of the most important communication tools between your company and your employees. Not only does it set forth your expectations for your employees, but it also describes what they can expect from the company. It is essential that your company has one and that it be as clear and unambiguous as possible. Make certain that it is written in an understandable language which makes the company's policies accessible.

The company employee handbook and related personnel policies are usually the first formal communication that you will have with an employee after they join your team. Make sure the first impression is a good one. Similarly, in the event of a dispute or poor performance review, this will be the first place that the employee turns.

What Should an Employee Handbook Include?

See BusinessUSA

Monday, August 17, 2015

How and Where to Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Everyone has to deal with the nitty-gritty details of starting a business; no matter your industry, getting started safely and legally involves at least a little red tape.

You need to make your business an official legal entity, and take an in-depth look at what permits and licenses you need at the local, state, and federal levels to be able to operate your business without fear of being hit with a fine—or worse, having to close down.

The term "business license" is a bit misleading as it makes it sound as if there is one license you apply for, sort of like a driver’s license, that you obtain and—voila! You’re legally in business. That is not the case.

Read more from Bplans