small business

August, 26

Can Being a Taker-Giving Help Your Small Business?

Life would be a lot easier if people recognized there are really only three kinds of people in the world. So says John Scott, an entrepreneur who started with a truck and a tool box to become a successful contractor and real estate developer.

“It’s been my experience in life and in business that people come in only three basic varieties,” says Scott, who is also author of The Joe Dial, a graphic tool that measures positive and negative energies so people can adjust their lives. “There are givers, takers and those who fall in the middle with qualities of both. These people represent different mixtures of positive and negative energies, and understanding how those energies work—both with others and within ourselves—can make our lives at work and at home a lot easier.”

His definitions of the three kinds of people are reasonably detailed, but a simple overview of them includes:

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August, 25

Does Your Small Business Need a Culture Fairy?

You’ve heard of the tooth fairy. But what about the culture fairy? Could your small business use such a thing?

We at Davinci Virtual Office Solutions seem to be doing pretty good with our culture fairy. Let me explain how this works and you can decide for yourself if your very own small business would benefit from a culture fairy.

First, consider that Davinci Virtual, a leading provider of global virtual office solutions, has witnessed incredible growth since its launch in 2006. How incredible, you ask? Well, in just five years, we grown to over $10 million in revenues. We now employ more than 100 people. And our unique corporate culture helped us get there.

Now, we’re making it official. Katie Fronk, a key manager with the company for several years, has been promoted to a curiously unique position titled “The Culture Fairy.” As such, Fronk’s only responsibility is to make sure we have a great company culture and total employee happiness at all times and at all costs.

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August, 24

Survey: Tablets a Boon to Mobile Entrepreneurs

As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats. At least that’s the cliché we’ve all accepted in our entrepreneurial lifestyles. So what about work-life balance?

We’ve seen several studies this summer about small business owners who take working vacations and surveys about work-life balance are endless. Everybody wants it. Few small business owners achieve it. It’s almost an oxymoron.

Could a tablet computer help? Yes, it could, according to a new survey from Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples.

The Staples survey reveals that more than 60 percent of tablet owners admit to powering on their tablet during vacation to check in with the office or do work. But about 80 percent of tablet owners claim they are experiencing improved work-life balance because of the new technology. Here are some of the specific benefits to consider if you are thinking about taking the tablet plunge:

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August, 22

Cisco WebEx Offers Small Businesses Killer Deal

Are you using online meeting software? If not, you are probably traveling more than you need to or missing out on valuable face to face contact with coworkers, clients and prospects.

In a move to help small business owners make the most of their time, Cisco is rolling out a special deal worth blogging about. Small businesses can now tap into Unlimited WebEx meetings for up to eight people for just $19 a month.

In case you aren’t familiar with WebEx, it’s a Web conferencing solution that lets you connect with anyone, anywhere, in real time. It combines desktop sharing through a Web browser with phone conferencing and video.

Citrix’s GoToMeeting is a similar product. But Cisco is undercutting the popular service with its new pricing. GoToMeeting costs $49 a month, or $468 a year.

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August, 18

Is Your Small Business All Work, No Play?

Flexibility seems to be a 21st Century virtue.

In order to spend time with family and to maximize business opportunities, small business owners are flexible about work-life balance. So says a new study from Hiscox.

In fact, 51 percent of small business owners cite flexible working hours as their main way of achieving a healthy work/life balance. Another 21 percent point to scheduling time with family and friends and 11 percent leave their work at the office.

Sounds admirable. Bu the truth is the office is never far away for small business owners. Only 5 percent said they don’t work on weekends and only 3 percent keep their BlackBerry, or other mobile device, away from the bedroom and the dinner table.

“The wide range of communications channels available today means that small business owners can always be connected, and the research shows that this is how they’re operating,” says Kevin Kerridge, small business expert for Hiscox. “Our clients live and breathe their businesses, wherever they are and whoever they’re communicating with.”

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August, 16

Lessons I Learned When My Hard Drive Failed

Here’s a subject near and dear to my heart. Data back up. Why? Because the hard drive on my two-year-old Apple Macintosh computer failed without reason last Friday. Although I had AT&T’s online back up service installed, which saved most of my daily files, I did not have many other important files backed up. Now, I have to employ a data recovery service to retrieve the files—and that’s costly business.

Well, it turns out I am far from alone. Carbonite recently revealed the results of a survey of more than 125 small businesses with between two and 20 employees to study their disaster recovery and data backup methods. And guess what? Forty-eight percent have experienced data loss, up from 42 percent when Carbonite surveyed small businesses in December 2010.

What on earth caused so many data losses? A number of issues. But the top causes were hardware/software failure (54 percent), accidental deletion (54 percent), computer viruses (33 percent) and theft (10 percent).

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August, 12

Customer Loyalty: The Trust Factor Matters

How important is customer trust for small businesses? More important than you might think, according to a new research from Pitney Bowes that explores the role of trust in customer relationships. Indeed, trust is one of the leading influences.

Specifically, the Pitney Bowes study revealed that customer communications drive more than 20 percent of the overall trust a company receives. That trust, in turn, impacts the length of the customer relationship and profitability. Overall, the study results show that trust can drive up to 44 percent of customer loyalty, reinforcing the theory that long-lasting customer relationships are absolutely critical for business success.

“Trusted brands build upon each interaction to enable lifetime customer relationships—every customer interaction—in person, on a Web site, with direct mail, or with a call center —is an opportunity to build or break trust,” says David Newberry, Chief Marketing Officer of Pitney Bowes Business Insight.

What does this mean for your small business? According to Pitney Bowes:

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August, 9

Tap Into Small Business Competitive Intelligence

Whether you’re starting a business, introducing new products or services, or adding locations, it’s always a good idea to first do your research. Informed decisions make the best decisions, and–especially when credit is tight–we often need to show that we have a solid understanding of our target markets.

Unfortunately, neither your customers nor your competitors make up one homogeneous group. What motivates people and businesses can vary–depending on the places where they operate, live, or work. That’s why it’s a good idea to incorporate into your research some business and market information about places–including demographics and the economic, political, social, and other issues that make each market unique.

Several key resources will help you drill to the local level and learn about counties, cities, census blocks, and other sub-state areas:

U.S. Government resources

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August, 3

Five Reasons Why NOW Is the Right Time To Expand Your Business

Have you created a successful business and are wondering what your options are to grow in today’s ‘New Normal’? Like you, many entrepreneurs have created great businesses through hard work, innovation and simply exceeding the needs of customers in a local area. But without access to significant capital, it’s challenging to contemplate growing from a few locations to hundreds or thousands of outlets.

You’ve most likely invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to build your business, secured trademarks, developed your brand, documented processes, implemented technology, and hired staff. You have a solid foundation. But in today’s economic environment, when’s the best time to expand and do so in the smartest, risk-controlled way?

Here are five reasons why now just might be the best time ever to expand your business:

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August, 1

Vimeo PRO Makes Quick Video Marketing Affordable for Small Business

Have you ever heard of quick video marketing? It’s one of the most effective online marketing vehicles known to small business.

Online video continues to experience explosive growth. Consider the sheer statistics:

The “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2010-2015″ shows that video will account for 50 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by the end of 2012.

Nearly 60 percent of viewers watch video before reading text on the same Web page and are more likely to make a purchase, according to a December 2010 Forbes Insight survey.

And this year, 83 percent of small businesses plan to use social media channels for their business, reports eMarketer.

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