Archive for August, 2010

Congo seizes First Quantum Minerals’ assets

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

The Democratic Republic of Congo, the mineral-rich African country, is set to investigate the Toronto and London-listed copper miner for ’suspected wide-scale misconduct’

PotashCorp calls BHP’s behaviour unethical

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

The hostilities between PotashCorp and its suitor BHP Billiton escalated when the Canadian fertiliser producer accused the multinational miner of “highly unethical” behaviour

US wind power

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Utilities snap up wind projects as sector growth stalls

5 Steps to Building an Effective Green Team

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

5 Steps to Building an Effective Green TeamSmall businesses with more than 12 or 20 employees have a big opportunity when it comes to sustainability: They can tap their employees’ expertise to find new and better strategies for going green.

A so-called “green team” is a committee of employees that meets regularly, typically during work hours, to help their employer bolster sustainability. The idea is that mobilizing employees around sustainability will not only spawn new strategies but also bolster employee buy-in.

Yet, green teams will fizzle or fall apart if they aren’t carefully implemented. Here are some ways small business leaders can ensure their green teams are effective.

1. Invite the most passionate employees. Teams work best when members are passionate about their mission. Start your team by reaching out to those employees most interested in sustainability, and ask them if they’re willing to head up the green team. Chances are, they are armed with ideas and can best energize other employees to help reduce the company’s footprint.

2. Create a well-rounded team. Once you’ve recruited solid leaders, recruit a diverse team of employees from different roles within the company or different departments. Ideally, you want a group small enough to be effective but broad enough to get a full range of perspectives. It often helps to have one person from company leadership on the green team, but it must be clear that he or she is just another team member – not the boss.

3. Establish goals early on. Initial meetings of your green team should focus on setting some goals to help guide the team. Having company leadership in those first meetings can help ensure everyone is on the same page. Perhaps the goal is bolstering the company’s recycling program, reducing its carbon footprint or exploring ways to better engage employees in sustainability. Writing down these priorities will serve as a road map for the team moving forward and ensure everyone knows what the goals are.

4. Create protocols. Early on, discuss protocols. Determine a regular schedule for team meetings and assign roles within the team, such as who is in charge of record-keeping or communicating the team’s progress with management and other employees. Also set a schedule for how and when communications with management and employees will happen. Perhaps the team will meet quarterly with management to discuss their findings and recommendations and send out periodic e-mail updates to all employees.

5. Prepare to implement the team’s recommendations. Be fully prepared to take action based on the green team’s recommendations. The easiest to deflate a green team’s momentum is to create the team and then never take action on any of its recommendations.

From Small Business Trends

5 Steps to Building an Effective Green Team

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France Backs Roma Deportation Policy before EC

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

France responded Tuesday before the European Commission to the staggering criticism it received over its policy of deportation of Roma by saying it fully complies with European legislation.

The French Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Mutually-Supportive Development, Eric Besson, told reporters after his meeting with Viviane Reding, EC Vice-President and Commisioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, and with Cecilia Malmstr?m, Home Affairs Commissioner, the actions of the country’s authorities became the topic of many unfair caricatures and unacceptable insinuations. Besson, who was accompanied by the French Secretary of State in charge of European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche, announced the talks have been sincere, deep and constructive.

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Bulgaria to Launch Pilot Online Voting

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Amendments to the Election Act will include pilot online voting for the next year’s presidential and local elections, the Bulgarian TV channel bTV reported Tuesday.

The pilot project is to involve only several election polls in the country to be decided later by the Central Election Commission (CEK). Those selecting to vote online will receive their own, unique PIN….

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7 Powerful and Free Website Builders for Small Businesses

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

7 Powerful and Free Website Builders for Small CompaniesHalf of all small companies do not have a website, according to one statistic.  With that in mind, we believe there are many readers who may need some help getting a simple website up and running.  Even if you have a company website, you may know someone who needs one.  Here are 7 do-it-yourself website building services to consider.

There are all sorts of tools and applications out there, but our main selection criteria in this post is whether the tool lets you build a site, for free, in less than an hour and publish it to create at least a basic presence online.  Are these tools all robust enough to create the site of your dreams? No.  Will they allow you to cease procrastinating and put a stake in the online ground? Absolutely.  They also give you the capacity to start using many of the great tools that Lisa Barone shares here on Small Business Trends, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Places and more.

In many cases, these site builders will not allow you to have your own custom domain name.  Since that is important to many, including me, I have one favorite suggestion I’ll share at the end of the post as #7.  Note:  There are many website hosting companies that offer a free domain name, but that is not the same as a free website and hosting.  This list is about free online website builders that include hosting.

1. Google Sites

I’m a big Google fan, and they don’t disappoint with their free website options.  Google Sites is robust and probably a bit more technical than the busy small business owner wants to engage in.  It does, however, allow really granular changes.  I have tried it out on several projects, and it offers a full WYSIWYG editor.

Like many Google offerings, not everything is super-intuitive or easy to find.  For example, I created this rough page for this review and it took me 5 minutes to figure out how to change the photo to my own.  Still, you cannot beat free, and the Google tool works.  The URLs are ugly, though: http://sites.google.com/site/socialmediaroibytjmccue/.

What I like:  Google Sites templates range from simple sites to classroom-focused to project wikis to intranets.  With a few clicks, you can pick a template and hit publish.  Then you can go deep into the code if you want!

2. DoodleKit

Free Website BuilderDoodleKit is pretty impressive.  Lots of templates and good editing functionality so you can put items and photos where you want.  The free version is limited, but allows up to five pages, plus a blog.  There is lots of space for photos and image albums, and DoodleKit offers lots of examples to get ideas of how others have used it.  After the free level, plans are still affordable. The forum keeps things simple and offers step-by-step instructions so when you ask a question, you can actually follow the answer.

The advanced editing tool had to be installed in my browser, which was a slight disappointment, but not a big deal.  Once I loaded that simple lite app, it was truly easy to see what I was editing.

What I liked:  Literally, in under 5 minutes, I had a website and blog going.

3. Wix

Wix is a free Flash website builder.  Some will argue that a Flash website is not as SEO-friendly (or Google-friendly, if you prefer), but the search giant and other search engines have made great strides in reading and ranking Flash sites.  The beauty of Flash is it allows true drag and drop functionality. Sign-up is just your e-mail, a password and a username.  You then move to Create, Explore or My Account as the three choices of what to do next.  I hit Explore and was amazed at all the site types and creative options, most of them for free.

If you don’t like the idea of a content-heavy site with mostly words, and are a visual type or your business lends itself to a more visual format (photographers, videographers, architects, designers), Wix is worth a serious look.

What I Liked:  Wix is a fun, energetic site that makes you want to start and finish a website in one sitting.  Almost 5 million people have built a site at Wix.  You can get affordable help with the Wix designers.

4. Moonfruit

Moonfruit is a Flash-based website builder.  Right away, they amazed me with this one super customer-friendly step:   They let me start building the site without even registering or providing any info.  I could click through and pick options; when my site was almost done, they asked me to share my e-mail, a username and password, and hit publish.

What I Liked: By far, Moonfruit is one of the most elegant and professional solutions I’ve seen to get a company website up and running.  The free option was advertising-free.  No tiny little links or text ads, and beyond the free option there are very affordable plans.

5. Weebly

Weebly lets you create a free website and blog.  It is Flash-based, which means another easy drag and drop interface.  You don’t have to be a techie at all.  Weebly offers dozens of professional designs and templates.  You can drag slideshows or photos onto the templates where you want them.  They are one of the only tools I saw that allows and encourages a blog within the site structure.  Also, Weebly has simple SEO options so you can put keywords and descriptions into your code and get recognized by the search engines.

What I Liked:  If you already own your own domain name, Weebly will let you use it for free.  So if you just re-registered a domain name you’ve been parking on, you can turn it on and Weebly won’t charge you to do it.  Cool.

6. Webstarts

Once you pick a template with Webstarts, they take you to a page that lists the pages within your site and icons to edit, preview or delete.  Plus, right on that admin dashboard, you can adjust the order of the pages and decide which pages should be on the navigation menu. Webstarts is very intuitive and fast loading.

What I Liked:  As you start into editing mode, a little window drops down with a tutorial video.  You can close it out, but it is nice to have a help item available.  I actually enjoyed working in the Webstarts editing tool.

7. WordPress

Yes, it is a blog platform and not officially a “website builder.”  However, many companies use WordPress as a website platform, and it ranks very highly for small business.  (SmallBizTrends.com is built on WordPress.) My SalesRescueTeam.com site is built on WordPress with the robust Thesis theme (not free).  Here’s the sweet part: If you’re on a tight budget and want to keep it super-simple, you can build a site for free.

What I Liked:  For only $15 per year, you can get a custom domain name you own and have WordPress point to it.  That’s as close to free as any of the free website builders with your own domain.  Most services that are free have a subdomain structure, as does the free WordPress option, with URLs that look like www.yoursite.wordpress.com. Over time, that’s limiting for most businesses. Because the premium features on WordPress are not always easy to find, here they are.

* * * * *

If you are in the alleged 50 percent of small companies that do not have a website, or know someone who is starting a business and really needs an inexpensive option to building their first site, these seven services will help you do it.  Each is worth a look.  As always, feel free to share the ones you like and link to them in the comments.

From Small Business Trends

7 Powerful and Free Website Builders for Small Businesses

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Nearly Half of All Bulgarians Tolerate Gray Economy – Poll

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Almost half of all Bulgarian employers and employees consciously violate the country’s labor law, a poll about Bulgarians’ attitude towards the gray economy reveals.

The poll conducted by the Bulgaria Industrial Capital Association shows that about 45% of employers and 50% of workers are fine with being involved in the gray economy as long as it brings some income.

Most employers’ violations involve hiring people without labor contracts, declaring lower wages than the real ones and not paying employees benefits….

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Appellate Court Rules to Bring 3 Bulgarian ‘Sheiks’ Back in Jail

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

The Court of Appeals in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Burgas ruled to bring back behind bars the three people arrested earlier during a special police operation codenamed “The Sheiks.”

The three – Valentin Atanasov, a police officer from the Burgas Traffic Police, his brother Zhivko Atanasov and Yanko Penev were released a week ago by the Burgas District Court on their own recognizance….

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Sofia University Takes over Bulgaria’s Varna Botanical Garden

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassations ruled Tuesday to confirm the rights of the Sofia University over the botanical garden near the Black Sea capital Varna..

The University filed the case for “Ecopark Varna” against the “St. St….

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