Archive for November, 2013

Holiday Postage, Mobile Engagement and WordPress Websites

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

reading the news

It’s time for  our weekly community news and information roundup with the latest news and articles from sites we follow on the Web. You can help gather news about new websites or online tools or suggest articles you think we should feature here.

Just drop us an email at sbtips@gmail.com or share it at the BizSugar community and we’ll include it if we can.

Holiday Postage a Good Investment (Fletcher Prince)

If you were planning to send your holiday greetings out by email, don’t do it. Marketing consultant Mary Fletcher Jones says your clients would much rather have a traditional card.

Holiday Interaction’s Gone Mobile (iBlogZone)

On the other hand, in some ways interactions between businesses and customers have gone super high tech. See this infographic shared by Francisco Perez about how mobile is changing the engagement between consumers and brands.

Why WordPress is the Right Choice for Websites (Outside Raleigh)

The debate rages on as far as blog platforms go. But Web marketing and SEO expert Eric Erickson now insists WordPress is the best choice, not just for your blog, but for your Website, too.

Employees and Your Brand (Visible Logic Inc)

While you’re busy fiddling with your Web presence and marketing campaign, don’t forget your employees are also building your brand. Here’s a discussion from the BizSugar community with Emily Brackett.

Bringing on a New Team Member (Luxr)

One way to make sure employees are in tune with your business’s brand is to get them acclimated to the company culture from the beginning. Here’s another discussion from the BizSugar community about the major challenges involved.

Why Credibility Matters (Squirrel Business Hub)

Of course, you want to be professional and build respect for your brand with your online presence. But Kylie Harker and Tracey Stoll want you to know there’s an even more compelling and immediate reason to create credibility.

Figure Out Your Cash Flow (Go Forth Institute)

As important as worrying about making sales may be, so is figuring out how to manage the money once it gets into your business. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your company. Here’s how to figure out whether or not you’re managing it well.

Tools to Manage Your Community (SocialMediaData.com)

As with cash flow and Web presence, you must also manage your community. Adam Post, founder of the Bright Age Digital Creative Agency, shares some tools that may help.

Figure Out Your Portal Problem (Vera Claritas)

You’ve created a solution for a problem your customers don’t even know they have. The challenge is to show them that they have this problem in the first place. Fortunately, there is a simple approach.

Free Trials May Not Be The Answer (M4B Marketing)

Susan Oakes has this great take on marketing as a way to find the right customers. The trick, she says, is choosing the right way to reach them.

Reading Photo via Shutterstock

The post Holiday Postage, Mobile Engagement and WordPress Websites appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Bulgarian Renewable Energy Producers Condemn Proposal for New 20% Tax

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

The Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) has condemned the decision of the government to introduce a 20% tax on turnovers of renewable energy producers.

The BPVA issued a declaration Saturday saying that its members would use all legal means necessary to protect their rights as investors in an EU Member State.

“Populism in the economy leads to economic disaster,” the BPVA cautioned, as cited by dnevnik.bg.

At a seminar of the government in Borovets on Saturday, MPs of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party decided to back the recent proposal of nationalist party Ataka for the introduction of a tax on the revenues of renewable energy producers.

Prior to Ataka’s proposal, the government turned down the idea of the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) to impose a 30% tax on revenues of renewable energy plants.

On Saturday it emerged that the measure was expected to inject BGN 160 M into the state budget, with Finance Minister Petar Chobanov describing it as a buffer.

“The acknowledgement that potential revenues from the discriminatory and illegal 20% tax on turnovers of wind turbines and solar plants will be used as a budget buffer is the acknowledgement of the absolute lack of financial strategy and economic thought,” the BPVA noted.

The BPVA emphasized that the buffer would be applied in a sector which brought together over 200 small and medium-sized Bulgarian and foreign companies which had invested over EUR 4 B in the Bulgarian economy.

The BPVA pointed out that investors would think twice before coming to Bulgaria, taking into account that decisions injuring private capital were made in the dark and without debate.

The BPVA claimed that corrupt practices at heavily indebted and opaquely governed state-owned energy firms were still being whitewashed.

The Association yet again highlighted the lack of a strategy and vision for the development of the energy sector.

“Through the adoption of a 20% tax on turnovers of solar plants and wind farms our politicians reverse the country’s progress of the past century and condemn us to the club of poor countries,” the BPVA concluded.

Source

Business Intelligence is the Icing on the Cake for a Local Bakery

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

butter lane bakery

Most businesses collect information on their customers. But many may be unaware of how valuable that information can be. Using the data effectively can be the key to identifying your best customers and figuring out how to serve them better. It can also be the key to growing your business by increasing sales or cutting unnecessary costs.

Here’s what happened in the case of Butter Lane, a specialty bakery with a focus on cupcakes and locations in the East Village, New York City and Park Slope in Brooklyn.

Co-Owner Pam Nelson says the company has always collected information on its customers and had a fairly large customer database. But that database was used primarily just to send out email blasts in the past. At the time, no practical option existed for separating out Butter Lane’s best customers for special attention or more customized marketing.

Also the company has participated in three Small Business Saturdays so far. But Nelson says the company has so far also had no way of telling how many repeat customers were gained as a result. Thus, there has been no way to determine whether any extra investment associated with participation is getting a good return — until now, that is.

Gain More Insight Into Your Customers

Over the last year, Butter Lane has made a change. The company has been using a business intelligence application from Swipely to gather data on its customers. And they will use this data in a very different way. Swipely integrates with point of sales technology used by established retailers, restaurants, bars, salons and similar businesses.

The company says it tracks credit card numbers to sort out first time from repeat customers. ”And that’s a big deal for us, just in general,” said Nelson in a recent phone interview with Small Business Trends.

The new tracking allows Butter Lane to figure out what special events, offers, or other marketing efforts result in greater earnings and in increased numbers of return customers.

Today, Small Business Saturday, Butter Lane is launching a new loyalty program in an effort to use customer data to gain even more insight and grow its business at the same time. Customers entering either of the bakery’s locations today will be prompted to sign up for the program by text or on an in-store iPad. Butter Lane will then be able to track customers by name every time they make a credit card purchase.

butter lane bakery

Customers will get cash back rewards the more they spend. Nelson says customers may also receive those rewards in the form of free products like cupcakes or other goodies.

So Butter Lane has found an easy way to reward its best customers automatically and perhaps encourage them to keep coming back.

What Customer Data Tells You

But that’s not the only thing Butter Lane can do with the enhanced data the company will be collecting. Matthew Oley, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Swipely, says data collected on customers can be used to learn many things about a business.

For example, by collecting data on your customers through loyalty programs, you can discover what products or services they prefer and which customers tend to spend above a certain threshold. You can use this information to segment your customer list and target specific customers with offers most suitable to them.

By importing outside data you can determine whether other factors like weather conditions or even social media campaigns or mentions have an impact on your business. You can even use that social media data to track your average Yelp score or keep up with the latest social media mentions about your company.

It’s also possible to import social media data for some of your major competitors to compare with your own. Track the amount of business during a slow time of day to figure out whether it makes sense to stay open that extra hour. Or experiment to see whether expanding your hours boosts revenue or number of return customers — or both.

Bottom line: The more you know about your customers the better. So figure out how to collect and utilize that data in the way most effective for you.

Images: Butter Lane Bakery

The post Business Intelligence is the Icing on the Cake for a Local Bakery appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Bulgaria to Cooperate with Balkan States to Attract Chinese Tourists

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Bulgaria is willing to negotiate an optimization of the visa regime with neighboring countries in a bid to attract more Chinese tourists.

Speaking Saturday at a seminar organized by the Ministry of Economy and Energy, Deputy Economy Minister Branimir Botev, explained that the agreements with neighboring countries would be in line with EU law and would seek to encourage the creation of combined packages and joint tourist products.

Saturday’s seminar brought together representatives of over 40 companies in the tourist sector, experts from the Council of Ministers, and the head of Bulgaria’s Trade and Economic Affairs Office in Beijing, Neli Nanova.

Botev, as cited by the press office of the Ministry of Economy and Energy, noted that Romania, Serbia and Macedonia were considered most likely partners, adding that any other neighbor country which shared Bulgaria’s vision on relations with China was welcome.

Botev emphasized that Chinese tourists were a main target group of tour operators, adding that they had specific preferences, opting for destinations offering mineral waters, cultural and historical heritage, shopping, entertainment and spa tourism.

He claimed that Bulgaria could become a more attractive tourist destination for visitors from China if it joined efforts with Romania and Serbia to develop a product providing the opportunity to visit several countries during one holiday.

He said that businesses were expected to submit proposals for the development of a Bulgarian tourist product which would boost the country’s popularity as a year-round destination among Chinese tourists.

Botev made clear that the Ministry of Economy and Energy would collect proposals until the next meeting of this type, scheduled to take place in January 2014.

The participants in the seminar also discussed measures to secure Chinese-speaking staff in tour operators, tourist guides, and hotel staff.

Botev also assured that the promotion of Bulgaria’s tourism in China would improve in 2014.

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PM: Bulgaria to Build Both Belene NPP, Unit 7 of Kozloduy NPP

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

The issue of the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant is moving forward, according to Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski.

“The stance of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) is very clear and consistent – we are convinced that our energy sector is strong and independent. This will necessitate a new unit of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant and a new Belene NPP. The opportunity to export electricity is an important component,” Oresharski declared Saturday at a press conference after a seminar of the government in the mountain resort of Borovets, according to the Focus news agency.

Socialist leader Sergei Stanishev emphasized that the authorities would demand guarantees that the projects would be profitable for the country.

The announcement of BSP came six days ahead of the presentation of Bulgaria’s stance at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris on the dispute with Russia over damages over the suspended Belene NPP project, according to dnevnik.bg.

The statement was issued only a few hours after Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev declined to comment on the topic of the Belene NPP in an interview for Darik radio, stressing that his words could be taken out of context and used by Russia during the proceedings at the Paris-based court.

The decision to freeze the Belene NPP project was adopted by Parliament in end-February, following a referendum which failed to summon support for the scheme.

Some ten days ago, nationalist party Ataka submitted to Parliament a draft decision seeking the restart of construction works on the suspended project.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s socialist-led coalition government started talks with US Westinghouse on the construction of a new unit at the Kozloduy NPP.

Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev assured that safety had been the prime concern in the decision on the technology.

Source

Bulgarian Wall Street Broker Released from NY Prison

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Bulgarian Wall Street broker Yulian Tsolov was released from prison after spending 4 years behind bars in New York.

Tsolov was released on January 4, 2013, according to the records of the US Federal Bureau of Prisons, as cited by Bulgarian daily 24 Hours.

According to the law, the 40-year old man should have been brought back to Bulgaria after his release.

In end-July, Tsolov registered a company in Sofia.

While he was in prison, he had to part with his luxury apartment on 5th Avenue, which was sold in 2011 for USD 2 926 195.

As a result, Tsolov will not have to return the USD 4.45 M bonus he received upon his appointment at Morgan Stanley.

Before being convicted in the US, Tsolov had started building a house in Sofia’s Dragalevtsi district, while his mother had bought a loft in Bulgaria’s capital.

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US Technology Safest for Unit 7 of Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP – Minister

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Bulgaria’s Energy Minister assured that safety had been the primary concern in the decision to use US technology for the new unit at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

In a Saturday interview for Darik radio, Dragomir Stoynev explained that the AP1000 reactors of US company Westinghouse were the only ones providing the opportunity for a 10-day cool-down in the case of a power blackout.

He emphasized that Bulgaria had opted for a technology, not a country, by choosing Westinghouse.

Stoynev informed that the next steps included giving the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) the mandate to start talks with Westinghouse on the legal and financial framework of the project.

“If we are not satisfied with the financial model, or the cost of the reactor proves to be unbearable for us, if the energy which the reactor is to generate is too expensive, we will not agree to subsequent activities,” he declared.

He stressed that in the case of a failure to reach agreement with Westinghouse, Bulgaria would seek other options as the country needed new to replace units 5-6 of the Kozloduy NPP before they were stopped in 20 years’ time.

“If we want a competitive economy, we need to guarantee a competitive energy sector, for which we need a diversification of energy sources,” he announced.

Stoynev went on to reject allegations that it was illegal to launch a procedure to build a new unit of the Kozloduy NPP without a tender.

He suggested that tenders were to be organized for the selection of a contractor, not the technology.

Bulgaria’s Energy Minister insisted that he was following the line of the previous, center-right GERB government on the matter, reminding that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had authorized steps for the construction of new nuclear capacity on April 11, 2012.

Stoynev also pointed out that an analysis of experts at the Kozloduy NPP during the term in office of the GERB government had concluded that the reactor had to have a capacity of 1000-1200 MW.

He said that Russian and US reactors matched the criteria, the US technology being the safer option.

He emphasized that the state would not be required to provide cash guarantee if it decided to build a 7th unit of the Kozloduy NPP with US technology, adding that Bulgaria would only have to guarantee that it would not amend the existing legislation and not introduce tax on nuclear energy.

Speaking after a working visit to the US, Stoynev informed a week ago that talks with US energy giant Westinghouse were forthcoming and the construction of the new unit at the Kozloduy NPP could start in 2016, provided that the negotiations were successful.

The issue of a new unit at the Kozloduy NPP came up after the project for the construction of the Belene NPP was frozen by the center-right GERB government.

The government headed by former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov stopped the implementation of the project over its high cost and decided to mount the reactor produced for the purpose at the Kozloduy NPP site.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria is also striving to get an extension of the life of units 5, 6 of the Kozloduy NPP.

The license of unit 5 of the Kozloduy NPP expires in November 2017 and that of unit 6 in October 2019.

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Smooth Failing: Being Inspired by Others’ Spectacular Failures

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Smooth Failing - entrepreneur failures book“Highly successful people make mistakes all the time.  Some failures are big, some even bigger, but none need result in the end of your dreams to succeed.”

So writes Barbara Weltman in her latest book, “Smooth Failing: Top industry leaders share their secrets for turning Pain into Profit.”   Weltman – an attorney, tax expert, small business expert and author — is well-known as the author of the J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes books and guides.  She’s also the author of several “how to” books on small business topics, including The Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home Based Business.

Smooth Failing is a departure from that type of book.  Weltman (@BarbaraWeltman on Twitter) tackles a subject that most of us who are entrepreneurs have lived through:  failure and how to get past it.

Smooth Failing is a book of  case studies and lessons.  It covers the failures of successful entrepreneurs – and some of the failures are so over the top that they could have been ripped right from the pages of a thriller novel.   Yet they are real.

Money laundering. Lies and cover ups. Cyber blackmail.  Software logic bombs that surreptitiously delete software code. A stock market crash. A business partner with inoperable cancer.

This book has it all!

Entrepreneurs Candidly Share Failures

In interviews with 10 successful business owners and entrepreneurs, Weltman manages to wheedle out stunning admissions of failure, such as as lying to a client. Yes, that’s one of the stories.  It comes from New York Times contributor Gene Marks who told the story of how he lied to cover up some shoddy performance of his company’s proprietary software.  He regretted lying and eventually the software became obsolete.  That happened years ago.  The lying made him physically sick, and he learned an important lesson that changed the way he did business.

And then there’s the story of the FBI showing up at one entrepreneur’s doorstep.  John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing was stunned.  One of his then-clients was accused of money laundering.  Jantsch, of course, never had a clue about what his client was doing.  However, he had to spend time preparing for and testifying in front a grand jury that ended up indicting the client. Jantsch himself was promptly cleared.  But that experience helped propel him to radically change his business focus.

Or what about the entrepreneur who, desperate to get his new business off the ground, offered a sales rep the ability to earn 50% equity in the company in exchange for meeting certain sales targets.  The sales rep was hell bent on meeting those targets — so much so that he nearly drove the business into the ground.  That’s the story told by Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software.

And imagine being Peter Justen, formerly the CEO of MyBizHomepage, and now the CEO of business dashboard product Five Plus.  When he learned his Chief Technology Officer was planning to start a competing business,  Justen terminated him.  However, his former employee had planted “logic bombs” in the company’s software product.  Logic bombs are pieces of code that launch on certain activities, and delete code or data, or make it unusable. In short, the former executive — someone Justen had thought was a friend — sabotaged the product.  Justen literally had to start over, and build a new product from scratch.  But that was only the beginning.  The former executive launched a defamation attack against Justen and his family, hacked into their email and social accounts, and attempted to blackmail Justen.  It turns out that the executive lived off the grid and managed to hide his tracks in order not to be found by authorities.  Phew!

After stories like those, my own story — which is also included in the book — sounds positively boring.  My story is about having too many irons in the fire. I drifted along and lost focus on my goals.  Once I got my goal mojo back, and brought in some help, the business leapt forward.  In my case the CTO was the hero, not the villain. Yeah, I know … not nearly as exciting as grand juries and logic bombs.

What I liked best about this book is the way Weltman manages to distill each case study down into a few lessons.  That is harder than it sounds, and I’ll tell you why.  I can remember back almost a year ago when the author contacted me. We arranged a lengthy phone interview about my experiences.  In the book everything is laid out cogently.  The lessons are succinctly summarized.

You might get the impression that I was super articulate that day, and delivered everything on a silver platter to Barbara Weltman.  Nope.  I rambled.  I just started talking without necessarily identifying my own lessons or even what I was going to talk about.  The story took shape and the lessons emerged only after probing questions from the author.  That’s what a skillful interviewer can do.

Innovative Publishing Approach

The book is published by Indigo River Publishing. On its website it describes itself as a “modern and progressive publishing house and we believe in a more dynamic and entrepreneurial approach to the building and marketing of our books.”

The book is published in two editions.  One is a standarded edition containing only the 10 lessons currently in there now.

But here’s the innovative part:  the other editions is called a “Living Edition.”  This means that additional case studies and lessons will be added.  And entrepreneurs can request to be considered to be included in the book.  Those why buy the Living Edition (which is electronic) will have access to the additional entrepreneurs added later.

Why Get This Book

(1) The stories are enthralling and not just about business, but about life and human nature.

(2) You may know one or more of the entrepreneurs profiled.  Many of them are active online and in social media.  I don’t know about you, but often it’s hard for me to relate to the one-in-a-billion success of someone like Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.  I find little that is relevant to apply to my own business, because the scale is so different.  But I can relate to the experiences of a John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing or a Norm Brodsky.

(3) It is useful. The lessons are encapsulated at the end of each chapter.

(4) But the best reason to read Smooth Failing, in my opinion, is that ultimately the book is  positive and uplifting about not giving up. You must adapt and reboot your business.  When you are feeling like nothing is going right — and you will feel that way at some point in your entrepreneurial journey — it may be the motivational shot in the arm you need.

The post Smooth Failing: Being Inspired by Others’ Spectacular Failures appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Police Chopper Crashes in Scottish Pub, Scores Trapped Inside

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

A police helicopter has crashed into a popular pub in Glasgow and there are fears that many are still trapped inside.

The incident happened at The Clutha on Stockwell Street at 10:25 pm Friday.

Scotland police say there were three people onboard the helicopter – two officers and a civilian pilot, which are presumed to be the three victims of the crash.

32 people have been taken to local hospitals. It is not known how many people remain trapped inside the pub.

The BBC reports that about 120 people were in the pub at the time of the crash to attend a concert. Many were rescued or escaped but others have been trapped by a collapse on the left-hand side of the building.

The area is sealed by the police, who say they had made contact with some of the trapped people trapped, but the building was unsafe and they were taking great precaution.

The rescue effort continues.

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International Women’s Club in Bulgaria to Hold Christmas Bazaar Dec 1

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

The Bulgarian branch of the International Women’s Club will hold their traditional Christmas charity bazaar on December 1.

The event will take place at the International Expo Center in Sofia.

The bazaar, to be held for the 19th consecutive time, will be open to visitors from 10:30 a.m to 5 p.m.

The charity event is to include over 60 stalls, 42 of them international, representing a total of 48 countries, offering traditional national cuisine and drinks, books, toys, souvenirs, second-hand clothes, etc.

The bazaar is traditionally attended by a number of ambassadors and diplomats and their wives with the proceeds raised going to support projects of the IWC Charity Foundation for people in need.

Read more in the interview with Lynne Godding, IWC President

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