Archive for August, 2015

How to Use Pinterest to Grow Your Store Sales

Monday, August 31st, 2015

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With fall shopping for back-to-school winding up, fall clothing and d?cor shopping about to start and holiday shopping season just around the corner, small retailers are looking for ways to determine the hottest products to stock their stores.

Did you ever think to use Pinterest for this purpose?

I recently wrote here about Pinterest’s new Buyable Pins, but selling directly from Pinterest isn’t the only way this social media site can boost your retail store’s sales. Pinterest can also help you decide what to stock, promote and feature in your brick-and-mortar store.

That’s because, unlike most social media websites, Pinterest functions as a visual “wish list” for consumers planning to make, build, decorate or buy something.

According to the recently released 2015 Pinterest Media Consumption Study, more than two-thirds (67 percent) of Pinterest users have looked at their Pins on their smartphones while shopping in a store. Crafts, fashion/clothing, home decor, food and drink, design, hair and beauty, and gardening products are among the top categories consumers refer to most often in-store.

With 73 percent of Pinterest users having purchased a product they saw on the site, clearly Pinterest is more than just an inspiration board. As consumers pin products they want on their Pinterest boards, popular Pins can serve as indicators of what trends will be hot for the coming seasons.

Here are some ways to use Pinterest to drive sales in your store:

Industry Pins

Check out products that are pinned in your industry or niche, such as women’s fashion. Stock up on the types of products that everyone’s pinning, whether that’s boyfriend jeans or sweater coats. If you own a salon and everyone looking at “hairstyles” is pinning elaborate braids, stock up on pretty hairpins and hair products to help create those styles.

Follow Trends

Interpret general trends for your audience. If your target customer is plus-size teens, that doesn’t mean you need to only search for plus-size fashion pins. Look at what the general audience is pinning and interpret it for your customer. If average teens are pinning fringed ponchos and leggings, your plus-sized audience will want their own version of those items.

Track High-End Products

Likewise, look at high-end products that customers are pinning to guide your stock decisions. If your customers are pinning designer handbags beyond your shop’s price range, are there more affordable versions you could sell in similar shapes or colors?

Listen and Learn

Learn what your customers like. Create your own business Pinterest boards and see what items your customers like or Pin most often. If one type of product gets a lot of response and interest, stock more of that product.

Create an “As Seen On” Section

Try merchandising your store by featuring items “As seen on Pinterest.” Create a display spotlighting products that are popular on Pinterest in general or items from your boards. Or hold a promotion with a discount on those products for people who follow you on Pinterest. If you sell food, beverages or crafts, create displays with all the elements needed to recreate a Pinterest recipe or make a Pinterest craft.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Use Pinterest to get feedback. Ask customers to post pictures of things they’d like you to sell on your Pinterest boards, or share their own Pins. Of course, you don’t need to stock something if just one person pins it, but this can give you an idea of your customers’ tastes.

Pinterest gives you a fascinating look into your customers’ hopes, dreams and wishes for their purchases. Take advantage of it!

Image: Pinterest/YouTube

This article, “How to Use Pinterest to Grow Your Store Sales” was first published on Small Business Trends


Israeli gas companies hit by Egypt find

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Shares hammered by Eni’s ‘supergiant’ discovery

Bulgaria Plans to Initiate EU Discussion to Make Anti-IS Strategy More Efficient

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Bulgaria plans to initiate a discussion within the EU on the need to add new elements to the bloc’s strategy for combatting the Islamic State (IS) group, the country’s Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov has said.

In an interview for 24 Chasa news daily published on Monday Mitov said that migrants are using the so-called Balkan route to reach western Europe increasingly often, which requires changes to be made to the existing EU strategy for addressing the problem.   

”We must distinguish between refugees and economic migrants, and attitudes towards each of these groups should be different,” Mitov said. “At the moment, the European strategy is lacking this element and it’s obvious that we need to modify it.”

“We’ve been talking about countering migratory pressure at European Council level for more than half a year now but it’s obvious that this pressure doesn’t subside. It’s clear that a more serious discussion is needed and new elements must be added.”

Mitov also highlighted the need to intensify contacts with third countries, particularly on readmission and repatriation of migrants. Stepping up the fight against people trafficking is another essential element of the needed update to the strategy of countering Islamic State, he said.

A discussion on the need to add new elements to the anti-IS strategy should be held both in the EU and NATO formats as well as within the US-led coalition against the jihadist organisation, according to Mitov.

Bringing Iran and Russia closer into such discussion is essential for the achieving of its goals, he added.  

Looking at Turkey, Mitov opined that Ankara “has to focus on Islamic State and not allow recent events to destroy the progress in the structured and well established dialogue with the Kurds achieved over the years.”

“This is important for the stability of our neighbor,” Mitov said.



Low oil price puts pressure on US banks

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Regulators urge lenders to classify some loans as troubled assets

FDI in Bulgaria’s Non-Financial Sector Drops by 5.9% in 2014  

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Foreign direct investment into Bulgaria’s non-financial sector decreased by 5.9% last year, reaching EUR 21.95B, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) announced on Monday.

The biggest share of foreign direct investment (FDI) went into industry – EUR 8.95B, according to preliminary data, the NSI said. Services followed with EUR 4.58B in FDI attracted in the course of 2014.

While these two sectors together accounted for a 61.6% of total FDI into non-financial enterprises in Bulgaria, their combined relative share decreased by 2.9 percentage points compared with 2013.

The construction sector attracted EUR 994M in FDI last year, an increase of 7% compared with 2013.


Osborne hails Scottish investments

Monday, August 31st, 2015

SNP denounces chancellor’s arrogance over Faslane spending announcement

How You Can Be “Out to Lunch” AND Still be Productive

Monday, August 31st, 2015

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be productive out of the office

You don’t need to be at work to work.

Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and ever smaller laptops, we can bring a veritable office with us anywhere we journey, whether our destination is a restaurant for lunch or an overseas vacation getaway.

Nowadays, we can be productive literally anywhere — on vacation, out to lunch, relaxing on a park bench or at your favorite restaurant. You can be anywhere, or on your way there, and make observations that can help you with your business. You can also use your time out of the office to refresh yourself and renew your spirit, both of which contribute to creativity and increased productivity.

Vladimir Nabokov, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, addressed the fact that location isn’t a factor in terms of inspiration in his famous “Inspiration” essay:

“One and the same person can compose parts of one and the same story or poem, either in his head or on paper, pencil or pen in hand (I am told there exist fantastic performers who actually type out their immediate product or, still more incredibly, dictate it, warm and bubbly, to a typist or to a machine!). Some prefer the bathtub to the study and the bed to the windy moor — the place does not matter much, it is the relationship between the brain and the hand that poses some odd problems.”

Always Be on the Lookout

When you’re enjoying a tasty lunch at your favorite cafe, take a look around. Is the business using a point of sale (POS) system to accept payments? If you own a retail location, this could inspire you to use such a system at your place of business, thereby streamlining sales transaction productivity.

Use Time Away to Recharge

Have you had a horrible morning with problems arising everywhere that’s left you trembling and feeling helpless? Stop working and take a break and walk in the fresh air. It will help you recharge and it can refresh you so that you’re not only ready, but itching to get back to the office and solve those problems quickly and decisively.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Sometimes, it’s a matter of paying close attention to the world around us. While walking toward a destination, maybe a business luncheon or conference, you view the world around you with both eyes wide open. Depending on your business needs and where you are walking, you could be participating in a visual feast:

  • Storefront displays
  • Marketing billboards
  • Bus-side promotions moving past you

Paying close attention to these items can spark marketing ideas for your own projects if you’re present in the moment and taking things in. The simple act of paying attention and being aware of our surroundings can spark innovative ideas that can lead to increased productivity.

Free yourself of the notion that you can only find ideas during office brainstorming sessions.

Observe Others

If you’re at your favorite Thai restaurant for lunch, take a glance around you at the employees and staff, the businesses operations and at others dining in the restaurant. Perhaps you see someone using a new gadget or device that catches your interest?

You may spy something like a 2-in-1 laptop — a laptop that becomes a tablet courtesy of a removable keyboard. This may then prompt you to purchase one for yourself and after doing so, you find that it proves invaluable to you. With such flexibility and mobile capability, you can bring it with you anywhere and find that you get far more accomplished.

Your observation has led you to a new device that ultimately led to increased productivity — and now you’re getting lots of work done when out of the office.

Use a Little Forethought

While planning a vacation, using a little forethought can pay dividends long after you return.

Maybe your wife is dying to finally enjoy a week in Hawaii, but you need to network for some business-related reason. Do a little research. For example, you may find there’s a convention or trade show taking place in Paris. With a little prodding you can get your better half to forget visions of blue waters in exchange for Paris’s Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honor?’s renowned designer boutiques.

And one afternoon while your spouse is strolling through those boutiques, you can slip away for a few hours to attend that event, finally meeting the freelance graphic artist who can save your neck on a big project.

In a different scenario, you could instead choose to visit an interesting city where an important client lives. You can then leverage your time away to have lunch or dinner with the client, cementing a key relationship that could benefit you and your business for years to come.

If you’re a die-hard, you could even plan a trip somewhere in proximity to several important contacts and make use of numerous dinners, lunches and afternoon cafe meetings. It all depends on your needs and preferences.

And if you genuinely just need to spend your vacation, well . . . vacationing, forgetting all business-related matters and simply enjoying your days relaxing on the beach, sightseeing or eating a delicious meal might be just what you need to recharge your batteries.  You can then return ready to conquer the world — or at least the to-do list waiting in your office.

Put a Little Spring in Your Step

Listening to your favorite music while taking a walk can be beneficial to productivity as well. Music is a great mood influencer. Immerse yourself in something that will get those creative juices flowing, whether it’s Beethoven’s Ninth or your favorite rock anthem.

With the proliferation of ear buds and cloud-based music, you can listen to audio anywhere — during your commute or while taking an afternoon constitutional to get your blood pumping.  Put yourself in the frame of mind you need to be in to let your imagination and creativity get to work for you.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Digital devices mean you can take care of just about anything — anywhere — at any time.

Returning from vacation and need to go through an entire week’s worth of emails? Not a problem. Just find a nice place to sit down and soak up the sunshine or walk to a nearby park and find a secluded bench. Pull out that smartphone or new tablet of yours and start plowing through those emails, deleting unnecessary ones and crafting quick replies to others.

If a particular email message is significant enough to require some much needed inspiration, put the phone away and take in what’s going on around you. Perhaps the answer is waiting for you — somewhere out there.

Whether it’s courtesy of a tech device, the use of a little foresight, turning inward, making an effort to turn your view outward — or even completely by accident — you don’t always have to be sitting behind a desk to get work done.

It is possible to be out of the office — AND still be productive.

Lunch Image via Shutterstock

This article, “How You Can Be “Out to Lunch” AND Still be Productive” was first published on Small Business Trends


Clashes, Grenade Explosion Take Place Outside Ukraine’s Parliament

Monday, August 31st, 2015

About a hundred policemen were wounded in protests outside Ukraine’s parliament building on Monday as lawmakers approved on first reading amendments to the constitution that will give greater autonomy to the eastern regions controlled by Russian-backed rebels, newswires reported.

A loud explosion was heard when an unknown individual threw a grenade into police ranks, according to Ukriane’s The blast caused severe injuries.

Over 3,000 people opposed to the amendments that give more powers to the authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk regions set up pickets outside the parliament building in Kiev at the time when the MPs were giving their approval to the controversial decentralization legislation that is a part of the Minsk peace accords signed between Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian rebels in February.

Police have detained 30 protesters during the rally including the grenade thrower, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said.



Workers from Bulgaria, Romania Arriving in Britain Nearly Double in Year to March

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Workers from Romania and Bulgaria have led a jump in European migration to Britain, the Daily Mail reported in its online edition.

“Some 53,000 people from the two countries arrived in the year to March – nearly double the 28,000 in the previous 12 months,” according to

Nearly every four in five of these, or 42,000 said they were coming to Britain to work, confirming “the fears of analysts who said that the highly-paid British economy would attract thousands of migrants from two of the continent’s poorest countries.”

Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007 in the second wave of the bloc’s eastward enlargement. Their citizens gained the right to work in the UK from the beginning of last year.

You can access the original article here.



Venture Capital is Different Now than During the Last Boom

Monday, August 31st, 2015

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Like all markets, venture capital markets have boom and bust cycles.

These days, the industry is in the midst of a boom, with investment hitting levels not seen since the peak of the last cycle, 15 years ago. But this boom looks very different than its predecessor.

Fewer, more financially-oriented investors, managing smaller amounts of capital, are putting their money into later-stage, older companies concentrated in a narrower set geographies and industries, and are exiting more through acquisitions than initial public offerings (IPOs) this time around.

The venture capital community is much smaller today than at the time of the last boom.

The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) reports that 1,704 venture capital funds were in operation in 2000, but only 1,206 in 2014.

During the last boom, the industry managed more than twice the amount of capital it does today – $331.5 billion (in 2015 dollars) versus $158 billion (in 2015 dollars).

The average fund in 2014 was only two-thirds the size of the average fund at the turn of the millennium.

Venture capitalists are much more likely to be purely financial institution than at the time of the last boom. Corporate venture capital funds – venture capital investment arms of operating companies like Intel and Google – accounted for 24.1 percent of all venture capital investments in 2000, but only 17.6 percent of VC investments made last year.

Similarly, the corporate venture capital fund slice of venture capital dollars has shrunk from 14.1 percent of the total in 2000 to 10.7 percent in 2014.

Venture capital deals have moved to a later stage in the investment cycle this time around.

According to NVCA, 16.8 percent of the venture investment dollars and 9.8 percent of the investments made were in later stage deals in 2000. In 2014, those fractions were 24.5 percent and 19.4 percent, respectively.

Venture capitalists are focusing even more on deals previously invested in by other financiers – business angels, super angels, angel groups, venture capitalists and so on.

In 2000, 72.8 percent of venture capital dollars and 57.5 percent of venture capital investments went into follow-on deals rather than first-time funding opportunities. In 2014, the follow-on fractions had risen to 85 percent of venture capital dollars and 65.9 percent of venture capital investments.

As typified by the media discussion of the mega fundraising rounds of Uber and Airbnb, the number of very large venture financings has increased dramatically. As a result, the valuation of the typical venture capital deal is higher today than it was during the peak of the previous cycle, even when measured in inflation-adjusted terms.

The median pre-money valuation of a venture investment rose from $35 million (in 2015 dollars) in 2000 to $40 million in 2015, according to analysis by the law firm WilmerHale.

Venture capital investments have become much more concentrated in software companies in California. In the second quarter of 2000, the software industry received 25 percent of venture capital dollars. In the second quarter of this year, the industry garnered 42 percent.

In 2000, California-based startups captured 41 percent of venture capital funding, while in 2014, they grabbed 57 percent.

These days, exits are most likely to occur through acquisition, while IPOs were a more common path in the previous book. NVCA data shows that 39 percent of successful venture capital exits occurred through IPO in 2000 but, in 2014, only 20 percent did.

Venture-capital-backed companies are taking longer to exit. The median time to an IPO was 3.1 years in 2000, but 6.9 years in 2014. For exits via mergers and acquisitions, the median time to exit was 3.2 years in 2000 and 6.2 years in 2014.

While the venture capital industry is back in a boom after several long years of a bust, the up cycle is different this time around. In the world of entrepreneurial finance, history morphs as it repeats itself.

Stock Ticker Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Venture Capital is Different Now than During the Last Boom” was first published on Small Business Trends


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