Archive for September, 2017

Poland Set up a Commission to Calculate the German War Reparations

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The ruling Conservatives in Poland have set up a parliamentary committee to determine the amount of reparations Warsaw should demand from Berlin for World War II, the Austrian media ORF reports.

The chairman of the new commission, Arkadius Mularcvik, stressed that the body would consider “the estimated amount that Germany owes to Poland”. However, he does not commit to a deadline within which the commission will present its conclusion.

The question of German reparations was long considered to have been completed. But at the end of July, Justice and Justice leader Jaroslav Kaczynski began a new debate, accusing the FRG of running away from responsibility for World War II, the Austrian media recalled.


Nearly 90 Municipal Regulations are in Violation of Citizens’ Rights

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

The Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office has established to date 88 municipal regulations containing texts contrary to the Constitution and the laws, the VAP announced, reports Sega. The checks continue.

The municipal regulations have unlawfully imposed restrictions on people and firms having obligations to the municipality. In a number of cases, the Regulations have introduced rules that exclude from participation in an auction or competition candidates who are in default by contract with the municipality and/or owe amounts to the respective municipality for taxes, fees or other public obligations, contrary to the Local Tax Act and fees and the Law on Limiting Administrative Regulation and Administrative Control of Economic Activity. Some municipal regulations provide for the admission to participation in a competition or auction by the order of the regulations of people and firms who have participated in a previous auction or competition, have won it and have waived the conclusion of a contract with the municipality.

15 signals were filed with the respective administrative courts for the abolition of norms from the municipal regulations, unlawfully regulating administrative burdens and fees, as well as norms containing conditions and rules outside the framework established by the law concerning the disposal of municipal property.

The contested texts are contrary to the principles of a free economic initiative, the procedure for the establishment and collection of public claims, as well as all the legal provisions regulating the terms and conditions for exercising “activities” on the territory of the respective municipality.

On the occasion of the rules for the restriction of the circle of persons who have a duty to the municipality, the Prosecutor’s Office argues the protests, indicating that this regime benefits some applicants, for example those who have no obligations to the municipality, even if they do not live in the territory of the municipality (their headquarters is elsewhere) have benefits at the expense of others. Moreover, by introducing such restrictions on economic activities into “unlawful parties”, in practice, an unacceptable situation – one breach to cause more than one adverse effect – contractual liability plus an additional exclusion from an activity which should have been is equally accessible to all people.


SWFs pull money from asset managers for 12th consecutive quarter

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

Low oil prices take toll on state-backed investment vehicles

American entrepreneurship is flourishing, if you know where to look

Friday, September 29th, 2017

It’s hard to keep them down for long

AT FIRST glance, it seems that America’s economy is losing its mojo. Many economists, most notably Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, have lamented that productivity growth seems to be anaemic when compared with earlier golden eras (see Free exchange). A gloomy chorus of business leaders has echoed what media outlets have by now turned into a mantra, that American entrepreneurship is in steady decline. Surely America’s overall competitiveness, then, is plummeting?

The answer from one influential think-tank, the World Economic Forum (WEF), is no. In its latest update to its long-running annual ranking of global economic competitiveness, published on September 27th, America rose from third place to second, ranking below only Switzerland.

This is partly…Continue reading

(POLL) Do You Still Use Business Cards?

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Not everyone does business online and for those who remember a time before high-speed access, they’re sure to also recall business cards.

For someone with a small business, at one point a business card was as valuable as a favorite player’s sports card. They have your company name, contact information, and even a logo.

Over the years, they came in different sizes and shapes, colors of paper and paper stock. Today, there’s even a collector’s market for vintage business cards.

But of course, we know there are still some readers who still actively use business cards. Maybe not as much as they used to, but a business card is still an invaluable tool for a lot of small businesses.

At the very least, they’re still a tool that bridges the gap between small businesses who’ve begun to adopt more digital technology and their customers who haven’t or never will. (Think of the salon owner with a customer who uses a business card as an appointment reminder notification.)

So, in this week’s poll, we want to know simply:

Do you still use business cards?

Let us know by answer the poll question below. Share your thoughts on how you still use business cards or when you realized they weren’t necessary anymore in the Comments below.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Business Card Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “(POLL) Do You Still Use Business Cards?” was first published on Small Business Trends


Greg Clark tells Ofgem to rein in power companies

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Business secretary admits Tories have failed to make case for market economy

Skype Introduces New Pricing Structure, Slack Unveils Shared Channels

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Skype and Slack are two of the most popular tools with business teams seeking to communicate. And, of course, Skype is also helpful for communicating with clients and partners online. So the changes both platforms announced this week are very big news for the whole small business community.

Skype announced a new pricing model for businesses. And Slack introduced the ability for businesses to set up shared channels to communicate with outside clients. Read about these updates and more in the weekly Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Small Business Operations

Microsoft Announces New Skype for Business Pricing Models

The 2017 pricing for Skype for Business was just updated, and if you are a small businesses you will have more options. Two years have passed since the last update, and in that time Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has introduced new services. These include Teams, Skype for Business Online and the transition to Office 365 as Microsoft moves to the cloud.

Slack Introduces Shared Channels to Let Outside Clients Work With Your Team

Is the act of collaborating with someone outside of your small business unnecessarily complicated? After conquering teamwork within an organization, Slack just introduced Shared Channels so you can seamlessly do the same with people and organizations outside of your company.

Accelo Raises $9 Million to Build Tools for Project Driven Businesses

Operations automation system Accelo just raised $9 million to improve and build on its suite of tools for project driven small businesses. Level Equity led the Series A round of funding, with contributions from Fathom Capital and existing investor Blackbird Ventures.

Hurricane Irma: My Experience in the Eye of a Hurricane [Watch]

Up until a few days before Hurricane Irma made landfall in the U.S., we thought it would miss us in Naples, Florida. The forecasting models had Irma tracking out in the Atlantic ocean to the east of Florida.

Hurricane Irma: First Hand Account from a Small Business Owner Hunkering Down

Small Business Trends founder and publisher Anita Campbell was on the ground and saw first hand the devastation as Irma headed through Naples, Florida. Here is the first in a series of articles describing her experience.

10 Tips for Helping Your Small Business Survive a Disaster

All of the damage and chaos created by hurricanes Harvey and Irma in recent weeks have highlighted the need for small businesses to be prepared in the case of a natural disaster. Up to 40 percent of small businesses never recover after a natural disaster.


SBA Gives Maine Small Businesses $200,000 to Help Improve Exports

The Maine International Trade Center just received a grant for almost $200,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help small businesses in the state grow their exporting operations. The Main International Trade Center, which is located in Portland, helps small businesses in the area market their products around the world.

Senate  Small Business Committee Presses Wells Fargo CEO on Account Fraud Scandal

Senators are now wondering if small businesses were impacted by the fake account scandal that continues to plague Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC). Late last week, Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire, wrote a letter (PDF) on behalf of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship addressing its concerns with the scandal.

Green Business

5 Best Ways to Winterize Your Business (Video)

While it may seem too early to think about winter, the season of cold and ice will be here in only three months. And, like your employees, your office needs to prepare its own coat, gloves, and boots to stay warm. While the image of your office bundling up may bring a smile to your face, when you winterize your business, you’ll also bring a smile to your accountant’s face.

Marketing Tips

Google AdSense Now Has Responsive Ads That Morph to Screen Sizes

You probably already have a mobile presence for your small business, or are seriously considering it. No matter where you stand, Google AdSense now has responsive ads that adapt to the screen sizes of mobile devices automatically.

Influencer Marketing is Broken – Think Expert Marketing Instead

According to Kevin Knight of Experticity, influencer marketing is broken. Instead, brands should think about expert marketing. “Influencer marketing today is about reach. Expert marketing is about trust,” Knight says. Focusing mostly on reach, i.e., through celebrities and those with huge followings, is where influencer marketing goes wrong.

Flashstock  Becomes Shutterstock Custom, Helps Small Businesses Create Branded Visual Content

Flashstock has been re-branded to Shutterstock Custom, which is fitting, because the new platform was designed to empower businesses to scale high-quality branded content. Using Flashstock’s propriety technology, it transforms the visual identity of a company into a creative brief for new campaigns. Shutterstock (NYSE:SSTK) acquired Flashstock in July of this year for $50 million.

Animoto and HubSpot Partnering to Bolster Small Business Marketing

Small businesses using the online marketing and sales platform HubSpot (NYSE:HUBS) now can use Animoto’s new Marketing Video Builder to create simple videos for internal and external purposes. It’s a move designed to satisfy the ever increasing demand small business has for professional videos that are high quality and easy to build.

Retail Trends

Americans Will Spend $9.1 Billion on Halloween This Year, Is Your Small Business Ready?

Americans are expected to spend about $9.1 billion on Halloween related purchases this year, according to recent research from the National Research Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics. That means the holiday could offer a major opportunity for your small business to increase sales — if you’re prepared for it.

Airbnb and Resy Team Up So Small Restaurants can Get More Reservations

Airbnb guests can now book tables in 650 curated restaurants across the US in collaboration with Resy, a mobile app for restaurant reservations. For the 650 restaurants, many of which are small businesses, it will mean access to new customers and fewer empty tables.


Nimble Prospector Helps Sales Teams Build Prospect Relationship Record

Small businesses sales teams can build personal client relationships on an ongoing basis with a new AI based tool from Nimble. Introducing Nimble Prospector Nimble, the social sales and marketing customer relationship management company, has just introduced Nimble Prospector.

Outside Sales Reps Now Spend 89 Percent More Time Selling Remotely Than in 2013

The gap is closing between outside sales reps who once sold in the field by traveling to a customer’s location and those who sit back at the office and contact a client remotely. Outside sales reps who once took those trips now seem to work remotely 89 percent more than they did in 2013.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Bavarian Clockworks Markets Cuckoo Clocks with a Personal Touch

Robert Ellis considered a long list of business ideas before starting Bavarian Clockworks, a business that makes cuckoo clocks from the Black Forest region of Germany. Learn more about the business and how it operates in this very specific niche in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Sells authentic Black Forest cuckoo clocks.

Social Media

Businesses May Soon Get to Tweet Longer Messages — with Testing of #280characters

Just as you’re finally mastering the art of squeezing your business’s message into a 140-character tweet, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) goes ahead and changes it, sending the Twittersphere into disarray! After much speculation and hesitation, Twitter is currently testing an increase to its renowned 140-character limit.

80 Percent of Small Businesses Use Facebook for Marketing, New Survey Says

About 80 percent of small business owners use Facebook for marketing, according to a recent study. That makes the iconic social media platform the most popular tool for small business marketers in the digital world and beyond.

Technology Trends

Organize and Sign Legally Binding Documents with New PandaDoc App

Full access to the PandaDoc dashboard is now available on your mobile device, whether you use Android or iOS. As a small business owner, this means you can sign legally binding documents securely no matter where you are with the new enhanced mobile app.

Will Your Small Business Go Back to the Future with the Lenovo ThinkPad 25 Laptop?

Are you ready to take your small business back to the future? Lenovo (HKG:0992) is betting a least some customers will with releases of the ThinkPad 25 laptop. Several sources who have published leaked images of the new version of the retro laptop suggest Lenovo will unveil it in October. That will be 25 years since IBM first introduced the ThinkPad in 1992.

Small  Businesses Can Now Schedule Videos from a Smartphone with the YouTube Studio App

The YouTube Creator Studio for mobile is getting an upgrade … and a new name. The mobile app is now called YouTube Studio. The video-sharing company cut part of the name and added some new features creators have been asking for. Small businesses and entrepreneurs that make (or plan to make) YouTube videos will love that you can now schedule posts right from your smartphone.

Image: Skype

This article, “Skype Introduces New Pricing Structure, Slack Unveils Shared Channels” was first published on Small Business Trends


Des Traynor of Intercom: Churn and Retention are the New Conversion and Should be Treated as Such

Friday, September 29th, 2017

It’s been almost four years since I spoke with Adobe’s Kevin Lindsay about how companies focus the overwhelming majority of their marketing resources on customer acquisition activities vs. customer retention. And during this week’s Inbound Conference put on by HubSpot, it appears that this is still the case, according to Des Traynor, cofounder and Chief Strategy Officer of Intercom, a messaging platform that helps businesses connect with customers.

User Retention is Key to Success

Traynor’s session at Inbound on the importance of focusing marketing efforts more on retention is even more critical today than it was four years ago, as more products and services are bought via subscriptions – where companies have to deliver enough value each month to keep customers on board. And it’s that behavioral switch to subscribing vs outright purchasing which means retention takes on a whole new level of importance in your marketing efforts.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full conversation click on one of the embedded players below.

* * * * *

Des Traynor of Intercom: Churn and User Retention are the New Conversion and Should be Treated as SuchSmall Business Trends: Unbelievably, there’s going to be 21,000 people at this event. I remember when it was just 200 the very first year, so it’s mind-blowing to me. But, anyway, I’m sitting here with Des Traynor who is the Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder of Intercom, who is one of the speakers here at Inbound. Des, thank you for joining me. Before we talk about the session you just had and some of the other things around Intercom, maybe you give us a little bit of your personal background.

Des Traynor: Sure, so I’m from Dublin, Ireland. I’ve been working in technology basically all my life. I started out being a computer science lecturer, which is where I think I got the appetite for public speaking. I started Intercom with three co-founders six years ago. We set out in this mission to make Internet business personal, and that’s what brings me places like here.

Small Business Trends: Very cool. What were you talking about at Inbound today?

Des Traynor: I gave a 35-minute presentation about the role of marketing in this new recurring revenue world. Just like subscription economy. The idea of bundling products together, shipping them on time. Shipping them in recurring periods.

So I think since we made that shift, both in software and in goods, like say Blue Apron or Dollar Shave Club, or whatever. Since we made that shift, I think the general role of marketing has changed massively, and I don’t think people have acknowledged this enough. It’s no longer enough to just get a customer to convert. Getting a customer to convert for, like, Dollar Shave Club means that you’re gonna get, like, $3 off them for their first set of blades, and then they’re gonna quit. Same with Blue Apron, they’ll get their $25 worth of ingredients, and then they’ll quit. Churn and retention are like the new conversion and deserves to be treated with as much priority.

So my session was really about how do we set customers up for success once we’ve got them in the door? Specifically in the world of software, distribution is much more of a solved problem than it used to be. We have app stores. We have things like Product Hunt. People find new tools all the time, that’s not the challenge. And sign-up is getting easier. On the consumer side, you sign-up through Facebook, sign-up through LinkedIn, whatever. Then on the B2B side it’s just been very well optimized. The landing pages, the white papers, all that sort-of stuff. People are really willing to put money into getting people to sign-up. It’s what happens after that. It’s like they just throw the customer over the wall and hope to God the business, sort-of, survives.

That’s what my talk was about. This idea of new-user experience and customer onboarding. How do we get them to the moment of success because when you sign-up for one of these subscription businesses, it’s not like the day 29 experience you’re signing up for. It’s the rest of your life, that’s how the economics work. That’s how you justify the high customer acquisition costs. You have to have a high LTV, right? So the talk was really about bringing somebody true to journey so that they actually experience all the moments of value, such that they’re really, really happy to stick around for the rest of their lives.

Small Business Trends: So what’s the biggest challenge that companies have making that switch from the more traditional business model of selling products … to this ongoing month-to-month, kind of, business relationship?

Des Traynor: It’s sort-of two-fold, one of it’s just resourcing. Most companies if you ask who owns the new user experience the answer is … you’ll hear crickets. It’s allegedly where marketing meets product, and it turns out they don’t meet that often. The other piece that, I think, happens a lot is people think this is a problem you solve once because when they initially launched the business they put a lot of thought into that sign-up flow, and they’re very happy with it. Two years later the product is totally different, but the sign-up flow is identical, and what you’re doing is you’re setting customers up for a product that no longer exists.

So the challenge there is, and what one of the core messages I was trying to drive home today, was somebody’s job should be test out what it means to be a new customer every single week because you’re changing your product every week. Everything’s changing every week. Make sure that everything from your help doc, your onboarding video, your emails that you’re sending them, they all still have to make sense all the time. It’s such an important thing to do that people tend to neglect because it doesn’t feel as valuable. Even at Intercom we’ve ran projects where we’ve seen the ROI be massive. We improved one step in the flow, like, 50% just by re-imagining it.

Small Business Trends: Wow.

Des Traynor: Realizing that we changed our product and changing the sign-up flow. That was massive, all variables of the company changed because of that. It’s something that people think is a lot more low ROI than it actually is, and yet, at the same time they’ll dump money into bringing people in, getting them to sign-up, and watching them puke out, and not actually chase down these crucial pieces.

Small Business Trends: So you also talk about the role that bots and chat can play in this. You gave me a phrase “augmented intelligence.” Maybe we can talk a little bit about that, and what role does that play in this marketing for recurring revenue you talk about?

Des Traynor: Intercom connects businesses and customers, and four weeks ago we launched a bot called Operator who basically sits in a conversation to help these conversations happen. Whenever a new visitor comes along and they say, “I would like to use your product.” Operator can jump in and say, “Okay, well let me just ask you a few quick questions.” We call it augmented intelligence because the idea is we’re not trying to replace anyone here. We’re just trying to inform a conversation that’s already happening, right? And it turns out that it’s actually more efficient for both parties to get the undifferentiated heavy-lifting in the conversation. So if you’re gonna talk to somebody as a salesperson, you generally need to know what’s your company, what’s your role, do you have a budget, what’s the team, what’s the use case? There’s a few bits and pieces that are gonna form this boilerplate of every conversation, and it’s undifferentiated. It doesn’t really vary customer to customer.

So what our Operator can do is it can augment the conversation by saying, “Hey, nice to meet you. I’ll get you set-up and find you the exact right person to talk to, but for now can we just run through a couple of questions?” And those questions, we present them in a UI. We don’t pretend Operator’s a human. It’s unapologetically a bot, and it gives us a couple of quick answers and it’ll say, “Okay, we’re gonna put you in-touch with Jenny. Jenny’s gonna follow-up in two days,” or “Jenny’s gonna follow-up right now,” or “You’re now in a live chat with Jenny right now.” Whatever the appropriate next step is. Now, behind the scenes Operator can go and create sale force entries, set follow-up tasks, all that sort-of stuff. But that’s not what the user cares about. The user’s like, “I want to be heard and prioritized appropriately. Let me tell you what I’m here to do.”

So that has always been our take on bots. They’re good for doing somethings and bad at other things, and I think the hype around bots initially was about pitching this idea of, “They’re gonna replace humans. They’re gonna take all our jobs.” All the usual stuff. I think everyone missed out on this bit. We’re like, “They can just make conversations better.” And maybe there will be efficiencies, and maybe those will result in some, down the line, repercussions, but for the moment it’s just plain useful to have somebody sitting in a conversation offering the necessary bits and pieces, clarifying questions, etc. as you need it.

Small Business Trends: So what role does that play in marketing and recurring revenue?

Des Traynor: If you think about what the new funnel looks like, people will come to a site. They might have some questions, but ultimately part of this shift has been going from “buy before you try” to “try before you buy.” What that means is people can now get started pretty quickly. Usually it’s credit card free and all that sort-of stuff. Where you really want to have some sort-of automated assistance—augmented intelligence, call it what you will—is to help make sure that the customers are getting through to the right moment of value.

So, as an example, if you sign-up for an expense tracking tool, and it’s been 11 days, and you’ve been in the product quite a bit, but you’ve yet to track a single expense. Or you haven’t installed the iPhone app, or you haven’t done whatever the necessary thing that we want you to do is, what the bot can do, again, is just be like, “Hey, I’m here. There’s also humans back there, but I’m here, and it looks like you haven’t had these conversations yet. Let’s start.” Or “It looks like you haven’t taken these steps. Let’s see if I can help you in any way, shape or form.” Operator can run off and search the help center and find you stuff if you ask it questions, or whatever.

As I said earlier, these business only work when the user gets to the moment of value. Intercom can identify people who are not yet at the moment of value. Operator can intelligently start those conversations, augment those conversations, get you talking to the right people, so actually the right outcome happens.

This article, “Des Traynor of Intercom: Churn and Retention are the New Conversion and Should be Treated as Such” was first published on Small Business Trends


Gerhard Schr?der appointed chairman of Rosneft

Friday, September 29th, 2017

The former German chancellor deepens his relationship with Russia’s energy industry

Turkey Finalizes Purchase of Russian Air Defense System

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Russia and Turkey on Friday signed an agreement which has Ankara make a down payment on an advanced anti-missile air defense system.

 Turkey had previously indicated that it was interested in buying the Russian S-400 anti-missile air defense system to boost its air defense stature.

An agreement was reached between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart in April, but the price tag was still in negotiation then. The deal was finalized on September 12.

“The contract has entered into force, the advance payment has been made, I cannot say about the timeframe now,” Vladimir Kozhin, an aid to Russian President Vladimir Putin who is on a trip to Turkey, said on Friday.

Turkish Undersecretary for Defense Industry Ismail Demir told the Russian news agency TASS that the delivery of the air defense system would begin within two years.

Putin arrived in Ankara late Thursday and met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss latest developments in Syria and the Kurdish referendum on independence in Iraq.

According to diplomats from both sides, the two leaders discussed means to protect the de-escalation zones in northern Syria, particularly in Idlib province.

Last week, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that it had to send in special forces to evacuate Russian police who had come under ambush by the Al Nusra extremist rebel group while patrolling Idlib.

The S-400 is believed to be able to engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft and VLO (Very Low Observable) craft.

The S-400s popularity lies in the fact it can shield from air strikes and neutralise drones as well as strategic, cruise, tactical and operating tactical ballistic missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles within a range of 400 kms up to an altitude of close to 32 kms.

The S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence missile systems is equipped with three different types of missiles and an acquisition radar capable of tracking up to 300 targets within the range of nearly 600 kms.

Triumf is a system made of eight launchers and a control station.

Turkey follows China (in 2015) and India (in 2016) as major customers for the S-400.





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