Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

New Money Transfer Scam Asks For Payment Through iTune Gift Cards

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

iTunes IRS scam

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned of a new scam where criminals dupe people into paying fraudulent claims through iTunes gift cards.

The FTC said that scammers are pretending to be agents from the IRS or U.S. Treasury and demanding that you pay back taxes via an iTunes gift card.

Yes, an iTunes card.

Crooks pretending to be from the IRS are nothing new, but requesting fraudulent payments through iTunes — that is new.

How the iTunes IRS Scam Works

The iTunes IRS scam can take various forms. At one point, the FTC pointed out that crooks might mail or fax falsified forms to seem more legitimate and gain a business owner’s trust.

Other times, the fraudsters produce your Social Security Number, or at least the last four digits, so as to come across as the real deal when demanding money.

And many of these fraudsters are very aggressive and nasty when demanding money on the spot, often threatening jail time.

Police in Port St. Lucie, Florida, recorded an incident where the iTunes IRS scammers duped one man into buying an iTunes card worth $2,300 at a local Target store, according to a report from the Palm Beach Post.

The victim was asked to meet a man claiming to be an agent with the IRS and who knew the victim’s personal information at a local store. The victim was then given a phone number to call to settle the debt. The person on the other end of the line also claimed to be with the IRS, and told the victim to purchase an iTunes card or another gift card and to call back with the authorization number.

If he didn’t call back with the authorization number, the impersonator said the victim would be arrested for not paying his debt.

The FTC has observed that the scammers usually ask people to pay a certain way because they want to make it easy to get the money — and nearly impossible for you to get it back. As soon as you put money on a card and share the code with them, the money’s gone for good.

The fraudsters use that information to sell the gift cards online and receive cash.

More Vigilance Needed When Using Gift Cards

Gift cards, including Amazon gift cards and other reloadable cards like Reloadit, MoneyPak and Vanilla, are becoming notorious because con artists are taking advantage of the popularity and convenience of the cards to carry out criminal activities.

According to the iTunes Support page: “iTunes will never ask you to provide personal information or sensitive account information (such as credit card numbers or passwords) via email. That means you should be wary of any requests asking you to place funds on an iTunes gift card or other prepaid card to pay your taxes and fees. That is a definite red flag.

But gift cards aren’t the only way people are being conned lately. Other payment methods that scammers are using to defraud unsuspecting people in these “money transfer” scams include money wiring services like Western Union and MoneyGram.

The FTC says government offices won’t ask you to use these payment methods. It adds that if you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card anyway. Moreover, if you are targeted by an iTunes IRS  scam or any scam involving gift cards,  the FTC urges you to report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

Image: Apple

This article, “New Money Transfer Scam Asks For Payment Through iTune Gift Cards” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Afraid of the Snapchat Ghost? Fear Not, Says This Live Streaming Strategist

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Snapchat delivers around 700 million photos and videos to nearly 200 million monthly active users. Because of this, businesses are spending five times as much to reach the millennial Snapchatting demographic versus all previous age groups combined. Eighteen-to-24-year-olds make up 45 percent of all Snapchat users in the U.S., according to eMarketer. In the past 12 months, awareness of Snapchat among Americans 12 and older grew from 60-71 percent, according to Edison Research.

snapchat course

Austin Iuliano is a creative Snapchat storyteller, strategist and content creator (including a contributor here at Small Business Trends). Austin spends his time thinking up and creating silly-yet-engaging Snapchat stories, consulting witth others on how to be better at Snapchat and drinking way too much coffee. Austin created a Snapchat course called “Snapchat Mastery” to help entrepreneurs get a grasp on the platform. Small Business Trends first met Austin at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 and recently caught up with him again via email.

* * * * *

The Snapchat Course

Small Business Trends: A common objection I hear about Snapchat is that its interface is intimidating and just bizarre. What do you say to people about this?

Austin Iuliano: Alex, you are absolutely right that the interface is a little intimidating. But that being said, it becomes second nature after you practice and learn it. When I first started I was confused as all heck. Now though, my fingers fly faster than my brain can think and it has become routine. It is almost like learning how to ride a bike. At first you can’t seem to get it going without a helping hand to keep you steady  — but if you keep it up, it becomes second nature.

Most people don’t even realize all the different functions and actions that you can do. People would ask me all the time how to do different things like film hands free, record audio messages etc. I send people to various blog articles I’ve written to help them out.

codeaustin

Snapcodes let you add someone as a friend without typing their username

This is part of the reason I created the “Snapchat Mastery” course. There were not many great, simple tutorials showing people step by step what to do. Nothing was located all in one place.

I made the Snapchat course myself. I recorded the entire interface, and all the tips, tricks and hacks in Snapchat.  I even did it with two cameras: one screen sharing the phone interface, and one over my shoulder, watching me interacting with the phone. It makes it simple to understand and easy to learn.

Small Business Trends: Does it make sense for small business owners and entrepreneurs to even use Snapchat? Many people hear ‘Snapchat’ and they immediately think teens and millennials.

Austin Iuliano: Alex, if your business sells to teens and millennials you must be on Snapchat. That being said, the platform is aging up just like Facebook did. If you’re a business owner, right now there is no other platform that will generate as much engagement as Snapchat does, without spending thousands of dollars on advertising.

If your business is built on relationships, Snapchat is a great place to be. You can easily build really deep relationships with people in Snapchat because you get to become a part of their life. Snapchat is such an intimate platform, you feel like you really get to know these people just from watching them every day.

There’s an added bonus too if your business is an event or location based. Snapchat Geofilters are extremely powerful and very inexpensive. I have seen figures of 98,000 views on a Snapchat filter for $32 bucks.

Small Business Trends: I know this is a loaded question but how should a business use Snapchat?

Austin Iuliano: First and foremost, learn the interface and native culture. Hillary Clinton got slammed big time for jumping in and not knowing the culture of Snapchat. She sounded inauthentic, but she quickly turned that around and is dominating in Snapchat, or at least her interns are.

Luckily most of us aren’t as well known as Hillary Clinton. If we mess up (like we are sure to do) it’ll pass probably without anyone noticing.

After you get the interface down and you learn the culture of Snapchat, master the art of storytelling. Storytelling is what separates the mediocre Snapchat accounts to the ones that explode in popularity. Just because someone adds you on Snapchat doesn’t mean they will watch. You have to earn that attention through storytelling. Snapchat is the easiest way to keep users attention and sell more of your product or service.

If you are a location based business like a brick and mortar store, or an event based business like a wedding photographer you must look at geofilters. Snapchat lets you create your own custom geofilters. If you are a wedding photographer, create a unique geofilter for your clients’ wedding. This gives an extra powerful touch. Own a coffee shop across from the local library? Map the library and create geofilter driving people to read and have a cup of joe.

Don’t be scared about cost. Snapchat geofilters are extremely inexpensive, starting as low at $5 an hour. I have seen results of 100,000 impressions for only $32 bucks! That is a ton of exposure for very little cost.

Small Business Trends: You mentioned storytelling is story-selling. Any tips for people?

Austin Iuliano: Absolutely! I give a ton of examples and tips on how to storytell really effectively in my Snapchat course. Some of the common mistakes people make is using Snapchat as a mirror. The entire story is us staring at their face as they talk to us.

If they don’t do that, generally they start narrating the story. Please show us the story and don’t tell us. Finally, practice, practice, practice. You will know when you do a great job storytelling. Your viewer count will keep going up. If you have under 250-500 views per story, chances are your stories are boring.

If you have people constantly snapping you back sending you love letters, you are doing a good job. You just gotta push your creative boundaries.

Snapchat is getting harder and harder to gain attention in every day. With more and more people joining, there are more and more people vying for attention. The only thing that will set you apart from the competition is your ability to story tell. Storytelling is what separates the great brands from the ones that fizzle and disappear.

All and all Snapchat is different than most social media. However the core concepts are the same: tell great stories and make great content. Build a strong online community and create deep relationships.

Learn from others who are doing it well. Spend the time learning the native culture. If you can master those fundamental skills you can master Snapchat.

Small Business Trends: Congrats on being listed by startup advisor Hillel Fuld as someone to watch on Snapchat. To be named with Jared Leto and Jessica Alba is so cool. Who do you like to watch on Snapchat?

Austin Iuliano: Taylor Nikolai, Casey Neistat, Shonduras, Harris Markowitz, ShaunAyala, and AaronFPS to name just a few.

Images: Austin Iuliano

This article, “Afraid of the Snapchat Ghost? Fear Not, Says This Live Streaming Strategist” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Order 3D Printing Jobs Online with New UPS Service

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

3D printing on demand

Whether it is a toy or a hair clip, creating a product is a complicated process involving many people and just as many resources. In the past this meant hiring designers, engineers, a company to do the molding and eventually a manufacturer. If you are a small business with a great idea, you can see how the cost and process can be discouraging. But today, as in almost every industry in the world, digital technology is giving the little guy the same opportunity in manufacturing as large enterprises thanks to 3D printing.

3D Printing On Demand

Recognizing the growth potential of this technology, UPS started offering 3D printing on demand in the company’s stores in 2013. As Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and small business solutions at The UPS Store said at the time “Start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners may not have the capital to purchase a 3D printer on their own, but they may have a need to show prototypes to their current and potential customers.”

This initiative by UPS made the manufacturing process available to even more people and businesses, removing virtually every barrier. The company has gone a step further with a new announcement to simplify the entire industrial manufacturing process by entering into an agreement with SAP for an end-to-end industrial solution. Everything from digitization, certification, order-to-manufacturing and delivery can now be accessed under one roof

The process begins by going to the Fast Radius website and placing your 3D printing on demand order. Based on the requirements of the item, it will be directed to the closest UPS Store location in the U.S. This means you can get a prototype as fast as the same day, again depending on the complexity of the item. Although the service is for stores located in the U.S., customers can use the global UPS network to place an order and have it shipped to their location.

This agreement between UPS and SAP will give businesses, students, inventors, engineers, designers and hobbyist the ability to create high quality rapid prototypes without the cost of mold or tooling of traditional manufacturing. Initial product runs can be launched with a few items to gauge the market and quickly make adjustments on the fly, which is impossible to do the same day with the old process.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing as it is more commonly known, is growing at an impressive rate. According to a new MarketsandMarkets research report, the 3D printing market is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 28.5 percent between 2016 and 2022 to $30.19 billion. With this type of growth, small businesses can start providing solutions anywhere in the lifecycle of the technology and take advantage of the opportunities the segment will continue to deliver for the foreseeable future.

With the accessibility UPS provides to 3D on demand printing and SAPs enterprise application software, companies of any size will be able to access the full range of manufacturing capability with the touch of a button and get their products to market faster than ever before.

Image: UPS

This article, “Order 3D Printing Jobs Online with New UPS Service” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

The incredible transformation of gregory todd book review“Transformation rarely happens accidentally.”
– – from The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd

For business leaders, the problem of transformation isn’t about knowing what to do, it’s about know how to apply what we know to what we need to do. Written by a 15-year consultant in the manufacturing industry, The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd shows uses the story of a fictional company with real problems to demonstrate how complex (but solvable) business transformation can really be.

What The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd Is About

In The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd, a fictionalized company has a problem. They’re not growing. The company is still making sales, but executive management wants the company to “improve their numbers” or they are out. The book follows the story of how this company made a quick turnaround using the insight of a business consultant who brings in the TQM and Six Sigma philosophy, whether they are ready for it or not.

A.J. (Andy) Sheppard is a writer and business consultant who draws on an academic background mixed with work experience in manufacturing engineering including work for Shell, and Crown Cork. After working in these companies, he launched his own 15-year consulting career helping businesses combine their technical expertise with “people expertise” for better efficiency.

What Was Best About This Book

The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd manages to take what could be a very boring subject (manufacturing process improvement) and turns it into an engaging novel that shows the real-life struggles of a manufacturing company. If you have some familiarity at all with manufacturing processes like TQM or Six Sigma, the book’s plot will allow you a sneak peak into what that process will look like in the real world through the characters. Readers will come across characters who consciously and unconsciously sabotage the business transformation process. The book doesn’t follow predictable “insert manufacturing process and everything is OK” kind of story. Readers get a story with a lot of twists and turns, or as much can be expected from a novel on manufacturing. The book isn’t an action thriller, but it does offer more “drama” (the kind you would actually find in reality) than the typical book on manufacturing.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd does an excellent job at demonstrating the harsh reality of business transformation (it’s not pretty!). Unlike most shiny, new business advice books would have you believe, the process of transformation involves a lot of starts and stops.

The book falls short, however, in two areas: the backstory and technical depth. Because it’s a fictionalized account that starts right from the crisis, readers don’t get the complete backstory. In addition, the book lacks resources for further study.

Why Read This Book

The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd gives product-based business owners (aka manufacturers) an opportunity to “see” how processes like TQM and Six Sigma work in real life. If you have been intrigued by Six Sigma but didn’t understand how the philosophy would work in your business, the book provides a sneak peek at some things you might expect to see.

This article, “The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd” was first published on Small Business Trends

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As Summer Begins, Be Sure to Make Time for Small Business Events

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

shutterstock_324586664

Small business owners and their employees will be taking some off this Memorial Day weekend. But early June holds some big activity on the events front.

In the first week of June, events in Minneapolis, New York and Chicago are on tap as well as some other events.

Summer vacation doesn’t mean the end of big events you may want to attend either.

For example, later in June, small businesses will be highlighted in the DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award event June 14, 2016 in Washington D.C. And on August 27, the Small Business Market Expo & Job Fair will be happening in Atlanta.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year AwardDREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award
June 14, 2016, Washington, D.C.

The DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club®, celebrates the success of small business and honors its contributions to America’s economic growth. The Small Business of the Year, 7 regional finalists, and 100 Blue Ribbon winners will be honored on June 14 during America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. There are two ways to participate: 1. Nominate a local small business that’s making a big impact in its community. 2. Apply directly if you are a small business that’s committed to your community, employees, and customers.


Small Business Market Expo & Job FairSmall Business Market Expo & Job Fair
August 27, 2016, Atlanta, Ga.

Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with small businesses, market your organization and tap into a network of entrepreneurs, service providers, financial organizations, business coaches, and franchises.
#SBMExpo
Discount Code
VIP (25% off)


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Travel Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “As Summer Begins, Be Sure to Make Time for Small Business Events” was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Tips to Boost Your Content Marketing

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

shutterstock_307569200

Content marketing can be a great tool for small businesses to better communicate with customers. But you can’t expect to just create a blog or social media post and have customers come running to buy from you. Instead, take a look at these tips from members of our small business community on how to make the most of your content marketing efforts.

Provide Value as an Expert Contributor

Serving as an expert contributor, or having expert contributors on your own site, can add value for your audience and allow you to share your expertise with a growing audience. However, it’s important that you go about this process in the right way. Sian Phillips offers some tips in this Tweak Your Biz post. And BizSugar members share input here.

Understand the Benefits of Medium

If you haven’t yet heard of Medium, it’s a platform that allows people to share their written work in a super simple setting that also has a potentially powerful reach. In this TKM Labs post, Steven Tran shares a bit about Medium and how businesses and bloggers can potentially benefit from it.

Learn These Lessons from BuzzFeed’s Most Popular Content

If you want to create great shareable content, you have to learn from the best. BuzzFeed’s posts get consistently high views and shares. So if you look at some of the site’s most popular content, as discussed in this Marketing Land post by Kerry Jones, you may be able to learn some lessons that apply to your own content.

Figure Out Where and When to Use Online Advertising

Online advertising can be a great way to increase the impact of your content. But not all types of ads are created equal. Here, Gary Shouldis of 3Bug Media shares some tips you can use to make the most of your online ads. And the BizSugar community shares thoughts on the post here.

Create Beautiful Graphics With Canva

If you’re going to blog or use social media, you’ll need to consider what images you share with each post or update. That likely means that you’ll need to create graphics at some point. Here, Debra Garber offers tips on the dlvr.it blog for using Canva to create beautiful graphics for social media.

Become a Podcast Guest

Whether you’re a podcaster yourself or you just have some expert insights to share, being a guest on a popular podcast that’s related to your industry can really help you grow your brand. In this MyBlogU post, Ann Smarty shares some tips and insights about being a podcast guest.

Pin Your Way to the Bank

Pinterest can be used for more than just saving cool recipes or home projects. As this Perpetto post by Ed Leake points out, you can actually use Pinterest to drive sales. And check out what BizSugar members are saying about the post here.

Grow Your Audience on Snapchat

Snapchat has been gaining traction with both consumers and brands in recent years. So if you want to use it as part of your content marketing strategy, you need to know the best methods for growing your Snapchat audience. Here, Calvin Wayman shares some tips on Social Media Examiner.

Make the Most of Your Content Marketing Efforts

Content marketing isn’t some magical solution that will automatically bring your business millions of new customers. You have to actually make the most of your content in order to see results. In this Madison Logic post, Nick Price shares some tips for making the most of your content marketing.

Keep Up With Platforms Like Blab

Some entrepreneurs and content marketers have been using Blab to broadcast content to their audiences for years. But some recent changes have people worried about Blab’s future. And as a marketer, you need to be familiar with the changes in the various platforms you use, as Mike Allton discusses in this post on the Social Media Hat. You can see further discussion about the post over on BizSugar.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to:  sbtips@gmail.com.

Megaphone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Tips to Boost Your Content Marketing” was first published on Small Business Trends

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20 Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Successful entrepreneurs come from all different industries and all different backgrounds. But while there isn’t necessarily one prototypical entrepreneur, there are some habits of successful entrepreneurs that can serve as a common link. The list below includes some common habits of successful entrepreneurs.

Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

They Jump Right In

There are millions of different reasons to not start a business. But entrepreneurs have to be able to quiet those doubting voices and just get started. Even if it seems like a bad idea or like they’re not fully ready, successful entrepreneurs know that it’s better to get started than to wait for perfection.

They Follow their Passions

Successful entrepreneurs know that passion is an important part of running a successful business. Even if you’re not building a business around an interest or passion that you’ve had since childhood, you have to be passionate about certain aspects of your business if you want to be successful. Not caring won’t get you very far.

They Don’t Let Fear Hold them Back

Running a business requires taking risks. You might have to risk some of your personal savings in getting started. Or you might have to make decisions that you don’t really want to make. But if you let those fears stop you, you aren’t likely to get very far in business.

They Adapt to Different Situations

You can’t always know what is going to happen when running a business. There will inevitably be some curveballs thrown at you. So if you want to be a successful business owner, you need to learn how to adapt to a variety of different situations.

They Hold Themselves Accountable

Accountability is paramount when it comes to running a business. So successful business owners often find accountability partners or surround themselves with people who are going to make sure that they say what they are going to do.

They Reward Themselves for Accomplishments

To continue doing great work for your business, you also need to have some sort of incentive for yourself and your team. Great business people understand that it’s important to celebrate those little victories in some way.

They Surround Themselves with Great Teams

In addition, choosing the right team members in the first place can go a long way toward building successful businesses. Successful entrepreneurs often have a knack for choosing the right team members, mentors and others who are likely to help.

They Stay Positive

All entrepreneurs have down days now and then. But successful entrepreneurs have a knack for finding the positives in most situations, especially when that means learning lessons from failure.

They are Open to New Ideas

No matter how knowledgeable you are as an entrepreneur, you can’t know everything. There are always other people out there who know more about certain things than you do. So you’ll increase your chances for success if you keep an open mind and listen to others.

They Welcome Criticism

There may also be situations where you do something or make a decision that isn’t great for your business. If, in those cases, you’re open to listening to others who offer constructive criticism, you could save yourself from doing permanent damage to your business.

They are Thankful for Help

When you do receive help from others, it’s important to be thankful and appreciate their help, ideas and input. Successful entrepreneurs know that showing thanks is more likely to lead to helpful input or ideas even moreso in the future.

They Take Time Off

You might think that the most successful entrepreneurs just work constantly. But if all you do is work, you’re more likely to get burnt out and eventually make some big mistakes. Successful entrepreneurs understand that breaks are necessary and can help facilitate innovation and hard work when it’s really necessary.

They Keep their Main Goals in Mind

It can be easy to get distracted with new tasks and projects while running a business. Being adaptable is certainly a common habit for successful entrepreneurs. But you also need to be able to stay focused on the main goals you have for your business. Otherwise, you’ll be likely to get distracted to the point that you completely lose track of what it takes to be successful.

They Plan Ahead

Successful entrepreneurs also come up with plans for how to actually achieve those goals that they’ve set. So while it’s still important to be adaptable and adjust if necessary, you have to have some kind of road map to what you want to achieve.

They Constantly Learn New Things

Even if you’ve achieved relative success for your business, there’s always more to learn. Successful entrepreneurs understand that they don’t know everything, and are always open to expanding their knowledge base.

They Like Meeting New People

Likewise, there are always new people who can teach you things or help your business in some way. A couple of populars habits of successful entrepreneurs are the willingness to meet new people and constantly being open to networking and learning from others.

They Make Good First Impressions

When you do go to meet new people as a business owner, it’s important to make a good first impression. Successful entrepreneurs know what it takes to make a good first impression and always work to put themselves in those positive situations when networking.

They Know How to Negotiate

Negotiating is an essential part of running a business, no matter what industry you’re in. It might not be a natural skill for everyone, but successful entrepreneurs learn how to negotiate to get the best outcomes for their businesses.

They Find Creative Solutions

Innovation is another important part of running successful businesses. That means that successful entrepreneurs need to be creative and use that creativity in their problem solving whenever possible.

They Don’t Try to Do it All

And finally, successful entrepreneurs understand that they can’t do absolutely everything. They delegate to their team, take breaks and focus on what’s really important. No matter how successful your business gets, there are some limits to what you can handle. And successful entrepreneurs understand how to really prioritize what’s important.

Do you have any other habits of successful entrepreneurs to share?

For more on successful entrepreneurs, please visit:
3 Qualities That Make Successful Entrepreneurs
Successful Entrepreneurs With No Experience
10 Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs

Success Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “20 Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

die empty book review“How much of your day do you spend doing work that you’ll be proud of later?”
– – From “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day

There are many books on how to become a success, but only a few on how to be a persistent success. Even fewer cover how to be a persistent success over your lifetime.

Die Empty is that kind of book. A new edition of Henry’s book,  asks readers to realistically confront the value they offer to the world through their work, whether they are managing a corporation, delivering interoffice memos, or crafting the next artistic masterpiece. Small Business Trends reviewed an earlier edition of the book some time ago.

What The Book Die Empty Is About

Die Empty deals with the core psychology of workplace engagement, an increasing topic of concern in the “work as work” vs “work as happiness” debate. Die Empty’s contribution to this conversation is to redirect the conversation to the individual. Specifically, the question shouldn’t be “What kind of work can I do that will fulfill me?”. Instead, the question should be “What kind of person am I offering to my work?”

Todd Henry explores the answer in the book.

He begins by pointing out that we often begin any endeavor (new job, a new position or the next project, etc.) with energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. As we become more invested in the work, we fall prey to mediocrity. The book, however, uses “mediocrity” in a way different than the common use of the term. In Die Empty, “mediocrity” isn’t just “average”; it’s a compromise. We’re no longer feeding our energy and passion into the project, rather we are accepting a lower standard to match our lowered expectations.

To get to the level of persistent creative output that “Die Empty” wants us to achieve, we have to do a couple of things:

  1. First, we need to recognize our passion (your “Big Why”) and what we’re willing to do to pursue it.
  2. Second, we need to feed our passion with healthy and energizing practices (engaging in the skill set used in the book)
  3. Third, we need to starve opportunities that drain our passion and motivation (The “7 Deadly Sins of Mediocrity” and other concepts mentioned in the book).

If we can achieve the above three things and make it a part of our daily habits, a person can build a habit of success, not just the products of success.

Todd Henry is a writer, speaker, and founder of The Accidental Creative, an organization that helps businesses foster and cultivate creativity through innovative workshops. He also hosts the “Accidental Creative” podcast.

What Was Best About This Book

The best part of Die Empty is the optimistic tone (despite what might be assumed by the title) that Todd Henry brings to the topic of self-help. His language is conversational and easy to digest but is hard-hitting and innovative. As discussed above, Todd Henry has a different perspective on the common terms we use in “work-life balance” like “passion” and “mediocrity” that deserve attention.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

Die Empty is a great book for getting the inspiration a person needs to move forward. It covers the language of the “self-help” in a way that is refreshing and new. The book does not provide a step-by-step guide to HOW to use that self-help on a daily basis.For example, the book helps readers understand that chasing a “good job” to fulfill a dream without understanding our motivation will lead to a wild goose chase, but it doesn’t tell you how to get started. It also focuses almost exclusively on an individual level, not organization-level change.

Why Read This Book

Die Empty is the kind of book that you want to read when you feel a nagging or sinking feeling that you (or your team) could and should be doing more. The book walks you through the common obstacles that everyone faces but does so in an engaging and unique way. Todd Henry asks pointed questions that really make you stop and think. It is in those thinking moments when your mind shifts from mediocrity to greatness.

This article, “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Free eCommerce Platform GoSpaces Goes Global, Launches in 20 Languages

Friday, May 27th, 2016

gospaces featured

GoSpaces, a free website builder and ecommerce platform, this week announced on its blog that it is expanding into 38 countries and 20 languages, making it accessible to more than one-third of the world’s population (2.7 billion people) in their native tongue.

The platform will be tailored to each country’s needs regarding use of language and will include local payment gateways, full translations on the backend and, soon to come, auto-currency settings that will help international customers see how much products cost in their local currency.

Supported languages include Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Turkish, Italian, Thai, Polish, Dutch, Czech, Swedish, Bulgarian, Danish, Finnish and Norwegian, the blog post says.

GoSpaces touts the expansion as advantageous based on the fact that most ecommerce platforms are only available in English, even though English speakers make up just five percent of the world’s population.

Kasper Christensen, GoSpace’s co-founder, says the platform’s flexibility in language and payment options opens it up to audiences across the globe. He expressed his excitement in this quote:

“Already we’ve seen creative uses that we never imagined, like tour guides advertising their services, restaurants posting their menus and bands using it to sell concert tickets,” Christensen said. “Now that we’re in 38 countries I imagine we’ll see even more variety in the Spaces being created by our community.”

Something else that sets the GoSpaces’ platform apart from other ecommerce competitors is that it is entirely free to use — to launch a website or online store — making it useful for testing business ideas or bringing new products to market. Once a merchant earns more than $50 per month, the company charges a subscription fee of $9 a month plus 3 percent per transaction.

According to the GoSpaces website, it only takes a few clicks to set up a site, and users can sell physical, digital or subscription goods. Currently, more than 50,000 sites have been created using the platform, consisting of artists, authors, entrepreneurs and others.

The GoSpaces platform was developed by ecommerce company Shopify as part of “Shopify Garage,” the name the company gives to experimental projects.

Image: GoSpaces

This article, “Free eCommerce Platform GoSpaces Goes Global, Launches in 20 Languages” was first published on Small Business Trends

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12 Management Characteristics Every Manager Should Adopt

Friday, May 27th, 2016

being an effective manager

Part of being an effective manager means understanding how to read people and making sure they are working to their strengths. But there is so much more. That’s why we asked 12 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What management characteristic has served you best over the past year and why?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

On Being An Effective Manager

1. Identifying Demotivators

“Rather than trying to motivate your team members, you should look at identifying what is potentially demotivating them and help to remove it. This could be too much admin work involved with their role, not giving them enough praise, not having a clear enough career path for them, or it could be related to their personal life. Whatever it is, seek it out and get rid of it. That’s the best motivation.” ~ Finn KellyWE LOVE NUMBERS

2. Focusing on Frequent Feedback

“I’ve found that a typical annual performance review involves steering the ship way too late, and is an overwhelming feedback dump for employees. That’s why I focused on frequent feedback with my team. Over the last year, a system that’s seen remarkable success is a very brief one-on-one with each employee weekly. It takes less than five minutes, and the direction provided is well worth it.” ~Elle KaplanLexION Capital

3. Leveraging Specializations

“When you start out as an entrepreneur, you’re wearing many hats. But you quickly find out that some of those hats would be better worn by others. Greatmanagers know how to “fire themselves” out of certain roles, handing over the baton to specialists who do that thing at a beyond-A+ level as the company grows.” ~ Sharam Fouladgar-MercerAirPR

4. Acknowledging When You Don’t Know an Answer

“I used to answer everything in real time. In practice, that meant that my gut feeling guided my decision making. In the past year, I’ve focused on slowing down when an employee brings up an issue that’s complex. Even if I’m confident of my answer, I say, “Thanks for that great question. I’m not sure, but I’ll get back to you later today.” That gives space to research and nail the response.” ~ Aaron SchwartzModifyWatches.com

5. Being a Direct Communicator

“My team knows me as someone who often gives direct, no-frills advice such as, ‘Please tell the client X’ or ‘Next you need to do Y.’  Since I don’t have the time to overthink most decisions, it’s become second nature for me to communicate in a very straight-forward way.” ~ Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

6. Having Empathy and Patience

“To me, being an effective manager is about empathy and patience. Empathy allows you to better understand, relate, and position the company goals relative to each individual team member in order to drive their passion and focus. Patience allows you to give people room to perform, although you need to set and adhere to actionable, measurable, specific, and timely goals.” ~ Andy KaruzaFenSens

7. Being Mindful of Others

“I pay attention to my team members, even if they aren’t speaking directly to me. I keep up with the dates they put on the team calendar, I look at their schedules, and I take note of their work. I’m mindful when someone is doing an exceptionally good job and send recognition, which I’ve seen makes a huge difference in motivation and results.” ~ Jared BrownHubstaff

8. Providing Consistent, Reliable Business Updates

“At GumGum, we have massively transparent quarterly all-hands calls with the entire company where I update them on what’s been accomplished, what challenges we’re facing, what our plans are for the next quarter and answer any and all questions. This helps bring everyone together so we all understand where we’re at and where we’re going.” ~ Ophir TanzGumGum

9. Setting Quantifiable Goals

“Setting team goals that are 100 percent quantifiable is one of the best things we have done. They make performance reviews easier, everyone knows the goal, and if achieved, everyone benefits.” ~ Peter BoydPaperStreet Web Design

10. Empowering Employees in Order to Scale

“Empowering your employees is one of the best ways to help grow leaders within your business. If you’re constantly micromanaging, they’ll never develop the experience to tackle problems on their own. But if you empower employees to go above and beyond their role, they’ll constantly be faced with scenarios that will help them further sharpen their skills and allow your company to scale up.” ~Aron SusmanTheSquareFoot

11. Getting in the Trenches

“We are constantly trying to refine our processes and streamline our practices. In order to better understand my team and our customer, it is helpful to answer the phones and get right into the mix with my sales and operations teams. Getting to know their obstacles and learning more about our customers helps me to make better decisions for Trustify.” ~ Jennifer MellonTrustify

12. Separating Emotions From Decisions

“Being less personal with team members has allowed me to make more informed decisions about our company’s roster by giving me the power to distance my emotions from those decisions. Often times, our personal relationships with employees dulls our ability to recognize friction or address challenges in a more straightforward way.” ~ Blair ThomasFirst American Merchant

Manager Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “12 Management Characteristics Every Manager Should Adopt” was first published on Small Business Trends

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