Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Skype Translator for Desktop Here, Translates 6 Languages in Voice

Friday, October 9th, 2015

skype translator languages
After a preview app released at the end of 2014, Skype Translator is finally here for desktop, translating six languages in voice. The new desktop app translates even more languages in text — what Skype calls “messaging languages.”

To be clear, Skype Translator has been around for almost a year as a standalone app designed for Windows 8. The app has done its time on beta and it will, in the next few weeks, start to roll out to all Skype users.

Microsoft’s Skype team explained on the Garage & Updates blog:

“It has been a long-time dream at Skype to break down language barriers and bring everyone across the globe closer together. Researchers, engineers, and many others across Microsoft have been working hard to make this dream a reality and we are looking forward to bringing this preview technology to more devices.”

The software giant is integrating the translator directly into the desktop version of Skype, opening it up to Windows 7, 8, and 10 users. The tool supports real-time translation of six voice Skype Translator languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, German, English, and French as well as 50 messaging languages.

According to Skype, among those who used Translator in its beta version were:

  • An Australian world traveler who found his way across continents by translating key phrases,
  • A non-profit worker who used Translator to unite donors around the world, and
  • A PhD student who helped enhance his thesis with help from experts in other countries and
  • A small business owner who communicated with his best suppliers through IM.

Surely, any small business that deals with foreign markets should feel less limited having a tool like this handy.

When you get the update for Skype, a globe icon will appear on the top right of Skype window. Clicking on it turns on Translator, letting you see and hear real-time translation of text and speech. While voice messages are translated in audio, there will also be subtitles, just in case you need them.

This article explains how Skype Translator works. Also, Skype has created a video for introducing users to Translator:

Skype Translator languages are recognized by comparing audio with millions of sounds and corrects any colloquial expressions. It then translates the text into the preferred language. The translation will show up on both screens and the computer will read out translations for voice calls.

Skye Translator uses world-class learning technology and it gets smarter as more and more people use it. Skype says that early users have already helped it improve tremendously and they expect additional progress with the broader release.

Image: Skype/YouTube

This article, “Skype Translator for Desktop Here, Translates 6 Languages in Voice” was first published on Small Business Trends


In the News: Legal Heroes, Wix Make Big Announcements

Friday, October 9th, 2015

legal hero2

There are plenty of online resources available for helping small businesses find legal resources. But obtaining actual legal counsel has still been a relatively involved process — until now. Legal Hero just introduced a new service that offers on-demand legal help for small businesses.

In addition, Web building software company Wix made headlines recently with an announcement of its own.

Read about these news items and more in this week’s Small Business Trends News and Information Roundup.

New Features

Looking for General Counsel? This Site May Do the Trick

Legal Hero, an online portal designed to connect small businesses and entrepreneurs with legal help, has introduced a new service that will provide “on-demand” legal counsel for these companies.

New Wix Web Editor Launched to Make Sites Easier to Build, the drag and drop Web design platform, has just announced a full redesign of its cloud based Web editing software. The redesign introduces a range of new features, including some to help businesses personalize and tailor their sites to be more effective. If you are a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to your small business and its website, you may already be familiar with


Crowdfunding Platform Kickstarter is Now a Public Benefit Corporation

It’s not unusual for businesses to proclaim their commitment to the greater good, although only a few actually live up to their promises. That’s why Kickstarter’s decision to reincorporate as a public benefit corporation has pleasantly surprised many. The crowdfunding company has joined the ranks of organizations like Patagonia and This American Life to take this big step.

Social Media

Is the Twitter 140 Character Limit About to Change?

One of Twitter’s trademark features is its 140 character limit. But is that about to change? A report from ReCode suggests the social media company is considering a product or feature allowing users to create longer-form content on the service.

Are YouTube Advertisers Paying for Bots?

A new study by European researchers questions the reliability of the method used by Google to charge advertisers for YouTube ads. In their study (PDF), the researchers claim that Google charges advertisers for YouTube views even when YouTube’s systems flag a view as coming from a robot rather than a human.

Facebook Notes Transforms into a Publishing Platform

The long-forgotten Facebook Notes feature is finally getting a much needed makeover. The refreshed feature now comes with exciting new tools to add images, format layout and resize photos — and is available to everyone. Facebook published a post to announce the official roll-out of the revamped feature currently available on its desktop version.


Dennis Mortensen of Artificial Intelligence is Driving the Rise of Virtual Agents

I’ve been using the Amazon Echo device for almost a year. And most of what I do is ask Alexa — the virtual assistant in Echo — what the weather is, who won the Rams game, add batteries to my shopping list, or even to play the new song from Prince. I also use Siri to dial people on my iPhone when I’m in the car.

The First LG Laptops Are on Their Way to the U.S. Market

LG, the Korean electronics giant known for its smartphones, appliances and tablets is bringing its first laptops to the U.S. market. The company announced the release of the Gram series of laptops in a press release recently. The machines, named Gram to highlight their light weight, are available in 13-inch and 14-inch models.

9 Photo Apps for Windows 10 to Spruce Up Your Images

Nearly everything associated with your small business online presence — and some offline tasks — requires having top-notch images. These images have proven to be vital for social media updates and to make your website look a little better. Quality images can also spruce up presentations and more.


Biz2Credit Index Sees Institutional Lending Continue to Climb

While institutional lenders continued to gain ground on the small business lending front, Biz2Credit’s Small Business Lending Index for August saw a slight slump for big and small banks. Biz2Credit ascribed the 0.1 point drop to the issues related to the Small Business Administration reaching its $18.75 billion spending cap in late July.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: GreyCampus Offers a New Way to Train Your Team

Training employees in different areas of your business can be a time-consuming and expensive process. You want employees to learn from an actual instructor who knows what he or she is talking about. But the smallest of businesses don’t always have the personnel available to drop their own work and train new team members. That’s where GreyCampus comes in.


Here Are 6 New Devices from Microsoft’s Mega Event

Microsoft just wrapped up a live event in New York. There, the company announced a fleet of new products it is calling the new era of Windows 10 devices. Two new Surface devices, several Lumia phone,s and a HoloLens — yeah, one you might actually be able to buy — top the list of the most interesting devices unveiled.

The Moto X Pure Edition is an Anti-Bloatware Smartphone

The Moto X Pure Edition is the third and latest iteration of the Moto X, and surprisingly priced lower than 2014’s Moto X. It’s the first Motorola phone with which Lenovo has been involved. And the device may become best known for what it doesn’t have rather than for what it does.

Stagefright Update: Your Android Phone May Still be Vulnerable

It looks like Stagefright strikes again. The security bug that preyed upon phones running versions of Android OS between 2.2 and 4, has now reared its head to attack devices running Android 5.0 and above. Joshua J. Drake, Zimperium zLabs vice president of research, has found another security issue in Android called Stagefright 2.0.

LG Launches Smartphone with Multimedia Capabilities

LG has introduced a new smartphone series. Dubbed the V series, this fleet of new mobile devices was launched recently with the unveiling of the LG V10. And the company boasts there are many more “firsts” coming with this newest phone. Perhaps most noteworthy is LG’s claim that the V10 represents the “first” smartphone with “multimedia capabilities never seen in a mobile device.

More 4G for India and Africa? Here’s How Your Business Benefits

Emerging markets such as India and Africa are focused on the potential of high-speed mobile connectivity to boost their economies like never before. As a result, faster 4G connections are rapidly gaining momentum in these markets. For small businesses — including those in the U.S. — this could open a window of exciting opportunities too.

Samsung Will Actually Pay You to Buy This Device

Samsung is literally paying for customers to buy its smartphones. The company is lagging behind Apple in smartphone sales lately and hopes paying the first three months of a new customer’s phone installment payment will sway some people to try one of its devices. The company’s offer lasts until Oct. 16.

Toshiba Upgrades Chromebook 2 With Better Processors

Chromebooks are designed to work out of the box without adding anything else. This has proven to be a very successful delivery model in different segments, but especially in education, where it has seen the highest adoption rates. As a company that makes one of the better Chromebooks, Toshiba has launched the second iteration of its Chromebook 2.

10.2 Inch Tablet Coming From Google: Meet Pixel C

Among the many announcements made at Google’s Nexus event on Tuesday, including two new Nexus phones, the company revealed their all in-house 10.2 inch tablet, the Pixel C. You may recognize the Pixel name. Google released the original Chromebook Pixel several years ago, the newest version having come out earlier this year.

This article, “In the News: Legal Heroes, Wix Make Big Announcements” was first published on Small Business Trends


Adobe Releases a Slew of New Creative Cloud Features

Friday, October 9th, 2015

new adobe creative cloud features

At Adobe’s MAX conference in Los Angeles recently, the company announced new mobile apps, desktop tools, plus a new portfolio service that could be good news for creative professionals.

Plenty of updates are also coming, but here is a list of some new things to look forward to.

Photoshop Fix

new adobe creative cloud features

Adobe is making Photoshop easier and more mobile with the new Photoshop Fix app. And it’s free.

Photoshop Fix will probably not replace Photoshop on your desktop, but it does offer editing tools made for easier use. The app offers tools like heal, smooth, liquify and lighten. The app works with Adobe Creative Cloud to sync with Photoshop and other Adobe apps so you can access edited photos on multiple devices and apps. Unfortunately Fix is only available for iOS, but you can download it now on iTunes.

Capture CC

new adobe creative cloud features

Capture CC is another photo editing app but a little different from Photoshop Fix. Capture CC combines Color CC, Shape CC, Brush CC and Hue CC to create an app that can take your photos “from inspiration to asset creation,” as Adobe says. Capture a photo or choose an existing one and the app will visualize the color and light available. This is then displayed in a rotating array of “color bubbles” you can use to turn your photo into a color theme, vector graphic, or unique brush that can be used in creative projects. This one is available for both iOS and Android.

Adobe Portfolio

new adobe creative cloud features

Adobe Portfolio is a new service the company is introducing that eliminates the need for programing skills to publish your professional portfolio online. Adobe claims the service can help you create a customized, responsive portfolio of your work on your own domain with no need to write a single line of code. Adobe Portfolio is based on Behance, so projects on both services can be synced. There was no specific release date given. Adobe only says Portfolio is coming soon and will be included as part of all Adobe Creative Cloud plans.

Project Comet

new adobe creative cloud features

Here’s one coming for the desktop. Adobe gave a teaser of a new design tool the company is developing for UX designers, code named Project Comet. Project Comet aims to combine design and prototyping in one tool so you won’t have to switch programs or go back and undo work. The tool combines wireframing, visual design, prototyping, and preview all in one. It will also utilize Creative Cloud to sync with apps like Photoshop and Illustrator. The Project Comet preview release is set for some time in early 2016.

In addition to these new apps, tools, and services, Adobe announced a slew of other updates.

Mobile apps such as Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Sketch, Comp CC, and Illustrator Draw will be getting updates. The company has added more Adobe Stock integration into its CC desktop apps to easily search and browse directly from Creative Cloud. You can also expect to see updates to Photoshop CC and video apps Premiere Pro CC, After Effects CC, and Audition CC.

Images: Adobe, iTunes

This article, “Adobe Releases a Slew of New Creative Cloud Features” was first published on Small Business Trends


Amazon Launches Merch: Sell Swag T-shirts Printed on Demand

Friday, October 9th, 2015

merch by amazon

The eCommerce giant Amazon has launched Merch by Amazon, a services that lets businesses and independent designers create and sell T-shirts which are then shipped to customers by Amazon on demand.

App developers and other interested users can use the self-service program to create and upload custom T-shirt designs. They can also advertise the designs on their mobile applications and elsewhere online and Amazon will print them on demand.

Amazon rewards designers with royalty points that increase with the number of T-shirts sold.

To use Merch by Amazon, users are required to upload their custom design or artwork to an online dashboard — it could be art or a logo from their app, game or business — or use Amazon’s templates to get started. Using Amazon’s calculator, users are able to set their preferred T-shirt price.

A creators’ royalty depends on the set list price, less Amazon’s costs. Amazon requires that the list price set by developers covers its own expenses, including customer service, producing the t-shirts with artwork, stocking blank T-shirts, selling expenses, and shipping costs.

Amazon, however, says that increase in sales leads to increase in royalties since the cost of production reduces.

Amazon also says that developers can specify the material and also configure their tees as either one or two-sided. Creators can pick from either American Apparel or Anvil brands, and the shirts are from a single product page in kid’s sizes (K4 to K12), women’s (S to XL) and men’s (S to 3XL). Once a sale is completed, the shirts are printed by Amazon and shipped to customers anywhere in the world.

The Merch by Amazon program does away with the risk of ordering hundreds of T-shirts ahead of time — that may or may not hit with the fans — and the complication of shipping and delivering the shirts.

Amazon is going up against some established players like CafePress, which sells designs printed on more than 450 products, including phone cases and mugs; and Teespring, which has raised $56 million in funding from the likes of Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz.

Merch by Amazon products are sold on standard Amazon pages and free two-day shipping is provided for Prime members. Designers can promote the shirts themselves through their existing channels (social media, blogs, email or website) or they can promote them on iOS, Fire OS, or Android via Amazon Mobile Ads.

Image: Amazon

This article, “Amazon Launches Merch: Sell Swag T-shirts Printed on Demand” was first published on Small Business Trends


Dennis Mortensen of Artificial Intelligence is Driving the Rise of Virtual Agents

Friday, October 9th, 2015

I’ve been using the Amazon Echo device for almost a year. And most of what I do is ask Alexa — the virtual assistant in Echo — what the weather is, who won the Rams game, add batteries to my shopping list, or even to play the new song from Prince.

I also use Siri to dial people on my iPhone when I’m in the car.  And, with Windows 10, I’m beginning to ask Cortana — Microsoft’s virtual assistant — for stuff as well.

More and more, we’re all using intelligent agents/services to handle routine things that take up time.  

Dennis Mortensen, co-founder of — the service behind virtual scheduling assistant Amy — shares why he feels we’re at the tipping point with artificial intelligence.  He also shares his vision of a world where services like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Amy will work together on our behalf to free us up from mundane tasks and allow us to focus on more important things.

* * * * *

Dennis MortensenSmall Business Trends: Maybe you can give us a little bit of your personal background.

Dennis: I’ve spent the last 20-some odd years doing four unique, tech ventures in the data space.  The last venture, which we spent now short of two years on, is  The prior ones, and the whole reason I ended up in the US, were in a similar type space and we ended up being acquired by Yahoo!

Small Business Trends: You think artificial intelligence is at an inflection point.  

Dennis: I think we’ve had some sort of almost perverse fantasy for the last 50 years, where having solved AI — however we’re going to define it — out comes this human-like entity.  I don’t think that’s realistic.  I don’t think I’ll see that in my lifetime.  What I do think we’ll see, and certainly what I think we’re at right now, is this inflection point for where it’s certainly possible to create these verticalized AIs.  That means artificial intelligence that can do one job, one well-defined job, and that extremely well.  

I happen to be the guy who’s creating in an agent that can do meeting scheduling.  But you and I could easily imagine that there’s another agent that starts to do your travels or your receipts or your tax records, or whatever that might be.  And then come to the very end of it — the amalgamation of all these agents — might be something that looks like that fantasy that we’ve had or that Hollywood portrayed over the last couple of decades.  

Small Business Trends: When you think about things like Siri and Alexa with Amazon Echo, and Cortana with Microsoft – you’re seeing kind of these personal assistants … But how does Amy and what you’re doing with differ from what the bigger players seem to be doing?

Dennis: I might just be biased here, but I think it’s a fair viewpoint. If you think back to that first iPhone you bought, about eight years ago, it came preinstalled with two, three dozen apps because Apple believed in this whole idea of owning the stack from top to bottom; we write the hardware and the software as well, and this is one combined experience.  

They then quite quickly figured out — and in hindsight, quite obviously — that we can probably not do all the apps that are ever needed to be on this phone.  And they surrendered on that idea, and out came an app marketplace, and we now have a million and a half apps which is why your phone — which might be the same in hardware — it’s very different to my phone because I have different apps installed.

If you take that thought process and apply that onto intelligent agents, why did not equally na?ve to believe that Siri will have all the answers to all the questions in the world. And will be able to do all the jobs that we ever would want it to do.  So given that, I think it’s more likely that Siri or Cortana or Echo, will be some sort of horizontal agent, an enabler. A starting point that will go hire other smarter, vertical agents.

So I think of myself as a vertical agent.  This agent that will actually have the capability to do a job, and that job in full, but only for that one specific subject matter.  So the way that would play out is a agent marketplace will arrive.  A place where we go hire agents, and those agents will be enabled by whatever personal assistant you might have on your phone so that you would say things like, “Hey, Siri.  Could you have Amy set up a meeting between Dennis and I for early next week, please?”  And it becomes Siri’s task to figure out which agent I’m talking about, enable and activate that agent, provide the right information to it and set that off to do its job.

I don’t see myself competing with them (Siri, Alexa, Cortana, etc) at all.  If anything, I see myself completely integrated into their ecosystem.  And I’ll just be one of many — hopefully I picked a good vertical I can both solve, and one which is worth something.

Small Business Trends: So you see a time where you’re actually working together.

Dennis: Very much so.  So say come February you decide — I better go do those taxes. You go to Yelp and try to find “some agent” that can help you do your taxes.  And you might end up with a local CPA.  You might end up at the local HR Block or whatever that might be.  In the not-too-distant future, you actually might be looking at an intelligent agent marketplace saying, “Which of these agents can help me do my taxes?”  And I’ll hire that agent, either continuously over the year, or just for the next three weeks to do this one job for me.

And then you would see yourself use Siri to activate that.  “Hi, Siri.  Can you have Bobby, my intelligent agent to do my taxes agents, do my receipts, make sure they report my holdings that are abroad”, and so on.

Small Business Trends: So basically, kind of these mundane tasks that take a lot of time but are necessary.  You’re seeing services like Amy and others, being able to work together to fill that gap.

Dennis: I actually don’t think that humans add much value in filling out forms or doing email ping pong back and forth to figure out that you and I are supposed to chat at 12:00 on 10/2/15.  That’s not something where human ingenuity impresses.  That is just a lot of grunt work. Now what humans are really good at – being creative, having new ideas, solving problems where there was no predetermined way of doing it.  Many things where humans will just do such a much better job, but there’s plenty of little details where somehow we get sucked into it, and there’s no way of escaping.

And to this day, anybody who will listen to this will agree that if you don’t have an assistant who scans your receipts, you do it yourself.  I’m not so sure that’s what you need a human to do, to scan your receipts to be reimbursed for a sandwich at Subway.  That should just be a task that doesn’t even exist.  

Small Business Trends: And as people use these services like Amy, and Amy learns let’s say, you do regular scheduling of meetings with certain people. And as Amy does more of that for people, does she begin to actually learn and anticipate – hey, you haven’t schedules a meeting with so and so. Do you want to schedule?  Does it get to that point?

Dennis: I think we’ll get to a point to where Amy at will not just be an assistant. She’ll be a super human assistant.  She’ll do things to where even if you wanted to spend the $50,000 in putting a human assistant on payroll, you would choose not to.  You would choose the machine because one, she’s got total recall, meaning that you and I chatted today.  She will remember that forever. She won’t forget next week, not the week after, not next year, not when you want to do a follow-up in 14 months.  She’ll know exactly when we chatted, what the subject was and so on and so forth.

She will also be able to juggle an unfair amount of meetings, and an unfair amount of participants and constraints and challenges – and not be stressed about it.  She will also be awake at 3:00 am on Sunday night to where you need her to do a little bit of work, for where you would never wake up your human personal assistant.  

There’s all these qualities for where, for this specific task, machines are just much, much better at doing it.  So you wouldn’t even think twice about it in the future.  It would be just kind of silly if you somehow tried to do this yourself.

Small Business Trends: This is fascinating because now you’re saying basically, the more that people leverage these kind of services that carry out the routine tasks that have to be done, they’re able to free themselves up to really think more creatively and maybe come up with better ideas for whatever it is they’re into.

Dennis: So, for today’s podcast, you would have done some research.  Who is Dennis?  Who is Amy?  Why is she so good at setting up meetings?  What are some of the latest research on AI?  And you would dedicate an amount of hours. That amount of time that you dedicated was actually mostly a result of the fact that you had to do other chores.  And had you been able to choose freely, you would probably have read even more if you like the subject matter as I do. You would have read more, but there is just not enough time because you had other chores.

I think once those chores disappear, we will see room for even more innovation.  And I’m just so excited about it.  And I might just be the forever optimist, and I don’t see the pessimist and the tens of millions of jobs that they suggest that we see disappear.  I just don’t see that outcome at all.  

Small Business Trends: We’re hearing a lot about the Internet of Things.  It almost sounds like you’re talking about the Internet of Artificial Intelligence, where these agents working on our behalf will be collaborating with each other to help us have better outcomes.

Dennis: Exactly.  And let’s just play out a simple scenario to exemplify that.  So this meeting, it’s one for where you email me. We chat a little bit over email, and then at some point I say, “You know what?  That sounds actually wonderful.  I’ve cc’d in Amy.  She can help put something on my calendar.”  What you could have said was, “Hey, great.  I’ve cc’d Andrew on my end.  He can hash it out with Amy.”

The funny thing here is, what if Andrew is Amy?  Who in the hell is she talking to?  She’s talking to herself.  That is one agent talking to itself, and that becomes interesting.  Because that means she can start doing things such as maximize happiness, and that sounds so grand that you might just throw up a little bit when I say it.  But stay with me.

Maximize happiness in the sense that this call that you and I do. I am actually equally okay in doing it at 8:30 a.m. this morning, at Noon today, or at 5:00.  My day is a little bit relaxed and that’s fine.  So I could certainly squeeze this in.  You might just have been much better off had we done this early because you need to fly out later.  Amy doesn’t know that unless she works for you, but if she did, she could have made sure that both you and I would have ended up slightly happier sum total.  And that I find fascinating. So the agents don’t become detractors, they start to add to our welfare.

Small Business Trends: Can you tell folks where they can learn more about Amy and what you guys are doing at

Dennis: So I would love if those who listen don’t think that you and I are complete muppets, that they go to the website, and add their email to our waitlist.

This article, “Dennis Mortensen of Artificial Intelligence is Driving the Rise of Virtual Agents” was first published on Small Business Trends


In Plain English: It’s Not Going Well

Friday, October 9th, 2015


I love playing with language and the business world offers up an almost unending and constantly renewable source of fun words and phrases to play with.

“Under-performing” is a recent favorite. It sounds so nice and polite. It’s not that you’re not doing well, or maybe you could use some help, or you’re just plain terrible … you’re under-performing.

So, I took the opportunity in this cartoon to revise that in a little plainer English.

This article, “In Plain English: It’s Not Going Well” was first published on Small Business Trends


Direct Mail Is Not Dead

Friday, October 9th, 2015

direct mail dead

Do you open all your direct mail? If so, you’re probably among the 70-80 percent of consumers who open almost all their mail, including “junk” mail.

For business, putting a tangible letter in someone’s hands can make a big difference. According to the Direct Marketing Association, 79 percent of consumers act immediately on direct mail, while only 45 percent would say the same for emails. A 2014 Experian Marketing Services Report showed 80 percent of marketers ran cross-channel marketing campaigns across direct mail, email, radio, TV, social media and pay per click.

See how so-called omnichannel marketing can make for a powerful combination below in the infographic by NowSourcing for United Mail.

direct mail dead

[Click Image for Large Version]

Republished by permission. Original here.

Images: NowSourcing for United Mail

This article, “Direct Mail Is Not Dead” was first published on Small Business Trends


Looking for General Counsel? This Site May Do the Trick

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

legal hero

Legal Hero, an online portal designed to connect small businesses and entrepreneurs with legal help, has introduced a new service that will provide “on-demand” legal counsel for these companies.

While the site previously served small businesses seeking legal assistance for one-shot deals, this enhancement matches companies with vetted, experienced lawyers, the company said in a statement touting the launch.

This service effectively allows small companies to “outsource” their legal department at a lower price compared to hiring attorneys on an as-needed basis. This enables small business owners to do what they do best, literally: focus on their revenue-generating core competencies.

Legal Hero’s new feature, described as “General Counsel” services, provides small businesses and entrepreneurs with access to regular guidance and trusted legal advice, the company says. Legal Hero’s website reveals prices for 30 common projects.

Annie Webber, co-founder and CEO of Legal Hero, said in a statement:

“As we worked with clients to connect them with the right lawyer for their legal projects, we realized there was a real need in the small business community for a general counsel platform that could help in a more on-demand capacity.

“Adding the Legal Hero GC service was a perfect fit for us as we’re constantly looking to find new ways to help small businesses and entrepreneurs get the legal support they need without the excessive costs and contracts associated with traditional law firms.”

While having in-house lawyers or legal firms on retainer is common among larger corporations, this is not the case with small businesses. These companies typically can’t afford to pay for the best expert legal advice they are bound to need occasionally.

Legal Hero now seeks to tackle this by matching companies with a vetted lawyer. The service also includes guaranteed pricing for an array of services available. These include employment law issues, corporate legal questions, as well as contract and other document reviews.

Daniel Heller, CEO of The Welcoming Committee, a Legal Hero client, said in a statement:

“As an entrepreneur, I have a lot on my plate. With my Legal Hero GC, legal matters are no longer stressful and a lot of my time is freed up to focus on what matters most – growing my business. Whether it’s providing advice on employment issues or helping me decipher a contract, I can always rely on my lawyer’s advice and their ability to make the project as seamless and efficient as possible.”

The service is available in three packages. It is expressly designed for entrepreneurs and startups in need of legal advice to keep their companies on a growth track, as well as for growing companies requiring regular guidance.

Legal Hero leverages its online matching technology and its own online attorney network attorney network to match companies with attorneys meeting their business needs, the company says.

Launched in November 2014, Legal Hero offers services in New York, Massachusetts and Florida, a recent Miami Herald report noted. Around sixty attorneys are in Legal Hero’s network.

Once on the site, the user chooses a project, including the price for the service, and receives a selection of vetted lawyers from which to choose. Legal Hero manages a bidding process for other services as needed.

Image: LegalHero

This article, “Looking for General Counsel? This Site May Do the Trick” was first published on Small Business Trends


12 Sure Signs You Shouldn’t Trust a Business Partner or Vendor

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

trust a business partner vendor

When working with an outside company, there are only so many factors you can control. But based on their behavior, you should know when it’s time to back out.

That’s why we asked 12 entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

“What is one warning sign that a deal with a partner or vendor is not going to pan out?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. There Are Long Wait Times Between Communications

“I find that when a partner or vendor takes a long time to respond to our calls or emails, it’s not going to work out. I want to work with companies who are eager to work together, and a lack of responsiveness tells me that they are either too busy to work together or they don’t have their act together, and I will constantly be frustrated/underwhelmed by them and their performance.” ~ Diana GoodwinAquaMobile Swim School

2. You Have a Hunch

“It’s easy to overlook something so small as what your instincts tell you. But if you look back at many of the past deals that didn’t pan out, I’d venture to guess that if you really thought about it, your gut was telling you it was heading in this direction. It’s not everyone’s style, but listening to your instincts is a powerful tool in navigating decisions.” ~ Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids 

3. You Get Inconsistent Information

“When a story or terms change after the first communication, it’s a strong signal that you should walk away and not waste more time pursuing the relationship. Forget a three-strikes policy. With me, it’s one strike and you’re out. There are plenty of potential partners and vendors. Don’t waste your time with ones who aren’t 100 percent honest and upfront from the beginning.” ~ Jonathan LongMarket Domination Media

4. They Can’t Take Responsibility

“When performance is lacking, they are quick to blame everyone else and take no personal responsibility. It’s next to impossible to change people and should be a major red flag if they can’t take responsibility for their own actions. This usually shows up relatively quickly in the relationship and needs to be handled immediately. Consider replacing rather than trying to change behavior.” ~ Drew GurleyRedbird Advisors

5. They Squabble Over Minor Details

“The easiest way to predict a failed partnership is by the interest and trust emanating from the person representing the other business. When they don’t trust you, and insist on detailed explanations, nitpick contract details, or make a large number of small changes to a fairly simple agreement, you know your partnership is in trouble.” ~ Joshua DorkinBiggerPockets

6. No One Talks About Money

“The most successful partnerships and vendor relationships have a well-thought-out, executable way to impact the bottom line. Often these conversations will circle around product ideas or general concepts, but once it comes down to the dollars and cents, things don’t work out. Having the money conversation early on quickly weeds out bad opportunities.” ~ Ivan MatkovicSpendgo

7. They Bait and Switch

“You have had a great conversation and feel things are going well. You ask to have the other person write everything that was agreed upon and send it to you for further mutual discussion. When this person sends you over the written details of the conversation, it looks nothing like what was agreed on. This means one of two things: a bad listener, or untrustworthy person. Neither are good options.” ~Jay JohnsonSmall Lot Wine

8. They Don’t Respond

“Especially early on, if a vendor or partner goes dark for more then a few days, that’s a huge red flag. It indicates a lack of importance and priority towards the relationship.” ~ George MorrisImulus

9. They Don’t Have Any Questions or Concerns

“When quality business leaders look at a deal and like what they see, they pull out a microscope and look for blind-spots that may negatively impact their business. Sometimes they mull it over and follow up with questions later, but such due diligence is expected of anyone worthy of partnering with. The only type of deal that doesn’t raise questions or concerns is the kind that won’t happen.” ~Manpreet SinghTalkLocal

10. They Argue Against Non-Disclosure Terms

“Depending on what type of company or individual we may be working out a deal with, there will often be mutual non-disclosure/non-circumvention provisions. They’re mutual, and hold my company to the same expectation. So if a potential partner starts arguing the term of NDNCA down to less than 24 months, I get concerned that their heart isnt in the right place.” ~ Nicholas Nadjarian, Industrial Motor Power Corp.

11. You Have Conflicting Values

“One of the biggest indicators of a successful deal, that most people don’t know about, is value alignment. The first discussions that ultimately decide if both parties will make the deal cover the financials, plan and strategy, but the real sign of a good deal is the values that they hold. These values determine the way they work and, in turn, their compatibility to work with your business.” ~ David TomasCyberclick

12. They Propose Problems Without Solutions

“We hire vendors when we don’t have the in-house knowledge to tackle the situation. When vetting contractors, for example, someone who is trying to impress by pointing out all the problems we may not of thought of — with no solution in mind — is a bad sign. That scares clients like myself. Someone who has the “I can do this” confidence that comes with experience will get it done most effectively.” ~ Michael PortmanBirds Barbershop

Clock Face Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “12 Sure Signs You Shouldn’t Trust a Business Partner or Vendor” was first published on Small Business Trends


Stagefright Update: Your Android Phone May Still be Vulnerable

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Stagefright Update

It looks like Stagefright strikes again.

The security bug that preyed upon phones running versions of Android OS between 2.2 and 4, has now reared its head to attack devices running Android 5.0 and above.    

Joshua J. Drake, Zimperium zLabs vice president of research, has found another security issue in Android called Stagefright 2.0. Drake claims there are two vulnerabilities that can happen when processing specially crafted MP3 audio and MP4 video files.

Apparently, within MP3 and MP4 files is a function that allows remote code execution (RCE). This basically means that infected MP3 and MP4 files can give someone access to run a task on your Android phone. Even simply previewing a malicious song or video can put your phone at risk.

Drake says in his blog post that the most vulnerable approach to an Android phone is through a Web browser, with three different ways a hacker might take advantage of the security bug.

First, an attacker could try to get an Android user to visit a URL that will really lead to an attacker controlled website. This could be done in the form of an ad campaign, for example. Once lured in, the victim would be exposed to the infected MP3 or MP4 file.

Along the same lines, an attacker could use a third-party app, like a media player. In this case, it’s the app that would contain one of these malicious files.

But there is a third possibility where a hacker could take a different route.

Say, the hacker and Android user are using the same WiFi. The hacker then wouldn’t need to trick the user into visiting a URL or opening a third-party app. Instead, all they would have to do is inject the exploit into the user’s unencrypted network traffic used by the browser.

The original Stagefright bug — which was also discovered by Drake earlier this year — opened Android phones to the vulnerability through text messages containing malware.

If a hacker knew your phone number, a text message could be sent containing a malicious multimedia file. The text could then allow a hacker access to a user’s data and photos, or even give access to functions like the phone’s camera or microphone.

Users could be affected and not even know it.

A patch was released for the original Stagefright bug not too long after the vulnerability was discovered. There have been however a few issues with the patch. Some reports have indicated the patch can cause phones to crash in some cases when a multimedia message is opened.

Drake says he has notified Android of the threat and stated Android moved quickly to remediate, though they have yet to provide a CVE number to track this latest issue. Google is including a fix for Stagefright in the Nexus Security Bulletin coming out this week.

If you are unsure if your Android device is vulnerable, you can download the Zimperium Inc. Stagefright Detector app to check for vulnerabilities.

Android Lollipop Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Stagefright Update: Your Android Phone May Still be Vulnerable” was first published on Small Business Trends