Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Yahoo Opens Its Ad Network to Other Publishers

Friday, August 29th, 2014

yahoo opens its ad network

Yahoo is set to expand its Stream Ads service to allow other Web publishers beyond a close knit group of publishing partners to include its sponsored posts on their sites as well.

The Yahoo ads will appear as “recommended content” on participating websites. The recommended content will pull not only from sponsored posts but also a publisher’s own content.

Currently, Yahoo’s Stream Ads appear only on sites such as SB Nation, GameSpot and TV Guide. But according to a report from AdAge.com, Yahoo plans to open up its advertising platform to other publishers too in the near future.

For other Web publishers this may mean additional monetization by placing Yahoo display ads on heir sites and alongside their content.

For advertisers, it broadens the reach of ads that can be purchased through Yahoo’s Ad Manager app. If more publishers are placing these ads on their sites, it will allow businesses to reach more readers.

The ads appear similar to those created by a service like Taboola, which also recently announced new opportunities for online publishers to use its advertising platform. At the bottom of a site’s own unique content, four picture boxes with headlines below them appear on a content page. These posts appear under the heading “Recommended”.

If a website’s visitors click the sponsored posts beneath the content they’ve just read, that site’s publisher will share in the ad revenue. No exact terms for this share of revenue have been disclosed.

What’s unique about Yahoo’s service is that it will include, initially of course, three posts from within the site that’s publishing the Stream Ads. The fourth post among those Recommended will be a sponsored post.

AdAge reports that nearly all those ads will come from Yahoo’s ad portal, Gemini. Gemini is a do-it-yourself app that allows companies to pay for and customize their advertising on the Yahoo network.

Image: AdAge

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7 Things That Make the Small Business Influencer Awards Stand Out

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

smbinfluencer awards 3

There are dozens of small business awards programs out there. Some are invite-only. Others require you to pay to play. We like to think that the Small Business Influencer Awards are unique, thanks to our tremendous commitment to acknowledging those unsung heroes that make the small biz engine tick.

Here are 7 reasons we think the Influencer Awards stand for integrity, and why you should nominate people for this notable award (and do so by this Friday, because nominations end August 29, 2014).

1. Actual Humans Review the Entries

If you’ve submitted a nomination and wondered why it didn’t instantly get published, that’s because real, live people (i.e. myself and Ivana Taylor) review every single entry for quality and we make sure each submission meets our requirements. We also edit it a bit if need be because it’s important to us that each submission is unbiased and simply provides the facts on a given nominee.

2. We Use Spam Filters

Any awards program is bound to get some fraudulent entries. Sometimes people use software programs to auto-submit spam nominations, but we’re diligent in removing fraudulent entries.

3. It’s Free to Nominate

We feel that awards programs that charge nominees to enter really only encourage those who can afford to pay to play. We want everyone — from the local marketing consultant all the way to that New York Times bestselling author — to get a chance to be recognized as an influencer in the small business community.

4. Our Community Determines the Winners

This is probably my favorite fact about the Influencer Awards. It’s your job, once voting time rolls around (which begins next week), to decide who you think should be recognized as a winner of the Awards. We rely on our small business community, especially you loyal Small Business Trends readers, to weigh in on who you think is worthy of honor.

smbinfluencer awards 2

5. We Carefully Select our Judges

In addition to the Community Choice winners, we also have  the Top 100 Winners, selected by our esteemed panel of Judges. Our judges are influencers in their own right, and many have been nominated for, or won, Influencer Awards in the past. They’ve got the experience to assess what makes a good Influencer.

6. We Communicate with Our Community

Whether it’s responding to an email you send about an error in an entry or the tweets that go out under @SMBInfluencer, we’re pretty big on communication around here. We’ve had people shocked that an actual person responded to their email within hours of them sending it. But we wouldn’t feel like we were doing you justice if we set up automated communication processes. Besides, we like hearing from our community!

7. We Do What We Say

In talking with Ivana Taylor about the Awards, she told me:

“There are only three things people want: For you to do what you say, say what you do, and then show the evidence.”

We strive to do just that with the Awards. We’re up front and honest about how it works, and maintain transparency in everything we do. If we can’t approve your nomination, we’ll email you and let you know why. If we made an error, we’ll tell you. We want you to believe in the Awards as much as we do, and we know that starts with trust.

All that being said, our nomination period is almost over. I encourage you to spend a few minutes (that’s all it takes, we’ve timed it) to submit a few people and companies you think are worthy of honor in the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards.

Nominate right now before nominations close on August 29, 2014!

Images: SMBInfluencer Awards

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Holy Moley! Largest iPad Ever Coming From Apple

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

largest ipad

The largest iPad ever is coming soon.

A new report indicates that Apple is close to giving the go-ahead to start production on an iPad device with a 12.9-inch screen (diagonally). Unnamed sources say suppliers have been told that production on this device would begin at the beginning of next year. Apple hasn’t confirmed any of these plans just yet.

There could be an entire range of larger mobile devices from Apple, if these rumors are confirmed.

The timing of this decision is interesting. It’s been noted that Apple’s iPad sales are sluggish. And part of the problem has been a stale product line. It’s been two years since the last full-sized iPad was released.

Apple is also planning to have a new full-size, 9.7-inch iPad out to consumers by the holiday shopping season. The company is also set to release a new version of the smaller, 7.9-inch iPad mini in time for holiday shopping.

New research shows iOS’ market share among tablet and mobile devices took a sharp downturn last year Bloomberg reports. In the year before that, 53 percent of mobile devices were running on Apple’s operating system, iOS. Last year, Apple only enjoyed a 36 percent market share on mobile device usage. By comparison, sixty-two percent of mobile devices were running Android operating systems last year.

Apple is also expected to unveil new larger screen iPhone’s early next month. The new phones are expected to feature 4.5- and 5.5-inch screens and will likely be unveiled at an event on Sept. 9.

The decision to release a larger iPad bucks current consumer trends, though. The more popular tablets are getting smaller while smartphones displays are getting larger.

Part of Apple’s mobile device turnaround plan includes attracting more businesses and other institutions to buy iPads. The desire to create a larger iPad is partially being fueled by Apple’s interest in having its tablets replace laptops for use in businesses.

Image: Apple

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Study: Consumers May Doubt the Quality of Green Products

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Quality of Green Products

Some entrepreneurs might assume that with environmental concerns top of mind, consumers will always respond positively to green products when available. Not so, a recent study finds.

Consumers don’t want companies to focus on being green if it means their products will suffer in some other way. And according to research from the Yale School of Management, there’s a universal assumption that intentionally green products are usually lacking in other ways.

George Newman, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management and lead author of the research explained in an email to NBC News:

“People often have limited information, so they tend to make guesses about how companies allocate their resources in developing a product. In our research, we find that the default assumption seems to be that improving the green dimensions seems to take away from other benefits.”

The school’s experiments involved subjects evaluating fictitious brands of things like dish soap and drain cleaner. When the consumers were told that the products were designed to be eco-friendly, they showed little interest in buying them. But they weren’t put off if they learned that the products just happened to be eco-friendly and weren’t created for that specific purpose.

The takeaway is simple. For businesses that create green products, it’s necessary to take some time to better educate consumers about your process. Since these assumptions about green products tend to come from a lack of understanding about how companies use their resources, you need to make it very clear.

If you create products with the intention of being eco-friendly, you may need to alert customers that this doesn’t impact their quality or performance. And if you create effective products that just happen to be green, make that part of it clear to customers as well.

You may even want to rethink promoting the green aspect of your products altogether. Simply focus on the quality or whatever else sets them apart. And include the green aspect of your product as just a secondary feature in your marketing.

There are certainly customers who will seek out your products simply because they are good for the environment, and that’s fine. But for many customers, simply promoting your product as green will not grow sales.

In fact, it may even hurt them unless you can demonstrate that your product has other qualities too.

Dishes Photo via Shutterstock

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Acer Iconia One 7: Nice Tablet for Users on a Budget, But…

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

acer iconia one 7 review

The Acer Iconia One 7 is a nice tablet for the user on a budget.

At a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $129.99, it is a very affordable if average tool running on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. You will be able to update that to Android 4.4, also known as KitKat, in the near future, however.

The tablet features a 1200 x 800 labeled HD display driven by the onboard PowerVR SGX series video graphics adapter.

See more in this brief video review:

The Acer Iconia One 7 is powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor with a lithium polymer battery providing up to 7 hours of battery life.

The Acer Iconia One 7 is a thin device at .4 inches, so you could easily fit it into a small handbag. But the frontward facing dimensions are 7.8 inches by 4.7 inches with a 7″ diagonal screen size giving you a better viewing experience than similarly portable but smaller mobile devices.

So this device provides the middle ground feature of having a larger screen than your phone, but smaller than a standard tablet.

The right side of the unit is where the on off switch is located.

There’s also a volume rocker switch for easy adjustment. On the top of the unit, you will find a 2.0 mini usb port. And there’s also a cable and adapter for charging or data sharing. Finally there’s a port for your headphones. Or you can use the tablet’s internal speakers instead.

The digital camera on the Acer Iconia One 7 provides a 2 mega Pixel view for your photography or videography needs. And it also provides a front facing camera, though the image is of lesser quality.

You can easily purchase accessories for your device with the available link on its desktop. These accessories include cases and screen protectors.

The Iconia One 7 also comes with standard Google resources, such as Gmail, Chrome and even Hangouts to chat with your friends. You can also use the built in GPS to track your destinations with Google Maps or use Google Drive to share files with yourself or others wherever you may be. This lightweight device is only 11.4 ounces.

But…it is not a high end device and would not be effective for a serious power user. However, as a simple tablet on a budget, it is a very competitive tablet.

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Coolest Cooler is Now Top Earning Kickstarter Campaign

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

coolest cooler

There’s a new top earner among Kickstarter campaigns. The Coolest Cooler is a high-tech appliance that its creator describes as more of a portable party than a regular cooler.

The campaign still has a couple of days left, but it’s already raised more than $10.7 million. That’s enough for it to surpass the Pebble smartwatch, which previously held the title of Kickstarter’s most highly funded project.

What is it That People Love so Much About the Coolest Cooler?

To start with, it includes features such as a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, USB charger, LED lid light, battery powered blender, and more. Plus, of course, it can keep food and drinks cold as most coolers do.

A cooler isn’t necessarily something that people would associate with innovative technology. But the lack of similar options could very well be what has led to so much crowdfunding success. Creator Ryan Grepper told CNBC:

“The cooler industry has been around a long time, but this is a new concept and ultimately this will be a benefit for all consumers as other concepts come out of the traditional industry. And I hope this inspires other innovators, inventors, people with an idea for something new in an otherwise stagnant industry.”

Could Even More High-Tech Coolers be Poised to Enter the Market?

There are nearly 51,000 backers who seem to think it’s a good idea. And Grepper himself has so much faith in the idea that he stuck with it even when at first it failed.

Originally, Grepper began working on development of a cooler hybrid about 10 years ago. The inventor initially tried to fund the project on Kickstarter in 2013. But at that time, the project was only able to raise just over $102,000, well short of its $125,000 goal.

But Grepper didn’t give up there. Clearly, it seems that with the right message and reach, a high-tech party cooler is something consumers will pay for.

The Coolest Cooler is expected to sell a retail price of $299 and is scheduled to be available in February 2015.

The post Coolest Cooler is Now Top Earning Kickstarter Campaign appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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3 Most Dangerous Half Truths in Entrepreneurship

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Dangerous Half Truths

Have you noticed how annoying small business clich?s seem to generate instant experts? It’s as if repeating the same half true clich?s that appear everywhere validates a voice.

I can’t resist pointing out these three clich?s below.  Pointing out what’s wrong with them, why they are only half true, and why they are also dangerous. So here we go.

1. Do What You Love

What business to start? Supposedly – you should just do what you love.

However, just imagine how many business failures came from people who loved, say…cooking, graphic design, fashion, music, cars, travel, etc. but still failed. Doing what they loved did not make these millions of failures successful. It takes more than that.

I can guarantee you that the clich? “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” was not floated by somebody running a business.

The truth is that doing what you love isn’t enough at all. Doing something that people will pay for is way more important. Do not what you love, but what your customers love. Give value. Focus strategically on a realistic market and offer that market benefits that are worth enough money to cover your costs. Then you have sufficient resources to do it right, and — way more important — you execute properly.

The half truth here is that if you have everything else right, doing what you love is a significant advantage. It can help you get through long days and tough times. But you’ll also have to deal with sales, marketing, production, administration, and running a business.

2. Passion, Persistence, and Perseverance

“Just keep trying and you’ll succeed” is terrible business advice, and, unfortunately, way too common as well. I shudder to think how often some aging entrepreneur stands up in front of hopefuls, microphone in hand, suggesting that all it takes is sticking to it.

That’s terrible advice. Every one of those hackneyed presentations from successful entrepreneurs should be matched with equal time from some might-have-been entrepreneur who stuck with it, following the worn and tired advice, until stubbornly losing business, home, relationships and dreams.

The half truth here is that in some cases, every so often, a business that seems to be failing just needs more time, some adjustments, or a pivot. And when that happens, it can lead to a successful entrepreneur who is right, not lying, when she tells others that sticking to it was essential.

The hard part is figuring out which story you’re in. There is no virtue in sticking to a plan that isn’t working. And there’s no success in sticking to a bad business that isn’t working. And sticking to it can be equivalent to running your head into a brick wall, over and over.

3. The Cult of the Business Idea

Most of us seriously overvalue the role of the business idea, as if a good idea guarantees success (it doesn’t) and a mediocre idea, or old idea, or copying somebody else’s idea guarantees failure (they don’t).

Apple wasn’t the first personal computer manufacturer, Google wasn’t the first Internet search engine, and Starbucks wasn’t the first upscale coffee place. Excel wasn’t the first spreadsheet. The new Mini-cooper, a new version of a cool car from the sixties,  followed the Volkswagen idea of five years earlier, a new version of a cool car from the forties. And Fiat did the same thing seven years later, with a new version of the Fiat 500. Good ideas get copied all the time.

The half truth here is that mediocre ideas are worse than good ideas and bad business ideas are disastrous. The good idea is an advantage, for sure.

What really matters in all the cases above and millions of others is not the idea, but the execution. The vast majority of new businesses rest not on a new idea but a new spin, new angle, new variation, or simply doing something better. Is that new restaurant you like a new business idea, or just good execution? Most businesses displace other businesses, instead of creating something new.

Mouth Photo via Shutterstock

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5 Quick Tips on How to Grow and Scale Your Business

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

how to grow and scale your business

Starting a business is arguably the hardest part of business success, but growing that business comes in a close second. You not only have to worry about making sure your business is growing in the first place, but you have to make sure that growth is steady.

If you grow too fast, you might not be prepared. If you start growing slowly, then suddenly that growth picks up. But then it slows down again and you’re dealing with employees you may have hired who are no longer needed. You’re dealing with questions as to why, what that means for the future, etc.

You have to be prepared and be able to scale that growth so that it doesn’t hurt you in the long run.

The inspiration for this article was actually from something one of our managing partners, Adam Heitzman, published on Inc. Magazine. He asked entrepreneurs what their biggest challenge was in growing their business, and many people said that scaling business growth was a challenge.

So I had to ask myself, ‘What’s the secret?’

Even if you’re still in the stages of trying to grow your business, it’s important to have a plan in place for when your business does grow. If you’re scrambling to scale this growth already, then we don’t need to tell you twice. But remember – growth is a good problem to have.

There are many different ways to scale your business for growth, but below are some of the most effective and popular.

How to Grow and Scale Your Business

Change Your Approach to Pricing and Income

Changing the way you think about the pricing structure in your company is huge. You might have a solid system in place that is working for a small company, but this may need to change if you’re planning to grow.

For example, if you’re charging your clients per hour, you may want to consider a new approach that doesn’t limit you to the number of hours in a day. Try something called “value pricing.” This will charge your clients based on the value you’re offering.

If you like charging by the hour, start setting up larger workshops or conferences so you can make more per hour. Also try looking at different outsourcing options so that you have more people helping you get the job done in less time.

The sooner you can establish your new structure and/or get a system in place that allows you to grow – the better.

Build a Killer Management Team and Create Internal Systems ASAP

This is probably the biggest thing that entrepreneurs will tell you “saved” them. Bring in people who make up for your weaknesses and establish internal systems right off the bat. Prepare now, so that you’re not scrambling in the future.

For example, right now you might be able to supervise all of your hiring decisions. But soon, that may not be possible as your orders grow and you’re needed elsewhere. This means you should have people in charge already, in place to help you hire as you need it.

Switch to Cloud-Based Systems

This idea came from an article published on Sage One, and it seems to be one that is often overlooked. Cloud-based systems allow you to communicate and share information anywhere and at any time. Having information constantly accessible is the key to keeping a growing business successful because things are going to come up when you’re not in the office.

If you don’t switch to cloud-based systems soon enough, you could run into the problem of having too much information on your servers. Meaning, you would need to invest in expensive servers to stay afloat.

Cloud-based systems already have the power you’ll need.

Be Transparent and Hold Your Team Accountable Through Public Profiles

Having a presence on social media and making appearances on large publications in your industry (whether through interviews, guest articles, etc.) is key to growing your business in the first place. However, this also holds your team accountable.

Make sure everyone has a public profile so that as your business growing, those who have questions can easily find the right person to contact as opposed to having everyone contacting the CEO.

According to a Forbes article, the CEO and/or owner should be working ON the business more than IN it.

Have a CRM System for Tracking Clients and Relationships

Many small businesses can get away with tracking order and client information on spreadsheets, but this simply isn’t conducive to growth. You could get buried and lose some of those relationships you once had.

A CRM system (one in the cloud, preferably) can help you keep these relationships intact so you don’t miss a beat. Remember, your business is nothing without your clients. So you want to offer a high level of customer service no matter what phase of growth you’re dealing with at the time.

This point also goes along with the second point about hiring and creating internal systems as well as the third point about cloud-based systems. Are you seeing a trend?

Everything is connected, so hopefully you’ll find scaling a business isn’t as stressful as it seems.

One Last Tip: Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

There are people you can hire to help you scale your business if you’re feeling overwhelmed or you are just slightly late in your preparation and need help fast. Find consultants or high-level finance professionals who specialize in helping small businesses develop procedures and reforming internal operations.

Do you have any tips for scaling business growth?

Republished by permission. Original here.

Growth Photo via Shutterstock

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Pinterest Images that Receive the Best Engagement

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

pinterest secrets

Pinterest can be a powerful marketing tool, particularly for visual brands. But there are some types of images that lead to more engagement, clicks, and purchases than others.

An infographic released by Ripen Ecommerce outlines some of the most successful types of images on the site.

For instance, the infographic suggests that:

  • Lighter images are repinned 20 percent more often than dark images.
  • Brand images without faces receive 23 percent more repins than those including faces.
  • Tall images are shared 67 percent more than short images.

The information that goes along with these images can be just as important. For example:

  • Pins that have a price attached to them have a 36 percent higher chance of being liked.
  • Pins that include a description of about 200-300 characters are shared 57 percent more than pins with longer or shorter descriptions.
  • Descriptions that include calls to action lead to 80 percent more engagement than those without.

So if you’re an eCommerce company, using this information allows you to potentially choose images that amplify your reach on Pinterest. When you know what types of images customers look for while browsing the social site, you can better tailor your content to those expectations.

Posting taller, lighter images without faces, for example, will probably bring you better engagement and greater reach when seeking to connect with more on Pinterest’s millions of users.

Something as simple as including a price or a call to action can have a dramatic effect on the social engagement you’ll see with your brand or business. So why wouldn’t you use that information to your advantage?

Compared to other social sites like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is even more successful at turning followers into buyers, according to the research from Ripen Ecommerce. This is likely due, at least in part, to the highly visual nature of the site. In addition, many of Pinterest’s users are already looking for particular types of items.

Pinterest’s reach continues to increase as well. According to the infographic, more than 22% of Americans use Pinterest at least once per month. Just 12 percent used it that often in 2012.

But as users increase, so does the amount of content on the site – so it’s even more important to make your photos stand out from the rest.

The post Pinterest Images that Receive the Best Engagement appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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What is StumbleUpon and How Does it Work?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

what is stumbleupon

What if there was a site that could predict everything you wanted to see on the Internet? StumbleUpon is a social network that helps you discover unique and interesting things across the Web. So what is StumbleUpon, exactly?  StumbleUpon is basically a discovery engine of entertainment that recommends photography, art, humor, fashion, sports, technology and just about every other topic you can think of.

Navigating StumbleUpon feels like surfing a Web where every incoming WiFi wave feels tailor-made just for you. All you have to do is tell StumbleUpon a few things you like (and a couple things you don’t), and it will learn your preferences to start feeding you interesting content.

What makes StumbleUpon so cool is that every time you use it, you end up on an epic journey through webpages you may have never found without the help of the tool. We’ve found everything from must-see astrophotography to classic infographics.

Besides bringing you awesome webpages, StumbleUpon allows you to submit webpages you’ve enjoyed, follow people and interests, see what your friends have shared, browse popular trending posts, photos and videos and create lists of pages you like.

StumbleUpon also offers a Paid Discovery system for advertisers, and content marketers have taken notice. According to Shareaholic‘s Social Media Traffic report from late 2013, StumbleUpon accounted for more publishing traffic than popular sites like YouTube, Google, LinkedIn and Reddit combined.

what is stumbleupon

Using the Stumble Button and Toolbar

Ready to stumble across some interesting new webpages? You can explore recommended content by visiting StumbleUpon.com/home, which presents a grid of pages you might be interested in based on topics you like.

At the top of the page you’ll find a toolbar called the StumbleBar which, among other elements, contains the Stumble Button. Clicking this button is kind of like pressing a “next” button. Every time you click it, StumbleUpon will load a new webpage for you.

Along with the Stumble Button, in the StumbleBar you’ll also find thumbs up and thumbs down buttons for rating pages. You’ll want to use these buttons to help StumbleUpon better understand your interests so it can recommend you even cooler content.

Outside the StumbleUpon homepage, the StumbleBar is also available as a Chrome extension, a Firefox add-on and as an app for Android, iOS and Windows 8. Using one of these downloads will give you access to the StumbleBar everywhere you go on the Web.

what is stumbleupon

StumbleUpon History
StumbleUpon was founded in November 2002 by entrepreneurs Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith, Justin LaFrance and Eric Boyd. The site was acquired by eBay in 2007 for approximately $75 million and then sold back to several of the original founders in 2009. In April 2012 StumbleUpon announced it had surpassed 25 million registered users, and today it’s one of the top 150 most visited sites on the Web according to Alexa.

Have you ever Stumbled through StumbleUpon? What do you think about the site?

Republished by permission. Original here.

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