Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

These Edible Greeting Cards Will Make Others Eat Your Words

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

edible greeting cards

Greeting cards are commonly exchanged for holidays, birthdays, special occasions and more. But how many of these cards end up in the trash after just a week or two?

What if, instead of sending paper greeting cards that will eventually end up in a landfill, you could send cards that won’t go to waste? That’s what small business Eat The Fine Print is aiming to provide with its edible greeting cards.

Sisters and founders Mihkel Kryman and Frith Maier say they come up with the idea for their company by combining two things near and dear to their heart: Sending and receiving greeting cards and eating fresh fruit. (See them pictured with kids Jakob and Mariel sampling their product in a photo from their official website above.)

On the site they explain:

“We love getting cards the old-fashioned way. And we love giving cards, tucking in an extra little surprise with that handwritten note delivered by the letter carrier. We also eat a lot of berries and vegetables – hence the idea for an edible greetings line made from paper that’s actually good to eat, good for you, and good for the planet.”

The cards are a bit thicker than standard printing paper, and come in different flavors like blueberry, key lime, orange and strawberry, the Huffington Post reports. They are made from a mixture of potato starch, palm oil, fruit extract, sucralose and food coloring.

They’re vegan, gluten-free, and just 42 calories each. They come with standard greetings such as “Happy Birthday” and “I Heart You.” But you’ll need to purchase your own edible ink if you want to personalize them further.

You’ll need regular paper envelopes and stamps to send them. And they come pre-wrapped in cellophane, so these aren’t completely waste-free. But the cards still go a long toward eliminating a lot of the paper waste involved in the greeting card business.

The cards retail for $9 on the company’s website. So they’re a bit more expensive than your standard greeting cards, but Eat the Fine Print also has a novelty that could definitely appeal to consumers.

Based in Seattle, the sisters have also gotten family members involved in the business . The line of fruit flavored cards are special in other ways too. They are also dairy-free, sodium free, gluten free and soy free.

The sisters are even working on a new line of vegetable flavored products. How about some note cards made out of kale stalks? Bon app?tit.

Image: Eat The Fine Print

The post These Edible Greeting Cards Will Make Others Eat Your Words appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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How to Put “More Serve in Your Sell” to Make More Sales

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

make more sales

The shift from sell first to serve first is here and now. We no longer sell by leading with the product.  Sales are made by leading with the person and a relationship with them. Referrals, recommendations and introductions play a huge part in the sales process now.

The sales process has changed consistently over the past decade and educating customers is essential and integral to building a trust bond. We no longer buy things and engage with businesses, people and companies that we don’t know, like or trust. We need to be committed  and adapt quickly to this trend. Today, the key driver of sales is educating the customer about why they should buy what we offer, and that we are the best person to deliver it and help service it.

This approach is building a long term relationship. The way to do that is to be an information, trend and idea provider so that you become a trusted resource. The “service provider” of today delivers much more. We require and want more of a holistic experience that builds relationship longevity.

Trendwatching, established in 2002, helps forward-thinking business professionals in 180+ countries, with 2600 spotters understand the new consumer and subsequently uncover compelling, profitable innovation opportunities. It is an important immediate global trend resource for tracking consumer consumption.

In April of 2010, they published a brief on Brand Butlers titled, “Serving is the New Selling”. And in it, they introduced the idea of how important it is to turn your brand into a service.  Consumers today yearn for service and care, while the mobile online revolution finally makes it possible to offer uber-relevant services to consumers anywhere, anytime.

Exactly as predicted, how well and committed we are to serving our customers is the X factor in todays small business success. We have had to learn to not only serve customers much better in brick and mortar stores, but online through eCommerce and eTailing as well, which will grow 62% by 2016, to 327 billion USD. (Forrester,  2012).

Here is how you can set yourself apart, by putting more serve in the sell – so that you can make more sales.

Much Faster Follow Up

There is absolutely no reason with today’s social media and online tools that we shouldn’t get and give a timely response to requests, questions or inquiries.  If you get one chance to make a first impression and one chance to secure it in the mind of the consumer, then reply and respond as quickly as you can.  Even if it’s to acknowledge that you have gotten their inquiry.

Automation can be very effective as a short term tool and response, but aggravating when you need to get human.  As a business of one or two, follow up can be more challenging, but making sure you make timely response more of a priority is a must. Be willing to consider apps, software and customer service chat features, where real people can be positioned to give brief one on one interactions, or you can automate for questions or help.

Fastidious Follow Through

If we make promises to customers, which we should, then we must deliver on them. The worst thing you can do is say you are going to do something and not do it. It may not always be possible to complete a request, task or deadline – but you can at least stay connected through the process.

Follow through shows respect for your customers and your professionalism. Make follow through a priority in your daily activities.

Creative, Customized Solutions

Make customers feel unique, special and valued. Each one has their own needs. Be willing to customize creative solutions for them, which shows them your care and have knowledge of what they really need, not what you want to sell them.

This is of course easier when you are dealing one on one with active clients. Use social media and email marketing to stay connected and in communication. But when it comes to going one on one, customize solutions as one size never fits all.

The Wow, OMG, Awesome, Unexpected Effect

It takes a lot for companies to blow us away with customer service today. We expect excellent service and the bar has been raised dramatically. Companies have had to raise their employee customer service skills and invest in more training. The bar is high and the public is demanding and expectant.

No longer is “under promise and over deliver” considered a wow strategy. Excellence is expected not considered above average. The companies that really stand out are making more promises and setting themselves up to deliver on them.

Refer, Recommend, Connect, Introduce

ABN (always be networking) and building your circles, spheres, community and connections. The more you do this, the more you will know, find out and be considered relevant. Building that blend of in-person and online connectivity and networking activities and affiliations assures you are staying inside of activity and changes. Be an active part of what’s going on and not a spectator. Become the catalyst and connector that people want to refer, recommend, introduce and have in their circles.

The sales process is always about making smart connections and  identifying qualified people. But it’s the serving to them of information, resources and ideas that accelerates and solidifies the relationship with them that ultimately leads to sales.

What are the things you are consistently doing to serve that sets you apart?

Grow Sales Photo via Shutterstock

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Have a Techie in Your Life? Hip Tablet Gift Ideas For 2014

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

tablet gift ideas

Tablets are a trendy piece of technology and are only continuing to grow in popularity. This popularity also makes a tablet a highly desirable gift to give, but with a sea of options it’s not the easiest task to pick the right one. There are a number of things to consider when selecting a tablet; price, power, and features to name a few.

Take a look at this list of some of the best tablet gift ideas for 2014.

Google Nexus 7

Tablet Gift Ideas

The Google Nexus 7 is a good mix of size, quality, and price. This 7 inch tablet has lots of features and will run you around $198.99. It has a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, making it speedy, and runs Android 4.3. The Nexus 7 also includes surround sound, built in wireless charging, and boasts a beautiful 2.3 million pixel screen.

It should be noted that Google has announced the new Nexus 9 tablet, available November 3. You could wait and buy the new version at a much higher cost, but if you are looking for a good low price option now, the Nexus 7 might be the right choice for you.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Tablet Gift Ideas

With a 12 inch screen, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is one of the largest tablets on this list and yet weighs just 1.76 pounds. It runs Windows 8.1 which also means the full Microsoft Office Suite can be installed making this tablet feel more like a laptop.

One great feature is the kickstand integrated right into the back of the tablet making it easy to work with at any angle. It is powered by a fourth generation Intel Core processor; i3, i5, or i7 depending on which model you purchase. Included with this tablet is the Surface Pen, a battery-powered Bluetooth stylus making it easy to markup documents or handwrite notes. This table is on the high end of the price range starting at $799 for the basic model.

Apple iPad Air 2

Tablet Gift Ideas

With a 9.7 inch screen and weighing less than one pound, the Apple iPad Air 2 lives up to it’s name. The newest iPad definitely has the trendy factor and is even thinner than its predecessor, 18 percent thinner to be exact. It also has faster wireless capabilities, coming with improved 802.11 ac MIMO Wi-Fi.

A neat feature is a laminated screen cutting down on glare by 56 percent, so use out in the sun is much easier. The Air comes with Siri, iOS8 operating system, retina display, and a fingerprint identity sensor built into the Home button. Pricing starts at $499 but you can choose upgraded models and there are even cellular capable options.

Apple iPad Mini 3

Tablet Gift Ideas

If you want to give an iPad but are looking to spend a little less you could consider the Apple iPad Mini 3. It’s the newest model of the Mini and comes with some of the features the iPad Air 2 has. It has a 7.9 inch screen with retina display and is slightly lighter than the Air, which is to be expected being a mini. It runs iOS8 and has the added bonus of being equipped with Siri. It also has touch ID for security, which can make online shopping easier for those stores with Apple Pay implemented.

A fun new feature is that  this Mini can also come in a new gold color. Prices start at $399, with upgraded storage and cellular options costing more.

Asus Transformer Book Trio

Tablet Gift Ideas

At $849.99, the Asus Transformer Book Trio is definitely one of the most expensive tablets you could buy, but it is so much more than just a tablet. The Transformer Book boasts being a tablet, laptop, and desktop all in one. The 11.6 inch tablet comes with a full size keyboard that can be attached to give all the functionality of a laptop yet it easily snaps out again transforming — as the name implies — back to a tablet.

In addition, the PC station keyboard can also be connected to an external monitor, making this tablet a desktop. Couple all this with intuitive flow between dual operating systems — Android and Windows 8 — and you have a truly unique, flexible and powerful tablet.

Dell Venue 11 Pro

Tablet Gift Ideas

If you want to buy a good 3-in-1 tablet at a lower price, consider the Dell Venue 11 Pro. With the addition of a mobile keyboard, the Pro becomes a laptop and even has extended battery life. Add Dell’s desktop dock and this tablet gains more USB ports, an ethernet port, HDMI port, and more. The tablet itself has a 10.8 inch screen, quad-core Intel Atom processor, Windows 8.1 operating system, and a 10 point touch screen.

An added bonus is the swappable 32Wh battery, a handy and uncommon feature in a tablet. Prices start at $429.99, but even with the addition of the mobile keyboard and desktop dock, the Pro comes in below the cost of other 3-in-1 tablets.

Amazon Fire HD 6

Tablet Gift Ideas

The Amazon Fire HD 6 is a budget friendly tablet option. Claiming to be the most powerful tablet under $100, the Fire HD 6 has a quad-core processor giving it over 2x the speed and 3x the graphics performance as the previous model.

This 6 inch tablet runs Fire OS 4 and integrates with Cloud Drive, so Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents are automatically backed up in the cloud. This also means documents created or edited on the Fire HD 6 are available on your other mobile devices and desktop. It is available in five different colors and comes with free unlimited storage of all photos and Amazon content in Amazon Cloud. The Fire HD 6 may not have the high end specs of other tablets on this list but it’s a good option for the money. And it costs just $99 at Amazon.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S

Tablet Gift Ideas

If you are looking for a good Android-powered tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S is one option. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat and boasts an 8-core Exynos processor made up of two quad-core processors. It’s large, with a 10.5 inch screen, but also light weighing just 1.5 pounds. This tablet comes with a fingerprint scanner for added security. This feature also  makes online purchases easier.

One of the best things about the Galaxy Tab S is the screen. It has a Super AMOLED display with 359 pixels per square inch making for enhanced colors, sharpness, and contrast. Additional features include a multi-window function, long battery life, micro SD card slot, SideSync 3.0, free movies, and more. Pricing starts at $499.99.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4

Tablet Gift Ideas

For a smaller and less expensive Android-powered tablet consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. It isn’t as impressive as the Galaxy Tab S, but it comes with some of the same features and will run you significantly less. Prices start at $169.99. The Galaxy Tab 4 runs the Android 4.4 operating system, has a quad-core processor, and a 7 inch screen. It comes with Samsung’s signature TouchWiz skin and has a multi-screen feature making is easier to use multiple apps at once.

Another fun feature is the built in IR blaster, allowing for the control of home theater equipment right from the device.

Sony Xperia Z2

Tablet Gift Ideas

The Sony Xperia Z2 is a tablet for the traveler. This is one sturdy tablet boasting a scratch resistant screen and dust resistance, but it’s truly impressive feature is being fully waterproof. That’s right, waterproof! The Xperia Z2 can be fully submerged in up to 5 feet of water for as long as 30 minutes and come out just fine. This is good news for people that may need a tablet to go anywhere.

The Xperia Z2 also has digital noise cancelling support so using this tablet while on the go is easier and less distracting. It has a 10 inch display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, and Android 4.4 operating system. The Xperia Z2 will run you around $499.99.

If you have a tablet lover on your gift list, the selection these days seems almost endless. Hopefully this list helped put the options in perspective making it easier to decide on the best device to choose.

Gift Photo via Shutterstock

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The iPad Air 2 is Like a Tablet on a Diet, Thinnest Ever

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

ipad air 2

The new iPad Air 2 recently unveiled by Apple is really thin. How thin? So thin it’s 18 percent thinner than it predecessor, iPad Air, itself the successor to the original iPad mobile tablet.

It is so thin Apple is actually touting it as the thinnest iPad in the world. Seriously, iPad Air 2 is like a tablet on a diet.

The company unveiled the seriously slender tablet at a recent Apple event. The iPad Air 2 weighs in at less than a pound and is sheet-of-glass thin at 6.1 millimeters.

Of course, its fit new figure and some impressive other specs will not come cheaply. iPad Air 2 is available for pre-order online now. The 16GB WiFi-only device will cost $499. For 64 GB the WiFi version will cost $599 and the 128GB model has a $699 price tag.

The cellular models of iPad Air 2 start at $629 with 16GB of storage. Another $100 gets the 64GB model and the 128GB model costs $829.

The company says the 9.7-inch Retina display is improved over the last iPad Air device. And Apple has invested in improvements on the rear-facing and FaceTime cameras. The 8-megapixel sensor and new optics on the front-facing iSight camera allow iPad Air 2 to record panorama shots, time-lapse photos, HDR stills and 1080p HD video.

The larger Retina display viewfinder allows iPad Air 2 the ability to scan and annotate documents, Apple says.

Apple also made improvements internally with the iPad Air 2. The company says the A8X chip inside delivers 40 percent better CPU performance over its last Air tablet. Apple has also improved the graphics capabilities on iOS 8, the mobile system running on iPad Air 2. The battery gives users about 10 hours of use on a full charge, the company says.

This device also features Apple’s Touch ID. It allows users to unlock their tablets with a fingerprint scan. And with Apple Pay, the company’s new mobile payment platform, Touch ID allows users to make mobile payments with a single fingerprint scan.

In addition to iPad Air 2, Apple also introduced the new, and more affordable 7.9-inch iPad mini 3. This tablet, too, features Touch ID and a Retina display. It runs on an A7 chip with a 5MP iSight camera and a FaceTime camera. The cellular models of this device are supported by all four major mobile carriers, too.

Image: Apple

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How to Encourage Positive Reviews From Customers (Advanced Strategies)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Sponsored Post

Encourage Positive Reviews

Brand advocates are three times more trusted and influential than ads or other forms of media, according to brand advocacy solution Zuberance. That means that people who review your business online or talk to others about you are more likely to influence others’ buying decisions.

There are many simple actionable techniques your business can use to get more 5-star reviews. Once you have the basics down, though, it’s time to look at some advanced strategies to increase your positive reviews even further. Listed below are some strategies your business should consider to create brand advocates and increase their reach.

Include Links on Your Website and Promotional Materials

To ensure that your online reviews reach the most potential customers, you’ll need to call attention to your business on popular review sites like Yelp. To make it easier for your customers to find your company’s presence on these sites, you should include links to them on your website and other materials.

For instance, you can include links in your email newsletter and customer service email signature. Then, when you communicate with customers in these ways, they’ll easily be able to leave reviews while your company is on their mind.

Make Privately Collected Feedback ‘Share-able’

As you measure your customer feedback, look for ways you can encourage sharing. Customers who have a good experience may not think to share publicly but are more than happy to complete a survey, for example. Encouraging them to visit your social channels at the moment they are leaving their favorable feedback can be very beneficial.

Use QR Codes to Drive Traffic to Your Review Sites

If you communicate with customers in person, you should also work to drive traffic to your review sites using offline methods. For example, consider handing out pre-printed postcards to customers after their purchase is completed. These cards should thank them for their purchase and ask them to leave a review about their experience with your brand. To make it really easy for them to leave reviews, include QR codes that they can scan to get to your business’s page on Yelp or other sites.

Display Testimonials on Your Website

Sometimes customers don’t pay much attention to small postcards or links at the bottom of an email though. That means that you have to make your customer reviews a little more prominent. One option is to display customer testimonials directly on your website.

Visitors are more likely to pay attention to full reviews on your website than they are to a small link at the bottom of the page. You can either embed reviews directly from Yelp or similar sites, or gather testimonials and enter them on the site yourself. Either way, when customers see other reviews, they may be more likely to leave one themselves. And, of course, you should include a link for them to do so near the existing testimonials.

Give Your Loyal Customers an Outlet for Sharing Information About Your Company

You can also increase your reach by helping some of your most loyal customers share their experiences. For example, host a contest asking your customers to share a video of their favorite way to use your product. Ask your customers to post photos of your product in use on Instagram. Or even just set up a dedicated hashtag for social media users.

These methods give your customers a specified outlet for sharing information about your company and its offerings. By sharing these types of posts on social media, you’re also able to reach an abundance of potential new customers without having to actually post a thing.

Review Photo via Shutterstock

The post How to Encourage Positive Reviews From Customers (Advanced Strategies) appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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How to Encourage Positive Reviews From Customers (Advance Strategies)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Sponsored Post

Encourage Positive Reviews

Brand advocates are three times more trusted and influential than ads or other forms of media, according to brand advocacy solution Zuberance. That means that people who review your business online or talk to others about you are more likely to influence others’ buying decisions.

There are many simple actionable techniques your business can use to get more 5-star reviews. Once you have the basics down, though, it’s time to look at some advanced strategies to increase your positive reviews even further. Listed below are some strategies your business should consider to create brand advocates and increase their reach.

Include Links on Your Website and Promotional Materials

To ensure that your online reviews reach the most potential customers, you’ll need to call attention to your business on popular review sites like Yelp. To make it easier for your customers to find your company’s presence on these sites, you should include links to them on your website and other materials.

For instance, you can include links in your email newsletter and customer service email signature. Then, when you communicate with customers in these ways, they’ll easily be able to leave reviews while your company is on their mind.

Make Privately Collected Feedback ‘Share-able’

As you measure your customer feedback, look for ways you can encourage sharing. Customers who have a good experience may not think to share publicly but are more than happy to complete a survey, for example. Encouraging them to visit your social channels at the moment they are leaving their favorable feedback can be very beneficial.

Use QR Codes to Drive Traffic to Your Review Sites

If you communicate with customers in person, you should also work to drive traffic to your review sites using offline methods. For example, consider handing out pre-printed postcards to customers after their purchase is completed. These cards should thank them for their purchase and ask them to leave a review about their experience with your brand. To make it really easy for them to leave reviews, include QR codes that they can scan to get to your business’s page on Yelp or other sites.

Display Testimonials on Your Website

Sometimes customers don’t pay much attention to small postcards or links at the bottom of an email though. That means that you have to make your customer reviews a little more prominent. One option is to display customer testimonials directly on your website.

Visitors are more likely to pay attention to full reviews on your website than they are to a small link at the bottom of the page. You can either embed reviews directly from Yelp or similar sites, or gather testimonials and enter them on the site yourself. Either way, when customers see other reviews, they may be more likely to leave one themselves. And, of course, you should include a link for them to do so near the existing testimonials.

Give Your Loyal Customers an Outlet for Sharing Information About Your Company

You can also increase your reach by helping some of your most loyal customers share their experiences. For example, host a contest asking your customers to share a video of their favorite way to use your product. Ask your customers to post photos of your product in use on Instagram. Or even just set up a dedicated hashtag for social media users.

These methods give your customers a specified outlet for sharing information about your company and its offerings. By sharing these types of posts on social media, you’re also able to reach an abundance of potential new customers without having to actually post a thing.

Review Photo via Shutterstock

The post How to Encourage Positive Reviews From Customers (Advance Strategies) appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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16 Killer Places to Market Your App Besides Google

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Places to Market Your App

Developers of the app “Disconnect Mobile” have made big news lately, and not in the usual way. Google banned the app — twice — from the Google Play app store. (Though at last glance, it seems to have been reinstated again.) Disconnect Mobile prevents anyone from tracking or putting malware on a user’s device.

And that includes advertisers — hence Google’s displeasure. The point is hopefully you’ll never be banned by Google. But if you have a small business app you need to market, there are other alternatives.

Here’s a list of places to market your app besides the Google Play app store:

Apple App Store

Places to Market Your App

Of course, the most obvious alternative to Google is the Apple App Store — that is, if your app has a version that works with iOS. Available apps include not only business, but also in the categories of books, catalogs, finance and more.

F-Droid Repository

fdroid

F-Droid Repository is for Android apps. But they must be free and open source. Users can browse and install apps, and also keep track of regular updates.

GetJar

Places to Market Your App

GetJar is a third party platform that offers developers some great marketing tools such as pay per install campaigns and sales offers to engage new customers, and has a user base of around 100 million.

Amazon Appstore

Places to Market Your App

Available on Android, Blackberry, Kindle, Fire Phone, Mac, PC, and more, the Amazon Appstore is a great tool for multiple and cross platform app sales.

Opera Appstore

Places to Market Your App

This option allows you to share your app on multiple platforms and is available to over 200 countries. Opera can be accessed by over 6,000 and all major platforms.

LG Smart World

Places to Market Your App

A bit more specialized, LG Smart World shares to mobile LG tablets and phones, and opens the option of offering apps as well as stylization options: like downloadable wallpapers and keyboard styles.

AppBrain

Places to Market Your App

Another third-party Android platform, AppBrain allows you to view CPI and campaign information by country and customize accordingly.

AppsLib

Places to Market Your App

Available on Android tablets and pre-installed on systems Archos, Arnova and Naxa, AppsLib supports a user base of around two million users. It allows you to offer paid for apps through PayPal at a 30 percent share of revenue.

SlideMe

Places to Market Your App

SlideMe offers multiple customizable options for your app, like parental ratings, target country, promotional images, and video. This option allows developers to offer separate in-app purchases.

AppsFire

Places to Market Your App

AppsFire allows you to change your ad experience with options like Udon Noodle, to interrupt your customer less often and provide a streamlined experience.

Appitalism

Places to Market Your App

The ratings and featured apps on Appitalism are entirely community based, allowing each app the same chance of making the front page without big-names buying out the feature spots. Truly great apps can shine here, with customers in 50 countries and a potential reach of more than four billion.

1Mobile Market

Places to Market Your App

1MobileMarket offers security protection and an extremely safe download environment. However, the site is entirely comprised of free content so this will only work for marketing free apps.

Mobile9

Places to Market Your App

Mobile9 offers yearly agreements for app use that are actually quite a steal, and include things like support priority and audience building tools.

Mobango

Places to Market Your App

Mobango allows you to publish apps free, and includes a ‘pay-per-download’ feature that assures you will only pay for completed downloads of your app. The site is accessed by millions of users on a daily basis, with top grossing apps pushing thousands of downloads a day. This site does, however, focus more on user created apps and content, like games, and has a much younger fan base.

Soc.io Mall

Places to Market Your App

Soc.io Mall “ensures that your paid apps or games are run only on devices of users who purchased them and that they can’t be resold to third parties,” which helps prevent loss of revenue. It also offers free app submission.

Insyde Market

Places to Market Your App

Use Insyde Market to first test if your app is compatible with an Android netbook, then upload it to a site with a library of around 600,000 titles.

You may be marketing a free app to promote your business, website or service or a paid app as part of your business model. This list of places to market your app will give you a starting point when trying to figure out how to get your app in front of your desired audience.

Tablet Photo via Shutterstock

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The Reality of Working From Home With Cats

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

working from home with cats

Do you live with pets? And are you working from home with cats? If so, then you know exactly what it’s like to have cats like these two.

The caption of this video describes how the cats Cole and Marmalade “help” their humans with their work. Taking over at the keyboard is just one example of Cole and Marmalade’s adorable antics, which they are always showing off on their YouTube page. The video’s upload page perfectly describes it:

“Do you live with office supurrrvisors? Cole & Marmalade regularly check in on their humans when they’re working from home to make sure purroductivity levels are at their highest!”

Republished by permission. Original here.

Image: Video Still

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It May be a Crime to Post Your Ballot on Twitter (And Other Voting Laws)

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

post your ballot on twitter

Did you know that in the State of Ohio, it is a felony to post a picture of your completed ballot on a social media site like Twitter or Facebook before you mail it in?  You may think of it as innocent sharing, but according to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio laws that predate social media make it a crime:

“The law says it is a fifth-degree felony for a voter to “allow the elector’s ballot to be seen by another … with the apparent intention of letting it be known how the elector is about to vote.” Another section of law prohibits displaying a marked ballot while in the polling place.”

Ohio isn’t alone.  According to a chart on the website of the Digital Media Law Project, a majority of states make it a crime to disclose your completed ballot.  Filming or taking a photograph in a polling place is also prohibited in some states.

Before the days of social media and camera phones, none of this was a big issue.  But today, just about everyone carries a camera on them. It just takes a minute to zap that pic of the ballot to the entire world — or at least to everyone who sees your Facebook stream.

But you don’t even have to take a photograph in a polling place to potentially run into an issue.  With the growth of voting by mail and absentee voting, you could be taking the photo of your ballot at home before mailing it in.  Technically, sharing it to the world might violate the law.

Of course, state laws vary.  The penalties and the details around exactly what’s prohibited and what’s not when it comes to sharing ballots will differ.

To some it might seem farfetched to think that anyone would be arrested for posting a ballot on Twitter.

But as a business owner, you have another issue to consider.   What if you post the picture of your completed ballot — proudly showing the candidates you voted for — on the company intranet? Or send it in a company-wide email?  That raises a whole other issue — will employees interpret that as an attempt to coerce them to vote a certain way?

Most states have “voter coercion” laws on the books. Employers are prohibited from threatening employees in connection with voting.  For example, some states have laws saying you cannot threaten that your company will close or that wages will go down if employees vote a certain way.

Some state laws prohibit putting out statements intended to influence the way employees vote. (See this comparison of four states’ laws.)

No matter how innocent your intentions, the obvious danger is in how employees would interpret your sharing of a ballot.

Tip: Never share your completed ballot, or discuss who you voted for, with your employees. You just don’t know how employees will interpret behavior that you’re just exuberant in sharing.

Phone Photo via Shutterstock

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Has the Recession Crushed SMB Owners’ Spirits for Good?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

smb owners spirits

Are small business owners giving up? According to a recent poll by Wells Fargo and Gallup, even though small business owners generally report being satisfied with their businesses, fewer of them feel successful than at any other time in the past 10 years.

Since this annual survey began in 2003, small business owners’ satisfaction with their businesses has generally stayed the same, hovering near the current 56 percent except for a dip during 2009-2011. But just 37 percent of entrepreneurs in the survey say they feel “extremely or very” successful. That’s down from a height of 47 percent in 2007, right before the Great Recession, and the lowest figure in a decade.

In fact, entrepreneurs have felt increasingly less successful every year since 2007. That’s perplexing, because many other measures of economic confidence have gradually improved. With everything else getting better, why do entrepreneurs feel worse about their success?

Perhaps it’s the media attention to the few hugely successful entrepreneurial success stories (like Facebook) that continued to capture attention—and funding—despite the down times. Maybe it’s the fact that today, even the smallest startup can put up a slick website and seem like it’s in the big leagues, even if the closest thing it has to profits is the founder’s credit card. Or maybe it’s simply the entrepreneur’s version of “impostor syndrome” – the little voice inside that judges others’ social networks, cars and clothes and tells us everyone else is doing better than we are.

Despite their feelings of inadequacy when it comes to success, most small business owners are still satisfied. That could be because being independent—not striking it rich—is what entrepreneurs enjoy most about business ownership. More than 40 percent of respondents say “being my own boss” is the most rewarding thing about entrepreneurship while just 7 percent say money is the biggest reward.

The desire to be your own bosses is also what motivates two-thirds of entrepreneurs to launch their companies coming just behind “securing my financial future,” the impetus for 69 percent of startups. In addition, 51 percent say they started a business so they could set their own hours. Just 29 percent say pursuing new business opportunities was very important to them.

Even though entrepreneurs in the study are generally satisfied with their choices, 47 percent say they’d advise young people to get jobs, vs. 42 percent who would encourage them to start a business.

So what gives? Maybe our definition of “success” needs to change. If you’re happy with the life you’ve carved out as a small business owner, isn’t that a better measure of success than an IPO or the cover of Fast Company?

On the other hand, it’s just as important not to let the recession’s aftereffects downsize your dreams. Sure, it’s okay to keep your company small, a “lifestyle business,” if that’s what you truly want. But if you’ve always wanted to be the next Starbucks – don’t stop believing.

Rain and Sun Photo via Shutterstock

The post Has the Recession Crushed SMB Owners’ Spirits for Good? appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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