Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Cracking the Code on Commercial Real Estate Loans

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Where to Find Commercial Real Estate Loans and How to Get Approved

Financing is a big part of getting the right commercial location secured to start a small business. Here’s a few important boxes to check on where to find commercial real estate loans and how to get approved for one.

Like the name implies, commercial real estate loans are a mortgage loan that applies to a commercial as opposed to a residential property. Commercial properties are those that produce business income. Commercial loans can be used to purchase office locations, retail stores and a variety of other places and buildings.

What Are Commercial Real Estate Loans?

There are some differences between commercial real estate loans and their residential counterparts. The terms are shorter on commercial loans that they generally range from five years or less to 20 years.

They also require a final “balloon” payment at the end to pay off the loan in full. For example, a $2 million commercial loan might have monthly payments of close to $12,000 a month with a balloon payment of  $1million at the end to pay outstanding balance of  the loan right off.

Keep in mind the interest rates are generally higher too.

Kinds of Commercial Real Estate Loans and Programs Available

There are several places to choose from when you’re looking to get one of these commercial real estate loans. Here’s a few of the financing sources you can look at:

Bank Loans

These generally have a lower interest rate than other types. However, they’re hard to come by since the Great Recession and you’ll need to have a good chunk of collateral for these institutions to look at your numbers.

Construction Loans

These are short-term financial vehicles that are geared towards building commercial property on the real estate. Keep in mind the banks release the money periodically as construction progresses.

Bridge Loans

Like the name implies, this is a bridge to all longer-term commercial real estate mortgage solutions. Watch out for high rates here and the expectation that you’ll fold the bridge loan over into a longer commitment when it matures.

Crowdfunding

This is one of the latest additions to the financial possibilities for these types of loans. Crowdfunding is done through online portals where potential investors evaluate the risks.

SBA 7(a) Loan Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA) hands out $20 billion in these loans annually to small businesses. These are used to buy, fixup and or build on commercial real estate. They’re not an actual loan but a guarantee to banks.

SBA 504 Loan Program

It’s no surprise the SBA gets a few mentions on this list. Again these aren’t really loans but guarantees to back loans from other institutions are geared towards fixed assets and small businesses can put as little as 10% down to get involved.

USDA Business and Industry Loan Program

This is another program that provides guarantees for commercial real estate mortgage loans. You can use this link to go to a tool on the website to find out if the property you are thinking about is eligible for one of these loans.

What to Do To Get Ready

Having your ducks in a row before you apply for one of these loans is a good idea. One of the linchpins for successful commercial real estate loans is the letter of intent. You’ll need to have a lawyer look this over because it constitutes an offer and the lending institution will want to see it.

If it’s possible, experts suggest that you give yourself 30 days before finalizing any deal. This will give you enough time to look over all the documents carefully like maintenance and lease contracts.

It’s always a good idea to go over your budget to make sure your finances are in order. That’s why before you approach any kind of lending institution you should go over these numbers with your accountant.

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This article, “Cracking the Code on Commercial Real Estate Loans” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Fall in Love with Managing Virtual Teams Using These Simple Strategies

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Tactics and Tools for Managing Virtual Teams

Virtual teams are the way of the future. Slowly but surely, businesses of all sizes are waking up to the tremendous potential that remote hiring brings.

When location itself is a non-factor, a business can hire the best from anywhere around the country, indeed the world.

It works well for employees, too. People are increasingly insisting on work-life balance in their lives, and no one is a fan of rushed mornings, daily commutes, or being chained to their desks for long hours at a stretch. According to at least one report, millennials prefer working remotely. Digital nomads dislike the conventional way of working and rely on remote work to earn a living as they travel around the world.

But managing virtual teams brings with it its own set of challenges. You may be a traditional business with a few virtual employees, or an entirely virtual company. Regardless of whether you are fully or partially virtual, here are some of our tried and tested tactics to streamline work across continents and time zones and make sure the employees remain happy and motivated.

Tactics for Managing Virtual Teams

Keep Productivity and Accountability on Track

This is the biggest challenge in managing virtual teams. Your team is not physically present for you to monitor. And employees don’t like being frequently interrupted via emails or chat so that you can learn the status of their work.

Putting structures in place can help things move along smoothly, reducing frustration on the part of the employer while providing clear guidance to the employees.

Productivity tools such as Trello, Asana, Basecamp, and ClickUp are proving to be wildly popular for a reason.

These tools are rich in features and easy to use. With Trello you can create personal boards, add members, assign projects, and set due dates. All the team members can access the dashboard and be apprised of the changes.

Files can be uploaded for reference and conversations carried out around projects to make sure everyone is on the same page. Team members are notified when they are mentioned in a task, which saves time since you don’t have to switch to a messaging app or shoot an email to get the point across.

A Kanban-based tool like MeisterTask can further simplify tasks and help with team management.

This feature-rich project management tool is aesthetically appealing and gets a ton of work done. Creating tasks, assigning them, and following up on the progress – all is smoothly executed. Members can convert tasks into discussions of sorts by uploading their files as relevant reference material or personal input. It’s easier than ever to see who has been assigned what and the status of their work.

Its integration with widely-used cloud storage apps such as Dropbox, Box, Bitbucket, and Google Drive makes it even more useful. For those who believe in the power of mind maps will be happy to know that MeisterTask is brought to you by the same folks who gave us MindMeister, the award-winning mind mapping software with fans across the world. Brainstorming across teams and locations is easy, fun, and productive with MindMeister, and now it comes integrated with MeisterTask, so that the ideas produced in the mind maps can be right away moved to the project management tool. These ideas will show up as tasks in MeisterTask for all to see and for the assigned people to act upon.

A good project management tool functions in a way that imparts clarity to employees and promotes accountability. With all the directions clearly presented on the dashboard, there is little scope for excuses or miscommunication. More importantly, it helps teams take their projects forward in a cohesive manner. Do your research before deciding on the tool for your remote team but do get one.

Hold Regular but Productive Meetings

Meetings are even more important when dealing with virtual teams, as that may be the only time you get together, so to speak.

This is a very important (and humanizing) step in the management of remote employees, or you risk alienating them. Besides, regular meetings also finetune matters and help keep things on track. They may also be the one time when team members actually speak to one another.

However, to make the most of these meetings you need them to be guided by clear agendas, which are also clearly communicated to the participants. Unplanned, ad hoc meetings only lead to more confusion.

A tool like Pinstriped can be of immense help. It helps you prepare for the meeting by creating an agenda and bringing together all the relevant content so everyone has the information they need to be ready for the meeting. The tool also helps you run the meeting, as it makes it easy to keep the meetings on track, record actions and decisions and share the information with the participants so that everyone is in the know from start to finish.

Explore similar tools to find your best fit. You don’t necessarily need a tool in this regard, it’s just that having a good one makes it so much easier for everyone involved. And think about all the time you would save!

Make Brainstorming Fun

It is said that families that eat together, stay together.

One could say that companies that brainstorm together, grow together.

Why not rope in everyone when looking for breakthroughs? Whether it’s about designing a new website, a new logo, or planning a new campaign, there is something about visually laid out content that triggers insights and ideas. Online whiteboard tools such as Stormboard or RealtimeBoard can be helpful for businesses that need their team members’ input on a regular basis.

These tools allow for remote collaboration where individuals can access the whiteboard from various locations and contribute ideas as if they were in the same room. Editing and tweaking concepts and designs is straightforward, as is having related discussions. It’s a fun and productive exercise for everyone involved.

Managing any team is a challenge, whether physically or virtually. But with a little bit of planning and the right tools in your arsenal, you can harness the full potential of your remote team. Employees who feel useful and appreciated are motivated to give more. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Fall in Love with Managing Virtual Teams Using These Simple Strategies” was first published on Small Business Trends

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These 5 Pieces of Social Media Video News will Change Small Business Marketing

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

facebook opens watch

When it comes to engagement, video is a vividly colored unicorn. It captures the eye, draws the user in, and holds their attention for a longer duration.

Video certainly isn’t new on social media, but there have been recent changes that directly impact publishers and video marketing specialists. In case these didn’t fall onto your radar, here are 5 social media video news announcements that are worthy of your attention.

1. Facebook Opens Watch to More Creators

Facebook is giving creators and publishers more tools in their video-oriented arsenal by expanding its offerings.

Originally, Watch was only going to feature original programming and content. However, Facebook decided to include videos from Pages as well, and a larger number of creators will be eligible. To help find the ideal creators, the Facebook for Creators Launchpad program will assist in identifying candidates.

Additionally, new revenue opportunities will also be available. This can be a boon for organizations that were harmed by monetization changes on channels like YouTube, giving creators and publishers additional options for their content.

You must apply to join the program, which will focus on longer, engaging, and authentic content.

2. Instagram Launches IGTV

When it comes to video, YouTube is the unicorn in the space. But Instagram wants to change that though it’s new standalone app, IGTV.

IGTV will welcome long-form video, including hour-long uploads. Plus, the content will be displayed as full-length vertical videos, keeping people from having to shift their phone between the portrait to landscape orientations to use the app.

Instagram has 1 billion users and has seen a 60 percent increase in the amount of video being consumed on the platform. IGTV is attempting to capitalize on the interest in video.

Advertising isn’t on the platform yet, but that will likely change quickly once the platform gains a following.

3. Parents Make Their Voices Heard

Over recent years, parents have been increasingly vocal when it comes to concerns over the YouTube’s algorithms. Multiple incidents involving content being directed to children that is not kid-friendly, disturbing, negative, or destructive created varying levels of uproar.

YouTube has been working to improve its algorithms, but growing pains have led to some missteps. Additionally, the sheer volume of content created additional challenges, requiring the company to hire more staff members to moderate activities on the platform.

4. Facebook Messenger to Introduce Autoplay Ads

A feature that is already available through News Feeds and on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, autoplay ads will soon be arriving on Facebook Messenger. The ads will display in a sponsored portion of the main feed in the Messenger app, and all advertisers are eligible for the program.

While this could present companies with an opportunity to engage with a wider audience, users have mixed feelings about autoplay ads in general. At this point, only a small number of users are being exposed to the ads, and Facebook is gauging their reaction before rolling it out to additional users.

5. Biggest VidCon Ever

VidCon, a convention that attracts online video content creators and video platforms, saw its highest attendance records when the event kicked off on June 20, 2018. While YouTube usually dominated the conference, every major player came in this year to tout their capabilities.

Facebook, Twitch, Twitter, and Snapchat all made their presence known, particularly since many creators have grown frustrated with YouTube over demonetization, the high amount of competition, and other changes made by the company.

Ultimately, the world of social media video is changing rapidly, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future thanks to the popularity of video on the platforms. New opportunities for companies will continue to emerge, and those who are vigilant can take advantage of them early, creating a strong mechanism for staying ahead of the competition while engaging with a wider user base.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “These 5 Pieces of Social Media Video News will Change Small Business Marketing” was first published on Small Business Trends

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What is a Microloan and Where Can You Get One for Your Small Business?

Monday, July 16th, 2018

What are Microloans and Where Can You Get One?

Microloans are small loans which are issued to businesses by individuals opposed to credit unions or banks. The concept of microcredit originated in the developing world, as a means of helping people in smaller economics have the ability to launch their own business. Microlending subsequently took off around the world, and today, small business microloans are an effective way to lend entrepreneurs and small businesses in the U.S. with the funds they need to start and develop their business.

General Terms of Microloans

The maximum amount a microloan will typically lend is up to $35,000. However, in some instances, lenders will lend up to $50,000. The average amount microloans lend is around $10,000.  Businesses can use microloans to borrow as little as $500, making these types of loans a good option for small businesses needing to get their hands on smaller funds.

One of the key attractions of a microloan is that they are generally easier to qualify for than a traditional small business loan. Specific eligibility criteria vary from lender to lender, and can be influenced by the type of industry the business operates in.

Rather than being solely about credit scores, microloans work more closely with the small business owner applying for the loan, to find out about the business and its goals and objectives. The lender uses such information to determine whether they will lend the applicant the funds.

The maximum repayment terms for small business microloans is generally six years, giving small businesses sufficient time to pay back the loan whilst they get their business up and running and make it profitable.

Why Small Businesses Might Need a Microloan

This type of loan is usually borrowed by a startup to help them fund the items required to get the venture up and running, such as equipment, the lease of an office, or employees’ salaries.

Microloans are also sometimes used to provide small businesses with working capital to enable them to manage cash flow more proficiently, such as to cover outgoings as they wait for invoices to be paid, to develop a comprehensive marketing program, or to stock up on inventory when it is at a reduced price or in time for a busy holiday season.

How Your Small Business Can Get a Microloan

Before applying for a microloan, you should carry out some research and shop around to see the different criteria of the different microlenders to help determine which lender might be most suitable for your specific requirements and objectives. Check that your small business is likely to be eligible for the microloan. Look for certified and reputable lenders that come with praiseworthy testimonials from other small business owners.

It would help if you draw up a comprehensive business plan , which defines how you plan to use the loan. Once you believe you meet the criteria of the loan, you should make the application, which can typically be done online. Answer the questions as accurately and honestly as possible. The lender will then decide whether to proceed and lend you the funds you are looking for.

To give you a helping hand in your quest to find a reputable microloan lender to provide the finance you need for your small business, here are three credible microloan lenders in the U.S.

Microloan.org

Microloan.org is dedicated to enriching communities by providing small businesses with the funds they need to create a high-quality business development, which creates sustaining jobs for the community. If you are looking for a strategic partner to help you find the best borrowing option to help your business grow, Microloan.org would be a good place to start.

Kiva

Kiva is an international non-profit based in San Francisco. Kiva offers microloans which are crowdfunded, where backers can donate as little as $25 to borrowers. Kiva’s microloans are typically used to start or grow a small business. You would repay the lenders the money back through Kiva.

Accion USA

Accion USA is a non-profit organization that provides microloans of up to $50,000 to low and moderate-income entrepreneurs. Accion looks at a business owner’s individual circumstances and strengths to determine whether to provide them with a microloan.

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This article, “What is a Microloan and Where Can You Get One for Your Small Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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FreshBooks Adds New Team Tracking Features

Monday, July 16th, 2018

New FreshBooks Features for Teams Simplifies Collaboration

Teams can now work from anywhere and tools which simplify the collaborative process are becoming an important asset for businesses. FreshBooks just announced a new team tracking feature to simplify how they can collaborate.

FreshBooks Features for Teams

With this new feature, businesses can bring teams into the FreshBooks platform and use all of the other tools without jumping between apps. This allows everyone to stay on the same page and get the job done faster.

For small businesses who now use freelancers from different locations, it means they can use FreshBooks to add team members. Once they are part of the team, administrators can track time, log expenses, collaborate on projects and even arrange for payments.

On the blog announcing the new team tracking feature, the company explained what businesses can expect. FreshBooks said, “When everyone’s working from FreshBooks, you’ll be able to get a clear idea of how projects are tracking and how your team spends their day.”

Tracking Your Team

FreshBooks has been used by more than 10 million people and processed over $60 billion in invoices, and small businesses make up a large percentage of these users.

For a business owner, the 192 hours FreshBooks saves them every year by more effectively tracking their payments is one of the best features. With team tracking, they will be able to save even more time.

According to FreshBooks, businesses will have increased visibility on all their projects because they will know how team members are spending their day. This means spending less time managing projects directly, and more time on tasks that are more important which require your full attention.

New FreshBooks Features for Teams Simplifies Collaboration

Teams in FreshBooks

Once you have the different members of your team in FreshBooks, you can track their time and ensure billable hours are registered. You can also organize all of the expenses each team member has logged in and of course manage the project. As an administrator, you can assign roles to each member and grant access to specific team members.

You can manage projects within FreshBooks by sharing files, billings, making changes and communicate more efficiently without long email chains and different apps. You will be able to carry out all of these tasks in one place, which will save you even more time.

New FreshBooks Features for Teams Simplifies Collaboration

A Single Solution

While there is no one solution which does everything, as a small business you should try to limit the number of tools you use for the daily operation of your company. The more tools you have, the more time you will spend using, managing, and updating them.

The new team tracking features in FreshBooks just removed one more pain point in the collaboration/payment/tracking process.

Images: FreshBooks

This article, “FreshBooks Adds New Team Tracking Features” was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Ways Your Small Business Can Save Money When Gas Prices Are High

Monday, July 16th, 2018

10 Tips on How to Save Money when Gas Prices Are High

Gas prices have hit a four-year high in the U.S. Fueled by increasingly expensive oil, the cost of gasoline has been steadily increasing in recent years. In May 2018, the price of premium gasoline averaged 50 cents higher than regular gasoline in 2017.

Rising gas prices can have a negative impact on small businesses that rely on vehicles to conduct business operations. The rising cost of filling up company fleets is coming at the detriment to small business owners, forcing many to cut costs in other areas of the business. As Jason Boyne who owns three Goodbye Graffiti franchise businesses says:

“The biggest cost for us is filling up the trucks. The rising price of gas means the costs get translated into higher costs for consumers.”

“It also affects my ability to give raises to my staff,” the small business owner added.

How to Save Money when Gas Prices Are High

If rising gas prices are negatively impacting your small business, take a look at the following ten ways your small business can ‘fight back’ and save money when gas prices are high.

Promote Sensible and Conservative Driving

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), driving aggressively and erratically can lower gas economy by up to 33% at highway speeds and by 5% on urban streets. By informing drivers of the pitfalls of aggressive driving and promoting sensible driving will help your business make vital savings on gas consumption.

Keep Tire Pressure at Optimum Levels

The EPA also notes the importance of tire inflation in vehicle inspection programs. The simple task of keeping the tires of a company vehicle inflated to its proper pressure can improve gas economy by up to 3.3%. If your business operates a number of vehicles, this can equate to a significant sum of money. The solution is simple – keep tire pressure on business fleets at optimum levels.

Make Routes More Efficient

Are your drivers using the most efficient routes to deliver goods and conduct business? The shortest routes don’t always equate to the most efficient in terms of fuel consumption, particularly if the route is through an urban area and involves a lot of stop-starting. Taking the time plan efficient routes can be an effective way to save on gas consumption and thereby save money on this business expense.

There’s numerous apps available to help you plan the most efficient routes, such as Speedy Route, an app for optimized driving directions for delivery route planning.

Avoid Heavy Traffic

A car is at its least efficient when it is going nowhere. Being stuck in heavy traffic or at traffic lights will mean your drivers burn more gas, costing you more during a time when gas prices are high. Encouraging drivers to use traffic alerts such as on local radio stations or via traffic notification apps, will help avoid the curse of ‘going nowhere’ gas consumption.

Regularly Maintain Your Vehicles

As well as keeping tire pressure at its optimum, you should maintain your fleets regularly, as poorly-tuned engines, and clogged air filters will hinder the fuel economy of your vehicles.

Only Carry What is Necessary

The heavier a vehicle is, the more gas it will burn. Ask drivers to get into the habit of only carrying the payload they need to carry and remove surplus tools, equipment and parts to reduce weight and improve gas economy.

Make Use of Cruise Control

Utilizing the cruise control function on company fleets will mean you save on gas as the feature keeps a vehicle moving without the driver having to step on the gas pedal, which consumes gas. Cruise control also creates safer driving conditions, including reducing fatigue of the driver.

Ensure Wheels are Properly Aligned

Incorrectly aligned wheels put unnecessary drag on a car, which, in turn, reduces its gas efficiency, meaning your gas bills will be higher. Simply by checking your fleets’ wheels are properly aligned will help improve the gas efficiency of your business.

Switch to Electric Vehicles

Switching to an electric fleet comes with a myriad of business benefits and none more so than significantly lowering running costs. Statistics show that powering an electric vehicle can be up to 90% less expensive than powering conventional combustion car engines.

Purchase Gas from Lower-Cost Gas Providers

It may sound obvious but how many times do we use gas stations with more expensive fuel, purely out of convenience? Taking the time to identity and locate gas stations that offer gas at lower prices, is a sure-fire way to help your business make savings on this inescapable expense.

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This article, “10 Ways Your Small Business Can Save Money When Gas Prices Are High” was first published on Small Business Trends

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YouTube Copyright Match Tool Finds Duplicates of Your Small Business Videos

Monday, July 16th, 2018

YouTube Copyright Match Tool Can Find Duplicates of Your Videos

It takes a lot of effort to create the videos you post on YouTube. The Copyright Match tool YouTube just announced looks to protect this content by helping creators find duplicates of their videos online.

According to YouTube, Copyright Match was created to find re-uploads on other channels. The new tools is in response to complaints the company should do more to ensure content is not being uploaded and used by other YouTubers without permission.

With 1.8 billion users, YouTube has become a powerful marketing platform for small businesses. Small business owners are engaging with their customers by creating videos about the products and services they offer, tutorials and more. They also want to protect their content and brand so no one else takes advantage of their hard work.

Fabio Magagna, Product Manager for the Copyright Match Tool, addresses this frustration in a recent post on the recent YouTube Creator blog. Magagna writes, “We know how frustrating it is when your content is uploaded to other channels without your permission and how time-consuming it can be to manually search for these re-uploads.”

YouTube Copyright Match Tool

YouTube says it tested Copyright Match for close to a year with creators to ensure it is safe and effective. And now that it is up and running, here is how the tool works.

Rights to the content are assumed to belong to the user who uploaded it first. YouTube then identifies duplicated content uploaded after the original.

But YouTube says the tool will only identify full re-uploads — ones in which the full copied video is included. So when only a clip is used in a larger video, small businesses are still on their own to spot and report it here.

YouTube Copyright Match Tool Can Find Duplicates of Your Videos

What Happens When You Find a Match?

When you find a copy of your video on another channel, you can request YouTube remove it. Or you can get in touch with the person who re-uploaded yourself. You can also do nothing if you choose.

If you do request the video be removed, you can request it be done immediately or offer to wait 7-days so the uploaders can remove it themselves.

Before you take any action, YouTube suggests you make sure you have the right match and own the rights to the content. If you don’t exclusively own the rights to the video, YouTube advises not to file a copyright takedown request.

YouTube also advises looking at the way the video is being used before you send a takedown request. For example, if the video falls under  fair use, it doesn’t require permission. This generally applies to clips being used for news, research, teaching, commentary, criticism or other similar purposes.

When YouTube receives a takedown request, it is reviewed to ensure it complies with the company’s copyright policies, which you can view here.  You can also learn more about your rights as copyright owner here.

The service is going to be available only to creators with more than 100K subscribers, with expansion for everyone else in the coming months.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “YouTube Copyright Match Tool Finds Duplicates of Your Small Business Videos” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Nimble Today Page Puts All Your Small Business Info in One Place

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Nimble CRM Created for Small Businesses

Most small business owners rely on tech tools to help become more organized, efficient, productive and successful. But often tools touted as “saviors” for small businesses are merely smaller, less useful versions of enterprise-level solutions.

Nimble Today Page

That’s what makes Nimble, a social sales and marketing CRM expressly designed for small businesses, so useful. Last month, the company introduced a “Today Page,” a customizable dashboard that consolidates the data small business owners need all in one place. At a glance, you can see your deals pipeline, sales funnel, appointments, to-do lists, tasks and what Nimble founder and CEO Jon Ferrara calls “social signals.” Reading social signals is another way to say you’re engaging in social listening, which allows you to see — and react to what people are saying about you on Twitter. You can also schedule social posts to appear on your Twitter and Facebook business page.

?

Ferrara, a serial entrepreneur who’d previously (in 1989) co-founded one of the first CRM programs — Goldmine Software — calls the Today Page “a dashboard for relationships.” This is the latest of what Ferrara says is a “rapid stream of powerful innovations” to help business owners “close more deals at scale.” For example, another feature, Nimble Mobile 3.0, “unifies contacts from mobile, cloud-based and desktop records into a comprehensive relationship manager.”

If you’re an Office 365 or G Suite user, Nimble 3.0  shows you past conversations you’ve had with clients or prospects and provides social context, as well. It also allows you “to  follow up and follow through” using Nimble’s templated emails, email tracking and visual pipeline manager.

Ferrara is a big believer in the power of social media. When you add social to more traditional CRM features, you turn CRM into a powerful discovery tool. Ferrara says you can learn important details about prospects and clients — and deepen your relationships with them by seeing their Twitter profiles and turning what you learn there into “engagement opportunities.” Let’s say, for instance you had a meeting scheduled with a potential client. You can find out more about them by clicking on their Twitter profiles and learning about their interests or activities. Maybe they root for the same sports team you do. Or perhaps you’re both alumni of the same college or grew up in the same state. Maybe you share a deep love of sushi. Knowing details like these can help you personalize early conversations, which makes it easier to create relationships. Nimble even enables you to discover prospects’ email addresses.

Nimble CRM Designed for Small Businesses

Ferrara says he’s long been motivated “to develop a simple contact relationship manager that helps small business teams and individual professionals realize ambitious goals by enabling them to treat every prospect and customer like valued individuals.”

And of course, you still get the features of a robust CRM system. You can manage deals in your pipeline, see who on your team is involved with specific clients/prospects, update deal status, assign tasks, add notes and monitor leads and opportunities in your sales funnel.

Nimble also uses “AI-driven contact data” which can suggest people and companies you may want to connect with based on various criteria, such as job titles and areas of interest.

The program saves you and your team a lot of time because it “ automagically” (one of Ferrara’s favorite words) adds insights about companies, including industry, size, location, employee head count and revenue, to help you target the best prospects. And it keeps your contact information current.

Ferrara says Nimble is the future of CRM. Having contacts isn’t enough anymore, he adds. But, when you add context to contacts you can make connections that lead to lasting relationships.

Like most entrepreneurs Ferrara is dreaming big — his goal is to reach 50 million customers. He believes he can get there by marrying CRM with business intelligence, social listening and mobile/browser apps.

Image: Nimble

This article, “Nimble Today Page Puts All Your Small Business Info in One Place” was first published on Small Business Trends

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How to Prevent Your Business Website from Being Flagged by Google Chrome

Monday, July 16th, 2018

How to Prevent Your Business Website from Showing the Chrome Not Secure Notification

Starting this month, visitors to your small business website might see a notification near your address that says your site isn’t secure. Google Chrome is behind the move that’s flagging the HTTP format in your URL in favor of the more secure HTTPS version.

Small Business Trends spoke with Stefan Schulz, Chief Operating Officer of Orpical Group on how to prevent your site from being negatively affected by the update. He started the conversation by saying the URLs starting with HTTP had been on Google’s radar for quite some time. His company focuses on this niche migration.

“It had been a ranking signal since 2014,” he said, “but there was an article published on the Google Webmasters blog in 2017 that announced they were going to start making the shift by marking all the http pages that collected sensitive information.”

Chrome Not Secure Notifications Coming Soon

That was then and this is now.  At first, big company and ecommerce sites endured the heaviest scrutiny. Starting this month when Chrome 68 is released, all websites with this highlighted designation will be flagged.

How to Prevent Your Business Website from Showing the Chrome Not Secure Notification

So, what exactly does a smaller enterprise do to avoid potential damage to an online business or a website that’s an important part of your marketing efforts?

Web Migration Is What’s Needed, But Wait…

An SSL Certificate is a big part of the solution for the website migration needed according to Schulz. However, there are some issues you’ll need to avoid.

“We invested a lot of resources and time, into this” Schultz says. “In our experience, there was a lot of pitfalls that happen with these HTTPS migrations. We’ve seen people who bought the wrong SSL certificates.”

He goes on to say that even the people who buy the right certificates sometimes don’t go far enough and tie up all the loose ends they need to by making the right installations afterward.

Chrome Has Too Large a Share of Search to Ignore

This is a concern small businesses need to take seriously at least partially because Chrome makes up the largest portion of the browser market share on the web. In fact, Schulz says 58% of the entire market share goes to Chrome.

If your website has login and check out forms, you’re under even more scrutiny, Schultz said. In the end, the best plan is to have someone who works in the field provide you with the right SSL certificate. One of the other pitfalls is losing the SEO juice from all the links you built up over the years if this isn’t done properly.

Mistakes Could Lead to Links Being Muddled or Lost

If your migration isn’t handled professionally, the links from your websites can become muddled and lost. Beyond not being flagged, there are several other benefits to making sure this transition  gets done properly.

Along with a modest search engine optimization (SEO) boost that comes with embracing HTTPS, your business will get improved credibility and the ability to encrypt data safely and effectively.

Schultz has the final word on why you need to take the time to ensure the move gets done properly by choosing someone who knows the digital levers important to this process.

“The switch needs to be done seamlessly so all the technical intricacies are covered,” he says. “It’s a lot like when you have an issue with your car’s transmission. You could take it to an all in one shop, but a place that specializes is better.”

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Prevent Your Business Website from Being Flagged by Google Chrome” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Broadway Entrepreneur Uses Business Live Steaming to Help Others

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Business live streaming to share successes and failures is becoming an increasingly useful trend

 

Use business live streaming to share successes and failures and become part of a growing trend. Audiences want to see live streams where businesses reveal major mistakes and solutions. As humorist Sam Levenson said, “You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”

As always, don’t be trendy for the sake of being trendy. Common business wisdom is to tie every decision to a larger goal — or a call-to-action no matter how small. Small Business Trends spoke with a Broadway producer who knows there should be a point to every livestream.

Business Live Streaming Shares Successes and Failures

Though he’s won multiple Tony Awards, Ken Davenport says structured learning wasn’t exactly available when he was new to the world of  Broadway, at least not in the modern ways he’s packaged it. Today he can provide experienced guidance to his network through exclusive masterminds and even conferences.

* * * * *

Davenport is an award-winning producer of “Godspell” and “Kinky Boots” fame, most recently heard accepting the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for “Once On This Island.” An early adopter of tech tools, he was the first person to crowdfund a Broadway production almost a decade ago. Davenport has supported the Broadway ecosystem through a number of his own subsidiary businesses and is also the Executive Producer for North America of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. Davenport was named one of Crain’s “40 Under Forty,” and is one of the co-founders of TEDxBroadway. Upcoming projects include his original musical “Gettin’ The Band Back Together.” His unique approaches have led to media coverage in the NY Times, MSNBC, Rock Center, Fox News, BBC, and a mention in Jay Leno’s monologue on “The Tonight Show.”

Video Length Depends On The Goal

Small Business Trends: Hi Ken, I’m shocked that you have time to do a daily Facebook Live for your audience. Have you been able to stick with it daily? What are the longer town hall videos for?

Ken Davenport: My “every day” Facebook Live isn’t daily actually; the name I gave it, #EveryDayIsDifferent, is more about how each day has a new challenge or obstacle, and about how each project is uniquely its own. Each year I host a Town Hall for the Broadway community where they can ask me their burning questions about the business of Broadway. This year’s Town Hall was one of my favorites and I received some interesting questions about raising money, pitching your show to investors, out-of-town tryouts, how to collaborate with directors and more.

Inspiration: Get to your YES! #OnceOnThisIsland #TonyAwards pic.twitter.com/Wjp0QIWfXq

— CBS (@CBS) June 11, 2018

Doing the Town Hall on Facebook Live is a way for anyone to preview our Mastermind Program, which has been an essential part of a success plan for our members who want fast results.

Small Business Trends: I love masterminds, and I know different types exist. How does your mastermind work?

Ken Davenport: It’s an exclusive community of professionals we heavily screen through our application process. These people are the best of the best and will help guide you along the path to production. Everyone in the Mastermind is unique in skill, experience and connections. By interacting and sharing your challenges, it’s almost certain that someone in the Mastermind will have a solution for you, and you may also be able to offer a solution, connection or tactic to help someone in the group. Admission into our Mastermind opens only once per year. I also have a membership-based portal for online training called The Producer’s Perspective PRO with monthly Live Office Hours Calls, weekly tips, monthly industry newsletters, and in-person events like mixers, breakfasts and workshops.

I wish these things had existed for me when I was starting out. In just about every show I’ve ever produced, there have been derailments and moments of feeling stuck. This is common in the entertainment industry due to its collaborative nature. You need many, many people to make a musical or a film. The more people who are involved, the more stumbling blocks you’re going to encounter. It’s a fact. So prepare for it and know you have the ability to get through it.

Small Business Trends: You’re producing a musical about inventor and HSN star Joy Mangano’s life?

Ken Davenport: Yes, Joy Mangano started as a single mom and turned a small business into big business! She has an extraordinary life story. But expect more announcements in 2019; producing for Broadway is a very long process of small and large steps. As I say in one of my books, How to Succeed in the Arts… Or in Anything, accomplishing something small puts you on the path to accomplish something great.

“The Awesome 80s Prom” was a tiny Off Broadway show of mine that ran for one night a week. It was capitalized for only $120,000, in other words its production budget, but it quickly became New York’s number one bachelorette party and sweet 16 destination. And to think, I almost didn’t go ahead with it because I felt it wasn’t important enough. The Prom ran for 10 years and returned about 500% to its investors.

Small Business Trends: What are some fun facts that underscore your work ethic?

Ken Davenport: The morning after “Once On This Island” won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, we weren’t sleeping in. We had ad meetings, and an evening performance! On top of this, my new show, “Gettin’ The Band Back Together,” started rehearsals at 10 AM sharp. Even after decades working on Broadway and off, I still consider myself a student.

Small Business Trends: Where can people see what you’re working on, including watching your Facebook videos?

Ken Davenport: Visit my blog at TheProducersPerspective.com. There you’ll find a link explaining our Mastermind. For Facebook, go to facebook.com/KenDavenport. Like my page and you should get a notification for my live videos and replays.

Images: TheProducersPerspective.com

This article, “Broadway Entrepreneur Uses Business Live Steaming to Help Others” was first published on Small Business Trends

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