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8 Instagram Trends In 2018 You Need To Know

Instagram offers a wealth of possibilities when it comes to reaching your customers and effectively distributing your content. It is a convenient platform for brands since it’s where your audience already engage with other brands and users.

As you look ahead to 2018 and begin planning your social media strategy, it is essential to monitor trends. With that, here are 8 Instagram trends you need to watch out for this year.

Rise of Instagram Stories

instagram-stories
Via TechCrunch

Instagram Stories were a big deal in 2017. This trend isn’t likely to go anywhere in the coming 12 months.

The introduction of Instagram stories was the most noticeable change in the Instagram user interface. It has enormous marketing implications.

Accounts with over 10,000 followers can now add a link within the feature. This is a significant development as it has the potential to multiply buying or inquiry opportunities.

In just one year after launch, Instagram stories surpassed Snapchat in terms of daily viewers.

Improved Visual Search

The ability to search using image content is an extremely useful feature. Facebook has already started developing an advanced image recognition AI. This feature will be even more valuable on Instagram since its primary focus is image and video posts.

The search feature on Instagram is continually being upgraded. This means that we can look forward to more improvements in 2018. We can expect to see better search capabilities, including images.

This is especially beneficial for brands since they will be searchable both by image content and hashtag. Customers will also be able to find and identify products easily.

A Boost in User-Generated Content

In the coming year, we can expect to see more brands making use of user-generated content. Various companies are already focusing on content created by fans. Most of the time, it’s through community-driven hashtags and campaigns.

Brands are now working on implementing systems that will make it easier to share user-generated content. As a result of this, social media managers will be able to access more trusted, high-quality content.

Expansion of Shopping Tags

In 2018, we’re likely to witness Instagram putting more of a focus on growing their business options. They need to remain competitive with other business platforms that are witnessing substantial growth. As a result, we are likely to see the expansion of their shopping tag. Through that, businesses can add descriptions and prices to their product images.

They have been trying this out since November 2016 and have recently partnered with Shopify. As expected, tons of brands are looking forward to this feature and Instagram is likely to do a more extensive roll out in the next few months.

Video Will Have a More Significant Role to Play

Video content is extremely popular and, therefore, increasingly important for brands. Videos play a huge role in building an audience and generating engagement. They generally get more likes, shares, and comments than any other types of content.

Brands can now create videos and share them immediately with their followers, thanks to the Instagram Stories feature. Having the ability to create and promote video content will be critical for brands in the upcoming year.

More Robust Social Analytics Tools

When someone interacts with a brand on Instagram, they will be immediately put off if they come across something that is irrelevant or doesn’t add value. If they are constantly bombarded with this type of content, they will get frustrated and may even unfollow the brand.

This is the reason why content personalization for audiences is a major trend in content marketing. Marketers will be better equipped to do this with better social analytics tools available. In 2018, social analytics tools are likely to become more detailed and valuable to marketers.

Focus on Generation Z

instagram users

According to a recent study, marketers on Instagram must shift their focus from Millennials to Generation Z. People in this generation are in their early twenties and are just beginning to enter the workforce. This gives them newly increased buying powers that many organizations are looking to tap into.

As more and more brands start to recognize this, they are shifting their social media strategies accordingly. Instagram is a platform Gen Z love and is likely to bring in new features to cater to this group.

Instagram-based Influencer Marketing Will Be on The Rise

An increasing number of brands are adding influencer marketing to their social media strategies. Influencer marketing is an effective way to connect with new followers and build engagement with your existing audience.

Brands that don’t evolve with the times and only opt for traditional advertising strategies will find it difficult to connect with social media users. In 2018, more brands will use social media influencers as a way to improve reach and engagement.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Instagram Advertising

Final Thoughts

In the next twelve months, we can expect to see numerous developments on Instagram. Marketers will focus on consistently putting out more personalized, high-quality content for their audiences. There will be cutting-edge analytics tools and improved selling options to help them.

These Instagram trends have enormous implications for users and marketers and are set to change the way we use the platform.

See Also: The Secret Behind Instagram’s Success

 

The post 8 Instagram Trends In 2018 You Need To Know appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Online graphic design startup Canva is now worth $1 billion

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Canva is Australia’s first unicorn of 2018, after raising $40 million (AUD$50.9 million) to push the design startup’s value over $1 billion.

Now available in 190 countries, with over 10 million users, the online design and publishing platform was launched in 2012 by CEO and co-founder Melanie Perkins — now the youngest female entrepreneur to have reached unicorn status. 

“It’s still extremely early days for us yet, and we feel like we’ve done one percent of what we believe is possible but it’s quite exciting to get to this point in time, and it’s been a huge journey,” Perkins told Mashable. Read more…

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4 Simple Ways To Increase Your Customer Base

So, you’ve been in business for some time now. Do you know how to increase your customer base?

When you started out, you’re probably not so bothered about having little or no customer. After all, it’s normal for new businesses. But now, you’re probably thinking why you can’t keep your business on a steady ride.

What will be the fate of a business without customers?

I’m no prophet of doom but it’s quite obvious that it’ll be a disaster. And that’s because customers are the sustaining factor of a business.

It’s no exaggeration when they say that customer is king. Their patronage provides the revenue that businesses thrive on. Simply put, they are the reason why you are in business.

So, how do you deal with the problem of little or no customers? Unless you want to go out of business soon, you have to be worried about your lack of customers.

Here are four simple ways to increase your customer base.

Provide excellent customer service

customer support

Charity begins at home.

A good way to increase your customer base is to work on putting customers at your disposal. When you don’t give these customers a reason to stay, they’ll run into the open arms of the next available competition. The first contact a customer makes with you is worth more than a million dollars.

You know why?

If such a customer is satisfied with your delivery, he/she could transact businesses worth more than a million dollar with you subsequently. A satisfied customer is likely to tell their friends, family, and associates about your services, referring more clients to you even without you asking.

See Also: Live Chat for Business: The Best Investment?

Understand your target market

Needs can only be met when they are understood.

It’s impossible to provide a solution to a problem you know little or nothing about. You could end up spending so much time and resources doing the wrong things.

Identifying prospective customers’ needs gives you better insights on how to provide products or services that are tailor-made for them. When you have the answers to customers’ problems, they’ll naturally be drawn to you. And if you live up to their expectations, you’re likely to keep them around for a very long time.

At the end of the day, every customer wants to be satisfied. If you tick that box, you’ll have their full attention.

Utilize your network

In this digital age, we are bombarded with different modern marketing strategies with the promise of great results. While some of these techniques are efficient, they are still a far cry from the good old proven word of mouth marketing technique.

You see, your social capital isn’t just there for socializing; it can be of great help in growing your business, too.

Your network consists of people who know you personally. While they may not be able to vouch for you on matters of life and death, they trust you enough to give you the benefit of the doubt in trying out your products or services. Don’t be shy to tell them about what you do.

Remember, you are your best marketer. Talk to people in your network about your business. You’ll be surprised at the number of new customers you’ll get from that.

Explore social media

social media marketing

If everyone is gushing about the benefits of social media in business, there’s a chance that there’s something in it for you as well. It’s okay to be a doubting Thomas but sometimes, you have to give the benefit of the doubt.

Look at it this way:

With social media, you can reach people that you may not be able to reach normally. When you do it right, you are likely to generate leads from your social media marketing strategies.

See Also: 4 Good Reasons For Marketing With Facebook

Technology makes it easier for you to streamline your campaigns to consumers who are in need of what you are selling. You can get your products or services right in front of people who are looking for exactly what you are offering.

There’s no such thing as too many customers; the more the merrier. If you made it a point of duty to increase your customer base on a regular basis, you’d have more revenue in your bank account. You get to meet your business goals and even expand. In the end, you stand to lose nothing. So, wouldn’t you rather give it a try?

The post 4 Simple Ways To Increase Your Customer Base appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

4 Simple Ways To Increase Your Customer Base

So, you’ve been in business for some time now. Do you know how to increase your customer base?

When you started out, you’re probably not so bothered about having little or no customer. After all, it’s normal for new businesses. But now, you’re probably thinking why you can’t keep your business on a steady ride.

What will be the fate of a business without customers?

I’m no prophet of doom but it’s quite obvious that it’ll be a disaster. And that’s because customers are the sustaining factor of a business.

It’s no exaggeration when they say that customer is king. Their patronage provides the revenue that businesses thrive on. Simply put, they are the reason why you are in business.

So, how do you deal with the problem of little or no customers? Unless you want to go out of business soon, you have to be worried about your lack of customers.

Here are four simple ways to increase your customer base.

Provide excellent customer service

customer support

Charity begins at home.

A good way to increase your customer base is to work on putting customers at your disposal. When you don’t give these customers a reason to stay, they’ll run into the open arms of the next available competition. The first contact a customer makes with you is worth more than a million dollars.

You know why?

If such a customer is satisfied with your delivery, he/she could transact businesses worth more than a million dollar with you subsequently. A satisfied customer is likely to tell their friends, family, and associates about your services, referring more clients to you even without you asking.

See Also: Live Chat for Business: The Best Investment?

Understand your target market

Needs can only be met when they are understood.

It’s impossible to provide a solution to a problem you know little or nothing about. You could end up spending so much time and resources doing the wrong things.

Identifying prospective customers’ needs gives you better insights on how to provide products or services that are tailor-made for them. When you have the answers to customers’ problems, they’ll naturally be drawn to you. And if you live up to their expectations, you’re likely to keep them around for a very long time.

At the end of the day, every customer wants to be satisfied. If you tick that box, you’ll have their full attention.

Utilize your network

In this digital age, we are bombarded with different modern marketing strategies with the promise of great results. While some of these techniques are efficient, they are still a far cry from the good old proven word of mouth marketing technique.

You see, your social capital isn’t just there for socializing; it can be of great help in growing your business, too.

Your network consists of people who know you personally. While they may not be able to vouch for you on matters of life and death, they trust you enough to give you the benefit of the doubt in trying out your products or services. Don’t be shy to tell them about what you do.

Remember, you are your best marketer. Talk to people in your network about your business. You’ll be surprised at the number of new customers you’ll get from that.

Explore social media

social media marketing

If everyone is gushing about the benefits of social media in business, there’s a chance that there’s something in it for you as well. It’s okay to be a doubting Thomas but sometimes, you have to give the benefit of the doubt.

Look at it this way:

With social media, you can reach people that you may not be able to reach normally. When you do it right, you are likely to generate leads from your social media marketing strategies.

See Also: 4 Good Reasons For Marketing With Facebook

Technology makes it easier for you to streamline your campaigns to consumers who are in need of what you are selling. You can get your products or services right in front of people who are looking for exactly what you are offering.

There’s no such thing as too many customers; the more the merrier. If you made it a point of duty to increase your customer base on a regular basis, you’d have more revenue in your bank account. You get to meet your business goals and even expand. In the end, you stand to lose nothing. So, wouldn’t you rather give it a try?

The post 4 Simple Ways To Increase Your Customer Base appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

4 Ways Small Business Can Become More Efficient Through Cloud Computing

In today’s business world, it is important that business have access to what they need when they need it. Whether through phones, tablets or computers, there is a need for convenience and reliability as far as access to information is concerned. Cloud computing facilitates all these. Without a doubt, it has transformed how several businesses operate.

For those who are entering the arena for the first time, it is important to note that cloud computing is an umbrella term that includes:

  • Cloud storage
  • Cloud hosting
  • Software as a service
  • Cloud backup

By migrating the cloud, your business can use this technology to enhance your operations in a couple of ways. In essence, cloud computing guarantees several benefits.

Enhanced collaboration

cloud computing collaboration

Provided there is reliable internet access, it is possible to access cloud-based programs any time using a couple of devices. For a business with remote employees, nothing facilitates greater collaboration than this.

In today’s economy, we have a substantial number of small and medium-size businesses which rely on remote productivity as a critical aspect of their operation. Using various cloud-based software, different teams in various locations can collaborate on the same documents without the need to email attachments, schedule calendars, and share task lists.

This reduces the need for physical meetings. Participants only need to sign up for the services and pick up their tasks online without the need to install new programs or download other software.

Secure data backup

Businesses have always relied on data. The only difference is that businesses are more dependent on data now than before.

Losing essential data can be detrimental to a business or an organization. For smaller businesses, you might not have the resources or time to implement an effective backup strategy.

With cloud computing, you can easily retrieve the latest version of your data in case of an onsite system failure. Such system can also come handy in case of a disaster, such as fire.

Remember, you have the option of using cloud-based services to back up your business data automatically. In case of any unforeseen interruptions, your business will be back up and running in a couple of minutes.

Several firms offering cloud services provide geo-redundant backup. That implies that your data is saved in multiple centers across various locations to enhance data security.

Improved reliability

We all understand that cloud-based services are often more reliable compared to promised services. This is particularly true in instances where the servers and other hardware components used in service delivery are aging.

Cloud service providers boast of dedicated and highly experienced IT staff. When it comes to resolving various IT issues, you can rely on such team to provide better services in terms of reliability and speed.

For any business, nothing is more important than knowing that there is a team you can always rely on in case of anything. With the kind of support offered by cloud service providers, you won’t always have to worry about your data.

Better resource management

small business cloud computing

When you opt for cloud service, one huge burden lifted off of your shoulder is that of hosting the servers. Since the servers will be located off-site, you can sit back knowing that their management is an experienced IT staff.

Since there is easier access to resources as needed when dealing with the cloud, there will be less time involved in starting these services. It is also clear that several smaller businesses have limited IT experts and resources.

Outsourcing cloud computing services give them an opportunity to concentrate on the other aspects of their business while cloud service providers handle the rest. For smaller businesses that are out to edge or rival the big names in the market, cloud computing provides an opportunity to be more competitive and claim their fair share of the market.

Don’t ignore the details

While it is true that cloud computing comes with multiple benefits, it will not be fair to ignore the possible setbacks that can come with this technology. Just like any other technology, it takes time to set up and adapt to a new system. You will need to train your personnel, even in the slightest ways possible.

In addition to that, there is also the need to establish a very effective troubleshooting system during and after the system is launched. Always remember to never ignore security risks when considering cloud computing services. The rate of cyber crimes is at an all-time high.

If you are going to use any cloud service provider, make sure that they have all the answers to any security concerns you have. Try to understand the contingency plans they have in place in case of a security breach. Only after that should you sign on the dotted lines.

See Also: How Cloud Technology Can Help Your Business Grow

The post 4 Ways Small Business Can Become More Efficient Through Cloud Computing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

5 Things You Need To Know About Shared Web Hosting

With technology evolving, customers have more options than ever before. They are surrounded by streams of brands- millions of them. People are agog over searching things they want over the internet, so if you do not exist online, you are probably losing a multitude of your potential customers.

Having a website is a must!

Whether you own a large corporation or a small cafe, you will need an influential web presence where your customers can connect with you, discover about your business, and eventually buy your products online. Taken together, an appealing, user-friendly, and informative website can magnetize new customers and prospects.

Businesses that still don’t have a website may be considered as outdated or even unreliable. Obviously, you wouldn’t want your business to have the same impression.

Since a majority of small and big businesses get their own website, they need to choose between different hosting solutions at some point. If your website does not attract much traffic and you have a tight budget, then shared web hosting service is the best option for you.

The Most Affordable Hosting Option

web host

Shared hosting is the most classic and widely chosen hosting plan across the globe. The key reason is its affordability as you don’t have to burn holes in your wallet.

Shared hosting is more like sharing an apartment where you share different facilities, like parking lot, kitchen, internet provider, and so on. When it comes to hosting, you have to share your resources with other hosting mates, like CPU time, memory, data, and disk space.

The Drawbacks

Shared hosting comes with some drawbacks. Potential website instability is one of them.

Take note that your website will be sharing server CPU resources with different other websites. When any of the websites sharing your server experiences an upsurge in traffic, your site might load slowly.

More Things to Consider

Hosting providers offer different plans for shared hosting. They may ask you to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly depending on your chosen plan.

Apart from payment options, you also have to be clear about the features you should be able to get from your plan. Storing files on the server is essential and so is the volume of data transfers and storage limits. If the basic features aren’t enough, you can always get an upgrade but be prepared to pay more.

Many shared hosting providers offer unlimited monthly data transfers to their customers. This may not be a catch, but you have to be sure that there are no hidden prices involved and that your definition of unlimited is same as theirs.

Now comes the OS. Check if you need Windows servers or Linux servers. Most common OS available for servers is Linux, but there are some web hosts that will allow you to choose between Linux or Windows hosting. For server-side apps that require Windows, let’s say SQL Server or a customized software coded in .NET, then Windows hosting will be the right option.

Make sure that your prospective web host offers a user-friendly control panel to streamline server administration and website management. Rather than typing a command line manually, the user can click the icons they recognize.

Another thing is customer support. You need to be certain that your host offers responsive 24/7 customer support. Some useful tools are forums, tutorials, and knowledge bases, but there’s nothing like having a human at your disposal.

customer support

See Also: 5 Effective Ways To Sound More Human Over A Customer Support Live Chat

Hosting For Bloggers

WordPress hosting is an effective and affordable solution, just like shared web hosting. This sort of hosting is the best solution for people planning to create a website powered by WordPress CMS (content management system), but don’t want to be troubled with things like updating CMS and the apps. Managed WordPress plans is mostly comprised of security features aimed at protecting CMS from layabouts.

Some managed WordPress hosts restrict certain plugins. Therefore, if your website demands certain plugins, then you might have to search for other hosting options. Please note that only WordPress CMS can run on managed WordPress hosting.

See Also: How to Choose a Web Host for Your Website

 

To wrap up

Selecting the right hosting option is no rocket-science; it truly depends upon your unique needs and budget. Most of the time shared web hosting is more than enough to cover your hosting needs as it is affordable, practical, and uncomplicated.

The post 5 Things You Need To Know About Shared Web Hosting appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Feds want to take Martin Shkreli’s $2 million Wu-Tang album

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Feds want to seize everything around Martin Shkreli.

Prosecutors asked a Brooklyn court on Friday to force the incarcerated “pharma bro” to forfeit some of his most valuable possessions, including the $2 million single-copy Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the unreleased Lil Wayne album Tha Carter V, a Picasso, and an antique World War II Enigma machine.

Shkreli, who gained notoriety when he spiked the price of a life-saving AIDS drug as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, was convicted in August of defrauding hedge fund investors in an incident unrelated to the pricing debacle. He’s currently in jail as he awaits a sentencing in which he could see up to 20 years in prison.     Read more…

More about Martin Shkreli, Wu Tang Clan, Business, and Music

Do VC woes extend to portfolio companies? For Rothenberg, probably not

 As VC brands go, Rothenberg Ventures has seen better days. The firm built up a reputation as an up-and-coming early-stage investor. But Silicon Valley soured on Rothenberg Ventures last year; lawsuits ensued. So it hasn’t been a good year for Mike Rothenberg. But what about the Rothenberg Ventures portfolio? Read More

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5 Behaviors That Annoy Your Customers

Frequent calls and customer complaints are staples in every business. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are completely harmless. In fact, the increasing number of calls and customer complaints can mean that your business isn’t doing well.

Today, customers aren’t afraid of switching. If they are unhappy with your services and goods, they’ll just move on and find another company or brand that can meet their needs and expectations.

So, whether you are a startup or a big player in your niche, providing the best services and products for your clients is essential. After all, the more unhappy customers you have, the less chance you’ll succeed.

With that, we have jotted down 5 things customers find annoying and what you can do to avoid them.

Slow response

One of the most common things that customers find annoying is when they can’t find a quick and instant solution to their problems. If your business fails to impress with a quick response time, it creates a negative experience and forces customers to switch to a competitor.

Introducing a live chat solution can permanently fix the problem. Your customers can connect to a live chat agent in seconds and get their questions answered in real-time, creating a positive impression.

live chat

See Also: Know Your Customers In The Digital Age

Irrelevant Information

Most businesses today focus on acquiring customers through social media campaigns. Posting engaging content with appealing headlines is the most common way to do that.

But, are you false-trapping your buyers through click baits? If yes, then you need to reconsider your strategy as soon as possible.

Customers feel annoyed when they aren’t provided with the promised content. They are likely to leave and never return if they feel like they’ve been fooled.

As a way to solve this, make sure you live up to your promises. If you are offering a solution to your customers’ problem, ensure that your content has it. In addition to that, you should also consider the way you deliver your promise.

Most web users are short on time these days and they want solutions that they can consume in a matter of minutes. If you provide that, you are most likely a step ahead of your competition.

Insufficient Value

Valuing your customers is one of the best things you can do for your business. If your customers feel privileged, they will stay and ultimately become members of your loyal tribe. On the other hand, not offering what they expect can make them switch to a competitor product.

That said,  you must focus on getting regular feedback from your audience. You can use the information you get from them to improve the products and services you offer.

Introducing a live chat can be one option but it’s not the only thing you can do. You can also offer discount coupons, freebies and more to make them feel valued. Never miss an opportunity to show how your customers are important to you.

Uniform Treatment

happy customer

 

A business has both loyal and occasional customers.  While occasional customers expect discounts and better services, loyal customers may demand more.  They should be given some liberty points, coupons or schemes to make them feel more special. Customers observe each and every detail, so you should always keep these things in mind.

Not listening to your customers

Every business has problems that their customers also feel. If you are a smart business person, you will find a way to make sure that your customers are heard.

If your customers have no platform where they can put their thoughts, they may feel neglected, annoyed and angry. This can decrease customer retention and negatively affect your overall business. A live chat can help in this case as it allows your customers to speak their mind.

See Also: 4 Surprisingly Easy Tips To Improve Customer Engagement

The Solution

You obviously don’t want to continue making those mistakes. So, here are a few notable suggestions to avoid unhappy customers:

  • Provide 24/7 online support by integrating live chat for website
  • Improve the quality of your services and products
  • Take immediate actions on customer’s feedback and complaints
  • Keep refining the products

Conclusion

Businesses should aim to improve their relationship with their customers to increase retention. The more loyal customers you have, the better your business’ survival rate is.

Avoid having unhappy customers by giving them exactly what they want. Provide a solution to their problems and make that solution easy to achieve. Be consistent in your efforts in making them feel valued and they are highly likely to stick around for a long time.

The post 5 Behaviors That Annoy Your Customers appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business

If you are aware of the developments in technology, then you have probably heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI). For a lot of people, it’s too complex or high-tech so they don’t really pay a lot of attention to it.

In fact, even small businesses don’t think much of AI. They believe that only big tech companies like Apple and Google can utilize it. However, that’s not true.

AI has numerous benefits for small businesses. It’s something you cannot ignore if you want to stay ahead of your competition.

Today, open-minded businesses have started using AI to create a business logo, respond to emails, comb the Internet for leads identification, help customers with chatbots and a lot more.

If you have not seriously considered AI automation for your business yet, then the following 5 reasons can surely convince you.

Enhanced Bookkeeping

There are plenty of AI tools designed specifically for bookkeeping that you can use. While many offer help with the basic data entry tasks, some are more advanced and can easily perform many roles. You can use it in reading and preparing invoices, set invoice reminders, release payments on schedule and more.

So, instead of expanding your accounting department, you can invest in an AI bookkeeping program which is more affordable and highly useful.

Lead Nurturing

No matter how skilled your sales reps are, they will always have limitations.

For starters, one can handle only a certain number of leads at a time. Secondly, they need a certain amount of time with every lead to learn about their personality, pain points, opportunities for connection building and many other aspects that are required for their nurturing.

However, with AI automation you can take the entire process to the next level and benefit from increased productivity.

An AI program designed for lead nurturing can read and respond to the emails of your prospects using a list of set messages and the Natural Language Processing technology. It can also go through the past conversations you have had with your leads to pinpoint important bits of information. Most importantly, it can work 24/7 since it can function without human intervention.

Online Customer Support

A number of studies have found that customers find it more comfortable to inquire about the services or products of a company through messaging, especially via online chat as opposed to voice calls. However, hiring a full-time customer executive can be expensive for a small business. Again, this is where AI automation can be a great option.

chatbots

Not only AI-powered chatbots are highly popular today, you can also find some highly affordable options easily. You can install one of these on your website so that when your customers need some information, it will be readily available. In addition to that, having AI-powered chatbots can also make your website more attractive.

See Also: How To Boost Your Business with Influence Marketing Chatbots

Cheap but Quality Branding

Usually, it’s hard to find quality and affordability at the same place. However, AI automation seems to have changed that.

This is because it can help you with your company branding in many ways and at modest pricing. There are companies like Tailor Brands that offer an entire suite of branding tools- from logo creation to social media banner creation at a fraction of the price that you would pay to a graphics designer.

Intelligent Personal Assistants

You are probably already familiar with virtual personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft Corona. Today, a new range of similar assistants is emerging and they are even more intelligent and more suitable for businesses. For instance, there is Amy from x.ai that can arrange meetings for you or Pana that can arrange your travel.

amy intelligent personal assistant
Via slideshare.net

AI has matured enough today that it can be utilized in different ways in every industry. It’s now easily available at affordable costs, too. If you haven’t considered using one for your business, it’s probably the right time to reconsider your strategy.

 

The post 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider AI Automation for Small Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Here’s our first look at Elon Musk’s Boring Co. LA tunnel

 Elon Musk is digging a tunnel under Hawthorne near SpaceX headquarters in California, after receiving approval from city council to do so. Musk’s Boring Co. has already made considerable progress on the dig and tunnel build, apparently, as Musk shared an image of the tunnel from the inside showing a reinforced tube that stretches off into the distance out of sight.
The tunnel features… Read More

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6 Science-Backed Tips On How To Be More Successful In Life

Balancing your work responsibilities and personal life commitments is never easy.

Being in an active relationship can put you way behind your professional objective. Focusing intensely on your goals at work can prevent you from keeping an eye on your lifestyle and eating habits. In the end, you may need to sacrifice one for the other.

Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to be that way. There are things you can do to make sure no areas of your life suffer as you work on achieving your goals.

And to help you with that, here are some highly-effective tips on how to be more successful in life.

Set A Deadline For Each Task

set deadline

One amazing tactic to organize your workload is to set a time limit. By doing so, you will be forced to refrain from indulging in frivolous activities and getting involved in unimportant tasks. You will save more time and have a better day at work with all of your ducks in a row.

According to a study conducted back in 2002, setting deadlines can increase self-motivation and ultimately help individuals to prosper at double rates. The researchers state that self-imposed deadlines work more efficiently than externally imposed ones.

What happens is, when we know that we have endless time to complete a job, we begin to indulge in vain activities. We put other things first, delaying the job in the end.

By putting a tap on your workload, you’ll be able to invest your utmost attention and dedication to finish the job successfully and on time.

Reward for Progress

No matter how old you become, you will always need that little spark of appreciation and reward to be motivated.

After setting deadlines for your tasks, you should also think of something to reward yourself. The idea of receiving a reward increases the level of dopamine in your brain.

According to a recent study, people who are more active and enthusiastic have shown to have more dopamine level than those who are always lazy and tired. By rewarding yourself, you remain grounded and feel encouraged to accomplish your goals. Moreover, it makes you feel completely satisfied from the inside.

Celebrate The Tiny Wins

Frank Gruber stated, “This is a journey — a hard one — and the only way to make it sustainable and bearable is if you actually acknowledge your small successes along the way.”.

One principle to follow for a successful life is to love yourself.

In your journey to being successful, you need to set big goals and targets. Unfortunately, those big goals require time and waiting for them to happen can ultimately demotivate you.

So, instead of focusing on those big goals, take some time out and set your eyes on the little achievements you made by the end of the day or week. Cherish those little achievements and you’ll surely stay motivated.

See Also: The Surprising Success Strategy That Will Empower Your Next Steps

Do Not Consume Negative News Before Going To Work

A study at the University of Pennsylvania suggested that you should stop watching negative news at the start of your day. By viewing negative news for only three minutes, you are more likely to spend an unhappy day. Keep in mind that happiness is related to productivity.

Therefore, being exposed to the negative news before 10 o’clock in the morning can build up a mindset that you are unable to take control of things. This will ultimately affect your level of productivity. It will influence your ability to organize your workload.

Instead of focusing on the negative, try to watch some solution-driven news that can motivate and freshen up your mind. Stay away from depression-inducing news and keep your head up to show the world who you truly are.

Meditate

meditate daily

Experiencing excessive workload stress creates tiny clots in our brain. This affects our nerves and blood circulation, resulting in a severe headache and laziness.

To keep our brain functioning well, you can try mindfulness meditation. Meditation rejuvenates the body from head to toe. It prevents the body from cognitive loss, controls high blood pressure, and reduces the intensity of pain by up to 40 percent.

By meditating properly, you’ll feel positive changes within your mind and body. Practices, like inhaling pure oxygen and being under the sun, can recharge your body, giving it an enthusiastic flame of energy flow. According to researchers, even the simple act of opening a window can lift one’s mood.

Therefore, to perform better, you need to recharge yourself, meditate, and get closer to nature.

See Also: Questions and Answers: A Beginners Guide to Meditation

Act Like A Pro

If you think you are investing enough efforts into your professional life but your outcomes are still minimal, then analyze the things you are doing wrong just for a second. Upon focusing, you will realize that the real problem lies in your attitude towards your work.

You are probably acting amateur. This mindset is stopping you from stepping out of your comfort zone. You take every suggestion as criticism and you never try to move ahead and learn new skills and abilities.

One tip on how to be successful is to act professionally.

Being a pro means putting your utmost dedication and surpassing every obstacle that comes along your way. You need to face your challenges as a pro learns from his mistakes and never backs down.

Conclusion

At present, the world has transformed into a highly competitive platform where every other person aims to take the superior spot. In such times, you have to work like a pro if you want to be successful. Search for new opportunities, learn from experiences, and practice new technologies. Keep pace with the ever-growing advancements and discoveries and you’ll be well on your way to the top.

The post 6 Science-Backed Tips On How To Be More Successful In Life appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Tesla fires hundreds of workers companywide amid production struggles

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Tesla just made some drastic changes to its workforce.

The automaker fired between 400 and 700 workers from its south Bay Area headquarters and production plant this week, the San Jose Mercury first reported. The company claims the employees were fired for subpar job performance rather than laid off.

“Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement. “Performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures.” Read more…

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How to Increase Business Efficiency In Print Marketing

When all businesses are moving online and making it their prime source of business, print marketing gets left behind. People have been putting too much effort on technology that sales and marketing in this niche have been ignored for long.

But, let me ask you this: Don’t you think it’s time to reconsider print marketing? After all, it’s still one of the best businesses around.

Technology is very important for any online business but your business growth starts with your customers. If you do not have customers, how are you going to run the business? A web to print solution’s success depends entirely on customers. Here customers are of two types- a) your existing customers and b) customers you wish to acquire.

To target both these customers, you need a planned marketing move or strategy. Think of this as a “new service” you wish to market. You could pitch the features to your staff first and then your customers to see what they have to say about your “new services”.

Here are a few web-to-print solutions marketing tips you can use to make your business more efficient.

Using Target Marketing Strategy

When you plan a marketing strategy, you also plan whom you are going to target. You need to define your audience in advance in order to achieve the best results. Using target marketing gives you a clear picture as to whom you should target and how.

Most web-to-print solutions marketing strategies fail because they are not sure who to target and they end up pitching to the wrong group. This wastes both money and time.

Once you have defined your audience, you need to know what you want to pitch to them. Not all customers will want every service or product you sell, so you’ll have to do research to find out what interests them the most. The way you segment your customers will allow you to market your products in the best possible way.

After that, you need to set your business goals. They need to be realistic for you and your team. Like keeping a track of the first order in the system, this will keep your team on their toes to get their first order in the system.

Marketing success is way different from technical success. Here’s how:

With technical success, it means you have successfully implemented the system. If your marketing strategy is a success, then it means you and your business is growing.

Using Branding as a Marketing Strategy

brand marketing

Every business has a name, so choose one that can easily make you and your business more popular. A smarter way to choose a name is to pick something from your internal projects.

This is called Branding. It’s a type of marketing strategy that will let people know about your business and what it can do for them.

See Also: 5 Smart Ways to Boost Brand Awareness

Don’t Sell Without a Story of Your Business

How you started, when you started and what made you start your business is very important. What you sell and what you do not sell are things that are necessary for your sales and marketing team, too.

As much as possible, never let your sales team go out without a story because they might end up making one of theirs and this can get you in trouble. A story is a good way to market your business and the services it provides.

In addition to that, you also need a plan on how you can tell the story. You need to say it in a way that matches the demands of your target customers. Therefore, you need to play a clever and smarter game here. You need to do branding in a way that you tell them how your solution is going to benefit them. Never tell them what features your business have. Instead, tell them how those features are going to help them.

Like most customers, I would not be bothered to know about you or your business. My prime concern will be how your solution will benefit me. That has to be your focus when you are creating a brand.

Know Your Customer

You should know your customers before they know you. You have to identify their needs and understand the solutions they are looking for. Apart from that, you also have to know when they’ll need you and you must have offers ready by that time.

Using Social Media as Marketing Strategy

social media marketing

A third of the world uses social networks regularly. Hence, it is one of the best marketing tools around. This is why most marketers are expanding their business widely using social media.

Why should you focus on Social media marketing? The stats below will give you a clearer picture.

See Also: The 5 Internet Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2017

Some Facts

  • Around 72% of people who use Facebook are adults.
  • 74% of people use Facebook for professional use.
  • Facebook has the most engaged users with 70% daily log.
  • 59% of Instagram users are on the platform daily, including 35% who visit several times a day.
  • In the past two years, people who use LinkedIn has increased 21%.
  • Instagram has 500 million monthly active users.

In the print industry, the same ideas follow. You can target group of people from different regions and different age. You can attract customers by creating attractive ads on these social media platforms.

Your marketing move is very important. You need to decide how and what has to be your next move to achieve your customers’ goal.

Conclusion

Print Industry is huge and when you take web-to-print solution, then you need to have a proper marketing strategy in place so that you can collect more customers. Your prime goal needs to match the customers’ demands.

Promoting something you know the customer has been looking for will fetch you results that are more positive. Hence, keep your target audience in mind, use branding and sell solutions or features while keeping in mind what your customers want. This will be a great success for your print business.

The post How to Increase Business Efficiency In Print Marketing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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NFL players slam Donald Trump for rant against protests

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Football players are lashing out at Donald Trump after the president went on an extended rant about athlete activism at a rally Friday night.

Trump called on NFL owners to fire players who kneel or otherwise protest during the national anthem and encouraged fans to boycott the league.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!” Trump said.

Read the transcript from Trump’s racist rant on Black players in the NFL

It’s WAY worse than I thoughtpic.twitter.com/WbbUEZvVgr

— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 23, 2017 Read more…

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Using Zero Trust Network Segmentation To Protect Your Business From Hackers

Cyber security is a major concern no matter what size or type of business you have.

Despite how critical it is, a lot of people are still not doing enough to protect themselves. They don’t take information security seriously – until something bad happens.

Take security breaches for example. They can be costly, often putting small businesses out of business for a few months.

There are practices that could stave off most attacks. Unfortunately, since humans are the weakest link in the cyber security chain, breaches can happen no matter what type of preparation a company does.

To help reduce this risk, there’s a newer and safer model for cyber security. It’s called the Zero Trust model with network segmentation.

What Is Zero Trust?

business protection

In the old ways of cyber security, gaining access to a network was as simple as putting in your username and password. Once you’re in, you have access to everything.

Unfortunately, this model has some pretty obvious weaknesses. Hackers only need to gain access to your login data, which is easy to do through social engineering.

In the zero trust model, everyone is assumed to be a hacker.

Login info will get a person into the front door. Once he’s inside, he’ll find many more doors. This leaves fewer chances for hackers to exploit.

This model regularly checks activity logs, too. This is done in real time to detect any threats as quickly as possible.

Even the Department of Homeland Security recommends zero trust segmented networks. It suggests:

  • Design network segments based on need-to-know and zero trust principles
  • Ensure that sensitive information is segmented, even from other sensitive information
  • Layer security measures so each segment has its own requirements for access

See Also: Are There Benefits to Implementing Business Intelligence for Small Business?

How Much Do Data Breaches Cost?

According to Hackerpocalypse: A Cybercrime Revelation from Cybersecurity Ventures:
“Cybersecurity Ventures predicts global annual cyber crime costs will grow from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion annually by 2021, which includes damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, post-attack disruption to the normal course of business, forensic investigation, restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems, and reputational harm.”

The cost of cleaning breached records varies by company and by industry.

Retail breaches are great examples. They are the most publicized type of breaches because they affect several consumers at once. Generally, they cost millions of dollars per incident to clean up. They also cost the retail outlet in lost sales and reputational damage.

Small data breaches can happen to small businesses, too. In such cases, breaches can cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up. This can easily put a company out of business.

After all, how many small businesses have tens of thousands of dollars they aren’t using to put toward cleaning a data breach?

How To Implement Zero Trust Segmented Networks

zero trust implementation

Even if you don’t have a large corporation with an information security team and a network architecture specialist, there are still ways for you to protect your small business.

  • Software can automate some security needs
  • Next generation firewalls can provide greater security
  • BYOD and password hygiene policies can go a long way
  • Security consultants often specialize in working with small businesses to find Info Sec solutions
  • SaaS and NaaS providers can give your business the same level of security as large corporations

See Also: Wireless Network Hacking And How To Avoid Being Hacked

Don’t Let InfoSec Get Away From You

Doing something about your company’s information security before it’s too late is crucial if you want to stay in business. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, so the time to act to make your network safer is now. You are the weakest link and hackers know that. Don’t let them destroy your businesses by not acting to protect it. Learn more about zero trust network segmentation from this infographic!

Source

The post Using Zero Trust Network Segmentation To Protect Your Business From Hackers appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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7 Cross-Border Dropshipping Tips Winners Use

Thinking of scaling or taking your dropshipping business overseas? Today is the best time to do that!

E-commerce’s global consumer base continues to expand exponentially and with this type of demand, supply must also rise.

BigCommerce reports that 96% of Americans shop online with 8% of millennials shopping daily. Studies show that more firms, including B2B companies, are now considering dropshipping. In 2011 alone, a Forrester report showed that dropshipping accounted for 34% of products sold on Amazon. That equates to $14.2 billion.

Increased consumer confidence, internet accessibility, multi/omnichannel options, technology, competition and innovation are some major drivers of this upbeat trend.

The Big Question

Is dropshipping for you?

Wisdom says if it is too good to be true, then it probably is. However, just like any business, dropshipping requires time and effort.

Dropshipping is an e-commerce order fulfillment model where a facilitator (dropshipper) receives orders from buyers (shoppers), passes it on to manufacturers or suppliers and delivers those orders direct to customers (D2C).

In other words, you order from a wholesaler or manufacturer only when your customers order from you. There’s no need for you to stock inventory. All you ever have to worry about is marketing and sales as your entire supply chain and logistics are handled for you.

Unfortunately, dropshipping isn’t for everyone. It could be for you if you love to work remotely and independently and if you hate:

  • Warehousing
  • Managing CRM/WMS/OMS
  • Buying and stocking inventory
  • Packaging
  • Printing labels
  • Shipping
  • Handling returns
  • Paper work

If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some of the top-rated dropshipping companies today:

  • Oberlo
  • SaleHoo
  • Worldwide Brands
  • Wholesale2B
  • Inventory Source
  • Vista Wholesale
  • Dropshipping Design
  • Doba
  • Drop Ship Access
  • Sunrise Wholesale
  • Megagoods
  • Dropship Direct

You could start a self-hosted dropshipping store. However, for someone who’s just starting out, you’ll be better off with platforms or companies that already have solutions that seamlessly integrate dropshipping with e-commerce like Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce etc. You can skip this tip if you have the men and means to build one from scratch.

Cross-Border Dropshipping

Cross-border dropshipping is basically you (dropshipper) dropshipping orders to customers beyond your borders. Take a look at the following model to understand the concept better.

Local vs Global Dropshipping

The following highlights some key differences between local and global dropshipping:

1 No customs duties, taxes, levies Custom duties, taxes, levies
2 Known regulated products Different from country to country
3 Single currency Multi-currency considerations
4 Monolingual Multilingual considerations
5 Single time zone Different time zones
6 Cheaper More expensive
7 Limited reach Unlimited opportunities

7 Tips For Better Cross-Border Dropshipping

Now that you know the differences, here are 7 tips to help you nail cross-border dropshipping:

Investigate Your Target Market

You need not become or hire a Sherlock Holmes. Simply look into existing research before you make the leap. Worth over $672 billion, China is the largest e-commerce market. However, issues like distance, customs procedures, government regulation and payment processing are major pain points for non-Chinese businesses.

Do your due diligence and risk assessment before commencing.

Know Your Target Customers

BigCommerce, in a recent report, similarly revealed that 43% of US shoppers shop while in bed. If this group form part or the core of your consumer base, you need to adjust your marketing efforts accordingly.

You need consumer behavior insight when dropshipping abroad.

Some key questions to ask include:

  • What are their age, gender, income level, location?
  • What hours do they shop online most?
  • Who are they?
  • What is their time zone?
  • Which social media or search engine do they frequently use?
  • What products sell more?
  • What device is mostly used?

Answers to these questions will help you streamline your dropshipping services for more efficiency.

Know International Trade Regulations

It is easy to cross the line with cross-border dropshipping if you are ignorant of relevant international trade laws. This is why you need to familiarize yourself with the current business laws before you actually start with your project.

Take, for example, Kenya.

Recently, Kenya banned the production, selling and use of plastic bags, targeting manufacturers and sellers first. This information can help you decide whether to expand into Kenya, considering your product packaging practice.

Follow the Leaders

Follow industry leaders in cross-border dropshipping and not leads. Most e-commerce marketers spend their ad-earned currency chasing and hoping to convert and keep leads. Instead of being like them, you should study dropshippers like Irwin Dominguez who went from zero to over $1 million in one year.

irwin dominguez dropshipping
Via zacjohnson

That’s the kind of guy you should follow and leads will follow you back soon. Follow their strategies on blogs, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other places where they hang out.

Optimize Your Dropshipping Website

It is critical to get your dropshipping website right. It is your major opportunity to attract, convince and convert leads.

Retail Dive reports that more than 65% of shoppers browse online before buying offline.

As they interact with your website, online shoppers form opinions about your business. They assess your site’s loading speed, landing pages, ease of navigation, design, UX, forms, product photography/description, and checkout to payment.

If you are unsure how to create one, you can hire freelancers to design one for you on a budget that won’t break the bank.

See Also: A Practical Guide to Hiring and Managing Freelancers

Offer Multilingual, Multi-Currency Support

Language is a core component of social identity and culture. Offering your services in languages local to your international audience is a great way to connect with them.

Currency conversion calculations is another pain point for many cross-border shoppers. E-commerce stores that support multi-currency payments take that stress off of shoppers. It allows them to pay in their local currency while you receive payments in your own currency.

Consider Marketplaces

dropshipping marketplace

Brand recognition and awareness take time to build. It is okay to sign up to popular marketplaces like Amazon or eBay when you are just starting out. They are platforms that support hundreds of thousands of stores. You can gain experience and share valuable insights from forums and community support such platforms provide.

See Also: The 5 Internet Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2017

As you cut your teeth and become more successful, you can start considering other options. If you’re on Shopify, apps like Oberlo can make dropshipping simpler by automating everything from product importation to order fulfillment.

What winning tips have you used in your dropshipping business?

 

The post 7 Cross-Border Dropshipping Tips Winners Use appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Cruise ship company is rescuing its employees from Irma—on a cruise ship

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The high seas are not where anyone wants to be as Hurricane Irma rips through the Caribbean and southern Atlantic. 

To evacuate employees usually stationed aboard ships now in hurricane-churned waters, Royal Caribbean is using its most valuable resource: its own gigantic cruise boat.

Royal Caribbean is taking the 2,500-passenger Enchantment of the Seas mega-boat to calmer waters with the cruise company’s employees and families onboard.

.@RoyalCaribbean Enchantment of the Seas leaving #Miami – taking employees + fam out to safer waters before #Irma hitspic.twitter.com/mgT9j3qDAa

— Erica Hill (@EricaRHill) September 8, 2017 Read more…

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Crunch Report | China’s Central Bank Puts a Ban on ICOs

China’s central bank puts a ban on ICOs, the next generation of the Lily drone is here, WhatsApp for Business is launching and Alphabet creates a new holding company to complete 2015 corporate reorganization. All this on Crunch Report! Read More

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4 Free Business Productivity Apps To Help You Grow Your Small Business

Managing a business is easier said than done. When you run your own business, you need to give it all your time and attention. It’s a job that is both demanding and fulfilling.

Eventually, you’ll want to turn it into a business that can run without you. This, unfortunately, is the harder part.

The first obstacle you need to anticipate is manpower. For small businesses and start-up companies, it is usually the owner that does most of the work. To help you out, here are the top business productivity apps you can rely on for help.

1. TMetric

tmetric

This is a time tracking app that can help you manage projects and your team at the same time. It can track your team’s work activities which you can view in a simple timeline mode.

If you have remote employees or you’re not in the office most of the time, you can use this app to check on your team’s productivity. As the project leader, you’ll be able to view what sites your members visited or what apps they’ve used in a specific period of time.

Tmetric is completely free and can be integrated with other tools like Trello, Basecamp, Jira, Asana, and RedMine. Compared with other time tracking apps, this one is very user-friendly and does not require training to understand.

It’s a simple click-and-go app with powerful features at no cost.

See Also: Top 7 Ways to Improve Your Productivity 

2. MailChimp

mailchimp

For a business to grow, its mailing list should grow as well. It’s a great way to continuously generate leads and sales.

MailChimp is an easy and professional way to send emails to your subscribers. Its intuitive interface allows even the most non-techy users to make it work.

For small businesses, the free version is a good starting point. You can send up to 12,000 emails a month to a mailing list of up to 2,000 contacts.

MailChimp has a huge directory of integration. Popular platforms include WordPress, Shopify, and Magento.

3. Wave

waveapps

This app is pretty straightforward. It’s a free accounting software that covers invoicing, payroll, bills, and other factors that involve money. It’s specifically tailored for small businesses.

Wave gives business owners an easy and efficient way to manage books. If you want to handle accounting work yourself but don’t want to spend money for more advanced apps, this is a great solution.

You can securely link your banking accounts, send unlimited invoices, and pay as many bills as you want. It is a Canadian-based company with over 2.5 million users.

You can securely link your banking accounts, send unlimited invoices, and pay as many bills as you want. It is a Canadian-based company with over 2.5 million users.

4. Tasytt

tasytt-app

Welcoming a new team member can take a lot of work, particularly when it comes to orientation and training. This is a common experience and issue for most small businesses.

As a solution, you can try a tiny but powerful app called Tasytt. It streamlines your company’s training process so you know who’s reading what and for how long.

See Also: 8 Top Marketing Tips for Small Businesses 

In addition to onboarding new team members, it’s  a great tool for training existing team members without having to set up individual meetings, too. By creating ‘flows’, which are basically tasks made into a smaller set of activities, you can easily track your team’s progress and productivity.

BONUS: You can also consider this free automated timesheet template as an additional resource to help you track time across your teams and stay more productive.

 

The post 4 Free Business Productivity Apps To Help You Grow Your Small Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Thailand’s Kasikorn Bank backs cloud accounting startup in first deal for $30M fund

 Thailand’s banks have stepped up to chase the startup dream over the past year. Following on from SCB’s Digital Ventures, which has backed blockchain startup Ripple among others, Kasikorn Bank (KBank) has made the first investment from its $30 million fund — a $1.15 million round for Bangkok-based FlowAccount. KBank announced its Beacon fund this summer. It has made… Read More

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Samsung heir handed 5-year jail sentence for bribery

 Samsung vice chairman and the company’s heir apparent Jay Y. Lee is headed to jail after a court in Korean ruled that he is guilty of bribery, embezzlement, capital flight and perjury charges. Lee, who has been earmarked as the future leader of the company, was handed a five-year jail sentence, although he is expected to appeal the decision. He took a board seat at Samsung last year in… Read More

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Use neuroscience to convince your boss to let you nap at work

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 A nap can be a beautiful thing when we feel our brain slowly grinding to a halt. Whether it’s a siesta to shake off a food coma, a daytime doze on a lazy Sunday, or an all-out nap orgy with friends or loved ones, we arise feeling replenished, recharged, and ready to take action
Unfortunately, not very many bosses see any correlation between snoring and success. Only a handful of organization—Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, Zappos, Google, and The Huffington Post, to name a few—currently see naps as smart business. They’ve invested in nap pods and massage chairs because they know that, when it comes to boosting productivity and creativity in the workplace, naps can be  Read more…

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How To Boost Your Business with Influence Marketing Chatbots

The growing popularity of chatbots goes without question. We are all familiar with a rule-based chatbot that is quite easy to distinguish from a human being. It demands exact command input to respond, so this form of communication isn’t that new.

However, AI-powered chatbots make a different story. In addition to the information-providing bots, like Echo by Amazon or Apple’s Siri, that has almost no influence on marketing and sales, online stores get their loyal assistants represented by branded chatbots.

These chatbots are taking a firm position in modern marketing. In 2016, a lot of retailers started using chatbots to foster brand awareness and personalize customer experience.

It was the right decision for both sides. Modern clients are less responsive to old marketing techniques; they appreciate advanced approaches to communication.

Why chatbots?

chatbots

A chatbot is a form of software that’s able to hold a conversation in audio or text format. This is a robot copying human behavior. Due to artificial intelligence, chatbots can imitate real communication with a human being.

Machine learning presupposes that chatbots can study and enrich their knowledge. The more they communicate, the smarter they become. However, it will still depend on who they talk to, as the case with Tay Twitter bot by Microsoft.

Nevertheless, social networks and media, like Facebook and CNN, are still interested in chatbots.

After Mark Zuckerberg had presented the first Facebook-Messenger-based chatbot, brands were very fast to adopt the technology. For instance, 1-800 Flowers gave its customers an opportunity to write a name of a friend in its app to order a bouquet for this person.

Chatbots are easy to set and this feature makes them a perfect tool for e-tailers. The similar personalized approach to promotion is applied to one more popular trend called influence marketing.

What is influence marketing?

Influence marketing is a type of marketing aimed at delivering a brand message via industry leaders. Instead of communicating with your customers directly, you hire an influencer. Thus, the target of such companies is not a whole market but a group of influencers.

The main idea of influence marketing is establishing mutually beneficial relations. Such cooperation brings better reach both for the brand and influencer.

Influence marketing is widely spread on Youtube. There are a lot of popular bloggers working with well-known brands to promote their products.

See Also: How Online Blogging Is Influencing Business Trends

Tarte, for example, organized Trip with Tarte campaign for beauty-bloggers with 1 million+ followers covering all their expenses. The only condition was to shot a video about the trip and share it with the #tripwithtarte hashtag. As a result, millions of internet users learned of the brand. Quite a wide reach, isn’t it?

Takumi made a research showing that brands are interested in working with influencers than with celebrities. But, according to another survey, if an influencer’s post isn’t original enough, it won’t have a strong impact on women.

See Also: 5 Instagram Tools That Can Boost Brand Performance

What will you get by combining these two trends?

The answer is simple- you’ll become a marketing wizard.

At the end of last year, two companies combined efforts to create the first influence chatbot for the American brand Cover Girl. Marketing platform (The Amplify) and chatbot developer (Automat) turned Kalani Hilliker, a Dance Moms’ celebrity and an influencer, into a chatbot. Based on Kik messenger, the chatbot mimics the star’s personality to promote Cover Girl coupons.

What kind of marketing magic happens there?

Engaging

You have only 7 seconds to make the first impression. It concerns not only real-life meetings but also online behavior. People spend on site 10-20 seconds on average so the faster you start reacting, the more chances you get to interest your potential client.

Cost effective

How much time do you spend daily to answer identical questions of your customers? Sooner or later, you’ll get tired of writing the same responses so you hire a person to do this for you or you buy additional equipment for that. Chatbot can do it all for free.

Customized

Imagine an influencer talking to you like a friend who knows all your tastes and needs. Sounds like a dream, but now it’s a reality. Speaking about Kalani’s case, the bot managed to generate 14% higher conversion rate than an average Kalani’s post in social networks with striking 91% of positive feedbacks from its users.

Can I create my personal chatbot?

The easiest way out is to hire somebody to do the job for you. But first, you need to know that AI development is rather expensive. Why so?

The technology is comparatively new and there are not many top-level specialists. Lack of skilled programmers can boost the price of the process. Even hiring a junior AI developer will cost you more than $1000/mo, let alone seniors who will demand at least $8,000/mo. Some forums even suggest addressing development institutes to find a future employee there.

But, do you need to hire a programmer to build a chatbot for your marketing campaign? The answer is no. You can find a lot of various tools for building your own chatbot. Even having no skills in coding won’t stop you from getting one. Platforms like Chatfuel don’t require any programming experience and allow you to create an AI chatbot for Facebook or Telegram.

computer programming

By combining chatbots and influence marketing, you will discover a wide range of opportunities. You don’t necessarily have to be a developer. The only limit is your imagination, so don’t be afraid of mixing new strategies to become more efficient.

The post How To Boost Your Business with Influence Marketing Chatbots appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Alibaba, Tencent, Didi and other tech firms pour $12B into mobile operator China Unicom

 China is about to take net neutrality to the next level after a group of influential tech companies that includes Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Didi Chuxing and JD.com agreed to invest nearly $12 billion into state-run mobile operator China Unicom.
China Unicom is the country’s second largest operator with 269 million mobile customers, which makes it one of the largest in the world. The… Read More

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10 Proven Ways To Build Your Personal Branding in 2018

Admit it or not, if you want to do business, you’d want to do it with other people- not companies. Putting up a strong personal branding allows you to reach out to your clients more which, in effect, can dramatically boost conversion rates and sales.

But, how exactly do you build a personal brand?

Honestly, there’s no single formula that can make you successful overnight. It will take a lot of hard work and commitment before you can make it big in this kind of business. But, to help you out, below are 10 easy yet proven ways on how to build your personal branding.

Ready?

Get a logo

If you want to build a personal brand people can easily identify, you’ll need a logo. It’ll be the visual representation of your brand so you have to pay close attention to how you’re going to make it. You can go simple or complicated, depending on your style and the people you want to connect with.

Logotypes are highly effective, despite being simple and plain at times. You can create your brand name and print it on your preferred typeface. This choice can save you time and money, especially if you don’t have enough moolah to spend on hiring a good designer.

While designing a logo used to be a costly and time-dependent process, logo makers have come a long way in recent years, and are rapidly overtaking humans as the go-to tools for creating affordable and eye-catching logos.

Be you

In creating a personal brand, it’s understandable why a lot of people work so hard to impress their target audience. After all, the more you impress them, the more they are likely to patronize your brand, right?

Well, that isn’t always the case.

You see, consumers prefer to see the real personality behind a brand. And if you come across as NOT authentic, they are likely to leave you. So, show your true personality. Use social media to bring forth an honest profile your consumers will be able to relate with.

Make friends online

When it comes to personal brands, having influencers around can be one of your greatest assets. These people can share your brand, stories and posts to their respective target audience and this can greatly extend your reach.

Apart from that, you should also be more active online. Join forums that are related to your niche and engage in online conversations that are relevant to your business. Create a personality that people trust. Take advantage of social media in making your presence felt online.

Meet friends offline

Although online influence is essential, you can’t just limit your connections within the boundaries of the Internet. Go out and actually meet people offline. Attend local events within your industry and start building friendships with everyone you meet. Expanding your circle and networking means expanding your influence.

Start a website

If you want to make a name online, there should be a place people can go to if they want to know more about you and your brand. This is where a website plays a major role, particularly the About Me page.

There are tons of tools you can use to create a decent website. You can get them for free or for a fee but make sure to get only what you’ll need. Purchasing complicated tools and not using them will only be a waste of resources.

Provide your consumers with value

Your personal brand should reflect the true you, but it shouldn’t be all about you. Instead, focus on your audience and what they really want. Create content not just to satisfy their needs but to keep them coming back for more.

Make sure to provide them with something unique so you can set yourself apart from your competitors. Research about what your readers are interested in and what products and services they are talking about more. Finding areas of unique perspective will put you one step ahead of the competition.

And don’t forget to be relevant. Be your consumers’ source of information and you’ll easily grow your authority in the industry.

Work consistently

Being consistent can take a lot of work and commitment but it’s one good way to ensure the growth of your personal brand. If you are inconsistent, you’re just likely to confuse and bore your audience to the point that they’ll look for something better.

Be focused

The initial stage of building a personal brand can be discouraging, especially if you only have a few followers. If you want to make it big, don’t focus on the number and pay more attention to your purpose.

Talk as if you are speaking to hundreds of people. Write as if the whole world is reading your content. You’ll be surprised with how this kind of dedication and focus can change your business.

See Also: Finding Out the Best Time for Posting on Social Media Sites

Learn how to say no

In your quest to establish authority, it’s likely that you’ll meet other people and businesses that’ll want to work with you. Before you actually agree, think first. Make sure those people and businesses are in line with your brand, vision, and personality.

Your work, as well as your actions, will reflect your brand so be careful in what you do and what decisions you make.

Just give it a go!

Although preparation is key, too much planning can get in the way of you actually starting. In fact, if you wait too long to get started, you may end up not starting at all.

So, don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you start. With your limited resources, start building authority, reach out to people and be consistent with your job. After all these things, success will surely follow.

In Summary

Building a personal branding isn’t that easy, particularly with so many people aspiring to create their own. If you want to be successful, you have to know exactly what you want to achieve.

Be you in creating your personal brand but remain relevant and focused on your consumers. Take advantage of technology and use tools that can make the process a lot easier. Be consistent and don’t wait too long before getting started.

 

The post 10 Proven Ways To Build Your Personal Branding in 2018 appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Uber suspends its service in the Philippines following ban over unregistered drivers

 Uber has suspended its services in Philippines after the national regulator banned it from operating for one month. The country’s Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ordered a cease and desist against the U.S. ride-hailing firm on Monday over its apparent flouting of a ban on new drivers. The company initially lodged an appeal and continued with its service,… Read More

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Increase Sales Leads With These Best Marketing Strategies

You’ve got big dreams for your business. Unfortunately, your budget is in the opposite direction. And if you think you’re alone in this dilemma- you’re not.

The majority of small companies are chartering the same waters. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s no way out. It just means you need to be smart if you want to outwit your bigger competitors.

The big-splash strategies of the Fortune 500 will not work for you as you don’t possess a whole floor of people to maneuver these tasks. You don’t have a Pepsi-size budget either.

But then again, you don’t have to.

The Rule of Thumb

The golden rule in business has always been knowing how to sell. You can build just about anything. But, if you can’t sell it, it won’t matter at all.

Sales are the life of every business. Without it, you’ll most likely fail. Finding out what works best for generating sales for your business is the key to success.

Strategize To Increase Your Sales

According to the US Small Business Administration, 54% of the total sales revenue in the US comes from small businesses. This, however, doesn’t ensure that making sales will be an easy task.

As a matter of fact, one-size-fits-all doesn’t apply when it comes to sales and business. For instance, flyer printing could be beneficial for your business, but it may not for others. Notwithstanding, there are simple yet effective strategies to increase sales that you can use to grow and develop your customer base.

To generate substantial sales, you need to depend on many factors. This includes your niche, location, and industry.

Below, are some of the best marketing strategies that you can use to make your business more prolific in the sales department.

Build Customer Relationship

There are numerous ways to increase sales that pop out on a regular basis. However, traditional approaches still work for modern businesses.

Building relationship with customers is no longer a new idea, but it stands the test of time because it works.

The best approach here is to build a personal relationship with your customers. Listen to their needs and do your best to satisfy them. You can even customize your product offers to meet their needs.

Of course, building customer relationships comes with a cost. Be prepared to invest your time, effort and resources into customer relationships.

See Also: 5 Effective Ways To Sound More Human Over A Customer Support Live Chat

Use the Power of Web

The traditional approach in business can generate sales, but you also need to utilize modern day technologies. The internet allows you to reach a bigger audience and communicate with them in distinct ways.

The approach that you need to make online business is different from what you would normally do in bricks-and-mortar style of business. It’s impossible to keep a personal relationship with each customer online due to the big numbers of potential buyers. But, you can create customer relationships using a sales page with clear contact information and outstanding customer service.

how to maintain a blog

Digital marketing, content marketing, and email marketing are just a few of the available avenues that you can use to maximize digital media.

Consider Print Advertising

It’s unarguable that digital media is a now a primary component of many marketing strategies. However, the age of brochure printing is still very much alive.  You shouldn’t disregard print advertising as it remains as one of the most efficient ways to build a credible reputation and customer awareness.

For instance, newspaper ads are advantageous in boosting engagement levels and growing your audience. Besides, the majority of newspapers are now using both digital and print versions of their papers. This means that your business gets double exposure when you use an integrated marketing campaign.

Prioritize Retention

According to the WASP Barcode Technologies State of Business Report in 2016, 43% of small business owners use retention as one of their strategies to upgrade growth of revenue.

The mechanism of retention is simple. You create contents for your existing customers. It will mean a closer partnership with customer service, too.

Go Where Your Audience Is

Choose your battles carefully. Don’t feel bad if you skip Snapchat with less than 50 audiences. You need to spend your resources on things that will benefit your business.

You just have to track where your target audience gathers online. Find out which social channel they love, what blogs and publication they read, which podcasts they follow and just about anything that deals with your audience.

Takeaway

Suffice to say, sales are the lifeblood of every business. When you know how to produce and track sales for your business, then you’re close to reaching your dreams.

Utilize your creativity and flexibility to get the results that you want even it means going back to your start-up roots. And as you go on your daily operations, keep upgrading your sales efforts as it’s a continuous process.

The post Increase Sales Leads With These Best Marketing Strategies appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Integrating User Experience Design and Internet Marketing Successfully

There was a time when having a website was the new thing in marketing. In 2010, there were just 255 million websites worldwide. That number nearly quadrupled to 966 million in just six years.

As a marketing professional, this trend tells me two things: websites are a major factor in strategy planning and websites have to deliver more in order to rise above the crowd.

At first glance, you might say that I have only to worry about the first and leave the second to website designers. However, website designers tend to focus more on how a website looks than how it works and that can be problematic for marketers when the website design has a negative impact on the user experience or UX.

As Steve Jobs said, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But, of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” That is exactly what it means to have a website with good user experience or UX.

A Marketing Approach to Your Site’s UX design

The UX was not always a big issue, which is why there is a divide between marketing and website design. People, back in the day, were more patient and willing to overlook a cumbersome website if they could get otherwise inaccessible information.

That is no longer the case today.

Now, users have higher expectations when it comes to website performance. Since they have a wider option of obtaining what they want from other sources, they are more likely to leave a site if it has a negative UX design.

The factors that influence website UX include accessibility (loading speed, working links), usability (navigation), findability (SEO), value (content relevance and credibility) and desirability (design and layout). When a website lacks one or more feature, it results in a negative UX.

How does this impact on marketing?

Well, consider that the average user in 2017 will wait only a few seconds for a page to load and about 80% of users are less likely to use a website with poor UX. This means fewer conversions and that’s not good from a marketing perspective.

Marketing and UX Pairing

The question then is how marketing can improve the UX. The answer is simple: the two sides have to work as a team.

Sales and marketing professionals routinely deal directly with people, unlike website designers. As such, they have an in-depth knowledge of what people want and need when they visit a particular site.

For example, if you sell clothes online, the people that go to your site need to buy clothes. How can you provide them with a solution to their problem? The answer is to make it easy for them to find what they want.

Marketing professionals can provide valuable insight into buying behavior and psychology, which may not make much sense to web designers. On the other hand, marketers have no idea of the principles behind website design. They may know how to sell but not how to present it to the user effectively.

In other words, marketing and UX design have to forge a working relationship. Below are some brilliant ways marketing and UX design can boost your site’s conversion rate together.

Coordinate marketing efforts

marketing campaign

One of the biggest challenges for many companies today is coordinating different marketing campaigns to benefit the company as a whole. One study shows that nearly two-thirds of companies identify marketing silos as a barrier to communications, productive and effective execution of a cohesive marketing strategy.

Collaboration with the UX design team can break down these silos and improve communications because it establishes a common ground to work on. Working with the UX design team makes any breakdown in communications among marketing glaringly apparent, so it necessitates agreement among them on major goals. When there is a cohesive message and approach, the UX design team can produce a better website. It’s a win-win situation.

Carry out user testing

Marketers may know people but, ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. UX design teams have access to information that reveals how users actually interact with the website through user testing tools. These provide valuable insights to marketers about what the users want so they can refine their marketing campaigns and maximize conversion.

This, in turn, will guide marketers on what they need the UX design team to fix on the website so that they can improve and create the ideal UX. This entails a certain measure of trial and error but it is a very effective method of designing the perfect website in the long term.

designing the perfect website

Unify campaigns across different channels

Websites often serve as the anchor for campaigns and the average company uses about eight different channels for their marketing efforts. While marketing strategies for each channel optimize user response, they don’t necessarily dovetail neatly into your conversion funnel.

You need to make sure your email campaign is in line with your mobile app so that they end up generating leads or sales for your company. The best way to do this is to design your website to be the pivot or hub for different channels so most of your leads can conveniently navigate across channels.

Actionable plans

Now that you know how marketing and UX can work and complement each other, your next step is to take action. Here’s how to do that:

Do initial research

Designing a site for a kick-ass UX all begins with gathering information about your user. You need to find out who they are, what they care about and where they come from. You also need to know how they spend their time before you can even think about your site design. Learning about your target audience is essential for success in developing your website UX. After all, it is the user experience.

Monitor users

Your initial user research will give you a good idea of how to design your website. However, until you take it out for a test drive, it is just an idea. Once your site goes up, you should monitor how users are actually interacting with your site and use tools to monitor and analyze their behavior.

Before you do that, take note of your own expectations on user behavior to serve as a benchmark for future observations. This will prevent you from “hindsight bias” and help you figure out gaps in your user research.

Do a survey

According to TermLife2Go, after you have observed your users and identified certain behaviors you want to understand, do a survey to get the answers from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Most of e-commerce websites are doing actionable plans to enhance users shopping experience. They send specific questions to ask why users bought an item or why they clicked on a certain option. Your intention is not to be nosy, but to increase your understanding of how your users think. That way, you can improve the website UX as well as your marketing campaigns.

Conclusion

A marketing approach to website UX is simply about integrating two important elements of your conversion funnel. If you can manage to do this successfully, it will maximize your marketing efforts to an incredible degree.

See Also: The 5 Internet Marketing Trends That Will Dominate in 2017

 

The post Integrating User Experience Design and Internet Marketing Successfully appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Amazon under investigation for violating Iran sanctions

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Turns out when you sell a lot of stuff to a lot of people, you sometimes, maybe violate international sanctions. 

#AmazonProblems

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, the company said it is under investigation for selling around $34,000 of music, clothes, electronics, jewelry, books, office supplies, and other items to an Iranian embassy and others connected to the Iranian government since the start of 2012. 

The sales may have violated United States sanctions against Iran that prevent sales to certain Iranians associated with that nation’s government.  Read more…

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New York property speculators have figured out how to evict everyone

New York’s catastrophic homelessness is about to get much, much worse: the skyrocketing property values (driven by speculators who buy apartments in order to get their money out of corrupt and failing states abroad, leaving them empty with the understanding that they can be cashed out on short notice, thanks to the white-hot market of other money-launderers) have attracted very deep-pocketed, anonymous hedge-funds that are snapping up buildings with rent-stabilized and rent-controlled units, who use a ruthless set of highly refined tactics to kick out all their tenants and then flip the building.
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How To Fail-Proof Your Business From The Beginning

Building a business from the ground up is not easy. There’s a whole culture surrounding startups these days and you’ll often hear about the “lean startup” or how you only need to work 2 hours on your business and still make money. The reality is, you’re very likely going to be working a lot more than two hours a week for a very long time, and even then you aren’t guaranteed success.

One of the hardest lessons in life is that you can do everything right and still fail. Nowhere is this more evident than in the failure rates of small businesses in the United States. Approximately 20% will fail before their first year, more than a third will fail before two years, half will fail by year 5, and 70% will fail by year 10.

Sometimes the circumstances are truly out of your control, but there are still a lot of things you can do to fail-proof your business before you even get started.

Make A Business Plan

business plan

Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail, as the old saying goes. And, apparently, it’s one of the most common reasons why businesses fail.

You shouldn’t just be picking out office furniture and paint colors during the planning phase. In fact, those things should come later.

Primarily, you need to plan what kind of business will do well, where it will thrive and who would be the best people to help you run it. Among the things you should consider carefully are the following points:

Location: Are you in a location where there is an abundance of talent, relatively low business taxes, enough infrastructure for your needs and room for business growth?

Competition: Can you withstand the competition or are you in a sector that is highly competitive when it comes to market share?

Team: Are you choosing the right people for the job or just taking anyone with a resume and a pulse?

Cash Flow Management: Can you deal with the ups and downs of cash flow when customers don’t pay you and you still have to pay rent?

Flexibility: Are you able to turn on a dime if you catch a hint of a shifting market?

The above is where most businesses fail and thinking about how to mitigate these problems at the outset is the first step in building a business that lasts.

See Also: How Awareness In Business Can Predict Your Future Success

Know Your Strengths, But Also Know The Strengths Of Your Community Or Sector

business location

Four of the top five worst places to start a business in the United States are in California, Stockton, Modesto, San Bernadino and Santa Rosa and it’s because of the high poverty rate and low education in the areas.

If you are in any one of these places, you have to carefully plan your business strategy.

Location is important, but so is industry. Healthcare is one of the most successful types of businesses to start while construction and transportation are some of the worst.

Does your town have good infrastructure? It’s going to be hard to start a tech business if you’re somewhere that still uses dial up. Shipping things out? Hope you have access to a major shipping company hub, like UPS Worldport in Louisville, Kentucky.

Having access to top talent is another concern when you are starting a business. If you are starting a business in a place that doesn’t have a university, you’re likely to starve for talent as your company grows. If you’re setting up shop in a place with high poverty, chances are the folks who need jobs the most aren’t going to have the education needed.

Take a look around as you are planning your business and determine what industry would fit your location. Don’t be afraid to move if you can’t get what you need in your current community.

See Also: 4 Key Ideas To Help Your Passion-fuelled Business Take Off Fast!

Businesses Fail Frequently, But Yours Doesn’t Have To

A little extra planning can go a long way when starting a business. Learn more about why businesses fail from this infographic and then do a serious audit of your business plan or current business.

Have you built something that can last or something that will barely survive the next major market shift? Is your team up to snuff? You owe it to your business to ask the hard questions.

Source

WhyBusinessesFail

 

The post How To Fail-Proof Your Business From The Beginning appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Ed Sheeran cracks down on ticket scalpers to save his fans money

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Ed Sheeran may have found a way to redeem himself for his dud of a cameo in this week’s Game of Thrones.

The singer has cancelled 10,000 of the tickets to his forthcoming London shows next June to prevent ticket resale sites from turning them around at massively inflated prices.

Third-party dealers had reportedly been selling the affected tickets at prices of as much as eight times the face value, which was between £49 ($64) and £88 ($115). One pair of seats was even rumored to have been listed at a whopping £174,000 ($227,700).   Read more…

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Stripe adds support for Alipay and WeChat Pay, China’s top digital payment services

 Payment enabler Stripe just announced two significant tie-ins that could help its pool of merchants make money from consumers in China. U.S. firm Stripe said today that it has agreed to global deals with Alipay and WeChat Pay, two digital services that dominate consumer spending in China. Alipay, which is managed by Alibaba affiliate firm Ant Financial, counts over 500 million users, while… Read More

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AT&T: it's not “forced arbitration” because no one forced you to have broadband

AT&T, which has successfully lobbied state governments and the FCC to ban any broadband competition in the markets where it operates, says that its forced arbitration “agreements” aren’t really forced, because people in the markets it serves could just not use the internet.
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This ethereum-based project could change how we think about digital art

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Someone owns this picture.

Image: Cryptopunk

No, not the copyright to the picture. They own the picture itself. You can, of course, download a version, but that’s just a copy. Someone owns the original. It is art, and it has an owner.

What does that mean in the digital age? That’s what the guys at Larva Labs want to find out.

The image above is just one of 10,000 pieces of art released last week as part of an experiment called CryptoPunks. What makes this project unique is that each image is tied to a piece of computer code on the blockchain-based Ethereum platform. That means the owner of each piece of art is clear—and that ownership can be transferred.  Read more…

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5 Tips to Stop Wasting Money on Substandard Services When Outsourcing

Outsourcing jobs is a great way to solve problems at work. It can help you deal with heavy work overload, time sensitive deadlines, lack of work competence or having inadequate workforce at a given time.

However, it is still not as ideal as it sounds, especially with all its potential risks. This includes hiring incompetent freelancers or competent freelancers that overcharge their services.

It is in your best interest to avoid both of these scenarios and the following article will help you do so. Here we will provide four tips on how to avoid wasting money on substandard services when outsourcing jobs.

Plan for what is needed

outsourcing plan

The best way to avoid unnecessary expenses is to have a well-laid-out plan for your freelancers. The more specific you are, the better.

First of all, the people you collaborate with are not mind readers. Since you communicate via emails, it’s easy for a project to lose its track due to the lack of necessary information.

Moreover, if you fail to provide detailed information, you risk getting a project that meets your demands but lacks in quality. So, give them online samples of the level of quality you expect to see. Try to be specific about what you do not want to see.

This way, you will be fully covered when asking for a refund if the demands are not met. Moreover, freelancers who lack the competence to meet those demands will back off.

Ask for previous work samples

When you are hiring someone, it is imperative that you go over their portfolio.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell from someone’s portfolio if he can fill in your specific task. So, for that reason, it would be best to ask freelancers if they have a previous work sample of something that is similar to what you are going to ask for.

Maintain communication

maintain communication

Once you select your freelancers and award them the project, it is important that you maintain communication. As we said, you are not sharing the same working space.

If the project is delicate, it would be wise to organize a Skype call. You can also ask to receive screenshots of how your project is going. This way, you can correct any inconsistencies immediately. You’ll be able to see in advance if you have made the right call, too.

Get a referral or test potential candidates

Lastly, if you are not sure in the expertise of your potential candidates, you can test them out. You can also ask for referrals from other trusted users in the same niche as you. You can do the testing if you are down to two or three potential candidates so it won’t cost you a lot.

Focus on these traits

If you want a reliable outsourcing partner, then you need to have a clear list of their purpose. If they can meet these standards, you can count on them.

> Positive results – The Company can help you increase your customer satisfaction and decrease production costs within the desired time frame.

> Compatibility – The Company should share common goals and values as your company. They need to be performance centric, care about their clients and community and use same methods for managing the company.

> Innovative – You need a company that can greatly contribute to your business and that can perform on their own without the constant need for monitoring. They should help you modernize your business regarding technology, equipment, etc.

See Also: How Cloud Technology Can Help Your Business Grow

> Flexibility – You need a company that can adapt to your standards and provide you with a personalized service to meet your demands. They need to consider your needs as a priority and you need to adequately reward them for their devotion.

> Adaptable management – You need a company that can respond quickly and adapt to changes without sacrificing the quality of the end results. In other words, it needs to have a reliable management team as well as competent staff.

> Benchmarking – You are going to know the outsourcing solution is reliable if they can provide you with evidence explaining that you are receiving a high-quality service. They need to create new growth potential and offer measurable success in the field of employee and client satisfaction.

> Resourceful – They need to continuously deliver in-depth content that is innovative and that fits your needs and demands.

> Constant quality improvement – With continuous collaboration, the quality and the performance of your outsourcing solution should improve. Basically, you need a company that can keep up with you. They need to work on their own staff and provide new and comprehensive training courses for their employees in order to achieve these results.

Conclusion

We hope you will end up with an outsourcing agency or freelancer you can trust and collaborate on numerous other projects in the future. Once you find a competent outsourcing company, it will be far easier to handle projects in the future.

See Also: A Practical Guide to Hiring and Managing Freelancers

The post 5 Tips to Stop Wasting Money on Substandard Services When Outsourcing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Time-tracking startup Timeular raises $1.1M to help you work smarter

 Timeular, the Austrian startup behind the neat Zei time-tracking device that we wrote about last year, has raised €1 million ($1.1 million) in funding to develop new productivity coaching tools to help you work smarter. The company is best known for the Zei, its eight-sided device that is Bluetooth-enabled and acts as a timer. You simply program each side to a different task and tip it… Read More

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Japan passes law legalizing Airbnb and other sharing economy rentals

 There’s good news for Airbnb in Japan where the government has approved legislation that legalizes its service, and others like it, in the country. The law, which was passed by Japan’s upper house on Friday, will allow home-owners to let out their property to paying guests for up to 180 days per year. They are subject to registering with local authorities who, in turn, have license… Read More

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9 Smart Investments to Improve Your Rental Properties

Owning a rental property can be a lot of work but wise management can keep it profitable for years to come. Whether you’re new to the game or an old veteran, these 6 modern features can increase property value as well as make it more comfortable for residents.

1. Wi-Fi

If your rental property doesn’t have Wi-Fi yet, better install it quick. Wi-Fi has become the standard for homes and businesses and if you want to stay marketable, a strong Wi-Fi signal is a must.

However, partnering with a low-quality Internet service can actually hurt, rather than help, your marketability.

Here are the top 10 service providers of 2017, according to Top Ten Reviews:Top Ten Reviews:

1. Comcast
2. Time Warner Cable
3. Verizon
4. AT&T
5. Cox
6. Charter
7. Suddenlink
8. Cable One
9. CenturyLink
10. Frontier

2. Solar-Powered Water Heater

Conventional natural gas or electric water heaters can be a substantial monthly expense. More importantly, they can make up a big part of your carbon footprint, too. Investing in a solar-powered heater is a one-time outlay that saves on both money and pollutant emissions.

Photo credit: thegreenmanproject.com

3. Home Automation

If you’re installing a solar-powered water heater, why not go one step further with home automation? Home automation devices like smart thermostats, smart lighting and smart HVAC can save energy, reduce a home’s carbon footprint and boost property value.

4. Home Surveillance

Home security systems, like those offered by ADT, Frontpoint and Armorax, should be next on your list of value-boosting property enhancements. With features like cameras, motion sensors, alarms, 24-hour surveillance and easy-to-use controls, they can protect your buyer and your reputation.

As you compare companies, keep in mind that although quality comes with a price, it pays in the long run.

See Also: 8 Sharp-witted Ways To Protect Your Rental Homes

5. Smart Doorbell

A doorbell may not be the first investment that comes to your mind, but have you heard of smart doorbells?

They’re the new peephole, allowing residents to discreetly view visitors while remaining hidden. Some smart doorbells also offer a monitoring feature so you can see a visitor before they even reach the door. Although small, these nifty devices can also boost property value.

Photo credit: securitysales.com

6. Central Air Conditioning

If your property does not already have central air, it’s time to get that installed. This will not only make your tenants’ lives more comfortable but it can also save energy costs in the long run.

Central air systems cost roughly $0.30 to $0.50 per hour at $0.10 kWh. For comparison, one window unit costs $0.11 to $0.75 per hour, depending on the size of the room being cooled. Keep in mind that most properties need more than one window unit to stay cool.

7. Water Softener

If your property is in an area with hard water, invest in a water softener. Hard water can create mineral buildups in pipes and appliances, like washing machines, dishwashers, and hot water heaters. Eventually, this can substantially reduce performance and lifespan in these appliances, forcing you to pay for repairs or even replacement sooner than necessary.

Having a water softener improves your property’s appraisal value and, as an added benefit, can prevent unsightly deposits on faucets, shower doors, etc.

8. Landscaping

If yard maintenance is not part of your tenant’s rental contract, then the responsibility of keeping the place looking nice falls to you as the landlord. Rental properties with curb appeal are worth more as well as they are better able to attract tenants when you have a vacancy.

Key areas to pay attention include:

  • Weeding flower beds/around shrubs
  • Mowing and watering the lawn
  • Trimming trees and shrubs
  • Raking fallen leaves in fall
  • Clearing snow from driveway/sidewalks

revamp garden

 

Landscaping is one area that can trap you into wasting money. Take care not to go overboard. Additions like ponds, fountains, and even swimming pools cost more than they are worth.

9. Renovations

Are your rental’s appliances getting old? Are the carpets looking shabby? Has the paint lost its pristine glow?

A renovation is an old trick of the trade, but not one to be forgotten. Updating the kitchens and bathrooms is a big one and it can provide about 80% ROI. The right changes can’t only improve property value but also attract higher-income tenants.

Conclusion

As you manage your rental properties, don’t forget that your renters always come first. Take care of them and you will have stable profits for years to come.

The post 9 Smart Investments to Improve Your Rental Properties appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Universal basic income experiments are popping up all over Europe

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More Europeans are about to get some free money in the name of economics research.

The European Union is funding a new universal basic income experiment in Barcelona alongside similar tests in Helsinki and the Dutch city of Ultrecht.

Around 1,000 low-income households in one of the city’s poorest districts will be randomly selected to receive monthly payments of between €400 ($450) and €525 ($590) for two years. All told, the three programs will cost the EU €13 million ($14.7 million).

The study is the latest in a series of research efforts launched across the globe in recent months to put the policy to the test in a real-world setting.   Read more…

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Burger King upsets actual king with Belgian ad

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The king of Belgium is apparently not amused by his appearance in a recent Burger King ad.

The country’s royal family contacted the fast food chain this weekend over an online ad that asks people to choose between its mascot and a cartoon image of King Philippe, the BBC reports.

A spokesperson for the family told the network that the company isn’t allowed to use the monarch’s likeness without their approval.

As of Saturday evening, the ad remained live at the domain whoistheking.be

Visitors who vote for the real-life king are prompted to reconsider. Read more…

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10 Questions To Ask Your Commercial Agent When Leasing Office Space

When it comes to renting office space, you can never be too careful when signing a lease. Failure to do your due diligence can lead to problems. For instance, the wrong space can hurt your business if it’s difficult for your clients to access your building or if you don’t have the amenities they require.

To minimize the chances of these and other disasters occurring, consider taking benefits from professional property management and asking your commercial property managing agent the following questions:

What happens if the space isn’t ready by the expected move-in date?

Unless your office is ready, you can’t be sure that there won’t be any more problems. To avoid last minute problems, you should double check if your lease is clear about what can happen if your office space isn’t ready by the move-in date.

Read the fine print carefully. Watch out for any clauses that say your landlord can place you in a different office space within the building if your designated area is not yet ready by your moving in date. Being forced to occupy a temporary space will only magnify the costs and other issues associated with moving.

Does the lease come with an option to renew?

After your lease expires, the landlord is under no legal obligation to offer the same space to you – unless there’s a renewal clause in your lease. This guarantees that you will have first dibs on the space when the lease expires.

Will the landlord take on the cost of changes (like new carpet, special electrical needs, etc)?

new carpet

You will probably want to modify and update your new office space to meet your business’ specific requirements. In most cases, you will be responsible for these costs. But, there are some landlords who are willing to amortize the costs over the term of the lease so make sure to ask.

See Also: How Often Does A Landlord Have To Replace Carpet Or Repaint In Rental Unit?

How much traffic does the area get?

office space traffic

Is your building in a central location that’s close to train stations and airports to accommodate heavy business travelers or out of town clients? Depending on your business type, this may help determine the amount of traffic that you will receive. The agent should have information about community demographics, car counts and other essential statistics available.

Do you have “right of first refusal” if the space next to yours becomes vacant?

There are some instances when a tenant is faced with unexpected growth and, when that happens, there are some landlords that will move you to a larger space with no penalty. If there is a “right to refusal” clause in your lease, it will ensure that you get first dibs if any adjacent spaces become vacant.

Is it possible to secure a non-compete clause so that a competitor cannot open up shop in your center or building?

When renting office space, it’s a good idea to consider your business’ security first. Having a competitor in close distance can spell disaster for your business so check if there are zoning laws in place to protect your company. You can try to include a clause in the contract that forbids your landlord from leasing nearby office space to direct competitors. 

Is it possible to enter into a CAM Stop Lease?

A lot of leases today are triple net. For example, you’ll be responsible for paying the rent as well as a share of the property taxes and CAM fees for the property.

A Cam Stop Lease will ensure that you are only responsible for the increase in property taxes and CAM fees above your initial base year. You may also want to ask for a cap on the CAM so that it won’t increase by more than a certain percentage.

What happens if a major system (like electrical, plumbing, or HVAC) fails?

Agreements about repairs and renovations should be in writing and, in the best case scenario, come complete with a detailed floor plan and a cost estimate from a reputable contractor. But, it’s important to note that this standard is different from property to property.

Who is responsible for insurance?

When signing a lease for an office space, we tend to skip over insurance. And, as a result, a lot of buildings, especially those with several tenants, are coverable by insurance policies that are inadequate in some respects and overlap in others. Thus, if a major disaster occurs, like a fire, it can take years for the various insurance companies involved to check out the claims and decide where coverage begins and ends.

Will the office space meet your technology needs?

Most commercial properties offer tenants networking options like T1s, fiber, DSL and Cable. If your business will require a ton of bandwidth to successfully operate, make sure that the property has the infrastructure to support your needs.

Moving to a new commercial space can be a hassle. But, if you ask your commercial agent the aforementioned questions, it can take a lot of the headache out of the process. Good luck!

See Also: One Size Doesn’t Fit All: How Office Space Caters To Each Stage Of A Business Journey

 

The post 10 Questions To Ask Your Commercial Agent When Leasing Office Space appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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DeepGraph feeds enterprise sales teams with hyper-targeted warm leads

 The best way to grow sales is to better understand sales, but unfortunately that’s often easier said than done. Kemvi, a seed-stage startup, is launching out of stealth today to announce DeepGraph, which helps sales teams reach the right potential customers at the right time. The company has closed north of $1 million in seed financing from Seabed VC, Neotribe Ventures, Kepha… Read More

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U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly investigating Uber’s controversial ‘Greyball’ program

 It looks like there’s more trouble round the corner for Uber. Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into the company’s controversial “greyball program” which helped it sidestep law enforcement officials and regulators. The existence of the program was made public in early March following an explosive report from The… Read More

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Ads will target your emotions and there's nothing you can do about it

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If you’re happy and you know it, you might be interested in buying these products. 

With everything about consumers now tracked online, it comes as little surprise that emotions have recently popped up as a quiet — and rather creepy — way for advertisers to target you. 

Over the weekend, The Australian revealed that Facebook’s ad targeting tools may be able to prey on teen insecurities. It’s the sort of story that weds traditional advertising’s worst tendencies with the creepy omnipotence of its modern form in a way that makes one wonder if Facebook is actively cribbing ideas from episodes of Black Mirror.   Read more…

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Visual Tools To Boost Your Productivity At Work

Did you know that you can only be productive for about 3 hours in an 8-hour work day?

One good reason is the limited concentration of humans. Aside from that, there are other factors that can eat up your time at work. Just think about meetings, lunch breaks and having small chats with your co-workers.

If you aren’t careful, those 3 hours of productivity can easily go down the drain.

While there are plenty of methods and tools which you can use to organize your work and enhance your focus, not all of them are effective in generating positive results.

Increasing Productivity Through Visualization

Human beings are visual learners. In fact, they can process visuals 60,000x faster than text. This is why a visual tool can truly boost your productivity, especially when you need to organize your work and increase your focus.

But, first, why would visual methods or tools work better?

A tool or a method that is based on visualization has the power to engage both sides of the human brain. Such tools require the skills of the left brain for letters, sequences, lines and numbers as well as the right brain for color, spatial awareness, image and rhythm. This does not only enhance the thinking process, but it also stimulates creativity.

To help streamline your work and increase your productivity, you can use the following visual tools.

Mind Maps

From Northwestern University

A mind map is a tool that you can use to visualize an idea that is sprouting in your head. It provides a framework for gradually developing a concept or a strategy.

At the center of the mind map, you put down the main idea and, as you develop it, you can add the related information on the branches that fork out from the center.

A comprehensive mind map makes it easier to identify and analyze links between details that make up the concept. It is a great tool to use when planning out a strategy, event or a project.  Use a mind map to schedule your day at work first thing in the morning, and you’ll see how it helps you estimate and organize your work properly.

Flowcharts

With a flowchart, you can graphically illustrate the sequence of steps in a process, be it the hiring, sales or the manufacturing process.

How does this help you increase your productivity?

Imagine you are working on developing a new sales process. With the use of a flowchart, you can easily picture how it should work out as well as identify the areas that need more careful planning. Plus, when it comes to pitching your idea to your team or seniors, a flowchart can explain at a glance what you will have to explain in a thousand words.

Flowcharts are also an effective decision-making and problem-solving tool.

See Also: 5 Key Steps That Will Improve Your Decision Making

Gantt Charts

A Gantt chart is a project planning tool. It helps a team visualize the project schedule and monitor and record the progress you make. It can also be useful when allocating resources or setting up deadlines.

A comprehensive Gantt chart provides you a quick overview of all the important details of a project, such as the due dates, task names and those who are in charge of them. When estimating your tasks and tracking their progress, a Gantt chart could be a handy productivity tool.

Organizational Charts

Traditionally, this type of chart is used to graphically illustrate the structure of an organization. While it illustrates job titles and responsibilities, it can also clear the reporting structure within or between departments. It can also be used to identify ideal employees when allocating resources and help new employees in understanding company hierarchies and departments better.

Fishbone Diagrams

Fishbone diagrams (a.k.a. cause-and-effect diagrams) help identify the root cause of an issue. It can be considered as a visual problem-solving technique. Drawn like a bone of a fish, the head of the fish represents the issue that needs to be solved. The bones, one the other hand, can be used to jot down the potential causes.

A fishbone diagram can be considered as a time-saving tool when used to structure a brainstorming session or a thorough analysis of an issue.

See Also: 55 Bulletproof Productivity Hacks 

The right work strategy can help you improve your output by 25% and, with the right tools, you can definitely further the outcome.

How to Increase Workplace Productivity through Visualization

Created with Creately.

 

The post Visual Tools To Boost Your Productivity At Work appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Venmo is still growing like crazy

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Venmo’s rapid growth isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

As mobile payments as a whole struggle to gain widespread traction, the amount of money exchanged on the Paypal-owned app doubled last quarter from the same period last year.

The app’s total transaction volume reached $6.8 billion in the last three months, according to Paypal’s earnings call Wednesday.

Paypal had an otherwise rosy quarter as well, reporting one of its best performances since splitting from Ebay two years ago. 

Venmo is also starting to answer some nagging questions analysts have had about its future — namely, how will it make money? Read more…

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