• 5 ways to attract the right new hires in 2014

    If you’ve ever made a hiring mistake—and who hasn’t?—you know the consequences can be painful. Many of them—including the estimate that a bad fit for even the lowest paid job will cost an employer $25,000—are presented in a National Business Research Institute infographic. And a widely cited statistic attributed to the U.S. Department of Labor, which has long offered employers guidance on good hiring practices, puts the cost of a bad hire at 30 percent of the employee’s potential annual salary.

    Of course, the smaller your business, the tougher those costs are to absorb. And those estimates don’t even account for damage to employee morale, community relations, and customer satisfaction.

    In a LinkedIn blog post, HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes recently offered his tips for avoiding making a bad hire. And Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once revealed to Fast Company that one of his strategies for weeding out misfits and “people who are just there for the paycheck” is to offer a $2,000 bonus to anyone who’d

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  • Sharam Fouladgar MercerStreaming live on Yahoo Small Business Advisor’s Young Entrepreneur blog AirPR CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer will answer questions from readers at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) Thursday, December 12th. As part of the Young Entrepreneur Council’s #StartupLab initiative, a virtual mentorship program, Sharam will appear live via video chat broadcast right here.

    Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer is the CEO of AirPR, a company he co-founded in 2011. He was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Shasta Ventures focused on consumer internet and the social graph. Prior to joining Shasta, Sharam was a Senior Associate at Sierra Ventures focused on consumer internet, enterprise software (cloud computing / virtualization), and mobile. He served as a Board Observer at Makara (sold to RedHat) and TouchCommerce. Sharam began his career as a technologist at Appian, a BPM software startup where he managed the first enterprise wide tracking system for the Department of Homeland Security. Sharam graduated with honors with a BS in

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  • Leo Grand’s story might be the best thing you will hear this year at Christmas, a real-life version of "It's a Wonderful Life."

    Better yet, if we all work together we can create an incredible ending for this story. We can help a homeless man get off the streets and back on his feet. We can, in fact, give Leo Grand the best Christmas ever.

    The story goes like this. Leo Grand used to work at MetLife, but in 2011 he got laid off and had to move out of his apartment. He was living on the streets.

    Back in August, an idealistic young software programmer named Patrick McConlogue made Leo Grand an offer — take $100 in cash, or get lessons in how to write software code.

    Grand chose the lessons. McConlogue bought Grand a few books on computer programming, and a Chromebook. They met every weekday for an hour each day. They did this for 16 weeks.

    McConlogue is 23, a recent graduate from Pepperdine University who moved to New York last fall. A lot of people made fun of him (see here and here) and called

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  • Survey: 2014 tech plans may be surprising. Facebook, Twitter dominate

    When it comes to using the latest technologies to save money, increase revenues, and increase efficiency, do you know where your business stands in relation to other small operations? Results of a new survey might put things into perspective.

    Are you one of only 30 percent who are Facebook holdouts? Are you among the 40 percent who still aren’t realizing at least some annual savings from cloud services? Those figures come from Los Angeles Internet services provider j2Global, which polled more than 1,500 of its small business customers last month in order to extrapolate trends in mobile usage and 2014 business expectations.

    To be sure, customers of j2Global, which owns the Ziff Davis and IGN digital media brands, are likely more technologically astute than most. J2’s eFax, eVoice, and Campaigner products are all cloud-based services that let customers complete tasks such as sending a fax without a fax machine, receiving office voicemails via text on a mobile phone, or designing and

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  • As a business person looking to maximize on it social media endeavors, the top goal will be to get people viewing your posts. This you will do by updating constantly and sharing the latest informative content. However, not every one of your posts will be seen by your audience. Even with your best efforts, some of your posts will pass by unnoticed.

    How can you remedy that?

    Thanks to research by the Pew Research Center, we have some information as to how you can maximize visibility for each of your posts. The research mainly pertains to how Facebook users consume information, but can be viewed generally as to how online users respond to posts and news events posted on other online mediums.

    For your benefit, we’ve culled the relevant stats which we’ll share, then give you three ways to maximize the effects of your posts.

    By the numbers

    Social media is changing the way people get information from their favorite brands, and how audiences respond to such information. Most importantly, in relation

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  • Making the most of Pinterest

    While Facebook and Twitter are the heavy hitters of social media for business, there are lots of other possibilities, from LinkedIn to Google+ to Pinterest. Each has its own uses as well as foibles and quirks as a social platform for business. But Pinterest stands out as especially valuable for any business where visuals count heavily. Studies have shown that in some areas Pinterest results in much higher rates of lead generation and sales.

    So how to make use of Pinterest?

    This infographic from Launch Grow Joy should give you some ideas.

    142 board ideas for entrepreneurs

    You can see the original here - or click on the image above to make it larger.

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  • As chief technology officer at Huffington Post, Paul Berry led the development of a piece of software that played a huge role in that site’s success — its content management system. HuffPost gained an edge on others in online publishing with a CMS that was “one of the best and most advanced systems on the Internet," as I wrote in Newsweek in 2010. HuffPost’s system was especially advanced when it came to social media and SEO.

    Now Berry seems to have created a second hit program, with RebelMouse, a next-generation publishing platform that is catching on in a huge way with big brands and marketers. And not just any marketers, but the really smart ones, like Beth Comstock, the CMO of GE, and Bonin Bough, the consumer engagement guru at Mondelez. Bough, in fact, recently said he’d like to stop building websites and rely instead on RebelMouse. Others signing on include Pepsi, Adidas, MTV, Patagonia, Red Bull and Burger King.

    "Over the last couple of years GE has connected with millions of
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  • Make a New Year’s Resolution to Improve Your Web Presence


    In 2013, as many as half of all small business still do not have a website. As more and more consumers move to searching for services and making purchases with their mobile devices, it’s time for many business to make a move toward online before they get left behind.

    If you’ve resolved to improve your web or mobile presence in 2014, congratulations. Now, do you know where to start?

    If you’re unfamiliar with the many options and the technical lingo, figuring out what you want and how to ask for it can be a major challenge, says Michael LaVista, founder and CEO of Caxy Interactive.

    LaVista’s Chicago-based company offers custom web development and expertise in content management, e-commerce, Flash development, database development, and custom web applications. He recommends starting out by asking yourself a few questions about your current online presence:

    • Do you have a clear brand strategy for executing across different platforms and media? Will customers experience your brand online in a
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  • David Gardner, ColorJar Founder, answers questions via live chat

    Here are the highlights from the live chat with David Gardner.

    David Gardner is the Co-Founder of ColorJar, a digital agency that specializes in positioning strategy and creating custom websites and apps. David was honored at the White House in 2011 as one of the Empact100 'Top 100 Entrepreneurs Under 30 Years Old'. In 2013, David was elected a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. He is a mentor for Tech Stars Chicago and Impact Engine and speaks nationally on positioning strategy and entrepreneurship at places like Google, IBM, Notre Dame, and C-E-O. He previously founded an India-based startup that received an acquisition offer from AOL. David was an All-Ivy League basketball player and two-time team MVP for Dartmouth, and went on to play professionally in Germany.

    The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship

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  • Ooma puts some oomph in phone systems for small business

    Ooma Call LogOne of the few universal requirements for a small business is a phone system – or at least some way for customers to call you. Without it any business is cutting off the single most used way for potential customers (and thus potential revenue) to reach your business.

    Until recently, small business options have been limited to three basic choices. The simplest is to just use your personal phone systems for your business (home phone or mobile phone). This is fine if you are a one person business with no plan to grow further and if you are fully capable of separating your business and personal life.  The second option – and the one used by most businesses - is to call the local phone company and get business service at a minimum cost of $35 a month or so plus paying for equipment and for any additional service (long distance typically is not included in basic business plans). The third option is one of the newer VoIP business plans that is based in the cloud (essentially all operated and

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