• 4 Takeaways from a Crash Course for Entrepreneurs

    New business books come across my desk every week, sent by publishers seeking Yahoo coverage for their authors. It’s impossible to review each one, but a title that promises to teach what you need about management in 2 hours is hard to resist.

    The paperback by three seasoned Florida entrepreneurs, “Managing Your Business,” is part of a new 5-volume “Crash Course for Entrepreneurs” that includes titles on starting a business, sales and marketing, business law, and finance basics. To be accurate, we’re talking 2 hours to power through each 160-page book in the series—10 hours to learn the basics. And, of course, the authors concede, “there’s much more to learn about each topic than the books can cover.” But the set, they say, is designed to provide any would-be entrepreneur with “a framework” for running a company.

    Just what can you learn about managing your business in 2 hours? How to create a vibrant office culture, how to make meetings work, how to spend wisely, and how to hire and

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  • Challenges Will Hamper Mobile Payment Uptake, Analyst Predicts

    challenges hamper mobile paymentsConsidering our recent report on data showing that two in three consumers abort smartphone or tablet purchases due to checkout snags, and that consumers abandon mobile shopping carts more than 90 percent of the time, Yahoo Small Business readers won’t be surprised to hear that global technology analyst Ovum predicts low consumer uptake and usage of m-payment and digital wallet services in 2014.

    Based on its 2013 Consumer Insights Survey of 15,123 consumers across 15 countries Ovum predictson-going challenges around the business model for digital wallet services” and says “consumers will lean most towards services associated with financial brands.” Specifically, 43 percent of survey respondents consider banks the most trusted m-payments service provider, followed by credit card companies (13 percent), online payment providers (9 percent) and then mobile operators (6 percent).

    According to Eden Zoller, principal analyst with Ovum’s Consumer Practice, and author of its 2014 Trends to

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  • Personal Brand

    I understand the importance of visibility. As a small business owner, being “known” can be the difference between a steady flow of revenue or closing your doors. Yet, being visible is not enough. Being remembered is most important and means you occupy some prime real estate in the mind of someone. Garnering “share of mind” means that somewhere along the way they sampled your character and competence and you became memorable.

    Marketing, by definition, is creating an exchange environment. For an individual, that could mean exchanging a referral, speaking positively on your behalf, a promotion or an introduction. Branding, by definition, is an emotion or image tied to a product.

    You are the product.

    Even in businesses, people are the brand and define the company, more than any mere mission statement hanging in the lobby. So, how does an individual create “buzz” for their brand for visibility and more importantly to be remembered so that they can develop credibility?

    1. Know what makes you

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  • 4 Financial Tips from a Community Banker

    Entrepreneur Ken LaRoe had been in the banking industry for more than 15 years when he founded First Green Bank in Mt. Dora, Fla., in 2009. With a mission to promote positive environmental and social responsibility while operating as a traditional community bank, LaRoe says First Green has made loans to a solar-powered catfish farm, an organic blueberry farm, numerous medical practices, and many other small business in Lake County, Fla.

    LaRoe calls his community bank the first “values based financial institution” in the eastern U.S., and one of a breed that he hopes to see expand. Small business owners stand to benefit, he says.

    On the whole, LaRoe says, the shrinking banking industry has been bad for small business. He points to a Wall Street Journal report that revealed that the number of banks in the U.S. dropped below 7,000 last month, from a high of over 18,000, for the first time since the FDIC was formed in 1934.

    Ken LaRoe, CEO of First Green Bank

    Though it wasn’t the small community banks that crushed the

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  • Goals

    New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for personal improvement. For businesses, the New Year is an opportunity to set goals, both big and small. But what’s even more important than the resolutions is the ability to follow through.

    Set goals. Goals provide accountability and help gauge the necessary efforts to achieve results. Set a long-term, overarching goal, but also set smaller, more manageable goals that you can review on a weekly or monthly basis. This is where follow-through comes into play.

    As a business owner, at the end of the month or fiscal year, ask yourself if you are meeting the goals set at the beginning of 2014. If so, great; keep going and keep improving! If not, reevaluate and continue to strive for those ultimate goals, so 2014 is great and 2015 is even better.

    Here are three goals some businesses set in 2014:

    Rebrand the company. This is a big change and certainly doesn’t apply to all businesses, but for those who choose to rebrand, the move can breathe new life into a

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  • Hubspot tool a boon for ‘blogger’s block’

    Hubspot, the hot online marketing platform has created a fun little toy that actually could be useful for any regular bloggers stuck with a deadline and a content requirement but suddenly without any ideas. The tool, called the 'Blog Topic Generator' could just as easily be called the blog title generator since that is what it does. Given a few nouns to use as seeds from which to grow possible ideas it kicks out five suggested blog post titles for you to use.

    Here's an example. I seeded the tool with the nouns 'small business', 'sales' and 'startups'.

    The tool gave me the following.

    Blog Topic GeneratorNow, allowing for the obvious singular versus plural issues, these aren't necessarily bad suggestions. The first one is probably a bit more in line with an investment blog than one devoted to advice for small businesses. The second is kind of interesting in an abstract way, but perhaps not really helpful right now. If we turn the third one to a plural then it's a great idea - although a lot to pull off if I'm

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  • Content Marketing

    Corporate media has been a booming business in recent years. Now it also represents an attractive investment, at least in the opinion of venture capital firms that today are pumping a new round of funding into Contently, a New York company that connects freelance journalists with corporate media gigs.

    The new round is worth $9 million, three times what Contently has raised in total over the past three years. It represents a vote of confidence from investors, and an indication that demand for content inside big corporations is not a fad, but rather represents a growing and sustainable business.

    “This is a big one,” says Shane Snow, one of three co-founders. (He's the guy in the photo.) “We’re really committing to taking a big swing.”

    Contently is still a small outfit, with only 30 employees. But it has a network of 30,000 freelancers who provide services to A-list clients like American Express, Philips, Ghirardelli, Coke and Pepsi. Contently says 40 of the Fortune 500 companies are clients

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  • That Old Idea to Shutter SBA is Back

    Shutter SBA ImageA debate about the wisdom of folding the U.S. Small Business Administration into the Department of Commerce has been simmering ever since the idea was proposed by President Reagan nearly three decades ago. The notion has remained on a back burner even with the current administration, as President Obama appointed SBA Administrator Karen Mills to his cabinet as part of a broader plan to merge SBA with several other agencies, but then failed to appoint a new administrator after Mills departed last August.

    A year ago, we reported here on some small business advocates’ stances on the folding SBA into Commerce (hint: they’re vigorously opposed). And now a new proposal has brought the conversation back to a boil.

    In late December, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) proposed legislation to form a single Department of Commerce and the Workforce that would encompass the functions of the Departments of Labor and the Commerce. One of five undersecretaries at the newfangled department would oversee all

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  • 142 Ideas for using Pinterest for Business

    This fantastic infographic (well really a huge categorized list) from Andrea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy is chock full of ideas for using the hot visual social platform in clever ways to help promote and grow your business. The only thing I am going to add to her fantastic advice is that you need to make sure your images and visuals are as good as they can be. Be clever and smart to make them stand out from the pack.

    142 Fantastic Pinterest Board Ideas for Business

    Original at http://www.launchgrowjoy.com/142-pinterest-board-ideas-entrepreneurs/

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  • Word of Mouth

    One of the most common questions I hear from small business owners is “How do I leverage social media as part of my marketing campaign?”

    It’s a fair question, for both business owners who launched their companies pre-Y2K and those who launched their companies yesterday. Social media is relatively new to everyone, even though Facebook has been around nearly a decade, and remains unexplored by many small businesses.

    But social media marketing is fairly simple and fundamentally straightforward.

    “At the risk of over simplifying, social media marketing is word-of-mouth marketing at its core,” says Adam Fridman, CEO and found of Mabby, a digital marketing agency that focuses on small businesses and startups.

    Experts agree that the tricky part is executing and creating the “buzz” that drives word-of-mouth marketing. Chicago-based social media professionals Fridman and COO of Mabbly, Vlad Moldavskiy, share three tips for amplifying social media marketing efforts through word of mouth:

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