Profit Minded
  • 8 Ways to Stay Sane at Work During the Holidays

    The web is overflowing with advice for how to be more successful and productive at work these days. You’ve seen the headlines: Five Things Super Successful People Do Before 8:00 am, How to Be Productive Rather than Just Busy, Four Career Decisions That Successful People Make, Nine Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People, The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically Every Day, and so on.

    Forget about unbridled success and hyper productivity, let alone before 8:00 am. At this time of year, between making revenue targets, dealing with frazzled shoppers, fulfilling orders by Christmas, and balancing work hours with holiday celebrations, a lot of business owners are just hoping to make it to the New Year without having a nervous breakdown.

    Some good advice for how to do that comes from Jennifer Gauld of the Steelcase brand turnstone. As an interior designer, Gauld is no taskmaster or operational guru. Her ideas are all about creating a work environment enables you to stay focused,

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  • Generating repeat customers and referrals is the most effective, affordable way to build your business. It costs very little to keep a customer and solicit referrals compared to other marketing techniques. Further, repeat and referral customers require less work to convert to a sale because they’re already conditioned to like you. That’s why all marketing plans should include strategies for encouraging repeat and referral business.

    One strategy to generate repeat customers and referrals is through follow-up. Follow-up marketing tactics work by keeping your name in front of your customers, clients and prospects, so when they’re in need or know someone in need of your services, your name comes to mind. Here are some strategies for developing a follow-up marketing plan.

    1. Have an email list or newsletter. Despite overfilled inboxes and spam, email is still an effective way to share information and special deals with your customers and prospects. Give an incentive for email list sign-ups,

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  • All Your Customers Want for Christmas? Good Service and Great Deals

    Many small businesses rely on holiday season sales to meet the year’s revenue targets. Most consumers just hope their holiday shopping experience won’t add to their stress at this busy time of year. Unfortunately, many of them are not counting on it.

    Nearly half of shoppers say customer service is worse during the holiday season, according to a recent Zogby Analytics survey commissioned by CorvisaCloud, a cloud-based call center software provider. More than 1,000 adults were surveyed. While only 8 percent of shoppers say “customer service” is the number one force that drives their choice of retailers—77 percent say “great deals” or “low prices” motivate them most—how they’re treated does not go unnoticed.

    Only 14 percent say customer service is better during the holidays. That’s based on comparisons with their experiences throughout the year: 34 percent of those surveyed claim they contact a customer service department at least twice a month; 48 percent manage to keep those interactions

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  • Groups are smarter with women, MIT research shows

    If you want to create a team that works intelligently, put more women on it than men. According to studies conducted by Thomas Malone, Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, putting a bunch of smart people together doesn’t make a smart group. But populating a group with more women than men, or even exclusively with women, does tend to result in a group that works more intelligently.

    Malone shared his findings recently at the Techonomy13 conference in Tucson, Ariz., where tech industry elites were invited to spend three days considering the most important topics in our technologically advanced society. According to Malone, “It’s becoming increasingly important to think of businesses and organizations in terms of how intelligent, not just how productive or efficient, they are.”

    There are many tests and standards for measuring individual intelligence. But, Malone says, until now there has been no way

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  • A 3-step strategy to make your first million

    POP QUIZ: What’s the difference between a professional salsa dancer and a millionaire?

    The answer: Nothing. They both know how to use simple mental “hacks” to become highly successful at a new skill.

    Learning any skill (even salsa dancing) gives us the chance to set measurable goals and test our approach over and over again until we finally see success. You just need to experiment with enough approaches to find the one that works best.

    Here's a great example from my friend Lewis Howes, who taught himself salsa dancing -- and in the process, devised a 3-step strategy to make his first million.


    How salsa dancing helped me make my first million -- by Lewis Howes

    I’m 6’4 and 225 lbs, and when people look at me I’m sure the last thing they’re thinking is, “I bet that tall white dude is a good salsa dancer.”

    But, with all humility, I'm not bad for a white guy. And, the lessons I learned along the way to becoming good on my feet are the very principles that helped me make my first million

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  • Southern small businesses safest loan bets, data show

    WAIN Street has been charting Relative Credit Quality of small businesses in four U.S. regions monthly for 3 years. A value of 1 indicates that the credit quality is the same as that of the US. A value greater than 1 corresponds to the credit quality being better than the overall US.

    Thinking about investing in a small business? Do not head West; go South.

    At least that’s the takeaway from new data published by WAIN Street, a company whose monthly index predicts the likelihood of 18 million small businesses in a variety of sectors and geographic regions to default on financial obligations. The index aggregates micro-level indicators of credit performance such as bankruptcy and delinquency concerning U.S. businesses with a headcount of fewer than 20, but excludes sole proprietors and businesses with a single owner/operator.

    WAIN Street publisher and financial analyst Vidur Dhanda reports that, overall, his Business Default Index—quoted as a seasonally adjusted, annualized default rate—showed an improvement of 0.06 percent between September and October, but says the improvement was narrow with a near equal number of businesses improving and deteriorating in credit quality.

    “The improvement is remarkable considering the drama in D.C. at the start of October,” Dhanda

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  • Rainbow Loom Leads to Entrepreneurial Gold for Many

    The success of Rainbow Loom inventor Cheong-Choon Ng is every entrepreneur’s fantasy. The Michigan-based mechanical engineer-turned toymaker, who has sold 3 million of his plastic handloom kits in under three years (with revenue of over $15 million), says, “Actually, it’s mind blowing. Every day I wake up and tell myself this is for real, it’s not a dream.”

    An immigrant from Malaysia, Ng was working as a crash safety engineer for Nissan in Detroit when, inspired by his daughters’ friendship-bracelet-making hobby, he designed a small loom with hooks for weaving jewelry from colorful rubber bands. The girls and their friends liked it so much that he started a side business, Choon’s Designs, LLC, to manufacture more. He and his wife invested their entire $10,000 life savings in having a prototype and initial order made in China. (U.S. manufacturers he spoke to would have charged upwards of $20,000 just to create the mold, he says.)

    Ng ran the entire operation out of his home until seven

    Read More »from Rainbow Loom Leads to Entrepreneurial Gold for Many
  • New tools now available to Yahoo Web Hosting customers!

    Yahoo Web Hosting customers:  starting this week you will have access to a range of simple, affordable, and effective tools to build and grow your business, right from your Web Hosting Control Panel.

    This is being rolled out in a phased manner, and when enabled for you, your Web Hosting Control Panel will include Live Web Insights, a free app available through Yahoo Commerce Central. This tool puts your finger on the pulse of your small business site, gives you a real-time view of how customers are exploring your site, and makes personalized recommendations to help improve traffic and sales.

    With Live Web Insights you can:

    • Know exactly what’s happening on your site in real time: Real-time information about current site visitors lets you see how your visitors are browsing your site looking for information on your products and services.
    • Get data-driven guidance on what to do next: Find your top keywords, referring sites, where your customers are coming from, your site’s growth and
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  • Independence is leading motivation for entrepreneurs

    A survey by BizFilings of 1,110 small business owners conducted this month (November 2013) highlights that the largest group of people becoming small business owners choose to do so because they are seeking independence. And the smallest group are those driven by becoming rich. BizFilings highlighted its survey in the infographic below. We aren't sure how valuable the flow of questions and answers is but the end result matches our experience with independence and passion being bigger drivers than money - which is a good thing since financial success from a small business only comes with lots of very hard work - so that work better be satisfying!

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  • Why a digital communications company went postal

    Alexa Hirschfeld is a something of a tech-entrepreneur celebrity for having founded Paperless Post in 2007 with her brother James when she was just a year out of college and he was still matriculating. At 29, she’s already made several “most influential women in technology lists” and she’s not even technically a technologist, just a digital native.

    Now her company has evolved to serve customers who want something other than the virtual product it offers. What sets Paperless Post apart from other electronic invitation websites such as Evite is that the Hirschfelds conceived and designed their platform to cater to the formal invitation market, which had yet to transition online. In 2007, Hirschfeld says, “pretty much everything was going online, except there were some culturally important types of communication, like wedding invitations, that just hadn’t.”

    Though many people she spoke to predicted that formal invitations would never shift from paper to electronic, she didn’t buy it. “The

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(443 Stories)


Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

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Owen Linderholm

Editor for Yahoo! Small Business

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