Profit Minded
  • How TechShop is spawning individual industrial revolutions

    TechShop Laser“It took the U.S. and Europe 150 years to go through the Industrial Revolution. Now, you can go through your own personal industrial revolution in 90 days,” says TechShop CEO Mark Hatch.

    That’s not hyperbole from the former Green Beret with an MBA and spiked silver hair. In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Small Business on Friday in New York, Hatch, who was in town for the World Maker Faire, relayed numerous near-overnight manufacturing success stories that have emerged from TechShop facilities around the country.

    Since the company’s founding in 2006  in Menlo Park, Calif., locations have sprung up in San Francisco, San Jose, Detroit, Austin, and Pittsburgh. Members pay around $125 per month to access $1 million worth of advanced machinery and design software, 7 days a week, 9:00 am – midnight.

    TechShop’s $60 million investment offering announced today—perhaps the first to leverage new fundraising rules enabled by the JOBS Act—will help expand some existing facilities and establish at

    Read More »from How TechShop is spawning individual industrial revolutions
  • Go global for growth, says economic competitiveness expert



    When it comes to global sales, the U.S. ranks alongside Rwanda and Tajikistan with 17 percent of GDP coming from exports. Germany’s export-to-GDP ratio, by comparison, is 52 percent. So it’s little wonder that Nilmini Rubin,senior advisor for global economic competitiveness of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, believes there are huge opportunities for U.S. businesses to increase their competitiveness.  

    Fewer than 1 percent of the 30 million companies in the U.S. export, and 60 percent of that 1 percent export to only one country, she says. Those data, she says, point to “a massive incentive for increasing our exports.”

    Rubin, who leads technology, trade, finance, and energy legislation work for the committee, spoke at the Techonomy conference in Detroit this week. Techonomy CEO David Kirpatrick asked Rubin to explain how the U.S. can stay competitive and, “What should we be thinking of as a priority as we see countries around the world redoubling their focus on making jobs, building

    Read More »from Go global for growth, says economic competitiveness expert
  • The Power of Follow Up

    Follow Up

    On a personal level, the idea of following up could mean simply returning a friend’s phone call, but from a business standpoint, follow-up means so much more. It’s a powerful, yet often overlooked tool, that can literally make or break a small business. Here are some ways follow-up can be harnessed to improve profits.

    Sales

    Anyone who has ever been in sales knows the game cannot be won without a disciplined and formulaic approach to follow-up. When a customer (B2B or B2C) responds to a marketing message, it’s time for the salesperson to start the follow-up process. Often it involves several emails educating the prospect on product details, advantages, etc., along with a mix of phone calls to follow up on the emails. The successful salesperson continues with follow-ups long after the amateurs have bowed out.

    Partnerships

    Partnerships should be immune from the follow-up equation because small business owners trust that when another company’s representative makes an agreement, they’ll follow

    Read More »from The Power of Follow Up
  • Many businesses use benchmarks to assess their own performance or their position relative to competitors, but benchmarks that shed light on the performance of industries outside of your own can also help you decide where to make new investments. Those investments could be in the form of new staff, new equipment or simply additional effort focused on a specific market. For some companies, the target market is narrowly defined or limited – by geography or by a specific industry served by the product or service. Other businesses, especially many of the service-based industries, can have customers across multiple industries.

    Knowing which industries to target can shape marketing efforts, new hires and other operational aspects of your business. But how do you know which industries to target?

    Before targeting an industry for new business, it’s imperative to know whether you can make money in that industry. That may seem obvious, but unfortunately, some people confuse sales growth with

    Read More »from Want new business? Target profitable industries
  • Perfume Bottles

    There's an old adage about the perfume industry that the scent costs less than the bottle it comes in. But you don't need to be hawking Chanel No.5 to know that packaging is a vital part of any consumer product. Whether it's protecting fragile contents in transit, making goods stand out on store shelves or working to enhance brand image, proper packaging can improve the bottom line.Alizila tapped some seasoned e-commerce entrepreneurs to find out how they handle packaging issues for the products they sell. Here are their tips:


    1. KNOW WHAT TO ASK FOR

    When it comes to packaging, most products come ready to be displayed on the shelves of the big retail outlets. That's fine if your products are destined to be sold in store, but it's unlikely to meet the needs of online businesses that run on a click-and-ship, rather than bricks-and-mortar, model. "An online retailer needs packaging robust enough to get to the consumer without damage," says Paul Greenberg, CEO of Australia's National Online

    Read More »from Global Trading Tips: 6 Steps to Perfect Packaging
  • The YEC Launches Health Insurance Site For Startups and The Self-Employed

    Healthcare

    The Young Entrepreneur Council, an organization supporting entrepreneurship and startups (and a Yahoo Small Business Partner) has launched a website offering a healthcare solution for entrepreneurs, the self-employed and any individual or very small business.

    "As our nation becomes more entrepreneurial, and more Americans launch startups, start small businesses, and join the booming gig economy, YEC wants to be there to support business owners and newly job-unlocked individuals by providing them with access to quality, affordable health care insurance options throughout the United States," said Scott Gerber, founder of Young Entrepreneur Council.

    Yahoo Small Business spoke to Scott Gerber briefly about the new program.

    Gerber said that they actually started the project to create this new program over 15 months ago.  They began by talking to entrepreneurs about what is important to them in a health plan and rapidly realized that the biggest problem for entrepreneurs was the time to find

    Read More »from The YEC Launches Health Insurance Site For Startups and The Self-Employed
  • Announcing Yahoo Commerce Central

    Running a business just got easier. Today, we’re proud to introduce Yahoo Commerce Central, a one-stop shop for simple, affordable, and effective tools for an online store.

    All of the marketing tools needed to help increase sales, efficiency and profitability are in our App Gallery. We offer a host of apps to help list and advertise on leading shopping and search engines, sell products on Facebook, and much more. For real-time customer engagement and analytics, check out our free app Live Web Insights. Live Web Insights can:

    •    Show exactly what's happening on a store in real-time
    •    Initiate chats with customers to address questions and close sales
    •    Get personalized, data-driven recommendations to help improve traffic and sales
    •    Measure return on investment for Yahoo Commerce Central apps
    •    View a store's historical trends

    Live Web Insights

    Not a Yahoo merchant? Not a problem. Our apps are supported on more than 30 platforms, including Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce.

    Yahoo Commerce Central

    Read More »from Announcing Yahoo Commerce Central
  • How to Stop Treating Your Customers Like Crap

    Most companies’ customer service is so bad that consumers “really expect to be treated like crap,” according to Peter Shankman, consultant and author of Nice Companies Finish First. He and his business partner Rachel Honig are so certain that treating customers kindly translates to higher revenues, that helping businesses be nicer is the main offering of their new consultancy, Shankman|Honig.


    Turning things around shouldn’t be that difficult: “If you treat your customers one level above crap they’ll remember that and be loyal,” Shankman says.

    But convincing businesses they need to change might be a tough sell. Among the data Shankman|Honig share in the infographic shown here is the sad statistic that 80 percent of businesses believe they deliver "superior" customer service, but only 8 percent of customers believe they have experienced superior service from those same businesses. How can businesses be so unaware that their customers think their service stinks?

    Yahoo Small Business spoke Read More »from How to Stop Treating Your Customers Like Crap
  • Tips for Winning Fourth-Quarter Federal Contracts

    Winning government contracts has never been easy for most businesses. Recent research from American Express OPEN says typical federal contractors log 24 months and 4.7 unsuccessful bids before notching their first federal procurement victory. And now, under sequestration, small businesses are facing tighter federal spending and a higher level of competition from peers and larger firms than ever.


    But the fourth quarter of the fiscal year that ends September 30 is a key period for winning business from federal agencies. One-third of all government spending typically happens in the fourth quarter, according to Deltek, a company that provides services to government contractors. Dona Storey, an American Express OPEN Advisor who helps small businesses navigate the procurement process, says Q4 is when government agencies are assessing their remaining dollars to potentially check off a few items remaining on the year's spending wish list. “Many small business contractors find that they can Read More »from Tips for Winning Fourth-Quarter Federal Contracts
  • Quick! Now is your chance to tell Google why your site should rank better in search

    SEOAstonishingly, Google wants to hear from people about why small sites that should rank higher in Google search results. Google’s SEO guru, Matt Cutts, released a tweet saying ‘If there’s a small website that you think should be doing better in Google, tell us more here: https://t.co/s80BibIBhN

    This is an astonishing opportunity – but also one not to get TOO excited about. This does not mean anything will change for you or your site. But it does finally give you a voice and an opportunity to tell Google why it is that your site SHOULD rank better. [We encourage Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting and Ecommerce merchants to take advantage of this opportunity.]

    Google is looking for real responses – arguments based around why your content is better and more important and more informative than other people’s on the particular topic. So

    Read More »from Quick! Now is your chance to tell Google why your site should rank better in search

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ABOUT PROFIT MINDED

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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