Profit Minded
  • Proto Labs Gives Entrepreneurs with Cool Ideas a Kickstart

    Floome, a handheld blood-alcohol detector, won a Cool Ideas Award

    For aspiring product designers, 201 Mulberry Street in New York City was the place to be last Thursday night. The Cool Idea Award Gallery event in the vacant storefront there showcased nine inventors and their novel products—each one clever enough to make you say, “I wish I had thought of that!”

    Proto Labs is a Minnesota-based maker of custom CNC-machined and injection-molded parts with operations worldwide that we reported on here last month. Its Cool Idea Award gives up to $250,000 each year in Proto Labs tooling services and parts production to entrepreneurs developing new products in the U.S. and Europe. Proto Labs says its intention is to help innovators bring their ideas to life. Seventeen awards have been made since 2011.

    The Everpurse cell-phone charging station is another Cool Ideas award winner

    The Cool Idea Award-winning products featured at the event last week were:

    • r-one: Robots that communicate with their users and with each other using an internal computer, motors, lights and sounds were designed by a Rice University professor and his students
    Read More »from Proto Labs Gives Entrepreneurs with Cool Ideas a Kickstart
  • A Startup Wants to Deliver Happiness in Packets of Pills

    Twenty-seven-year-old entrepreneur TJ Parker wants to bring Zappos-style customer service to your medicine cabinet.

    As a youngster working in the New Hampshire pharmacy that his family owns and operates, Parker developed empathy for people who must take multiple pills, supplements, and other medicines every day. Refill dates never seem to be synchronized, pharmacy check-out lines can be long, and who wants to ask the pharmacist a private question with other customers in earshot? Even worse, medication times are hard to stick to, drugs are easily confused, and bottles can be a hassle to open. For the elderly, very ill, or parents with sick children, daily dosing can be misery.

    Parker went to pharmacy school bent on figuring out a modern solution to the growing problem. When he found one, he teamed up with Elliot Cohen, 30, a former Microsoft engineer whom he met at a H@cking Medicine event in October 2012. By February 2013, they had won a slot in the Boston startup accelerator

    Read More »from A Startup Wants to Deliver Happiness in Packets of Pills
  •  

    With more than 359 million users as of May of 2013, Google+ continues to grab the attention of consumers and brands as it becomes the second largest social network.  A presence on Google+ is being aggressively pursued by some of the world’s leading brands, which in turn is causing SMBs to consider if they also need to get on board.

    With more limited resources, these smaller firms might worry about managing another social network and questioning if the potential reward is worth the effort. SMBs should understand that Google+ is used by leading brands to both engage customers and build SEO, and is an important part of their social strategy.

    There are several big brands successfully using Google+ by incorporating visual elements and sharing content that has a high degree of relevance to their intended audience. Small and medium-sized firms can learn a significant amount about Google+ best practices by reviewing the work of established brands that are building real followings on the

    Read More »from Small and Medium Businesses Turning to Google+ for Brand Building
  • Would Minimum Wage Hike Help or Hurt Small Business?

    President Obama said on Tuesday evening that he will raise the minimum wage for new federal contracts to $10.10 per hour. And, in the case that a Democratic proposal to raise the national minimum to the same level or where state governments haven’t already raised the minimum (as 14 states have this month), the President urged private sector employers to take the initiative to raise wages on their own.

    Many argue that the federal minimum of $7.25, unchanged since 2009, is not a living wage in the current economy. With the average price of a gallon of gas at $3.28 and a gallon of milk at $3.50, it’s hard to imagine how the 2 million or so people who earn that wage are able to support themselves, let alone families. MIT’s living wage calculator and anecdotal reports, including one describing a Hartford, Conn., Dunkin’ Donuts manager with three children, indicate they simply can’t.

    A CBSNews report this week pointed out that “adjusted for inflation, $7.25 an hour is 23 percent lower today

    Read More »from Would Minimum Wage Hike Help or Hurt Small Business?
  • 10 MOOCs for Entrepreneurs: Learn Online to Launch and Lead a Business

    For anyone who is thinking about building a new business, or already struggling to lead a startup, the expanding MOOC universe offers a wealth of opportunities to learn from entrepreneurs who've been there.

    Educational institutions all over the globe are offering MOOCs—massive open online courses—in almost any subject you can imagine. Many are free, and some offer course credits or certificates.

    Several online courses in the management category now offer guidance from experts on how to turn your great idea into a viable business, or take your startup to the next stage. With a few hours a week in front of a computer screen, you can glean lessons from top business school instructors and successful entrepreneurs.

    We pulled together this list of MOOCs targeted at aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders. For more online management courses, check out Coursera, NovoEd, iversity, and Udacity.

    1. Technology Entrepreneurship. Feb 2 – Mar 16. Award-winning Stanford University Assistant

    Read More »from 10 MOOCs for Entrepreneurs: Learn Online to Launch and Lead a Business
  • President’s Proposals Underwhelm Small Business Advocates

    At the start of his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama promised to put forth a “set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class,” and threatened to “take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families,” if Congress would not join him.

    His not-exactly-concrete proposals included:

    • Closing tax loopholes that reward companies that send jobs and profits overseas
    • Reducing tax rates for businesses that create jobs in the U.S.
    • Spending money saved through aforementioned tax reforms on “rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, and unclogging our commutes”
    • Streamlining the permitting process for key infrastructure projects to create more construction jobs faster
    • Launching six more high-tech manufacturing hubs like those this administration has funded in Raleigh, NC, and Youngstown, Ohio
    • Establishing new trade partnerships with Europe and the
    Read More »from President’s Proposals Underwhelm Small Business Advocates
  • Defining Entrepreneurship Based on Billionaires

    You may be self-employed, but are you an entrepreneur? Economists Magnus Henrekson and Tino Sanandaji would say “not likely.”

    Their definition of entrepreneurship excludes Mom & Pops, sole proprietors, and any business that is not innovating and growing. In fact, the Swedish scholars argue, in countries and regions where entrepreneurship is most rampant, self-employment is less common.

    In a study published in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Henrekson and Sanandaji, who work at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm, claim they found an inverse relationship between entrepreneurship and rates of self-employment. “Countries with higher income, higher trust, lower taxes, more venture capital investment, and lower regulatory burdens have more entrepreneurs but less self-employment,” they say.

    What’s an entrepreneur then? The researchers adopt the definition of the early 20th century Austrian economist and Harvard professor

    Read More »from Defining Entrepreneurship Based on Billionaires
  • When Women Execs Are Your Target Market

    Branding experts Lalita Khosla and Lubna Abu-Osba

    Here’s something a lot of brands don’t get about marketing: When your ad campaign targets men, you don’t capture women. But if you target women with authentic branding, you’re likely to win men too. So say Lubna Abu-Osba and Lalita Khosla, partners in the branding agency The Influence Bureau.

    In an earlier interview, the two experts shared what businesses need to know about marketing to women consumers. Here in part two, they tell how B2B companies could target women-owned businesses.

    YSB: What's your branding or marketing advice to B2B companies that want to target women-owned businesses or female executives?

    Lubna Abu-Osba: More women are opening businesses than men right now. If you’re trying to appeal to a woman business owner or female consumer, don’t look at women as a monolithic group, because they’re not one.

    Realize it’s about the holistic experience of speaking to women. It’s about tapping into female core values and creating an authentic relationship with that female

    Read More »from When Women Execs Are Your Target Market
  • Target Your Brand to She Who Controls Spending

    The Influence Bureau's Lalita Khosla and Lubna Abu-Osba

    Lubna Abu-Osba and Lalita Khosla are the creative minds behind The Influence Bureau, an agency with offices in New York and suburban Philadelphia that helps brands better target their marketing campaigns to women.

    Among the clients they’ve engaged are dozens of major names including Coach, Intel, Marriott, and Whirlpool. But their insights about reaching female consumers apply to small brands just as well.

    Here, in part one of a two-part interview, the two experts tell Yahoo Small Business what businesses need to know about marketing to women consumers. In part two, they share ideas about how B2B companies could target women-owned businesses.

    Yahoo Small Business: What makes women a unique or challenging group of consumers to market to?

    Lubna Abu-Osba: People think of women as a niche market, but targeting men is the niche. Women influence the entire consumer market. Research shows that women control upwards of 80 percent of all spending in the U.S. Some put the number as high as 90

    Read More »from Target Your Brand to She Who Controls Spending
  • 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

    Read More »from 4 Takeaways from a Crash Course for Entrepreneurs

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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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