Displaying articles for: 08-22-2010 - 08-28-2010
Here is this week’s summary of useful news for small businesses owners and entrepreneurs:
Wendy Kenney, known as a Buzz Building Expert and for being the Founder and CEO of 23 Kazoos, has written a post for Startup Nation listing the 50 best Twitter applications and resources for small business owners. Her post is a must read by any small business owner who uses Twitter.
Scott Messinger, a former and current business owner, has written an article for Noobpreneur asking what type of business owner you are - a hands on business owner or someone who is more of a big picture operator that does not get involved in the minutia of the business. He then noted that the majority of small business owners are a hybrid of these two ownership styles.
Patrik Larsson, a freelance designer, blogger and expert reviewer, has written a post for the Freelance Switch which includes 15 pictures of fantastic and inspiring home offices. He also invited readers to post a link to pictures of their own home offices.
John Warrillow, the author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell, has written an article for Inc. Magazine concerning how multiple office locations might make you look important but they could actually hurt the value of your business. He also included lessons learned from Treehugger.com's Graham Hill.
Josh Spiro has written an article for Inc. Magazine concerning how entrepreneurs and small business owners often angst over the perfect name for their business. Hence, his article will serve as a guide to help new entrepreneurs and small business owners choose a defensible trademark plus a search-friendly and easily recognisable name.
Emily Maltby has written a great article for the Wall Street Journal about how some start-ups and small businesses have gotten mired in costly trademark scuffles with bigger firms. The article is a must read by anyone who owns a small business or who is thinking of starting one.
Matt Quinn has written a useful article for Inc. Magazine listing 5 ways to improve your small business’s cash flow. However, he also noted that these five ways will not offer a quick fix for any cash-flow problems. Instead, they will help you make important and strategic changes in how you operate your business.
Melinda Emerson, who hosts #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs on Twitter, has written a great post for Small Business Trends listing the top five simple but fatal mistakes that hold back start-up entrepreneurs. These mistakes included not appreciating social intelligence, not having a professional business website, not making sure that your email address is branded with your company name as well as working, not investing in your brand and not having a real phone number for your business.
Intel has just published a fascinating post with hard data about UK business’s use of social media – tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube etc.
The research shows that more than 50% of enterprises surveyed in the UK are using social media in the workplace and 95% believe social media offers business an opportunity to improve communication with both internal and external audiences. A total of 43% confirmed business drivers for using social media are its direct and personal route of contact with customers and partners.
For advice and help with your own social media campaigns, visit HP Business Answers advice site: Web 2.0 for business.
What a stupid question, why would anyone want to give their own laptop a ‘Poison Pill’?
Consider this, about 2 million laptops disappear every year and the number is growing. Almost all of them are never seen again.
It’s bad enough losing a personal laptop as it can contain critical personal information. Imagine how much more serious it would be if you run a small business and your laptop disappears one day. Think of the consequences, what data do you have on your laptop hard drive;
- Company accounting
- Employees pay details, bank accounts
- Employee personal data
- Customer names and addresses
- Customer banking/credit card information
No telling what would happen if this gets into the wrong hands and it most likely will at some point. Plus you have also got to replace an expensive company asset.
I have seen plenty of small business surveys where respondents cite security as a top priority but often this only extends to antivirus, antispyware and firewall etc. Antitheft technology is relatively new but deployment is growing rapidly and it’s not just for the NHS and MoD.
How does Antitheft technology work? Quite simple really, if your laptop goes missing or gets stolen a timer or internet-activated ‘poison pill’ permanently disables the laptop rendering the data secure and the laptop unusable. Click here to see more information and a great short video on the Intel Anti-theft homepage. A disabled laptop can display a customizable recovery message with contact information to help return the laptop to its rightful owner.
For those of you old enough to be car drivers in the late 80’s and early 90’s you will remember the pandemic outbreak of car radio thefts. Car radio theft on this scale was dramatically reduced by adding security features; PIN codes that had to be re-entered when the radio was disconnected from the vehicle. Can anti-theft technology for laptops have the same effect?
If you are a small business owner in a tough economy, keeping your good employees will not only be the key to your ability to survive the downturn, it will also be a challenge as you may not be in a position to provide the compensation incentives that top performers look for in their careers. Hence, a February 2010 post by Marshall Goldsmith on the Harvard Business Review blog is well worth reading as he gave the following six tips for keeping your high-impact performers during a downturn so that they become your future leaders when business picks up again:
- Show Respect: Treating employees with kindness and respect will go much further than leading them through intimidation and fear.
- Focus on a Thriving Environment: It takes more than gimmicks to keep high performers happy. Instead, create an environment where employees are learning, getting training and developing their skills as such an environment will allow each individual, especially high performers, to thrive.
- Offer On-Going Training: Training and education will ensure that employees can both do their jobs properly and improve your existing systems. Moreover, having employees who are cross-trained is a great competitive advantage if you are required to reduce your headcount during a downturn.
- Provide Coaching: Working one-on-one with employees in a coaching relationship is also a great way to discover and tap their talents to benefit the whole organization.
- Give Feedback: Providing feedback should be turned into a continual process rather than an annual or semi-annual performance measure.
- Money and Decision-Making: Compensation is important but it’s usually not enough as employees also want to be involved in the decision making process. After all, achieving buy-in from employees will not only help you to retain top talent, it’s also a great way to generate ideas to improve the organization.
In other words, if you want to retain your best employees even during a tough economy, be sure to make an effort to develop their skills and to create a work environment they like.
PowerPoint presentations are now a standard business and sales tool and hence, nearly everyone at least once in their career has had to sit through a really boring or poorly prepared slide show presentation. Therefore, a recent post on HubSpot is a must read for anyone who needs to prepare a PowerPoint presentation.
HubSpot noted that Duarte Design, a Silicon Valley design shop, recently put on a slidelogy workshop which contained a wealth of useful information about putting together awesome PowerPoint presentations. From that workshop, HubSpot came up with these 10 key but simple rules for better presentations:
- No bullets
- Start on paper
- The 30pt rule
- No starbursts
- One thought per slide
- Time-limits, not slide-limits
- One thought per slide
- No logo on every slide
- No chart junk
- Tell a story
And as a great follow-up to this post that was written at the request of readers, HubSpot has a second post containing 17 examples of great presentations. These presentations will give you a fairly good idea as to what a great presentation design is and isn't.
Twitter is a popular online service that lets you share information and updates with other readers. Check out our Beginner’s guide to Twitter for more information. You can also follow our HP Business Answers Twitter feed: @HPBizAnswers. Here are some tips that will help you get started and get the most out of it to promote your business.
- Create a user name that people will associate with your business. If your business name is unique and memorable then use it.
- Your page. You want your Twitter page to stand out, but you also need it to represent your business.
- Follow other users who share your interests. Replying to questions or comments and re-tweeting interesting posts will help you connect with people who could become prospects for your business.
- Research your competitors. Using a Twitter application that supports lists can help track down competitors and innovators in your field.
- Identify your audience. The beauty of Twitter is that you can potentially reach anyone in the world but business users often forget to narrow their scope. Targeting niche audiences with Promoted Tweets could be a powerful way to use Twitter for business.
- Make the most of your tweets. Each tweet is an opportunity to connect with your followers. Ask questions, provide answers, promote your blog and/or Web site and retweet interesting posts.
- Utilise Twitter tools and mobile applications. Mobile applications let you post and read tweets from your mobile phone and tools such as TweetLater schedules tweets in advance.
- Use Twitter to generate feedback. Even a small business can use Twitter to get immediate feedback and offer assistance. You just need to devote time to monitoring Twitter on a regular basis.
- Track your re-tweets. Another measure of Twitter's effectiveness is not the number of followers you have, but the degree to which your information is re-tweeted and shared across Twitter.
- Don’t make it all about business. Too much self-promotion can be off-putting and impersonal. Twitter is more than just a promotional tool; it is a fantastic way to connect and build relationships with people and businesses in your field.