small Business questions


John Jantsch on Being -Referable- and Building a Following

. Posted in small Business questions


John Jantsch (@ducttape on Twitter) is a marketing consultant, creator of The Duct Tape Marketing Complete Small Business Marketing System, and the author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine. He also blogs, leads a marketing podcast, and presents workshops at organizations like Intuit (hey, that’s us!), Verizon, and HP, sharing practical tips that get results.


Liz Strauss on Successful Blogging and Social Media Strategy

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Liz Strauss (@lizstrauss on Twitter) is a leadership trainer and branding strategist who founded SOBCon (hashtag #SOBCon on Twitter), a social media think tank where business owners, marketing execs, and internet luminaries gather to share best practices. Since the very first SOBCon in 2007, the event has attracted a loyal following of “SOBconverts” with a philosophy of “where virtual meets the concrete.”


Good Luck, Truck: The Realities of Starting a Mobile Restaurant

. Posted in small Business questions

For foodies who quickly grow tired of the same lunch spots surrounding their offices, their humdrum lunchtime routines have been delightfully shaken up by the food truck craze. For local restaurant owners who want to experiment with different locations without the pricey rent bill, their prayers have been answered by the food truck revolution. With low startup costs and the ability to try out location after location, food trucks seem like a can-t-lose, low-risk option for entrepreneurs looking to get into the restaurant game. But mobile noshing offers more than meets the eye. In this infographic, we explore the challenges of owning a mobile restaurant. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.


What Are the Hardest Small Businesses to Own?

. Posted in small Business questions

For some small businesses, getting in the black presents a bigger challenge than for others. A variety of factors in certain industries make them innately more difficult to break into and find success in - especially for small businesses. In this infographic, we investigate the hardest small businesses to own based on average margins, rates of failure, and expenses. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.


Is Your Ezine Being Zapped?

. Posted in small Business questions

By Michael Southon

Monday, December 13, 2004; 10:40pm EST

About a year ago I wrote an article titled 'Winning The War On Spam'. Unfortunately, the war on spam is not being won at all.

In fact, the problem is now so serious that spam is shaping up to be the greatest threat to online marketing.

The threat comes not from spammers themselves, but from the filters that are being used to block them.

These filters are hitting hard at the very core of ecommerce - Ezine Publishing.

Anti-spam filters operate at two levels: (i) client-side programs that reside on individual computers and (ii) server-side programs that ISPs are using to block incoming spam.

The problem is that the filters are now so sensitive they are blocking even the most innocent of Newsletters.

For example, if your Newsletter contains the words 'remove', 'unsubscribe' or 'click here' it will trigger anti-spam filters in many of the programs that are now being used by ISPs.

The result?

Your Ezine is zapped, deleted - and a large percentage of your subscribers will think you have stopped publishing your Newsletter.

What can you do about it?

Here are some tips to avoid spam filters:

(1) Post your Newsletter online and then email your subscribers to tell them that the latest issue is now available online.

(2) In your Newsletter carefully avoid (both in the subject line and the body text) all words that are likely to trigger anti-spam filters. Use the free service listed at the end of this article - it will flag any words in your Newsletter that trigger anti-spam filters.

(3) Instead of saying 'to unsubscribe' (which is a phrase commonly found in spam), say 'If you no longer wish to receive...' or 'If you wish to leave this mailing list...' or 'To take yourself off this list...'

(4) If there are trigger words that you simply cannot avoid, you can disguise them using carets (^) or other symbols. The 'F' word would become fr^e and the 'U' word would become uns^bscribe.

(5) Include the word 'Newsletter' in the subject line of your email - this will help the filters identify your email as non-spam.

(6) Avoid whole words in upper case. In many Newsletters the headers are capitalized - this will trigger the filters.

(7) If your Newsletter contains ads, scrutinize them carefully - ezine ads, by definition, contain words frequently used by spammers.

Here is a free service that will help you avoid spam filters. Before you mail out your Newsletter, just send a copy of it to the email address below with TEST in the subject line: mailto:spamcheck@sitesell. net

Within a few seconds you'll receive a report that analyses your Newsletter and gives you a score (0 to 5=no problems 12-16=over the limit for most ISPs).

If you write articles, it's worth submitting them to this test as well, together with your Resource Box (I just sent this article to SpamCheck and got a score of 4.6).

SpamCheck is operated by SpamAssassin, a filter that is widely used by ISPs - so this is a good test of whether your Newsletter will get through to your subscribers.

About the Author

Michael Southon has been writing for the Internet for over 3 years. He has shown hundreds of web masters how to use this simple technique to get massive free publicity and dramatically increase traffic and sales. To find out more, please visit: http://www. ezine-writer. com.


Street Smart Sales: 5 Tips on Hand-Selling from Ex-Con Randy Kearse

. Posted in small Business questions

With the rise of social media and e-commerce, selling your wares by hand, person to person, may seem like an outdated approach. But it’s worked for Randy Kearse (pictured), a former drug dealer turned author and motivational speaker who’s sold over 20,000 copies of his self-published book, Changin- Your Game Plan: How to Use Incarceration as a Stepping Stone to SUCCESS.


Is Mac OS X Lion a Good Fit for Your Small Business?

. Posted in small Business questions

Following months of eager anticipation from rabidly fanatic Mac users, the venerable tech giant Apple has finally raised the curtain on Mac OS X Lion ($30) - the next major release of OS X, which Apple hails as -the world’s most advanced desktop operating system.-


5 Small Business Contests Worth Entering This Summer

. Posted in small Business questions

If you haven-t entered a small business contest or nominated a fellow small business in a competition, you-re missing out on more than just funding, technology prizes, or free business help. Competitions and contests are a great way to create visibility, increase brand awareness, and network with other small business owners. Of course, the fat cash prizes are always nice, too.


IPhone vs. Android: Which Is Best for Your Business?

. Posted in small Business questions

So you’ve finally ditched your old Blackberry and you’re ready to upgrade to a newer, sleeker smartphone. But should you go with an iPhone or a Google Android model? The choice isn’t always clear. Here are a few factors to consider before you shell out for that shiny new phone.


East Lansing Loves Local Businesses

. Posted in small Business questions

East Lansing, Michigan showed its love of local businesses in June by nominating over 300 of its hometown businesses for a grant from Intuit-s Love A Local Business grant competition. Because of this, the small town in the heart of Michigan is receiving $26,000 to support local businesses.


Intuit Shares the Love with Jefferson City!

. Posted in small Business questions

Jefferson City, the capital city of Missouri, is one of of two city winners of Intuit-s Love A Local Business City Challenge. Over 350 businesses in the area were nominated in the month of June on LoveALocalBusiness. com, and because these two communities showed so much love for their local businesses, Intuit is now sharing that love, in the form of cash grants.


5 Ways to Encourage Customers to Bring Their Own Bags

. Posted in small Business questions

All around the country, there-s a war on plastic bags. San Francisco has largely banned the things since 2007. Now, Los Angeles County’s plastic bag ban went into effect on July 1 and will be phased in over the next few months. And Washington, DC has begun charging consumers five cents for every plastic or paper disposable bag they use when buying food or alcohol, while several other areas are considering similar measures.


The 5 Best Blogs for Small Business Financing

. Posted in small Business questions

These days, it-s tough to find the money you need to start a business, let alone stay in business. To better understand the small business funding and financing options out there, here are five blogs that show you what-s available, how to best take advantage of them, plus winning strategies for scoring the capital you need to grow your company.


7 Great Blogs for Growing Your Business

. Posted in small Business questions

So you started your business. Now how do you grow it, especially during this recession? By getting good advice and keeping up with trends and events that affect your industry, your business can do more than just survive - it can get bigger and bigger.


Sipping n- Painting of Denver Wins $25,000

. Posted in small Business questions

The winner of our $25,000 Intuit Hiring Grant for June is Sipping n- Painting of Denver, Colorado. Co-owner Susie Grade was thrilled to hear that her 1.5-year-old business would be able to move to the next level using this grant.


Microsoft Expression Web. Complete web site design and management application

. Posted in small Business questions

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Wednesday, July 18, 2007; 10:00pm EST

Over recent years web development has become more demanding. Web sites are increasingly more complex, interactive and stylized all while maintaining their ever more important standards compliance. As a result of this the leaders in the industry have raced to offer integrated application suites that handle all aspects of web design, development and management right out of the box.

Microsoft's foray into this market comes in the form of Microsoft Expression Studio, which combines web design (Expression Web), interactive and dynamic content tools (Expression Blend), graphic design (Expression Design) and asset management (Expression Media) in a single application suite. All of which can be individually purchased and used independently of each other. Of these tools, we will be looking specifically at Microsoft Expression Web, the successor to the long lived Microsoft FrontPage.

Towards the end of the aging FrontPage's life, it became increasingly apparent that competitors had the upper hand when it came to compliance with standards and the native handling of CSS. Microsoft attempts to address these shortcomings with Expression Web promoting it as being able to create sophisticated modern web sites that are highly standards compliant and heavily CSS based.

Installation of Expression Web is a simple and straight forward affair taking only a few mouse clicks and a couple minutes to complete. Opening the application is equally impressive with almost instantaneous load times. Once inside the application, if you are used to FrontPage you will be experiencing some d?j? vu. While Expression Web may have a new name, to a surprisingly large extent the interface and other aspects of the application are still very much FrontPage.

In addition to the original FrontPage Design, Split, Code primary window, Expression Web has added numerous docks to the left and right sides of the screen primarily for handling styles, layers and navigating files within your web site. While the docks offer access to a substantial number of variables and style information, they somewhat impose on the workspace. A high resolution widescreen monitor certainly helps to lessen the clutter.

After spending numerous days editing and creating web pages of varying complexity the news on how the new Expression Web fared was both good and bad... While it packed numerous new features and enhancements, it unfortunately also had a laundry list of problems that made day to day use of the program a frustrating experience.

The coding and application development aspects of the Expression Web have gone through a significant improvement. We were pleased with the vastly improved standards compliance, ensuring that your code is compliant and stays compliant. Continuous validating highlights offending tags and corrects problems (as well as multiple instances of a particular problem) with the click of the mouse. Things such as the DOCTYPE and character set have also been greatly improved and modernized to meet all of the generally accepted standards of today. Content accessibility standards (WCAG) can also be validated using a simple feature built into the application. When coding you will also enjoy the code view's context sensitive color coding and intelligent ability to suggest tags and variables for quick coding. Expression Web also has an excellent "find and replace" tool suitable for complex site-wide replacements that can save a ton of time.

Making your site more dynamic and content rich is another major improvement. Gone are the less than savory days of the clunky old FrontPage Extensions, and in are the days of drag and drop ease. NET 2.0 objects, XML and RSS data handling. Expression Web has made binding with data sources and using the data in your site easier, and even gives you a local test server saving you from having to continually publish to a remote sand box. Now you can have actually useful dynamic components on a site without having to get a programmer involved.

Your ability to get files to and from the web server continue to be FrontPage Extensions, WebDAV and trusty old FTP. When publishing you can opt for Expression Web to "optimize" your server's version of the code and retain the local as-is if desired. Code optimization has changed little since FrontPage and is limited mostly to white space cleaning and removal of unnecessary tags.

Things went down hill when using the WYSIWUG editor and allowing Expression Web to handle the CSS styles and classes. When left to manage CSS styles and classes on its own, it typically made a mess of them. It would generate multitudes of redundant, unnecessary classes and styles; improperly applied them to objects such as form fields; and it completely falls apart when working with older pre-CSS web pages. So unless you are on top of every action Expression Web does (sometimes time consuming to sort through) you would be left with an unmanageable in-page style sheet, even if you have specified an external style sheet. When examining the generated HTML code after complex editing there would often be abandoned, empty or unnecessary tags throughout the code requiring manual cleanup. While we are accustomed to having imperfect code coming from all WYSIWUG software on the market, there was definitely an inordinate number of rouge tags lingering around.

When working in design mode, the handles used for sizing and moving objects are incredibly finicky requiring patience to get desired results. Adjustments such as sizing column widths in an HTML table is literally impossible since when you move one column, other columns would self adjust. Large blocks of content are sometimes difficult to highlight, and under certain circumstances edited text fails to retain it's correct styling and formatting. We were also disappointed with the fact that you had to save your web page in order to preview it, which is a departure from how FrontPage handled previewing. While the overall interface design of Expression Web is productive and familiar to FrontPage users, we would have loved to see the new Microsoft ribbon based interface used. Many of the application windows such as the Page, Cell and Table properties windows could have benefited from a clean up, as their efficiency is less than ideal and have survived literally unchanged through many versions of FrontPage.

What was most disturbing were the seemingly random application crashes doing even simple tasks such as inserting an image or using the image hot spot editor. After such a crash the program would attempt to do a recovery of what you had been working on - often with no results. Then there were the repeatable crashes where a specific HTML page would cause the application to buckle, even after reloading and trying again. There were simply too many instances where unexplained and sometimes strange behavior would stifle productivity. Such as on occasion we found that the undo function would sometimes revert back several steps instead of one as it should, causing lost work.

In summary, while there are certainly numerous advancements in Expression Web over FrontPage, they are overshadowed by the litany of bugs, instabilities, inefficient code and strange quirks that are quite simply difficult to live with. This is a shame because Expression Web would most certainly have been a slam dunk if all or even most of the problems were addressed before going to retail.

Expression Web system requirements are Windows Vista or XP; 512mb memory; Pentium 700MHz processor or above (we would recommend a more contemporary processor such as a Pentium 4 or Core 2 Duo); 1.5GB of available drive space; and a minimum 1024x768 screen resolution. Expression Web has a recommended full retail price of $299USD and $99USD upgrade from FrontPage price. It is available immediately at major electronics retailers and online at the Microsoft web site for download.


    Improved CSS handling over FrontPage Familiar interface makes transfer from FrontPage easy for novice users Significantly more opportunities to produce dynamic content through. NET 2.0 objects and RSS Real-time analysis of code standards compliance and automated correction Improved code view with context sensitive color coding of tags and variables Automatic detection and highlighting of broken tags Auto fill and tag suggestion drop downs expedite manual coding process Comprehensive find and replace functionality that is excellent at bulk find and replacements


    Seemingly random application crashes in addition to repeatable page specific crashes Unstable undo stepping at times reverts several steps Incredibly finicky resizing handles on design mode elements Improper methods of applying styles to form elements Often found abandoned, empty or unnecessary tags in code Impossible design mode table column width sizing without manual tweaking Help system that doesn't automatically address immediate window elements Generation of identical, redundant and unnecessary CSS classes Even with external style sheet specified continues to generate on-page style classes Having to save prior to previewing page design edits, and will not render PHP extension pages Quirky content selection makes selecting large areas of content tedious Tends to butcher the code of older pre-CSS based pages Occasional difficulty editing text in design mode without affect style of edited characters General bugs and quirks that disrupt general day to day productivity Would have liked to see the innovative Microsoft ribbon interface used

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/



Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse. Compact wireless optical mouse for portability with notebooks

. Posted in small Business questions

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Tuesday December 14, 2004; 3:00pm EST

Anybody that has lugged a notebook case through an airport several times knows the value of packing lightly. Bulky power blocks, a multitude of peripherals and wads of cables all add up to real space and weight issues. So when Microsoft launched its new Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse into the market, it made perfect sense - the need for such a device certainly exists.

The Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse is a full featured mouse, packing the latest optical technology, wireless connectivity and scroll wheel, into an ultra convenient form factor. At less than a 3/4 the size of a typical mouse, its certainly a space saver, but can it live up to what we have come to expect from a full size mouse?

The mouse comes packed with the latest Microsoft IntelliPoint software, mouse, USB wireless receiver, limited documentation and a single AA Alkaline battery. The mouse comes in either a light 'winter blue' (quite attractive), or dark 'slate' color appears almost like a pug version of its bigger brother IntelliMouse Explorer. Ergonomically designed, in a symmetrical fashion it is suitable for both right and left handed users. Two mouse buttons and a scroll wheel are integrated onto the steep sloping front that arches up into the back of the mouse. A silver button disguised as a logo on the back can be pressed and the top of the mouse opens to reveal the battery compartment. The bottom features the optical reader and an absolutely brilliant compartment the USB wireless receiver fits inside during transit. Overall an ingenious design that works hard to use every molecule of space efficiently.

Getting the mouse up and running for the first time is as easy as running the included setup software, plugging in the USB wireless receiver and pressing the 'connect' button under the mouse. All of which can be done in a couple of minutes. Subsequent uses of the mouse simply requires you to plug the USB adaptor into the notebook and you're ready to go. The included IntelliPoint software offers a generous level of mouse customization, battery level and signal strength indicators.

The real test was when we began actually using the mouse for day to day activities. We were completely blown away by the comfort the mouse offered. The mouse buttons had an excellent click feedback, the scroll wheel was firm and accurate yet sufficiently fluent, and the shape somehow made it as easy to use as a full sized mouse. The upper body plastic felt secure and well constructed, the molded rubber lower half added comfort and grip. With the batteries installed the weighting of the device was a perfectly neutral amount so that you feel the device has substance while at the same time not being cumbersome.

During our tests, the mouse tracked our movements and mouse button clicks almost without fail. We had one moment where the mouse did drop its connection momentarily, and then restored back to normal. The mouse was also better than others we have tested for coming out of its hibernation mode it uses to conserve battery life - with literally no noticeable lag time. An excellent feature of this mouse is that when the USB receiver is stored inside the mouse during transit, it puts the mouse to sleep until such time that you need to use it again. Battery life is rated by the manufacturer to be approximately 3 months.

Overall the mouse simply went beyond our expectations, in every aspect. It is amazing how the mouse is able to feel like its bigger brothers, while packing so much into its miniature design. The mouse is compatible with Windows XP, 2000, Me, 98 or MAC OS X, 10.1 to 10.3.x; requires a USB port and CD-ROM drive. The Microsoft Wireless Notebook Mouse retails for $39.99USD, includes an above average 2 year warranty, and is available immediately from major electronics and computing retailers across America and Canada.

PROS - Excellent design and construction quality; comfortable even during extended use; solid mouse button feedback; ingenious USB receiver compartment; great optical tracking and wireless connectivity; well implemented mouse hibernation and battery saving features; ease of installation and use.

CONS - None, however including a protective pouch for the mouse would have been a nice touch.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/



What Small Businesses Are Having the Best 2011?

. Posted in small Business questions

Now that June has come and gone, we can officially reflect on the first half of 2011. Who-s having a good year and who-s encountering hard times? In this infographic, we look at what small business industries are performing well and which ones aren-t in 2011 - all based on aggregated and anonymized data from QuickBooks Online.


Support Group: The Shape of I. T. in Small Business

. Posted in small Business questions

Since they are small and nimble operations, small businesses are set up to move fast as they adopt and deploy the latest and greatest tech advancements. The only problem: The shoestring budgets they have prohibit regular tech upgrades for many small businesses. In this infographic, we take a look at the current state of IT in small business. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.


Is Your Performance Review Doing Harm or Good?

. Posted in small Business questions

As intended, performance reviews are a good thing. Employees are given feedback about their performance and what their professional future might hold. (The fact that the announcement of raises often accompanies these reviews doesn’t hurt, either).


Symantec Norton Antivirus 2005. Windows platform antivirus protection for files, email, internet, instant messenger

. Posted in small Business questions

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Wednesday, January 19, 2005; 4:00pm EST

The statistics on how quickly your internet connected computer will become infected by viruses, worms or other menaces without adequate virus protection are simply staggering. We aren't talking about months, weeks or even days until infection... we're talking hours! So the real question is, who's going to be your defender against all of this?

Symantec recently launched the new 2005 version of its highly successful Norton Antivirus product, complete with new interface tweaks, a new point of protection and some other goodies. Norton Antivirus 2005 includes the anti-virus software and a 1 year subscription that automatically updates your software with the latest virus information to help it defend off all the latest predators. The software protects your file system (including compressed files), incoming and outgoing emails, instant messenger and your internet connection against viruses, trojan horses, internet worms, spyware, and malicious scripts. It achieves this by watching all of these entry points while running in the background of your computer.

Installation of Norton Antivirus 2005 is simple. The 2005 version features a pre-install scan for detection and removal of viruses that may cause installation problems. After installation another scan of your hard drive is required, so be sure to set aside a block of time for the installation.

Once up and running, the Norton Antivirus 2005 icon resides in your system tray and with a double click you have your complete control panel to its status and settings. The new interface is cleaner, with vital information easily gathered at a glance, but generally similar to the 2004 version. The options button leads to an impressive amount of configurable options affecting all elements of the anti-virus tool. If your email frequently contains viruses, you will certainly want to change how the email virus scanner handles notification as the frequent notices in its default setting were annoying to put it lightly.

For the most part, Norton Antivirus 2005 is non-invasive during your daily use of your computer, once you have all of the notification settings to your desired configuration. Email scanning is swift and seamless (an improvement over the 2004 version), and all other scanning is completely transparent to the user. Virus definition updates are done automatically in the background, and you are notified by a small non-intrusive notice box that pops up from your task bar. A new 'QuickScan' tool can scan your hard drive whenever new virus definitions have been downloaded and installed. With 2005, you are now able to disable anti-virus scanning temporarily or until the system is rebooted for such things as software installations from original discs for example. 2005 requires relatively small resources to run, and does not seem to impact system performance by any perceivable amount.

As for its effectiveness in eliminating viruses, we were frequently alerted by Norton Antivirus 2005 of viruses or worms attempting to connect, save or execute on our computer. Showing that it was hard at work fending off attacks in emails (primarily), on web sites and in downloaded files. However, after a few months of use it did not fully protect from all viruses entering our test computer - as a hard drive scan detected 2 viruses it did not prevent from residing on our hard drive. We would have liked to see the  automated drive scan feature configurable so that if the computer is in use, that it perhaps waits until the system is idol before commencing the scan. The automated scan was known to 'pop-up' at very inconvenient moments, the intelligence to kick in when the computer is idol would be more ideal.

Norton Antivirus 2005 is not without its problems. A known bug which hasn't been resolved causes what we believe to be quite serious system problems if you move the Norton Antivirus 2005 icon from its default folder to another one of your choice; and we have had problems with it reliably updating its worm protection based updates telling us we did not have an up to date subscription.

Overall, Norton Antivirus 2005 makes a solid effort in protecting your workstation. Its ability to protect a multitude of virus types and attack points, almost transparent operation and ease of use make it ideal for most workstations and environments. Users purchasing virus protection for the first time would be highly recommended to purchase Norton Antivirus 2005, users with 2004 should consider it as the pricing is in-line with a subscription update and offers a cleaner interface and more features; users with competing products such as McAfee should consider it especially when coming time to renew their subscription.

Norton Antivirus 2005 minimum system requirements are Windows XP/2000/Me/98, 133MHz - 300MHz processor and 64MB - 128MB of memory (depending on operating system), CD compatible drive, Internet Explorer 5.5 or later; and supports AOL, Yahoo, MSN and Windows messenger clients. Recommended retail pricing is $49.95USD for full version, and save up to 40% for upgrades. Check for rebates and specials at major retailers. Available immediately from all major electronics and computer retailers.

PROS - Improved interface; fast email scanning; transparent operation; easily configured; excellent virus attack point coverage; regular virus definition updates; low system resource utilization.

CONS - Unresolved bugs; automated drive scan sometimes intrusive; allowed some viruses to slip through that it later found during hard drive scanning.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/



Maximize the Impact of Training

. Posted in small Business questions

By Ron Kaufman, World Wide Information Outlet

Friday, May 7, 2004; 12:00pm EST

Training your staff is an essential investment in today's changing and competitive environment. But just sending staff to attend training programs is not enough. You can maximize the impact of your investment by following these key guidelines for management and staff interaction "before", "during" and "after" the training program.

Before the Training Program

    Review with staff why they were selected for the program and discuss anticipated benefits for the organization. This shifts their perspective from purely personal, "I am going to attend a training", to personal and organizational, "The organization is making an investment so I can attend a training. The purpose of this investment is to help me upgrade my skills so that our organization becomes even more competitive and productive."

    Ask participants to talk about how they might benefit from the program. Where do they see opportunities for improvement in their own skills and/or behavior?

    Discuss and obtain agreement from your staff on their punctuality, attendance and participation in the training program.

    Redistribute participants' workload during their absence so they do not return to a mountain of pending matters. This helps participants keep their minds focused on the course.

    If sending more than one participant, create a "buddy system" before they go. Buddy teams can ensure that both participants get maximum value and understanding from the training.

During the Training Program

    If the course is more than one day long, have participants brief their managers as the course progresses. This can take the form of a short face-to-face meeting, a telephone call at the end of the day, or a summary fax written and sent overnight.

    Participants should identify what material was covered during the day, what new learning occurred, and what value they see in applying this learning back at work.

    Discuss any ambiguities or uncertainties that arise. Help participants identify examples of learning points in application on the job. Help formulate clarifying questions for participants to bring back to the course instructor on the following day.

    If there are interim assignments to complete, engage others who are not attending the course in discussions and deliberations. This brings the learning experience back into the office, building internal an support network for during and after the training.

After the Training Program

    Meet with course participants to review:

      What were the most valuable learnings from this program?

      What will you do differently now at work? in which situations?

      When will you begin or try this new approach?

      What suggestions do you have to improve or customize the course?

      Who else should attend this particular training program?

    Discuss organizational improvement based upon the participants' new learning. Be willing to implement new suggestions on a trial basis with participants involved in tracking and implementation.

About Source of Article Ron Kaufman is a leading author, trainer and keynote speaker in the fields of improving Service Quality and implementing Customer Focus. Based in Singapore, Ron's clients include many of the Fortune 100 companies, plus government agencies and associations around the world.

More ideas, techniques, articles and information are available, FREE, on the website: http://www. ronkaufman. com/



6 Ways To Build a Great Corporate Culture for Your Small Business

. Posted in small Business questions

Small businesses may come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties, but the most successful of them all share one common bond - an outstanding corporate culture that is comfortable and conducive to inspired productivity and boundless creativity. Of course, many small business owners will tell you that-s easier said than done: They-re too busy managing payroll and trying to get real work done to bother with cultivating the aforementioned corporate culture.


Looking at Customer Service 2.0 with Gripe and Tello

. Posted in small Business questions

When customers are upset, they’re not necessarily turning to the Better Business Bureau anymore. With the explosion of social media, many have found that it can be equally effective to complain on Facebook and Twitter. Or just look at all the one and two star ratings on Yelp.


In Leadership, Good Enough Is Pretty Bad

. Posted in small Business questions

By Brent Filson

Friday, March 11, 2005; 4:00pm EST

Summary: Having a "good enough" attitude is a serious stumbling block for leaders. Such an attitude allows them to avoid the hard work of finding better ways to accomplish things. Leaders will be more accomplished, and will accomplish more, when they eschew "good enough" and adopt an attitude of having a "powerful dissatisfaction" with the way things are.

The first time I meet a leader to decide if we should work together, I invariably ask one question. The answer to that question gives me an idea of whether we'll have a productive relationship. The answer also tells me how the career of that leader might turn out.

I ask, "Are you satisfied with the results you're getting now?"

It's a simple enough question, yet it points to a world of difference between leaders. Because if the answer is "yes" then our meeting will be brief. We'll quickly go our separate ways. My leadership methods can't help a satisfied leader, a leader who lives by "good enough." Those methods can only help if that leader has a powerful dissatisfaction with the results h/she is getting now.

To understand this, let's go back to basics: Leaders do nothing more important than get results. If you can't get results, you won't be leading for long. Somebody who can get results is always waiting in line to take your place. If "good enough" is okay with you, you are the next best thing to somebody who can't or won't get needed results. So, "good enough" is your enemy, "powerful dissatisfaction" your benefactor.

I'm not saying that you should go around in a funk powerfully dissatisfied with everything and everyone. You'd be a royal pain. What I am saying is results should be seen not as an end in and of themselves but part of a natural process to get more. Powerful dissatisfaction does not have to be a downer. It can be a joy. The joy of having the opportunity and privilege of thinking anew and acting anew. To be powerfully dissatisfied, one must be relaxed, open, caring, and humble. Banishing "good enough", embracing "powerful dissatisfaction" becomes a profoundly enriching way not only of being a leader but of living one's life.

So, take a joyful, powerful dissatisfaction into your leadership activities and see the difference it makes in your interactions with others and in results.

About the Author

2005 ? The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. For 2 decades, he has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at www. actionleadership. com


Tricks of the Trade for Writing Newsletters

. Posted in small Business questions

By Glenn Murray

Friday, November 14, 2003; 3:30pm EST

Company newsletters can be an amazingly successful marketing technique. Whether you want to up-sell or cross-sell, establish your brand or establish your authority, or simply reach a wider market, a newsletter can do the job for you. You just have to make sure you write it right.

Television, radio, and print advertising are often too expensive for many businesses to justify - especially small businesses. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Today's internet and email technologies make company newsletters a very inexpensive, yet surprisingly effective, form of advertising. When it comes to newsletters, big companies and small are finally competing on a level playing field.

So what is an email newsletter?

An emailed newsletter serves much the same purpose as a traditional company newsletter. Think of it as a short newspaper - but instead of relating to a town, city or country, it relates to your business. You can include articles on new products or services, awards, recent success stories and case studies, promotions, specials, share price rises, company events, research. And if it's a quiet month, you can simply write articles that might help your customers out.

8 Steps to Success

Follow 8 simple rules of thumb, and you'll soon be writing great newsletters and reaping the rewards.

1. Keep It New! Your readers won't waste time reading something they

already know, so make it 'news they can use'.

2. Keep it personal: Always use your reader's name. Make sure when someone signs up, you get their name, then use it in the subject line, in

the greeting, and anywhere else you can.

3. Know your reader: Find out what your reader is interested in. Do some pro-active research, invite response, or use an email marketing solution such as Ezemail which will track the links your readers click on and keep a history of their activity.

4. Let them know you: Let your personality shine through. Readers are far more likely to become loyal if they feel they know you. Always include a bit of you in the newsletter, whether it's humour, personal details, personal anecdotes, or personal views.

5. Subject is Headline: The subject line of an email newsletter is like a front-page headline in a newspaper. You need to draw the reader in, so make it engaging and relevant (maybe promise a benefit) but no more than 25 characters so your reader can see it all before opening the email.

6. Make it 'scannable': Most people don't read online - they scan. Make

sure you use easy-to-read bullet points and sub-headings. Link to your

website and post extra details there.

7. Easy unsubscribe: Make your unsubscribe easy to find. If it's obvious, they'll feel safe and can then appreciate the content. To many people, the ease of unsubscribing is an indicator of the integrity of your company.

8. Forward to a friend: Include a link to encourage readers to forward the newsletter on to their friends and colleagues. Find an email marketing solution which allows you to do this and sit back and watch your database grow!

Source of Article Glenn Murray heads copywriting agency Divine Write. He can be contacted on (02)43346222 or at glenn@divinewrite. com. Visit http://www. divinewrite. com/ for further details. Ezemail enables you to create, manage, deliver and track your email marketing and sales communication. Email solutions@ezemail. com. au or visit http://www. ezemail. com. au/.



CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4. Complete graphics editing and designing application suite

. Posted in small Business questions

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Thursday, April 24, 2008; 6:00pm EST

While there may be a plethora of graphics editing software out there, only a small few would fit into the upper class professional use category. Of this elite group of feature rich graphics software, Corel has long been a main contender with its CorelDRAW Graphics Suite package. With consistent releases of new versions sporting new features and an evolving look and feel that keeps pace with the times, we were keen to see what the latest version, X4 would bring to the table.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the suite, it combines the power of the CorelDRAW vector illustration program, PHOTO-PAINT image editing program for web graphics editing and photo related work, and PowerTRACE along with a great collection of other utilities and content to form an all-in-one graphics workshop that can keep even the most seasoned professional pleased. Whether you’re working in print or on the web it is a suitable environment for both intermediate and professional graphic design work.

New to X4 is a tweaked interface, enhanced color matching, improved included content, live text formatting, RAW format support, image straightening, histogram feedback, higher precision tone curve, the ability to export secured PDF documents and more. The interface improvements mostly affect icon design and minor menu changes. While the changes work to modernize the look of the application, some of the icons at times can be slightly confusing or too closely related to other icons. We were impressed with the improved Vista integration as this permitted scalable File operation windows so that a larger number of thumbnails could be browsed at a time, which is great when searching through stock libraries. Generally you will find working in the refreshed X4 environment to be pleasantly effortless and highly usable.

A key improvement in X4 is in the area of text formatting where great changes over previous versions make applying styles and having more control when doing so a huge bonus. Seeing the changes in your graphics live as you apply them is a significant time saver. Text formatting docker takes fine tuning your text to an even higher level of detail than before. The only thing on our wish list would be for customized anti-aliasing.

As with prior versions, the Cut-Out Lab and Image Adjustments Lab have proven to be fantastic tools. The Cut Out Lab makes quick work of cutting images in even the most complicated situations (think hair against a waterfall background). The Adjustments Lab gives you a stunning toolbox of goodies such as Hue, Contrast, Brightness and so on that you can use and apply all at the same time for one stop image manipulation. Both tools offer an amazing array of previewing, live and history views so that you can compare changes across multiple variations if so desired, or compare changes within the very image you’re working with by dividing the image into original and newly adjusted segments.

New to X4 is an image straightening tool for when you scan documents or images into the application. And in a word, it’s incredible. Skeptical at first, due to so many other promises from other programs that were broken, we were amazed at how well it worked. Instead of the assumed outcome of an image that was either too aliased or too anti-aliased, straitened images came out perfect every time without fail. If you scan a lot of photography or images – this feature’s for you.

What about users that will be pulling in photos from their digital cameras? CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4 now has native RAW camera support allowing direct access from your digital camera. And Corel continues to excel in being able to open and save in just about any format imaginable including Photoshop for when working with others using that format.

As usual the suite helps get new users going with hours of training videos; a comprehensive help system; a library of professionally designed templates and clip arts; over 1,000 stock images are included and intuitive application design that lends itself to faster learning. Also as usual expect a huge assortment of over 1,000 OpenType fonts to help diversify your font library, although we wished the installation process of getting those fonts onto your computer to be a little clearer and seamless.

Ultimately, how is X4 to use on a day to day basis? It’s a joy! It’s fast and responsive, rich with features that designers and editors can make good use of, and overall a friendly environment to get stuff done. Our only issues were around large file handling which sometimes brought Photo-Paint to a crawl or crash our test system (we were experimenting with mammoth poster sized images at high DPI and resolution); and the somewhat ancient set of image Effects that could use some modernizing. That’s a pretty short list, and nothing that should hold you back from seriously considering CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X4 for your graphics needs. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is always one of those programs that puts a smile on our faces when we get to see the latest version, and X4 is no exception.

So what do you need to get Corel Graphics Suite X4 on your computer? Minimum requirements include Windows XP or Vista 32-bit or 64-bit, 512MB memory (although we would recommend a least 2GB on a Vista system due to the nature of the operating system), 430MB drive space and a Pentium III 800MHz processor (again, reality dictates something with a bit more grunt such as a high-end Pentium 4 or modern dual core processor). It is available now from major computing and electronics retailers and the Corel online store for $429 full version or $199 for the upgrade.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/



Tips for Building a Smartphone-Friendly Website

. Posted in small Business questions

Thanks to the popularity of the iPhone and its ilk, smartphone usage is booming. As of December 2010, 63.2 million Americans were using smartphones—up 60 percent from the year before. The analyst group IDC predicts that the market will grow by nearly another 50 percent this year alone.


How to Market Your Business through Mobile Advertising

. Posted in small Business questions

An ever-growing percentage of the population is using smartphones and other mobile browsers to access the web. So, in addition to creating marketing campaigns focused around traditional internet advertising, it makes sense to focus some of your marketing dollars around building a mobile advertising program, too. Here are some strategies for creating a compelling mobile marketing campaign.


Tips For A Successful Internet Business

. Posted in small Business questions

By Loring A. Windblad

Wednesday, March 23, 2005; 6:15pm EST

Let?s take a look at Business and Business Philosophy. A business exists to 1) provide a service or product to customers and 2) to make a reasonable profit for the business owner.

In the past this took the form of two kinds of traveling salesman (the itinerant traveling salesman, working out of his wagon or truck, who brought otherwise unavailable products to places who simply could not economically travel the distance required to find those products?.and the ?drummer?, or ?route salesman? who went to the various ?fixed location? businesses and sold them their ?restocking supplies?) and the ?fixed location? businesses (stores) who carried a selection of ?most needed? products in their store for customers to come in, select from and purchase.

Pretty much this mode of operation stayed true from the mid 1800?s to the late 1900?s. But by 1990 there was a new inroad into this model of business ? and business philosophy. Or was there? And just what was that inroad?

The Inroad was ?The Internet?, in existence since the 1960?s, started ?going commercial? by about 1990. It is now 2005 and this commercialization is an ongoing and evolving process. Business has changed and is changing. Many fixed location store fronts also have web locations and offer home delivery for online ordering, even for local customers. But how about ?Business Philosophy?? It is changing, also? Or is it?

Right now internet businesses are proliferating at an alarming rate. I cannot count and possibly no one can count the total number of internet businesses in the world today. There are probably between 100 and 1000 ?new? internet businesses starting every day somewhere in the world, and this figure could be much higher. There even is a ?new category? of business which has evolved, sort of to keep track of those businesses.

No, it is not the electronic store front which offers products or services to customers anywhere in the world (though this is a major evolution from a standard ?fixed location? real store front on your local street), nor is it the ?hosting service? which electronically locates and ?displays? your electronic storefront for customers to find. They are not unlike the building owner who sublets space for offices and stores. The new type of business is the ?search engine? which ?locates, catalogues and categorizes? all of these various business enterprises and allows you to find what you are looking for.

It is said that there are hundreds of different search engines out there, proliferating and multiplying like lemmings?.and, like lemmings, falling by the wayside for various inadequacies. Except for the best and biggest. The number one ?search engine? is probably Google. However, MSN is gaining and Alexa, All-the-Web, Alta Vista, AOL, Ask Jeeves, Lycos, Matilda, Scrub the Web and a few others may be considered the ?major? search engines, those which comprise, say, 95% or more of total search engine use worldwide.

There is possible a second type of ?new business? brought to us by the Internet. This is the browser. In fact, the browser and the search engine work hand in hand and are completely different entities. Basically, they generally are set to work hand in hand and mutually complement one another. In fact, in my mind, the search engine is slightly more valuable but less independent.

The Number One Browser is likely to be Microsoft?s Internet Explorer. But there are several more ?major? browsers, which include AOL/Netscape, Firefox and Opera, as well as many more. These four probably comprise more than 95% of the worldwide ?browser use? on the internet.

You could compare them (very loosely) thusly: look at the search engine as an exquisitely detailed map, showing not only everything that is there by business and location, but everything that is inside those locations ? the books and other resources within a library, the entire stock of the local store, all the services of a print shop, etc. And look at the browser as the vehicle that gets you from where you are to the resources, products and services you are looking for. It?s nice to have such a detailed map but the map is useless without the ability to go there and see and use what is there.

The search engine, slightly more valuable in a sense, is not a ?stand-alone? item. It requires a browser to be truly functional. The browser, however, is a stand-alone item which benefits mightily by the information the search engine provides. Compare the search-engineless browser to a long trip in a vehicle with an occasional rare find ? a resource you may or may not have been looking for.

So for you to be successful in your internet business endeavor you must not only be there ? on the internet ? and accessible to browsers, you must find a way to ?be found? by the search engines and mapped so that the people using the browsers can find you.

To do this you must do several things. You must build your web site cleanly and meeting the ?search criteria? of the various ?search engines?. Ideally you will want to use a pleasing layout, probably a cascading style sheet, optimize your verbal content for the search engine algorithms and engage the services of someone who really knows how to do this kind of work. You must also carefully, very carefully indeed, select the host for your web site. More on this in the next article, but see my #1 web site below.

I personally recommend Lawrence Deon of http://www. rankingyourwaytothebank. com/

I have seen several resources out there similar to what Lawrence Deon provides and they range in price from triple the cost to more than 10 times the cost?.and they don?t do anything that Ranking Your Way To The Bank doesn?t do.

Organic Greens dot US ranks right up in the top 10 for nearly 20 different search terms and on most of the world?s major search engines. This is purely thanks to Lawrence Deon. I have this one up and three more right now in varying stages of construction, all with Lawrence Deon?s help. And I have more web sites up which are designed with thanks to Lawrence Deon.

About the Author

Loring Windblad has operated his own HBBs for nearly 40 years, is a published author and freelance writer. Loring has written books, articles, grants, business plans and resumes that got the job done right. His latest HBB endeavor is: http://www. organicgreens. us


Domain Registration Remains Hot

. Posted in small Business questions

By Dana Greenlee, co-Host WebTalkGuys Radio

Monday, February 23, 2003; 5:00pm EST

The domain name business is hot. So much for the dot-com downturn.

Total domain name registrations reached an all-time high of 60 million, growing 16 percent in 2003. Just during the last three months of 2003, 1.7 million more domains were registered.

The scramble for the most popular type of domain ? one ending with either. com or. net ? comprises 52 percent of all registrations. When you account for the other four top choices - .org, .info, .biz and. us ? you?ll find that 37 million domains have been registered with the popular extensions.

Web. com is one of the worlds top domain registrars ? and no doubt the one with the best domain name for themselves.

Web. com has more than 300,000 customers providing domain names, e-mail service, Web hosting and e-commerce solutions. They were a recent pick by TopHost. com and got top rating at CNET. Web. com CEO Will Pemble took a few minutes to share his thoughts on his company and the industry.

Q: What is Web. com?s history and what do you do?

Pemble: Web. com began over five years ago as a domain name company. Specifically, we began offering ?web. com? domain names, which are sub domains of the web. com second level domain. For example, if you went to Network Solutions and tried to register ?jewelry. com?, chances are it was already taken. We identified early on a need for good, short, easy-to-remember domain names that would work exactly the same way as any dot-com name. Following that analogy, if ?jewelry. com? was taken, chances are that ?jewelry. web. com? might still be available. We essentially doubled the inventory for good, easy-to-remember domains.

Back in the day, very few people understood how the Internet works. The dot-net top level domain was useless for the average consumer. People understood dot-com, as in ?I work for a dot-com.? Dot-web-dot-com still brought with it the ?Internet feeling,? if you will. We began offering this back in the late 90?s as a free service and really quickly registered well in excess of 100,000 web. com domains. We supported those with advertising. We?ve now changed our business model ? we still offer the dot-web-dot-com.

Q: Has your core business changed?

Pemble: We are, according to just about any Web hosting review sites ? TopHosts. com, WebHostDirectory. com ? in the Top Ten, in some cases number one, Web hosting provider in the world. We came about that business in response to requests from customers: ?Dear Web. com, I just bought a domain name and now would like a place to host it.? At the beginning, when we were just a few guys with offices in someone?s fourth bedroom, we would refer the hosting to web hosting companies. With service to the customer being our core value, we found ourselves supporting Web hosting customers of other companies. We slowly came around to the realization that if we were going to provide support to them on an on-going basis, it probably made a lot of sense for us to be collecting the monthly Web hosting fees rather than just the one-time affiliate fee.

Q: I notice you offer domain name registration for $6.95 per year. That seems to be the lowest price I?ve found.

Pemble: I think I read somewhere that there are as many as 60,000 domain name companies online. I?m not sure if there is a lower price. Web. com is one of the 15 largest domain name registrars on the planet. We register tens of thousands of domains per month. Of those we consider our competitors, we offer the most competitive price and we add value to each domain name by providing customers with a completely free one-page Website that they can use as a sort of online business card.

Q: This past week you announced a new partnership. Can you tell us about that?

Pemble: Yes, with Name Intelligence (www. nameintelligence. com) located in Seattle. They collect, parse, sort and understand super deep information about how the domain name business and landscape functions on an all-day, everyday basis. A Website that Name Intelligence runs is www. whois. sc, which is one of the 600 busiest sites on the Internet. You would go to Whois to look up domains names to see what?s available and see alternatives. Name Intelligence knows what the ranks of all domain names registrars are on a daily basis.

Q: What is your partnership going to entail?

Pemble: We, along with several of the ten biggest registrars on the planet, use Name Intelligence to power look-ups, for statistics and for data mining. Any company that is serious about being in the domain name business is partners with Name Intelligence on some level. We use them to power our look-ups. If you go to Web. com, type in ?Webtalk. com? and click ?search,? the results you will see are powered by Name Intelligence.

Q: What are you seeing in terms of new domain registrations? Is that market growing fast?

Pemble: In 2001-2002, domain registration started to drop off a little bit. Fewer people we?re renewing domains or registering new ones. This was part and parcel of the burst of the bubble. As a whole, there was sort of a lull, but the domain name business is alive and well. People are registering tens of thousands of domains per day all over the planet. New businesses pop up every single day. The Internet is a key piece of any new business. If you have a business, you need a Website. At the very least, just a catalog Website or e-mail ? and in most cases you need some sort of e-commerce presence. All of that sits on top of your domain name.

Q: I think there are 37 million domain names currently registered. I would think we?d start to run out of usable domain names.

Pemble: Somewhere in excess of 95 percent of all the words in the English dictionary are already registered as dot-coms. On the flip side, something like 95 percent of all the words in the English dictionary are available as dot-web-dot-com, so there?s tremendous opportunity for Web. com and its customers.

About Source of Article Dana Greenlee is producer and co-host of the WebTalkGuys Radio Show.  WebTalkGuys, a Seattle-based talk show featuring technology news and interviews. It is broadcast on WebTalkGuys Radio, Sonic Box, via Pocket PC at Mazingo Networks and the telephone via the Mobile Broadcast Network.  It's on the radio in Seattle at KLAY 1180 AM.  Past show and interviews are also webcast via the Internet at http://www. webtalkguys. com/. Greenlee is also a member of the The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.



7 Ways to Keep Your Team Motivated

. Posted in small Business questions

By Kelley Robertson

Monday, January 19, 2003; 10:15am EST

Many managers mistakenly think that money is the prime motivator for their employees. However, according to surveys by several different companies, money is consistently ranked five or lower by most employees. So if money is not the best way to motivate your team, what is?

The three most important issues according to employees are; respect, a sense of accomplishment, and recognition. Yes, money is important but it is not as critical as these other components. Taking these into consideration, let?s explore seven ways to keep your team motivated:

1. Involve them. Many employees want to be involved in the ongoing development and progress of their company. Plus, they often have insightful ideas that can make a significant difference in the company. And when they are involved, they buy-in faster and resist less. This means you can implement the change(s) more quickly and easily.

2. Communicate. Very few businesses can be accused of over-communicating. A frequent axiom in business is, ?No news is good news.? However, employees want regular updates on the progress of the business and their personal performance. Use memos, email, telephone, and one-on-one and group meetings to keep your team apprised. Talk to your team members regularly, have lunch or coffee with them, Let them know if the business is on track. Tell them what challenges are currently being faced (they may have suggestions). It is also important that you give them feedback on their performance. If you have a concern with a specific component, tell them and give them the opportunity to correct their behavior. When I worked in the corporate world I was always surprised how many employees did not receive feedback of any kind pertaining to their performance.

3. Celebrate individual and team performance. Catch people doing something right and focus on recognizing excellent performance. On an individual basis you can provide positive reinforcement, issue awards, use a corporate newsletter to highlight specific achievements. Send thank-you, birthday, and anniversary cards as well as congratulatory notes. Make personal phone calls, and send emails. Better yet, if you work in a large organization, have a senior executive send the email or make the call.

To recognize team efforts, post performance charts on the wall or throw an impromptu get-together., Treat them to lunch or a pizza party, post team pictures on your Intranet and in their work environment or give them plaques, certificates, coffee mugs, etc.

Ultimately, the more of these approaches you incorporate into your motivation strategy, the more energized your team will become. Make it a point to recognize someone everyday.

4. Set challenging goals. My experience has taught me that people strive to achieve what is expected of them. If you set challenging goals your team will work hard to accomplish them, providing of course, they are realistically attainable. It is amazing what people can accomplish when they are given the opportunity to perform. Communicate these goals and keep your team informed on the company?s progress.

5. Give them the tools to succeed. No team will stay motivated if they do not have the necessary tools required to do their job. This includes; equipment, internal support, inventory, marketing materials, training, etc. Simple things annoy people. Many years ago I worked in a restaurant where the owner refused to give the servers trays to carry drinks because he thought it was an unnecessary expense. Frustration ran high when servers had to make more trips to and from the bar.

6. Manage poor performance. Your team expects you to manage individuals who do not perform to standard or contribute fully to the efforts of the team. However, many managers ignore poor performance because they are afraid of the potential conflict. Instead, they hope that the situation will resolve itself. It never does and this ?blind? approach affects profitability, causes higher turnover, and contributes to low morale in the workplace. While poor performance and conflict are seldom enjoyable to deal with, you have a responsibility to your team and the company to manage it. Here is the B. E.S. T. method of dealing with these situations:

Begin with the situation. ?Pat, when we receive a shipment and you expect the others to put it away??

Express the result. ??it causes friction because everyone is expected to pitch in.?

State the desired change. ?In the future I expect you to cooperate with the rest of the group to ensure that the shipment is stored quickly. This means I want you to stop whatever you are working on and help put away the stock.?

Tell them the consequence. ?If you don?t contribute to this task I may be forced to take additional action.?

7. Lead by example. If you want your team to treat each other with and dignity, you need to set the tone. If you expect them to be motivated and enthusiastic it is critical that you behave in this manner. As an owner, manager or business leader, your team looks to you for direction and guidance.

Source of Article Kelley Robertson is a professional speaker and trainer on sales, sales management, negotiating, and employee motivation. For information on his programs, visit his website at http://www. kelleyrobertson. com/. He is also the author of ?Stop, Ask & Listen ? Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers.? Receive a FREE copy of ?100 Ways to Increase Your Sales? by subscribing to his 59-Second Tip, a free weekly e-zine at his website. You can also contact Kelley at 905-633-7750.



Groupon and Daily Deal Sites Facing a Growing Backlash

. Posted in small Business questions

If you run a consumer-facing small business, chances are you-ve been approached already by one of the growing surge of -daily deal- websites. The sales pitches are tempting… but are they really good for your company? A growing chorus of analysts are saying that Groupon and its ilk may not create the profit bonanza they claim. In fact, as Online MBA notes in the below infographic… it-s really all about keeping the eyes on the IPO.


Creating millionaire focus

. Posted in small Business questions

By Mike Martinez

Friday, December 08, 2006; 2:00pm EST

In today's high tech, multi-faceted world of online marketing, with it's hundreds of thousands of websites, affiliate programs and countless opportunities, focus is a very rare commodity. Yet focus is an undisputable prerequisite for success. Nothing can or will ever replace the power generated by a focused mind. Many golden opportunities have been squandered and lost by one simple fact... lack of focus. It seems as if the online community is always offering a greener pastier. The next opportunity looks better than the last. People jump from one program to another faster than they blink. Invariably the final result is the same. Wasted time. Money lost. And most importantly, feelings of frustration as if no program is worth the effort. The final result is quitting. Sometimes, just inches from success.

The reality is that this is the destiny for so many online marketers. Because very few actually practice focus, they are drawn into the propaganda offered by the millions of offers that promise effortless riches.

A mild study of those that acquire wealth online will point out some very interesting facts. First of all you will notice a dogged determination that cannot be broken. If they sit in front of their computers to shoot out ads, they are not distracted by pop ups, or offers of any kind. They set their minds on their task and start and finish with their original outcome. They get results.

Next you will see that they focus on their results. They question their actions and responses. They gauge results constantly. In doing so they are able to adjust their techniques ever so slightly to get the results they desire. Many times changing just one word or sentence in an ad can open the floodgates to wealth.

Another great lesson to be learned from the mega-earners is their marketing consistency. They focus on getting their message out in front of as many people as possible by employing a step by step marketing practice. Realizing the power of repeated exposure, they persevere through failed attempts knowing that if they continue success is certain. In fact, statistics prove 87% of sales come after 9 exposures to an offer. Think of how many people quit before they hit this minimum.

Finally, one of the most common focuses you will see in big earners is their never-ending desire for personal development. They are constantly reading and searching to find more effective marketing systems. They eat up anything available that will give them that slight edge. You see them attend seminars just to come out with one single idea. That ladies and gentlemen is commitment. That is focus. And the rewards speak for themselves. These people are among the top 1% of Americas wealthiest people. They do what they want, when they want, with whom they want, as much as they want. They are the personification of the American dream.

The American dream can be your reality if you learn and practice focusing on success. Take these online millionaires as mentors and follow their strategies of focus as outlined in here and you too will reap the bonanza and freedom of wealth without limits.

About the Author

Mike Martinez has been featured in national home business magazines and countless e-forums and ezines. His strategies for business success are helping thousands worldwide. http://www. automated-funds. com/.


Symantec Norton Antivirus 2006. Windows platform antivirus protection for files, email, internet, instant messenger

. Posted in small Business questions

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Friday, December 24, 2005; 7:30pm EST

Virus protection has become an absolute necessity in maintaining computer integrity, and selecting the most reliable virus detection software has become more important than ever before. New viruses and new methods of infection make detection and eradication all the more difficult, therefore requiring the vast resources of a company that can keep up with the influx of new virus creations.

Norton Antivirus has long been established as the benchmark software for virus detection and removal, and their new Norton Antivirus 2006 edition continues it's trend of gradual program refinements and enhancements.

Installation of the software is a relatively easy process, allowing time for a pre-scan of your computer and multiple reboots. The process was straight forward and required little user intervention. However, at the end of the installation the program became confused with numerous message alerts that conflicted with one another as to whether it was telling you updates were available; the fact that it was updating; and that you should check for updates and install them. While it is easy to resolve all of these conflicting reports, this is definitely something that could have been better handled by the installation program.

Once the software is installed, you have one system tray icon giving you access to the Norton Antivirus 2006 program; and another icon that sits in your windows task bar connected to the system tray. We were not particularly thrilled about this "Norton Protection Center" icon as it serves little more than to notify you of what Norton products are installed, and whether they are working. While this can be switched to the system tray to occupy less screen real estate, it unfortunately cannot be disabled.

When you open the Norton Antivirus 2006 program by the system tray icon or Start menu icon, you are presented with an interface similar to the previous version, that is clean, informative and well laid out. From this screen you can easily change settings and perform tasks as needed. Norton Antivirus 2006 offers an excellent level of customizability, allowing you to configure every aspect of its operation... everything from how it handles email viruses to what instant messengers should be protected. While Norton Antivirus 2006 automatically updates its self and its virus "definitions" in the background, you can also perform a manual update check. However, you will find little need to do anything manually with Norton Antivirus, it is a very hands-off and transparent program that will do its job well without any real user intervention.

Norton Antivirus 2006 covers just about any possible entry and exit point for a virus, leaving you well protected from receiving or transmitting a virus. Norton covers file (including compressed archive files) and email based viruses, instant messenger transmitted viruses, trojan horses, internet worms, keystroke logging software, adware and spyware. Adware and spyware scanning is a much needed enhancement to this new version, adware and spyware is a serious problem that should be treated like a virus, and thus be part of antivirus software. While Norton Antivirus 2006 covers the 3 popular MSN, Yahoo and AIM instant messengers, we were disappointed in the absence of Skype protection.

Also new this year, is the ability to perform quick scans instead of performing a lengthy full system scan each time you check your computer in addition to the background scanning. The quick scan targets typical virus locales and skips all of the less susceptible areas of your computer. This version also prevents malicious programs from changing your browser's home page settings.

We found this version an improvement in both scan speeds and detection rates. Immediately 2006 found 3 viruses the previous version did not. We performed a full system scan on our test box (Pentium 4 3.6GHz, 160GB SATA-II drive, 1GB memory running Windows XP) and scanned 480,551 files in approximately 52 minutes. We also noticed that email scanning performance has been vastly improved over the previous version; which was an item we hoped was going to be addressed and has been.

In addition to very regular updates of the virus definition files it uses to detect and clean viruses, it also utilizes technologies that attempt to detect yet unknown viruses. We were impressed with how Norton handles the virus detection and removal process, allowing you to take full control of what to do, or allow Norton to automatically determine what to do with the virus. Norton even provides you with detailed information about the virus it has detected, courtesy of its online database. However, some of the virus information provided tends to be a bit confusing and would not be overly helpful to the typical home user.

Overall, we are pleased with the handful of improvements made to Norton Antivirus 2006, taking the dependability and quality of the previous version and adding needed enhancements. The great thing about Norton Antivirus 2006 is its great install it and forget it attitude. This is exactly what most consumers want - all the protection, without having to take a crash course in computer security to get it. We like the clean interface; improved performance; the 'every access point covered' mantra of the program; and would definitely recommend it to any home or small business user.

Norton Antivirus 2006 works on Windows XP Home / Professional and Windows 2000 Professional with 300MHz or higher processor; 256MB of memory and 150MB of available drive space and a CD or DVD drive as its minimum specifications. Norton Antivirus 2006 retails for a very reasonable $39.99USD, and includes a 12 month subscription of program updates and new virus definition downloads. This product is available from most major computer and electronics stores, and the Symantec web site. It is available at the time of this review being published.

PROS - Improved scanning performance and transparency, plus a "quick scanning" feature; expanded coverage now includes full adware and spyware detection and removal; better virus detection rate; clean and easy to use interface; the excellent variety of access points and virus formats covered; regularity of virus definition updates.

CONS - Confused installation process; useless "Norton Protection Center" system tray icon; would have liked to see Skype virus scanning added to the current 3 instant messengers covered.

About The Author

Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web site design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

info@viscaconsulting. com

http://www. viscaconsulting. com/



7 Reasons Your Small Business Should Accept Mobile Payments

. Posted in small Business questions

No reason to mince words: Offering mobile payments makes it easier for your customers to give you money. Mobile payments are changing the way business is done, and many small business owners are realizing that it-s time to embrace a technology that-s redefining commerce.


How to Overcome the Fears of a First Time Entrepreneur

. Posted in small Business questions

By Richard Walsh

December 16, 2009; 6:20pm EST

I was speaking with a friend today regarding launching a new business and for the first time becoming an entrepreneur. Of course the first big step had not been taken yet and that was quitting her job. All the standard fears were suggested such as decreased income, will I actually make money and the learning curve aspects. All common fears to be sure but the problem is the view point. Anything worth having is worth sacrifice.

Also what are the risks compared to the rewards? That is the one calculation that every entrepreneur has to make. There are a lot of variables in that calculation as well. Rewards can vary from individual to individual. For some it's financial reward for others it's a different lifestyle such as more time with the family or more travel (or less if you commute a long distance) some just want the freedom of being self employed and answering to no one but themselves.

There is always the failure factor too. Not only not getting your new venture off the ground but actually launching it and then accumulating massive debt that ends in failure. That can be pretty paralyzing if over analyzed. These thoughts and concerns have squandered many great ideas. That inability to act, to pull the trigger so to speak is what keeps the wannabe entrepreneurs on the sidelines.

Those people will never know the rich rewards of entrepreneurship. Not just the financial rewards but that sense of victory to control your own destiny. The world is full of timid, faint of heart, lemmings that shuffle off to that same old grind every day only to return and complain about their situation day in and day out. The best example of how to overcome these fears is to use a war analogy.

"When all the troops are ashore burn and sink the ships. You either win or die, there is no going home." That is how you win with motivation. (though I don't recommend killing yourself if you fail.) There will be mistakes along the way, everyone makes them, but it's what you do with those mistakes that will change the tide of battle.

If you approach them as learning experiences they are put in the plus column. If you beat yourself up over them they go in the minus column. It is all about choices. For me I choose victory. That was probably why I joined the Marine Corps I was offense only. In business you do the same thing. You must advance constantly, looking to the future and preparing for those battles. They will come and defeat is not an option. Take this attitude and wade into the thick of it with one eye constantly on the end result, victory, and the other eye on crushing all obstacles in your path. Vulnerability is in others, invincibility is in oneself.

About the Author

I spent twenty years building and running a million dollar water feature business and am an accomplished steel sculptor. I have done works for places like the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Garfield Park Conservatory both in Chicago Illinois. Now I help others create prosperity in their lives and achieve the lifestyle they so richly deserve.

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