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How Austin Lets Musicians Make a Living Rockin- and Rollin-

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A major reason why folks are flocking to the SXSW festival this month is because of hundreds of live concerts happening all over town. But the fun doesn-t stop in March: Austin, with more live-music venues per capita than any other U. S. city, is the -Live Music Capital of the World.- And it-s more than just the city-s official slogan. (It was voted on in 1991, after blues musician Lillian Standfield returned from a gig in Houston, saw a city limits sign and thought Austin needed a slogan to promote all the music played in town.) Music is an economic driver that translates into millions of dollars annually for Austin; a government study commissioned in 2005 found that music accounted for half of Austin-s arts-related tourism dollars. So Austin-s government and businesses realize that because music is the thing that makes the city special, they need to help musicians stay in business.

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Making Your Business More Competitive Through Technology

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For a small business owner, investing time and energy in technology can feel like a distraction from your -real- business of remodeling kitchens or selling amazing flower arrangements. But sometimes, tech can help you land deals or make your business more competitive. And in today-s tough economic climate, we all need every advantage we can get.

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The Cost to Connect

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While small businesses may not think about their Internet connection until the monthly bill arrives or it slows down their productivity (or worse, stops it altogether), they often depend on it. And with President Obama springing his National Broadband Plan into action, high-speed Internet will become even more pervasive throughout every pocket of the country.

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10 Self-Made American Entrepreneurs

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Generation after generation, the tale of the self-made entrepreneur has echoed through American history, bringing inspiration and hope to individuals that weren-t born into the life of the rich and famous.

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How Can a Small Business Get on Wikipedia?

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Now celebrating its tenth year online, Wikipedia exists as both a highly popular reference source and a current news media outlet. Many people view having their own Wikipedia article as evidence of credibility for themselves and their work. Not surprisingly, many small businesses are eager to see themselves on Wikipedia. But getting your company on the site can be difficult and stressful.

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How Indie Brewers are Outpacing Beer Industry Growth

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Though large breweries dwarf independent craft breweries in volume of production, the growth of small breweries has eclipsed overall beer industry growth in the last few decades. By tapping into local tastes and offering unique brews, craft brewers are now experiencing the heaviest level of growth they-ve seen since 1900. In this infographic, we look at where the movement stands today and what really defines a craft brewery. Click on the infographic below for an enlarged view.

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How to Choose Which Conferences to Attend

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More than 1,500 trade shows and conferences take place each year in the United States. These events bring together industry leaders and vendors to network, discuss trends, and display new products. Attending a conference or trade show can be an effective way to promote your company and connect with mentors and prospects — particularly if you speak on a panel or host an exhibit booth. However, admission fees and travel expenses can easily run into the thousands of dollars. So, how do you decide which ones are worth attending?

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How to Choose Which Affiliate Products to Market

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We previously discussed four lucrative affiliate-marketing programs that can help you monetize your website more effectively. Choosing the right products to sell, however, is even more important. Here are a few strategies for selecting affiliate links that will drive sales.

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How Pinterest Drives One Jewelry Designer-s Sales

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In just a few months, Pinterest has gone from relative obscurity to surpassing Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube in referral traffic. Pinterest is still used mostly by consumers (particularly women in the Midwest and central U. S.), but some small-business owners are turning “pins” into profits.

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How Annie-s Built Its Brand on Natural Ingredients

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When it comes to soups, cereals, and crackers, U. S. consumers may choose among dozens of retail products. Most chain grocers stock big-name brands, such as Kraft, Kellogg’s, and Campbell-s. So, how does a smaller brand, such as Annie-s, compete?

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How to Boost Your Visibility with Google -Search, plus Your World-

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Google’s new Search, plus Your World was ostensibly designed to give the search engine a personal touch by including posts from the Google+ social media network in standard search results. However, Search, plus Your World includes a feature called the Plus Box that presents tremendous business opportunities, too.

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How to Fire an Employee

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Few small-business owners look forward to firing an employee, but a day will probably come when you need to do so. Job termination is a delicate situation and should be handled with dignity and respect, as well as knowledge of your legal responsibilities.

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How to Find Cheap (or Free) Help with Website Design

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Does your business website exude professionalism and trustworthiness? If it doesn’t, your online presence can do more harm than good. Fortunately, whipping your site into shape doesn’t have to be a major expense. And it you still don’t have a website, well, what are you waiting for?

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How to Overcome Your Fear of Selling

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Whether you-re a vendor, a consultant, or a business owner, you-re probably adept at what you do — and yet you’re an awful salesperson. You’re not alone. Few people aspire to work in sales, perhaps because many of us hate to be sold, says Jim Dunn, a sales training expert for Whetstone Group and co-author of Common Sense Selling.

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How To Protect Your Business From Shoplifters

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Sticky fingers can mean trouble for small businesses. More than $13 billion worth of goods are shoplifted from retailers each year - or $35 million a day, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention.

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How to Select the Best Employees with Cara France - Part 1

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How do you get from a job description to actually hiring an employee? Join us for the first of a three-part webinar series about selecting employees. Cara France, CEO at Sage Consulting Associates works with many prominent Bay Area firms to help them select the right staffers. She shared her tremendous expertise with us in a one-hour webinar. In this first segment, Cara talks about creating the perfect job description to find the right candidates to interview.

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How to Make a Tutorial * - for Software Products

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Before buying your software application, many potential customers want to know how it works. Although a written description or instructions may help, they can’t compete with a tutorial * - that gives prospects a first-hand look and demonstration. A “screencast” — or essentially a movie that displays and narrates the onscreen changes that a user sees over time — is an excellent means for doing so.

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How to Raise Prices Without Hurting Your Business

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With prices for all kinds of essentials going up — gas, heating oil, health insurance — it may be time to consider raising your company’s rates or profit margins in 2012. Customers often bristle at paying more for goods and services when they’re accustomed to a specific amount, but you can raise prices without hurting your business if you-re careful. Here’s how.

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How to Work from Home without a Dedicated Office

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Working from home is far more affordable and convenient than renting an office. But if you don’t have an entire room to dedicate to your small business, it may prove difficult to maintain a professional work environment. Here are a few strategies for making the space you do have work for you.

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How to Create an Internal Business Plan for 2012

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It’s the start of a new year, and you’ve probably made some personal resolutions — and set some business goals — for 2012. January is the perfect time to develop an internal business plan (the kind that-s for your eyes only) to help you reach your goals.

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How Tablet PCs Can Benefit Your Small Business

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This may come as a shock to Angry Birds fanatics, but tablet PCs can do a whole lot more than power * - games. Their unique blend of portability, touch-screen capabilities, and processing power enable them to perform tasks that many notebooks can’t handle. But perhaps you already knew that: A report by the NPD Group suggests that more than half of businesses with 50 or fewer employees plan to purchase tablets in 2012. If you’re among them, do you have a firm grasp on what you’ll use the shiny new gadgets for?

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How to Handle Negative Online Reviews About Your Business

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Customers like to talk about the things they’ve bought. Positive reviews can propel your business, providing excellent word-of-mouth marketing. What restaurant owner doesn’t love getting a five-star review on Yelp? But negative reviews of your products or services, however, can hurt sales — even when the critique is inaccurate.

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3 Startup Ideas on the Rise (and 3 on the Way Out)

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The long-term outlook for your chosen industry is an important thing to consider when you’re deciding whether to take the plunge into small-business ownership. Getting stuck holding last year’s bag while the market moves on to bigger and brighter things isn’t exactly a path to success. With that in mind, here’s a look at three industries that analysts expect to fly sky-high in the next decade — and three that are set to crash and burn.

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House of Torment-s Jon Love Scares Up Business

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Jon Love frightens people for a living. He’s the vice president of House of Torment, an Austin, Texas-based haunted house that’s been thrilling and terrifying visitors for nearly a decade. Recently, Love and business partner Dan McCullough joined forces with Colorado-based haunted house operators Chris Stafford and Warren Conard to open new attractions in Denver, Phoenix, and San Antonio under the brand 13th Floor.