small business stories

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Seattle Businesses Work to Achieve Carbon Neutrality

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The latest Battle in Seattle isn-t being waged by protestors in the streets. Instead, local officials have set a lofty goal for fighting the effects of climate change. In 2010, the Seattle City Council designated achieving carbon neutrality as a top priority. Business owners are leading the way, because cutting waste — whether it’s water, energy, packaging, or even food — makes economic sense.

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Can Telecommuting Benefit Your Business?

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Although many companies remain reluctant to offer telecommuting to their employees, there is growing evidence of the benefit from flexible working arrangements for the environment and for your business. The Telework Research Network estimates that telecommuting has the potential to eliminate over 51 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year in the U. S. alone (reducing total emissions from personal vehicles by over 15 percent), while also improving worker productivity and lowering operating costs.

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San Francisco Loves Local Businesses

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San Francisco is one of the best-known cities in the world, famous for its unique architecture, cable cars, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The 94103 zip code, which includes the SOMA (South of Market) neighborhood, had the second-highest number of unique businesses nominated in September and is the second winner of our final City-By-City competition!

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In the Trenches: Reconsidering the Prepaid Model

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Without question, one of the more difficult things for new potential clients to understand is our prepay model. It can be very confusing for people who have worked with traditional travel agents in the past. Frequently I find myself questioning whether it-s the right model for us, and so far, I-ve yet to change my mind.

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6 Strategies for Combating Graffiti in Your Community

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Communities across the U. S. are seeing a surge in graffiti, with vandals’ scrawls appearing on walls and other property from coast to coast. The city of Los Angeles alone removed 35.4 million square feet of graffiti during its fiscal year ended June 30, an 8.2 percent increase over the previous year, The New York Times reports. When you consider that’s the equivalent to 800 football fields in size, the scope of the problem comes squarely into view. What’s a small business to do?

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How to Keep Social Media from Becoming a Time Sink

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Social media is useful for networking and promoting your small business, but it can also be addictive — and consume an inordinate amount of your valuable time. So, how do you minimize your hours on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites without sacrificing the legitimate benefits of being there? Here are six strategies to keep social media from becoming a time sink.

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Entrepreneur Jim Kukral on Crowdsourcing His Book Advance

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Marketing consultant Jim Kukral (pictured) had already published a book the traditional way when he decided to try self-publishing. “Being a marketer and an entrepreneur, I can’t wait nine months to have a new piece of content come out,” he says. But instead of doing all the work upfront and hoping to earn money later, as many self-published authors do, Kukral decided to crowdsource the funding for his book series Business Around a Lifestyle, which shows readers how to rethink their careers or businesses and choose the lifestyle they want.

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The Pros and Cons of Crowdsourcing Business Tasks

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Celebrities like author Chuck Palahniuk and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki have used crowdsourcing contests — in which many people submit concepts but only get paid if their idea is selected — to come up with cover art for their books. Through various online networks, you too can crowdsource your business-related wants and needs. But is harnessing the creativity and know-how of the masses a good idea for your company? Consider a few of the benefits and drawbacks of crowdsourcing before you solicit help.

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5 Online Resources for Crowdsourcing

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When it comes to outsourcing business projects or tasks, have you ever considered making an open call for submissions? Rather than hiring a single professional to complete an assignment, you could crowdsource it, which means that an entire group of people — some highly skilled, others not so much — will do the job on speculation and only receive payment if you choose to use their work. Crowdsourcing can be a viable option for company logos, slogans, names, and more (whether it’s the best idea or not is another story).

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How to Hire a Ghostwriter for Your First Book

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So you want to be an author. You-re not alone: More and more entrepreneurs and business owners want to write a book or, more accurately, have a book written by someone else under their names, observes Larry Leichman, co-owner of Arbor Books.

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Jeweler Uses Jokes, Social Media to Drive Online Sales

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When retail perfume sales plummeted in the early 2000s, Sonny Ahuja knew he had to make some changes to his business. At the time, Ahuja owned stores in most of the major shopping malls in Wisconsin, and online sites like Amazon and eBay had begun offering lower prices than specialty and department stores. “We tried matching their prices, but we couldn’t because our overhead was so much higher,” he recalls.

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How to Develop a Savvy Social Media Strategy for Your Small Business

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Today’s digital media landscape is littered with a dizzying array of social networks, from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to YouTube, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. So, it should come as no surprise that the number of small businesses engaging with their customers online increases every day. However, having a presence on social networks doesn-t guarantee that your social media strategy is an effective one.

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Five Types of Business Insurance You Might Need

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Running a business is risky, so it’s essential that you protect both your company and personal assets. One important tool is insurance. Here are five types of business insurance worth considering no matter how small your business is.

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How China-s Growing Energy Demand Impacts Your Small Business

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In 2010, China’s demand for energy exceeded that of any other country for the first time, even surpassing the energy consumption of the United States. BP’s 2011 Statistical Review of World Energy showed China as using a full 20.3 percent of last year’s global energy supply, reflecting a trend towards higher energy consumption in many emerging economies.

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Could Groupon-s New Rewards Program Help Your Business?

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Groupon’s daily deals for customers don’t always bring good fortune to their sponsoring merchants, as this cafe owner-s experience demonstrates. Now a new program called Groupon Rewards aims to win over skeptical sellers — and those who’ve previously failed to see any return on their Groupon investments.

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Crowd Power: What Is Crowdfunding?

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Since its inception as a way to expose new lines of credits outside of traditional bank loans, microfinance has evolved with the ages. Seeded by the Grameen Bank, industry trailblazers like Kiva and Prosper applied the concept of microlending to the Internet, spawning people-to-people lending. The newest breed of microfinance - crowdfunding - is fast growing in popularity. In this infographic, we take a closer look at how crowdfunding works and how viable it is. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.

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How Small Brands Can Stand Out Alongside the Big Guys

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Major retailers rarely devote premium shelf space to lesser-known brands, which makes it hard for small enterprises to gain recognition and build up a following. Alice. com, an online marketplace for everyday consumer goods like trash bags and toothpaste, helps startups co-exist with industry behemoths. In fact, 90 percent of the more than 400 brands featured on its website come from modest-sized companies, says CEO Brian Wiegand (pictured). -The small guys have the same opportunity,- he says. -Without any friction, you can be on the shelf next to Procter & Gamble.-

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4 Ways to Capitalize on Consumers’ Halloween Spending

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From candy to costumes, Halloween can bring in big bucks for small businesses: The average celebrant will spend $72.31 on assorted Halloween-related products this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Total Halloween spending is estimated to reach $6.86 billion.

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Small-Business Organizations You Should Get to Know

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Whether they’re cheering for the underdog or standing firmly behind the little guy, small-business organizations, associations, membership programs, and advocacy groups provide valuable support, resources, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. We suspect you’re already familiar with the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA), an independent federal agency that helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses. Here are a half dozen other organizations you should get to know:

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How to Choose the Right Location for Your Shop

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Aspiring retailers, take note: What you sell may not be as important as where you sell it. Choosing the right location is often crucial to creating a successful store, because customers won’t stop or come inside unless they feel comfortable in the neighborhood. Here are four tips to help you pick the perfect site.

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How to Create a Successful Freemium Business Model

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If you’re starting a web-based company, you’ll gain a lot more site traffic and visibility by offering your product for free instead of demanding newcomers’ credit cards straight away. The problem, of course, is that this strategy won’t earn you a cent. A savvy solution: Blend the free and credit-card models into a hybrid system known as “freemium,” under which you offer a basic service at no cost and premium features for a fee.

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Social Media Rock Star Chris Brogan Shares the Secrets to His Success

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Chris Brogan is one of America’s most notable thinkers and consultants when it comes to social media. Widely known for his blog, tweets, and keynote speeches, Brogan focuses on how businesses — from mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 firms — can connect with customers online. The Massachusetts-based entrepreneur also serves as president of Human Business Works, a company that offers educational tools and courses to business owners and nonprofit organizations.

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Attending Green Business Events

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For any business with an interest in pursuing sustainability initiatives, it can be a challenge to keep up to date on the constantly evolving ideas that can help you meet these green goals. From new best practices to new product developments, remaining independently informed can be a significant undertaking.

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Bill Owen of MNPCTech on Succeeding in a Niche Business

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When Bill Owen opened MNPCTech just over ten years ago, many people had never heard of “case modding.” In fact, many people today are unfamiliar with the practice, in which a PC owner alters a computer’s chassis to give it a custom look. This relative obscurity doesn’t bother Owen. Thanks to a stellar reputation and a small-but-intensely-dedicated customer base, his ultra-niche business has boomed despite the nation’s economic turmoil.