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How to Diversify While Keeping Your Core Business Intact

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Diversification is a buzzword right now for small-business owners who are trying to figure out how to protect or grow their operations in the sluggish economy. Adding new products or services — or repositioning existing ones to reach out to new customers — can be a smart move, but it also can be disastrous if done incorrectly. A crucial point to remember when you’re thinking about expanding your offering is that your core business should remain the same.

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How to Create Your Own Branded Apparel

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There are few better forms of marketing than having your customers serve as human billboards for your company. Short of asking them to tattoo your name on their foreheads, the best way to accomplish this is to get your customers to wear branded clothing.

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Why Hair Salons Are Recession-Proof

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Americans have cut back plenty since the economy tanked, but they aren’t skipping visits to their hair salons. The New York Times cites a recent Census Bureau report stating that hair care is one of the few small-business industries to grow in the past several years, with the number of stylists and shops increasing by 8 percent between 2008 and 2009.

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7 Strategies for Getting Your Outdoor Signs Approved

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Electronic signs have been a frequent target of politicians and neighborhood activists. Opponents often claim that neon, fluorescent, LED, and high-intensity displays taint wholesome communities with Vegas-style garishness. They typically want electronic signs to be banned, removed, or downsized (sometimes to the point of illegibility).

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Startup America Goes Live

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Have you heard? Intuit is investing $37 million in products and services to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country as an official sponsor of the Startup America Partnership. Intuit’s commitments include special offers and pricing over a three-year period for the company’s flagship products and services, including QuickBooks Online, Intuit Payroll Services, QuickBooks Merchant Services, and Intuit Websites, which will become available to Startup America Partnership member companies.

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In the Trenches: Sweating the Small Stuff

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Being in the service business, there-s a lot that can go wrong. It-s in my nature to worry about anything that doesn-t go as planned, but as we continue to grow, that-s just not feasible. I-d end up worrying all day long, every single day, and not actually getting any work done. There has to be a good way to cull this down so that I only worry about the things that really need my attention.

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3 Tips for Managing Cash Flow in a Tough Economy

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During tough economic times, cash flow is one of the first things that small-business owners must come to grips with. After all, any company is likely to struggle when there isn’t enough money coming in. Cracking down on your cash management is a good way to ensure that your business sticks out the recession. Here are three tips for doing precisely that.

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Debunking Hiring Myths

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When you start down the path of hiring a new employee, you-ll find the advice comes fast and furious. What-s true, and what-s just a myth? In the next installment of our our * - series from Intuit Online Payroll, Rhonda Abrams demystifies the process by debunking common myths about hiring.

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6 Ways to Beat Small-Business Burnout

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Back when you launched your small business, you probably found it downright exciting to send out press releases, see your company logo on a door or product packaging, and field questions from new customers. No task was too mundane: You were running a company! But after a few months or years of doing everything from opening the mail to updating your website, you’re exhausted — and you may be starting to question this entrepreneurship thing.

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Creating a Budget Forecast for 2012

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A hiker trekking through the wilderness wouldn-t start his trip without a map and compass. After all, those small tools are a big help in getting to the end of the trail. Yet too often, small-business owners set up shop without a financial road map. One of the easiest ways to get where you want to go is to create a budget and sales forecast.

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Ramping Up Your Business for The Holidays

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Many companies use a 100-day countdown to Christmas to promote their businesses during the busy holiday season. Well, don-t look now: We-re only 58 days away from the big day, and Santa-s workshop is already in high gear.

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Social Media Guru Mari Smith on the Importance of Relationships

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Mari Smith has made a name for herself as a social media marketing expert, especially in the realm of Facebook realm. Last year, she began feeling overwhelmed by the always-on, constantly connected nature of her technology-laden life. So, she locked her iPhone in a drawer, stepped away from her computer, and went on a three-day spiritual retreat.

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Budget-Friendly Ways to Furnish Your Office

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If you’re opening a business, you’ll likely need to invest in some furniture up front. With new customers or clients coming to call, you’ll want to make a good impression, so re-purposing that threadbare couch you bought in college simply won’t do. Fortunately, it is possible to furnish your office nicely without spending a fortune. Here’s how.

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4 Ways to Capitalize on a Cruise Ship Visit

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It’s a big day for small businesses when a cruise ship docks in their port city. Cruise ships can carry 6,000-plus passengers — and when those travelers disembark, they’ll play, dine, and shop locally until it’s time to board again. Here’s how to capitalize on a cruise ship visit.

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Facebook f8 Redux: How Facebook-s Upgrades Will Impact Small Businesses

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Facebook’s f8 developer conference has come and gone, revealing major evolutions of Facebook and what will soon be the-new norms- in social media. The event was kicked off by SNL’s Andy Samberg, who posed as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, revealing two new Facebook features: a section for -friends who really aren’t your friends- and the “slow poke” — which allows ill-considered -pokes- to be retracted within 24 hours. (While both features were jokes, at least half of Facebook’s user audience was probably wishing they were real).

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What Drives Getaround. com-s Jessica Scorpio

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It-s been a whirlwind year for Jessica Scorpio (pictured). In May, she launched Getaround. com at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, winning the conference-s coveted startup prize. In September, she and co-founders Sam Zaid and Elliot Kroo announced that they-d raised $3.4 million in funding — and that more than 5,000 people had already signed up for their peer-to-peer car-sharing service.

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The Role of Small Business in Greening the U. S. Military

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The United States military’s global presence and its wide variety of responsibilities create a significant need for support from small businesses in achieving its initiatives. This increasingly includes support for a large number of eco-friendly initiatives, as the Armed Forces seeks ways to reduce its energy use and carbon footprint in efforts to reduce costs, eliminate waste, and improve the sustainability of its operations.

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How to Engage Employees in Meetings

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The National Statistics Council estimates that employees spend nearly 37 percent of their workdays in meetings — and that 47 percent of this time is “unproductive.” Whether your confabs take place as organized gatherings in a conference room or informal huddles in a manager’s office, all employees must be present, participatory, and interested in what’s being shared in order for the event to be effective. Here are five ways to engage your staff in meetings and ensure their time is well spent.

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6 Things Netflix Did Wrong: What You Can Learn

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In the space of just a few months, the DVD and * - streaming service Netflix has gone abruptly from a pattern of rapid growth to one of losing customers, largely due to a controversial change in pricing model that nearly doubled the cost to subscribers who wanted to keep their current services. The company cut its domestic subscriber forecast for the quarter by 1 million users, and its stock dropped by 27 percent last week in response to the news.

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Kevin Rose on the Lesson He Learned from Digg

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At one point not too long ago, Digg had hundreds of millions of people hitting the site daily, giving news stories a thumbs up or down, voting whether each piece should be prominently displayed online. Head honcho Kevin Rose graced the cover of Time magazine, and Google reportedly proposed acquiring the San Francisco startup for $200 million.

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10 Simple Ways to Cut Business Expenses

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When you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, money is usually scarce. That’s why you need to find creative ways to trim expenses and run your business on as lean a basis as possible. To help you out, here are 10 simple ways you can save money in all facets of your operation.

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Julia Hartz Undercuts Big Ticket Sellers with Eventbrite

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After a career in development at MTV and FX networks, Julia Hartz has become one of the most visible women in technology in Silicon Valley. The co-founder and president of Eventbrite, a 5-year-old online-ticketing service, is now a sought-after panelist and keynote speaker at conferences on social commerce and entrepreneurship, such as SXSW and 2011 SF MusicTech.

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Do-s and Don-ts for Working with the Media

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There may be no such thing as bad press, but there are ways to make sure your story is told in the best possible light. Whether you reach out to a reporter or a reporter contacts you, you’ll want to establish a good rapport. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for building media relationships.

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How to Get Started as a Professional Conference Speaker

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Want to generate more business leads and add another income stream? Get ready to step onto the podium. Speaking at industry conferences is an excellent way to promote your services, and, if you’re lucky, earn substantial money doing it. Writer Malcolm Gladwell reportedly commands up to $80,000 for a one-hour lecture. It sure beats blogging!

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5 Great Podcasts for Small-Business Owners

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Looking for inspiration? Apple’s iTunes store offers hundreds of thousands of free audio and * - podcasts on just about every subject under the sun. Many of these topics, from increasing your chance of getting an SBA loan to overcoming your creative fears, can help you run a better business. Here are five of the best podcasts for entrepreneurs.

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Making a Killing with High-Quality Pest Control

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Many people get the creeps just thinking about the ants, spiders, termites, or rodents that may come to infest the walls, basements, or attics of their homes. That’s good news for Mike English, operations manager, and his crew at The Hitmen Termite & Pest Control. For more than 30 years, the company has thrived on eradicating the unwelcome visitors from houses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.