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Cleveland Laundry Coop Offers Workers Job Training and Equity

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Midwestern cities like Cleveland, Ohio have been particularly hard hit by the recession. Since opening for business in 2009, Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperative Laundry has offered much-needed jobs, as well as job training. On top of higher-than-average wages and free healthcare, worker/owners also earn equity in the company.

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5 Ways to Stand Out in the Crowd

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It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Money is tight and competition is fierce on seemingly every project. To stand out in the crowd, you need to establish yourself as a leading expert in the field — someone who has been there, done that, and knows how to solve virtually any type of problem for your industry. Here are five ways to do just that (with a few special tips for making sure you stand out):

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Apple iPod Shuffle 512mb. Miniature portable MP3 player from Apple

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By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting

Tuesday June 20, 2005; 11:30am EST

Over the last few years portable MP3 players have grown in popularity by leaps and bounds, not only with consumers, but with manufacturers. Name just about any major and not so major electronics manufacturer and they will most likely have a line of MP3 players. This is great in that we are seeing an incredible combination of variety, functionality, high build quality and style at ridiculously affordable prices across the board.

One of the major forces in this MP3 player revolution is Apple with their iPod line of products. The iPod line stands at the higher end of the market with large music capacities due to their internal hard drive, large screen for track navigation and their expandability. The spectacular success of the iPod has inevitably led to a number of variants of the device, with the most recent being a more economical version called the iPod Shuffle. This is clearly a product built to compete with the heavily saturated but well selling low to mid level MP3 player market with the likes of Sony, SanDisk, Samsung, Rio, iRiver and many others.

The iPod Shuffle comes in 2 flavors, with memory capacity (512mb or 1GB) being the only differentiator. Taking one out of its box, you are immediately greeted with a sleek and smooth "traditional Apple" bright white casing, not much larger (.33" thick) or heavier (.78 ounce) than a pack of chewing gum. The front features a circular navigator for next / previous track and volume; with a central play / pause button; and a concealed indicator light just above it. The back has an off / on continuous play / on random play toggle slider, and a button to check battery status. On top of the device is the headphones plug, and the bottom is removable to reveal a USB connector for transferring music. Also included in the box are headphones, lanyard, manuals and CDs for iPod drivers and iTunes software.

To use the iPod you must install iTunes and driver software which is provided on the included CD. Once you have iTunes running and you have your library of music indexed, you may then connect your iPod to your computer and transfer songs back and forth as desired. I found the process of transferring music from iTunes did the job, but was at times frustrating and cumbersome, and using another media player is out of the question. The iPod Shuffle's rechargeable battery (with 12 hour battery life) is built into the device and charges when inserted into a USB port.

With a selection of my favorite tunes on board, battery charged and head phones dawned, I was ready for a good old fashion ear blasting walk across town. Immediately my first challenge was the fact that there is no screen whatsoever to indicate things like current track, volume, battery status, etc. So finding a favorite track to start my voyage with was tedious. A shuffle mode (read "random play mode") can be selected by the slider on the back of the unit. Apple markets this as a novel feature that is the key to 'a life less ordinary'. But the novelty of random play quickly wears thin, and ultimately doesn't compensate for the lack of a screen to read track names and other pertinent information.

Using the circular navigator on the front of the iPod was for the most part intuitive for changing the volume or moving between tracks. When in the depths of your jacket pocket it was sometimes difficult for your fingers to read the non-descript navigation circle to figure out which side of the ring to push.

The headphones are light weight, fit well and are comfortable to wear over long periods of time. The music they produced, however, was certainly not what I would call thrilling. Overall the music was shallow, thin and completely devoid of any bass reproduction whatsoever. The lack of a soundstage, combined with an almost complete absence of highs and lows made the music sound as flat and lifeless as a concrete wall. In fact they made many of my favorite high energy dance songs sound almost boring. Part of an enjoyable music listening experience is feeling those extreme highs (crisp clear cymbals) and lows (thundering pounding bass lines), they bring life and exuberance to the music, and the iPod Shuffle clearly struggles to reproduce these elements.

When you compare it to the truck loads of different models from other manufacturers on the market in the same price bracket, it would be hard to justify purchasing an iPod Shuffle. Similar models from other manufacturers include a laundry list of features that leave the iPod looking, well, lame. It is not uncommon for MP3 players to feature a backlit 2 and even 3 line LCD display, an equalizer, surround sound emulation, an FM radio receiver, a voice recorder and FM recorder, embedded MP3 encoder, multiple music file format support, and replaceable batteries - iPod has absolutely NONE of these things. Not only that, but the other manufactures fit all of these features in a form factor equivalent to the iPod. In addition to this, the rechargeable battery is non-serviceable which pretty much means no more battery, no more shuffling - disposable MP3 player.

Overall, with such a fantastic variety of truly feature rich MP3 players on the market, there is little I can say that would warrant recommending the iPod Shuffle. The iPod Shuffle 512mb retails for $99, 1GB for $149, offers 1 year parts and labor warranty, and is available immediately from all major electronics retailers across North America.

PROS - Attractively designed; lightweight and compact design; comfortable headphones; competitive storage capacity.

CONS - Lifeless music reproduction with non-existent highs and lows, flat sound with no sound stage; non-serviceable internal battery; compatible only with iTunes software; lacks LCD display making track navigation tedious; no audio equalization or surround sound settings; no FM radio receiver; no voice recorder or internal MP3 encoding.

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/

 

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Which iPad Office Suite Is Right for You?

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Tablet computers are greatly expanding our means of content consumption, but they still play second fiddle to traditional PCs when it comes to content creation — as in, getting some actual work done. However, the portability and flexibility of tablets make them perfectly serviceable productivity devices, especially if you’re a professional on the go. You just need to install an office software suite.

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Tips for Billing Clients for Travel Expenses

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When clients ask you to travel to their offices for a consultation, it’s generally expected that they will pay for your trip. But what do “travel expenses” entail? Will your colleagues be cool with covering your room-service sushi and in-room movie, or should you just ask for basic lodging and airfare? Here are a few tips for billing clients for work-related travel.

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Where to Work When You-ve Lost Power at Home

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Hurricane Irene knocked out power in nearly 1 million homes on Sunday — and many people, myself included, are still waiting for service to be restored. For those of us who work at home, this is a bigger problem than being unable to catch the latest episode of Hell’s Kitchen. With no electricity or internet connection, we can’t communicate with clients or complete projects until we can plug back in. What’s a dedicated professional to do? Find new digs. Here are a few places to take your laptop when your home office is offline.

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5 Tips for Getting Publicity with HARO

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Well-placed press coverage can go a long way toward building buzz about your business. The good news: You no longer have to bust your marketing budget to get it. The online era has put more tools than ever at your disposal for connecting with the media. Help a Reporter Out, better known as HARO, is perhaps the best of them. More than 29,000 journalists (and counting) submit queries to HARO when they need sources for stories. And you could be one of those sources.

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Google Adsense 101: Monetizing Your Website or Blog

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Whether you run a popular blog or just want to make a few extra bucks from your e-commerce site, Google’s AdSense tool can help monetize your web traffic. By signing up for the AdSense platform, you’ll enable your site to automatically display targeted ads based on keywords that fit your content, and you’ll earn money based on how many users view or click on a particular ad. Here’s how to get started with AdSense — and maximize its earning potential.

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6 Ways to Moonlight on Weekends

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In this economy, paychecks don’t stretch as far as they used to. Many people are looking for ways to make money on the side, whether it’s to pay the bills, hatch a corporate escape plan, or take a much-needed vacation. Part-time weekend jobs won’t require you to work a double shift — and can provide a steady source of extra cash. If you aren-t quite ready to give up the corporate life to start your own business but want to make a little money on the side, here are six low-key yet potentially lucrative moonlighting gigs to consider.

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Mark Duff on How to Succeed in the DJ Business

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DJ Mark Duff has provided music at nightclubs and private events in Southern California for the past 25 years. Although he makes it look easy, the job requires far more than spinning discs and keeping the crowd happy. Duff attributes much of his success to his entrepreneurial savvy, such as understanding the customer’s needs and choosing the right gear. He recently chatted with the ISBB about the business side of being a DJ.

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In the Trenches: Relying on Third Parties

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I mentioned a couple weeks ago that we were ramping up for a big group of travelers that would test the abilities of our business. So how did we do? I think it went very well, though the biggest problems weren-t really ours, the airlines, or our travelers. The biggest problems were from an unexpected source that created one heck of a challenge for us.

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In the Trenches: Handling Mt. Everest

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This weekend is going to be mass insanity for our business. See, we-re usually prepared for a normal volume of travelers and even a slight increase, but this weekend we-re going to be doing way above the usual. Way above.

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How to Keep Running Your Business If You Get Sick

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Sure, you can still go to work when you have a case of the sniffles. But what happens if a more serious illness or disability takes you out of action for weeks or months at a time? How do you make sure your business doesn’t suffer a health decline, too? Here are some tips for keeping the shop running while you’re stuck in bed.

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Make Your Sponsorship Pay for Itself

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Local events are always in need of sponsors, and they can be a great way to increase brand awareness and exposure for your small business. But, like all marketing tactics, potential sponsorship agreements require strategic evaluation to determine whether you’ll see a benefit from your investment. Here are four ways to get the most out of any local sponsorship.

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8 Cities that Support their Small Businesses

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Whether you-re looking to relocate or expand your company, you should consider taking a closer look at municipalities that are doing a good job supporting their local small businesses. Here are eight entrepreneurial hot spots worth considering for your next move (especially if you like the South). Besides having lower costs of living, high numbers of college graduates, and hot industries, these cities go above and beyond in their efforts to get small businesses up and running for the long term.

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Want to Franchise Your Business? Ask Yourself These Four Important Questions

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Ever had a customer say, “You really ought to franchise this idea?” That’s often how a business owner turns to franchising, according to Paul R. Segreto, President and CEO of FranchisEssentials, a consulting firm that specializes in marketing and development strategies for franchisors. Franchising allows companies to extend their brand and concept through the investment of franchisees.

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Scott Stratten on Twitter and -Unmarketing-

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Scott Stratten (known as @unmarketing to his nearly 100,000 Twitter followers) is a music industry marketer turned marketing agency owner (or UnAgency, as he prefers to call it) who’s known for his candid, tell-it-like-it-is approach. Scott’s book, UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. has also appeared on numerous bestseller lists.

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Small Business Employment and Compensation Up in July

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The month of July was a busy hiring season for small businesses. In addition to hiring 50,000 employees, they also significantly increased the number of monthly hours worked and compensation, according to the latest Intuit Small Business Employment Index. Since the hiring trend began in October 2009, small businesses have created 715,000 jobs.

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5 Blogs that Can Teach You How to Work from Anywhere

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Have you ever dreamed of traveling the world? As an entrepreneur, there’s no need to settle in one location: With the right business model, you can keep bringing in the big bucks whether you’re in San Francisco or Singapore. Check out these blogs for tips on building a business that you can run from anywhere in the world.

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5 Advice Blogs by Famous Entrepreneurs

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There are thousands, if not millions, of blogs out there by entrepreneurs — but how many of these supposed business gurus have actually made it big using their own advice? If you’re looking for inspiration with your own business, look to these successful and well-known entrepreneurs for tips and insight.

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Empower Employees and Improve Your Business

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In the age of social media, customers are empowered to say whatever they want about your business. Their positive feedback can be a great marketing tool. But when unhappy customers voice their displeasure online, it can wreak serious havoc on your brand reputation, and sales. You can’t control what customers say, but you can increase the likelihood that they-ll have a good experience. How? By empowering your employees.

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VerTerra Turns Fallen Leaves Into Growing Business

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While traveling through a remote area of India, Michael Dwork’s mind was taken aback by the sight of women on the roadsides of villages that appeared to be baking palm leaves in waffle irons. In reality, they were actually creating crude yet durable, makeshift plates using only leaves, water, and heat.

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Top Ten Junk Email Do's and Don'ts

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By Esu Matra

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

First, a definition (several definitions, actually)...

Spam Email: Refers generally to email communication that you do not want, from senders that you do not have any existing business relationship with, sent in large quantities of mostly identical messages. Also refers to junk email, UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email), and sometimes to bulk email.

It seems that email usage has turned from being a window on the world to being in a cell in a fortress or castle. You are afraid that you don't have enough defenses. You don't like being in the fort, because you remember that only a short while ago this same location was a beautiful open field.

We wrote the preceding paragraph before attending the momentous U. S. FTC Spam Forum that ended in May 2003. The forum was attended by people on all of the many sides of the "anti-junk-email" war. But, at least one of the panel members echoed the feeling that the junk email problem will be solved when your email in-box operates like it did when you (for you internet old-timers) first started. In those days, you just got email from people and organization you knew, and the "open field" of email communication really was beautiful - no junk.

The attendees at the FTC conference and other similar forums about junk email do not always agree on the definition of, the best solution to, or the scope of the junk email problem. But for most emailers, there is general agreement that it is a growing problem that they want stopped - fast!

There are many possible variations to the top ten junk email DO's and DONT's list below. The items are presented with some humor to keep a light edge to a serious problem:

1. DON'T use the unsubscribe option or reply to junk mails - this option at the bottom of a junk email message is a trick that spammers use to make sure that the address is real. However, at the FTC forum it was reported that unsubscribing does not seem to increase spam, so it may not result in too much damage if you have unsubscribed or replied in the past. Also, if you remember subscribing to the sender, and believe them to be reputable, then use the unsubscribe option provided.

2. DO spend time complaining about spam, responsibly and appropriately. Do realize that the sender of any email can be faked, along with other information. Your internet service provider (ISP) can help you in tracking down the real sender.

3. DON'T view or even pre-view a suspicious message while online. Why? The pictures used in some messages are only retrieved from the spammer's computers when you view the message, and at that time you could be telling the spammers that you received the message. It has been observed that identical junk messages may have different codes - possibly to get past email filters, or possibly to track who opens the messages. Note that some online webmail providers allow you to not retrieve images when viewing messages, and this option is recommended to prevent spamsters from measuring the effectiveness of their work.

4. DON'T buy anything from a spammer. Search and find a substitute elsewhere.

5. DO read privacy policies of every site that you give personal information to. These documents are on every responsible organization's website, and the pages tell you what they will do with your personal information.

6. DO realize that you may have okay'd the spam - perhaps you provided your email address to a company that stated in its privacy policy that it will provide your information "to affiliated sites"... this means that if they affiliate with 10,000 sites, then you may get 10,000 or more 'opt-in' junk emails. More responible or ethical of companies will let you decide, or inform you of other options. However, as

noted at the FTC forum and elsewhere, this creates a loophole - claimed by bulk emailers as legal - for using your address for just about any purpose. Millions of people have wanted to win contests or prizes, and given their email addresses, only in many cases to find out that they won a ride on the "Wheel of Spam Carousel"

7. DO get a disposable or extra email account to give to "suspicious" sites (even if they have a privacy policy that you like).

8. DON'T get too crazy or upset about all of the junk - you have better uses for your energy and talents! Also, calling the spammer-provided toll-free numbers (in the U. S. at least) can reveal your telephone number - even if you block the caller id.

9. DO be prepared to spend money, time, or both in order to achieve a slimmer email in-box. There are products and services that can help, some free, but they all take time to understand and use effectively.

10. DO stay informed - technology, laws, and tricks are evolving. Locations of online resources are provided in many places, and there are a continuing stream of articles in the news.

About the Author

Copyright 2003 Esu Matra. For Esu's free ebook excerpt from "Block Junk Email!", a technical and fun document explaining the junk e-mail problem with characters such as "Grandpa Spam" and "Spammi", visit http://www. BlockJunkEmail. com

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5 Great Blogs for Independent Contractors

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As an independent contractor, you’ve got a lot of issues to deal with: self-employment taxes, pricing projects, marketing your services, and collecting payments, to name just a few. And, in most cases, you’re doing it all without any outside support or help.

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In the Trenches: New Pricing Goes Into Effect

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I feel like I-ve been talking about our new pricing structure for the last few months. We-ve been planning it for even longer than that. But now, it-s a reality. The new pricing went into effect on June 1, and it went off without a hitch.