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Friday Small Business Roundup: The Secrets of Happy Customers and More

June 21st, 2013 ::

Want to Improve Your Customer Service? Do a Customer Survey. It’s easy–Rieva Lesonsky shows you how.

Want your marketing to go viral? Monika Jansen’s post How to Combine Viral Content to Really Turbocharge Your Marketing will help.

Maria Valdez Haubrich has some surprising news: The Greener Your Business, the Greener Your Sales, a new survey says.

Keep your customers happy. Read Rieva Lesonsky’s 5 Steps to Using Twitter as a Customer Service Tool.

Make sure your marketing efforts fit your target market’s technology. Read Karen Axelton’s Who’s Using Smartphones and What Does It Mean to Your Business?

Are You Driving Customers Away With These Common Customer Service Mistakes? Rieva Lesonsky’s post tells you how to avoid the errors and keep customers coming back.

Your PR efforts finally landed publicity! Now how to ace the interview with that reporter or blogger? Read Monika Jansen’s 6 Tips for Giving a Great Interview to find out.

Have to interview someone? Check out Monika Jansen’s 5 Basic Tips for Conducting a Great Interview to handle it like a pro.

Friday Small Business Roundup: Customer Service and More

June 14th, 2013 ::

What Are Consumers Spending on This Summer—and How Can You Get Your Share? Read Karen Axelton’s post to find out.

Is a Talent Shortage Hurting Your Customer Service? Find out why small business owners still struggle to fill jobs in Rieva Lesonsky’s post.

Are you scrimping on new technology? It could be hurting your business. Read Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post How Does Your Small Business’s IT Spending Measure Up? to learn whether you’re getting left behind.

Dan Zarrella’s new book has valuable lessons for small business owners. Get the scoop in Monika Jansen’s series, Top Takeaways From the Science of Marketing, Part 1, and Top Takeaways From the Science of Marketing, Part 2.

Is your customer service up to par? Find out if you’ve got The 4 Factors in Great Customer Service.

People Are Talking—About Your Customer Service, That Is. To make sure they’re saying nice things, read  Rieva Lesonsky’s advice.

Want to learn something new? Read Monika Jansen’s post 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Graphic Design Skills.

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Women Inventorz Network (Women Inventors Organization)

April 5th, 2013 ::

Women Inventorz Network

Have a great product you don’t know what to do with? May is National Inventors Month, and the Women Inventorz Network (W.I.N.) wants to help women inventors make their ideas a reality by providing the practical steps and know-how to do it. W.I.N., which is the only independent organization for women inventors in the U.S. and Canada, evaluates submitted products based on 10 criteria such as retail readiness, marketing, logo design, website effectiveness, etc., and provides guidance in making necessary improvements. Founders and inventing experts Dhana Cohen and Melinda Knight wants W.I.N. to be a launch pad for women inventors to get their products found.

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Eileen Fisher Business Grant Program (Grants for Women Entrepreneurs)

April 1st, 2013 ::

Eileen Fisher Business Grant Program

Designer Eileen Fisher started her business with just $350 in her savings account. Now she wants to help other women by inviting women-owned businesses to apply for her ninth annual Business Grant Program for Women Entrepreneurs. The program celebrates top women founders of innovative companies that foster environmental and economic health in their communities. Up to five grants of $12,500 each will be awarded to prospective applicants. Recipients will also attend a two-day conference in New York City, meeting with past beneficiaries and Eileen Fisher teams, in early 2014. Only for-profit businesses or for-profit/nonprofit hybrids (social enterprises) will be considered for this grant. The deadline is May 31, 2013.

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: 2013 Leading Moms in Business Competition (Web Contest)

March 27th, 2013 ::

2013 Leading Moms in Business Competition

The number of mom-owned businesses is growing and fueling the American economy—and there’s no time like the present to honor these busy entrepreneurs. StartupNation has launched its fourth annual ranking of mom entrepreneurs and the businesses they run. If you are a mom business owner or know of one, enter today for a chance to win prizes including $10,000 cash prize from Staples. Additional prizes include a complimentary business growth consultation by the founders of StartupNation and a $1,000 gift card from Staples for the top three winners. The deadline is April 30, 2013.


Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Brilliant Businesses Contest (Video Contest)

March 19th, 2013 ::

Brilliant Businesses Contest

Up to your neck in expense receipts and other tax documents? After you’ve done your homework and checked out My Corporation’s Small Business Tax Guide and Notable Tax Changes for 2013, celebrate your business by entering the Brilliant Businesses video contest sponsored by My Corporation. Simply submit a video of two minutes or less explaining your business, what you do, or what makes your business unique. Think of it as a commercial for your business. You have a chance to win $1,500 and have your business featured on the home page of the website. Don’t delay: The deadline for entries is March 29, 2013.


Web.com Small Business Toolkit: ZOHO Projects (Project Management)

March 15th, 2013 ::

ZOHO Projects

Even for the smallest businesses, project management tools make keeping organized and on schedule a cinch. If you need to share progress or files with partners, employees or clients, an online project management program can help your team work together more efficiently. ZOHO Projects works with Google products like Gmail and Google Drive and also has a mobile app available. ZOHO Projects is free for one project and if you need less than 10MB of storage. The next level of subscription is $199 for a year with 5GB of storage and unlimited projects.

More Women Business Owners Pass the $10M Mark

February 25th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

For a long time, the number of women-owned businesses whose revenues top $1 million has been far disproportionate to the numbers of women starting and running their own businesses. According to U.S. Census data, the number of women-owned firms grew by 28.6 percent between 2002 and 2012, outpacing the 24.4 percent increase the number of U.S. businesses overall. But while women are launching businesses in ever greater numbers, just 2 percent of women-owned companies have sales over $1 million.

But there’s some good news hidden in that statistic. Recently, American Express OPEN and Womenable decided to drill deeper into Census data about women-owned businesses that had over $1 million in sales. They broke the businesses into three revenue categories: $1 million to $4.9 million, $5 million to $9.9 million, and $10 million-plus. Their findings, published in Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievements of Million-Dollar Women-Owned Firms, show that among the over-$10-million category, the number of women-owned businesses has surged by 56.6 percent since 2002.

That’s 47 percent higher than the 38.4 percent increase in all businesses (both male- and female-owned) with sales of over $10 million. And in addition to outpacing $10-million-plus firms overall in growth, women-owned $10-million-plus firms are growing at a whopping 98 percent faster pace than women-owned businesses overall.

How do the $1-million-plus women-owned businesses break down overall? Some 87 percent have under $5 million in sales, and 10 percent fall in the $5 million to $9.9 million range. Only 8 percent of the $1-million-plus women-owned businesses make $10 million or more. That’s similar to the way that the majority of all small businesses fall on the lower end of the sales spectrum.

There’s good news of another kind in the study’s findings. While in the past, Womenable president and CEO Julie Weeks says, most women with firms in the $10-million-plus category had inherited the businesses from fathers or husbands, today most of them are heading companies they started themselves. Womenable believes the greater visibility of and support for high-profile women in business and government is a contributing factor in the growth.

So in what industries are women most likely to head $10-million-plus companies?   Wholesale trade (20 percent of women-owned firms there have passed the $10 million mark), finance/insurance (12 percent), transportation/ warehousing (11 percent), and arts/entertainment/recreation (10 percent) topped the list. Womenable says the fact that these industries tend to be more scalable than most has undoubtedly helped the women-owned firms in them expand.

Image by Flickr user (Creative Commons)

Is the Multitasking Myth Hurting Your Productivity?

February 20th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you a mad multitasker? You know what I mean—switching back and forth between 12 open programs on your computer while simultaneously talking on one phone, checking texts on a second phone and eating lunch at your desk. Women business owners are particularly prone to multitasking mania, probably because many of us are used to juggling dozens of tasks (overseeing the kids’ homework while working on the laptop and folding laundry) in our home lives. But that doesn’t mean we’re better at it than men.

Studies on male vs. female multitasking abilities are many and controversial. For every study showing that women are better at it, there’s one claiming men are. But the real question isn’t who’s better at multitasking, but whether multitasking is helpful or hurtful.

A raft of studies done in labs have indicated that while multitasking actually decreases your productivity, people tended to believe the opposite—that they were more effective when multitasking. An Ohio State University study went one step beyond to find out why people think multitasking is more productive. Researchers found that:

  • People feel more productive because they are emotionally satisfied by multitasking.
  • People tended to multitask when they had a specific task to do (such as studying); in other words, multitasking provided a way to avoid focusing on something that was rather unpleasant.
  • As a result, people feel emotionally satisfied by multitasking, which leads them to keep doing it.
  • As they continue multitasking, it develops into a habit, and the positive emotions that come from it plus the habit-forming nature makes them keep doing it.

So what can you do to break your multitasking habit? Like any habit, it will take time (about 21 days) to break the old habit and institute new ones. Try setting rules like shutting down your email and only checking it a few times a day; letting calls go to voice mail and checking them at set times; shutting your office door for short periods when you need to concentrate; and using online tools like Freedom or Concentrate to keep you from wasting time on the Internet.

Yes, I realize that these habits may be hard to institute, but start small. You’d be surprised at what just a couple hours a day of not multitasking can do for your productivity—and your business.

Image by Flickr user deux-chi (Creative Commons)

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: StartUp Weekend (Startup Events)

February 19th, 2013 ::

Startup Weekend

Want to start a new business or spinoff of your existing business but you’re thinking, “A new business is too hard and will take too long!” How does starting a business in a weekend sound (and maybe finding a partner to boot)? StartUp Weekend events are held around the world and are 54-hour weekends filled with hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if their startup ideas are viable.  Typically, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, and the other half have business backgrounds, which leads to some very fruitful teams. How’s this for a success rate? Eighty percent of past attendees say they plan on working with the team they met during their StartUp Weekend.