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Displaying articles for: December 2011

Employee ‎12-30-2011 10:32 AM

As 2011 winds down do you make any resolutions for the New Year?  If yes, do share it with us.  Did you know now you can log in using your Facebook log-in?  We hope that’ll make it easier for you to leave your comment.  Let us know.

 

Over the past couple of weeks we found some interesting articles that provided insights to have a great New Year in growth, sales and more.  Just go back to the main page of this blog to see the past Weekly Roundup.

 

Below you’ll find some more articles that might be helpful.

 

Most of us know clutter and this article from small business owner and USA Today columnist Rhonda Abrams offers a handful of tips to clean your desk (what to toss and what to file) to get ready for a fresh start. 

 

While your business may be steady or thriving these stories and lessons learned from five small businesses highlight what went wrong and what to avoid. 

 

The most important thing for any business is to market and sell their products and/or services.  This article from Small Business Trends offers many marketing ideas.

 

In the New Year do you have plans to use cloud services (if you don’t already use it or to use more of it) or are you planning to use smartphones or tablets to help run your business better? 

 

Lastly, do make the time to revisit the past webinars I hosted this year – a total of 24 – featuring small business experts like John Jantsch, Anita Campbell, Gene Marks, Guy Kawasaki and others offering insights and tips to help you grow your business. We’ll start up again on January 18, 2012!

 

We here at Verizon wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year!

 

 

Employee ‎12-30-2011 09:13 AM

Guest post from Marcia O’Toole, manager of the Verizon Small Business Center.

 

 

In a recent analysis conducted by Compass Intelligence in 3Q 2011 Verizon once again ranked highest among leading small business portals.  This is the fourth consecutive quarter where the Verizon Small Business Center was judged to offer the best online experience for small business owners.

 

For more information on this report click here (or go tohttp://bit.ly/sYNmWM).  Strengths of the Verizon Small Business Center cited were its “elegant, consistent design; engaging content; self-learn training; and business-specific news.” 

 

The report continued with, “a user is spoilt with choice.”  Additionally, the report praised Verizon for its special offers prominently displayed on the main page, clearly noting top features and prices.  The comparison charts and the solution finder features were also praised.  With regard to support, Verizon was one of the most capable, offering a number of options to small business customers – including self-serve knowledge base, user tutorials and click to chat options.

 

Forty-nine (49) top sites were evaluated on more than 20 portal capabilities and ranked on their ability to provide a relevant online experience to small business decision-makers.  The analysis considered online learning, site design and messaging, as well as ecommerce capabilities, among other attributes. All portals had to tailor specifically to decision-makers in small businesses (<100 employees) to be considered for this ranking.  The ratings and rankings were based on Compass Intelligence’s monthly research on small business decision-makers.

 

Have you been to the Verizon Small Business Center?  If not recently, check out this recent post and learn about our community that will allow you (Verizon customers and non-customers) to network.

 

If you are a frequent visitor to the Verizon Small Business Center please click here(and click on “Site Feedback”) to complete an online survey and give us your feedback – it’s the only way, we’ll improve and make the experience even better for you.  Of course, feel free leave your comments below. 

 

Thanks in advance for your feedback!


While pondering this past year and looking forward to 2012 we found several articles you might enjoy and help you set goals for the New Year. 

 

2011 was a tough year for small businesses.  Read this article for a reflection on our struggles.

 

If you still have some last minute shopping to do consider something different this year.  Some fun new apps just might save you a trip to the mall.  Read this article to learn more.  There are many apps that help with productivity, organization, etc.  Which do you use?

 

Security will always be an ever pressing concern for small business.  Read this article to learn more about upcoming trends for 2012.  If you missed the security videos we shared in this blog, do check some of our previous posts, click here to see one that was featured in SmallBizTechnology.com.

 

This article offers five lessons for building a business.  As the year winds down, some of you may have some time to catch up, so do some networking online.   

 

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to assess the services you have and to determine if you have the right services to run your business faster… better (accept credit cards payments anywhere, update your website whenever, post to your Facebook or Tweet on the go, etc.?).  This article give pointers on choosing an Internet Service Provider for your business

 

 

Today’s roundup was compiled with the help with Maureen Burch, product strategy manager for Verizon.

 

 

Happy Holidays!  We at Verizon hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday. 

 

 

Guest post from Mike Weston, director, Verizon Enhanced Communities.

 

 

Thousands of multi-family housing (apartments, condos, and townhomes) developments across the country can offer their residents Verizon’s FiOS services.  For property managers below is a shortlist of how you can fully utilize Verizon’s Concierge service during the holiday season to help run your properties more efficiently. 

 

  1. Send messaging en masse to residents’ phones, email and smart phones about your  upcoming property holiday party;
  2. Keep electronic records of guests coming and going during the holidays;
  3. Notify residents when they have holiday packages delivered;
  4. Send emergency alerts to all of your residents’ smart phones in the event of a power outage or impending snowstorm for which they’ll need to prepare;
  5. Respond to electronic maintenance requests quickly so your residents and their guests aren’t inconvenienced.

 

For a shortlist of how residents are using Verizon Concierge service click here.

 

To learn more about Verizon Concierge services, a virtual property management service, click here.

 

These are some of the suggestions from us for using your Verizon Concierge or Verizon Concierge widget during the season, but I’m sure there are many more.  For those who have Verizon Concierge, what would you recommend?

Employee ‎12-21-2011 11:49 AM

Guest post from Marcia O’Toole, manager of the Verizon Small Business Center.

 

During the holiday season, many small businesses experience a reduction in work or planned vacations.  This is a great time to launch or update your professional online profiles, network with new and old colleagues, and get updated on your field.   

 

If you haven’t joined, check out Verizon Professional Networking, launched in April 2010, this community recently reached more than 10,000 subscribers. Developed as part of Verizon’s Small Business Center website, this powerful resource connects thousands of business professionals in a diverse number of industries, including finance, manufacturing, and technology, who want to:

  • Network with other industry professionals;
  • Create and search business profiles;
  • Participate in forums, polls, and more.

 

Registered users are also able to personalize their home pages. The Verizon Professional Networking community is open to everyone – even non-Verizon customers.  This is a great viral community to find other small business owners or professionals… perhaps you need the services of an accountant, or want to team up with a similar business to buy in bulk or want to barter services… this is a free platform for you to network.

 

Additionally, Verizon’s Professional Networking area and Small Business Center Forums  provide answers to the challenges and questions faced in starting and running a small business.   Some of the discussions included in the Verizon forums are:

    • Starting a Small Business
    • Small Business Management
    • Small Business Advertising & Marketing
    • Find Small Business Resources

 

Sharing expertise with others in the community is not just a way to assist someone else, but to build credibility and develop business relationships. If you seek additional insights to help you run your business better check out some of the free resources we offer including past blog posts from small business experts and the free webinars brought to you from Verizon.

 

So, if you haven’t joined the professional networking community, sign up – it’s free!  If you are a member and haven’t updated your profile lately or networked with others, take a little time to do that.  A few minutes invested can position you for a progressive year ahead! 

 

Click to register or sign into Verizon Professional Networking.

 

 

Have a Happy New Year from the Verizon Small Business Center team!

 

 

 

 

 

Employee ‎12-16-2011 11:34 AM

Happy Friday!  Below are some interesting articles we found this week to share with you. 

 

With the New Year almost upon us, there are plans you can put in place to make it an even better one.  Read this interesting article on IT predictions for 2012.  Also check out this article with tips to outsell your larger competitor.

 

Do you want your business to standout on Facebook?  Read this article on a new tool that might be able to help you get creative.

 

While you are making your personal New Year’s resolutions don’t forget your business.   Add improving customer service to your list. Read this article to learn just how critical this is to your company. Additionally, as you assess your business, make sure you’re prepared in case of a technology disaster.  Perhaps you’ll want to review one of our last post on preparing for a disaster.

 

To get 13 tips to grow profits check out this webinar (http://bit.ly/v5ONVJ) with small business expert Gene Marks.  One tip Gene offers is to consider using cloud services to help cut costs.  To see the cloud services Verizon offers SMBs click here (http://bit.ly/gxwvVj).

 

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Today’s roundup was compiled with the help with Maureen Burch, product strategy manager for Verizon.

 

 

Employee ‎12-21-2011 07:29 AM

Guest post from Verizon Author Series with featured author Gene Marks, who wrote five best-selling books for small business owners and managers. His latest book is called In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash – Simple Lessons from Smart Business Owners.



 

My friend John’s a drywall contractor.  He keeps his costs down by outsourcing.    

John keeps his employee count low.  And he outsources as many functions as he can.  A few years ago, this didn’t seem to be fashionable.  But times change.  And in these tough economic times, where cutting costs is in favor and employee related expenses are on the rise, outsourcing seems to be back in vogue.  Most smart business people, like John, use outside contractors to do as much as possible.

And why not?  Just about everything in John’s life can be outsourced.  His bookkeeping.  Payroll.  Computer support.  Filing.  Fixing toilets.  Everything.

And nowadays, there are more ways than ever to find contracted help.  Two websites I know, Elance.com and Guru.com, are right now matching thousands of companies with contractors.  Both sites allow a user to search for and find independent workers anywhere in the world, “interview” them online, as well as accept and manage work and payments to them.   Elance, for example, makes money when the work is delivered.   

 

When employers make a payment to their service providers, Elance deducts between 6.75% and 8.75% from the payment to cover its costs and transfers the remaining amount directly to the service provider’s account.  They also sell membership plans too.  I’ve done some worked with the good people at Elance directly and like their service.  If you don’t want to deal with a middleman at all, then there are plenty of independents to be found on Craigslist too and that’s totally for free.

 

When John finds someone to do a job for him, he rarely worries about where that person’s located.  That’s because there are so many remote connection tools available today, like Windows Terminal Services and products from Citrix that he can hire people anywhere he wants and then get them connected to the office.  So if he finds a great marketing person in Idaho, or an excellent bookkeeper in Waco, he can have them work right from home.  Technology has made outsourcing really easy for him.  

 

But penny pinchers like John have to be careful nowadays.  There are pretty strict rules about who’s an employee and who’s a contractor.  If you break the rules, you may not only be stuck for that person’s back employment taxes but penalties and interest too.  And if the IRS thinks this was less than an “honest” mistake then criminal charges could also happen.  Not good. 

The IRS has rules to follow and a link to them is here:  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1779.pdf.  The good news is that John has common sense.  He makes sure that his contractors have no workspace at his offices.  He does the appropriate filings.  He also likes to see his contractors do work for other people and to that end he’s in the past referred some of them to his customers and suppliers.  The more his outsourced telemarketer can show that she’s an independent business with many of her own clients the less of a case the IRS has saying that John’s her employer.

John keeps a close eye on the people he hires as contractors.  He talks to them a few times a week.  He looks at the invoices they send him and understands the hours they’re charging.  In some cases, like when he sends a sub-contractor out to do a job at a customer, he’ll only pay when the job is done.  Even as he keeps a close eye out on his independents he still likes to back off a little and let them operate on their own. 

That’s because John allows his independent contractors to be…independent.  He gives them the respect of a fellow business owner.  That’s because they are.  He negotiates with them as if they are an independent business.  That’s because they’re supposed to be. 

 

Sure, John’s lazy.  He doesn’t like to do things for himself.  And he doesn’t like to hire more employees.  So he outsources.  A lot.  Because that’s what smart business people do when times are tight.  To cut costs.  But also to grow their business. 

 


For more tips on what small business owners can do next year to grow profits check out my webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.  Click here or go to http://bit.ly/v5ONVJ for the free webinar.

 

 

Editor's note: To get a free copy of Gene's latest book be one of the first 15 to send an email to vzsmallbiz@verizon.net (with your full mailing address information).



Employee ‎12-14-2011 09:22 AM

Guest post from Monya Emery, manager of supplier diversity for Verizon.

 

 

Often times small business owners want to know how they can do business with Verizon. 

 

The answer is simple: register your business at our website: www.verizon.com/suppliers

 

At Verizon, our supplier diversity program promotes an inclusive business environment including small businesses, small-disadvantaged businesses, minority, women, veteran and service-disabled veteran owned-businesses. There is an entire team committed to utilizing diverse suppliers throughout the sourcing and supply chain process.  We leverage our diverse suppliers to ensure our customer base mirrors our supply base.  This means when one of Verizon’s business groups need the services of outside experts and/or suppliers, small businesses have the same opportunities as larger businesses to submit a proposal.

 

Since 1984, the Verizon Supplier Diversity program was charged with the mission to drive the growth of working with diverse businesses and identify certified diverse suppliers, while building sustainable value-added business partnerships.

 

We have implemented several key initiatives to propel our mission, such as encouraging multi-tier sourcing, mentoring small businesses and diverse suppliers, and helping to connect small and diverse suppliers with large and majority-owned suppliers.

 

Our supplier selection criteria include the following:

 

  • Financial Stability 
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Established Business
  • Federal Taxpayer ID
  • Proven Track Record and References
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and E-commerce
  • Insurance & Bonding Requirements
  • Background Checks
  • Quality Processes
  • Third-party diverse certification

  

Verizon takes pride in being recognized as a leader in diversity of employees in our workforce and for working with small businesses and diverse suppliers.  Recently, we received two prestigious awards from the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council (D/FW MSDC), an affiliate to the National Minority Supplier Development Council

 

Verizon’s Donna W. Erhardt, director of sourcing and supplier diversity received the 2011 Executive Advocate of the Year Award for her outstanding support of diverse suppliers. The criteria for the award was as follows:  leadership and vision in Supplier Diversity, outstanding performance in minority business development, support and participation with the D/FW MSDC and involvement with the diverse business community.

 

Donna has actively served on the D/FW MSDC's Board of Directors and Executive Boards for the past three years.  She holds the position of Secretary on both Boards.  In addition, she makes a point to regularly coach and mentor small and diverse suppliers.  

 

Verizon also received the 2011 Mega Deal award in recognition of our work with Software House International (SHI), a global provider of information technology products and services.   They provide software and hardware procurement, deployment planning, pc refresh, and IT asset management. SHI has recently begun working with Verizon on its Green Initiatives, which include: recycling, asset recovery and asset disposal. 

 

Mega Deals are defined as deals totaling over $25 million and take place between a corporation and a DF/W MSDC diverse owned business enterprise. The Mega Deal award helps diverse businesses to showcase their performance and further grow their businesses.

 

Now that you are familiar with our interest and leadership in utilizing small and diverse businesses, I encourage small and diverse suppliers to register at our website:  http://www.verizon.com/suppliers.

 

 

[Editor's note: Top photo of Monya Emery guest blogger: center photo of Donna Erhardt (right) with the 2011 Executive Adovate of the Year Award and Royalyn Reid, co-founder & CEO of Consumer & Market Insights of Dallas, TX; below, photo of all the individuals honored by the D/FW MSDC.]

 

 

 

 

Employee ‎12-09-2011 01:13 PM

Guest post from Verizon Author Series with featured author Gene Marks, who wrote five best-selling books for small business owners and managers. His latest book is called In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash – Simple Lessons from Smart Business Owners.

 

Want to track a few cool metrics outside of your business?  Try these...

 


To keep track of consumer activity I recommend two places.  First, pay attention to the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Measure.  Trust me, when they release this number on the last Tuesday of each month you’ll be hearing plenty about it in the media.  A nice chart plotting the CCM can be found here: http://www.market-harmonics.com/free-charts/sentiment/consumer_confidence.htm.  When you see things start ticking up, that’s a good sign. 

 

Or… go to Alexa.com and check out page views for Expedia.  Alexa’s ranking system isn’t perfect, but here you can see how many people are visiting this travel site over the past year.  Activity has been picking up significantly since the end of the last recession.  Also, keep an eye on auto sales. 

I also look at commodities.  Like raw materials.  And the prices of steel, copper and oil.  Low commodity prices means low demand.  I don’t want to see $140/barrel oil again, but seeing the price of oil rise is actually a good sign of more economic activity.  And that will mean more business for my business.


And have you ever heard of the Baltic Dry Index?   This one of those little known indexes that economists like to track as a leading indicator and is probably the only useful thing to come out of the Baltic since….since….well, I’ll think of something.   The index tracks the prices of moving raw materials.  When it’s moving up it means economic activity is increasing. 

Finally, I present the biggest indicator to watch that will tell us how the economy is doing.

And that’s the Media.  The media will have a big impact deciding when our country emerges from this recession.  Go to Google Trends (www.google.com/trends) and search for both “Recession” and “Recovery.”  This will give you a good indication of what’s being talked about in the press.

 

And finally, follow a few good economic bloggers.  I personally like Mark Perry (http://mjperry.blogspot.com/), Ezra Klein (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein)  and the guys at Capital Risk Blog (www.capitalriskblog.com).  These sites give up to date economic analysis and thoughts and perspectives, in plain English, so that a dope like me can even understand what’s going on in the world.

 

Following this information is important.  As business owners, we’re responsible not for just meeting payroll this week, but making decisions now that will affect ourselves, our employees and families in the years to come.  That’s why we make the big bucks, right?

 

I’ll be discussing these and other cool metrics when I host a live free webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center next Wednesday (Dec. 14) at 2 p.m. ET.  To register click here to go to http://bit.ly/v5ONVJ.

 

Editor's note: To get a free copy of Gene's latest book be one of the first 15 to send an email to vzsmallbiz@verizon.net (with your full mailing address information).

 

 

Employee ‎12-07-2011 10:33 AM

Guest post by Michael Ginsberg, CEO, Echoworx,a leading provider of managed encryption services to protect confidential information from unauthorized viewers and make the encryption of digital information easy.

 

 

There has been a landslide of incidents that have brought to light the issue of protecting information exchange in recent months - especially when it comes to email correspondence.

 

A sizeable portion of emails contains confidential information relating to employees, customers or company activities. Not only does this present risk from a compliance standpoint, leaking sensitive information to the outside world can erupt into a PR nightmare, leading to lost revenues and a damaged reputation. While for the most part these lapses may be inadvertent, the aftermath can be devastating.

 

Surprisingly, many aspects of email continue to be unmonitored and documentation is exchanged without thought to who can access that information and for what purpose.

 

Forrester in fact reports that email ranks only second to portable storage as a source of data leakage. While organizations have been diligent about addressing the obvious privacy issues – such as personal health information or financial details – it is becoming increasingly evident that information leakage is still happening more often than it should. And unfortunately, it’s happening through one of the most common forms of business communications available.

 

One way to alleviate the security burden is encrypted mail, where sensitive emails can be encrypted directly from the employees desktop.

 

With the desktops now taken care of IT has more challenges to tackle with the explosion of smartphones onto the market, as employees are embracing BYOD (bring your own device) and are using their smartphones for business correspondence and other sensitive communications. Due to the variety of devices and platforms, IT is unable to monitor these mobile communications.  

 

This was not a concern when mobile phones were primarily used for voice and personal communications. Now however, business users are turning to their smartphones to text, e-mail, and forward files—all activities that used to be managed by desktop functions where security and authentication processes are well in hand.

 

This is reminiscent of the early days of wireless networks, when staff took to installing their own routers. This rogue activity undermines the traditional centralized IT management approach. If an iPad or BlackBerry is stolen for example, there’s very little an IT manager can do to safeguard that information. On top of that, credential management for mobile communications is minimal—or in some cases non-existent.

 

The issue definitely began taking centre stage when the iPhone and Android devices came into the picture. Android especially brings an added risk to the equation, since applications can be downloaded from any location, rather than a centrally managed app store.

 

At this point in time, it’s safe to assume that every phone is potentially a business device and therefore a danger to security and information integrity.

 

To get additional information on email encryption, watch this webinar (or go to http://bit.ly/vgdzi6).

 

 

 

­­­­Season’s Greetings!  We wrap up the Verizon Author Series with featured author Gene Marks, who wrote five best-selling books for small business owners and managers. His latest book is called In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash – Simple Lessons from Smart Business Owners.

 

Gene writes weekly on political, economic and cultural events that affect the business community for the New York Times, Forbes, The Huffington Post and American City Business Journals.

 

He frequently appears as a commentator on FOX Business, FOX News, MSNBC and CNBC and speaks often around the country on business management topics. Gene has worked with dozens of Fortune 1000 companies, helping them build relationships with the business community.  Since 1994 Gene, a CPA, has run his own ten person consulting firm based near Philadelphia. Previously, Gene was a senior manager with the international accounting and consulting firm KPMG.

 

To get insights directly from Gene this month, be sure to check back as he will share a couple of guest blog posts.  Join us this Thursday (Dec. 8th) to get real-time tips and advice directly from Gene during the live Twitter chat we’ll have with him at 12 p.m. ET.  Just follow us on Twitter @VZSmallBiz (www.twitter.com/VzSmallBiz) or search for #bizbooks.

 

Also, join us for a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center next Wednesday which will feature Gene as a guest presenter on December 14 at 2 p.m. ET.  This will be another opportunity for you to ask Gene your questions and get tips to grow your business in 2012.  Register for the webinar now by clicking here or go to http://bit.ly/v5ONVJ.

 

The best part of the Verizon Author Series is that we’ll be giving away Gene’s book all this month: In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash – Simple Lessons from Smart Business Owners.

 

You’ll want to read this book to get tips to grow your business. To win your free copy of Gene’s latest book be one of the first 15 people to send an email to vzsmallbiz@verizon.net telling us you’d like a copy of Gene’s book and what tips you hope to gain from it. 

 

Should you have any questions for Gene, don’t hesitate to post it below; we’ll do our best to get him to answer your questions so you can get insights to help you grow your business starting now and into the New Year.

 

 

About Verizon Business Markets
Get news from Verizon about Business Markets services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon Business Markets group and other experts to help keep your business growing.

       




Contact the editor: tumara.r.jordan@verizon.com

About the Authors

Tumara Jordan

Senior Manager: Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Tumara Jordan

Tumara is a contributor to the Business Markets Marketing team and she currently manages Social Media marketing campaigns.


Kelly Boyd

Marketing Analyst, Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Kelly Boyd

Kelly is a member of the OOF Verizon Business Markets Creative & MarCom team where she leads social media marketing.


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