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Verizon Business Markets Blog

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎08-24-2017 10:42 AM

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by Brian StacyVP of Customer Experience at Verizon Business Markets

Twitter | @brian_stacy44

 

How do you order a pizza, buy a pair of sneakers, or rent a car? There’s a good chance a mobile app is your starting point, even if it’s not the whole journey. You might discover the sneakers on Instagram or Facebook, learn and explore more about them in the mobile app—even asking questions via chat or by reading online reviews and finally purchasing them online. This is the new normal. Today our consumer touch points are increasingly integrated—we expect a seamless omnichannel experience, but that often begins in a mobile app.

 

The vast majority of Americans now own smartphones. For millennials and Gen-X, ownership is almost ubiquitous. And thanks to the fast, reliable connectivity provided by 4G and in the future 5G, they’re using their mobile devices to consume media, organize their lives and research and make purchases. Consumers are turning to their mobiles to check reviews of products and prices when in store. And they’re not waiting until they’re back home to book that vacation—they’re doing it straight from their phone.

 

For many consumers, the first thing they’ll turn to when they’re thinking about making a purchase—be it new clothes or a new car—is a mobile app. Mobile is where the customer journey begins. And that’s why it’s something that every organization should be embracing.

 

Speed and convenience

 

On most occasions, consumers want speed and convenience. That’s what the best mobile apps offer—ecommerce on the go. They can help to streamline the entire buyer process, making your service more attractive to busy people seeking convenience and instant gratification.

 

Mobile apps can also help win new customers and encourage brand loyalty. Many customers’ view of your brand will be based on social recommendations. They’re more likely to trust a brand if they’ve seen good reviews online—and especially if it has been recommended by friends or family. From your mobile apps, customers can instantly share their purchases on Instagram, or send push notifications requesting a Facebook review. This can help you to build brand awareness quickly, and attract a wider audience.

 

The benefits don’t end there. Mobile apps can save your business time and money. Imagine you’re a busy hotelier or restaurant owner—a mobile booking app could mean your staff spends less time answering phones and taking manual reservations, freeing up time for other proactive guest activities to create experience differentiation.

 

What’s next?

 

The ecommerce landscape is rapidly evolving and there’s huge potential for innovation. New and upcoming trends include sophisticated AI chatbots, digital assistants and virtual reality shopping. If used wisely, these features can enhance the user experience, differentiate your organization and enable rich personalization.

 

Need inspiration? Keep an eye on larger brands that are leading the way in mobile customer experience (CX). Retail giant Sephora has released an app which scans your face and lets you try on makeup virtually. It matches your chosen look with real products you can purchase online or in-store, creating a tailored shopping experience.

 

Concierge apps like Pana are changing the way we travel. Book your sightseeing, flights and hotels within the app, or use the built-in chat support to instantly connect with travel agency professionals. Running late for a flight? Grab shows you the nearest restaurants in your airport. Order your food within the app, and grab it as you rush to the terminal. You can even forward on meal receipts for expense reporting.

 

Mobile CX is already harnessing the power of 4G. The arrival of 5G promises to enhance this even further, with predicted speeds of more than a gigabit per second. Customers will be able to quickly download videos on the go, vastly improving the mobile app experience. The future of mobile CX looks promising.

 

Where should you start?

 

Whether you’re planning to develop your own mobile app, or simply make your existing website mobile friendly, there are certain things you should keep in mind. Here are three key considerations for your mobile strategy.

 

Performance

 

Using content delivery networks (CDNs) can enhance your mobile app performance. CDNs help provide a smooth user experience by accelerating the speed of content downloads. This is especially important if your customer base is spread around the globe. Even a second-long delay can cause a drop off in your mobile conversions—so it’s important that your app is lightning fast, no matter where your users live.

 

Security

 

One of the most crucial considerations is payment security. Consumers put their trust in you each time they make a purchase online, or within an app. To protect both your customers and your business, get up to speed with security requirements including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and The Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA DSS).

 

Motivation

 

Don’t fall into the trap of going mobile for the sake of it, or blindly following your competitors. Your mobile app must work for your customers—not frustrate or impede them. Begin by tapping into your existing consumer base. Conduct journey mapping research to find out what they want, and how you could improve their experience. Think about every possible touch point on your customer journey, and try to create a seamless omnichannel experience which makes their daily lives easier.

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by Lori Bonenfant,  Director of Channel Marketing at Verizon Business Markets

Twitter | @lorib4599

 

In the last few months we’ve prompted many discussions about the impact of tech on small and medium businesses — like how lessons learned from Pokemon Go can help revitalize your marketing and why the mobile revolution is leaving many small business owners flat-footed. Get technology right and you can improve your products and customer experience, enhance your brand and extend your marketing reach.

 

But technology isn’t a golden ticket for success. Your reputation with your customers isn’t based solely on how well you use mobile or your online marketing strategies. Your brand image is a reflection of how existing and prospective customers perceive your business. And you can make a big impression by showing them you care about the same things they do. Your business can do well by doing good.

 

Show you care

 

There are many things you can do to start showing customers your philanthropic side. The quickest way to get involved is to donate money to a local charity or sponsor a local community event. If you’re not sure where to start with this, ask your employees. It’s likely that some of them are already involved in raising money or supporting the local community in some way. You could follow the practice of many large corporations that match donations raised by employees for big achievements, like running a marathon.

 

But this doesn’t have to be about you giving money. Why not organize a cookie sale or a fancy dress day in the office to raise money for good causes? Or you could ask employees to bring in tins of food for the local food bank or donate coats they no longer need to a homeless shelter. Since 2001, HopeLine from Verizon has been collecting wireless phones that are no longer wanted. These are turned into valuable resources for non-profit organizations and agencies that support victims of domestic violence.

 

You’ll generate more interest the more involved you get. After all, nothing is more valuable than time. Whether it’s helping kids with their reading, keeping local spaces clean and tidy or offering your workforce’s skills pro-bono, donating your time shows that you’re part of the community. And you’ll be engaging with your customers on a whole new level.

 

An employer of choice

 

Doing good won’t just boost your external brand; it can boost your employer brand too. Millennials, in particular, want to work for organizations that care about corporate social responsibility (CSR). 62% of millennials are willing to take a pay cut to work for a “responsible company.”1 That means your philanthropy could help you attract and retain today’s best talent.

 

Your employees will value the opportunity to get involved with causes they really care about. And engaged employees are more productive. Providing them with the opportunity to spend time volunteering could also help them develop new skills, which will make them a more valuable asset. 

 

By giving back, you can help to build a better future for everyone — the communities you serve and your business.

 

Tell us what you’re doing

 

You can find out more about Verizon’s commitment to CSR here. Our major programs include HopeLine and Verizon Innovative Learning — an initiative that provides kids from under-served communities with access to STEM education. #WeNeedMore kids to see the world of possibilities waiting for them.

We’d love to hear what your business is doing to support your community. Let us know by using #CommunityMaker in your Tweet.

 

1 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎05-09-2012 09:02 PM

This post is from members of Verizon’s small business team.

 

Whether it’s your friends sharing pictures on Facebook or watching that new viral hit on YouTube, it seems like you can’t go a day without hearing about some sort of social media. As a small business owner, you probably wonder how you can utilize these sites to improve your business. Fortunately, Twitter has become an extremely beneficial tool for small business owners. Businesses like The Coffee Groundz in Houston saw their sales double after three months of strong user engagement on Twitter. Even with all the potential benefits, as of last November only 10% of small businesses have made the micro-blogging platform a part of their social media marketing strategy. So if you follow these tips, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.

 

Find New Customers

As this article from Search Engine Land recommends, using Twitter’s search bar can help you locate potential customers.

 

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The key is in knowing what to search for. Let’s say you own a Thai restaurant in Seattle and you’re looking for some hungry people. You could type in words like “hungry,” “starving” or “lunch” but the results are likely to be completely unrelated. You’re much more likely to get better search results if you type in phrases like “anyone know.”

 

People use this phrase all the time to get their fellow Twitter users’ opinions. Now if you make that search something more like “‘anyone know’ Thai Seattle,” you’re much more likely to pull up a tweet that says “Anyone know any good Thai restaurants in Seattle?” That’s your opportunity for engagement and let them know you exist with a friendly tweet. Then you can start a conversation and let them know where you are and maybe offer a discount to entice them to stop by.

 

If you want to go even more in depth, you can use Twitter’s Advanced Search. This search tool enables you to get extremely specific, allowing you to pick what phrasing to include and/or eliminate the location of the tweets, and even their sentiment (i.e. negative or positive).

 

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Improve Customer Relations

 

Twitter is a fantastic forum for managing relationships with your customers. These days, customers expect a response almost immediately, but if you’re a small business owner, you probably can’t afford to have people manage the phone lines 24/7. You might not even need to. It might just be an infrequent request or complaint after hours. But you don’t want to wait to address it until you’re back at the office. That just gives them more time to complain about you to their friends.

 

Twitter is always on (apart from instances where the fail whale pops up, but those are getting more and more rare) and you can access it anywhere you have an Internet connection. Respond in a quick and friendly manner and you might turn complaints into praise.

 

 

 

 

 

Tell People Where You Are and Who You Are

 

Having a mobile business has its own set of challenges and for food trucks everywhere, Twitter is just as essential as the tasty treats they serve up. In fact, last summer, Mashable posted an article about 16 Different Food Trucks using Twitter. Not only are they able to let all of their followers know where they are at any given time, they can also tell them about specials and new items on the menu. The freedom of Twitter also allows you to add some personality, which makes following your business – you – a much more enjoyable experience too!

 

So, there you have it. Not as scary or difficult as you may have thought. Remember, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other ways to use Twitter to grow your small business. The key is to be friendly, persistent and creative. The biggest pitfall novice social media users fall into is when it doesn’t work for them immediately, they throw up their hands and quit. Don’t give up! Use these methods and stick with it and Twitter can be an excellent complement to your existing marketing strategy.

 

For more tips go to our free on-demand library of webinars presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.  John Jantsch, small business owner, marketing consultant and expert offered some great tips to search for potential customers on Twitter, click here (http://bit.ly/KbPdfXto see this webinar.

 

Now go to Twitter and follow us http://www.twitter.com/VZSmallBiz) then tell us if this article was helpful.follow me.jpg

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎04-12-2012 09:02 AM

3-15-2012 VZ Internet Cafe #HispanicBizExpo.jpgGuest post by Mario Acosta-Velez, director, State Government Affairs for Verizon.   Mario manages external relations with key stakeholders, business organizations, and diverse communities in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

 

Last month, while attending the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 3rd Annual Hispanic Business Expo at the Washington, DC Convention Center, I talked with many small business owners who visited Verizon’s exhibit to learn about the latest communications technology for small businesses, such as 4G and FiOS.  Some of the common questions asked by small business owners were: 

-          how do I develop an effective communications and marketing strategy?

-          does my business have the right communications tools in place to maximize its potential?

-          how can I effectively use voice and internet services to better reach customers? 

-          how can I ensure my business comes up first in a Google search? 

 

One thing was clear as part of these conversations:  small business owners want access to real communications solutions that will help them be more productive, retain and find new customers, create or expand their online presence, and run all aspects of their businesses on the go.  

 

Think about these three key topics below and ask if you have addressed these within your business:

 

Aligning communications solutions with marketing strategy.  As small business owner, you want to ensure that you do not miss any contacts, inquiries or leads from current or potential customers  (calls, emails or clicks), that potential customers can find your business and easily reach you, and that your business comes up first on web searches.  More than 90% of consumers research online before making decisions on products and services in their local area.  As you increase your online presence, your business needs to have an effective business website to market your services or products when customers find you online. 

 

Leveraging Cloud technology to effectively run your business.  How you ever thought how cloud (or online) services can benefit your business?  Cloud technology allows you to access, organize, manage and share business data from any online source, provides the most current online security, and helps ensure contingency planning via online backup and storage to ensure continued business operations. This type of technology can definitely help maximize business efficiency so you can have more time to run your business. 

 

Using Wireless Machine to Machine (M2M) technology to grow your business.  Through M2M technology, which wirelessly connects machines and devices through the network, your small business can gain better visibility and control over asset and inventory levels.  For example, the Mobile Router Broadband Solutions feature allows multiple devices to share a wireless wide area network (WWAN) connection to minimize risk, set up failover protection, and quickly connect job sites.

 

So, whether you are a one-person business or a company with more than 200 employees, the power of our technology will help your business achieve better results, innovate, drive productivity and stay continuously connected to your customers.  

Please share your comments or questions below.  For those in the DC-metro area, Verizon will have a booth at the Vienna/Tysons Corner Regional Chamber of Commerce Annual Conference to be held this Friday, April 13 at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner.  I, as well as other small business experts from Verizon will be onsite to answer your questions or show you how some of  our latest technologies can help you run increase your business productivity.

 

The Verizon exhibit booth is at the Trade Show floor right across from the main ballroom.

 

To learn more about the power of wireless and broadband technology for small businesses, please visit http://www.verizonbusinessmadeeasy.com/, the Verizon Small Business Center or http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/businessSolutions/index.jsp

 

 

YiShaun-BP-502x753.jpg  AdoraPet-Verizon.jpg

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A few posts back, I talked about our GoPayment solution in conjunction with Intuit and how it made it easy for the entrepreneur or small business owner to accept credit card payments anytime and anywhere.  Today, I’d like to share a success story.  Verizon Wireless customer, YiShaun Yang, owner of AdoraPet, conveys a good business case below.

 

In her own words YiShaun wrote:

 

While I was working as a corporate attorney in a Manhattan law firm, I made the decision to take a leap of faith and start my own business.  I believe children are full of potential and possibility, and it was important to me to create a business that nurtures children’s dreams and development.

 

I started a business in the children’s products industry called AdoraPet (http://AdoraPet.com). 

As an entrepreneur, my business is nimble, but we still need the same tools that an enterprise may need, though in a different version. 

 

I didn’t think I would be able to accept credit card payments without going through the hassle of entering into an onerous credit card processing contract that had termination fees and other obligations. 

 

I had my first holiday fair of the season coming up and time was running out to find a suitable solution.  But one day while in the Verizon store, I saw the GoPayment credit card swiper, and it changed the way I do business and allows me to easily serve my customers better. 

 

I found the online set up process to be incredibly quick and easy.  I plugged in my information online and was able to find out very quickly that my application had been approved.

 

Before the fair, I was able to enter in my different products, their prices, and whether or not to accept tax for each item, which made the actual sales process much faster and more streamlined.

 

I decided to have a special holiday set of all 8 of my children’s books, and even though I was offering a special holiday price, it was more than most people carry in cash. 

 

I was so happy to have GoPayment, especially when a woman came by at the very end and bought 5 holiday sets right on the spot because she was able to pay by credit card!

 

Now, I carry the GoPayment swiper with me wherever I go.  It’s light and compact and comes with its own plastic case, so I can easily toss it into my bag or pocket.  I love the versatility it gives my customers and me, and it helps make running a small business easier. 

 

 

[Editor’s note: If your business is like YiShaun’s where you can sell your products at fairs or on the go; then you will seriously want to consider getting a mobile credit card processing solution so you can accept payment – for your product(s) – no matter where you are!  For more information click here or go to http://bit.ly/wD8LJI

resize_intuit-reader.jpgIntuitVZW.jpg

In an increasingly mobile and cashless society, small businesses more than ever need an easy way to accept credit cards on the go so they never have to say no to a sale. 

 

Whether you are a one-person operation, or a business with 50 employees, one of the big challenges for many small businesses is payment.  Many organizations are not equipped to take or process credit cards– until now.

 

Verizon Wireless and Intuit teamed up to deliver a game changer for the small- and medium-sized business.  The Intuit GoPayment will enable the entrepreneur to do something seamlessly – take plastic on select mobile devices and tablets.

Setting up an account is simple and takes less than 15 minutes.

 

All you need is the GoPayment card reader, available for $29.97 from any one of the 2,300 Verizon Wireless retail stores (It comes with a $30 mail in rebate debit card).  Users simply download the free GoPayment app to a mobile device.  The card reader easily fits into the audio jack of a supported smartphone or tablet. 

 

Credit and debit cards can be swiped through the card reader or entered manually through the free GoPayment app.  The transaction is processed immediately and funds are automatically deposited into a user’s bank account within a few business days. GoPayment can be used on the most popular devices on iOS, BlackBerry and Android platforms, including select 4G LTE smartphones and tablets.  Tablet and smartphone users require a data package starting at $30 monthly access for 2GB of data.

 

So, if you are a small business, and are intent on changing your cashflow and increasing your revenue, consider deploying GoPayment to change your business.

 

Additional information can be found at www.verizonwireless.com/gopayment

 

If your business is already using GoPayment, tell me how your game was changed.

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎08-22-2011 10:50 AM

Become Your Own Boss#65937A.pngGuest post from Melinda F. Emerson who wrote the national bestseller Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months; A Month-By-Month Guide to a Business That Works. Melinda is known to many as the “Small Biz Lady,” one of the country’s leading small business experts. 

 

 

One of the top reasons why small businesses fail is because they try to sell to anyone that they think has money.  Now hear this:  If everybody can use your product or service, no one will.

 

That is why it’s important to have a niche – narrow in on your potential customers.  A niche has a particular market or specialty area where a company finds it profitable to concentrate its efforts. Niche marketing also offers an area of limited competition.

 

Why Niche? Niche marketing is cost-effective. By identifying your niche customer you can eliminate a lot of guess work and your marketing dollars will be targeted and go a lot further. The more specific your customers are the easier it is to meet their needs. You must study where they shop, where they live, how often they buy things, what their values are and what are their pain points—then armed with a detailed customer profile it is much easier to design custom solutions and sell to them.

 

Use the internet to dig deeper into your market. For example, I know an event planner created a website focused on Sweet 16 parties to advertise her business. She researched the key words people used to search for help with teen party planning and made sure to use those key words in her blog posts and marketing copy. Her business really took off after she launched her “princess for a day” website. Use the web to establish your niche brand, and become the ‘king’ or ‘queen’ of your niche.

 

Niche marketing is a major theme in my book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months; A Month-By-Month Guide to a Business That Works.  The book walks you step-by-step through the Emerson Planning System, which will reduce your learning curve as you start your business. 

 

Reduce the Competition

You must niche to get rich as a small business owner. Nowadays, all competition is global.  Competing on price is virtually impossible, so it is all about adding maximizing value for your customers. This means you must specialize in solving their core problem.  The best thing about running a niche business is that you reduce the competition.

 

Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to go after too broad a market. They chase too many clients in too many diverse industries.  As a small business owner you have limited time and limited resources to market your business. Do not chase every ambulance going down the street that you think might have money in the back.  After months of doing this, your business will be on life support in need of emergency care.

 

If you try to sell to anyone with money—you’re going to struggle in business. And you will not be known for anything.  One of the best ways to carve out a niche for your business is to position yourself as an expert. Try blogging, writing a book, doing media interviews on your topic, expertise or the services you are offering.  Make sure you create a social media footprint that shows that you are the go to expert in your field. People will “google “you before they even pick up the phone to call you for a quote.

 

Consider this; lots of people sell graphic design services, promotional products and desserts. Why should anyone buy them from you?  Lots of people sell marketing consulting services.   What makes your services so special? What difference does it make to my business if I use your service? Do you have an answer for this in your business?

 

Do you have a niche business? Tell me about it?

 

The first 23 to post a comment will get a copy of Melinda’s book courtesy of the Verizon small business team.  To get real-time insights from Melinda Emerson join our LIVE Twitter chat tomorrow (August 11) at 2 p.m. ET.  For more information on the chat click here.

 

 

 

VZ small_biz_info ICON.pngHappy Friday!  Click here for five ways to tell your business story.  If you joined this Wednesday’s live webinar (click here for the replay) Anita Campbell provided some great marketing tactics you can do to generate some awareness and buzz for your business (and at little to no cost).

                         

She also discussed the importance of sharing your story with your customers and potential customers.  It gives your business a human touch and helps to establish an immediate rapport.  Anita also mentioned the importance of a website and how it is very easy to design one yourself today.  If your business does not have a website, check out Verizon Websites powered by Intuit, it is an easy-do-it-yourself website building software.  Regardless of which provider you go with, please get your business a website if you don’t have one already. 

 

If you are looking to start-up another business, check out these top moonlighting businesses.  Here’s a quick read on how to turn customers into loyal, raving fans.

 

If you missed it, we announced the winners of the Verizon Hardest Working Small Biz Mom contest

 

Mark your calendars, our next live free webinar is Wednesday, July 27 and the topic is all about turning your employees into entrepreneurs helping you to take your business to the next level.  Click here to register.

 

As always, let us know how you like our articles, which topics you want more information on or ask us a question concerning your business… we’ll be happy to help if we can.

 

Have a great weekend!   

 

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎07-13-2011 03:50 PM

VZ Webinar Series ICON.jpgThis is a guest post by Anita Campbell, founder and editor of  Small Business Trends, who hosted a webinar brought to you by the Verizon Small Business Center.

 

 

From my webinar today, “Marketing on a Shoestring,” below you’ll find the links to the sites and resources I referred to, broken down by the three major marketing approaches I touched on.  To catch the replay of my webinar click here or go to http://bit.ly/pUmHUT.

 

 

 

 

 

Online

 

Looking world-class on your website: Lisa Barone lists 5 “must haves” for your About page:

http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/06/about-us-page.html

 

Content Management Systems:  Use a content management system (CMS) to allow easy updating without getting your Website developer involved all the time:

 

  • Intuit websites are updatable
  • WordPress.orgcan be used for uncomplicated, non-commerce sites
  • Large domain registrars offer updatable websites – Network Solutions, Verisign and GoDaddy
  • Services like Edit.com will convert your existing website
  • Drupal is another, although more technical, CMS
  • If you want a CMS that is more customized, check list at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_content_management_systems

 

 

Trust seals:  Use them legitimately – don’t just grab them. Remember, they serve different purposes (business complaints, ecommerce, secure website, industry expertise, etc.).  Here are some examples of trust seals:

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

 

Google offers a “Starter Guide” for SEO:

http://bit.ly/rfQuce (PDF file)

 

Great guide for bloggers to learn about basic SEO:

http://www.seobook.com/bloggers

 

 

Local businesses:  to improve rankings, try to get citations to your site from the most important places.  David Mihm has a list from his recent survey: http://www.davidmihm.com/local-search-ranking-factors.shtml#citations

 

  1. Yelp 
  2. Superpages 
  3. Citysearch 
  4. Yellowpages 
  5. Infogroup 
  6. Yahoo Local 
  7. Localeze 
  8. InsiderPages 
  9. Niche Industry Sites (including TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and DealerRater) 

 

Referrals

 

 

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing has an excellent book dedicated to developing referrals to grow your business:  “Referral Engine”.  There’s an accompanying website at http://referralenginebook.com.

 

 

Public Relations

 

Establish someone in your firm as an expert for speaking, articles, guest blogging:  Pick someone with business expertise in your industry and/or your CEO.

 

According to the Edelman 2011 Trust Barometer

 

Slide #19:

 

  • 64% trust a technical expert within a company – 2nd highest trusted source after an academic expert
  • 4th highest trusted source is the company CEO at 50%

 

Slide #21 – repetition matters, so the more you get your company people out to speak, in more places online and offline, the better:

 

  • 59% of people will believe something about a business if they hear it 3 to 5 times.  Increase the number of times, and even more people will believe it. 

  

Becoming an expert for PR purposes:  If you’re not an expert, how do you become one?  Read: How to Establish Yourself as an Expert

 

Anita Campbell.jpg 

VZ small_biz_info ICON.pngHappy reading!  How is your summer going?  Do you shut down your business for a few days so everyone can take a little vacation?  Or perhaps your business is at its height during the summer so your doors are opened 7 days a week?

 

No matter the business you are in; are your products and/or services priced right?  I referenced an article not too long ago on pricing and here’s a new one

 

I know in this blog we’ve talked about cloud computing or cloud services – how it can help your business.  Check out this article by InformationWeek SMB that focuses on how one company is leveraging cloud computing to run its business better.

 

If you are looking for a money, check out this video which gives you some tips to better position yourself and your company for a loan.

 

Click here for a shortlist of online resources that can help your business… also check out this site from Alltop -- it has quite an extensive list of online magazines and blogs that focus on topics relevant to SMBs.

 

Do you want more business?  Check out our next free webinar with Anita Campbell, she’ll give tips on how you can market on a shoestring.  Click here (or go to http://bit.ly/pUmHUT) to register.

 

This month, our featured author is Jennifer Prosek, who will share tips on how to motivate your employees – turn them into entrepreneurs.  We’ll be giving away copies of her book all this month so read our blog, follow us on Twitter or fan us on Facebook for more information.

 

Have a great weekend!

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎07-01-2011 08:26 AM

VZ small_biz_info ICON.pngHappy July !  I read a few stories about there being a surge in borrowing from U.S. small businesses.  It’s a sign that the economy is growing.  Is your business growing?  If yes, which industry are you in?  Here’s another article about it too – borrowing up by 26%!

 

If you are looking to borrow check out this article first, get some ‘insider’ insights into what some banks don’t want you to know.

 

Here’s some good news for retailers: there’s going to be a little relief as the Federal Reserve has capped the fee banks charge to process debit card transactions.  Click hereto read more.   If you are a Verizon small business customers check out our discount programs – we work with Chase Paymentech to save you money and speed up credit card transaction times.  To learn more click here.

 

If your business is in the New York City area, you’ll have the opportunity to get free consultation from experts in a program launched by UBS and Clinton Foundation.  Click here for more information.   Don’t forget Verizon brings small business experts to you regularly.  Get a free “consultation” with small business experts in our author series.  If you need some business advice join our free live webinars and ask your questions or take it to Twitter when these experts host their live Twitter chat.  For more information, read this blog we’ll let you know when our experts will be available. Smiley Happy

 

Have a Happy 4th!

 

 

Contributor dan_keoppel ‎06-27-2011 01:29 PM

At Verizon Ventures, my colleague and I are exposed to literally 100s of businesses a year. The question we are most often asked - what sort of companies does Verizon invest in?  The short answer: we look for companies that can lead to a compelling commercial relationship between the startup and a Verizon business unit.  Now compelling is a suitably vague answer that means it should be important to both companies; we’re not looking for a specific measurable threshold, nor are we interested in one-sided transactions. If it’s important to both companies, it will cause both to commit to making the relationship work.

Money.jpg

 

We typically invest between $1-5 million in an opportunity, so we’ll need to know how much money the opportunity needs. A good business plan is the starting point that will at least ball park the capital requirements. Each opportunity must provide us with a detailed business plan. Now we don’t necessarily track progress against that plan, but it helps us understand how much cash is needed in the short term and gives us some view on where the business might grow.

Unsolicited proposals usually go nowhere.  At Verizon we route them to the appropriate experts for a quick analysis and then typically decline them because these proposals don’t fit our business needs.  If you can’t spend the time to figure out the appropriate contact within an organization, then that’s usually a sign you don’t understand how to sell to the industry.  And if you don’t know how to sell to the industry, then you probably don’t have a sophisticated enough understanding of how the solution will fit and who other competitors might be.  A credible introduction to us or for that matter, to any potential investor is a must.

 

The last question is whether you want to go with a strategic investor, a traditional VC or an angel investor. This requires both a little bit of research by the entrepreneur and some introspection. An entrepreneur needs to understand what he wants for the company and the sort of partner he wants as investor.  Every class of investor will bring something a little different to the table besides money.  The value add that Verizon Ventures brings is help navigate the Verizon organization in support of the business development goals of the company.  That means the companies we invest in are fairly well baked.  If you have just a business plan or a patent or even less, then you’re better off turning elsewhere.  If you still think your business will be the right fit for us, go to our website and submit your proposal – good luck to you!

 

To evaluate alternative investors, start close to home, nearly all VCs and angels prefer to invest in nearby companies that they can meet with regularly. Find out what sort of companies the investor typically looks for.  While there are pay-for databases to research ventures and investors, there are a number of websites for evaluating Venture investors for free or for a nominal fee.  CrunchBase (http://www.crunchbase.com/) and DealPedia (http://www.dealipedia.com/) are both good resources for deal activity.  TheFunded (http://www.thefunded.com/funds/discuss) is excellent on review venture investors. I’m sure a search can turn up other resources on how to get funding for your business.

 

Feel free to post any questions for me below or share how you’ve found funding for your business.

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎05-27-2011 12:12 PM

daily_deals_app.jpgThe future of the Internet may be taking another leap - the mobile app is what’s driving the Internet in business, entertainment and social networking. And according to Forrester Research, it will grow to be the dominant Internet point of presence.

 

And our technological transaction future doesn’t stop there – Google Wallet is just one of the emerging phone-swipe purchasing apps that will be available to further increase our reliance on cell phones into all-in-one devices.

 

What does this mean for you as a small business?  Clearly, location-specific offers for retailers will become ever more important.  If you aren’t using Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook and other services that can target your market, you’re missing out because they are commonly used apps on mobile phones.

 

This week also marked the end of Oprah Winfrey’s daily variety show may have been the last mega-audience platforms for small business.  Her “favorite things” and an audience of millions made some small businesses scale up in ways they’d only dreamed of before her endorsement.

 

And if you want to nominate an influential business, group or media outlet that has had an impact on small business to be named one of 2011’s top 100 small business influencers, then do it here.  You have until July 11th before voting begins!

 

Happy Memorial Day one and all, with special thanks to the many who have served our country and paid the ultimate price for our system built on free enterprise.

 

dad_smallbiz_final.jpgWith Father’s Day fast upon us, it makes sense for us to recognize some of our entrepreneurs who do double duty as dads. If you’re a dad and a Verizon customer who owns your own business, we have a contest that recognizes all your hard work.

 

Verizon’s ‘Hardest Working Small Biz Dad’ contest  begins today and runs through June 19th.  It’s simple to enter –  just share your story with us. Tell us how you manage running your own business and your household by either uploading a short video or submitting a blog post. 

 

The ‘Hardest Working Small Biz Dad’ in America will win $5,000 cash, 6 months of Verizon Websites powered by Intuit or Verizon WebListings, and free monthly maid service for an entire year.  Just think of all the points you’ll earn with your spouse if neither of you need to clean for an entire year!  Imagine the other things you can do… catch up on projects or finally tackle that long list of errands.  The cash can go toward anything you desire, whether you put it towards your business or invest in some new technology (see the latest DROID phones here)… It’s your call. You deserve it! 

 

Below you’ll find details on the contest and don’t worry if you want to submit a video, but don’t quite know how; our friends at Ladies Who Launch prepared a tutorial video to show you how!

 

Contestants need to be a Verizon or Verizon Wireless customer and submit a brief video (not to exceed 2 minutes with a URL link to their video submission) or a blog post (maximum 325 words) to this announcement in the comments section below.  You will have to establish a log-in if you have never logged in before.  Once a log-in is established you can submit your blog post.

 

In addition to the $5,000 and free cleaning service for a year grand prize, second prize will be a $600 gift card from Apple and $1,000 in a prepaid gift card.  Third prize is a $500 prepaid gift card.

 

Again, dadpreneurs planning to submit a blog post, you must submit your blog post in the comment section that is at the end of this blog post.  For dadpreneurs submitting a video, upload it to a video sharing site like Youtube or Vimeo and then share the link to your video in the entry form on the Verizon Small Biz Facebook page.

 

Good luck!

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎05-24-2011 11:10 AM

This isn’t a new topic as many articles have been written about the importance of having a plan in case a disaster strikes and puts your business in jeopardy.

 

We have even blogged about it in the past and while it doesn’t seem like anything will ever happen to your business, it would be wise if you were prepared and had planned for it.

 

I speak about this not because of the many natural disasters we’ve seen on the news lately, but one small business owner in Westerly, Rhode Island, just received the U.S. Small Business Administration Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery.

 

Terrie Howard and I met the winner, Jamie Silvestri, last week during National Small Business Week.  His story was very inspiring and it reminded me of the importance of planning – planning in case a disaster should even befall your business and having the right backup in place.  While, you can’t plan for every detail, you can get your data backed up.

 

To read more of Jamie’s inspiring story and his determination to rebuild his business, click here.  Below, in his own words, Jamie explained what he endured and shares some tips for fellow business owners.

 

 

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎05-20-2011 11:42 AM

moneyjpg.jpgNational Small Business Week was feted across the country this past week.  And the question has been asked if small business is doing anything different than other businesses – i.e., holding onto their cash.

 

It may be that small businesses are continuing to use personal savings and credit cards because community banks are still having a hard time of it with lending. Community banks faced a deadline this week to apply for more than $9 billion in loan funding for small businesses.

 

In the meantime, there are opportunities to improve efficiencies in your business.  Technology is making online presence and storage via the cloud simpler all the time and Verizon is one of the top 50 companies influencing cloud development.  This article on cutting credit card transaction costs can be a major cost-saver.  Verizon also offers discount on Chase Paymentech to help you manage your transaction costs.

 

Whatever your business, being efficient takes many forms, but low-cost operating capital and using technology to your best advantage will help you get growing!  Let us know what you’re strategies are to keep your cash flow up and costs down.

jobs.jpgToday’s jobs report adds fuel to the economy’s split personality where employment is improving while unemployment persists at 9%. Even before this, however, small business owners were still planning to add employees to their staffs according to a Citibank survey.

 

The good news this past week, of course, is that whenever the cost of doing business (e.g., price of oil, interest rates) drops, the potential for improved profit margins increase.  In fact, according to a FedEx Office poll it appears that 58% of small businesses believe the worst is over. The other news is that these same indicators could indicate a weakening in theU.S. economy.

 

On Tuesday NPR featured a story on Survival Tips For Small Business Owners which focused on the challenges small business owners face in an uncertain economy.  But the advice offered on the program is that if you believe in your business and you’ve done your research, then you should stick with it.

 

Jim Blasingame in Forbes online this week described another survey of small businesses seeking capital and noted the top two categories (34%) didn’t want or need loans and those who had working relationships with their local community banks (31%).  It’s not surprising that many small business entrepreneurs are focused on being self-sufficient or relying on a local community relationship for funding.

 

Regardless of month-to-month economic reports, any business needs to stay focused on customer relationships and its cost management.  Keep this in mind while you get growing!

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎05-03-2011 03:52 PM

Macrowikinomicsfront.jpgDon Tapscott is joining us as our May guest author to provide insights and advice to small businesses.  Tapscott is well-known in business and economic circles for his incisive articulation of the trends and forces that shape the world economy and our lives.

 

The author of 13 books over the past 20 years, his most recent title, “Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World,” follows up on his 2007 international best seller, “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything,” and how companies can harness the mass participation in the online world to create new products, services and benefit from them. During his time with us, Tapscott will explore the themes in Macrowikinomics and how they can be applied by small businesses effectively in their strategies and day-to-day operations.

 

Join us at the Verizon Small Business Center for a live free webinar with Don Tapscott at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 25th, followed by a live Twitter chat the next day at 6 p.m. ET.

 

During the month, we’ll also be giving away free copies of Macrowikinomics so follow us on Twitter @VZSmallBiz or fan us on Facebook to learn how to get your free copy! 

 

Speaking of which, tell us why you’d like a copy of Don’s book.  The first ten to post a comment will get a signed copy of Macrowikinomics!

Final_VZ Author Series logo.jpgThe Verizon Authors Series was designed to bring experts to small businesses.  All this month we gave away featured author, Alan Gregerman’s book Surrounded by Geniuses.  We will give away more of Alan’s book the rest of this week.

 

On Wednesday, April 27th at 2 p.m. EST Alan will host a live (free) webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center and then be available for an hour on Twitter on Thursday, April 28th at 2 p.m. EST to answer questions and offer advice.

 

I urge all businesses to seize these two opportunities to get insights from Alan Gregerman. Consider it a free consultation with a business expert so why not participate?  Alan is an internationally-known expert on business strategy, innovation, providing amazing customer service and differentiation.  During this webinar Alan will offer tips so you can provide the best customer experience.  No matter the business you are in, providing good service matters.  Good service helps you keep your customers or clients loyal. 

 

To register for the webinar click here.  Towards the end of the webinar feel free to ask Alan your questions or save your questions and ask him on Twitter.  For more information about the Twitter chat click here, just be sure to include #bizbooks and follow @VzSmallBiz (www.twitter.com/VZSmallBiz).

 

If you missed Alan’s last webinar where he offered tips to unlock the genius in you and bring success to your business, click here for the replay.

 

Twitter.jpgOf course, feel free to post your questions in the comments section below and we’ll make sure Alan answers it during the webinar or on Twitter.

 

 

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎04-22-2011 10:14 AM

VWbug.jpgThis week saw the reemergence of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle – the quintessential small car for Boomers (known as the Bug in the 1960s) that enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s. My first car was a green Vee-Dub that took me many places. Years later I remember reading that the Beetle’s engine actually put out more carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide (key components of smog) per mile driven than a Cadillac El Dorado.

 

Another counterintuitive idea this Earth Day is that large businesses are cleaner than small ones.  Probably not true, but large companies are intently focused on things like energy management, fleet fuel efficiency and USGBC guidelines for new and retrofitted buildings.  At Verizon we have an ongoing full-court press to reduce energy consumption in everything from the amount of data (=electricity consumption) we need to run our networks and paperless billing to telework for our employees.

 

But what about small businesses – are they lean, clean green machines these days? Well here are five green things you can do with your home office technology. Did you also know there are grants for small business green initiatives?

 

What are the primary drivers for any business to “go green?”  This survey tells you what you might have surmised – cost savings, community goodwill and employee morale top the charts.  Check out Greenbiz and learn more about what small businesses can do Earth Day and every day!

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎03-30-2011 01:47 PM

SMILE.jpgEach of us thinks we’re important (some more so than others) especially when we’re putting money down to buy something or pay for a service.  That’s when we all want the very best treatment.  It only makes sense as we can always take our hard-earned money and spend it elsewhere.

 

I, like many of you, have experienced excellent, good, mediocre and very bad service.  When my experience is good, it makes me feel all warm inside and I want to tell anyone and everyone about it.

 

Conversely, when the experience is aggravating or borderline insulting, I get so angry I am more inclined to share my terrible experience with everyone.  That’s why we see so many comments on websites like Yelp; Urbanspoon; Angie’s List and other sites that allow anyone to post a review... which can help your business or break it.  Be reminded that people love to talk and share stories.

 

Now, it’s not just businesses in retail that need to be concerned with customer service.  Every business – even a doctor’s office – needs to have good service.  After all, a doctor’s office is a business too; the patient can easily see another doctor…

 

Earlier this week, I called my parents’ heating oil company to inquire if they were indeed billed correctly.  It seems my parents were being billed nearly double what they were billed for previously.  The owner of this company took my call and patiently explained that the statement is correct and that oil prices have gone up due to the crisis in the Middle East and that they are doing their best to keep costs down.  He was patient, kind and helpful.  It was more than I had expected and I was touched.  Good job, Mr. Woolley and thanks for taking my call!  [If you have a minute check out their website, I just noticed it was recently redesigned and it’s nice!]

 

Having been on both sides – a shopper and a salesperson at a number of stores including my parents’ restaurant – I know it really doesn’t take much to give good service.  It can be something as simple as a smile when someone walks in or even a, “Hi!”

 

Most importantly small businesses, try to acknowledge everyone who walks into your business –your restaurant, your shop, your store, or your office.  It’s the least you can do, and believe me it’ll go a long way.

 

Don’t get me started on why I refuse to step foot in this well-known retail store, but it does have something to do with all of their salesperson always seems busy talking to each other than assisting a potential customer.

 

Check out this Inc. article that gives you 7 tips to transform your company’s customer service. 

 

Let us know if your business is focused on customer service?

VZ small_biz_info ICON.pngIt’s the last Friday in March – I can’t believe April is around the corner!  What have you done for your business in the first quarter of the year?  Made any changes?  Improvements?  Cut cost?  Increased productivity?  Did you get your business more exposure?  If you need some ideas, do check out the free webinars presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.   There’s a large collection of topics that have been covered by industry experts like Anita Campbell, John Jantsch, Henry Blodget and Scott Belsky – to name drop a few – that may help grow your business. 

 

Could your business use Foursquare to attract customers?  Read what these businesses are doing and see if it’ll work for your business too.

 

If you have a business partner and all is not going well… it may be time to find a new partner.

 

Is your business incorporated or are you looking to form a LLC?  Check out this video about a business helping small businesses. 

 

This study shows that getting credit will remain a hurdle for prospective and existing franchisees; however the U.S. franchising industry is still poised for growth this year. 

 

And this just in… the U.S. economy grew more quickly than previous estimated in the fourth quarter.

 

Do share stories that have captured your interest below or let me know how you like the new logo for the Weekly Roundup. Have a wonderful weekend! 

 

Anita Campbell.jpgThe following is a guest blog from Anita Campbell, founder and CEO of Small Business Trends, an online resource for small businesses. 

 

 

As mentioned in an earlier post here at the Verizon Small Biz Blog, I am seeing more and more small businesses and entrepreneurs jumping on the “cloud bandwagon.”  They are moving to online software, instead of software installed on local servers or desktop computers, because of certain advantages.  Those advantages include: speed of implementation; ability to scale the business despite lacking internal tech expertise; lower costs; relief from tech headaches enabling you to concentrate on strategy and core competencies; and, arguably, fewer security issues you have to worry about.

 

We explored those advantages in my last webinar on March 9th, In the Cloud:  5 Reasons to Move to Online Software (watch the webinar here).  In that webinar I polled those participating and learned that roughly 80% are already using cloud apps in the form of online banking. 

 

One person asked me about popular online software services that I recommend – here are some online services that I know other small businesses are getting good value from today:

 

Accounting/bookkeeping software:  Outright.com or Quickbooks Online

 

Invoicing/payment services:  PayPal.com;  Freshbooks.com; or  Blinksale.com

 

Email marketing services:  VerticalResponse.comMailChimp.com; or  ConstantContact.com.

 

This list is just a small smattering.  Edith Yeung, Founder of BizTech Day, where they profile new software, was kind enough to choose some of the best in class for us, in: 101 Small Business Web Applications You Must Check Out.  I also recommend you check out The Small Business Web for a directory of several hundred small business online software apps.

 

Now, despite being a proponent of online software services, I don’t want to give the impression that there are no risks or issues to consider.  The advantages of online software applications only apply if you make wise choices. If you make the wrong choices, those advantages may go out the window. Remember, you will have to place your trust in vendors to make sure the software is operational and does what it claims to do.  Your data will be online in a third party’s hands.  And, if something goes wrong with the software, you need confidence that the vendor will jump on the problem quickly and get it fixed to your satisfaction. 

 

So it becomes crucial to do a thorough due diligence when choosing online software.  This due diligence process for choosing online software is what we will cover in my next upcoming webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center.

 

In How to Choose the RIGHT online software webinar, I’ll offer a checklist of points to consider when evaluating online software, including how to assess vendors for reliability, and how to determine which software will actually make your organization more efficient and effective.  I’ll also answer your questions about the practical aspects of integrating online software with existing internal systems and software.

 

Online software services aren’t a cure-all for everything that may ail your business.  But they are a valuable technology strategy for growing your business while running “lean.” 

 

Choose the wrong technology and you’ll find your business working on your technology.  Choose the right technology, and it will work FOR your business.

 

Join me this Wednesday March 23 at 2pm Eastern for: How to Choose the RIGHT Online Software.

 

PS, if you can’t make the live webinar, watch the replay it will be taped and archived – just view it later.

 

 

 

info.pngThe bleak international headlines contrast with a rising optimism at home among small businesses. In fact, less than  8% of small businesses plan to cut their workforce in 2011.  Small business bankruptcies also are dropping in most areas. And, with consumer prices rising, business will raise prices to keep their profit margins stable. 

 

Some small businesses are helping Japan by leveraging products via social media and otherwise. The silver lining right now as Japan recovers is that a weaker dollar can make for a better exporting environment.

 

The SBA is reviewing its definition of small business that may permit nearly 10,000 ‘larger’ small businesses to continue to be eligible for small business assistance support.

 

Small business owners are getting down to fundamentals by investing in their companies – it takes time and money. Do you know the #1 lost time concern for small business?  Tech downtime.

 

The SBA is reviewing its definition of small business that may permit nearly 10,000 small businesses continue to be eligible for small business assistance support.

 

And here’s a reminder that social media is necessary or you’ll get left behind your competitors, so get in the game today!

 

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎03-11-2011 06:57 AM

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I love writing the Weekly Roundup because it means it’s Friday. Smiley Wink  Also, it gives me the opportunity to read up on some small business related news and share with all of you.

 

Like all businesses, you want to get paid.  However, some clients delay payment which may put stress on your business.  Perhaps you’ll want to consider selling your invoices to a third party?

 

If you are still working on filing your taxes, check out this article which lists the 10 small business tax deductions most commonly overlooked.  Also, click here to learn about recent legislation that has increased tax credits for small business this year; which I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss.

 

For those posting content online, @DIYSEO tweeted this blog to us (@VZSmallBiz) which lists 101 free (easy) SEO tips for small businesses.  These are tips to increase the chances of your online content being found easier and perhaps even coming up higher in search results.  

 

Check out StopBadware.org, Verizon recently announced it’ll work with this organization to protect small businesses by expanding educational resources for users, and develop new security strategies for the mobile space.

 

Here’s an interesting report: the startup rate is at a 15-year high and if you have a few minutes watch that video.  What a neat concept, starting a business to target start-ups.  Lastly, this one’s for all the men who read this blog: Dockers will award you $100,000 to pursue your dream or start your business.  Act fast as the deadline to submit is fast approaching.

 

Until next time, happy reading!

 

 

 

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎03-10-2011 12:48 PM

Guest blog by Kristine Histand,Verizon’s online community manager.

 

Polls.jpgSince the Verizon Small Business Center developed a Professional Networking site  in early 2009, many businesses have created a profile to network and showcase their companies. We often poll our Professional Networking users, although any visitor to the Verizon Small Business Center can take one of these polls.  These non-scientific polls offer us an opportunity to engage with site visitors; the poll results are interesting and may give you a glimpse into what other small and medium-sized businesses are doing, using or thinking about.

 

For example, over the last two weeks, there were two poll questions: “Who is your primary shipping company?” and “What is your favorite social networking site for your small business networking needs?”

 

About 38% of Verizon Small Business Center visitors use UPS as their primary shipping company, followed by USPS at 37%; FedEx at 22% and about 2% of those who took the poll used other methods for shipping. Verizon small business customers, here’s a money-saving tip: you can enjoy discounts of up to 21% on FedEx shipping when you register for FedEx service at the Verizon Discounts Program.

 

In terms of social media, there’s no surprise that 52% of Verizon Small Business Center users say Facebook is their favorite networking site for small business networking, followed by Professional Networking at 24%, LinkedIn at 14% and Twitter at 9%.  Here’s a time saving tip: you can easily  link and access your Facebook and Twitter accounts when you sign into your Verizon Small Business Center Professional Networking account. And while you are online engaging with your customers, take a minute to fan us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/verizonsmallbiz) and follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/vzsmallbiz) where you can interact with us, ask us questions and receive relevant and thoughtful information to use in your l business.

 

If you haven’t created profile for your business on our Professional Networking  site register today and start networking with other small business owners just like you.

 

And, if you have a minute,  take this week’s poll in the  Verizon Small Business Center and we’ll feature the results in an upcoming blog post.

 

If you have a poll question you’d like answered, post it below in the comments section.

Anita Campbell.jpgThe following is a guest blog from Anita Campbell, founder and CEO of Small Business Trends, an online resource for small businesses. 

 

 

Some of the smartest small business owners and managers I know are jumping on the “cloud bandwagon.”  What I mean is, they are improving their business operations by using online software services. 

 

Online software services are exactly what they sound like.  They are software programs that you use online, by connecting to the Internet and logging in to the software using your Web browser.  They’re called services because the company providing the software provides them as a service.  This means they not only give you the use of the software, but they store and safeguard any data you use in the software program. The software company handles everything, soup to nuts:  keeping the software running; fixing bugs; managing databases; preventing intrusions and data breaches; enhancing and updating the software.

 

In exchange for this service, your company typically pays a monthly fee. Sometimes you pay an annual fee.  Some software services may even be free. 

 

Think about the obvious impact: your firm needs fewer computing resources.  All you need to use an online software service is a computer with an Internet connection.  Even an inexpensive netbook computer is sufficient (I know – I’ve used online software programs with just my $399, 2-lb netbook!).  You don’t have to invest in hefty up-front licenses, powerful servers to run the software and handle the data, support personnel to keep the servers running, and all the other expenses associated with in-house computing.  A laptop or desktop computer for any staff who use the software, is enough.

 

You often hear lingo to describe these services in one form or another.  Software as a service or its acronym, SaaS.  Cloud computing.  Software in the cloud.  Application service provider or its acronym ASP.  The list goes on.

 

No lingo.png

I say, ignore the lingo.  Focus instead on the benefits of these online software services.  And there are quite a few.  I’d go so far as to say that the advantages of using online software are greater for small businesses than for large corporations.  That’s because online software lets your company be “lean.”  When you allow someone else to worry about keeping the software running, you can focus on your business’s core competencies and strategic goals – and not be sidetracked by tech headaches. 

 

You can also scale your business better. You can grow faster without adding as much expense burden and internal systems complexity. When new opportunities arise, you can seize them quickly.  For instance, you can go online and sign up for a software service in minutes or hours – instead of waiting weeks or months to scope out requirements for and install a new software program you may need for servicing more customers.  Using online software, the cost may be spread out monthly, instead of an all-at-once budget hit.

 

But what about security?  You’re probably thinking, “Our customer data and business information now will be on a 3rd party’s computers.”  If you are uncomfortable with that idea, I urge you to consider this:  many small businesses I know just can’t afford the same level of security that a large software company can provide.  As much as we business owners want to keep our data secure, a determined cyber intruder may get in anyway.  A  carefully-chosen software provider’s services may actually be MORE secure than the networks and systems of a small business.  It’s not because small businesses are negligent or don’t care.  It’s just that we smaller firms may not be able to afford the same level of security infrastructure, not to mention the same level of in-house expertise, to make strong security a reality.  

 

In my webinar that I am presenting hosted by the Verizon Small Business Center, we’ll explore the advantages of online software.  I’ll share tips and resources.  You won’t get lingo. You won’t get theory. You’ll get practical advice to make sure you leave the hour equipped to make informed choices for your business.  Make 2011 the year you improve your business operations and seize opportunities -- online software can help make it happen.

 

Join me later today at 2 p.m. Eastern for: In the Cloud:  5 Reasons to Move to Online Software.   So, get your questions ready.

 

PS, if you can’t make the live webinar, it will be archived – just view it later.

 

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If you are a Small Business Owner you know in today’s economy it’s more important than ever to find ways to cut cost and manage your expenses.

 

One way you can accomplish both and also help increase employee productivity and retention is by allowing your employees to telecommute even if it’s only one day a week. With gas prices soaring, not only will your employees save money in fuel costs, but you can save money too and benefit from happier employees who are not stressed out from a long commute when they arrive at the office.

 

Parents who are returning to the workforce and looking for jobs that are family-friendly may also be looking for opportunities to telecommute, especially if they are hesitant to return to work because of separation anxiety or childcare concerns.  If you run a business in a field that is listed in the 100 Best Jobs for Moms list, you may want to give some thought to hiring a parent and offering a part-time work from home arrangement.

 

If this works for your business, here’s an opportunity to earn commissions from Best Buy.

 

Lastly, if you are a Small Business Owner or a parent who is working from home, it can present a challenge if you don’t have the right workspace set up. Many single office and home office owners need to find ways to work more efficiently and to position their company as being larger than it actually is.

 

With a little creativity and flexibility you can find ways to cut costs, earn commissions and position your company as being bigger than it is to better compete for more business. 

 

Share below how you cut costs or keep your employees happy and productive at work.

 

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎02-24-2011 03:29 PM

taxi.jpgRecently I purchased a package of Gogo Inflight Internet wi-fi service that’s available on a number of airlines.  I’d used it last month, found it easy to connect and it allowed me to do some work with colleagues while flying.  A couple of weeks ago, I bought a 6-pack of Internet sessions for $50 – a decent savings over one-time user pricing.

 

But Gogo took it another step for prospective customers – Facebook access has been free this month on flights.  It was a nice touch and a way to create stickiness with consumers who like to be in touch via their Facebook personal networks – a great way to draw people in to the ease of an in-flight Internet connection.

 

But the real point here is that the mobile professional is the way we all work today..  I mean who isn’t using a smartphone or portable computer to manage a business email or call on the road?    Even my taxicab driver on a recent trip to Washington, D.C. was connected.. He had a clean vehicle and a singular focus on a quality customer experience – after all, he is running a small business and he’s right on the money.  He gave me a card with this email and phone number to connect with and, of course, to share with friends.  His smartphone was plugged in up front so that he could respond both to calls and emails.

 

And then there was the fellow passenger I encountered at the airport – she was headed to visit family in Seattle but lived in Brooklyn where she works for a small construction consulting firm with 13 employees.  She gave me the ultimate telework story – she’d just come back from two years in Costa Rica where she continued to work as the operations manager for the consulting firm with a DSL connection near the beach in Quepos.  To top it off, she currently works out of her apartment in Brooklyn where she has a FiOS Internet and TV bundle of services.

 

In the 1990s as the Internet emerged, there was talk of cottage industries and teleworkers, then tech companies like Microsoft began to adopt a sourcing model that allowed them to hire workers anywhere as part of their software development teams – virtual workers.

 

Today, small or large, businesses have people on site, around town, across the country, around the world and, indeed in the air.  Do you have employees in other states or in other countries?  If yes, how do you stay connected and productive? 

Employee Emeritus Employee Emeritus ‎01-23-2011 01:15 PM

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Most of you are probably watching football right about now, but I want to get this up as I didn’t get the chance to on Friday.

 

Many enjoyed and learned so much from John Jantsch’s webinar last week (Jan. 12) – the replay to ‘Useful Search for Twitter’ will be up soon for those who want to catch a replay.  For now, John’s slides are available by clicking here.

 

Mark your calendar as John will be back again this coming Wednesday (Jan.26.) to share steps to create your very own social media conversion system.

 

While Mr. Jantsch will show you how to generate leads; let’s not forget that once you have a customer you need to keep them coming back or to continue working with your business.  This short video from the Wall Street Journal showcases a successful small business in the New York metro area that treats his customers like family and friends and finds products (or solutions) that are unique to attract and keep them coming back for more.

 

Now, in this very blog, we’ve talked about the need of a website for your business.  Some of you may have a website, but are you using it to help generate leads… leading to sales?  This is a good read from the New York Times small business blog featuring a limousine company that for years treated its website as if it were an online brochure… one day this business owner made some changes and today, 85 percent of his business comes from the Internet… his website!

 

And speaking of websites, this short read will provide some tips to configure analytics for your business website.  Of course, if you subscribe to a new bundled service from Verizon you’ll get a simple do-it-yourself website building software and more for six months.  Click here for more details.

 

Lastly, in this very blog, we have discussed the importance of prepping your business in case of a disaster such as a hard drive crash, malware/virus, etc.  This study from Information Week points out that small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. lag in disaster recovery readiness. 

 

Let us know  how you like the weekly round up.

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

About the Authors

Tumara Jordan

Senior Manager: Verizon Business Markets

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


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