Are You Resolved To Step Up Tech in 2011?
We tend to talk a lot about technology, websites and social media here because you can’t get away from it in business or anywhere else it seems. But, for a small business, all the posts and webinars we’ve offered are reinforced. Take a look at this story on the 2011 tech resolutions some small businesses have made.
No secret that mobile advertising can be as important as online advertising because mobile shopping has taken off. So, you also may need to rethink your website in a way that it’s easily viewable on smartphones for your existing and potential customers. Be sure you use an easy DIY product like Verizon Websites and WebListings to get yourself online, found and to easily integrate your website into Facebook and Twitter pages.
Of course all this connectedness anywhere, anytime means you need a good social media strategy. Why are Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp and their kin important? They are the new word-of-mouth. Here are 101 head-spinning statistics for you to mull over. And remember there are many social media geolocation services that can help you do some targeted advertising for your business.
So whatever you’re doing with your business this year, technology is the only way to grow!
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- advertising small business marketing tech technology websites
4G LTE – Does Your Small Business Need It?
The question of speed is always of interest to anyone in business – how fast can my product get built? How fast can it be delivered? How long do my customers have to wait? How quickly can I put together a meeting?
Yes, the old adage that time is money is true everyday for a business of any size. Often you have to think about a tradeoff between time and money when considering how you’ll deliver your product or service. So what exactly is 4G LTE and where does it fit in?
The term is simply shorthand for the 4th generation of wireless broadband networks and, in the case of Verizon, it’s the fastest, most advanced 4G wireless broadband network currently available from any carrier. Mobility continues to be a key part of most of our lives and, for businesses, it’s a must. 4G brings you download speeds of 5-12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2- 5 Mbps. This is a substantial increase over current network speeds. With 4G you’ll get speeds up to 10x faster than 3G. Some other 4G providers consider 1.5 Mbps downloads their top speed.
What exactly does this mean for you? Well, basically, Verizon’s 4G can connect you at speeds that are faster than typical DSL or cable modem high-speed internet options and, of course, you can take it with you. In addition, the real ‘up’ side to this is the upload speeds that can go as fast as 5 Mpbs! If you’ve got files to share or have to connect for meetings over the Internet, this is a real timesaver.
Verizon 4G LTE may be part of the solution for your business – the more you travel, having a reliable, fast Internet connection can help you keep that edge on the competition. Today, there are 38 major cities with the fastest 4G service available. Watch for more to be added this year.
2010 Highlights and To New Beginnings and Growth
For small businesses, 2010 may be the year that saw the beginning of the beginning. Technically, the Great Recession ended in June 2009, and since then businesses of all stripes have hedged their bets, stepping cautiously toward growth. Careful footing it’s been, too, with hiring only beginning to show signs of improvement as the fall began.
Here at Verizon we offered our second year of small business webinars to help keep you better informed about trends and giving you access to some of the finest thinkers in the small business space. Would it surprise you that the free webinar with the most attendees was the one that kicked off the year? Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends gave a powerful presentation on “10 Quick Tips to Give a Boost to Your Website & Online Marketing.”
While that seems like a logical place to capture and focus the energy of a new year after one that had bottomed for so many, by the time the fall rolled around, the number two webinar attended showed an increased interest in the online space – “Build Your Own Website” by Intuit and the previous week’s, “Web Design Development and Best Practice” drew an interested audience.
A lot of what we write on this blog and share in our free webinars and elsewhere has to do with the use of social media. This year was capped off with Time magazine naming Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg its Person of the The Year. Again, no surprise that more and more businesses of all sizes are looking at how to put Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn and other social media to connect them to a broader audience and to interact more directly with their customers.
Many small businesses don’t feel they have the time to become social media experts and a large percentage (depending on the report you read, about 30 to 40 percent) still operate without a website or have a minimal online presence. Our market research pointed to this need in a big way, and we responded by making getting online easier with Verizon Websites Powered by Intuit and Web Listings which is still available at no charge for 12 months when you bundle voice and Internet service. It’s an unbeatable package and price.
As we look back at 2010, there may be some comfort in knowing that business is cyclical. Performance actually has begun to improve – something I saw in my own 401K savings plan. One of the selections available is the small companies’ equity portfolio. Now, granted, small by SBA standards is a business with fewer than 500 employees and, in some cases, more than $35 million in annual revenue. However, the small company return on investment this year increased more than 20%, better than the overall stock market and considerably better than more conservative investments.
So this tells us that 2010 brought some improvement but there’s more to come – so stay tuned and get growing! I look forward to hearing from you in the New Year.
Are You A SOHO In Search Of MOJO?
Although the SOHO district in Manhattan is a mixture of office space and artists, SOHO in the small business space has a more specific meaning – Single Office/Home Office. After all, that’s how most small businesses start out. SOHO means something slightly different at soho.org, but the mission is still the same – start somewhere and grow!
There’s another term for a SOHO that’s used often – micro-business. This recent commentary by D. Alan Johnson author of “Secrets of Buying and Selling Used Equipment,” is that anyone can start a business by using their imagination and vision. But it’s not only mojo that gets you rolling, moolah plays a part, too. There are many places to go for money, including friends, family, local banks, etc. However, it isn’t always easy starting out.
If you’re in New England, the Boston Beer Co. – purveyor of Sam Adams – might be able to help you out. That’s right, the CEO and founder Jim Koch has joined ACCION USA to help get small businesses started with that initial infusion of capital to help take a good idea to the next level. But wherever you are, ACCION USA is a great potential source of funding for someone with an idea and plan for a small business.
Any SOHO can get great mojo with a little planning and evidence that it’s got what it takes to make a go at it. If you’re looking for mentoring, capital or other resources for the development of your microenterprise, check out the Association for Enterprise Opportunity.
Finally, if you’re just opening that micro-business, remember, Verizon still has a great deal going for anyone who needs to bundle voice and Internet service – you get the easy-to-use Verizon Websites Powered by Intuit and Web Listings free for the first year (offer ends soon)!
Weekly Round Up
This week’s ‘Weekly Round Up’ of interesting articles is a day early and that’s because the office will be closed tomorrow. Hooray!
As the year winds down, I’m making plans and setting goals for 2011. I bet many of you are doing the same thing, but if you haven’t gotten around to outlining your business goals for next year, check out this video (although it’s nearly a year old, there are some great insights).
By setting specific goals and taking the necessary action(s) to achieve such goals will propel your business to the next level.
Additionally, it’s important to track your business’ performance so you know exactly where your business is at and what your next step should be. Whether to track your business performance daily or not is up to you, but this article discusses the reasons for tracking and measuring your business on a daily-basis.
As you plan for next year; do take a few minutes to review what transpired this year… whatever didn’t work – like a marketing tactic – try something else, something new. And do move forward to leverage new marketing tools (like social media) if you haven’t already. There are so many resources to help get you started – like this blog – or check out a couple of the free webinars we hosted earlier this year to find a topic that may be of interest to you.
Until next week, have a wonderful holiday weekend!
Small Business Weekly Round Up
The year is winding down fast so if you haven’t begun to plan for next year check out this article from Entrepreneur that offers 10 Steps to Small-Business Success in 2011.
And review these 10 checklist of tasks to do before the year ends.
Now, I hate to sound like a broken record – my apologies – but there are still over $10,000 in AMEX gift cards that’s available to small businesses for the taking… just enter your company info in the comment section of this blog post. And for those of you who already entered, the gift cards will be processed soon. For now, check out this contest from Intel where three small business can win an IT makeover (value at $7000!).
For those of you who have some budget to advertise it looks like local advertising is the place to be for many small businesses. That makes sense if the service your business provides is locally. If you recall Verizon just last week launched a website for small businesses on the East Coast. If you have a minute check out the Business Made Easy website and enroll and you’ll be in the running to win an all-in-one office printer and a Toshiba Mini portable notebook.
For those of you who have taken the plunge and got your business on Twitter, here are some good tips for using it successfully for your business. Before I end, I do want to say WHOOHOO! This blog had its one-year birthday yesterday.
Lastly, my small business readers… check out this article from a blogger/entrepreneur who offers some pointers to creating a successful and fulfilling life. If your business is a success, but your personal life is on the backburner, you won’t find that smile.
Until next time… happy thoughts!
Launch of “Business Made Easy” Site to Offer Small Business Owners a More Personalized Experience
We are excited to announce Business Made Easy, a dedicated website focused on supporting small business owners, entrepreneurs and professional associations in states along the East coast: Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
We launched Business Made Easy as the platform to better connect directly with small businesses on the East Coast.
With this website we encourage small businesses on the East Coast to share their business story with us, which may even be featured on the website or other Verizon platforms.
Verizon offers small businesses the option of customized bundles, which let businesses utilize exactly the services that are needed to find new customers, increase revenue, and help a business grow.Business owners on the East Coast can create a user profile at www.verizon.com/businessmadeeasy to access a wide range of products and services which can help run their businesses more quickly and efficiently.
From now until February 1, 2011, all small businesses that create a user profile on Business Made Easy will also be entered in an online sweepstakes. The grand prize is a new, top of the line office package worth $800 which includes a Toshiba Mini NB255 Netbook; a Canon Pixma All-in-One Printer with Bluetooth; and a $200 American Express Gift Cards. Verizon will also raffle off two $200 American Express gift cards. The three prize winners will be chosen by a random drawing on February 20, 2011.
The benefits of being a Verizon small business customer include full access to discounts on office essentials from major brands like Chase Paymentech (credit card processing service); Office Depot (office supplies and furniture); FedEx (overnight delivery); and more. Verizon’s newest business solutions bundle includes Verizon Websites powered by Intuit and Intuit’s WebListings Services (which puts websites on over 100 search engines) as a bonus at no cost for 12 months. Qualifying Verizon customers can also enroll in the Business Link Rewards program to earn points and redeem credits for gift cards, products or an once-in-a-life-time experience.
On Business Made Easy already there are four customers’ testimonials that showcase how some of our small business owners in different industries are benefitting from their Verizon services and how they are leveraging services offered from Verizon to find new customers, increase revenue and to realize their specific business goals.
Go ahead and check out Business Made Easy and let me know how you like the new portal.
Small Business Weekly Round Up
This week was a busy one for the Verizon small business team. We made our debut on Facebook and on Twitter. If you haven’t fan us or follow us yet, please do! We also synched up with American Express to support Small Business Saturday. If you haven’t heard, Verizon will give a $25 American Express gift card to 800 small businesses that support another business – we urge you to spend this gift card at a local small business in your neighborhood. Small businesses get your $25 gift card by clicking here.
Below you’ll find some articles I think you’ll find of interest:
- What does your business Twitter profile reveal about you?
- Is your business ready to go global?
- Ever wanted to make an app for your small business? Here’s how without hiring a developer!
As always, I urge you to post a comment below – do share a link to an article that may be helpful to a small business owner or comment on how you liked the recommended articles.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Small Business Weekly Roundup of Insightful Articles
Happy Friday, readers! Where I’m at the leaves are a vibrant color of yellows, oranges and browns – it’s beautiful. It’s almost November and I feel the rest of the year is fast approaching full-force and it got me thinking about what I’ve accomplished this year and what else I can do to “up” my game. Immediately, I thought about small businesses and what opportunities or changes can you make to give your business a little boost before the year ends?
I know, change is tough, it means you have to do a little more work to bring about the change, but change can be good… change might even save your business. Take for example, my dad. He is quite resistant to change and I feel it’s because of his resistance to making changes that eventually forced him to sell his restaurant business.
Sure, he offered different – new – dishes some nights, but he needed to do more. I recall one time I suggested that he raise his prices and we didn’t speak for days. I know he felt his customers were like family and he didn’t have the heart to raise prices, but his prices weren’t keeping up with inflation.
This article speaks directly to that and looks at some small businesses that have raised their prices and are seeing positive results. In many of our previous blogs we offer many ideas – mostly dealing with getting your business online (if it isn’t already) and how to engage and interact with your customers and potential customers via the various social media tools. Check out this article by John Jantsch on how to create a social media conversion system. And while you are reading away, here are some tips on how to prepare your small business site for SEO.
Have a spooktacular weekend!
Small Business Weekly Roundup of Insightful Articles
Here are some random reads I found this week that you might find of interest too.
- If you haven’t set up a Twitter account for your company read this article where three businesses discuss how Tweeting is a win for their business. Also check out this article that compares Twitter to Facebook.
- If your company doesn’t have a company website; you know Verizon can help you easily set one up. If you do have a company website – hooray! – read this article to track what your online visitors are doing.
- If you are in the exporting business nominate your business and get your company recognized for effectively exporting to global markets.
- Lastly, small business owners who read this blog: Don’t become a statistic! Potential customers can be found and engaged online. Get in touch with your existing and potential customers online. There are many resources available and you can start by reviewing one of the free webinars presented by the Verizon Small Business Center that’ll help you get your business into social media.
Weekly Wrap Up
This plays on my previous post – SEARCH is now more important than your home page according to this Investor’s Business Daily story. It really does state the obvious – the website hierarchy isn’t as important as it once was; that is, landing on a home page and then clicking through to other pages on the site.
Even as web search evolves, however, you don’t want to be part of that large group – up to 40% of small businesses – that doesn’t have a website. Check out the free Verizon webinar next Wednesday to learn how easily you can put up a new site or rebuild your current one.
Of note this week is the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) reclassification of what a small business is – this makes more car dealers, restaurants, motels, retail boutiques and others eligible for SBA assistance according to Inc. The overall definition of a small business has changed to ‘not more than 200 employees’ v. ‘not more than $29 million in sales.’ I’m sure there are a lot of small businesses out there that would like to be reaching either of those cutoff points.
And, finally, here’s a story about a small company in California that has taken incremental steps to reduce costs and improve its energy efficiency as opportunities have presented themselves – i.e., equipment breaking down or reaching the end of its useful life – and asking the question, “What environmental impact would there be if America’s 29 million (there’s that number again) small businesses made these kinds of changes?”.
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- small business website SEO environment
Small Business Weekly Round-Up
Having just gotten back from a two day “boot camp” on social media at PRSA’s office in New York, it reminded me that no matter what you know, there is always something new to learn. So consider making the time to attend a seminar – whether in person or online – you may learn a few tricks or come away with a creative idea to boost your business.
Changes happen so fast – particularly online – it’s important to keep up so you and your business can be marketable and competitive. I enjoyed the seminar and I walked away with some neat ideas which I’ll try to help further engage and entertain you on this blog.
Below are the articles I thought were of interest this week:
- This article from Small Business Trends underscores the importance for small businesses to keep up with change.
- Watch this video on disaster preparedness and business continuity from Smallbiztechnology. Our recent blog offers similar advice and you know Verizon offers many services that can ‘back’ up your business.
- As the weekend hits, I know I may do some shopping – which reminds me of cash flow… read this article to better manage your small business cash flow.
As always, feel free to leave a comment or share an article(s) you’ve found of interest.
Weekly Roundup - Credit Cards, Hot Industries, Mobile Security and Easy-to-Build Websites
This week’s roundup finds business still cautious about hiring and expanding but there's still a lot of opportunity out there for the enterprising. Credit makes a small business grow and you need to think about how a business credit card can work for you. Ever wondered about how to find you smartphone or retrieve all the data on it? Could avert an unexpected crisis.
Did you know that credit card offers to business increased by 250% from the beginning of 2009 through the first quarter of this year. Check out 7 Key Steps Before Signing On The Dotted Line
Worried about losing your smartphone or data? Check out how Cloud-based security can find your phone and retrieve your data from GigaOm
Find out more about Verizon’s recent small business survey on websites and how to get Verizon Websites powered by Intuit at no cost for a year here
And if you’re thinking about starting a business, check out Inc’s best industries for you to get into today.
Weekly Roundup - Small Business Tools, Teaming, Partnerships and More
- Who isn’t interested in free business tools? Steve Strauss on AOL Small Business has four ways you can use Google to help your business… at no cost.
- Over at Biznik, Morton Patterson outlines Seven Tips for Developing an Effective Team and provides three action exercises to get you started.
- Sarah Needleman at the Wall Street Journal looks at balancing the benefits of partnership with the allure of independence.
- After tackling social media last week, this week, Small Business Trends takes a look at common SEO mistakes and how to recover from them.
- ReadWriteWeb has the scoop on upcoming “must-attend” small business tech conferences across the country.
- Are you focused or frenzied? Carol Tice at Entreprenur.com explains why aggressive streamlining could be the right approach.
A Website Is Essential For Any Business To Succeed - You Need A Good Front Door!
As many small- and medium-sized business owners have learned in recent years, the days of not connecting with your customer base online has quickly disappeared. Sure, many small businesses are getting more and more engaged in social media channels or leveraging cloud-based services. However, one essential tool that can’t be ignored is the business’s website.
It’s critical that your company website perform at the highest levels and reflect the performance of your business in the minds of your customers – both current and potential. What do I mean by this? If your website is consistently down or doesn’t visually appeal to your customers, or have the same stale content day after day they may very well decide the business is not ‘up to par’ and move on to one that screams high performance. Think about your own online habits. Don’t you tend to visit websites more frequently that are intuitive and user-friendly when you’re online?
So, finding the right web hosting partner becomes that much more an indispensable asset for your business. It’s critical to have the right support. Whether that means 24/7 phone and email support, support in finding the most appropriate package for your business or support to keep your business up and running all the time…you need to find the right web hosting partner.
At Verizon, we’ve just launched a new website building service that’s so easy to use and gives you a lot of bang for the buck with domain name, web analytics, and e-commerce capability all included at no cost to you for the first year when you sign up for a qualifying bundled package. I know it’s easy, because I tried it out myself designing an easily navigated website and it literally took 10 minutes to complete – No lie!
In addition, we’ll offer a valuable service that lists in up to 100 local directories free for the first year when you sign up for one of our new bundles of voice and FiOS Internet or High Speed Internet. Being listed on local search sites will help your business appear when customers search for your type of business in your particular area, instead of directly searching for your business's name. So what are you waiting for? If you don’t have a website for your business, sign up now.
If you do have a website, be sure to ask yourself if you are truly satisfied with the layout and attractiveness of your online storefront. If you aren’t, then maybe it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Does your current company website have a lot of online traffic? Can your current website allow you to communicate with your customers through a blog, podcasts or videos? Can you easily update, make changes or completely redesign your business website in minutes? Can your website handle sales online?
Each of these questions should be part of your evaluation process. By choosing the right features, you’ll get the best experience for yourself, employees and, most importantly, your existing and potential customers. Choosing your web hosting partner does not need to be an excruciating process. However, factoring in a few different variables can make a world of difference in the overall experience.
Remember, Verizon can help you through all of this. We can either help get your small business online for the first time or upgrade the current experience to one that will not only attract customers, but keep them coming back! Don’t forget, we offer so much more than just services and products – we offer a one-stop online resource called the Verizon Small Business Center.
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- small business websites customer web hosting
The Advantage of Hooking Your Business Up to Fiber-Optics
Fiber optic cable is not necessarily better because light is faster than electricity (please, no angry responses from physicists), but because it overcomes some of the inherent disadvantages of coaxial cable.
It has much more bandwidth (ability to carry data) than coaxial cable so it can carry that traffic much and is not subject to electromagnetic interference (EMI) from lightning storms, electrical wiring, or fluorescent lights.
Super fast Internet speed is not the only consideration here with an all-fiber-optic connection - it's what that speed enables for your business. Fiber-optics allows you to be more productive with features like almost instantaneous access to the Internet, and with its capacity, you'll be able to upload and download (send and email) information to your business partners with little to no wait time.
Only Verizon brings an all-fiber optic network all the way to homes and businesses. And only Verizon's network can deliver symmetrical speeds of up to 35 Mbps (megabits per second) download and 35 Mbps upload!
For example, a business that uses a 35 Mbps upstream broadband connection could upload a 250 megabyte (MB) file or a 3,500 page document in less than 60 seconds which is more than 25 times faster than a cable connection. What this means is that a medical office can email their doctors a patient's MRI to review in minutes instead of having to wait for the doctor to get to the office - saving time and allowing the medical office to be more efficient.
A fast broadband connection makes it easy for you to backup your company's data to a secure remote location, an important consideration of the survivability of your business. It also allows you to make use of richer content like video on your website when you're trying to portray what your business is about when interacting with customers and prospects.
Fiber-optics protect your future and ours as well. Theoretically, there's no limit to fiber's capacity, as there is with metallic cable. This capacity of fiber-optics will make it easier for Verizon to offer even faster speeds and more services in the future.
We've heard you loud and clear and are working toward making FiOS available to more of our small business customers, but it's not something we can make happen overnight. Particularly for those businesses located in a strip mall or business complex, Verizon needs to get permission from the property owner and/or managers.
Stay tuned to http://smallbusiness.verizon.com/ to check out our new FiOS offers. If you know Verizon's FiOS services is available in your community and you'd like it for your business office, then please call 866-638-6066, e-mail FiOSNow-VEC@verizon.com or visit www.verizon.com/communities for more information.