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How Cloud Computing Can Add to Your Business’s Bottom Line

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-12-04 11:30
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Small business owners are well aware that technology is becoming more important to their success:

While these numbers are significant, they don’t really get at how technology can help small businesses thrive. Nor do they address which technologies are the most critical to adopt in that effort.

However, if you look at the statistics, cloud computing is one of the fastest growing technologies among small businesses, one prediction claiming that 78 percent of small businesses will have adapted cloud computing by 2020.

The Competitive Advantages of Cloud Computing

Based on the adoption number above, moving to the cloud must provide advantages aside from financial benefits and, if you want your small business to remain competitive, you might want to give them serious consideration.

Greater Flexibility

Thanks to relatively new cloud licensing models, small businesses can leverage the cloud when they need to without permanent cost increases.

For example, if your small business wanted to add new cloud servers to cover an innovative project, it can add these in minutes in the cloud for an increased fee. When the project is complete, you can release those new instances and your fees drop back to the previous level.

This is radically different than the old days when you may have needed to buy equipment to handle the extra workloads from a project and, once the project was over, you were left with an expensive paperweight.

Business Intelligence

When it comes to competitive advantage, business intelligence is the new black. That’s because you can use data to better understand your customers and fuel better decision making. The numbers bear this out:

  • 44 percent of SBOs who use data analytics tools report increased sales, compared to 33 percent who do not; and
  • Companies using analytics are 5 time more likely to make faster decisions.
Increased Security

Far from being less secure, working in the cloud is actually safer:

  • Businesses have experienced a 51 percent higher rate of security incidents in on-premises data centers than those in the cloud.
  • 94 percent of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t previously have with their former on-premise technology approach, such as keeping systems up-to-date, spam email management and up-to-date antivirus.

This goes a long way when building that all important customer trust. Customers that don’t trust you won’t do business with you and keeping their data safe if an excellent start.

Better Collaboration

There are many benefits of collaboration, including better communication, maximized employee utilization, and  satisfied customers. Any one of of these can be considered a competitive advantage, especially if your competition does not have the systems in place to support the same level of collaboration.

More Uptime

If your small business systems go down, the loss to your business can be great, both financially and in customer trust.

Working in the cloud however, helps alleviate the issue:

  • 75 percent of SMBs said they experienced improved service availability since moving to the cloud;
  • 96 percent say it creates less worries about outages; and
  • 61 percent of SMBs said both the frequency and length of downtime has decreased since moving to the cloud

That’s reliability you can take to the bank.

More Money

While the financial benefits of cloud computing were mentioned above, there’s one side benefit that provides another competitive advantage:

What would your small business do with extra money?

More Time

In the same way, cloud computing provides time savings that can be considered a competitive advantage:

  • 50 percent of SMBs have pursued new opportunities because of the time they saved managing security

What would your small business do with extra time?

Enterprise Technologies

Finally, moving to the cloud enables a small business to get their hands on technologies, like the ones above, that they normally would never be able to afford. In turn, this enables those small businesses to compete with companies that are much larger in size.

Leveling the playing field has always been one of the cloud’s biggest promises and, in this case, it delivers.

For more on moving your small business to the cloud, contact

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How Cloud Computing Can Add to Your Business’s Bottom Line" was first published on Small Business Trends

25 Organic Agricultural Business Ideas

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-12-04 10:30

You already know how many great agriculture business opportunities are out there. But there’s a narrower, and potentially more lucrative, niche for entrepreneurs to consider — organic agriculture. Sales of organic imports have grown steadily, reaching $47 billion in 2016 according to the Organic Trade Association.

Organic Agriculture Business Ideas

And that means there are still plenty of opportunities for U.S. agriculture businesses to profit from the organic agriculture market. If you’re interested in getting involved with this growing niche industry, here are some organic agriculture business ideas to consider.

Organic Produce Farm

One of the most popular ways you can get into the organic agriculture business is to grow organic produce. This is similar to regular produce farming, just without the chemical pesticides and fertilizers used by conventional farms.

Organic Dairy Farm

Similarly, you can start a dairy farm where you use natural processes and organic feed for the cows.

Organic Livestock Farm

Or you could start a livestock farm where you also use natural materials and processes to raise your livestock.

Organic Fish Farm

There’s some debate about how organic farmed fish can really be. But you can stay away from pesticides and follow the guidelines from the USDA for organic seafood.

Organic Grocery Wholesaler

Whether you grow one type of organic food item or have a whole farm, one option for selling those items is to be a wholesaler for large chains like Whole Foods or Walmart.

Organic Market

You could also open up your own organic food market where you sell organic items directly to consumers.

Niche Organic Store

Another retail type option would be to open up a small shop that focuses on a specific niche like an organic tea and coffee shop or a health food store that sells Mediterranean inspired options.

Roadside Farm Stand

If you have a small farm, you could also sell your products directly to consumers with a roadside farm stand that you can set up during busy seasons.

Farmers Market Vending

There are also plenty of farmers markets around the country that you can rent space from to sell your organic foods.

Organic Farmers Market

Or you could actually organize your very own farmers market and just work with organic farmers.

Organic Feed for Livestock

Since organic livestock farmers need to use organic animal feed, there’s another opportunity for agriculture business to provide that product to farming customers.

Herb Growing

If you have a smaller space to work with, you can also grow herbs to package for sale to consumers or retail outlets.

Organic Bath and Body Products

You can also grow various plants like lavender and aloe to use in bath and body products that you can then sell.

Organic Canning

If you grow fruits or vegetables organically, you could create jams, salsas or other products that you can package in cans or jars to sell online or in stores.

Organic Baby Food Sales

You can also use organic produce and turn it into packaged baby food to sell to health conscious parents.

Organic Dog Food Sales

It’s also possible to use some organic food items to make dog or cat food or treats to sell in specialty pet stores or even online.

Supplement Production

You could also grow certain plants like turmeric or beets that you can turn into organic supplements to package for sale.

Natural Cleaning Products

You can even use some organic items like lemon juice or olive oil to create natural cleaning products that appeal to health and eco-conscious families.

Organic Restaurant Wholesaler

For businesses that want to sell organic foods on a wholesale basis, you could actually sell right to restaurants rather than retail stores.

Farm to Table Restaurant

Another option would be for you to grow food on a rooftop or nearby farm and then use those organic items in a farm to table restaurant menu.

Organic Juice Bar

You can also use a variety of organic produce in juices and smoothies that you can sell at a specialty juice bar.

Organic Gardening Service

If you’re looking to start a service business, you could offer gardening services to people who want to grow their own vegetables or other plants without the use of unnatural materials.

Organic Compost Sales

You can also collect materials for composting and then sell organic compost to farmers or gardeners that want to only use natural materials.

Urban Rooftop Garden

You no longer need tons of space to start a farm or grow food items. You could start an urban garden on a rooftop or in a small lot and then sell those items to visitors or nearby businesses.

Organic Farm Consultant

Or if you have lots of organic farming expertise, you can start a business as a consultant where you help other agriculture businesses looking to go organic.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "25 Organic Agricultural Business Ideas" was first published on Small Business Trends

How to Create the Perfect Personal Brand for Your Business (INFOGRAPHIC)

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-12-04 09:30

Personal branding is one of the most important and crucial parts of doing business, both offline and online.

An infographic published by the Best Marketing Degrees puts all this into perspective. For instance, did you know that most of us have already been branding ourselves online without even noticing? The infographic claims that in the US alone, 81 percent of the population (264 million people) have a social profile and about 12 percent (40 million people) use online dating sites.

How to Build Your Personal Brand

So, what steps can you take to perfect your personal brand?

Have a Professional Profile Picture

The infographic claims that it only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression about someone from their professional picture. Think about it! How many times have you judged someone based on their profile picture? These snap judgements matter a lot when it comes to your business and taking a profile picture with a wide smile and dressed in a black suit with a white shirt or blouse would, according to the infographic, make you more approachable and likeable.

Have a Well Worded Bio

While having a good profile picture is important and may get you the right attention, it is the text that will get you deeper connections. Keep your bio short. Remember this is a highlight reel. And while you want to come out as a professional, you need to make it more personable. Include some things about your interests and hobbies.

Include a Short Video

A profile photo and bio are great, but if you really want to create a lasting impression, include a short video. This is your opportunity to introduce your personality.

And as you do all this, also make sure you are as interesting as possible since many people take an average of 10 to 20 seconds viewing websites. See more derailed advice on creating your personal brand below.


This article, "How to Create the Perfect Personal Brand for Your Business (INFOGRAPHIC)" was first published on Small Business Trends

Google’s New Datally App Tells Business Owners How to Save on Data Usage

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-12-04 08:30

Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) just built an app called Datally so you can better manage and track the data on your mobile device.

Datally is designed to address three important facets of mobile data usage. It lets you understand, control and save on the data you use as part of your plan. Google is making the app available globally after testing it for the past few months in the Philippines. The company said users saved up to 30 percent on their data.

If you are running a small business on a tight budget, trying to figure out what’s sapping your mobile data can be a difficult proposition. The control measures Google has introduced in Datally can be used to see how you and your employees are doing with your mobile devices when it comes to data usage. Depending on the type of plan you have, the Google app can cut the cost of your mobile data bill every month.

Caesar Sengupta, Vice President of the Next Billion Users Team at Google, addressed the issue of mobile data cost and usage on the company blog recently. He said, “Mobile data is expensive for many people around the world. And what’s worse, it’s hard to figure out where it all goes. That means you’re never just chatting, playing games or watching videos on your phone — you’re also anxiously keeping an eye on how long your data will last.”


What Does Google Datally Do for You?

You can now better understand your data because Datally lets you see how much of it you use on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis. It can also give you personalized recommendations to save more.

Once you understand how you are consuming the data, Datally gives you more control. When you are using your apps, you can block background data usage and track real-time data usage. And if there is an app using too much data, all it takes is a single tap to block it.

The next step is to help you save your data. Datally makes this possible by letting you know if you are close to a public WiFi and connecting you. The app has a rating system for public WiFi spots, which is maintained with user participation.

Next Billion Users

Datally is part of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative to help countries with limited infrastructure and mobile hardware take advantage of the benefits digital technology offers. But it doesn’t mean you can’t use it to keep track of your mobile data usage.

You can install Google Datally on your device from the Google Play Store for phones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher.

Images: Google

This article, "Google’s New Datally App Tells Business Owners How to Save on Data Usage" was first published on Small Business Trends

Combat Flip Flops Manufactures Product in Countries Ravaged by War

Small Business Trends - Mon, 2017-12-04 07:30

One soldier went to serve his country in war and came back to wage peace through small business. Matthew “Griff” Griffin is a 2001 West Point graduate who deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan with the 2nd Ranger Battalion. He planned and participated in more than 100 special operations direct action missions.

The Birth of Combat Flip Flops

After witnessing the positive effects of economic growth in conflict areas, Griff co-founded his company, Combat Flip Flops, with a fellow Ranger and began his mission to manufacture peace through trade. He flipped the script by thinking wars could be won through persistence, respect and creativity. Griff wanted to empower mindful consumers by allowing them to support entrepreneurs in conflict areas, building their communities and funding women’s education.

After visiting a combat boot factory in Afghanistan in 2009, Griff knew as the war ended, this factory would shut down and 300 people would lose their jobs. This would be devastating to their community. After his service, Griff’s colleague realized that wearing combat boots was at odds with a Muslim culture that takes their shoes off five times a day to pray. He then came up with the idea of using left over combat boot soles from the war to make durable flip flops which more matched the culture and others around the world. In fact, the company made 4,000 pairs in the first two months of business based on pre-orders alone.

With the help of Fulfillment by Amazon, this small business now generates over $2 million a year in sales and manufactures its product in Afghanistan, Laos and Columbia. Griff says that Amazon’s huge marketplace generates a lot of orders for his company and helps him keep up with shipping them on time. The company employs 50 to 200 people around the world mostly in manufacturing. A part of each sale goes to help girls’ schools in developing countries which he believes will have a big impact on each community.

When Griff travels these days, he always stays with small business owners because he feels in any community with conflict, this is where he can be safe.

Want to learn more? Watch Griff’s Ted Talk or listen to him on Barry Moltz’s radio show.

This article, "Combat Flip Flops Manufactures Product in Countries Ravaged by War" was first published on Small Business Trends

Fiat falls in Italy despite 7% market rise

AutoNews - Mon, 2017-12-04 07:29
New-car sales in Italy rose 6.8 percent in November, despite a slump in market leader Fiat brand's volume and declining demand from private customers. In the first 11 months, registrations were up 8.7 percent to 1.85 million.
Categories: Latest News

Renault, Peugeot gain in Spain while diesel, VW sales fall

AutoNews - Mon, 2017-12-04 05:08
Renault and Peugeot were among the winners as sales of new cars in Spain rose 12 percent in November. In the first 11 months, registrations were up 7.8 percent to 1.13 million.
Categories: Latest News

Krystal Offers Week-Long Root Beer Float Deal

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 12:56
Image Caption: Image Credit: Krystal is offering $0.99 root beer floats for national holiday.Exclusive Brief: 0

The Krystal Company, the brand famous for its iconic square hamburgers, is celebrating National Root Beer Day all week. From August 8 through August 12, Krystal will offer its Root Beer floats at a special price of $0.99 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in participating locations.

The Krystal Float is made with a blend of cold and frosty Barq's Root Beer, plus a scoop of creamy Blue Bunny vanilla bean ice cream.

Chains: Krystal

Wendy’s Brings Back Baconator Fries

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 12:45
Image Caption: Image Credit: PR NewswireWendy's is bringing back the Baconator fries for a limited time.Exclusive Brief: 0

For nine years Wendy's has offered the Baconator, featuring two quarter-pound patties of 100 percent pure fresh beef, six strips of thick-cut Applewood-smoked bacon, three slices of cheese, and a bakery-style bun.

Chains: Wendy's

Burger King Debuts Whopperito, Burger-Burrito Mash-Up

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 12:32
Image Caption: Image Credit: Burger KingBurger King extends the Whopperito nationwide for a limited time.Exclusive Brief: 0

Burger King restaurants are introducing a Tex-Mex twist on its famous Whopper sandwich nationwide with its new Whopperito burger-burrito mash-up. After a local market debut that sparked widespread demand from guests, Burger King restaurants is now taking its Whopperito national at participating restaurants beginning August 15.

Chains: Burger King

Cott Corporation To Acquire S&D Coffee

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:55
S&D Coffee & Tee will be acquired by Cott beverage producers.Exclusive Brief: 0

S&D Coffee Inc. has accepted an offer made by the Cott Corporation to be acquired.

Following the completion of the proposed transaction, S&D will be a subsidiary of Cott, still operating under the S&D Coffee & Tea name. Ron Hinson, at almost 38 years with the company, will remain president and CEO of S&D, and the management team will assume the same scope and responsibilities. Cott, a global, multi-beverage leader, will enable further development and acceleration of S&D’s business model.

Chains: S&D Coffee

Blaze Opens 150th Pizzeria at Disney World

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 10:28
Image Credit: Blaze PizzaBlaze opens its flagship location in Disney Springs.Exclusive Brief: 0

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, a leading fast-casual artisanal pizza chain, has opened its new flagship restaurant in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. Known for its chef-driven recipes, the 150th Blaze restaurant debuts in an architecturally innovative structure that was designed specifically for this location.

Chains: Blaze Fast Fire'd Pizza

Focus Brands Commits to Sourcing Cage-Free Eggs

QSR Magazine - Mon, 2016-08-08 09:17
Focus Brands will source only cage-free by 2026 for its franchises.Exclusive Brief: 0

In response to a growing consumer sentiment towards cage-free eggs and the adoption of this policy by several other food service companies, Focus Brands is joining forces with others in the industry and announcing its commitment to sourcing ingredients that contain only cage-free eggs. 

While not a large user of eggs or food items with egg as an ingredient, Focus Brands will work with its suppliers to ensure that all of its restaurant menu items will contain only cage free eggs by 2026. 

Chains: FOCUS BrandsCarvelCinnabonSchlotzsky'sMoe's Southwest GrillAuntie Anne'sMcAlister's Deli

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Hits 100-Store Milestone

QSR Magazine - Fri, 2016-08-05 12:30
Image Credit: Fuzzy's Taco ShopFuzzy's Taco Shop opens its 100th store in Oklahoma City.Exclusive Brief: 0

Fort Worth, Texas-based Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, the award-winning, Baja-style, fast-casual Mexican restaurant group, hit a milestone this week with the opening of its 100th restaurant. The 100th Fuzzy's Taco Shop is in Oklahoma City, making it the fifth Fuzzy's Taco Shop in Oklahoma, the third in Oklahoma City, and the first tenant to open in the brand new Chisholm Creek mixed-use development in northwest Oklahoma City. 

Chains: Fuzzy's Taco Shop

McDonald’s Olympic Kids To Walk in Opening Ceremony

QSR Magazine - Fri, 2016-08-05 11:57
McDonald's Olympic Kids will walk in the Parade of NationsExclusive Brief: 0

McDonald’s is honoring the spirit of friendship that is at the heart of the Olympic values by celebrating nearly 100 kids from around the world with a once-in-a-lifetime, and first-ever, opportunity to participate in an Opening Ceremony at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The McDonald’s Olympic Kids will walk in the Parade of Nations at Rio’s famed Maracanã Stadium in front of 80,000 live spectators and billions of television viewers worldwide. 

Chains: McDonald's

Get a Glimpse at Subway's Brand-New Logo, Branding

QSR Magazine - Fri, 2016-08-05 10:11
Image Caption: Subway's new symbol borrows its iconic arrows for a simpler design.Image Credit: SubwaySandwich chain reveals new logo and symbol as part of rebrand.Exclusive Brief: 0

Subway, the world’s largest sandwich chain, revealed a bold update to its iconic logo, along with a powerful new symbol. Consumers will catch a glimpse of the new logo in ads airing August 5.

Chains: Subway

McAlister’s Turns Cookies Blue for Autism Speaks

QSR Magazine - Fri, 2016-08-05 09:50
McAlister's is turning its sugar cookies blue for Autism Speaks.Exclusive Brief: 0

McAlister's Deli has announced its national partnership with Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. Throughout the month of August, McAlister’s will turn its famous sugar cookies blue, in support of the organization’s signature color. $0.75 from each cookie sold will support Autism Speaks’ mission of funding scientific research, increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorder, and advocating for the needs of people with autism and their families.

Chains: McAlister's Deli