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Social media platforms are constantly updating their features. And some of the newest features on popular sites and apps might just have an impact on business users.
For example, Facebook just unveiled a new job board so that businesses can post openings right on the popular social media site. And Yelp launched a question and answer section so that you can respond to some of your customers specific inquiries.
You can read about these latest updates and more in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.Social Media Facebook Now Allows You to Post Job Openings
Social networking site Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has a history of challenging, if not buying out, its competitors, and now it looks like it’s going after LinkedIn. Starting yesterday, businesses in both the U.S. and Canada could post job listings natively to their Facebook pages or in the new jobs bookmark.Yelp Q-and-A Solicits More Community Feedback for Your Brand
Whether you have a restaurant or pottery shop, customers will have questions regarding your business. And those answers are not going to be available on your site no matter how thorough you are. That is just a fact. The new Questions & Answers feature from Yelp (NYSE:YELP) gives your customers the answers they need about your business from actual customers or yourself.Yet Another Platform — Whatsapp — Launches Snapchat Clone
The announcement of Snapchat’s IPO late in 2016 revealed some impressive numbers and growth. Over 2.5 billion Snaps are created by 158 million users each day, and the company’s revenue has increased six fold since 2015.Fall of PewDiePie Shows Dangers of Controversial Content
When it comes to social media, it’s best to steer clear of controversial content. Or you may run into problems like YouTube star PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg. The popular YouTuber courted controversy after posting a string of videos containing allegedly anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi references.Economy Self-Employed Creative Pros Outearn Those with Salaries, FreshBooks Says
If you’ve been toying with the idea of pursuing a freelance career, now is a good time to get started. That’s because self-employed professionals are now earning more than their salaried peers. The insight comes from a new report by FreshBooks, a cloud accounting software company for small businesses.Reports Send Mixed Messages About Staffing Needs of the Future
To hire or not to hire. That’s the big question for cash-strapped small businesses. Recent data sends out two very differing messages about the staffing needs of the future — one short term, the other more long term. So businesses may have mixed feelings about their plans for that next hire.Green Business Think Big Vehicles Can’t Be Eco-Friendly? Think Again
When you think of electric vehicles, you probably think of a compact car or small sedan. But if you really want to see carbon emissions and fuel consumption lowered significantly, you need to think bigger. More specifically, think of bigger vehicles like semi-trucks, buses and even garbage collection vehicles.What Your Business Can Learn From Leggings Made of Plastic Bottles
Think about how many plastic water bottles get thrown out each day. Now think about all the possibilities that could come from innovative minds finding new ways to use all that plastic. A company called Girlfriend Collective has found one way to do that. The company uses plastic bottles from Taiwan and turns them into leggings.Marketing What Should Your Business Do When Google Retires Converted Clicks?
What’s Happening? An update will soon come to the conversion tracking tool in AdWords. Since 2001, AdWords has used “Converted Clicks” to track whether or not users complete desired outcomes on ads and websites. Historically, converted clicks have shown whether or not an ad click led to the desired action on your website, and will be retired in its simplicity.3 Ways Sales Is Changing With Artificial Intelligence
Technology is the great equalizer. In every industry and in nearly every department, technology is and should be central to performance and achievement capacity. Of course, the frontiers of technology constantly change.Retail Trends Olive Oil Shortage Could Force Businesses to Develop Creative Solutions
Olive oil prices are rising around the world. The three countries that produce the bulk of the world’s olive oil, Spain, Greece and Italy, have recently been hit with droughts, floods, bugs and bacteria. That means that the olives used to create the product are in short supply, while the demand for olive oil continues to rise.Delta Thinks the Key to Customer Loyalty is Through Free Stuff
What’s the key to customer loyalty? Well, if you ask Delta, that key involves lots of free stuff. The airline just announced that it will start giving out free meals to all passengers on some of its longest domestic flights starting in March. That’s in addition to the snacks, entertainment options and blankets that are already offered for free on Delta flights.Small Biz Spotlight Spotlight: Student Loan Club Tries to Ease the Pain for New Grads
If you’ve taken any college classes, chances are you’ve had to deal with student loans. These loans can be especially burdensome for young professionals just getting started in their chosen fields. But there are some options and resources for dealing with them. That’s where Student Loan Club comes in.Small Business Operations Highlights From the #WinInBiz National Entrepreneurship Week Twitter Chat
It’s a special week for entrepreneurs around the U.S. National Entrepreneurship Week is a weeklong celebration for entrepreneurs and business owners. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other partners have used the week as an opportunity to put out various resources, events and other offers to help business owners continue growing their ventures.UPS Upgrades Flex Global View Tool to Help You Better Track Shipments
UPS (NYSE: UPS) recently announced improvements to Flex Global View, its event management and visibility tool for air, ocean and surface freight shipments, to help you better track shipments.Give Your Business a Boost with the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
Inspiring small businesses are being recognized and rewarded every year. Share what inspired you and your core mission and you could be the next winner. Entering its fifth year, the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards tens of thousands of dollars to passionate small business owners across the country.Taxes 9 Ways to Get Free Help With Taxes from a Real Live Person
Tax help can cost a lot of money. Pros charge $150 an hour on average to do a federal and state return, according to the National Society of Accountants. Help with planning, back taxes or audits can cost even more. But there are a few ways to get human tax help for free.Ohio Congressman Says Tax Code Stunting Small Business Growth
House Committee on Small Business Chairman Steve Chabot voiced his concerns the complexities of the tax code are stunting small businesses and start-ups from growing during a hearing Wednesday. There are provisions in place that penalize entrepreneurs for taking risks with their businesses, according to Chabot.Technology Trends The Motherbox Wants to Cut the Wires that Bind Your Phone When Charging
The love/hate relationship people have with their smartphones gets very intense at one particular moment: when the battery dies. Even the most prepared person can be caught off guard because of a hectic day, and it is for those and all the other times you feel unconnected that Motherbox was created.eBay Deploys Artificial Intelligence to Benefit Sellers
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming part of our everyday language as more organizations integrate the technology into the products and services they offer. The latest to do so is eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), which according to the company will help its sellers become more competitive.Why is Everyone Talking About Data Backup? Blame Ransomware
The number of ransomware attacks on businesses and individuals has risen exponentially in recent years. Increasingly, small and midsized businesses are vulnerable to these malware attacks. Their data is essentially locked up, or held hostage, and cybercriminals demand a ransom in exchange for releasing computer files and business documents. The numbers are staggering.Wix Passes 100 Million Users with Focus on Small Business
The web development company that spent nearly $5 million on a commercial during the Super Bowl just surpassed the 100 million registered users’ milestone. The Israel-based company Wix.com (NASDAQ:WIX) boasts how easy it has made things for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, artists and businesses around the world to create a website using its drag and drop capabilities.Xero Updates Fixed Asset Depreciation Features
Online accounting software Xero (NZE:XRO), popular with small business users, has updated the Fixed Asset depreciation feature on the platform. Xero Fixed Asset Depreciation The Fixed Assets depreciation feature gives small businesses the ability to track fixed asset and value depreciation for tax and book keeping purposes. In the U.S.Qualcomm’s New WiFi Technology Should Boost Capacity for Small Business
One of the biggest differentiator’s between a home or small business and a larger enterprise is capacity. And in a world where speed is tantamount to efficiency, enterprises enjoy a commanding lead.
This article, "New Features From Facebook, Yelp, WhatsApp and More Announced" was first published on Small Business Trends
As a small business, continuity is a challenge when you move to a new location. While the physical move will displace some of your customers until they get used to the new location, your phone number can come along with you, meaning you don’t have to get a new one.
Number porting lets you keep your existing landline, wireless or VoIP when you change to a new service provider, whether it is because of a relocation or a better service from another company.So What is Porting?
Number porting, or porting, is the ability to keep your existing number if and when you decide to move your phone service to another provider.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), if you want to switch to another service provider and you are staying in the same area, you can keep your existing phone number. And the process can be carried out between wireline, IP and wireless providers.How Do You Get Started?
As a business you may have more than one number, and you can choose to port any or all of the numbers. But before you do, make sure you go over your current contract to determine your liabilities.
Look at your contract to see if there are any early termination fees as well as balances you have to pay before you end your services. And whatever you do, don’t terminate the old service before you start the service with the new company.Contact the New Company
Once you meet your obligations of your previous contract, contact the new company to start the process of porting your number. This requires providing your 10-digit phone number and any other information the company may require. This will vary from provider to provider.
Generally, a Letter of Authorization (LOA) must be filled out and signed by the authorized user for your current provider to begin the porting process, along with the most recent and correct Billing Telephone Number (BTN).How Much Will It Cost?
According to the FCC, companies can charge to port your number, and the fees can vary from provider to provider. The agency’s website says you can ask for a waiver or negotiate the fees. However, most of the major operators don’t charge any fees.
The FCC also says a company cannot deny to port your number because you have not paid for porting. When you request the service of a new company, the FCC says the old company cannot refuse to port your number. This is even if you have any outstanding balance or termination fee.How Long Does it Take to Port a Number?
This will depend on how many phone numbers you have, the operator, and the type of service, such as landline, wireless and IP. It can take anywhere from hours for wireless services all the way up to 10 days for IP and landline.
Again, this will depend on the type of service you have with your old provider and the type of porting, so make sure to take this into consideration before changing to a new company.The Transition Period
The FCC warns there will be a transition period in which you will have two numbers when you port from wireline to a wireless number. The agency recommends users to ask if you will continue to use your current wireline number during the transfer process, however long it takes.
This is important because wireless 911 location and call back services can be affected during the transition. The FCC wants you to ask your new company if your 911 service will be affected during the process.
Another service that will be impacted during the transition period is long distance service. Your landline or wireline long distance company is not going to move with you, so make sure your new company has a plan you can live with.
You Can’t Always Port Your Number
The FCC says it is not always possible to port your number to a new geographic area when you change providers. This is the case in some rural areas, which will require you to contact your state public utilities commission for further information.Small Business Identity
Your business phone number is one of the identifying features of your company. Just like your address, logo and other identifying features, your number, especially if it is a vanity number, is a great way for your customers to identify with you and build a relationship.
So if you have to move, make sure you port your number with you to continue that relationship.
Using Phone Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "What is Porting and What Does It Mean for Your Small Business Phone?" was first published on Small Business Trends
IT companies are being forced to reshape their business models in a world where technologies are moving to the cloud in droves. Many need help making the transition, which is where companies like Microsoft, through the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), play a vital role.
MPN equips Microsoft partners with training, resources and support, enabling them to become more competitive in today’s marketplace.
One person responsible for helping partners take the leap into cloud-readiness is Karen Fassio, marketing director for the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft, the group that manages MPN. She recently spoke with Small Business Trends via telephone to discuss why IT providers should be transitioning to the Microsoft Cloud and share resources Microsoft can offer to aid in that process.
Fassio describes her role as helping IT providers take a look at the opportunities that becoming cloud-ready presents and figure out how they can reshape their business, their solutions and even the talent on their teams.
She uses a variety of approaches to accomplish that task: The Microsoft Partner Network portal, the Cloud Ready Analyzer (a tool that helps IT companies assess their cloud-readiness) and working with teams to do partner-facing events and activities.
She also communicates regularly with the partner support community, which she says numbers in the “hundreds of thousands,” through digital media to make them (the partners) aware of all the resources Microsoft has available.
“There is a lot of marketing transformation that I’m leading with our team so that we are ensuring that Microsoft is connecting and creating a relationship with our partners in a more personalized manner,” she said. “In that way, they start experiencing a more connected, cohesive message from Microsoft.”
In addition to listing her direct responsibilities, Fassio outlined some of the ways the Worldwide Partner Group working through the MPN helps IT companies make the shift to becoming cloud-ready.Microsoft Cloud as Integration Point
Fassio said that through its cloud-based products and services (Office 365, Azure, CRM, etc.), Microsoft’s role is to serve as an integration point for IT providers — a backend solution that providers can build on in configuring solutions to problems their customers have. In some cases, that means a mix of on-premise and some cloud components, all in the cloud, or a hybrid of Microsoft products and other technologies.Cloud Migration and Licensing Administration
Two additional areas where Microsoft can assist partners, according to Fassio, is in helping them migrate their customers to the cloud and in licensing, to help them close deals.
Regarding migration, she said, “We have created paths and migration solutions that make that easier to do because it sits inside a connected Microsoft technology suite.”
She added that with the advent of the cloud, administration of licensing has become more sophisticated.
“A lot of the licensing that comes with these solutions can all be served through the cloud solution provider program,” she said, “It takes the bulk of the licensing administration, tracking and utilization out of the realm of having a partner needing to manage that. Now the partner can focus on the solutions they are building for their clients while licensing-related tasks are managed by the indirect provider.”Proof of Concept and Managed Services
Fassio emphasized two critical aspects of becoming a cloud-ready business are using proof of concept, which she refers to as a “trial or starter engagement to get a customer moving in the direction of the cloud,” and managed services.
“Managed services enables providers to utilize a subscription model that creates long-term recurring revenue rather than a point in time solution or licensing-only opportunity,” she said. “With both the proof of concept and managed service, you can move into more custom engagement, which is where a lot of our partners provide more differentiated value and earn stronger margins.”Working with Other Partners
Fassio cited another advantage of becoming cloud-ready is that providers can move beyond their area of expertise by aligning with other partners who have differing skill sets.
“By going to the cloud, you have more options for stitching together different solutions that don’t necessarily have to be in your own skill set,” she said. “That way, you can build something that is much more comprehensive with other partners that are also in that space.”Cloud Competency Partner
Not only does MPN help IT companies shift to the cloud, but it also helps them gain expertise through the cloud platform competency program, which, according to Fassio, is a training and support program focused on a particular area of competency.
“For example, we have competencies that are focused on what we see partners building their practices on,” she said. “We also have a competency centered on productivity, for those partners doing a lot of Office 365 engagement and who are moving customers from a client based model to online models that can easily scale by customer demand and usage.”
Fassio added that MPN has other competencies programs focused on Azure and Dynamics CRM.
Regarding competency, she said, “Partners who are part of this program are basically identifying themselves as having expertise in a particular technical area. You’ve made an investment to become cloud-ready, and now Microsoft knows who you are and can help put you in front of customers so that when they are looking for solutions in your area of expertise, your business can show up inside our customer engagement engines.”Cloud Ready Analyzer
The Cloud Ready Analyzer mentioned previously, is a tool designed to help IT companies that are struggling with the transition to becoming cloud-ready. Partners take a self-assessment of their current states and compare that to where they want to go.
“I think what most people find is that the Analyzer helps break down each of the key areas of transformation in a very consumable, actionable way,” Fassio said, “so that you can see the next step to get your business ready for the cloud.”Additional Resources
Microsoft has no shortage of resources to help IT companies not only become cloud-ready and gain proficiency but also to grow their business.
“We have tracks for independent software vendors, managed service provider and resellers,” Fassio said. “There are different types of scenarios that try to base them off of to help a partner go from where they are to where they want to do.”
She recommended that partners start by delving into the MPN profitability resources, which, she said can “help people think not only about the market and where the customers are but also how peers like themselves are thinking about transition.”MPN Provides End-to-End Solution
Fassio stressed that the Microsoft Partner Network is an end-to-end solution where partners can learn how to build and grow their business.
“We have tools that help you assess your marketing state; we provide guidance on the types of marketing activities you should engage in, and we have tools and templates and guided resources to help you develop a different marketing approach,” she said.
Besides that, the network has peer-to-peer communities and in-person events that let partners connect and build relationships, enabling them to support and learn from each other.
In concluding her remarks, Fassio stated that MPN’s goal is very pragmatic:
“When it comes down to it, our goal is to help our partners understand that Microsoft is on this journey with our partners. As we learn, we share. As we see new opportunities, we surface these and put resources in place to help partners take advantage of them as demonstrated through guided resources we’ve provided that help partners determine their personal business transformation and configure their profitability in the cloud.”
Visit the Microsoft Partner Network website to learn about all the resources Microsoft has available to help partners transition to the cloud and grow their business in the process.
Cloud Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group Helps IT Providers Become Cloud Ready" was first published on Small Business Trends
Affiliate programs provide many people with an income, and if you find the right company and product, it can be lucrative. The developers at Affilitizer want to make the process of finding a company with an affiliate program as easy as scrolling through the search results on Google.
So the question is, is it really that easy?
Small Business Trends installed the extension on Chrome and tried it, and here is what happened.
We first searched for “baby elephant figurines,” figuring (no pun intended) it would be hard to find businesses with affiliate programs that sold them. And this is a screen shot of the result:
Where ever you see the Affilitizer triangle is where there is additional information about the company.
So we clicked on the one for Hobby Lobby:
And were sent to an affiliate page.It Was Easy to Find Affiliate Marketing Programs
The answer is yes, it is that easy to find an affiliate program to join with Affilitizer, and it is so intuitive and seamless it seems like it is part of Google.
According to the company that created Affilitizer, this app was designed to give bloggers, publishers, webmasters, and influencers an easier way to monetize their content. Let’s face it, monetizing your site, especially when you are starting out, can be very difficult, and affiliates are one way of earning income from your audience.
With Affilitizer, you will have access to more than 61 affiliate networks and 65,000+ affiliate programs with tracking links for Amazon and eBay with just a single click. And the search is made automatically, so you won’t have to spend hours look through the tens of thousands affiliate programs. This includes the private networks and small programs that might not get the same attention as their large counterparts.
No matter which brand or item you search for, Affilitizer finds where they are available as part of an affiliate program and is able to share them at the same time as when Google lists the search result.
This article, "Affilitizer Claims to Connect Publishers with Relevant Monetization" was first published on Small Business Trends
Gail Gardner of Growmap.com is the co-creator of the Blogger Mastermind Group on Skype. Over the years, she’s seen the positive impact that mastermind groups like this can have for businesses and entrepreneurs. And she shared some tips for others looking to start their own groups.How to Start a Mastermind Group Find Potential Members
The most important part of any group is the members. And that’s the case with mastermind groups as well.
For Gardner, the group started as a forum site that added members over time. When the site got hacked, she decided to switch over to Skype. And then she invited all the members who were still interested in being a part of this type of group.
She told Small Business Trends, “I invited all the original forum members and we’ve been adding people as we come across them ever since. Most of the members are full-time freelancers or serious bloggers. Some are web developers and most own their own sites.”Welcome New Members
It’s also important that you actually engage with those new members when you find them. There are different methods of doing this. But you should at least send a quick welcome message and tell them a bit about the group.
Gardner says, “When onboarding new members, it is important to make them feel welcome and give them some idea what is acceptable and what isn’t. We have a Blogger Mastermind blog post that explains how the group operates and how to access our collective resources on Skype. When adding a new member, I invite them to share what they do and their website and most used social accounts.”Be Clear About Expectations
Since most groups are going to have a specific purpose, that also means that there are certain activities that won’t fit into that purpose. That means you need to have some kind of rules or a code of conduct to ensure that the group remains valuable for all members.
Gardner says, “Be clear on the purpose of the group and what is expected. In our case, we make it very clear that there are no requirements and it is not necessary to try to keep up with all the messages. I tell members to think about it like a water cooler. Chat when you can, but don’t worry about reading every message.”Stick to the Rules
From there, you need to actually come up with a way to deal with any difficult situations when they do arise.
Gardner says, “If someone does things that other members find annoying, Eren [Mckay of Mckay Social] or I will talk to them privately. Most understand that they should not spam or advertise, while sharing a special post or recommending something they find truly useful is encouraged. We have only removed people a couple of times in all the years our group has existed because they persisted in doing something they had been repeatedly asked to stop doing.”Keep Information Organized
To make the group as valuable as possible, it’s also a good idea to have a system for organizing the information you’ve discussed. This can make it easier for people to provide quick answers or information when people bring up topics that have been discussed at some point in the past.
Gardner says, “We pool our knowledge and resources and save that information onto Trello boards for easy access anytime. As discussions happen, I capture the highlights and organize them by topic. This makes it easy to share any conclusions and tips that come out of our discussions whenever the question comes up again.”
Mastermind Photo via Shutterstock
The love/hate relationship people have with their smartphones gets very intense at one particular moment: when the battery dies. Even the most prepared person can be caught off guard because of a hectic day, and it is for those and all the other times you feel unconnected that Motherbox was created.A Look at the Motherbox Wireless Charger
Currently on a funding campaign on Indiegogo, Motherbox has already met its goal with 22 days left on the drive. MotherBox and MotherBox Mini are the first wireless chargers that are truly wireless the company says. You will be able to charge your Android and iOS device at the same time without any cables.
The popularity of the device highlights the need for this type of solution because of the current reliance on smartphones for business and leisure. As the gap on all the other specs of mobile devices continues to shrink, battery capacity and charging options and technology are becoming key differentiators.
Motherbox charges your battery through a thin receiver that plugs into the power port of your smartphone. It is placed on the back of your phone before you put the case on, so it is thin. You then download the app and connect your chargers.
Plug the MotherBox wireless charger into an outlet and it can charge up to four devices at the same time, developer claims. This from a device that weighs only four pounds.
The smaller version of this device, the MotherBox Mini weighs only three pounds, and it will have at least 7,000-mAH of juice to charge your smartphone, according to the specs. The Mini can be connected through a USB cable so it can be charged on the go. The app that comes with the charger sends you push notifications when its battery is getting low, so your backup doesn’t fail you
While the campaign is still going on, you can get The Motherbox for a contribution of $89 and the Motherbox Mini for a contribution of $99. Or you can get both of them for a contribution of $159, with shipping slated for September 2017.
This article, "The Motherbox Wants to Cut the Wires that Bind Your Phone When Charging" was first published on Small Business Trends