A new campaign aims to encourage those shopping on Small Business Saturday to patronize small restaurants too when their shopping day is done. Small Business Saturday, now in its fifth year, is the Saturday after Thanksgiving specifically designated to promote shopping from small businesses and local merchants. The campaign already has two hashtags. The first, #DineSmall , is helping to spread the word about the new campaign, officially called Small Business Saturday Night. The second, #ShowUsYourMenu , encourages owners and chefs at participating establishments to post special menus for the event via social media. In a recent post on the Small Business Administrator blog, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet explains : “This year, America’s bars and restaurants are extending the hours on the daylong festivities by promoting Small Business Saturday Night. The SBA is partnering with the National Restaurant Association to encourage families who shop small to #DineSmall at local restaurants and watering holes in the evening. We’re also encouraging small business merchants to extend their hours so they can take advantage of increased nighttime foot traffic.” In this video from the SBA, Sweet elaborates further: Why Supporting Small Restaurants is Important As in the case with other small businesses, small restaurants are important to local economies and employment. But they also have an important impact on the careers of future restaurant entrepreneurs and, as a result, on the creation of even more jobs in the future. Sweet adds: “Nine out of 10 restaurants have less than 50 employees, and 80 percent of restaurant owners start their careers in entry-level positions. So the #DineSmall movement is this year’s important new way to support the proprietors who give Main Street its unique flavor.” But more than that, small businesses represent a livelihood for many of those in the communities were we all live. In a recent email in support of the event, John Frazier, Chief Entrepreneur Champion at BizBuzz America recounts the story of 62-year-old restaurant owner Carol Bates. Frazier says Bates, owner of Dockside Dave’s Grill in Madeira Beach, Fl., tracked him down after a bad experience he had at her restaurant and taught him the value small restaurant owners place on their customers. “Carol called my cell phone the next day after the event. She explained that her cook was new, apologized, and offered me a gift certificate that was twice what I had actually spent. I turned down her gift certificate and respectfully accepted a replacement meal. But then Carol explained, ‘my customers are important to me; because, if you don’t come back I will be unemployed and at 62 I cannot get another job’.” Remember to support small restaurants on Small Business Saturday  and all year long and spread the word via #DineLocal. And small restaurant owners, take advantage of #ShowUsYourMenu to promote your special menu for the day. Image: SBA The post Remember to Thank Small Restaurants and #DineSmall appeared first on Small Business Trends .

[via Small Business Trends]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

Aspiring young executives dream of climbing the ladder in order to gain more authority.  Then they can make things happen and create the change that they believe in.  Senior executives, on the other hand, are often frustrated by how little power they actually have. The problem is that while authority can compel action it does little to inspire belief.  Only leadership can… Continue reading →

[via Innovation Excellence]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

Most ecommerce business owners want consumers to like their products. But according to Bayard Winthrop, founder and CEO of American Giant , that shouldn’t be your goal. Consumer attitudes are changing. They no longer just want cheap and easy products. They want quality. They want an experience. They want to buy products they truly love. So the question remains — how do you get your customers to fall in love with your products instead of just liking them? That’s a question Wintrop explores in a book he recently co-wrote with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Randy Komisar called, “I F**king Love That Company.” In an interview with Fox Business, Winthrop spoke about the book and about the changing landscape of the ecommerce industry. He said that for too long, businesses have focused on scaling their business at the expense of building a quality product or service. Companies spent their resources expanding to new location and building their marketing campaigns instead of improving their products or services. And for many years, that helped big businesses grow. But about 10 to 15 years ago, consumer focus shifted. And with it, technology offered businesses the ability to improve their product instead of spending their money on new locations and traditional marketing tactics. When companies are able to re-allocate those resources into improving the customer experience, they create more loyal customers. Those customers who love the experience they have with an ecommerce company are more likely to tell others about it. And that gives the companies they love an opportunity to grow even more while using even fewer resources. According to Winthrop, that’s why companies like Warby Parker, Airbnb, Nasty Gal and his own American Giant have become so successful. He told Fox Business: “There’s a whole list of people who are looking at ways to get better in services and products in the marketplace and doing it in new and fresh ways. They’re being very disruptive to the traditional retailers.“ Image: Giant The post Get Customers to Fall in Love With Your Products appeared first on Small Business Trends .

[via Small Business Trends]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

We’ve seen some rapid advancements in cameras for the smartphone in recent years. But to date, all these advancements have really only turned a smartphone camera into a moderate to high-end point-and-shoot. The Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom brought us a zoom lens attached to a smartphone. Earlier this year, Panasonic introduced the Lumix CM1. The 20-megapixel camera on that device almost makes the smartphone part an afterthought. And the HTC Desire Eye switched the high end emphasis to the front-facing camera. The resolution on the Desire Eye’s front camera is designed to create a higher quality selfie . But there’s a new report suggesting Apple may be introducing the best smartphone camera yet. If and when Apple does unveil this camera that borders on DSLR quality, it likely would be with the introduction of the next iPhone. That could be some time off, of course. The company only recently updated its flagship mobile device by releasing the iPhone 6 and the new iPhone 6 Plus phablet . John Gruber at Daring Fireball reported in a recent edition of his podcast “The Talk Show” that he’s privy to a rumor suggesting Apple is working on a unique camera to add to the next iPhone it manufactures. On his podcast, Gruber says “a birdie of a birdie” told him that the new iPhone’s camera would use a “two-lens system” that helps the rear-facing camera take pictures with DSLR quality. That would be similar to technology currently being used on the HTC One M8, according to a MacRumors report . On that smartphone, the second lens is used to gather more image information to send to the first lens. The two-lens system on the HTC One M8 allows someone taking a photo to shift the focus. MacRumors.com also believes that if Apple does adopt a two-lens solution to produce DSLR-quality images, it may use technology being produced by a company called Corephotonics. With Corephotonics’ technology, each lens captures an image at different zoom levels. This allows a zoom-like feature without the moving parts needed in traditional digital single-lens reflex cameras. Here’s an overview of the technology from CNET: The dual lens system combines two 13 megapixel cameras — one a wide-angle lens, the other a telephoto — that, when combined, produce an image quality three times that of optical zoom. If MacRumors.com is correct in its assumptions, the new DSLR-quality camera would be included on the next iPhone — likely the iPhone 6S. If Apple stays true to its recent release schedule, that phone might be making an appearance at the end of next year. Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock The post Your Next iPhone May Take Photos Like A DSLR Camera appeared first on Small Business Trends .

[via Small Business Trends]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

The importance of having a mobile website for your business is increasing by the day. More consumers now access the internet using mobile devices instead of desktop computers. But just setting up any old mobile site isn’t enough. You likely put a lot of time and care into developing a professional and user-friendly website. So your mobile site should receive the same care and consideration. This increase in mobile consumers means more convenient and flexible ways for customers to shop, but it also means new demands on businesses. Mobile shoppers are more impulsive, more picky, more distracted, more non-committal. Studies show that two-thirds will abandon a purchase if the shopping experience is not mobile-friendly. Mobile consumers don’t want to feel like they’re getting your cold leftovers. They won’t stick around and deal with a clunky made-for-desktop interface, they won’t wade through tons of tiny text, and they certainly won’t enter their card information if your mobile app doesn’t inspire trust and confidence. And yet, most businesses aren’t doing near enough to tailor their mobile presence to these increasingly important users. In order to build a mobile site that is truly user-friendly, you’ll need to find out what users look for in terms of things like features and layout. For traditional websites, usability testing services like TryMyUI allow businesses to see their site from a user’s point of view. But because of the navigation style and input methods of mobile websites, it isn’t possible to do the same kind of testing on mobile devices. So far, companies have simply made due with external cameras affixed to testers’ devices to record their experiences. However, there is one new option that gives business owners a way to test the usability of their mobile sites without any external devices getting in the way. TryMyUI is releasing a new mobile app that will allow businesses to test their UI across multiple platforms and devices. The app allows businesses to get a glimpse into the full user experience while utilizing just the tools available on mobile, and without disrupting the natural mobile experience. The app works by recording a screencap video from users’ devices. It also captures their concerns, complaints and insights about their experience in real time using the device’s microphone. The app can show where users tapped, selected items, and swiped the screen. Businesses can even choose to record video of the tester’s face by utilizing the devices’ front facing cameras. StubHub’s Mobile Director Parag Vaish told TryMyUI, regarding the new app: “This is the first mobile testing solution that really works within the parameters of the medium itself, instead of injecting a poorly-fitting foreign solution.” Along with working within the parameters of mobile technology, the TryMyUI app is also known for its versatility. The app can test both mobile sites and other apps across various operating systems and devices. To test apps on devices operating with iOS, TryMyUI is circumventing Apple’s proscription against apps collecting information on each other by making their own app’s software kit available to insert into your code, so your app can essentially test itself. TryMyUI Co-founder Ritvij Gautam said in a statement: “We wanted to provide an answer to testing challenges on all operating systems and for all mobile formats, and so the end product is an all-in-one, mix-and-match solution.” Mobile technology is relatively new and constantly evolving. But it’s a medium that businesses can no longer afford to ignore. So while more and more businesses are choosing to optimize their sites for mobile devices, creating a mobile experience that is truly user-friendly is one way to make your business stand out in an increasingly mobile world. Images: TryMyUI The post New TryMyUI Mobile App Launched for Mobile Usability Testing appeared first on Small Business Trends .

[via Small Business Trends]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

When most Americans think of Pilgrims, they think of Plymouth Rock, the founding of the colony that became America. They came in a search of religious freedom. But the word has an older and deeper meaning, illuminated beautifully here by Sister Rose Pacette, Director at Pauline Center for Media Studies. Continue reading →

[via Innovation Excellence]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

Junk removal isn’t a very glamorous industry. But when Jerry Flanagan was looking for a new entrepreneurial venture, it seemed like the right fit. It turns out that choosing a career in the junk removal industry was a great decision. It helped Flanagan’s business succeed through the recession. And now, JDog Junk Removal & Hauling has even expanded throughout six states through franchising. Read more about Flanagan’s junk removal business venture in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does: Sorts, recycles, discards, and transports unwanted junk items. People can hire the JDog team to remove unwanted items from just about anywhere. The company can remove items ranging from appliances and furniture to building materials and walls. The JDog team can remove unwanted material from residential and commercial locations, garages, storage units, and even demolition sites. Items that aren’t moved between locations are donated and recycled through organizations like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. Business Niche: Helping veterans find career opportunities. JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchises are owned exclusively by veterans and their families. Since Flanagan is a veteran himself, he considers it both important and beneficial for his business to support the veteran community. The company also works with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to support the rehabilitation of veterans through its Compensated Work Therapy program and donates to veteran charities. But the decision to offer franchising opportunities to veterans isn’t just a charitable effort. Flanagan says: “Veterans making the transition from military to civilian life face steep competition and are challenged to re-enter the workplace with a uniquely valuable skill set. JDog Junk Removal & Hauling allows veterans to join a new mission that capitalizes on their strengths in a work environment that matches their strong work ethic.” How the Business Got Started: After careful research and planning. When Flanagan completed his service in the U.S. Army, he attended college and technical school on the GI Bill. He then held several different management positions at retail companies. But he wanted to create a more stable career for himself. He explains: “I started JDog Junk Removal & Hauling to change careers from the retail industry to the service industry and avoid the risks I foresaw when the economy began its downturn. My goal was to create something recession proof that would allow me to apply the skills and discipline I acquired in the Army. Through my research, I discovered that the waste industry had both high demand and high margins, which I felt would lead to fast growth.” Biggest Risk: Starting a new business without any experience in the industry. Flanagan says: “I could have fallen flat on my face, though my market research told me the odds of that happening were low. Happily, that research proved to be correct and now JDog Junk Removal & Hauling is prospering, barreling forward with momentum as other veterans learn about the opportunity to start their own franchise.” Biggest Win: Partnering with Julip Run Capital. Flanagan says: “The group of investors and experienced management team believed in my vision so much to invest their money and their hearts to help build this National Military Veteran Brand. Thanks to the group, I can offer thousands of veterans small business ownership and career opportunities.” How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000: Spreading the word about the business and expanding opportunities for veterans. Song That Describes the Business: “My Way,” because this really is an opportunity to be the master of your fate. * * * * * Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program. Images: JDog Junk Removal The post Spotlight: JDog Junk Removal Spawns Franchises in Six States appeared first on Small Business Trends .

[via Small Business Trends]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

Innovation Choices

by Paul Joseph on November 26, 2014 · 0 comments

Most of us live in a consumer driven economy. That is, we have a number of alternatives or choices for any need. We can choose across different brands of gasoline, airlines, automobiles and many other offerings. We are familiar with, and comfortable with, alternatives and making choices. Except, it seems, when we are called on to innovate. Continue reading →

[via Innovation Excellence]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

I have two wonderful daughters. The oldest one is 7 years old, and in many ways, she is the most prolific, efficient and successful users of open innovation that I know, and I think that there is a lot that can be learned from how she does this. Continue reading →

[via Innovation Excellence]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }

If you’re putting all your focus on the holiday sales season, you’re neglecting a huge opportunity — the chance to boost your retail sales after the new year, which is typically a slower time of the year for many. Plenty of people will be heading into stores in January to exchange unwanted items, cash in gift cards or spend gifted money. With the right approach and some advance planning, you can continue to capture their attention, and their dollars, well into the new year. 6 Ways to Boost Your Retail Sales Into the New Year Lure Them Back With Limited-Time Offers Good Only in January Personally, I’m a sucker for “Kohl’s cash.” The national chain periodically rewards shoppers with $10 to spend for every $50 in purchases. The catch: Kohl’s cash can only be spent during a certain window of time. Since it feels like free money, I almost always end up checking out the store before my Kohl’s cash expires and spending a lot more than I received in “free money.” You can reward customers with store “cash,” gift cards or percentage/dollar-off deals. Whatever you choose, the key is to focus on getting your customers back into your store in January, a frequently slow sales month. Sell Gift Cards Gift cards were the number one most popular gift last year. So if your store sells them, you have built-in sales in January (and even later). Even if customers never redeem their cards, you’ve gotten paid for the face value. But if you can get them to come into your store in January, all the better, since they’ll usually spend more than the amount of the card. Follow Up With Holiday Shoppers Make sure you capture email addresses from people who shop at your store over the next four weeks. If you do that, you can then reach out again in January with an email marketing message. You can do a soft sell with a digital “Happy New Year” eCard and a gentle reminder to come in and take advantage of year-end clearance items, or sweeten the pot with a discount offer. Use Loss Leaders January is the perfect time to get rid of slow-moving items that didn’t sell well. Discount them to rock-bottom prices to get people into your store. And then entice those customers with well-merchandised displays for full-priced items. Try a Fun Promo Consumers are likely to feel a letdown as they head back to work and open their credit card statements that reflect high balances from all of their recent spending. Put them back in a good mood with fun contests, giveaways or challenges. Give away a free gift with purchases. Hold a drawing in the store for a prize such as a $100 gift card or a desirable product. Or have customers bring in the biggest “white elephant” gift they got this year to receive a $10 gift card in exchange. Look to the Future The new year is a time when people are ready for change. Try marketing that emphasizes how your business can help them usher in “the new.” Whether it’s by purchasing snazzy new workout wear from your boutique to motivate a fitness regimen, overhauling the home entertainment center with surround sound speakers from your electronics store, or redecorating the living room for spring, there are plenty of ways to get customers energized about new projects — and into your store to get those projects going. What ideas will you use to boost your retail sales in January? Retail Sale Photo via Shutterstock The post How to Boost Your Retail Sales Into the New Year appeared first on Small Business Trends .

[via Small Business Trends]

Follow us @innovationheat – lists / @blackbolenay

{ 0 comments }