Hop onto Twitter with Small Business Trends founder and CEO Anita Campbell and Smart Hustle publisher Ramon Ray for the Microsoft “How to Grow a Dynamic Business” Chat. This event will be taking place Thursday, May 28 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. PDT (3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT). Microsoft representatives and members of the Microsoft community will also be available. So join in for useful information and get answers to your questions on how to save money in your business through cloud and other technologies. And don’t forget, you can still enter for a chance to win one of two Samsung Digital Signage TVs being given away by Small Business Trends. Each Tuesday, from now until July 6, we will be posting questions on Twitter. Just tweet your answer each week to gain entries, be sure to include the hashtag #SSTVGiveaway. The more you tweet the more chances you have to win! To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar . Featured Events, Contests and Awards Twitter Chat: #MSFTBizTips “Grow a Dynamic Business” May 28, 2015, Online, Twitter Join us for the Microsoft “How to Grow a Dynamic Business” Chat from 12 noon to 1 p.m. PST (3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT) Thursday, May 28, 2015 on Twitter. Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell (@SmallBizTrends) and Smart Hustle publisher Ramon Ray @RamonRay serve as moderators of the event. You can participate in the conversation by using the hashtag #MSFTBizTips in your tweets. Microsoft representatives and members of the Microsoft community will be on hand to answer questions about the best ways to save money in your business through the cloud. VERISIGN’s #InternetOfficial Contest June 23, 2015, Online Five monthly finalists, 15 finalists in three months, will each receive $5,000 and an opportunity for a grand prize of $30,000. To enter, register a new descriptive, memorable, original .COM domain name – and that’s it, you’re entered for a chance to win. Want a Samsung Digital Signage TV for Your Business? We’re Giving 2 Away! July 6, 2015, Twitter, Online Is your business’s signage outdated? Is it only capable of telling part of the story about what you have to offer customers? Or maybe a bright eye-catching sign would better convey the products and services you have to offer, and increase sales. If so, your chance to change all that is NOW. Small Business Trends is giving away not one but TWO brand new Samsung SMART Signage TVs. Two lucky winners will soon be transforming their business signage! Moz Con July 13, 2015, Seattle, Washington Not your average stuffy networking event, MozCon features three days of forward-thinking, actionable sessions in SEO, social media, community building, content marketing, brand development, CRO, the mobile landscape, analytics, and more. MozCon speakers share advanced advice on everything from building a loyal community to making data-driven decisions in your marketing. BlogHer July 16, 2015, New York, New York A conference celebrating women who blog. The mission is to create opportunities for women in social media to gain community, education, exposure and economic empowerment. The event will be co-hosted along with SheKnows Media in New York City at the New York Hilton. Adobe Max Oct. 3, 2015, Los Angeles, California MAX provides strictly unplugged, old-school inspiration with a mix of people from creative leaders, designers, broadcast and video pros, tech and business strategists, photographers, and more. This shared energy and passion sparks new ideas, drives new partnerships, and breaks new ground every year. MAX attracts inspirational and iconic speakers that share their personal stories. GRAMMY-award winning band Kings of Leon will be there and you can connect with 5,000 other creatives at daily social events. Dreamforce Oct. 13, 2015, San Francisco, California Whether you’re a company of five or a Fortune 500, you’ll learn a lot of innovative ways to improve your business at Dreamforce. With over 1,400 sessions and thousands of live solutions from the world’s largest cloud ecosystem, Dreamforce has tailored content specific to your business size and type, for any role in your company. Global Small Business Forum Oct. 23, 2015, Chicago, Illinois The Global Small Business Forum 2015 held in Chicago will help entrepreneurs and small business owners export successfully and network with their peers. It will answer such questions as: What’s the best way to ship goods? How will I get paid? Do I need a license? Should I sell direct or indirect? Does my business have what it takes to sell in China? World Business Forum New York 2015 Nov. 12, 2015, New York, New York In 2015, the World Business Forum will present two days of powerful stories; of individuals who face shocks – both personal and organizational – and who use those shocks to achieve the extraordinary. Speakers include Sir Richard Branson, Jim Collins, a former faculty member at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Walter Isaacson, once the 14th editor of TIME magazine in 1996 and named Chairman and CEO of CNN in 2001, Adam Grant, author of the New York Times bestseller Give and Take and Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Leadership and Learning and Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD. More Events Code Conference May 26, 2015, Rancho Palos, California YOUR OWN BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE – 2015 May 26, 2015, Oak Brook, Illinois SMX Sydney May 27, 2015, Sydney, Australia The Federal False Claims Act: Becoming a Whistleblower May 27, 2015, Online Ultimate Networking Live at Sullivans Steakhouse May 27, 2015, Wilmington, Delaware The Future of Digital Health May 27, 2015, Online Bridal Business Blender – Agoura Hills May 27, 2015, Agoura Hills, California BlogPaws National Pet Blogger Educational Conference May 28, 2015, Nashville, Tennessee Business Plan Critique Clinic May 28, 2015, Chicago, Illinois CWE’s Kauffman FastTrac “Listening to Your Business” Workshop May 28, 2015, Worcester, Massachusetts FL Business Boost Conference May 28, 2015, Coral Springs, Florida 18th Annual International Business Luncheon May 28, 2015, Sacramento, California Bridal Business Blender – Anaheim May 28, 2015, Online Personality 101: Recognizing and Responding to Personality Disorders in College Students May 29, 2015, Online SunDown RunDown New Albany Business Pitch Event Series – May May 29, 2015, New Albany, Ohio ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo May 2015 May 30, 2015, South San Francisco, California MM&C 2015 June 1, 2015, Washington, D.C. SMX Paris June 1, 2015, Paris, France PR News Digital PR Conference June 1, 2015, Miami Beach, Florida Founder Therapy @ The Living Room June 1, 2015, Online More Contests The Next Big SMB Marketing Makeover. June 1, 2015, Online Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Competition June 15, 2015, San Diego, California NASE Growth Grant Awards Dec. 10, 2015, Online This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology . Twitter events photo via Shutterstock This article, ” Check Out These Upcoming Opportunities on Twitter ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The way businesses market to their customers is constantly changing, from use of new tools like Twitter and Foursquare to the need to cope with shorter customer attention spans. So, businesses need to constantly update their tactics in order to stay relevant. This week, members of the small business community shared some tips for continuing to adapt to changes in your industry. Read the full list of tips in this week’s community news and information roundup below. Skyrocket Your Twitter Marketing (TechWyse) If you use Twitter as part of your online marketing strategy, you might not be doing all that you can to leverage the platform. Sherman Standberry shares a few steps in this post aimed at helping businesses make the most of their Twitter marketing strategies. Market to Customers’ Short Attention Spans (DIY Marketers) Consumers these days don’t spend a lot of time learning about different businesses and their offerings. If you can’t catch their attention in the first few seconds, they’re likely to just move on. Here, Ivana Taylor talks about how to get and keep customers’ attention in the short amount of time you have. BizSugar members then discuss the post further. Take Geo Local Marketing Seriously (SmallBizDaily) Twitter and Foursquare recently announced a partnership that could impact the way local businesses market to nearby customers. Though many have already dismissed platforms like Foursquare in terms of marketing value, it might be time for small businesses to take another look. Nicole Laurrari discusses the potential of geo local marketing . Write the Ultimate Blog Post (Blogging Wizard) There’s so much that goes into creating a great blog post, from catchy headlines to SEO, and of course great content. Your goal should be to make every single post you write as great as it can be. And this blogging cheat sheet from Elna Cain might be able to help. You can see more input on the post in the BizSugar community. Focus on Solving Problems with Business Apps (Buzinga) Wanting your app to make a lot of money won’t magically make it so. In fact, creating an app just to bring in some extra cash is unlikely to lead to success. As Jason Coutsodimitropoulos points out here, successful apps are those that actually solve a problem or provide a useful service for people. Make the Most of Your Social Media Schedule (Social Media Slant) Running a successful social media campaign doesn’t have to be time consuming. In this post, Cendrine Marrouat explains how you can effectively run your social media campaigns in just an hour a day. The BizSugar community also shares some thoughts on the post. Get Your Customer Service in Gear (Yodle Insights) Providing good customer service can make a huge difference in your company’s bottom line. Those who have been in business for a long time can provide some valuable tips for newer businesses looking to improve service. This post by Angelica Diamond provides some of those tips. Consider Including a “Start Here” Page on Your Site (The SITS Girls) When a new reader gets to your blog for the first time, there’s a possibility that they could be confused or overwhelmed enough to simply click away. But if you have a “start here” page specifically designed for new readers , you could at least partially eliminate that problem. Laura Gelnett discusses the power of these pages along with some things you might include on them. Target Your Ideal Buyer (Riverbed Marketing) If your marketing efforts aren’t specifically tailored to your ideal customers, they’re not reaching their full potential. In order to tailor your marketing, you need to first determine who your ideal buyers are and how to reach them. Todd Mumford shares some tips for doing so. Make the Most of Your Business Travel (The Marketing Eggspert Blog) Traveling for business is often necessary if not always convenient. But you can use that travel as an opportunity to grow your business, as April Lisonbee discusses here. You can read more input about business travel in the BizSugar community. You can help make future community roundups even more effective in the future. Send content suggestions to sbtips@gmail.com or just submit your posts to the BizSugar community. Market your business   photo via Shutterstock This article, ” 10 Ways to Market Your Business in a Changing World ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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About eight years ago, I had a profound professional awakening. In a moment of clarity, I realized that the world was changing far more rapidly than I had ever imagined. I recognized that the traditionally staid world of market research would be turned upside down by a series of cultural and technological currents that would permanently change the landscape and future of an industry. Continue reading →

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Imagine being able to make a living combining your greatest passions and a great business opportunity. Thanks to sites like welovefine , artists are able to create fan-made, original pieces based on well known franchises, like Star Wars and start their own licensed merchandise business. Founded in 2009, the online community allows artists to create and share officially licensed merchandise “for fans, by fans.” While big names like Star Wars are typically off limits when it comes to selling for profit, this third-party site takes a small cut in exchange for the ability to share ‘licensed’ products with other fans around the world. One example is the ‘ I Am Chewie ’ hoodie, an homage to the beloved character, Chewbacca from the Star Wars films. The hoodie is now on pre-order on the site. Visitors can buy it now for $60 and it will be shipped out on June 1, 2015. Like everything on the site, the product is made by fans with the idea that this obsessive approach will result in a high quality, well made item. You can even order matching leggings , an ‘ I Am Hann ‘ T-shirt, and a Boba Fett hooded tank top to finish your look. Of course, Star Wars is not the only available franchise to choose from. Welovefine is filled with a virtual galaxy of different products created for and by fans. These include Marvel superheroes, Web-comic sweethearts, and items from Star Trek and other fan . Fans and artists, alike, can find and share some of the most unique and creative pieces and even make a living doing so. Hoodies and T-shirts are not the only things you can find on the site. Hardcore fans can find cosplay (a portmanteau for “costume play”) items like headbands and stuffed creatures of all shapes and sizes. Vinyl art prints, backpacks, lanyards and jewelry are also available, offering everything a fan could possibly desire. The site also holds design contests , encouraging members within its community to create new custom pieces in exchange for features on the front page. With popular franchises like My Little Pony, God of War, and even Bill and Ted availble, welovefine certainly keeps its selection fresh and, presumably, its members pleased. Even non-artists can take part by voting for their favorite designs in contests, rating them, and helping their favorite artists to continue creating officially licensed merch, right from home. Users can follow artists, create wish lists, view contests that others are participating in, and even showcase their own designs. This opens the doors for some of the most talented artists and creators out there. No longer do they need to worry about lawsuits from big companies if they want to sell a shirt or bag with a licensed character.  They can create fan art that is legal. Creators can use these third-party sites to actually make money creating fan art and clothing based on some of the most popular and memorable franchises. Images: welovefine This article, ” “I am Chewie” Hoodie: Fan Art, Created Legally ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Innovation Engine is a podcast series that discusses innovation through the lenses of corporate leadership, company culture, and emerging trends and technologies. This episode features Doug WIlliams of InnovationExcellence.com Continue reading →

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Before he realized that what he actually wanted out of life was financial freedom and the perfect lifestyle, Eddie Yu ( @Eddie_Yu ) spent three years in the software industry. Not wanting to spend the rest of his life working for other people, he gave up his job and set about the task of finding something that he could do for himself, and which would give him both the financial freedom and lifestyle that he desired. Unsurprisingly, due to his previous background in the IT industry, after reading an article about online gambling and affiliate marketing, the author saw the possibilities that the Internet offered and set about the task of creating an online business of his own. “ 12 Startup Success Secrets — Mindset and Strategies Workbook for Building a Successful Online Business ” is aimed at anyone who aspires to, or is already attempting to achieve their own financial freedom by doing business online, whether it is through selling a product or by providing an online service. The book passes on the lessons learned by the author during the 13 years that he has been building his own online businesses and it comes in the form of 12 chapters which each conclude with a useful workshop exercise where the reader is able to personalize the ideas that the author has put forward. It’s All about Your Mindset When you read “12 Startup Success Secrets,” you will quickly discover the philosophy of the author and how he believes that mindset is the most important attribute to achieve success. Determined to be successful in his endeavor to enter the world of doing business via the Internet, the author tells of how he researched and read everything he could lay his hands on to teach himself the skills that he would need to achieve success. He talks about the importance of self-improvement by identifying the skills that you may be lacking and then investing in yourself through learning. Additionally, he points out that it needs to be something you are passionate about, otherwise you will generally fail. He further mentions how it is necessary to make yourself accountable for your own actions, and that a good way to do this is by telling people close to you what it is that you intend to achieve.  By doing so, you provide an added incentive to reach your goals as you will not want to be seen as a failure. I Don’t Know What To Sell! If after reading the first five chapters of “12 Startup Success Secrets,” you still believe that you have the passion, commitment and mindset it takes to become a successful online entrepreneur, you may wonder as I did what it is that you yourself may be able to sell online. Chapters 6 and 7 provide the answers to that question as Yu gives a masterclass in the methods and techniques to use to identify an opportunity or gap in the market. Furthermore, he explains how to determine your own niche and explains how vital it is to be able to offer something that is unique or better than that offered by your competitors. Whether your preference is to offer a service, sell products, or earn money through affiliate marketing or blogging, there are a host of great ideas and useful information to be gleaned. As the author correctly points out, “where there is a complaint, there is a problem. Where there are problems, there are opportunities to find solutions to these problems.” You Are Your Brand The advances in technology, and particularly the opportunity to do business via the Internet have made doing business quite a faceless experience. As the author points out, we no longer need to meet clients face to face, and he warns that many unsuccessful entrepreneurs make the mistake of being invisible. Yu describes all the communication methods that help to ensure that clients are able to put a face to a brand, and what a positive effect this will have on your business. He continues by stressing the importance of networking. Specifically, Yu explains the important to network with the right people — the leaders in your field, for example.  And he talks about the rewards this kind of networking can bring. Conclusion When given a review copy of “12 Startup Success Secrets,” I feared it would just be another rehash of how to be a successful entrepreneur. However, the book proved to be nothing of the kind. And if you want to learn how to do business online, what it takes, and the pitfalls to avoid, you could do a lot worse than reading “12 Startup Success Secrets.” This is an authoritative and comprehensive book written by someone who has been there and done it. Had I taken the opportunity to read such a book when owning and running my own businesses, I am sure I would have achieved far greater success. About the Author Eddie Yu is a lifestyle entrepreneur and the founder of private video logging plaform Mindlogr . He has created his own successful online businesses, and through his wealth of experience and success now additionally acts as a consultant and investor in many other business ventures. For more information about the author, check out his website EddieYu.co.uk . This article, ” The Mindset of a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, 12 Startup Success Secrets ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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What’s your favorite thing to read in your leisure time? Is it a suspenseful mystery story or thriller with endless twists and turns that never seems to end up where you’d expect? How about something on history or philosophy or the biography of a famous or historic figure? These stories make their points slowly like pealing back layers of an opinion. They are meant to be savored over time. They help you understand their subject by revealing things bit by bit. It’s much like meeting and getting to know someone. Well, guess what? While this kind of writing may be what you enjoy in your free time away from your business, it isn’t exactly a good template when creating content marketing for your customers. Why not? Simply put, it’s because your customer doesn’t care. That may sound harsh, but it’s a basic reality. And it’s one you’ll have to wrap your head around if you ever hope to be a successful content creator for your brand. You see, folks don’t come to Google or Bing to have a story slowly revealed to them over time. They come to solve a problem, to get a question answered or meet an immediate need. And they come to solve that problem, answer that question or meet that need as fast as possible. And the one who helps them accomplish their goal the quickest wins in the end. So what does all this mean for you and your content marketing? Well, basically it means that every headline, every sentence, every word of every piece of content you create should explain your value — and why a potential customer should spend time on you. And then, of course, you have to deliver on what you’ve promised. As Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger explains : That means when someone arrives on your website home page, blog, or article, they should know immediately what to expect. Everything — even your microcontent — should be simple, succinct and scannable.” So save that enigmatic writing for the Great American Novel you’re planning to write someday. For now, concentrate on telling visitors and customers exactly what they will get if they read your content. Your business will benefit as a result. Secret photo via Shutterstock This article, ” Content Marketing Secret: Tell Customers What to Expect ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Whether you’re looking to create online ads for your small business, manage your social media or look for a small business loan, there’s an online tool that can help. Some of those online services, including Hootsuite and Kabbage, announced changes to their offerings this week. Read about those changes and other headlines in the small business world in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup. Online Tools New Hootsuite Tool Creates Your Facebook Ads for You Hootsuite, the popular platform for scheduling and managing social media messaging, debuted a new online ad tool May 19 designed to maximize your Facebook presence. Hootsuite Ads , as it’s called, results from a partnership between San Francisco-based Hootsuite and Facebook. Sage Adds Kabbage to Small Business Service Recipe Online small business lender Kabbage is adding a savory new ingredient to its recipe by partnering with small business service provider Sage Payment Solutions. The result is a new third-party technology platform called Sage Small Business Loan powered by Kabbage. The new platform seems to be aimed at giving each company with something they need. ReTargeter Creator Aims to Replace CRM with New Immediately App Arjun Arora, creator of ReTargeter, which presents highly targeted ads to consumers, moved on quickly after selling his six-year-old startup this past March. And now a new app called Immediately is his new gig. The Immediately app is designed to integrate deeply with Gmail and Salesforce to help salespeople better manage their workflow. Employment What Employers Need to Know About the “Ban the Box” Movement A legal and social movement is coming at you like a freight train. The movement restricts employers from asking potential hires about criminal backgrounds early in the job application process. It’s been dubbed “ Ban the Box ” by some. Others, including President Obama, call it a “Fair Chance to Work.” Could Robots Be the Employees of the Future? Robots are learning how to accomplish more than simply moving from place to place or maybe vacuuming a floor. In fact, researchers at the University of Maryland recently used videos to teach a robot how to make salads. The robot, named Julia (after Julia Child), learned each step of the salad making process after watching YouTube videos of people completing those same steps. Green Business 20 Steps to a Renewable Energy Plan on a Budget Apple can do it. Why can’t you? The tech giant plans to build a $2 billion “solar powered” command center in Arizona. And the move is viewed as part of a larger trend. More companies are investing in renewable energy (energy derived from natural resources) to fuel their operations. But you don’t need to be a high  tech heavy weight to participate. Startup is Using Salt to Create an Alternative to Nuclear Energy Creating alternative energy sources is certainly an important task. But it’s not necessarily one that’s going to be popular with investors, given the experimental nature and length of time such a project is likely to take. Transatomic Power is one company that’s working to create cleaner sources of energy. Marketing Spotlight: Manage A Gazillion Marketing Platforms with Holonis When marketing a business online, there are so many different platforms you need to track. There are social platforms, online review sites, blogs, search engines, and so many others. Constantly checking and updating all those different platforms can be time-consuming and distracting from other important tasks. Retail Trends On October 1st, Card Fraud Liability is Changing. Is Your Small Business Ready? Beginning October 1, 2015, small business owners will be liable for any card-present fraud that occurs when a customer uses a credit card with an EMV chip if the business doesn’t have a chip-enabled card reader. To protect themselves, small business owners should install chip-enabled card readers . Small Business Operations Fraudulent DMCA Takedown Requests: Finally, a Lid on Them? Critics have charged that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been used as a tool of abuse.  Fraudulent claims of copyright infringement have been a major problem with the DMCA Act, according to some. However, a recent California district court ruling is a step in the right direction to finally put a lid on fraudulent DMCA takedown requests . Taxes How Will the EU’s New Value Added Tax (VAT) Rules Impact US-Based Businesses? U.S.-based small businesses that sell certain digital products within European Union countries need to account for new value-added tax (VAT) regulations. The new VAT rules went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, and apply to companies selling digital products within any EU member country. Technology Trends How The Face of Tipping is Changing Due to Technology — Are You Prepared? Today’s newer payment apps and platforms can be pre-programmed for certain tipping amounts and seem to be resulting in higher tips for wait staff, cab drivers, and others. For some entrepreneurs, this is good news. Even restaurateurs can benefit from their wait staff getting higher tips . Big tips tend to lead to happier employees, which generally fuels better customer service. Juice Your Apple Devices with this Fun Juice Box Charger What’s the best way to give your iPhone some battery life? With the 100 percent Energy Apple Juice Power Pack, of course. This compact backup battery pack is a charming and playful way to charge your USB-powered devices. Created by and sold on Photojojo!, it is designed to look like an apple juice box, making it the perfect accessory for your Apple gadgets . Bruno is One Smart Trash Can — Plus a Vacuum Your home is getting smarter. Internet and app-connected gadgets are popping up in every area or your life from everyday activities like unlocking your door to your fashion. With all the new “smart” gadgets coming out on the market, someone was bound to make a smart trash can . Well, two inventors have, and they call their creation the Bruno Smartcan. Introducing the ASUS ZenFone 2, No Contract Required The ASUS ZenFone 2 officially goes on sale in the U.S. today May 19. This new Android device could be of benefit to a lot of small business owners who need to stay mobile but only have a mid-range smartphone budget. And because it’s sold unlocked, it’s an ideal device for anyone who wants the freedom to switch mobile carriers but keep their phone, owning it outright. LG Launching G4 Flagship Phone and One for Doodling LG’s leather-clad flagship smartphone, the G4, will begin rolling out to key markets this week. On the heels of this announcement, LG has also revealed two additional members of the G4 family , the G4 Stylus and the G4c. Both are scheduled to launch in the weeks to come. These two new additions will unfortunately not be sporting the G4’s signature leather back. Image: Hootsuite This article, ” Hootsuite, Kabbage Announce New Offerings, More Weekly Headlines ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Many kids at some point or another open a lemonade stand. A lot of those early business efforts turn out to be one-day wonders due to low foot traffic, running out of supplies or just loss of interest. But some entrepreneurial kids have been able to turn their lemonade stands into regular sources of income. Mikaila Ulmer was one of those kidpreneurs. But the 10-year-old has actually taken her lemonade venture, BeeSweet , a step further, securing a $60,000 investment from FUBU CEO Daymond John on ABC’s Shark Tank. John said in a statement, which was reported by Inc: “Partnering with Mikaila made perfect sense. She’s a great kid with a head for business and branding. She’s got a great idea and I’m happy to help take BeeSweet to the next level.” But BeeSweet isn’t your typical lemonade business. Ulmer uses a combination of social entrepreneurship and a unique product to set her business apart. The lemonade itself is different because Ulmer uses a special flaxseed lemonade recipe that her Great Granny Helen sent her from a 1940s cookbook. She also forgoes regular sugar in favor of honey made from local bees — and the bees are what tie the company to its social cause. Before launching BeeSweet, Ulmer had a major fear of bees after being stung twice in one week. But as she learned more about bees and the current decline in bee populations around the world, she was able to transform that fear into action. BeeSweet donates a percentage of each lemonade sale to local and international organizations fighting to save bee populations. Though it certainly started out on a small scale, those methods are some of the same ones used by much larger businesses trying to set their products and brands apart from the competition. Ulmer has been so successful with those techniques that BeeSweet is now sold online as well as in Whole Foods stores and similar retailers in multiple states. Image: Video still This article, ” 10-Year-Old Entrepreneur Secures $60,000 Investment for Sweet Startup ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Did you know that if you don’t make an effort to protect your brand name (which may or may not be your business name), you could lose your rights to trademark it or to enforce it once it’s been trademarked? That means you might not be able to prevent others in the future from profiting from your brand or confusing consumers about your brand. The first step to protect your brand is to federally trademark it, so you can legally enforce your rights to it. Another critical step is developing and implementing a domain name strategy. What is a Domain Name Strategy? The purpose of a domain name strategy is to proactively protect your brand online by reducing the chance for others to use your brand name in their online activities, specifically, in their website URLs. For example, Nike owns Nike.com. Imagine if another company began selling sportswear at Nikes.com or Nike.biz. There could certainly be confusion among visitors to those sites. Visitors might wonder if those sites are owned by Nike or not. Only a savvy shopper who takes the time to do some research would know for certain. Of course, Nike would want those confusing sites taken down, and since Nike is a trademarked name, the Nike Company can enforce its trademark rights and require that the confusing sites be removed from the Web. Small businesses can do the same thing. First, trademark your brand name . Second, implement your domain name strategy. Third, monitor your brand online (and offline), and fourth, enforce your rights to it under U.S. trademark laws. A domain name strategy can be very complex. Large companies with household brands like Nike might own hundreds of domain names, but for a small business that doesn’t have the budget to register every imaginable variation of its brand name, it’s important to ensure the basic steps are taken at the very least. How to Develop a Domain Name Strategy Following are five essential first steps you should take to protect your brand with a small business domain name strategy: 1. Common Extensions If you do nothing else, be sure to register domains that include your brand name with the most common extensions including, .com, .net, .org, .us., .info, and .biz. 2. Common Misspellings and Obvious Variations Register domain names that include your brand name with obvious mistakes or variations using the most common extensions referenced in no. 1 above. For example, if your jewelry brand is Snowcone, register snowcone.com and snocone.com as well as snocone.net, snocone.biz, and so on. 3. Phonetic Equivalents It’s also important to register domain names that are phonetically equivalent to your brand name. For example, a company with the brand name WearsLikeNew would register WearsLikeNew.com and WaresLikeNew.com using the common extensions. This is particularly important for brands that include numbers. A brand like 4TheWin.com should also be registered as ForTheWin.com and FourTheWin.com using the common extensions. 4. Plural and Singular Variations If your brand name is singular, register the plural version as a domain name, too. If your brand name is plural, secure the singular domain name as well. For example, InnovationToProfits.com is also registered as InnovationsToProfit.com. These variations should be secured for each common extension. 5. Hyphenated Variations The final step in the most basic domain name strategy is registering hyphenated versions of your brand name. For example, CircleLegal.com should also be registered as Circle-Legal.com. As with the four steps above, do this for each common extension. Protect Your Brand and Business With the introduction of hundreds of new top level domain extensions this year, including the controversial .sucks domain , and anticipating the introduction of hundreds more in the near future, it’s critical that you develop and implement a domain name strategy to protect your brand and business. You might not think anyone will ever launch a website using a domain name that is similar to your brand name. You might not think that site will sell products or services similar to yours, and you might not think that consumers will become confused about which site is actually yours. However, it happens to small businesses just like yours every day. I have the client list to prove it. Don’t put your business and brand at risk. Instead, take the necessary steps to proactively protect your brand today. Trust me, you’ll save a lot of money and time by doing it the right way today rather than trying to clean up a mess later. Domain Image via Shutterstock This article, ” 5 Essential Basics of a Small Business Domain Name Strategy ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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