This rest of October and into November continues to be a busy time for small business events.  Join us Tuesday evening, October 28th at 8 pm Eastern for a Twitter chat about preparing your business for the Holiday season and preserving your sanity in the process. And don’t forget to check out the Samsung business television and digital signage makeover.  Lucky winners could get the impressive new Samsung television designed for commercial use, that includes the ability to create and display digital signs.  Awesome! To see a full list of events or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar . Featured Events, Contests and Awards Holiday Boot Camp Twitter Chat Online at Twitter.com – October 28, 2014 Join us on Twitter.com for fun discussion and to share your secret tips for getting your biz prepped for the Holiday season. Fab prizes for best tips! 8 to 9 pm Eastern time, October 28th.  To join in the discussion, mark your calendar for the day and time.  Then go to Twitter and search for the Hashtag # SMBHolidayPrep  to see what others are saying.  To join in to the discussion, simply use that hashtag in your tweets during the appointed hour. Hashtag: # SMBHolidayPrep Samsung ReDesign Smart Signage TV Makeover Online – through November 5, 2014 Nominate your business to win a SMART Signage TV makeover. The Smart Signage TV consists of a beautiful Samsung television designed especially for business usage, that comes with a software application that you can use to create electronic signs to display on the screen. Use it landscape or portrait mode to display beautiful, bright electronic signs. Over 200 signage templates are available. Complete the entry form addressing the following: “Help! I’m in need of a signage makeover” and in (100 words or less) indicate why your business needs a signage makeover.   Enter contest here . More Events How To Avoid Penalties for Fraud or Abuse In Your Health Care Practice October 28, 2014, Online BizBash Live October 28, 2014, New York, New York Integrating PowerPoint and Word October 28, 2014, Online Upcoming HIPAA Audits – How To Avoid And Be Prepared October 29, 2014, Online Supplier Opportunities with Hilton | SupplierEdge Webinar October 29, 2014, Online Building Your Financial Team October 29, 2014, Chicago, IL, United States The A to Z’s of HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules October 30, 2014, Raleigh, United States Live Q&A with SMB Technology Experts at Women Business Owners Conference October 30, 2014, Newport Beach, ca Advanced Course: HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules October 31, 2014, Raleigh, North Carolina 2014 Business Summit October 31, 2014, Sydney, Australia ClickZ Live Chicago 2014 November 03, 2014, Chicago, Illinois Writing A Business Plan November 03, 2014, New York, NY/USA Starting Your Business 101 November 03, 2014, New York, NY/USA Breakthrough Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Lab November 04, 2014, New York, United States 9th Annual SME Banking Forum November 05, 2014, Vienna, Austria Insurance Risk North America November 05, 2014, New York, United States Corporate Treasury and Cash Management Conference November 06, 2014, Dublin, Ireland Social Media Policy Development, Training, and Enforcement Guidelines for Healthcare Organizations November 06, 2014, Online This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology . The post Holiday Tips Twitter Chat; and Samsung TV and Digital Signage Contest appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Running an eCommerce business can be complicated. There are so many different tools and trends to keep up with in order to remain successful. But the experts in our small business community have a lot of helpful tips to offer ecommerce businesses, along with many other types of businesses. Read on for a full list of small business tips and resources in this week’s Small Business Trends community news and information roundup. Use Apple Pay for eCommerce Business (Marketing Land) Apple just launched Apple Pay, its mobile payment system for stores and businesses. But the system could mean changes for online businesses as well. In this post, Jordan Elkind explains what the system could mean for online marketers. Make Use of eCommerce Trends (B3Net) The eCommerce industry is constantly evolving. So when you run an eCommerce business, it’s important to keep up with the new trends and tools. Here, Sudeep Banerjee shares some of the eCommerce trends that can help your business in 2015 and beyond. See more discussion of eCommerce trends  at the BizSugar community. Use These Merchandising Strategies to Drive Online Retail Conversions (Bigcommerce Blog) If you run an eCommerce business, then you already know the importance of merchandising. Though merchandising can take many different forms, its purpose is mainly to drive conversions. This post from Angelica Valentine includes five merchandising strategies you can use to do just that. Get Organized Before 2015 (CorpNet) The new year will be here faster than you think. So that means now is the time to try and get organized before the full chaos of the holidays ensues. Here, Nellie Akalp offers some tips and suggestions for how to get your business organized before 2015. Avoid These Direct Mail Flubs (Small Business Marketing Tools) Direct mail can still be an effective marketing tactic, depending on your business and target audience. But there are some mistakes you can make with your direct mail efforts that can make them less effective. This post from Joy Gendusa includes three of the biggest direct mail mistakes that can be costly for your business. You can read further discussion of this topic in the BizSugar community. Use GIFs in Your Marketing Campaigns (Wax Marketing) GIFs are often viewed as fun little accents included in online posts. But animated GIFs can actually serve a marketing purpose as well. In this post , Bonnie Harris shares some tips for using animated GIFs in various types of marketing campaigns. Banish Writer’s Block (Scott’s Marketplace) From blogging to sending marketing emails, you likely have to write a lot of content for your business. So writer’s block can become an issue. Luckily, Matt Simpson shares four questions to help inspire timely content in this post. See more discussion on the topic in the BizSugar community. Don’t Scare Away Readers (Self Publishing Advisor) Self-published books have become a great option not just for professional writers, but also for any kind of entrepreneur. However, you’ll want to make sure your writing doesn’t scare away potential readers. This post from Jodee Thayer includes some of the common mistakes that self-published writers make and tells you how to avoid them. Narrow Down Your Franchise Options (Franchise Direct) There are so many different franchise opportunities out there. So if you’re looking for a new venture, it can be difficult to choose just one. But this post from Holly Brochard includes some tips you can use to narrow down your choices. Then check out further discussion on this topic in the BizSugar community. Get Your Team to Work Together (Corporate Coach Group) To run an effective business, you need to have a team that works well together. If you’re having issues in that area, Chris Farmer has some strategies you can use to improve your company’s teamwork. Here’s more discussion on the importance of teamwork in the BizSugar community. You can help us make these community roundups better by submitting your own content. Send tips to sbtips@gmail.com or post your content to the BizSugar community, if you’d like to see your post in an upcoming roundup. News Photo via Shutterstock The post From Our Community: eCommerce Trends, Operations Advice appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Procrastination has been an enemy to innovation for many years and getting over it can take some doing on your part. Although you try very hard not to procrastinate, yet you find yourself giving in to it and as a result, you lack the momentum to do the work of innovation. Continue reading →

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At an age when most kids may be thinking about the next new video game, Noah Cahoon, 13, was thinking of how to expand his father-son business, Paper Box Pilots . Recently, Cahoon was featured on the ABC pitch show, Shark Tank , where he was offered $35,000 for a full half of the business from Kevin O’Leary , a big name in the toy industry. And O’Leary was not the only shark to bite. Since childhood, Noah Cahoon and his entrepreneur father, Brian, have created decals for cardboard box planes as entertainment for Noah and then for his younger brother, Milo. They decided last year to start printing and selling the decals, offering Brian Cahoon the business venture he’d always craved, as well as the opportunity to teach his son about the business world. On the official Paper Box Pilots website, Noah Cahoon explains : “We thought it would be a good idea to bring the stickers back to life.  Not only did we print some for Milo but we decided it would be a good idea to get them professionally printed and offer them online so other kids could enjoy our airplanes. Dad has always wanted to start a business and now that I’m old enough we found something we could do together.” The venture has been a wonderful experience for both father and son, giving Brian Cahoon a chance to follow his entrepreneurial interests while his Noah Cahoon is provided with a wonderful business education. But according to Brian Cahoon, Noah is involved in every sale and design aspect of the company and, in many ways, is the company’s true leader.  On Shark Tank, the two asked for 25 percent equity in exchange for $35,000 and mentorship to help accelerate the compamy’s growth. In the end, three ‘sharks’ jumped at the opportunity. One, of course, was O’Leary, who has made deals with huge brands like Mattel Toy Company in the past. Another was investor Robert Herjavec , who proposed $50,000 for half of Cahoon’s company in response to O’Leary’s offer. Finally, investor Barbara Corcoran chimed in, offering $35,000 for a 35 percent stake. Thirteen year old Noah was left to make the decision on his own, acting as full CEO of the business while his father waited on the sidelines. After three offers were put on the table, Brain looked at his son and said: “You’re the CEO, and it’s ultimately your decision.” In the end, Cahoon chose experience over money, taking the $35,000 from O’Leary in exchange for his knowledge of the industry and stunning the other sharks. Cahoon explained that ultimately O’Leary’s connections and expertise had been the deciding factors. Not a bad decision for a 13-year-old CEO! Meanwhile, Cahoon has many plans in the pipeline for his company. Paper Box Pilots has already expanded into making stickers for cardboard box race cars and fire engines. And the company also has plans to launch a line of pre-made box toys soon. Images: Paper Box Pilots The post 13-Year-Old Entrepreneur Makes a Deal with a “Shark” appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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There are a couple of analogies that are worth consideration with regard to how to understand the effect that an innovation practitioner can have on workshop participants: the billiard ball and the boxcar. Continue reading →

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Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people were hooked on your products and services? That’s not only every marketer’s dream, it’s the dream of every business owner; to have a flood of new, loyal customers who can’t live without their product or service. You might think that creating addicting products and services is some kind of mystery, but it’s not. According to a brand new book that I just received to review, it’s something that you can actually engineer. The book I’m talking about is called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal ( @nireyal ) with Ryan Hoover ( @rrhoover ). I received my review copy of Hooked on Friday and by Monday morning, I had bout 20 pages dog-eared as reference points to come back to. Why I Was Still Reading During a Three-Hour Power Outage Yes. I was hooked on Hooked . I was still reading the book when BOOM – the power went out. I put the book down and before I knew it, I was scrounging for a flashlight to keep reading. What can I tell you, I’m a sucker for anything that shows me how I’m going to reach more customers, engage more customers and keep them coming back for more. You too? Then you’re going to want to read Hooked too. Here’s why: Purchase decisions are emotional and Hooked shows you how we turn behaviors into habits. The author, Nir Eyal takes you through the journey of understanding that habits are just behaviors that are triggered. He, along with co-author Ryan Hoover introduce what they call a “Hook Cycle”; which is the process by which behaviors (prompted by internal and external triggers) turn into actions, which yield rewards and ultimately drive investment (in time, money or additional behaviors). The trick is to understand your customer in such a way that you can reverse engineer your product or service to loop into this cycle. About the Authors Nir Eyal spent years in the video gaming and advertising industries (great training for addicting behaviors) where he learned the techniques he writes about in Hooked to motivate and influence users. He’s taught classes on applied consumer psychology at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and Fortune 500 companies. Ryan Hoover’s articles have appeared in TechCrunch, Forbes and Fast Company. After working on Hooked with Nir Eyal, he founded Product Hunt, a company that has been called “the place to discover the next big thing in tech.” Together, the authors weave applied research and examples of products and technologies into a simple process that will get your brain thinking in new directions about how to add a little addiction into the mix. How to Build a Habit Forming Product in 8 Chapters Hooked is extremely easy to read and will grab your attention because the authors don’t spend very much time on fluff – it’s pure action from start to finish: Chapter 1: You are introduced to the Hooked cycle and get an overview of the definition of each step in the cycle. Chapter 2: Triggers are a critical component to developing a habit. The authors go into deep explanation on internal triggers and external triggers and how to leverage each to remind your customer to use your product or service. Chapter 3: This is the action phase of the cycle. If your user doesn’t respond to triggers with action, the whole thing will fall flat. The main point in this chapter is that DOING must be easier than thinking. Chapter 4: Here, you will learn about variable reward. This is where you reward your users by solving a problem. Chapter 5: The investment phase of the cycle is where users invest their time, effort or money in order to get a reward in the future. This is the part of the cycle where more investment actually increases users desire to return in the future. Chapter 6: This is the applied portion of the book where the authors help guide you in implementing the principles in Hooked to your own products and services. Chapter 7: This is the case study chapter where you’ll learn about Bible App and how it became the one of the most downloaded and used apps on the market. Chapter 8: This is a summary chapter where you will find even more examples of the Hooked Cycle in action. Go Beyond Being Hooked on Technology You’ll enjoy the dozens of behind-the-scenes stories of how some of your favorite apps and technologies have become so addicting that we can’t imagine a day without checking in. But don’t stop there. At the end of each chapter of Hooked you’ll find two summary sections: Remember and Share, which is a true summary and Do This Now, which includes a short list of action steps that you can take to make your product or service habit forming. Yes, a lot of the examples in the book are technologies. But that’s because the authors come from a technical background. Don’t let that deter you. The action steps outlined at the end of each chapter are more than applicable to any kind of business or service. Hooked is a fantastic read for anyone looking to take an innovative look at their existing products and services, to engage their customers into a more intimate relationship with their products and to have a little fun in the process. The post Read “Hooked” and Learn to Build Habit-Forming Products and Services appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Crowdsourcing? The reality today reflects what the writers of the visionary and iconoclastic Cluetrain Manifesto envisioned fifteen years ago: the marketplace has become a worldwide conversation. Continue reading →

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This week, online deals service Groupon introduced a new feature called “Pages.” The new feature is similar to Yelp in that it gives businesses an online space where they can display information and allow visitors to leave feedback. And that wasn’t the only online update in the business world this week. Google also rolled out a new version of Google Penguin, which decreases search engine rankings for sites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. These updates could have a definite impact on small businesses. But they aren’t the only news stories that have made headlines in the business world this week. Here’s a full list of our top business and tech related posts in this week’s small business news and information roundup. Online Marketing Groupon Introduces “Pages” Similar To Yelp – Sort Of Groupon seems to be taking a page from the Yelp playbook introducing Groupon Pages . The new feature is another effort by the company to move away from its online coupon origins by providing more comprehensive services to small businesses. The Flightless Bird Sets Sail, Google Penguin 3.0 Update Launched It’s been nearly one year since Google has launched a Penguin update. So many saw this highly anticipated change coming. Officially announced Friday by Google on Search Engine Land, Penguin 3.0 is in full swing and has gotten us all talking. Penguin updates always aim to eliminate spam on the Web, so we should see some major changes soon. 16 Killer Places to Market Your App Besides Google Developers of the app “Disconnect Mobile” have made big news lately, and not in the usual way. Google banned the app — twice — from the Google Play app store. (Though at last glance, it seems to have been reinstated again.) Disconnect Mobile prevents anyone from tracking or putting malware on a user’s device. And that includes advertisers — hence Google’s displeasure . Finance Has the Recession Crushed SMB Owners’ Spirits for Good? Are small business owners giving up? According to a recent poll by Wells Fargo and Gallup, even though small business owners generally report being satisfied with their businesses, fewer of them feel successful than at any other time in the past 10 years. Sole Proprietors’ Use of the Home Office Tax Deduction is falling While a large fraction of U.S. businesses are home-based, few small business owners take advantage of the home office tax deduction , Internal Revenue Service (IRS) statistics show. Technology Citrix Acquires E-Signature Company RightSignature Citrix has acquired RightSignature, an e-signature company.  RightSignature is an online software platform for getting digital signatures on electronic documents such as contracts. The move makes sense for Citrix, because its ShareFile application consists of cloud file sharing and document storage. Social Media It May be a Crime to Post Your Ballot on Twitter (And Other Voting Laws) Did you know that in the State of Ohio, it is a felony to post a picture of your completed ballot on a social media site like Twitter or Facebook before you mail it in?  You may think of it as innocent sharing, but according to the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio laws that predate social media make it a crime . Business Gifts Have a Techie in Your Life? Hip Tablet Gift Ideas For 2014 Tablets are a trendy piece of technology and are only continuing to grow in popularity. This popularity also makes a tablet a highly desirable gift to give, but with a sea of options it’s not the easiest task to pick the right one. There are a number of things to consider when selecting a tablet ; price, power, and features to name a few. Food and Craft Gift Ideas for Your Business There is an ever growing community of crafters, makers, and foodies worldwide. And there is also an ever growing demand for the unique products they create. Chances are some of your partners, customers, clients and employees  are among these creative connoisseurs . Small Biz Spotlight Spotlight: Home Inspection Franchise Saves Couple From Bankruptcy Tom and Tracey Capuano went from being on the verge of filing for bankruptcy to thriving in a new business in just over a decade. In the late 90’s, Tom’s heating and air conditioning business was failing. The couple was struggling to keep their home and other assets. So they looked into starting a different type of business . Mobile Technology Nexus 9 Could Be an Android Rival for iPad Google and HTC are challenging Apple’s iconic iPad with a new Android tablet of their own. The 8.9-inch Nexus 9 will be available starting on Nov. 3. The display size makes the new device just slightly larger than the comparable iPad Air 2 and its predecessor the iPad. The new device is the latest in a growing line of Nexus tablets and smartphones, alike. The iPad Air 2 is Like a Tablet on a Diet, Thinnest Ever The new iPad Air 2 recently unveiled by Apple is really thin. How thin? So thin it’s 18 percent thinner than it predecessor, iPad Air, itself the successor to the original iPad mobile tablet. It is so thin Apple is actually touting it as the thinnest iPad in the world. Seriously, iPad Air 2 is like a tablet on a diet. The Oppo Phone Camera Can’t Miss, it Swivels 260 Degrees The new oppo N3 phone has a camera that can’t miss. That’s because it can swivel 260 degrees and Oppo is hoping its new N3 phablet is a real head turner. Actually, it’s more likely that the Oppo N3’s own head will turn while creating better photo opportunities for you. The company has released several images of its new plus-sized phablet. Nexus 6 Could Compete with iPhone 6 Plus, Other Phablets Motorola’s Nexus 6 code named Shamu has finally surfaced and seems likely competition to the iPhone 6 Plus and other popular phablets. The Nexus 6 features a full 6-inch quad-HD display. That’s a half-inch larger than the new iPhone 6 Plus. That screen size also matches the dimensions of the Nokia Lumia 1520 and outclasses the display of the Galaxy Note 4 at just 5.7-inches. New Motorola Droid Turbo Phone Has Pro Camera And Wireless Charging Forget Shamu-sized screens. The latest Motorola is said to have a camera that strays into pro territory. And if that’s not enough, the new Droid Turbo is believed to be built with wireless (Qi) charging. A recent tweet by famed tech leaker Evan Blass of @evleaks gives us our first look at the new device. Motorola is trying to make a splash in the hyper-competitive smartphone market. New Xperia Smartphone Batteries Will Last For Days The more we rely on smartphones for an increasing number of tasks, the more it taxes the battery on our devices. That’s why it’s always ideal to take a charger if you’ve got a busy day planned. To respond, many smartphone makers are touting the vitality of their new phones’ batteries . Keeping up with mobile image via Shutterstock The post Groupon Introduces Pages, Google Rolls Out Penguin Update appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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You know which holiday is coming up next, right? Halloween! But as soon as Halloween is over, the big Holiday-season-with-a-capital-H kicks into full gear.  And things are going to get crazy hectic pretty soon. But, take a deep breath, because even if you haven’t begun your Holiday preparations yet, there’s still plenty of time to do a lot of things. You’ll just want to get started soon, or kick it up a notch. So take time out, grab a cup of warm cider or hot chocolate, and join us for a Twitter chat on Tuesday evening. I’ll be joining the FedEx Office team for another Holiday Boot Camp session, October 28th, at 8pm EST (5 pm Pacific) on Twitter. The chat will take place on Twitter.com, using the hashtag: #SMBHolidayPrep. We will have practical tips.  And more importantly, we want to hear from YOU: What are YOU doing for the Holidays in your business? How do you manage to make the most of the season for YOUR business? Yet at the same time, how do YOU manage to chill out and enjoy the Holidays with family and friends — and show some appreciation for employees and clients? Are you getting the picture — that this is about YOU? Sneak Peek We’ll be giving away some really nice gift cards for FedEx Office locations.  They will go to those with the best answers to some of our questions. Start thinking up your best tips to share. We will also talk about organizing everything, getting it all done, and still having some time to enjoy the season. Feel that stress lifting? Glad to hear it! Finally, we’ll take a not-too-technical look at the services that can help you prepare for the holiday season. We’ll talk about how to use printed banners, signs and other materials to make a big impact with little cost. Twitter Chat Details Mark your calendar! Who: The FedEx Office team @FedExOffice and yours truly, Small Business Trends founder and CEO, Anita Campbell @SmallBizTrends. What: A one hour chat — the Holiday Bootcamp. A primer to get your small business ready for the Holiday Season! When: October 28, 2014 at 8pm EST (New York time zone) Where: On Twitter – just search on the hashtag #SMBHolidayPrep to follow the conversation.  And use the hashtag in your tweets to participate. Hope to see you there! Disclosure: FedEx Office compensated me to participate as a small business expert during the FedEx Office Tweet Chat program. FedEx Office also provides the gift cards. But the ideas in this article are mine and not ideas or advice from FedEx Office. Bue Bird Photo via Shutterstock and Small Business Trends The post Holiday Boot Camp – Share Your holiday Tips in a Twitter Chat appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Is your capacity for learning is fixed or fluid? Can you improve your intelligence and talents through hard work and practice, or are you stuck with the brains you’ve got? Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck says.. Continue reading →

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