If you’re looking to order pizza , the tech savvy Domino’s may now be your best option. Not only can you use the Domino’s app to customize and order your pizza, but you can now also pay for your pizza in more ways too. Starting today, pay for your Domino’s order using Google Wallet on the Domino’s Android app. Google Wallet is a free mobile payment system that lets you digitally store debit and loyalty cards on your phone. To use the service when ordering a Domino’s pizza, select “Buy with Google” at checkout and you’ll be good to go. For now the option is only available on Android devices . Domino’s is constantly searching for new ways to use improve its service using technology, according to President and CEO Patrick Doyle: “This is yet another way Domino’s is using technology to improve our customer experience…Google Wallet is a great technology that allows customers even more flexibility and convenience when it comes to paying for their Domino’s orders.” To promote its integration with Google Wallet, Domino’s is offering a free order of Domino’s new Specialty Chicken until June 15 to anyone who places an order of $10 or more using the Domino’s Android app and Google Wallet. Republished by permission. Original here . Image: Domino’s Pizza The post Domino’s Pizza Now Offers Google Wallet Payment on Android Devices appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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A   Constant Contact survey by the email marketing firm suggests multi-channel marketing – email, social, mobile, and Web – increases customer engagement. In the survey, Constant Contact asked 1,305 U.S. small businesses and non-profits about the ways they connect with and grow their audience. According to the survey, multi-channel marketing will bring in more new customers and more revenue. What’s more, Constant Contact says the vast majority of small business owners and other organizations are already aware of this. The survey says 82 percent of small businesses and non-profits use multi-channel marketing to promote themselves already. In a prepared release, Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact explained: “The survey demonstrates that small business owners are becoming more active marketers and are taking advantage of the array of online marketing tools available to them…We’re seeing small businesses run 3-4 marketing campaigns a month. Yet, it’s not only about marketing more; it’s also about marketing smarter.” The same survey found that the top two concerns of small businesses and non-profits were how to get more bang for their buck and which were the best marketing campaigns to run. Constant Contact hopes that these types of questions and more will be answered with the launch of a new product: The Constant Contact Toolkit . The company describes the new tool as an “all-in-one online marketing platform.” It says the Toolkit uses multi-channel marketing options – email, social, mobile, and Web – to drive customer campaigns of all types. The Toolkit offers 15 different campaign types, as well as real-time reporting on campaign metrics. These metrics can measure anything from opens to clicks to coupon claims. Constant Contact claims this will show you what worked, what didn’t and how to avoid making the same mistakes next time. The company says the Toolkit is even compatible with other third-party tools such as Google Analytics, and Salesforce. There are three different monthly packages to choose from, depending on your budget and your needs. The Basic Package costs $20 per month, the Essential Package is $45 a month, and the Ultimate Package comes in at $195 a month. The Basic Package includes eight campaign types (with the option to buy more, as and when required), along with contact management tools and reporting. The Essential Package increases that to 15 campaign types, a customized design template, contact management tools, and reporting. The Ultimate Package offers all these features plus a personal marketing coach, who Constant Contact says will help you build your marketing campaigns. Goodman explains: “Once again, we’re leveling the playing field for small businesses by bringing them a technology solution previously only available to larger enterprises. Toolkit acts like a customer engine, helping small organizations direct, drive, and accelerate the marketing activities that deliver the best results, so they spend less time on their marketing and focus more energy on their real passion – their business.” Images: Constant Contact The post Survey: Multi-Channel Marketing Leads to Customer Engagement appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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“Lifestyle entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing,” declares Clate Mask, the founder and CEO of Infusionsoft . The marketing automation software company he founded and heads up has achieved over 50% sales growth the past 2 years by serving the “lifestyle entrepreneur.” Mask’s remarks were made as Infusionsoft kicks off its annual customer event for 2014, called ICON14 . The event attracts 3,000 customers and partners, and this year they are attending from over 70 countries around the world. In Infusionsoft’s definition, lifestyle entrepreneurs are those with under 25 employees. These business owners are seeking freedom. And they aren’t looking so much for work-life balance, but in Mask’s words they seek “work-life harmony.” These are entrepreneurs who don’t aspire to grow their companies to the Fortune 500. They are not going out of their way to add a lot of employees or grow huge. Rather, they are building businesses that allow them more free time for personal and family purposes, while still bringing financial success. Mask says that some use the term “lifestyle entrepreneur” as a pejorative term, but “we focus on them. We want to serve them.” Infusionsoft has seen its growth result from understanding exactly the small business it intends to serve. Ninety-six percent of Infusionsoft customers have fewer than 25 employees. And he says that focus will remain. Infusionsoft doesn’t view its mission as serving smaller entities merely as an entry point to go upstream. “We’re not in this just to get a toehold into larger companies — we are committed to this under-25 employee market,” said Mask. He is quick to add that Infusionsoft will not abandon those that do grow larger, noting “we will grow with them.” Small Business is Misunderstood According to Mask (pictured above), one of the problems facing small businesses is that they are misunderstood. “The government says a small business has up to 500 employees. Some vendors also describe it that way, or they may have some other definition such as 100 employees.” But when your business has 5 employees it’s frustrating to hear from a vendor trying to sell you a product with a much larger business in mind, he adds. “That actually leads to some of the failure in small businesses, because they end up with tools and products they can’t use.” Not only is Infusionsoft ultra-specific about the size of the customers it serves, but it is just as specific about their ability to benefit from the product. Mask says they look for businesses that have reached $100,000 in annual revenues, and intentionally steer away most that have not reach that level, as they are not far enough along to be able to benefit from the product. “About 10% of our customers are in that very early stage [under $100,000] but they are committed” to getting past that level, he notes. Passionate About Championing Small Business But it’s not all about numbers. Mask is nothing if not passionate about the mission of serving small businesses. In fact, throughout the Infusionsoft headquarters in Chandler, Arizona the mission is pasted on the walls — literally — to remind each person of why they are there. “My passion comes from the compassion I have from the plight of the entrepreneur, because we’ve been there. It’s not because we think there’s a part of the market being underserved. It comes from US being underserved. We were there. We saw the sacrifices and the failure — and we are on a mission over a long period of time to change the small business failure rate,” says Mask. “We help customers create the kind of predictable success that enables them to grow without fear of everything caving in one day,” he adds. That passion flows throughout the organization, too.  Infusionsoft hires employees who share the company’s purpose, value and mission.  Half of our employees have a side business. The vast majority have run or worked in a small business. Infusionsoft has over 23,000 customers, 73,000 users and 500 employees. The company’s revenues grew from $39 million to $60 million from 2012 to 2013. The post Finding Success Empowering Lifestyle Entrepreneurs appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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You read sites like Entrepreneur, Inc. and VentureBeat religiously. Guys like Seth Godin, Sean Ellis and Andrew Chen are your idols. You’ve got a great idea and a burning desire to make it a reality. In short, you like to think of yourself as – an entrepreneur. However, just because you think your idea could change the world doesn’t mean that making it happen is easy, or even what you’d expect. I’m going to dispel some of the myths about being an entrepreneur and share some advice from my own experiences of bootstrapping my company. Myths About Being An Entrepreneur Starting Your Own Company Gives You Unlimited Freedom First, a show of hands – who’s ever fantasized about handing in a letter of resignation at a job that sucked the life out of them and telling their boss precisely where they can shove their TPS reports? The allure of turning your back on the 9-to-5 grind forever and becoming your own boss is a siren call that’s hard to resist for many would-be entrepreneurs. The notion of casting off the shackles of corporate drudgery and embarking on an exciting adventure to change the world is what appeals the most to many aspiring business owners. It’s true that in some cases, being your own boss is tremendously satisfying and incredibly rewarding. However, launching a business isn’t always so simple, especially when it comes to money. Unless you’re fortunate enough to secure angel investment funding from a benevolent benefactor who really “gets” your idea, or choose to rely exclusively on your own bootstrapping efforts, you may find yourself in a position where you’re forced to accept venture capital or other sources of financing to help get your fledgling business off the ground. When this happens, that unlimited freedom you’ve been dreaming about goes out the window. Investors expect results and by putting their money into your business, they effectively become your new bosses. The kind of bosses who don’t believe you when you call in sick and make you work late on Fridays – and weekends. Yes, you’ll still have control over some aspects of your company, but make no mistake, the bigger your venture becomes, the more people you’ll likely end up having to please. And we all know how that works, right? Good Ideas Become Successful (Insanely Profitable) Overnight These days, everyone from Silicon Valley to Wall Street is eyeing the next big thing. Sensational stories about apps developed in bedrooms being sold for millions (or even billions) are irresistible to the media. More than a few aspiring entrepreneurs fall into the trap of believing their business will become profitable very quickly. As with most things in life, the startups that sell for billions of dollars seemingly overnight are the exceptions, not the rule. Even if your goal is to open a small store, it’s tempting to believe that your product or service is going to make bank – fast. However, many small businesses and new startups take a long time to become profitable ventures, and you may have to make serious compromises to make your company a success. You might even come dangerously close to the brink of financial ruin before your venture starts to see real returns. It’s a cliché, but starting your own business is a marathon, not a sprint. Be prepared to buckle down for the long haul. If success comes overnight, more power to you. But don’t go into your venture with unrealistic expectations. Starting a Business Allows You to Focus on Your Passions If you’re passionate about something, launching a business centered on these interests may seem like a perfectly good idea. After all, for any venture to succeed, entrepreneurs have to eat, sleep and breathe their idea. However, just because you start your own company doesn’t mean you’ll get to spend all day doing what you love. Depending on the size and scope of your idea, you’ll likely have to spend more time actually running your business than doing the fun stuff. This could mean kissing prospective clients’ butts, managing the financial side of the business, dealing with subcontractors and any other number of mundane, yet essential, tasks. Your skills and the type of business you want to launch will also play a role in how much of your day is spent doing what you love versus the “housekeeping.” Launching a business doesn’t have to mean switching one soul-destroying job for another, but you probably won’t get to spend all day having fun. As it turns out, living the dream is a lot of work – what a drag. The Only Way is Up I previously wrote that making mistakes is awesome because of everything you can learn. I’ve also spoken about the importance of dusting yourself off after your venture tanks and getting on with it. While this is true, the notion that persistence can only lead to success – is bunk. Listen to any motivational speaker or life coach for a while and you’ll start to hear all sorts of empty rhetoric about “conquering your fears” and “visualizing success.” This is all well and good, but what they forget to tell you is that failing sucks. It isn’t just the financial risks that make failure so punishing, it’s also having to deal with inconvenient truths like maybe your idea was terrible, or the fact that you mismanaged your business. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to dissuade you from starting your own company – far from it. What I am trying to do is get you to realize that a failed business venture can have a crushing impact on your bank account, your sense of self-worth and your motivation to get up and do it all over again. Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There will be sleepless nights spent worrying about your dwindling customer base, the creeping dread about telling your staff you don’t have any money to pay them, and other seriously major bummers. You shouldn’t expect disaster, but you need to be ready for it. Do you have what it takes to handle this kind of failure? Not everyone does, and it takes a lot of guts to be this honest with yourself. You need confidence, drive and determination to make your business a success. You also need a healthy dose of realism and a back-up plan in case your revolutionary software tool becomes vaporware, or you realize that consumer demand for electronic back scratching devices isn’t as strong as you anticipated. Starting your own business is an amazing experience, and one that can change your life in untold ways. To paraphrase the life coaches, you should be ready to conquer your fears and dive right in. Just be honest with yourself and go into your new venture with open eyes about what life as an entrepreneur is really like. Daydreaming Photo via Shutterstock , Freedom Photo via Shutterstock , Money Photo via Shutterstock , Fishing Photo via Shutterstock , Ladder Photo via Shutterstock The post So You Think You Want to Be an Entrepreneur? appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Productivity generates profit. No argument. But it has two sides – it can be achieved through maximization by increasing output with constant resources (machines and people) or through minimization with constant output and decreasing machines and people. And the main pillars of both flavors are data, tools, and process. Continue reading →

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Sponsored Post Most of us are familiar with the usual suspects when it comes to generating leads online and we are pretty comfortable with using those platforms. However, there are a lot of other ways to create relationships, gain exposure, and increase interest so let’s explore some of those opportunities. 21 Overlooked Ways to Generate Leads Online Register on Help A Reporter Out as a Source You’ll get the chance to provide your expertise to reporters, bloggers, and radio show hosts who are looking for experts. This exposure works wonders in increasing your reach and opportunity. LinkedIn Saved Search While I’m hoping you have a complete profile and are in a couple groups, there is more to LinkedIn than many people realize. You can conduct an advanced people search to find prospects and then save that search. Once saved, LinkedIn continues to look for people who fit your parameters and sends you an email with a list. It’s an incredible lead generation tool that is tremendously underused. Provide Social Proof When you share case studies or reviews, as well as nominations and awards you’ve received, you create an understanding out in the world that you really are a valued resource and vendor. In effect you are backing up your marketing claims. Remarketing Speaking of marketing, remarketing a product or service is another great way to generate leads. Has it been awhile since you promoted or launched something? Create a new message, maybe even for a new target market, and get it out there. You can generate renewed interest this way. Influencer Marketing This is similar to social proof but is when trusted influencers toot your horn. There are those people who garner respect and trust. We look to those people to tell us who else has value – where should we invest our time and money? When these influencers are talking about you, your value increases dramatically and therefore your leads. Infographics One of the best ways to share information is through infographics. You can easily create them using platforms like Piktochart . Remember, sharing information is a great way to generate leads. People want to do business with experts. Online Events & Open Calls Have you ever used Google+ Hangouts or Skype to create an online discussion? There’s great power in setting up impromptu or planned, general information events. When they are designed to be drop-ins, people are more comfortable attending and are open to hearing what you have to say. You can build trust and prospective business by starting conversations with people. Social Listening Monitor what is being said about your business and brand. When you know what is being said, and who is saying it, you can target your messages. Data Gathering This goes along with social listening. You can create targeted ads and posts to see who responds and how they respond. That tells you where you should be saying what to whom. Podcasting Sharing information in a verbal format is a great way to draw prospects to yourself and show them who you are and what you know. You can set up an online radio show or create audio files and upload them to the social networks. Radio Guest Don’t want to do your own podcasting? No problem. Explore being a guest on other people’s shows. This gives you exposure to a whole new group of people as well as something to share within your spheres of influence. Guest Writer There are plenty of bloggers and newsletter providers who welcome expert content. Similar to being a radio show guest this gives you the chance to share your knowledge with a broader audience. Niche Social Platforms Explore platforms that are specifically targeted to your area of expertise and your audience. Sites like Untappd , a site for beer drinkers. You can get very niched and targeted this way. Engagement Don’t ever forget the value of your current clients and their experiences with you and your company. Ask them to post on your social sites and share you with their connections. Team Up With a complementary organization or company, that is. Together you can talk about issues that matter to your audiences. You gain exposure to their world and they gain exposure to yours. The added conversations work wonders for lead generation. Trendjacking/Newsjacking Take advantage of the things everyone is talking about. When you discover things that are hot topics – craft engagement, promotions, and conversations around those topics. Since they are what’s trending you will be found more easily. Connect to a Cause Do you have a favorite cause that you volunteer for or donate to? Talk about it. Put their logo with a link on your website. Let people know that a portion of your proceeds goes to that cause. Thank You Call to Action Do you have a newsletter or digital downloads that people subscribe to? Set up a thank you page with a call to action. A lot of people have the thank you page but that’s it. This is a great place to get prospects to get more involved with your company. Email/Social Combo If you send out a regular newsletter, you can connect it to your social networks. This expands your audience and gets your information in front of many more people. Publish on LinkedIn LinkedIn recently opened up the publishing section to the users. You can apply to publish your content on LinkedIn alongside gurus and thought leaders. The expansion of your reach is incredible and elevates you to a higher level of expert status. Promote Your Clients Do you have clients who offer products or services? A great way to increase your own lead generation is to provide those clients with exposure. Giving them an audience leads to more awareness of you and what you have to offer. Did you notice how many of these tactics have to do with sharing information? That’s because the best way to generate leads online is to provide consistent, relevant information to your audience. The question becomes, how can you do that, as well as increase your exposure, so that people reach out to you when they have a need? Or so that when you reach out to them they already know and trust you. Lead generation comes from actively participating and sharing current, relevant information. So, take a look at the list, pick a couple of tactics, and get going. Got another method that works well for you but seems to be one of the overlooked ways to generate leads online? Computer Photo via Shutterstock The post 21 Often-Overlooked Ways to Generate Leads Online appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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As a small business owner, you’re unique in many ways. You’re responsible for your bottom line, and many times on the front line for your employees. You feel the pressure of the personal struggles each employee faces every day. One struggle many employees face today are rising health care costs. Employees are tightening their belts by cutting coupons and ultimately eliminating purchases that don’t qualify as necessities to make room for the unexpected. For some of your cash-strapped employees, this may mean scaling back on voluntary insurance plans or second guessing their ability to afford health insurance coverage at all. Take a moment to consider that an estimated 15 million Americans emptied their savings accounts in 2013 to cover medical bills, while another 10 million didn’t have the money needed to pay for rent, food or utilities because of those bills . Furthermore, the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report found that nearly half (49 percent) of employees have less than $1,000 to pay for out-of-pocket expenses associated with an unexpected serious illness or accident, and 27 percent have less than $500. As an employer, you can provide information to help your employees navigate these challenges.  Offering this insight will not only show that you care about their well-being outside of the office, but also help relieve some of the same pressures you may be feeling yourself. Below are four simple tips you can offer workers that can’t afford voluntary insurance coverage. Find Money for Voluntary Health Insurance Encourage Employees to Set a Monthly Budget and Stick to it Running low on funds before payday arrives is not the ideal situation to be in. Employees can have a real forecast of their spending habits by keeping a record of regular expenses as well as incidentals, such as groceries and cosmetics. At the end of a month, the log can serve as a guide for next month’s budget. The next time payday arrives it hopefully can be a pleasant surprise with extra monies to save for a rainy day instead of a possible financial setback. Remind Your Workforce to Invest Time in Making Lunch, Not Just Buying it That’s right, brown bag lunches are making a comeback. According to a Visa survey  (PDF), the average employee eats out twice per week and spends an average of $10 each time, or $936 annually. Although you may have noticed that your workforce prefers to break up the day with a restaurant meal, cutting back on lunchtime excursions can be a huge cost saver. Changing dining-out habits just a little can save hundreds of dollars per year. Challenge Employees to Skip the Movie Theatre and Opt for a Home-Viewing Party Instead Staying at home doesn’t have to be boring. Employees can turn their typical Friday night into a movie extravaganza! Over the summer, Americans purchased 585 million movie tickets at an average of $7.84 each . With popcorn, candy and sodas for a family of four, the tab for a single film can easily top $50. Suggest your employees watch an old favorite or wait until films are available for home viewing. Not only will they save on ticket prices, but on treats, too. Share the Benefits of Scaling Back on Weekly Gourmet Coffee Runs Last October, a pound of coffee cost an average of $5.15, while the tab for a large or “venti” caffé latte at Starbucks was $3.95. That means Americans who make a daily run to Starbucks before work shell out $79 in just four weeks. Cutting back on the gourmet coffee habit to three times per week can save nearly $32 per month. Don’t Stop Here These are just four examples of money-saving options that can help offset rising health care costs and add extra funds to your employees’ piggy bank. Also, having a candid conversation with your employees can also reveal many more savings tips to build a nest egg that will benefit them. Money Photo via Shutterstock The post Help Your Employees Find Money for Voluntary Health Insurance appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Stephan Vincent takes us through 10 top reasons why innovation fails. You may recognize your company efforts on his list. Do not despair; you are not alone, and he will provide solutions in his upcoming posts. Continue reading →

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If you’re growing a business, hiring is essential. But the process can seem overwhelming. That’s especially the case if you’re just looking for contractors or freelance employees online. Online entrepreneur Evan Carmichael shares his process for finding the right help on sites like oDesk in this video tutorial: Carmichael explains: “The goal here is to get quality people who want to work with me and quickly weed through all of the crap – all of the people who aren’t paying attention, who don’t read your profile, who don’t put in even a little bit of hard work to prove themselves. Those people you don’t want. If they’re not going to jump in and do a little bit of work for you, then you’ve got to move on and find other people. And so this process helps make sure you get the right people in.” Here are a few steps Carmichael uses to find the most qualified candidates. Specify the Type of Job Depending on your specific needs, you might want a freelancer to handle just one specific task, or you might need someone on an ongoing basis. Carmichael says ongoing jobs tend to attract the best candidates. So be sure to be specific about the time period in your job description. Don’t Make it Easy When writing a job description, include everything in one big, ugly paragraph. This might seem strange, but Carmichael says it helps weed out the people who are not detail-oriented and it is very important for him to have detail oriented contractors. So this step helps him find people who don’t mind going through a job description that isn’t necessarily the easiest to read and picking out the important elements. Include a Question To ensure that applicants have actually read his job description, Carmichael includes a specific question in the middle of the paragraph. For example, he might ask applicants to tell him how many YouTube subscribers he has when submitting their applications. This step helps prove who pays the most attention and actually cares enough about the job to read the entire description. Develop Good Feedback You can’t find great candidates unless those great candidates actually want to work with you. Fortunately, oDesk and similar sites allow contractors and business owners to leave reviews for each other. So as early as possible, Carmichael suggests building relationships with contractors so you can gain positive feedback. For new users, this can’t be done right away. But there are still some steps you can take. For example, verifying your payment method on oDesk makes you look more reputable to potential contractors immediately. Use a Trial Job The final step in Carmichael’s process involves creating a trial job on oDesk. He invites the candidates who respond to his application correctly to do short tasks that he will pay them for regardless. He says that not all of the invited applicants even attempt the trial job and even fewer complete it. This further weeds out contractors who don’t have the follow through he needs. Of the ones who do complete the task, he is then able to judge candidates based on who took the shortest amount of time and did the best job. If two or three stand out, he says he may hire a few people and see who does the best job on an ongoing basis. Image: oDesk The post Tutorial: How to Find the Right Person on oDesk appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Bitcoin, virtual currency, has awesome potential. It’s used by people to buy and sell all over the world. It’s great, however, it’s fraught with problems. One of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges Mt. Gox, shut down , and U.S. regulators are still figuring out how to deal with Bitcoin. I could go on but my advice for small business owners is not to jump on every wagon that comes by, filled with new technology that’s not matured and that hasn’t been proven by the market – especially if you have a lot to lose. Brent Leary spoke about this on an episode of The 3TechGuys Show . Some of you might want to test accepting Bitcoin. That’s fine – if you are testing it with a small amount of money that you can afford to lose. We have seen, and we will continue to see, the coming and going of lots of new, upgraded and different technology. This is good (thank you iPhone, Netflix, search engines and Shark Tank). My caution to you is to not base your business on new technology. When things don’t work out – then you’re business is in jeopardy. Always start small and test: If you hear lots of customers talking about using the new technology – listen up. Watch what your competitors are, and are not, doing. See what main stream media has to say:  Small Business Trends , OPEN Forum, Big Ideas Blog , Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Atlanta Tribune and other publishers. Test the new technology with friends and long time, loyal customers – let them know it’s a test. Focus on loving your customers, creating a great website, investing in social media and building your business. Let other people test new technology – but keep your eyes open. Republished by permission. Original here . Bitcoin Photo via Shutterstock The post Why Bitcoin May Not Be For Small Businesses appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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