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. But until Sony’s recent announcement on its new Xperia Z3 smartphones, the most you could expect from your phone is about a full day of limited use. That’s why Sony’s claim that the battery on the new Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact is attention-grabbing. The company had downplayed the battery life when initially unveiling the devices back in September. But recent reviews have focused on this feature. Sony says the battery on the smartphones will last for two full days. With a battery conserving that much power, the Xperia Z3 line could be ideal for small business owners who are always away from their office and not always near a place to recharge. According to Sony specifications, the 3,100 mAh battery on the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact gives users about 16 hours of talk time. A single charge lasts up to 920 hours on standby, alone. The powerful battery also gives users about 130 hours of music playback and about 10 hours of video playback. In an official release on the devices, Sony Mobile Communications President and CEO Kunimasa Suzuki says : “Consumers demand and deserve greatness from their smartphone – in design, camera and battery life. That’s precisely what we aim to deliver with Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact, at the same time as delivering leading innovations such as unique Sony camera experiences …” That battery life may be one of the main features setting Sony’s new phones from the debut Apple phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus, The Verge reports . The two  phones are otherwise comparable with the Xperia Z3 phablet from Sony actually measuring a bit smaller than the debutante Apple phablet. The Sony device has a 5.2-inch full HD display compared to iPhone 6 Plus’ 5.5-inch display. The smaller Xperia Z3 Compact (with its 4.6-inch display) spares nothing on the internal specs compared to the larger device. The only difference is that the phablet is stocked with 3GB of RAM memory while the Z3 Compact comes loaded with only 2GB of RAM. But the early reactions to the Apple devices have also focused on their disappointing battery life, so this may end up being a competitive advantage for the Sony phone. As for the rest of the new Xperia smartphones, each is waterproof and features a 20.7-megapixel rear-mounted camera. That camera features auto focus. There’s a 2.2-megapixel front-facing camera on the devices, too. Each device is also outfitted with a Snapdragon 2.5 GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor running Android 4.4 (KitKat). These devices aren’t currently available but should be released soon. The Z3 Compact is currently available in the UK and sells for about $689US. Image: Sony  The post New Xperia Smartphone Batteries Will Last For Days appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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The holy grail of project management: Saving both time and money while still turning out a great, high-quality project. It’s a goal every company wants to achieve, but many fail to do so for many reasons. Whether it’s lack of resources, lack of budget or lack of knowledge, all too often, companies allow projects to completely spiral out of control in scope, budget or one of many other ways projects often go off the rails. So just how common is the problem of out-of-control projects, and more importantly, what is the key to preventing it? How a Project Becomes an Albatross A few years ago, the European Services Strategy Unit did a study to determine how many projects went over budget and what it cost companies in the long run. Their findings were more extreme than predicted: Total value of contracts – $47.65 billion dollars. Cost overruns totaled $14.54 billion dollars. 57% of total contracts (105) experienced cost overruns. 33% of total contracts (105) suffered major delays. 30% of total contracts (105) were terminated. A similar study published by the Harvard Business Review–analyzing a total of 1,471 IT projects–found that the average overrun was 27%. While that alone is substantial, the study found that one in six projects overran their budget by an average of 200% and overran their schedules by nearly 70%. What was the cause of these problems? The HBR study found a number of factors were to blame. But many of them came down to poor planning and a lack of information. Some companies grossly underestimated the cost and time involved in a given project. Others bought into their own marketing hype, oversimplifying what was involved and overestimating their own abilities. Finding the Happy Medium It should go without saying that proper project planning is a must. But what exactly does that mean? While lofty goals may sound good in the proposal phase, they can be devastating over the life of the project. The larger and longer the project, the more room there is for overly lofty goals to be missed and the project overrun its budgetary and time constraints. But even with the best planning, unforeseen things occur. This could be anything from a client-requested change of scope to unforeseen changes in the marketplace that require adjustment. One of the best ways to cut down on overrun project costs and poor budgetary planning can be by simply tracking the time and expenses on a per-project basis for the employees involved. By doing so, project managers get a more accurate estimate of project scope and what is being spent in regards to time on the project and actual expenditures for the project. Tracking time can also reveal which employees may require a little nudge or more guidance to accurately finish the project with skill. More often than not, a project overruns its objectives earlier on than later. Unfortunately, many project managers blindly follow the course outlined and do very little analysis to make sure that intermediate goals are lining up with budgetary and scheduling goals. If you’ve accomplished 10% of the project’s goals, but have consumed 15% of the budget, there’s no reason to believe that trend is going to change without interceding and making adjustments. Without making adjustments, you could expect that at 20% of the work, the project will have consumed 30% of the budget and so on. At this rate, by the time the project is done, it will have cost 150% of the allocated budget. Some Guidelines to Consider With every project, it’s critical to have established milestones in place to evaluate the progress made and see how that progress lines up with the project’s parameters and goals. The earlier this is done, the sooner potential problems will be discovered and adjustments can be made to keep the project on target. Don’t forget to stay in regular communication with employees on the project in case they need a little clarification throughout the milestones, as well. Not only does this keep the project on track, but adds cohesion to the group efforts, as well. With good planning and diligent follow through, your company can avoid being an unfortunate statistic, and can achieve the goal of saving time and money while delivering a quality product or service. Meeting Photo via Shutterstock The post Is It Possible to Save Time and Money and Still Turn Out a Quality Product? appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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Where does value come from? What makes people willing to pay $50 for a t-shirt that’s just like the one that ten other people are wearing in the club? What makes people pay a premium for Apple products with features introduced by other companies months or years before? Continue reading →

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If you have kids, then you probably have huge stacks of artwork lying around your home. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a system for keeping and showing off that artwork without taking up all the space in your home? That’s why Carolyn Lanzetta started Plum Print . The company takes all of those finger paintings and stick figure drawings you have lying around or tacked to your refrigerator and turns them into custom coffee table books. According to Lanzetta, the average child brings home over 800 pieces of artwork by the end of elementary school. So a fair amount of parents are likely to have enough artwork to fill multiple books. Although the actual art might not be museum-bound, most parents value their kids’ artwork for sentimental value. They likely value it enough to want to keep at least some of it in some capacity. To use the service, users place a $40 deposit, then send in their kids’ artwork in a designated “Plum Parcel” they receive from the company. Plum Print then takes the artwork and designs a layout to best suit each piece. Users get to choose the size and a few other design elements like the cover layout. They also have final approval of the book layout before it’s printed and sent out. They can also choose to still keep the original artwork along with the book, which can be made in both hard copy and digital copy. In a Power Pitch segment on CNBC, Lanzetta said : “Plum Print is giving parents such an easy way to preserve these precious memories that over 90% of our surveyed customers plan on ordering again.” Founded in 2012, the company was bootstrapped from the beginning. It managed to turn a profit in just 10 months. The company is also working on some future expansion projects, such as the ability to offer online galleries of kids’ artwork. The idea behind this company seems pretty simple. Finding a way to keep and display this type of artwork is a pretty common issue for parents. So Lanzetta seems to have found a simple and effective way to do so. The company’s future could be bright, especially if it’s able to adapt to technology with new offerings like online galleries. Kids have been bringing home artwork they’re proud of for years and that seems to be a concept that isn’t going anywhere. The post Startup Plum Print Can Turn Your Kids’ Artwork Into a Book appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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The ways to innovate with pricing and monetisation are legion. Fresh approaches can differentiate you and attract new customers. Continue reading →

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Do you remember your first job? Think back on that day. What comes to mind? For me, it’s working at the Penn State computer lab where I was responsible for keeping the computers running and installing reams and reams of green bar printer paper. How about you? No matter what the job, Tim Lebrecht, the author of The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself , says that there is a lot more romance behind our work than we allow ourselves. (And he’s not talking about extra-marital affairs, either.) If we just took the time to get in touch with that more emotional side of work, he says, we just might find that we will become more engaged.  We will become happier and more successful, as well. Tom Lebrecht ( @timleberecht ) is the chief marketing officer of NBBJ, a global design and architecture firm. The firm helps organizations like Amazon, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Google, Samsung, Starbucks and others create meaningful experiences.  He was the CMO of product design and strategy firm Frog Design. I received a review copy of The Business Romantic recently and chose to review it because reading the book left me feeling sort of in-between slightly unsettled but inspired. Engagement = Happiness = Love = Profits Bringing love into the business realm isn’t a new idea. Countless business owners, probably you, have intuitively brought some element of “love” into your business and business relationships. Most business people scoffed at openly talking about love and romance inside the context of business. It was just too fluffy, too emotional … and there’s no room for that in the world of business. Then, when Tim Sanders wrote Love is the Killer App , everyone got on board the “love your customer” train.  Suddenly, it was permissible, even cool, to talk about love. And yet, when Gallup ran their most recent engagement survey, they found that only about 13 percent of global employees are fully engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs. Even worse, 24 percent are “actively disengaged” from their jobs. In other words, most people are just plain unhappy and “doing time” in their jobs. And it’s no wonder people are disengaged. A recent study showed that Americans are working about 8 weeks longer today than they were in 1969. That means two things. First, we’re spending more time working. Second, we’re spending less time living. Since we’re not expecting less work on the horizon, it’s high time we started enjoying ourselves in our work. Who Says Every Minute of Our Lives has to be BLISSFUL? As I read through The Business Romantic , I found myself both cheering and jeering at some of the content: Cheers! In Chapter 5, “Be a Stranger”, Lebrecht shares how he reframed a conference that he was not eager to attend from a “function” to a “magical encounter with fascinating strangers” and this completely changed the outcome of the event. The story of how Groupon’s CEO, Andrew Mason, left the company in 2013. I have to share this quote — it’s fantastic: “People of Groupon: After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just Kidding – I was fired today.” This little anecdote comes from the “Break Up” chapter and it’s a great illustration of the kind of straight talk that today’s audiences want and expect. Jeers! “Many of us feel like we are giving more and more for less and less in return.” (Page 5.) When I read this, I interpreted it to come from a place of complaining and “it shouldn’t be this way.” That just seemed self-defeating to me. “Against the backdrop of confusion, Millennials are looking for a greater sense of meaning and community through work. “ While I understand what the author is getting at, I’m a firm believer that if you want something – you need to create it. Don’t expect it to come to you. And this is where I think Lebrecht really comes through. It’s clear that he has a commitment to businesses and people to create a work and life experience that fulfills their deepest desires. The Business Romantic  Isn’t for Everyone You’ll have to read it to see for yourself … but to me, this isn’t so much a business book as it is a philosophical treatise on the new world of work. Lebrecht offers up examples and anecdotes to show the reader what’s possible when you open up your head and your heart to the possibility of experiencing some level of “romance” in your professional life. After all, what are your alternatives?  To go through your work as if it were a funeral dirge?  Or to dance your way through each day experiencing the level changes at work not as good or bad, but as bits and pieces of a deeply satisfying experience? The post Read “The Business Romantic” and Fall in Love With Work – Again appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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October is a busy time for events. This week, the premier small business convention of the Midwest, produced by the Council of Smaller Enterprises, is taking place in Ohio.  ICE Retailer, with awesome insights and pointers for online sellers, and produced by thought leader John Lawson and his company (Colder ICE Media), takes place in Atlanta.  Ascend Digital, produced by AWeber email communications, takes place this week in Philadelphia. If that’s not enough to get you excited — there are two combined events in New York not to miss. The Small Business Summit, now in its 9th year and produced by Ramon Ray and SmallBizTechnology, has an educational and inspiring lineup.  This takes place in Manhattan, at the gorgeous renovated CUNY Graduate Center, just one  block from the Empire State Building. And the Small Business Influencer Awards Gala is co-located with the Summit.  The Awards Gala takes place in the evening, where we will be recognizing the winners.  The Small Business Influencer Awards Gala is a co-production of SmallBizTechnology.com and Small Business Trends. This is a stellar networking event, and all are invited! More about these exciting events — and others for the month of October 2014 — appears below. Welcome to our latest curated list of events, contests and awards for small businesses, solo entrepreneurs and growing companies. 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 COSE Small Business Convention 2014 October 22, 2014, Sandusky, OH The 9th annual Small Business Convention is the premier event for small businesses in the Mid-West. Networking, education and continuing education credits are all provided. Produced by Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE). Hashtag: #smallbizcon Small Business Summit October 22, 2014, New York, NY The 9th Annual Small Business Summit Takes place in New York City at the CUNY Graduate Center. The Summit is an oasis where small business owners and entrepreneurs have a unique experience where they can learn and network.  The Small Business Summit is the only Summit of its kind – BY small businesses and FOR small businesses. Also stay for the Small Business Influencer Awards Gala, immediately following on the evening of October 22.  Be in the same room with key small business influencers. Co-founders Anita Campbell and Ramon Ray will be in attendance.  Hashtag: #SMBinfluencer ICE Retailer Conference October 23, 2014, Atlanta, GA Whether You are Selling Goods or Services – You Can Make More Money Selling on the Internet! Maybe you’ve been online for years. OR Maybe you just got started! Let’s face it! The best way to learn how to do something is to talk with people who are already doing it successfully! YOU need to get together with people who are making MILLIONS at doing what you want to do and let them give you their secrets of how they’re DOING IT! 10 Masterminds: Network live and connect directly with nine of the best minds in eCommerce, Internet Marketing, Promotions, SEO, Web Development, Conversion and eBusiness today. Whether you’ve been selling on the Internet forever or if you’re just getting started taking your bricks and mortar into cyberspace or you’re just about to launch your first ebusiness venture, you want to have the best people giving you the best and latest information out there to help you get the biggest bang for your buck! Hosted by John Lawson, Colder ICE Media. Hashtag: #ICERetailer Ascend Digital Marketing Summit by AWeber October 23, 2014, Philadelphia, PA ASCEND is a two-day marketing summit hosted by AWeber Communications. Speakers include Ann Handley, Marcus Sheridan and other online marketing experts. Topics include: email marketing and deliverability, advanced content marketing, conversion optimization, affiliate marketing, SEO, and social media marketing. AWeber customers will also have the opportunity to consult with AWeber experts and solutions team members to enhance their email marketing efforts. More Events Ignite Business Conference October 20, 2014, Las Vegas, NV Core Four Business Planning Course October 20, 2014, Moon Township, PA Signpost, OnDeck and Wix Host Small Business Networking Evening October 21, 2014, New York, NY QuickBooks Connect 2014 October 22, 2014, San Jose, CA ASCEND 2014 Digital Marketing Summit October 22, 2014, Philadelphia, PA Her Corner Speaker Series: Getting Press For Your Business October 22, 2014, Washington, United States Supplier Diversity at Amgen | SupplierEdge Webinar October 22, 2014, Online Digital Hollywood: Social Media Conference Los Angeles October 23, 2014, Marina del Rey, CA Startup Marketing Conference San Francisco October 23, 2014, San Francisco, United States Education Series Seminar: Improving your BAT-ing Average October 24, 2014, Pittsburgh, PA Shapeways Small Business Bootcamp October 24, 2014, New York City, NY 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 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 This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology . 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The end of the year is approaching. And with that comes an opportunity for you to set new goals for your business and maybe even work on some new skills. Luckily, members of our small business community have provided some valuable business tips on these topics and more. Read on for some of the best business and marketing related content in our weekly Small Business Trends community roundup. Market Your Writing Skills (Digitise This) If you’re a professional writer looking to make a living from your craft, then you need to know how to market yourself and your services. And technology has opened up a lot of possibilities in this field. This post from Elizabeth MJ includes some specific tips for writers about digital marketing. Set Goals for the Fourth Quarter (B2 Training and Development) The fourth quarter of 2014 is already here, meaning your business should be well on its way to achieving its financial goals for the year. But at this juncture, it’s still important to take a look at what you’ve accomplished and evaluate if you need to make any changes moving onto the remainder of the year. Butch Bella shares some of his top tips for setting goals and tracking progress for the all-important fourth quarter in this post. Stop Stifling Your Content Marketing Efforts (123Print) Great content marketing will make your customers forget that they’re even being marketed to. So in order to make your content truly effective, you need to avoid constantly trying to sell to people. Here, Rhonda Walinga shares why this is important, along with some other content marketing mistakes to avoid . Get the Most Out of Google Analytics (MarketingLand) If you have an online business, then you probably already use a service like Google Analytics to measure your traffic and other website trends. But there are a few features you could be missing out on. This post from Brian Massey provides a how-to guide for setting up your Google Analytics account so that you receive the most helpful data possible. Don’t Use Twitter’s Retweet Button (Adrian Jock’s Internet Marketing Tips) If you use Twitter for marketing purposes, then you’ve probably retweeted other users at some point and it is a good strategy. But using Twitter’s native retweet button may not be. In this post, Adrian Jock gives several reasons why using the retweet button isn’t as effective for marketers as manually retweeting content. And members of the BizSugar community discussed this topic further too. Achieve Focus With a Brand Positioning Statement (james.biz) When you think about brand positioning, you probably think of larger companies. But small businesses can benefit from brand positioning statements just as much, if not more. Here, James Bregenzer explains why brand positioning can be beneficial and what type of information your small business should consider. Hire the Right People for Your Company (PointBlank) If you want your business to be successful, then you need to hire the right people. Doing so depends upon your ability to know what characteristics are most important to look for in a resume and interview. But could it be that the characteristics you’re looking for aren’t the right ones at all? Some experts now think that companies should think less about experience and more about personality. Here, Alex Myers explains why this approach to hiring is effective and how different companies have implemented it. Use Your Blog as a Communication Tool (Kase Dean) The Internet has certainly helped out businesses in a lot of ways. But sometimes it can distract from one of the main functions of marketing – actually talking to customers. That’s why Kase Dean thinks that businesses should use their blogs as a way to really communicate with their customers. He explains why and how in this post. Consider Forum Marketing (Carol Amato) Online forums offer an experience similar to social media, but usually with more targeted audiences. For that reason, they can be great for small business marketing, but only if you use them correctly. In this post, Carol Amato shares some tips for integrating forum marketing into your overall strategy. And BizSugar members talked more about forum marketing as well. Design Your Business to Grow (Aepiphanni) As a small business, you’re likely so busy worrying about the present that you don’t have much time to think about the future. But when your business reaches its next big milestone, you’ll probably be wishing you had a better idea of what comes next. So Rick Meekins suggests a few methods for planning ahead. Help us make these community roundup posts even better. Submit your small business related content to the BizSugar community or send suggestions to sbtips@gmail.com . You could see your community news in an upcoming post. Laptop image via Shutterstock The post How to Market Your Writing, Set Quarterly Goals and More appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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There is actually a front end to the front end of innovation. Before you start ideating, you need a set of really novel strategic insights. These are like the raw material out of which exciting innovation breakthroughs are built. Continue reading →

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There are some restaurants and bars that choose to omit the prices from their menus to avoid intimidating their customers. In a bold move, one restaurant, Just Cookin in Dallas, NC, has removed prices from their menu for a completely different reason: To give their customers the ability to pay what they want. In a post announcing the new policy on her restaurant’s official Facebook page, owner Dana Parris, explained : “I am putting my “FAITH” where my CASH REGISTER is. I am letting go and letting GOD!! No prices….No totals…..You pay what you think your meal is worth!!! Just Cookin is a God filled business….Thank you for Blessing us with the opportunity to serve you!!!!” The strategy might not at first glance seem like a good way to increase revenue. However, Parris got the idea while praying about low profits during the summer months, she told ABC News. The community where she operates her business is a college town meaning less activity between semesters. The decision has caused some controversy.  On Facebook, a few visitors have complained about Parris mixing business and religion — a taboo subject with some business owners similar to mixing politics with business. Generally, however, the campaign has been overwhelmingly successful, and Just Cookin reports it has tripled its revenues as a result. Originally, the promotion was planned to last for one week. However after seeing it’s success, Parris has decided to extend it. Now she says she’s not sure when it will end. Reaction among customers has been positive as well, Parris insists. The new policy has given some an opportunity for a meal they perhaps couldn’t have afforded before. Meanwhile, other customers leave a bit more money to make up for the difference. Parris says her pricing strategy has led to a community of customers who routinely leave money for the table after them or pay for a neighboring table’s meal. Though just a local eatery specializing in hand patted burgers, hot dogs, salads, sandwiches, breakfast and brunch items, Just Cookin’s unique pay-what-you-will menu has really put it on the map. And, while a bit controversial at times, it seems to  have also generated the kind of social media buzz most businesses only dream about. Images: Just Cookin The post Just Cookin Leaves Prices Up to Customers — and God appeared first on Small Business Trends .

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