It’s Not Too Early To Plan For The Holidays

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Holiday spending expectations are up again this year.  According to Deloitte forecast,  holiday sales could reach $986 billion which is an increase of nearly 5% over 2014.

Raham Rapier of Inc.com, writes in Deck the Halls Now: Why You Ought to Prepare for the Holidays Even Earlier, the importance of planning ahead this year.  Rapier notes that David Gilbert, CEO and co-founder of San Diego-based National Funding, says “It’s all about planning” and “Knowing your needs up front can avoid a lot of headaches.”

In addition to increasing  advertising and hiring seasonal workers, Rapier outlines three tips for preparing for a special holiday season:

  1. Plan well in advance - Typically most businesses look for funding in October, but this year September has had the most activity according to Gilbert.  “…which is a sign of a bigger lead up to the holidays this year.”
  2. Consider short-term loans – Many businesses will want to make sure that they have sufficient inventory, to accomplish this a alternative lender may be a good idea.  Since interest rates are typically higher, be sure to pay these off quickly.
  3. Lease equipment just for the season

Please read the entire article at http://www.inc.com/graham-rapier/preparing-for-holiday.html

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What Customers Really Want

Most business owners believe that their customers want “quality products, best value and great customer service.” according to Geoffrey James with Inc.   James writes in Customers Have 7 Hidden Desires,  that although they do want quality, value and customer service, the following things are truly what they want.

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  1. Customers want to feel important – they want to know that they matter to you
  2. Customers want to be appreciated – they want to feel that you truly want to sell to them and that you will put the customer first.
  3. Customers want to talk about themselves – Focus on the customer, not the business owner
  4. Customers want success and happiness – they want to feel like you are helping them meet their own goals

To read the entire article and the other customer desires go to http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/customers-have-7-hidden-desires.html

 

 

 

 

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Keep your Keys Safe and Help Avoid Thieves

Think your home and all your valuables are safe while you’re away?  Maybe not.

Elwood W. McKay III Freedigitalphotos.net

Elwood W. McKay III
Freedigitalphotos.net

Jeff Rossen and Charlie McLravy of Today write in New technology could give thieves key to your door, literally.  They describe a new website called keysduplicated.com.  At this site, a clear photo of any house key, taken with your smartphone, can be uploaded  to the site.  Then a duplicate key for your home can be made.  The software at the site analyzes the grooves of the key from the photo. Then a machine drills out the key’s teeth, perfectly matching the key in the picture.  They will mail the key to you for only $6.00.

“Police recommend you treat your keys like you would your driver’s license or a credit card: Don’t leave them lying around or let anyone you don’t trust handle them.”

To read the entire article, go to http://www.today.com/news/new-technology-could-give-thieves-key-your-door-literally-2D80161986?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=t.co

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Social Media and Your Business

Everyone seems to agree that Social Media is a good thing.  But how important is it really?Peter Rosler, Inc. recently wrote 5 Benefits of Social Media Business Owners Need to Understand.  He identified Social Media Marketing’s benefits that can impact your business and affect your bottom line.

By: Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By: Stuart Miles
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

These benefits include:

  • Increase brand awareness - Your brand can easily be introduced to people. Social networks are used by more than two-thirds of the country, and  content can spread virally to others.
    • Relevanza reported that 78 percent of small businesses attract new customers through social media
    •  Adroit Digital states 75 percent of online Americans said product information found on social media influences their shopping behavior and enhances brand loyalty

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Startup Mistakes to Avoid

The number of new startups are growing every year, however the survival of these new business’ over 5 years is unfortunately far less than desirable.  Marla Tabaka of Inc., an entrepreneur coach for 12 years,  describes some mistakes startups need to watch out for in 7 Devastating Startup Mistakes to Avoid.

Included in these are:

  1. Taking it personally – When you put so much of yourself into your business sometimes it’s difficult to separate your business from yourself.  This makes it more difficult to accept criticism, rejection, or mistakes.  When this division is understood, better business decisions will result.
  2. Underestimating expenses and ignoring numbers – Business’ cost money!  When setting the budget for your startup, at least double what you think you’ll need before launching.
  3. Not understanding the role of an entrepreneur - As a new startup, you may need to handle many responsibilities within your company.  However, eventually you will need to focus on being the CEO with a clear vision which includes polices, culture and growth opportunities.

Please read all of the mistakes to avoid at  http://www.inc.com/marla-tabaka/7-devastating-startup-mistakes-to-avoid.html?cid=sf01001

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Password Changes Needed after Russian Crime Ring Theft

The New York Times reported that a Russian crime ring has stolen 4.5 billion Internet credentials. These include 1.2 billion username and password combinations and more than 500 million email addresses.  To make this all more complex, people tend to use the same password on multiple sites,  magnifying the threat.

It is critical that people protect their information by changing their passwords on sites that have key information such as email accounts, bank and credit card accounts and other sensitive sites.  Unfortunately many do not change passwords frequently enough, even after a breach such as this and the recent HeartBleed bug.

Mike Snider of USA Today recently wrote Massive security breach: Time to change your password practices. He recommends the following tips for setting new passwords:

  1. Mix it up - Create passwords that are 10 characters or longer and include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, symbols and numbers, says Adam Tyler, chief innovation officer for identity protection firmCSID.
  2. Be more creative – Use a unique password for each account, and vary the e-mail addresses you use for accounts.
  3. Split social media and money – Do not use the same password for credit cards and bank accounts that you use for social media or websites.

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Delegate, Delegate, Delegate and Grow Your Business

Many small business owners think the secret to growing a small business is to work long hard hours day after day.  Actually, the best way to growing your business is the reverse. Delegating work to others in the business is key.  Trying to handle every detail of your business; emails, phone calls, sales, and service will not only personally take its toll on you, but your business will suffer as well.

According to Rieva Lesonsky, who recently wrote Why You Must Learn to Delegate — And How To Do It for Funding Gate:

delegation not only helps your business grow by allowing you to handle more duties, it also makes your employees happier and more loyal by making them feel trusted and empowered.”

 Lesonsky also outlines four steps to successful delegation:

  1. Change your mind-set – Even though you may feel like you can handle everything about  your business way better than anyone else, you need to let go of some of the day-to-day time-consuming activities.  By letting go of such things as replying to every email, and making every sales presentation, you free yourself up to focus on bigger issues such as cash flow, payroll, and potential growth.
  2. Identify activities you can delegate – Some tasks that do not require your level of expertise can easily be handed off, like updating records or filing documents.  Also determine the tasks that you enjoy doing and the ones that you don’t.  Likely some of the ones that you don’t prefer can be delegated.
  3. Identify who can help - 

To read the entire article, go to: http://blog.fundinggates.com/2014/07/must-learn-delegate/#sthash.2qvTPEfc.dpuf

 

 

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Six PR Tips For Startups

Startups are all looking to establish their brand, get press coverage and gain recognition. However, this can be a difficult task, especially in the early days of a business. Shana Star, of  Entrepreneur wrote The 6 PR Tips Every Startup Should Employ, which outlines some strategies that can be used to establish yourself as a startup.

  1. Be ready – Make sure your product is completely ready.  This will avoid negative press or bad reviews.
  2. Establish your identity – Identify and know your values, company culture, what makes you different from the competition, and what is unique to your startup.  Make sure you know what story you want to tell.
  3. Share your story – Create a narrative, based on your identity, about who you are and how you got started.  Also, always used your company name in your narrative.
  4. Make sure there is CEO visibility – Your CEO has an important role in shaping your company’s image, brand and culture. He or she needs to be accessible and visible to the public.  This will show credibility and leadership in your industry.

To read the entire article go to http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/235339

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CNBC Names GEORGIA Top State for Business, 2014

According to CNBC, The South rises again!

Georgia has been named 2014 America’s Top States for Business.

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Scott Cohn of CNBC reports that Georgia scored 1,659 points out of a possible 2,500.  Since CNBC began rating states for competitiveness in 2007, Georgia has always placed in the top 10.

“Each year, our Top States study rates all 50 states on more than 50 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness.” Some of this year’s categories and point totals are:

  • Cost of Doing Business (450 points)
  • Economy (375 points)
  • Infrastructure (350 points)
  • Workforce (300 points)
  • Quality of Life (300 points)
  • Technology & Innovation (300 points)

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To All The Fathers

As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, we are reminded of how a good father can make such an impact in a child’s life.  His job is endless and, often, thankless.  He sacrifices much and gives with his heart.  He represents so many things to his children.  Among them strength, support and discipline.

Julian Marcus of About Men describes in 12 Traits Of A Great Father some characteristics of a good dad.

  • He spends quality time with his children
  • He leads by example
  • He’s supportive & loyal
  • He allows his kids to make some mistakes

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