Small and Medium Businesses Now

Information, Trends, News and Events on SMBs

8 Easy Ways that Help You Advertise Directly

Ad managerAs the owner of a website, your ultimate goal is to promote your site, drive traffic and get paid for the ads. In order to promote your site, instead of going for an ad network company you can promote your site yourself if you are able to follow a few steps regularly. Some of these steps are listed here.

1. Make your site visible to search engines
At first you must increase your visibility on different search engines. This can be done through keywords. Place keywords in the meta-tags so that it will be listed in organic search results. This is how your website will be visible for search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.

2. Specify your website’s URL
Use the URL of your website everywhere – from letterheads, business cards to email signature so that people will come to know about your site.

3. Join social media networking communities
Join various social networking communities. This is the way by which, you can drive more traffic to your site. It should be regularly updated with your site’s information.

4. Submit your site to directories
Prefer submitting your site in directories, yellow pages, etc. Here, you need to register at first. These will help your business listings.

5. Provide excellent customer service
Provide good customer service so that people will remember your site and will keep visiting your site regularly. Good customer service is important for any kind of business.

6. Building business partnerships
In order to promote the site, you must also maintain some contacts with similar business people and if possible have partnerships with them.

7. Managing blogs
Maintaining a blog is another major helping factor in promoting your website. Blogs comprise a collection of articles, essays, etc., written by individuals, or a group of individuals. It is sensible to let viewers know about your site by writing some articles yourself. Blogs encourage readers to comment.

8. Link exchange with other sites
Last but not the least exchange links of your website with other sites so that you can also drive traffic from other websites and both of you can benefit. Link with only authoritative sites. Avoid purchasing links.

To get natural links from authoritative sites, make sure to post original and unique content. This is likely to help you attract traffic to your site. In addition, writing for other websites in your niche/industry. At the end of the write-up that you send as guest blog, paste your website URL. This will make visitors come to your site, and read the article.

These steps will help your website get promoted at no cost and you need not take the help of an ad network company.
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Types of Website Monitoring

Website monitoring is critical for every business website. Website monitoring effects search engine ranking, reputation and credibility of the site. Any serious issue associated with it, can become a nightmare for a business owner. In this post, you will see what is website monitoring and its types.

What is website monitoring?
Website monitoring is a process of testing the performance of the website in terms of its availability and functionality. This helps you to be one-step ahead before your customer’s complaint.

Types of website monitoring: There are mainly two types of website monitoring, synthetic monitoring and passive monitoring.

  • What is synthetic monitoring?
  • Synthetic monitoring is also called as “active monitoring”. It imitates the behavior of the web browser. Here scripts are programmed to mimic the actions that the end user do on website. These actions are regularly monitored to know the performance of the website – availability, functionality and the response time of pages and transactions. This is a form of test that helps you to identify the issues of your website before it affects your end-users.

    From multiple points, it finds the performance and connectivity problems – website or its applications are slow or experiencing downtime. For this process, it does not require actual web-traffic and you can test website applications continuously to know its availability and performance.

  • Benefits of synthetic monitoring:
    • It is a planned activity; you can detect the issues of website applications before it affects the customers.
    • It can be done from inside the network or from multiple points of the internet.
    • If your website is designed for globally, then you can test the performance of your website in different geographical locations. In addition, you will get a holistic view of the geographically distributed users.
    • It provides metric form an end-user perspective.
  • What is passive monitoring?

    Passive monitoring is also called as “real user monitoring”. It records all the users’ interactions with the website and its applications. These records are very important to determine whether your website is working as expected – error free, quick web page loading time or else experiencing any downtime or any part of the system is failed.

    Software as a service (SaaS) and Application service providers (ASP) use real user monitoring to deliver quality service to their clients. There are software applications that allow finding the end user’s experience, where they clicked, measures response time. etc.

  • Benefits of real user monitoring:
    • It helps you to know the end user experience over your website or web applications.
    • It records the users’ interactions on your website and you can use this data for generating test scripts (synthetic monitoring).
    • Based on the end-user experience, you can resolve the issues quickly.

The Key Components of Your Marketing Plan

Drawing a marketing plan is important for attracting target audience and to retain them. The marketing plan should be detailed, well researched and well written. It should identify, who your target customers are, how you will reach them, and how you will retain your prospective customers so that they repeatedly buy from you. Here are some key components that you should include in your marketing plan.

Executive summary
The executive summary of the marketing plan is its precursor – the first part of your marketing plan. It should include the name of your business, its location and products or services you are selling. It should also include what your business is all about, when your business was founded, the number of employees, information about the bank(s) you do business with and investors, and financial summary.

Target market
Be clear about your target market and its segments. To identify your target market, you need to know your customers, understand your customers’ need and why they buy. To identify your market segment, you should know who and where your customers are. Include information such as key demographics (age, gender family size, income and nationality). In addition, make sure to include who are your competitors, what your unique selling point (USP) is and what benefits your product/service bring to consumers.

Products and services
Describe your range of products and services. Include price list, tell why you are different, understand what your target audiences need, what they currently use and how your products/services can benefit them more.

Budget and planning
Planning and budgeting will help you ensure your marketing plans for your Business are practical. It is the most effective way to control cash flow. You need to outline your budget in different areas such as sales, advertising, marketing, production, etc. Budgeting and planning play a vital role in ensuring that you stay in control of expenditure.

Sales and marketing
In your marketing plan, write down the marketing strategies (how you will find potential customers) and sales method (face-to-face, telesales, print media, internet, etc.). A properly structured sales and marketing plan will help you understand how you will execute it and how you will generate sales.

SWOT analysis
Performing a SWOT analysis of your marketing plan will help you identify not only your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, but also your competitors. Your company’s internal strengths, internal weaknesses, external opportunities and threats will help you make the marketing message more effective and know what your competitors are doing.

If done properly, your marketing plan will continue to be the road map for your success, and you will get more customers. This is likely to improve the success of your business.
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Things Employers Need to do Under OSHA

OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is a Federal agency under the US Department of Labor that provides for industry safeguards and guidelines to ensure safety to the employee by creating a safe work environment.

Private, Federal, State and local government agencies come under the purview of OSHA and the onus lies on the employer to ensure that the regulations are carried out. OSHA standards demand strict compliance and employers need to display all the relevant posters at workplace at a place where the employees have access to them.

Employer duties as per OSHA
Though OSHA provides strict and necessary guidelines, the responsibility of ensuring them at workplace lies with the employer. OSHA laws are very comprehensive and cover different industries in different ways as the risks associated with employee life and health differ across industries. Employers should determine the OSHA safeguards that cover their nature of work and workplace. OSHA measures relate to every type of industry. These are discussed here briefly.

  • Employee training for safety: It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the necessary training regarding the safety practices at work and the use of safety equipment present at workplace. The training should be in the form that can be understood by the employee and if necessary, training has to be provided in his native language.
  • Record keeping and reporting accidents: The employers are expected to keep strict record of the injuries and illness of the employees and display them at a place where employees can see them. Any major accident leading to death or hospitalization of three or more employees has to be communicated within eight hours of its occurrence.
  • Follow hazard communication standards: Proper standards and codes should be maintained to identify hazardous chemicals at the workplace and during transit. They should be labeled stating that the material is hazardous and the components must be displayed on the label. Employees should be trained to identify the threat and the way to act in case of fatalities.
  • Emergency action plan, exit routes and fire safety: Employers must ensure that they have an emergency action plan. This plan kicks into action in case of emergency like fire or any other such typical situation. Regular drills must be conducted by the employer. When coming to the fire safety, employer should have a fore prevention plan at place. Portable fire extinguishers must be provided at work place and at least two fire exits should be there at work place. They should not contain any inflammable materials. The employees should be made aware of the exit routes to prefer in case of emergencies.
  • General sanitation: General sanitation is a common measure to ensure personal health. The workplace should be clean and free from disease causing germs. Drinking water should provided and common glass for drinking water should be avoided. Perfect labeling should be done. Air quality should be checked and logs should be maintained.
  • Medical and first aid: Employers must provide the first aid at workplace to manage little injuries at work. The first aid box should contain things as per the probable injuries and hazards. Employer should determine how many such kits he require and ensure training of the employees to use them properly.

Essence of compliance
Compliance of the safeguards and guidelines ensure that employee health and life is safeguarded. The practices also lead to a safer work environment. This leads to lesser illness and injuries and more work leading to the increase in production of the workforce. Happy and satisfied employees are more productive for a business than unsatisfied ones. It will save you from falling into legal complications coming because of workplace accidents or non-compliance of laws.
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Promote Your Company Effectively

Effective promotion gives your company a boost to its prospects of success. Every start-up or a small business looks for a good sort of promotion. However, this will come with effective planning and execution. To make a proper plan, you must follow certain steps. This will help your business reach among the people.

Here are a few steps that will help your company to be promoted effectively among the people:

  • Make an outline of the plan:
  • Before you start planning, make a rough sketch of it. Start with market research, define the targeted audience, and focus on them. Your plan should include all the things related to your company.

  • Collect or arrange the materials required for the promotion:
  • Collect materials like business cards, flayers, banners, etc. and update them. The brochure of your company should updated. The digital version of the brochure will help you make changes easily whenever/wherever necessary. Get some promotional products for giving to the clients. These materials will be helpful to promote your company.

  • Make contacts or have a network:
  • Try to improve your contact lists and make a network to promote you company to the people in the network. Here, you must also register for conferences and workshops through which you will get a chance to speak about your company and its specialties.

  • Use media:
  • This is essential for every company to be promoted among the people. You can promote your company through newspapers, radio, television, etc. You can promote through these media. Preparing attractive advertisements with the product or services that your company is having and promoting them make the people attract and reach you. Contests, coupons and incentives are also the major attraction.

  • Unique ideas will help you a lot:
  • You need come up with unique ideas apart from the regular ideas that every company follows. For this, you and you team must work hard. Get designed a business mascot, which will present your company better.

You need to get good impression from your customer. This is one of the most effective part of promotion campaign for your business. Creativity plays an important role in all this. If you support or sponsor a great cause, people will remember you.

Make sure to implement as many step as possible from these. This is how your company gets promotd effectively. Through this, your brand awareness will improve.
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How to Make a Social Media Plan for Your Small Business?

Most small business owners have taken the social media marketing as part of their marketing activities because of its multiple benefits. However, some of them are not getting results. Therefore, it is important find where you went wrong. May be you missed out in defining the marketing objectives. In this article, we will discuss how to make a successful social media plan for your small business.

  • Create a road map to your social media campaign: Many of you get overwhelmed with social media benefits. In addition, start campaigning without any prior planning, but once you came to know that you are not getting the results, all those resources, efforts and time you spent on its implementation go in vain. So, it is always better to question yourself:
  • Why do you want to do social media marketing?
  • What are objectives of your social media strategy?
  • How much do you want to allocate out of your marketing budget?
  • Who are your targeted audiences? Where are they? How to reach them?
  • Do you have enough resources and so on?

Then define accordingly and make sure that your social media objectives should match your business objectives.

  • Sort out different social media options: There are different social media options available for you such as Facebook, PinInterest, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and so on. However, you need to sort out the one, which is suitable for your business. This is because in each these sites, you will have different types of customers with different personalities. In addition, from where you have to figure out where you are targeted customers are present in these social media sites.
  • Plan what to publish: Plan what type of content need to be published (latest updates on your products/services, awards or rewards, discounts, contests, surveys, polls and so on), how often to publish, what type of content your targeted audience are interested in, and make sure to figure out what your competitors are doing – what they are posting, how often they are posting, how they are responding to their customers and so on.
  • When to reach your customers: Spend some time a day to respond to your targeted audience queries. In addition, plan how to respond to the negative critics/comments. So, always try to acknowledge, never deny. In addition, try to find out the root cause to their negative comments or critics. This helps you know is the negative feedback is just by misunderstanding or anything to be changed internally.
  • Monitor analytics: Implement a strategy in your day schedule to figure out how your social media campaign is performing, from here you will come to know who are purchasing, by what means they approached you, if these customers are regular visitors, and so on. In addition, based on that you can implement the same strategy on other customers to convert them into leads. Therefore, plan effectively how to track, measure and analyzes things to get better results.

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Importance of Quality Content for Your Small Business Website

There are many factors that affect small businesses’ website performance. One of them is quality content. Quality content is critical for the website’s success. This is because quality content functions as a guide to the readers when they come to the site in search of information. If your site is poor in delivering quality content, then your readers may switch to the other sites. So, make sure your content is informative, sensible and relevant to the topic. These features drive the reader to make purchases. In this article, we will discuss why quality content is important for small businesses.

  • Content adds value to your website: Content should be original, sensible, readable and compelling. Good quality content adds value to your site. People look for information and come to your site. Therefore, make sure to update your content on regularly without fail. This will encourage the visitor to come back to your site in future, and will make them share content in their networks. If your content is not good or informative, they may not feel good and may turn to your competitors’ sites.
  • Affects your search engine ranking: Make sure that the content in your website is relevant to potential searches and has relevant keywords. This will make the content engaging for users. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., take into account quality content while indexing your site in search results. Therefore, make sure to provide good quality and updated content. This will boost your site’s ranking.
  • Establishes your website’s credibility: Quality content attracts, engages and retains your targeted audience. Therefore, if the content is good, your audience will get well associated with it. This will add credibility of your website. Credibility is a factor that encourages your customers to buy your products and services.
  • Greater chances of organic links: Quality content encourages other websites and blogs to share links with articles and blog posts in your website. Search engine optimization and online marketing experts assign a high value to the links. These links appear natural to your visitors and search engines. Search engines consider the number of links of your web pages in ranking.
  • Conversions: People come to your site in search of useful information because they trust your the content. The content guides visitors to go through various stages to make purchases.

Your content should, therefore, be informative and should influence your visitors to convert into prospective customers and improve sales.
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Top 10 Best Selling Cars in October 2013

As experts largely expected, car shoppers shook off any hesitation from the US government shutdown and bought sufficient new cars in the second half of October 2013 to drive the auto industry up about 11% by Halloween, judging by the largest seven automakers numbers. The top 10 best selling cars of October 2013 are as follows:

1. Ford F-Series: The Ford F-Series is in the first place in October 2013. Its Monthly sales for Oct. 2013 – 63,803, Monthly changes vs 2012 – 12.9 percent, Year to date for 2013 – 623,309 and Year to date for 2012 – 19.8 percent.

2. Chevrolet Silverado: Chevrolet’s Silverado occupied the second place in the competition. The Monthly sales for Oct. 2013 – 42,660, Monthly changes vs 2012 – 10.1 percent, Year to date for 2013 – 403,435, and Year to date for 2012 – 19.7 percent.

3. Ram Pickup: Ram’s Pickup is in the third place in October 2013 with Monthly sales for Oct. 2013 – 29,846, Monthly changes vs 2012 – 18.3 percent, Year to date for 2013 – 292,633, and Year to date for 2012 – 22.5 percent.

4. Toyota Camry: After Ram Pickup, Toyota Camry occupied the fourth place. Monthly sales of Toyota Camry for Oct. 2013 is 29,144, Monthly changes vs 2012 is -2.6 percent, Year to date for 2013 is 348,134, and Year to date for 2012 – 1.0 percent.

5. Honda Civic: The next place is for Honda Civic. Its monthly sales for Oct. 2013 is 27,328, Monthly changes vs 2012 is 31.2 percent, Year to date for 2013 is 280,889, and Year to date for 2012 – 10.3 percent.

6. Honda Accord: Again from Honda and in sixth place from the top, Accord’s monthly sales for Oct. 2013 is 25,162, Monthly changes vs 2012 is -11.2 percent, Year to date for 2013 is 307,264, and Year to date for 2012 is 11.2 percent.

7. Toyota Corolla or Matrix: Corolla is the second one in the list from Toyota at seventh rank. Toyota Corolla/Matrix’s monthly sales for Oct. 2013 is 23,637, Monthly changes vs 2012 is 12.8 percent, Year to date for 2013 is 257,184, and Year to date for 2012 is 5.6 percent.

8. Honda CR-V: With monthly sales of 22,554 in October 2013, monthly changes vs 2012 is 11.6 percent, Year to date for 2013 is 251,636, and Year to date for 2012 is 7.7 percent, Honda CR-V is in the eighth place and overall this is the third one from Honda in the list.

9. Ford Escape: The Ford Escape’s monthly sales for Oct 2013 is 22,253, Monthly changes vs 2012 is 12.2 percent, Year to date for 2013 is 250,543, and Year to date for 2012 is 13.9 percent.

10. Nissan Altima: The Nissan’s Altima is in the tenth place. Its monthly sales for Oct. 2013 is 21,785, Monthly changes vs 2012 is -11.5 percent, Year to date for 2013 is 271,303, and Year to date for 2012 is 4.9 percent.

When we see company wise, Honda occupied the three positions out of ten with its Civic, Accord and CR-V. Ford and Toyota occupied two positions each. Chevrolet, Ram and Nissan have single per each.
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Tips for Hiring New Employees for Small Businesses

For small businesses, hiring new employees is a major issue in their business. Adding new talent to the existing set of people is a challenging task for these businesses. It is also important for these businesses to reach the desired goals. This article discusses tips on hiring new employees for small businesses.

Following are the tips:

  • Defining clearly the role you are recruiting for: Spend time to figure out the duties and responsibilities of the new employees you are hiring, and check out whether the prospective employe is suitable for the job, whether the person can manage the tasks and responsibilities assigned.
  • Planning employee recruitment strategy: After defining the job, set up a recruitment plan and discuss with key employees who are involved in hiring. During the discussion, plan a recruiting strategy and start executing the same. Make a plan such that it is easy to execute.
  • Telephone interview: Speaking to potential applicants on telephone before calling for an interview can be the best way of pre-screening. It will help you judge the candidates’ character.
  • Preparing a set of interview questions: Have a set of interview questions that you would like to ask each applicant. This makes interviewing the candidates much easier and help you in finalizing the best candidate that matches your company’s expectations.
  • Pre-screening the candidate: As candidates may be good on paper, pre-screening helps in telling whether their qualifications suit the job requirement. Moreover, you are able to determine their salary expectations with the help of pre-screening.
  • Checking backgrounds and references: An important step when hiring an employee is checking their background because it is important to verify whether they actually possess the skills and experience they mention in resumes. The background check includes work references, educational credentials, employment references, etc.
  • Trusting your instincts: Hiring the right candidate for the right job is a challenging task. In addition, it is important to choose a candidate with the right attitude. Make sure to judge the applicants properly when you select them for interview. If the people are not right for the job, your work life will become difficult. Therefore, trust your instincts.

Small businesses are financially vulnerable. They need to rethink when going to spend an additional dollar. It is, therefore, important to hire new people according to the need of your business and the suitability of the aspirants. Following the steps just discussed are likely to help.
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Why should a Business Use Enterprise Software?

Enterprise software offers you more benefits when chosen as an option for your business. It gives benefits irrespective of size of the business, that is, it can be small, medium or large sized businesses.

Let us discuss briefly benefits of using enterprise software for your business.

Reduce manual effort
These days people are searching for options that can reduce their pain and effort and give fast results in less time. If you belong to that category, where you are expecting more of automated work rather than manual work, here is a solution – enterprise software.

Accuracy is maintained
When work is done manually, there are chances of committing errors, after all we are human beings. But enterprise software will rule out all those errors done by human beings. It will help you to get correct results and minimize pain of cross checking which will eat away you time.

More data can be stored
Some software may show errors when it is given large data to store, but enterprise software will not. It is designed in a way that it is capable of storing large data related to company.

Helps know future expectations
Enterprise software is used by most large-sized companies to predict their sales in the market, right time to introduce new product into the market, how much profit they can expect in near future, etc.

Thorough analysis of company management
It will help in collecting depth reports about market analysis, plan according to market requirements for business growth.

Security is the task that was worried about by many companies, though they are developing their business, they are unable to find out ways how to prevent their confidential documents from being stolen by others. Enterprise software has solved the problem of security.

Create many job opportunities
Introduction of enterprise software has led to creation of good number of jobs in the industry. People who are experts in dealing with software problems but are still looking for jobs are given opportunities to train employees of companies about usage of enterprise software.

Helps maintain customers in contact
Enterprise software will allow a company to react fast for customer complaints and clear them quickly. It helps in offering fast services to clients, thus creating a positive impact on organization and promoting business. It may not be possible to clear complaints of all customers at a glance by a single person, but enterprise software can handle the situation efficiently.

Update company about employees
A manager alone may not visit each employee and check their performance, it is too hard for him to perform, but enterprise software will enable this by updating manager with daily performance of employee. This can help to evaluate reasons for your business to run in a better way. Read the rest of this entry »