Small and Medium Businesses Now

Information, Trends, News and Events on SMBs

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
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 »

Different Types of Computer Software Applications

A software application is a set of instructions or a computer program that is designed to perform specific task. Any application developed or designed in an environment (programming language) using specific keywords and syntax is called a “software”. There are different types of software that perform various operations.

Some software helps in business operations, some are developed to secure the files and the computers, while some are designed for entertainment purpose. This article discusses different types of computer software.

Antivirus software
Antivirus software is a software or a program designed to identify, prevent and remove the malicious computer programs like virus, trojans, worms, spyware, etc.

Examples of anti-virus software are AVG antivirus, Kaspersky antivirus, etc.

Operating system
Operating system is very essential for any computer. It is a software that is designed to co-ordinate with the hardware of the computer and enable communication between user and the applications.

Examples of operating systems are Windows, Unix, Linux, Mac, etc.

Media players
These software are designed to play or run multimedia files. While some play both audio and video files. Some are restricted to any one-audio or video. These are called audio players or video players.

Examples of media players are VLC player, Windows Media player, etc.

Productivity software
Productivity software are designed to perform the task easily reducing the efforts and time spent by the humans and increase their productivity. Productivity software can perform complex calculations, draft word documents, manage databases, design presentations, etc. Some are open source and are available for free, while some are proprietary products and users need to pay for such software.

Examples of productivity software are Windows Office Suites, OpenOffice.org, LibreOffcie, etc.

Programming tools or software
Programming tools or software helps design new software or application. These are also called programming languages. They provide specific keywords and methods that have to be followed to develop or design an application.

Examples of programming languages are Java, C language, etc.

Games
Games are gaining a lot of popularity. There are millions of games available, and every day more and more games are getting developed. Computer games are a kind of computer programs that are developed using one of the computer languages. Adding a lot of graphics and multimedia features to it makes a program run in the form of a game.

There are millions of software present in the market, some are big and expensive, while some are small and cheap or free, but the intention of all the software is to perform the given task. Read the rest of this entry »

Six Best Free Software that Small Businesses Shouldn’t Miss

Software has become very essential for all businesses, no matter what the size of the business is. This is because of the ability of the software to perform complex operations/tasks, it saves time, effort and increases the productivity of the employees.

Some software are expensive, some are affordable, while some come for free. In this article, we will discuss the six best free software- operating software, anti-virus software, email, productivity software, data copying/burning applications and online storage applications that will be helpful and useful for small and medium sized businesses to perform tasks.

Operating system
Operating system is the software that starts the computer. Most popular operating system that everyone knows is Microsoft Windows. The cost of Windows 7 professional is $179.99 and Windows 7 Home is $128.70. These software are expensive, a free alternative to Windows operating system is Ubuntu. It is for free and provides all the application that Windows operating system does. It works well with all system specifications. It also supports modern applications such as browsers and social media websites. It is more secured and less vulnerable to virus and Trojans.

Anti-virus software
One of the most popular anti-virus software is Norton anti-virus 2013. The cost of it is $12.99 for one user and $34.99 for five users.

The free alternative for Norton anti-virus is Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). It provides full scan and quick scan options to scan your files. You can configure it, so that it will scan all the downloaded files and external hard drives. It provides all features that Norton anti-virus provides. Other free alternatives are AVG Antivirus Free Edition 2011 and Avira Personal Free Antivirus.

Email
Windows Outlook 2013 is an email software and it costs $94.98 for one user.

Free alternatives are Thunderbird, Opera Mail and Windows Live Mail. Each of these has a good set of features, and supports web based emails like gmail, yahoo, etc.

Productivity software
Microsoft proprietary office suite is very popular, but way too expensive. It costs $399.99 per MS Office Professional.

Free alternatives are OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice Lotus Symphony. These are popular and free productivity tools, and support a wide range of file formats and offers similar interface as that of MS Office.

Data copying/burning software
Most common multimedia suite used for burning CDs and DVDs are products of Nero and Roxio. Nero 12 costs $36.99, while Nero 12 Platinum and Roxio Creator costs $51.95 and $44.03 respectively.

Free alternative for Nero and Roxio is CDBurnerXP, InfraRecorder and ImgBurn. CDBurnerXP is capable of burning CDs, DVDs, Dual-layer DVDs and multiple disks. It is available in multiple languages for personal and business use.

Online data storage software
A physical 2GB storage capacity hard drive of SanoXY is $6.25.

Free alternative is Dropbox. Dropbox is an online storage application where you can store data up to 2GB on cloud and retrieve it whenever you require.

As a small business owner having these software for free will not only help you save money, but it will also help you increase productivity.

Small Businesses – Beware of Software Threats

Software have become an essential part of businesses, especially for the small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) and is not only playing an important role in increasing the productivity, but also increasing the profits of the business. But, SMB owners have to be alert and aware of the threats to the software that are installed in the computer.

Software threat can be a deliberate attack and in some cases it can be significant. While, sometimes an accidental and general attack by one or more malicious programs.

There are many threats to a computer software and we will discuss the most common threats like Virus, Trojans, Spyware, Worms and Logic bombs in this article.

Virus
Virus are malicious programs that enters or attacks other programs. They may be injected deliberately into your computer/software or entered accidentally into your software program through other installations.

Virus takes over the other programs and corrupts the data. Small businesses must be aware and careful about the Virus.

Trojans
Trojan is so named after “Trojan Horse” from the history of Troy. Trojans do not enter or take over other computer program like Virus, but gives backdoor access to the hackers.

Trojans are not self-replicating. They spread deliberately by hackers to control others operating system.

The effect of the Trojan may be many times greater than Virus as they delete critical data, hangs your computer and gives unauthorized access to hackers.

Unfortunately, Trojans cannot be identified by normal users. The only way to identify is when your computer slows down or hangs up.

Spyware
Spyware is a computer program that collects information about the computer or the user of that computer and passes it to other entities for various reasons. Usually they are used to track or steal the confidential information about your business from the computer. Spyware is similar to Trojan, it cannot be identified by the user.

Worms
Worms are considered one of the serious threats to SMBs, as they have multiple computers connected in a network. As the name suggests worms crawl from one computer to other through network or e-mails, or other connectivity.

They are self-replicating. They produce many replicas of themselves that again re-produce many more worms exploiting the operating systems of the computers.

Logic bombs
Logic bomb is also called as “slag code”. Logic bomb is a computer Virus or Trojan, but they do not act on their own. They need to be triggered to make them work (explode). Logic bomb when exploded corrupts, steals or deletes information from the system.

Logic bombs can be identified by false or unwanted messages being printed on the user’s screen when exploded.

So, SMB owners should be aware of these five common threats to software. We post the counterattack techniques and security measures to be taken to prevent these threats in our next article.

Cloud Server or Web Server for Small Businesses?

It is necessary for a business to install a server, which secures computer systems and critical data of the business. With many alternatives available today, it is the choice of the businesses to choose the best servers that suit their business.

Cloud servers are the servers available on cloud, provided by many service providers which are already configured and ready to use. Designated web servers are the normal servers which need to be installed in the business’s computer system to perform business operations.

This article tries to point out some differences between the servers available on cloud and the old-fashioned servers (designated web servers) to help small businesses choose between the two.

Cost: Cloud servers are very cheaper than web servers. Cloud servers can be used on the basis of pay-per-usage. This makes the small companies pay only for the server services that are used. But, in case of normal web servers companies must pay in full to buy the server, whether they use it or not.

Hence, cloud server is cheaper.

Installation: Servers available on the cloud are already configured, and are ready to use. All it takes is the time to choose the best suitable server, and subscribe the service. This saves a lot of time and work for the small businesses in installing the server. Installing web servers is time-consuming process. Sometimes, changes in your computer hardware may be necessary and this will become an extra burden for the small businesses.

Hence, installation of cloud server is easy and cheaper than normal web servers.

Re-installation of server: In case the server crashes down, reinstalling the web server will be a difficult task. This may also lead to loss of business data. But, reinstalling the cloud server is pretty easy, as it is located in cloud, and can be installed from there whenever needed.
Thus, reinstalling cloud server is easier.

Snapshot facility: There is a feature called snapshot in cloud computing. Snapshots help take an image or backup of the information before a business starts to make any changes in the server. If anything goes wrong in the process, recalling the image gets the business data back. This kind of facility is not available in web servers.

Hence, there will be good back up facility in cloud server.

Performance: web servers are more efficient than cloud servers. This is because, workload on web server is less as it serves only one business. Cloud server is shared by many users and hence the workload is high. The more the workload on the server is, the less is its performance.

Hence, performance of web server is better than cloud server.

Scalability: As the business expands, adding extra hardware devices might be required to increase the performance. Adding hardware devices to the server is possible in both cloud server and web server. But, the difference is, web server need to be switched off and stop the services while doing this. But, changes or hardware upgrades can be done in cloud servers while the server is still running.

Hence, cloud server is easily scalable without any interruption.

Compatible: Most of the cloud servers are more generalized and can run on almost any operating system. While, some hardware web servers are not compatible with some operating systems.

Hence, cloud servers are more compatible than web servers.

Remote services: Some remote services like installing operating system remotely and accessing the server remotely is possible in cloud server. Whereas, it is not possible in web servers. Remote services is necessary when business collaborate with other businesses in different geographical location.

Hence, cloud servers are useful in remote operations.

It is the responsibility of the small or start up businesses to choose one of web servers and cloud servers smartly by considering all the features.

SEO Basics for Small Business Owners – On-Page Optimization

Search engines are very smart and intelligent in ranking your website in the top positions. So, it is very important for small businesses to understand some basic concepts of SEO on how it optimizes your website to get better ranking in search results. Following are some things to consider for on-page optimization.

On-page Optimization: This is one of the optimizing techniques that can be controlled by you. Optimization can be done on the pages of your website to make it easy to find, index and understand your website’s content. This helps the search engine crawlers to read your website content. Readable quality content helps your website to get better rank in the search engines and drives traffic to your website.

  • Quality content: Content is king. So, you need to create content that is fresh, relevant and informative. At the same time, your content should contain appropriate and relevant keywords. Because keywords stresses the importance of optimization. And also make sure that your web-page formatting is appropriate. This helps in attracting the customer’s attention to read and engage with the content.
  • URL structure: Based on your websites URL structure, search engines have the ability to index and understand your site’s content. Make sure your URL should contain primary keywords and each word in it should be separated by hyphen (-).
  • Images: Your web-page images should be optimized. Because it helps the search engine to read. You can optimize it in two ways. One by file name, here each word of image file name should be separated by dashes. And other way to optimize is ALT text where your text should match the file name.
  • Title Tag: Each web-page has a title tag. And it is blue link, bolded and underlined text that appears on the search engine result page (SERP) and also on the top left browser bar. Make sure your title tag should be around 70 to 75 characters and include one or two primary keywords.
  • Meta Tag: There are two meta tags. One is meta description which is a small snippet of 150 characters. This description tells what your specific web page is about. And this description is very important, because based on this search engine puts it under the blue title tag of SERP. And other one is meta keywords, which contains a few list of other keywords that are related to your web-page.
  • Heading Tag: Heading tag of each page should contain primary keywords. And it should be aligned with the page title and URL. Because people will see this tag first when they arrive on your web-page.
  • Internal linking: When you create content on your web-page and you want to give reference to other web-pages that is relevant to your content then you can do internal linking. This helps the visitor to know more about the information you are providing in your website.