Windows 10 Preview, LG G4 Phone Both Unveiled

windows 10

New technology ruled the news this week. And that technology might be of interest to small business owners too as they build stronger companies through better operating systems and mobile technology.

Microsoft and LG were among the companies with new products to show, even if they aren’t available to your business just yet. Take a look at this week’s Small Business Trends news roundup for more:

Technology Trends

Windows 10 Preview Reveals Mail and Calendar Upgrades

The launch of Windows 10 is set for later this summer, the official Windows blog reports. And excitement is building, The latest technical build preview was recently revealed, giving more of a taste of what customers can expect from Windows 10. Here are some takeaways from this sneak-peek.

New LG G4 Smartphone Upgrades Camera and Adds Luxury

LG has just unveiled its newest smartphone, the LG G4. The successor of the G3 is boasting some nice upgrades from it’s predecessor. A beefed up camera and real leather back are some of the changes customers can expect to see. In fact, one of the biggest upgrades on the LG G4 from the previous model is the phone’s 16MP camera.

Charge Your Apple Watch, iPhone and More with the NuDock Lamp

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the new Apple Watch. This anticipated wearable device has been in high demand and companies are already jumping on the Apple Watch bandwagon. MiTagg is one such company that is looking to not only cash in on the Apple Watch hype but also solve a possible frustration Apple’s new product presents.

Can the Samsung Galaxy S5 Let Hackers Steal Your Fingerprint?

Your fingerprint is unique to you. The fingerprint scanner for added security on your smartphone makes sense, right? Unfortunately, it looks like that added security might be more of a liability. Researchers claim a flaw found in certain Android devices could let hackers clone your fingerprint authentication and use it for additional cyberattacks and potential theft.

New Samsung Gear VR Looks Like Something Out of Sci-Fi

Samsung’s Gear VR headset, compatible with both the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, is now available for pre-order on Best Buy’s website. By attaching one of the two mobile devices to the front of the headset, a user can be immersed into a dramatic panoramic virtual reality to experience not just games but also video and images too. The revamped Gear VR is priced at $249.

Google’s Own Wireless Service is Officially Launching with Project Fi

The rumors are true. Google is launching its own wireless service called Project Fi. The new service was announced recently, and the company says its goal is to create a fast and easy wireless experience. Not everyone will be able to jump onto the new service right away, however. Currently, Project Fi is invite-only and can only be accessed by those owning a Nexus 6 smartphone.

Online Marketing

Google for Retail is Now Ready for Business

For a small business, it can be intimidating trying to compete with larger companies. Since your brand isn’t as recognizable as others, it can be easy to get lost. That’s why Google is furthering its efforts to help small businesses attract new customers online with the launch of Google for Retail.

Uh Oh. Facebook Is Restricting Data on Other Platforms

If your small business has a presence on Facebook, and it certainly ought to, you should know about a pending policy change set for this week. On April 30, Facebook will no longer allow third-party apps to export your data — including your Facebook contacts, profile photos and messages — into other applications.

How Handmade eCommerce Sites Gain From Etsy’s Growth

Etsy went public recently. The popular website for buying and selling arts and crafts has made a huge impact on the market. Still, the IPO met with some skepticism when first announced, with key concerns stemming from Etsy’s unprofitable growth. The forecast for Etsy’s longterm profitability is hazy as well.


Small Businesses Feel Aftershocks of Baltimore Riots

Baltimore businesses are dealing with riots, looting and violence — as well as a citywide curfew imposed on April 28 — following civil unrest stemming from the suspicious death of a 25-year-old black man while in police custody. Because of the curfew, enforced within the city between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., restaurants and other businesses need to close earlier than usual.


CEO Uses His Own Salary to Raise Employee Wages to $70,000

Many companies have raised their minimum wages in recent years in order to compete for better talent. But one company is taking that concept to a whole new level. Dan Price, founder of Gravity Payments, recently announced to his employees that the company is raising its minimum annual salary to $70,000.

Green Business

Fashion Revolution Calls for More Ethical, Sustainable Manufacturing

There’s a revolution happening within the fashion industry. And big brands and high-profile designers aren’t the ones leading the way. Instead it’s a series of startups and independent designers with quality, sustainably, and ethical manufacturing on their minds. Fashion Revolution Day, which started last year, is a special day set aside for these goals.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Persona Offers a Unique Pizzeria Experience

Opening a pizzeria isn’t exactly a novel idea for a business. You can find restaurants that serve pizza nearly anywhere. But one thing you can’t find too often is a pizzeria run by an Italian trained Pizzaiolo and a classically trained chef. That is, unless you are near Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria.

Small Business Operations

Twitter Chat Looks at EMV Chip Card Revolution

EMV chip cards are coming as a replacement for traditional magnetic strip cards.

Brody from Steelcase is a One Person Work Pod

Most offices today use some kind of cubicle or open office system. That means workers often sit next to, across from, or are otherwise surrounded by their coworkers. While this may be an effective use of space, it isn’t always conducive to high worker productivity.


Now You Can Hire a Professional Bridesmaid

Weddings are mainly considered to be happy occasions. But they can also be incredibly stressful, particularly for the brides. As a six-time bridesmaid, Jen Glantz knew the stressful nature of weddings quite well. So she turned it into a business opportunity, granting the ability to hire a bridesmaid.


5 Payroll Filings That Will Keep Your Business in Tax Compliance

So you’ve expanded your small business, you’ve hired a few people and are generating an inkling of revenue. You need to put a payroll system in place, whether you have one employee or 50. Amazingly, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that about three-quarters of all U.S. business firms have no payroll. And most of these are small business owners like yourself.

Image: Microsoft

This article, “Windows 10 Preview, LG G4 Phone Both Unveiled” was first published on Small Business Trends

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VICE News interviews Kevin Moore, the man who filmed Freddie Gray’s arrest

VICE News interviews Kevin Moore, the man who filmed Freddie Gray’s arrest. Moore was arrested by Baltimore police on Thursday night. He claims the police who arrested him knew he had filmed Gray’s arrest. Watch “State of Emergency – Baltimore, Maryland (Dispatch 2)” – Subscribe to VICE News here: Check out VICE News for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram: More videos from the VICE network:
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Google Matched Content Gives Visitors a Personalized Experience

google matched content

If you’re an AdSense Publisher, here is some news for you.

Google has introduced a new tool for AdSense that could change your site. By generating relevant article recommendations from the content on your site, Google says its new tool could increase not only reader engagement but your ad revenue, too.

Google Matched content is a free tool that promotes your site’s content to visitors. This is done by article recommendations that are contextually relevant and personalized for your site’s visitors. Google says Matched content could help visitors discover other content on your site, become more engaged, and increase reader loyalty.

You choose which pages and articles you’d like Google Matched content recommendations to appear. AdSense will promote content that is most relevant to the reader. Recommendations are only from within your site, so if you have multiple sites Matched won’t recommend content from one site to another.

A nice piece of information to know is Google Matched content does not count towards the Google content ad limit per page, so no worries there. Also Matched works on just about any device, be it mobile, tablet, or desktop.

It all boils down to helping you increase ad revenue. The longer visitors spend on your site, the more pages they view, and the more they keep coming back, then the bigger boost to your ad impressions. The more ad impressions, the more possible revenue.

Google says Matched will work best for sites with longer content pages, such as in-depth articles.  To get the most out of Matched, Google recommends placing the matched content unit directly below any article where you choose to place it. Google also recommends adding a unique image to your content pages and to use popular meta-tag protocols, like Open Graph, on your pages.

Unfortunately, not every AdSense Publisher will be able to get Google Matched content for their site. Google is only making Matched available for sites with multiple pages and a high volume of traffic. If you are interested in Matched, you can see is you’re eligible by checking the site management settings in your AdSense account.

Image: Google

This article, “Google Matched Content Gives Visitors a Personalized Experience” was first published on Small Business Trends

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8 Tips for Running a Successful eCommerce Business


Over the past decade, the global marketplace has undergone a substantial shift. No longer are businesses limited by geographical borders or location, but more by the amount of creativity they can marshal and their willingness to adapt to new technologies.

In particular, entrepreneurs and business owners who are willing to launch and run an eCommerce business may position themselves to enjoy an enormous level of success.

The State of the eCommerce Industry

One of the beauties of the eCommerce industry is that there doesn’t appear to be any essential limit to strong and steady growth. In fact, overall sales volume and other vital metrics in the field have dramatically increased each year for at least the past decade.

Just consider the following statistics curated by Selz, an online selling tool:

  • An incredible 80 percent of Internet users have purchased something online at least once, while 50 percent have made a purchase more than once.
  • Roughly 71 percent of shoppers believe they’ll find better deals online, as opposed to shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
  • The average Gen X consumer spends 15 percent more online than a Gen Y shopper.
  • The total number of online shoppers in the US is expected to exceed 206 million in 2015 … and 215 million by 2018. 

Running a Successful eCommerce Business

If you own an existing brick-and-mortar store and have thought about launching an eCommerce branch — or perhaps have an idea for a completely new business that you think might work effectively as an eCommerce operation — now is the time to act. These markets will only continue to grow more crowded in the coming months and years.

Although it may be impossible to address some of the very specific and personal facets of every eCommerce venture, the 8 general tips below have helped many small business owners get off on the right foot: 

Build Strategic Partnerships

It’s rare that an eCommerce website becomes successful on its own. No matter what your experience or skill level may be, you can probably benefit from forming strategic partnerships and aligning your new brand with firms that have already established sturdy brand equity and influence.

Look for opportunities wherever you can and find ways you might be able to help other brands whenever possible. 

Drive Traffic Through Targeted Landing Pages

While there’s something to be said for attracting large amounts of organic traffic through search engines, the more targeted your traffic is, the higher your conversion rates will be. Regardless of whether you sell subscriptions, digital downloads, physical products, or something else, the best way to drive that focused site traffic is to nudge users from social media to secure landing pages that invite them further into the conversion funnel.

If you can find a way to integrate payments into the landing pages themselves, that’s even better.

Narrow Your Focus

While you may think you have a great idea, be careful not to launch an eCommerce venture that’s too broad.

“I’ve got news for you, the chances are there are hundreds of other people that are thinking the same thing and are already doing it,” says entrepreneur Sean Ogle.

While your overall idea may be good, you’ll strengthen your position if you can find a way to specialize it further and capture a true niche market. The total number of customers in that market might be significantly less, but the potential for carving out a loyal following is much higher.

Ogle uses the example of selling tablet cases and exclusively targeting Kindle Fire users instead of trying to encompass iPads, Galaxies, and Kindles. 

Don’t Build a PPC Foundation

There’s nothing inherently wrong with pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements, but you probably don’t want to place your brand’s foundation on a PPC-heavy strategy. Use these ads with discretion; focus your time and resources on building brand awareness and driving organic leads instead. 

Have a Comprehensive Content Strategy

The best way to drive organic leads is to focus on a content-heavy strategy. While the ongoing costs of developing and publishing steady, quality content will likely seem high, it almost always pays off in a quantifiable manner.

Start with a blog, share your posts on social media, then work on connecting with other industry publications and websites. 

Optimize all Product Listings

As for the site itself, optimization should be a priority at all levels. When it comes to individual product listings, focus on creating unique and keyword-rich meta descriptions, optimizing product images, and using unique, descriptive sales copy. 

Harness the Power of Social

According to Shopify, in 2014 eCommerce orders spawned from social networking sites increased by an incredible 202 percent. A large part of this is attributable to the fact that people value the opinions of their peers and are automatically more interested in something if a friend references or shares a link.

In order to use this to your advantage, try to invest heavily in social media, both by incorporating elements into product listings and setting up a heavy social media presence on such sites as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Split Test Absolutely Everything

There’s no longer any excuse to avoid split testing. New software and resources make the process as simple as dragging and dropping various site elements in order to see which items lead to conversions and which ones fail. By paying attention to the specific details, you can increase sales with comparatively little effort. 

Don’t Be Afraid of Learning

While eCommerce businesses offer the potential for lucrative returns, they’re by no means easy or effortless. You’ll make mistakes along the way, and it’s important to use each experience as a learning opportunity.

By keeping that in mind — as well as the foregoing eight tips — you’ll position yourself for long-term success.

Eight Ball Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “8 Tips for Running a Successful eCommerce Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Modern American Family – The Business of Life (Episode 2 Trailer)

Watch “How the US Workforce is Changing (Episode 1)” – The idea of the American family has changed dramatically over the past few decades: Young Americans are marrying later, finding marriage and parenthood to be less central concerns. But what does the structure of the modern American family mean for us, and how much is it costing us? To unpack the issue, we’ve enlisted author Ty Tashiro, New York Magazine’s Maureen O’Connor, and Mona Chalabi of FiveThirtyEight. Introducing a new kind of talk show from VICE News. “The Business of Life” is a fresh perspective on the most important issues of our time, as told through the facts, figures, dollars, and cents that shape our world. Hosted by journalist Michael C. Moynihan, each episode brings together an eclectic panel of writers, thinkers, policy experts, and scholars to break down everything you need to make sense of the most complicated topics of our time. Subscribe to VICE News here: Check out VICE News for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram: More videos from the VICE network:
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DC Mosquito Squad: The ROI of Automating a Small Business

Automating a Small Business


How do you scale a business to grow, and do it cost effectively?

That’s the challenge facing many small business owners.  You want to grow your business, but sometimes it feels like you can’t get out of your own way.

One small business figured out how to do it by using automation.

Damien Sanchez (pictured), founder of DC Mosquito Squad, a Washington D.C. area business, joins Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends for an exclusive one-on-one interview detailing his journey of using automation to grow the business.  Amazingly, Damien is a full-time firefighter, but still manages to run not just one, but three small businesses on the side.  Without automation and a great team, he says, he wouldn’t be able to do that.

He’s done so well using automation, that his businesses were named one of three finalists for the ICON Award at the recent ICON15 conference hosted by Infusionsoft.

Read on to hear about his company’s evolution and the return on investment (ROI) from automating a small business.

Small Business Trends: What is D.C. Mosquito Squad?

Damien Sanchez: It’s a public health pest-control company. We specialize in ticks and mosquitoes. We primarily service residential houses and we can also do contracts.

What do you do as part of that?

Damien Sanchez:  We have an integrated pest management strategy. We try and eliminate sources of water. We advise customers of things they can do to be proactive to reduce the mosquito population. But once we’ve done all those things such as site applications and eliminate water, we also have programs designed to really reduce the nuisance of mosquitoes on individual properties.

How did you get involved in the mosquito control business?

Damien Sanchez:  I had just moved from Southern California. We sold our house in the top of the housing market, so I had money and I wanted to be a good steward. And this was in 2008 where everything looked horrible as far as investments go.

The only thing I could think of was, “I should probably start a business.” My dad taught me how to work hard so I was like, “I know I can do that.” I am also a full-time fireman, so I work 56 hours a week. I have 24-hour shifts. On my off day I could work all day.

So that’s how we were able to start the business. But I didn’t identify that niche until a friend of mine told me about it. I researched it, and I realized that nobody is servicing that area.  Nobody even really knows about that as a service because you don’t call Orkin up and say, “Does it work when you treat for ants?” Whereas, I always got that question, “Does this work?” Once we started, we began building momentum.Automating a Small Business

I also own two other companies. One is a manufacturing company called Sterling Lighting. We manufacture LED lights and cast brass fixtures.

Then I started a complementary business to DC Mosquito Squad because it’s very seasonal. In order to supply full-time year-round jobs, we created a company called Christmas Illuminations. We sell, install and service Christmas lighting systems during the holidays.

How early do you start for that Christmas Illuminations business?

Damien Sanchez:  Usually about the third week of October. We will start doing the advertising in the beginning of September and then start trying to build it up.

It’s a returning revenue business. So it’s people renewing their services, similar to Mosquito Squad, that we renew each year.

You’re into your eighth year in business. How did you come across Infusionsoft and what was your purpose for using it?

Damien Sanchez:  I stumbled upon it.

I was on a random blog, and I was looking for a replacement for Constant Contact. I read through all these other options, and then I read this one that said, “. . . this thing called Infusionsoft, it’s more of a CRM as well.”

When I read that, I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.”

I clicked onto their site and I think I spent eight hours that evening watching every single video. I just drank it all up.

What sold me was they knew the questions that I had. So they would ask a question and say, “But we have an answer.” That’s what sold me. I was like, “If you know the question, then I’m going to go with you because I haven’t found anybody asking the right questions regarding what my problems are.”

So that’s how I ended up signing up with Infusionsoft. Then we ended up building it out as a business management solution first, and then sales and marketing was second.

How are you using automation today — can you give us an example?

Damien Sanchez:  We’re a service-based business and we do renewals each year. So we have thousands of people that we have to get renewed in a very short amount of time.

We build the schedule and provide the service. So we implemented and used the shopping cart that’s integrated with Infusionsoft, and we productized all of our services and put it on the shopping cart.

We do followup sequences for renewals based on property size and all of the different unique attributes of the customers. They get a link to that portion of the shopping cart so that they can check themselves out and go through the sales process. Then the followup sequences happen behind the scenes.

Everybody in the company that has a task that needs to be completed is automatically notified, and then they can complete that task. That’s how we built the entire system out to be able to plug and play people based on the tasks.

How many people are actually working in that business?

Damien Sanchez:  We will go up to about 45 to 50 people during peak season, and we have about 15 that we carry through the winter.

How many are actually using the automation system?

Damien Sanchez:  All of our office staff relies on Infusionsoft and all of management relies on the reporting features within Infusionsoft. But the only people that are actually in it are sales and our office staff. Our labor force uses other programs.

DC Mosquito Squad

If you got rid of Infusionsoft tomorrow, what would happen in your business?

Damien Sanchez:  I guess we would probably go bankrupt.

Everything we do on the back end of the business revolves around Infusionsoft. It would be a very long, hard transition to try and go into something else because we’re so dependent on how we built the app and how we do our processing.

I’ve looked at tons of other CRM programs, and we wouldn’t be able to run our business the way we run it without Infusionsoft. It’s integral to our operation.

Do you have any sense of how much time or money automation has saved?

Damien Sanchez: When I look at the comparison I made, it’s like one $10-an-hour employee costs you about $22,000 dollars a year. So over a three-year period, you’re looking at around $68,000 is what I think I came up with for one $10-an-hour employee for three years.

Prior to Infusionsoft, I had this filing box that worked very well for about 100 customers.  But then the files got bigger and the boxes got bigger, and we had scaled to the point where it just … well, we barely functioned the year before we made the switch-over to Infusionsoft, which we started in midyear. We had already recognized that we’d outgrown the old filing box system in 2010. We were looking to make changes, so by 2012 we had implemented it.

To date, we’ve spent about $58,000 on Infusionsoft, including the employee time to do the build-out and the licensing fees. So the ROI now versus pre-Infusionsoft numbers — we’re at approximately a 530 percent increase.

I equate it to actually performing better than hiring ten more $10-an-hour employees, because you just wouldn’t be able to see the same kind of growth even with the increase in labor.

It’s a testament to the team that we are all working together and seeing a vision and executing it. I get to be the base for it, but really it’s all my team’s efforts to put something together that we’re able to use and it’s very tailored to our business.

damian sanchez on automating a small business

If you had a piece of advice for other business owners, what might that piece of advice be?

Damien Sanchez:  My dad always said, “If I teach you one thing, I’m going to teach you how to work hard.” I always heard it.

So hard work is basically a necessity when you’re starting a business.

But if you don’t have the right systems, the hard work will also kill you in the end. Because you start working harder to try and grow the business, when you really need to transition your focus from just doing it to actually building the systems that you can plug people into.

If you don’t do that, you don’t have scalability. And without scalability, you can’t grow your business. You’re going to work and work and work until you burn yourself out. That’s the biggest danger for an entrepreneur — to work so hard that you end up burning yourself out and not ever putting the systems in place that need to be there to grow the business.

This interview on automating a small business is part of the One on One interview series with thought-provoking executives, entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today.  This interview was recorded at the ICON15 conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The transcript has been edited for publication. 

Images: taken by Small Business Trends; DC Mosquito Squad screenshot

This article, “DC Mosquito Squad: The ROI of Automating a Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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