In the next few months, Bing will alter its algorithm to make mobile-friendliness more of a ranking factor, though relevant sites that aren’t optimized for mobile won’t be hurt.
Terrell Brandon played 11 years in the NBA from 1991-2002 for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves. As a member of the Cavaliers, the University of Oregon product was named to the NBA All-Star Game twice and finished with career averages of 14 points and 6 assists.
Now 44-years old and retired from basketball, Brandon continues to dish out assists and haircuts in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. Two decades ago, Brandon opened The Terrell Brandon Barber Shop on NE Alberta Street, which now doubles as headquarters for his charity and business interests throughout the area.
His barber shop, which was opened in a Portland neighborhood once riddled with crime and violence, now serves as a beacon for change and hope in the community. Surrounding Brandon’s barber shop these days are a number of small business retail stores, boutiques, coffee houses and restaurants that are all thriving.
Small Business Trends caught up with Terrell to talk about how he built his business over the last 20 years and what advice he has for entrepreneurs looking to take their small business to the next level.
Small Business Trends: This building was an old gas station when you were growing up, before it became home to The Terrell Brandon Barber Shop. Can you talk about the initial vision you had in opening your business in this location?
Terrell Brandon: I had been passing by this place for many, many years growing up. Then, once I got to college and started to see what I wanted to do in life, the barbershop came to mind with a friend of mine. I ended up hiring him, and he worked with me at the shop for 15 years. But as far as the initial vision, we just really tried to establish something positive in the neighborhood because it needed something positive.
Small Business Trends: What were some of your goals for the small business community and neighborhood overall when you first opened your business?
Terrell Brandon: We tried to come in and bring a fresh outlook on a neighborhood that was drug infested and filled with gang violence. We just tried to change the image a little bit, bring something positive to the neighborhood and we’ve been able to do that. We wanted to show people that with fresh ideas and initiatives this area of Portland could be more than it had been while I was growing up. So I came home one summer, saw the vacancy, and purchased the land. I sat on the land for a couple years until I got my business plan down and then opened it up. And we’ve been here ever since.
Small Business Trends: If you were offering advice to someone looking to open their own barbershop or salon, what would you say?
Terrell Brandon: I think one thing is location. That’s always the key. Having a steady flow of foot-traffic coming in and out and going up and down the street. It helps when people can not only see your building when they drive by, but also when they’re walking down the street. Being able to see a sign, the hours they can get a haircut, and then looking in the windows and seeing what’s going on inside. It helps when people are able to see in and see out and get comfortable.
Small Business Trends: From your experience as a business owner and basketball player, what are some important aspects of building a winning team?
Terrell Brandon: First of all, I don’t ever have anybody who works for me. I have people who work with me. So having people on your team who share the same vision is important, and then keeping those people around you is key. Making sure your team is always staying current with what’s going on and the new technology is also important. For example, most people don’t have cash on them so making sure you have some type of credit card device so that people can do things like swipe and keep it moving is also important. And then those people who work with you, making sure they’re always courteous with the customer, saying hello and things like that goes a long way.
Small Business Trends: What similarities have you found from leading a basketball team during your playing days and leading your small business team over the last 20 years?
Terrell Brandon: There most definitely are similarities, especially with me being a former point guard. Point guards are always into organization and really focused on the ‘we’ and the ‘us’. So I’m always looking to see if someone is in a good mood or bad mood, and what I can do to improve the way people are feeling at work. Then I’m making sure we’re organized. Are the clippers up to date? Are the caps the guys are wearing up to date? Do your employees have what they need to succeed on a daily basis? It’s just a point guard mentality to always have that ‘we’ and ‘us’ atmosphere because you can’t win with only one person on the team.
Small Business Trends: What are some ways you’ve worked to increase your profit margin as a business owner?
Terrell Brandon: Managing your profit margin or bottom line is really an everyday situation. It’s not a weekly or monthly thing; it’s every day because you are always selling something. What makes it easy with a barber shop is that my barbers are individual contractors. So you don’t have to worry about that as much. It’s the other things you have to pay more attention to — the brushes, caps, hair product, t-shirts, those are the things we have to monitor. Which is why I’m here every day 23 years later. And also, that visual of seeing the boss here, that helps your profit margin too.
Small Business Trends: What pitfalls do you suggest that small business owners be aware of and make sure they avoid from your experience?
Terrell Brandon: You need to make sure that your staff and team buys into the overall vision for your business. I have three barbers now, but I’ve had to go through other barbers over the years because they didn’t maybe understand the concept of where we were coming from. Just different personalities, different opinions. Nothing personal. It happens. As far as other pitfalls to avoid, trying to do too much is something you need to be aware of. We used to have this area which is now my office set up as a retail store back in the day. I was selling merchandise, jeans, jerseys and shoes. But as time went on, I changed up because those products weren’t as profitable. It wasn’t really part of our core business, either, so we stopped doing that and focused on our strengths.
Images: Small Business Trends
This article, “Former NBA All-Star Terrell Brandon’s Tips For Small Business Success” was first published on Small Business Trends
Walmart is making a move to try and grab a larger share of the online shopping market dominated by Amazon.
The retail giant is gearing up to test a new unlimited shipping service similar to Amazon Prime but at almost half the cost.
Walmart has given no name for their service yet but they have revealed it will cost $50 a year and offer free, unlimited three-day shipping on select products purchased on the company’s website.
Compare this to Amazon Prime’s $99 a year for free unlimited two-day shipping and it’s a large underscore.
Company spokesman Ravi Jariwala has said currently there are only plans to run limited testing of the new shipping service with no promises for a wider public release. Jariwala stated this new service is in response to increasing demands from customers looking for predictable and affordable shipping.
The Beta will be invitation only and restricted geographically, though no specific location has been confirmed. Out of the 7 million products sold on Walmart’s site, only around 1 million of the company’s top sellers will be eligible for free shipping with the service.
Walmart’s unlimited shipping service may beat out Amazon Prime in price but lacks many of the additional services Prime offers. In addition to free two-day shipping, Prime members have access to music and video streaming, unlimited cloud photo storage plus an additional 5GB file storage, and the Kindle Owners Lending Library offering one free e-book rental a month.
It is possible Walmart will expand on its unlimited shipping service in the future, possibly creating a membership service closer to what Amazon Prime offers. The company is set up fairly well to expand the service if they chose. For example, Walmart already has a video streaming service, Vudu, that they could possibly include down the road.
Cloud storage may be another matter though.
Walmart has tested other services before that they have yet to expand, such as their grocery delivery service that is only available in five locations across the U.S. Jariwala has indicated that the future of Walmart’s unlimited shipping service will depend on the Beta.
“Depending on customer feedback we will see how the program evolves.”
Walmart image via Shutterstock
What do employees want from their employers? It’s not free food in the fridge, Foosball tables or dry-cleaning delivery services. According to a survey by 15Five, the majority of employees would rather have better communication at work than perks.
The poll of more than 1,000 full-time U.S. workers reports 81 percent of employees would rather work for a business that values “open communication” than one that offers perks such as good health plans, gym memberships or free food.
But while almost all employees care about open communication, just 15 percent say they are “very satisfied” with the quality of communication in their current workplace. Only 15 percent believe their managers “highly value” their feedback.
Millennial employees are even more likely than other generations to feel ignored at work. About three in 10 say their managers are too busy to listen to them, a similar number say managers don’t ask for employee feedback, and 17 percent say when they do offer feedback, it isn’t taken seriously.
There is some good news for small businesses in this survey. Since you have fewer employees than big corporations, it’s easier for you to both give and get feedback and foster an atmosphere of open communication. Here are four steps you can take to do so:
1. Increase Frequency of Reviews
The majority of employees in the survey report they only discuss their career goals with their managers a few times a year, at most. Consider implementing quarterly reviews so employees can get and give more feedback. Beyond these more formal methods of communication, consider doing quick “brain dumps” after projects are completed where everyone can talk about what went well, what didn’t and whether things should be handled differently next time.
2. Be Sensitive to Generational Differences.
Older and younger generations in the survey expressed some frustration about communicating with each other. In general, older workers say they prefer to communicate face-to-face, while younger ones would rather text or email. Figure out ways to communicate based on how your employees most like to do so, but also take steps to ensure that everyone is included — even if that means some redundancy in communications.
3. Make Time to Listen.
If you feel a twinge of recognition at the idea of a boss who’s “too busy to talk to us,” it’s time to slow the pace. If you can’t keep an open-door policy all the time, set times of day when you are available to talk to employees who need you. Also keep in mind that much of communication happens in informal moments. Talk to employees as you walk through the office, grab a cup of coffee or ride up in the elevator.
4. Be as Transparent as Possible.
You may not want to share all the inner workings of technology with your team, but sharing as much as is practical will build bonds and make employees feel you’re being open with them. Plus, if you try to keep problems secret, they usually come back to bite you. Being honest about difficulties in the business — such as a big client who’s considering dropping you or a competitor moving in on your turf — can actually ease employees’ worries because they won’t be hearing rumors from the streets. Just be sure to share the information calmly, make time to answer any questions and let your employees know what the plans are for dealing with the situation. Better yet, solicit their ideas too. After all, working together against adversity is likely to bring you closer and build team spirit.
Open communication goes both ways. When you’re truly in touch with your team, you’ll learn about rumors and dissatisfaction early enough to do something about them and head off problems. By providing an environment of open communication, you can not only create loyal employees, but also develop a more efficient and productive workplace.
Communication gap photo via Shutterstock
This article, “Are You Falling Into the Workplace Communication Gap?” was first published on Small Business Trends
New on the Bing Ads user interface is the its Campaign Planner tool, which allows users to sort by audience, vertical, sub-vertical, and product. It also shows competitors’ positioning.
Facebook has announced some good news for developers and advertisers. The company is extending its deep linking capabilities to include mobile app install ads. This means you can now choose what information page people are sent to when they open a downloaded app for the first time.
Facebook is saying the new deep linking extension will provide a more seamless customer service experience. This is because customers can be directed to a specific place in an app, like the page for product that caused them to click the ad in the first place. Up until now, clicking on an ad simply led you to the app’s home page instead.
On the company’s official Developers blog, Facebook Engineering Manager John Ketchpaw explained:
“For example, if a travel app is running mobile app install ads featuring a vacation to San Francisco, people who install the app and open it will be taken directly to information about the San Francisco offer. This makes it more likely the person will find information about the San Francisco trip that interested them, rather than having to search for it manually.”
This boosts the chances customers will use the apps after they have installed them rather than forgetting why they bothered downloading them in the first place. Deep linking removes some of the steps customers have to take to boost the chances of achieving ad goals beyond the initial install.
Facebook began experimenting with running ads on third party apps last year. The move was an attempt to increase the reach of the company’s own advertising network and to assist other app developers with monetization.
One easy way for developers to start using the feature is through Facebook’s App Links open. cross platform standard, Ketchpaw said. Since launching the new service last year, Ketchpaw says developers have created more than seven billion links on mobile using the option.
For more information on Facebook’s deep linking for mobile app install ads checkout the link here.
This article, “Facebook Goes Deep with Links on Mobile App Install Ads” was first published on Small Business Trends
Updates to Google’s algorithm have rippled through the web and damaged many unsuspecting companies, but the warning signs were always there, if you just listened.