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Create Web, Mobile and Desktop Mock-ups Using Evolus Pencil

Create Web, Mobile and Desktop Mock-ups Using Evolus Pencil | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Let us say you are a small business developing custom web sites and applications to suit the needs of your clients. A tool to create mock-ups will be very valuable to you. Your clients tell you what they want and you create a mock-up and show it to the client and get their feedback. This way when the client sees the finished work there are no surprises. Commercial mock-up tools cost a lot of money. Try the free open source Evolus Pencil. It can also be used to mock-up Mobile as well as Desktop apps.

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Open Source App Reviews and Tips for small business. Hands-on experience in business language. Visit: http://smbsoft.drupalgardens.com/
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4 Financial Projections To Guide Your Small Business in 2014

4 Financial Projections To Guide Your Small Business in 2014 | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

You started your small business to follow your entrepreneurial dreams, but great ideas alone don't ensure a successful enterprise. A key underpinning of success is the ability to make solid financial projections that give an accurate picture of your business’s future and its predicted health. And with the New Year approaching, every small business owner needs to find time to focus on projections.

 

Below are four types of financial projections you should consider creating:
 - A 12-Month Balance Sheet: This looks at the big picture and takes into account factors such as sales targets, cash balance and other key metrics to build out a holistic view of your business, including what you owe and what your business is worth. This is especially important if you are looking to secure a cash infusion from investors or extend credit with your bank.
 - A Sales Forecast: Your sales forecast predicts monthly sales for the coming year.
 - A Cash Flow Forecast: Another critical type of financial projection is a cash flow forecast.
 - An Expense Budget: A projected expense budget predicts how much it will cost you to meet the 12 month targets you have set.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

You may feel that you cannot realistically project what is going to happen in the later part of the year. However, make your best estimate now. You can always tweak it in the middle of the year or even every quarter. As Eisenhower said, "Plans are nothing; planning is everything.".

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BSN's curator insight, December 28, 2013 6:26 AM

4 Financial Projections To Guide Your Small Business in 2014

 

#business #management

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How to Find a Small Business Mentor

How to Find a Small Business Mentor | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Have you considered the benefits to finding a mentor to help you grow as an entrepreneur? A mentor can guide you in business and act as a sounding board for your ideas. A potentially valuable addition to your support network, mentors provide introductions to their own connections, and they can help your company grow.

 

How to Find the Right Small Business Mentor?
 - Consider what you need: Think about what you want out of the mentoring relationship.
 - Where to look for a mentor: Think about how you are going to get in touch with your mentor for regular catch up sessions.
 - How to approach your prospective mentor: Make a polite, professional initial inquiry, stating that you're looking for a mentor and have been impressed by this individual’s strengths and experience.

 

Don’t be disheartened if your prospect says no. Many professionals are so busy right now, they may not be able to take on mentoring as a commitment—even if they see the career benefits for both parties. Simply move on to the next person on your list. Stay positive, and you’ll find someone who could become a lifelong confidante and friend, as well as a business mentor.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Running a small business can sometimes feel like navigating stormy seas. Get the benefit of experience by finding a suitable mentor.

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Small Businesses Push Saturday 30-Nov as Shop Local Day

Small Businesses Push Saturday 30-Nov as Shop Local Day | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

The Thanksgiving week shopping marathon will stretch into the weekend with the fourth "Small Business Saturday."

The event, started in 2010 by credit card giant American Express, promotes patronage of small retailers. American Express will extend a $10 credit to cardholders who shop at participating retailers.

The event has caught on among shoppers patronizing independent local merchants.
"It has gained momentum over the last couple of years," said Jon Chernes, an owner of Lavish Body & Home, a personal care products boutique and salon on Linden Street. "Last year, that Saturday was probably our best Saturday of the year, in terms of retail."

Pierre Mancuso, owner of Pierre's, a women's apparel and accessories shop on Spruce Street, saw a similar upswing. "It was one of the most fabulous holiday Saturdays we have seen in many years," Mr. Mancuso said.

Many participating merchants run specials and some provide inducements to promote the event and draw shoppers, Ms. Collins said.
"We will have punch and cookies and wrap gifts. We're going to do the things that small businesses do to give customers great value and great service."

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

We have Black Friday for brick-and-mortar retails stores in the US. Then we have Cyber Monday. It is good to see Small Business Saturday gaining momentum!

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Zahid Yakoob's curator insight, November 27, 2013 1:01 PM

Why not get organised and team with fellow local buisness in your area and offer a bundle deal to your customers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. http://newcastlewebconsulting.co.uk/ are offering Free Mobile Demo Websites to show how your website could look on the latest smartphones, such as the iphone.

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6 Tips for the Perfect Small Business Website

6 Tips for the Perfect Small Business Website | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Customers have changed and businesses have changed. For your small business, it is either time to create or revamp your online presence... we’ve put together the top six small business web design tips that will finally help you get calls and emails from prospective consumers:

 - Be Straightforward: This is the time for your elevator pitch. In 15 words or less describe your business.
 - Be Available: Display your phone number and a simple contact form. Ensure it's visible at the top of every page.
 - Be Helpful: Online reviews are important in influencing buyer decisions. Pick the most relevant reviews and show them off.
 - Be Found: Include videos, a blog and other content on your website to be search-engine friendly and drive visits.
 - Be Local: A presence in local directories and maps ensures you're easily found.
 - Be Mobile: With the rise of mobile use, ensure your entire website is mobile-friendly.

 

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

More and more of the small business leads comes from web sites. Follow these simple tips to make your website an effective tool for generating these leads.

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5 Free Ways for Small Businesses to Establish an Internet Presence

5 Free Ways for Small Businesses to Establish an Internet Presence | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

We live in an age in which jockeying for position in search results has become a big business. As a small business, you may wonder what this means to you and your business. If you're not internet savvy, it'll be very difficult for customers to find you, and your revenues will suffer...Before spending money on an SEO or internet marketing consultant, make sure you complete these five steps to establishing an internet presence:

1- Register on Yelp and Google: There's no point in having a business if people can't find you on their mapping software and business rating networks.

2 - Create Social Media Accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc): Even if you don't plan on using them immediately, it's always better to reserve the name while you can.

3 - Engage Customers: Once you have your social networking accounts set up, start engaging with your customers. Update pictures, specials, events, product launches, and community outreach services. If a customer posts a bad review, contact them to make good on their bad experience. 

4 - Network with Peers: Even leaving comments on blogs and reviewing products on retail sites helps build your presence and expertise.

5 - Build a Website: Once you have everything else in place, it's time to build a basic website.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Before spending money on an SEO or internet marketing consultant, make sure you complete these five steps to establishing an internet presence.

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Maxime Nicolas Hery's curator insight, October 26, 1:19 PM

Même les petites entreprises peuvent se faire connaître et réussir à toucher tout les public grâce à la pub sur internet.

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Secure your small-business network without spending a dime

Secure your small-business network without spending a dime | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

In 2012, 31 percent of cyberattacks were aimed at small businesses... But what if we told you that there were security controls in the tools you already own that could vastly improve your protection if you just used them? And that you could fill any gaps in protection with free security programs that are every bit as effective as their commercial counterparts?

Below are several ways to fend off cyberthreats. The only investment is your time.
- Use what you already have: Make sure that all your user accounts are protected with strong passwords and that only those employees who need administrative privileges have administrator accounts on their PCs.
- Stay up-to-date: The longer you go without implementing an applicable patch, the more at risk you are. You should have automatic updates turned on in Windows, as well as in any other applications you use that offer such a function.
- Supplement with free security tools: If you need to protect computers running Windows XP or Windows 7, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials to get comprehensive real-time protection gratis. You can use Cain and Abel to reveal vulnerabilities, determine whether your policy requirements are secure enough, and recover passwords, which is its primary function.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

No need to buy expensive software. Use what you already have and other free tools to secure your small business network from cyber attacks.

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Gareth Ellis's comment, September 15, 2013 12:19 PM
I get the free tools but the average small business user does not need to use air crack. Just secure your WiFi with WPA2 Enterprise. That is enough for most people. The average business user COULD download backtrack and analyze networks but it is not required. Obsfucate your SSID. use a good 14 digit password. Truecrypt your disks. MSE is ok. But use spybot as well. and ccleaner. Your all good to go.
AMOUZOUN Mériadec's comment, September 17, 2013 8:22 AM
Are you sure that this is the solution? real sécurity cost money! i think.
AMOUZOUN Mériadec's curator insight, September 17, 2013 8:30 AM

Real sécurity cost money but those way  use to secure small-business network are good and free!

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Top 3 Reasons Your Small Business Should Blog

Top 3 Reasons Your Small Business Should Blog | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Already have social media covered, but curious how you can generate more interest for your small business online? Think about starting a blog...Here's the top 3 reasons we believe more small businesses should get blogging right away.

 - Build Authority: Writing a blog that grows and creates interest has the ability to create an aura of authority around your business...others will begin respecting your knowledge and trusting what you have to say, even if you already have authority in your industry.

 - SEO: Search engine optimization is all about improving your rankings on sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. There are a number of ways to go about this, some more complex than others, but a simple way is through the publishing of articles on a blog.

 - Social Media Integration: Content on your blog makes for great social media ideas. You can encourage your audience on different social sites to read your articles by posting them. This has the ability of expanding your readership and encouraging social sharing.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Static pages will get you only so much traffic. Blogging is one way of adding content and generating interest.

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Gareth Ellis's curator insight, August 23, 2013 4:07 AM

I love to design sites using wordpress, the benefits of a blog are hard to ignore.

dan's curator insight, December 25, 2013 4:00 PM

Just blog!

;)

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Small Business Burnout: Keep Employees Happy and Engaged

Small Business Burnout: Keep Employees Happy and Engaged | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

It's no secret that a heavy workload is par for the course at many small businesses where employees are expected to wear several hats, often serving as a customer service representative, a sales associate and COO in the same day.

Unfortunately, long hours and an inability to walk away from work at the end of the day can leave many small-business employees feeling taken advantage of and burned out. Since saying "thank you" isn't always possible with a bump in salary, experts say companies should offer other benefits and perks to ensure employees keep performing -- and keep smiling.

Recognition and rewards can go a long way toward increasing employee engagement and reducing their stress...
"Celebrate the small wins. Ask your team what they feel a reward is. Listen to them and act accordingly," Dowling says, suggesting that "fun" is always a good way to show gratitude.

"Reward your employees with some fun - a foosball table, free lunches and healthy snacks, some fun contests," he says. "Create a vision that everyone is driving towards, then it's not so much work as it is attaining a goal."

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Celebrating small wins and rewarding your employees with some fun can avoid employee burnout in small businesses.

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The Customer's Shoes's curator insight, August 8, 2013 12:42 PM

Celebrating small wins and rewarding your employees with some fun can avoid employee burnout in small businesses.

BSN's curator insight, September 9, 2013 5:38 AM

Keep Employees Happy and Engaged is a key factor in a samll business

 

#business #smallbusiness 

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For Small Businesses, Bank Loan Alternatives

For Small Businesses, Bank Loan Alternatives | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

“Small, emerging, growing businesses have few traditional sources to turn to. You have to get a little creative...” Some creative alternatives have been around forever; others emerged during the crisis. Almost all are substantially more expensive than traditional bank loans, which is why they have been sources of last resort. But as demand for alternative options has increased, some prices have come down.

- Asset-Based Lending: Companies sell their receivables, or invoices, to a factoring company, which gives the companies 80 to 90 percent of the value upfront

- Lease-Back: Healthy companies with warehouses, manufacturing locations or other properties that hold value that could be put to use elsewhere.

- Cash Advances: A business receives a lump sum from a lender, which then takes a percentage of the business’s daily card receipts until the loan, plus a predetermined fee, is paid.

- Nonbank Loans: Seasonal businesses, microbusinesses and other businesses that cannot meet bank requirements.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

If you need a loan and cannot get it from a bank, here are some alternatives. However, these are typically more expensisve. So, evaluate carefully.

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Kabbage Cash Advance Funding for Online Merchants

Kabbage Cash Advance Funding for Online Merchants | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Do you sell products on Amazon or eBay but do not have enough capital for inventory and other expenses?.. Basically, the process is very simple and does not take much of your time. Once you submit your application, they evaluate it and decide the amount you are eligible to receive. There are two factors that are considered when deciding on how much of a cash advance you will receive. First, they look at your average monthly revenue of your business. Second, your businesses social networking activities are evaluated – the more followers and likes you have, the higher the cash advance will be...All of their financing works on a 6 month cash advance schedule...Kabbage gets repaid directly from the merchant’s PayPal account.


Pros
- Advances of up to $40,000
- Fast response - application process takes about 7 minutes

Cons

- Only to specified online merchants

- Cost and fees

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Small businesses have a hard time getting finance. Banks require collateral and find it too expensive to lend less than $100,000. Here is a new service that provides smaller cash advances to online merchants. 

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Smile's Better to Boost Small Businesses, Says New Research

Smile's Better to Boost Small Businesses, Says New Research | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

A simple smile and a friendly greeting can make customers feel much more loyal towards small independent companies, according to new Kingston University research...The study, which examined the retail behaviour of 2,006 consumers and the business practices of 1,216 decision makers in small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), reveals that a smile and a friendly hello is the most common reason (59 per cent) why consumers feel loyal towards independent retailers. However, only just over half (54 per cent) of respondents stated their small business employed this practice. Three in five consumers are also willing to pay more for a product from a small independent shop rather than deal with a large corporate retailer...More than a third of loyal consumers said they kept coming back because of excellent customer service and one in five said they valued businesses remembering their usual order.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Small businesses can benefit from the personal touch.

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RightWayStartUps's curator insight, June 28, 2013 4:20 PM
Just goes to show that it's not always what you say, but how you say it - with a smile :)
Darren Sabo's curator insight, July 7, 2013 11:45 AM

Even large businesses can benefit... a simple smile, hello, and thank you can go a LONG way with customers and coworkers alike!

 

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Emergency Fund: How Much Your Small Business Should Have

Emergency Fund: How Much Your Small Business Should Have | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it
We all know it's a good idea to have personal savings, but have you considered how much your business needs in cash reserves, and how you should go about meeting this goal?

 

In a business’s daily operations, unexpected expenses and opportunities arise that require a quick response. And if you don’t have enough tangible funding on hand to meet these costs, your operations could come to a halt because you can’t afford to fix an emergency mishap, or you may lose out on an additional source of capital because you don’t have enough to travel to meet a new investor.

 

As a business owner, you should always have a contingency fund. It’s hard to speculate what could happen in the future, but it’s best to have money on hand for when the impossible happens...You should try to save 5-10 percent of what these issues would cost and set it aside as an emergency contingency in addition to your regular cash reserve.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

It is not enough that your business is profitable. It is important to create a cash flow projection and manage it carefully. Keeping an emergency fund helps minimize risks.

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Why Your Small Business Needs CRM

Why Your Small Business Needs CRM | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Recent studies show that companies with a fully utilized CRM system can increase sales by 29%. But, any system is only as valuable as the information that goes into it. How do you get everyone in the company to use it and provide real time data?

- Make it simple: Any CRM system only needs: Prospect information, when and what was talked about last, follow up date/reminder and action, who it is assigned to, and what is the dollar value of the opportunity.

- Make sure it integrates with other company systems: Is it complementary to what is already being used? Can data be easily imported and exported from the CRM?

- Train them over and over again: Make it easy to use so they can get their jobs done. Show them how to use it from their smart phones or tablets.

- If the activity isn’t in the CRM system, it never happened: Every company needs to treat their CRM as the only repository for history. No one gets credit for anything if it is not written about here.

- Reports: Make sure you can get real time reports from the data.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Check out free open source CRM systems featured on this site for your small business.

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Small Business Tips for Seasonal Businesses

Small Business Tips for Seasonal Businesses | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Seasonal businesses balance periods of whirlwind activity with stretches of calm. Getting everything in order for those busy times (not to mention figuring out how to make the money last all year long) can sometimes be a challenge.
 - Figure Out the Finances: First, develop a complete financial picture for your business.
 - Sales History and Goal-setting: Seasonal small business owners should make meticulous recordkeeping a priority.
 - Develop Sources for Market Research: Evaluating historical data is only half the story. You must also understand the market pressures that are likely to affect your business in the next season.
 - Calculate a Calendar Countdown: Bergman uses the example of a landscaping business in Cleveland, where lawnmower engines usually start running in the middle of March.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Making the money last all year long is the biggest challenge for seasonal businesses.

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BSN's curator insight, December 24, 2013 8:42 AM

Small #BusinessTips for Seasonal Businesses

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How to get the most out of Pinterest for your small business

How to get the most out of Pinterest for your small business | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

This internet giant is making the jump from time-waster to marketing tool with the rest of it’s social media friends, and it is time for all small business owners to get on board... Pinterest could make any business more awesome:
1. Make boards about things customers wouldn’t think about: Follow the lead of Deschutes Brewery in Oregon. Their page has boards for recipes using beer, lists of events they are putting on and even how to reuse old bottles around the house.
2. Contests: offer up a weekly prize. People will want to get in on the action once they hear about the $25 gift card.
3. Add a pin it button to your website: The people that pin things from your site will most likely follow you as well.
4. Bundle your social media: Cross promote everything.
5. Coupons: People love coupons and they will print them and cut them out
6. Actually use it: Update regularly.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Social media is becoming more important for small business marketing. Here are some tips on how to use Pinterest.

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Alessandro Brusamento's curator insight, December 3, 2013 4:36 AM

Ho tradotto questa piccola introduzione ad un articolo pubblicato su www.digitaltrends.com

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Privacy Software BleachBit Securely Deletes Unwanted Files

Privacy Software BleachBit Securely Deletes Unwanted Files | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

This free open source software can be used to delete temporary files and other information that are recorded by the supported operating systems and specific applications.

Running a software like BleachBit regularly protects the user's privacy by deleting information about opened programs, files and websites. It also increases the free available hard drive space by deleting temporary files.

BleachBit users can clear system files and locations like the Recycle Bin, logs or recent document lists as well as temporary data from programs like Skype, Thunderbird, Mozilla, Opera or Microsoft Office. Lastly there is an option to deep scan the computer system for temporary and backup files.

The preview button can be used to run a scan on the system without actually deleting files immediately... Temporary files can be overwritten automatically to prevent file recovery.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Running a software such as BleachBit regularly will improve security as well as recover disk space.

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How a small business recovered from a hack attack

How a small business recovered from a hack attack | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

David Perdew learned during his company's semiannual training workshop in February that its website had been hacked.

A threatening message on the site read: "David Perdew, you owe me money and I will expose the database to the world if you don't pay."

The attack forced the company to shut down its site for six weeks, and cost $75,000 in lost revenue and expenses to overhaul its computer system.

The company's tech staffers began working to find out how the website was hacked. Ten hours after the attack was discovered they figured out that a person overseas, who had signed up with NAMS, used his login and technical know-how to invade the system and plant a malicious file.

The next challenge was finding the file. Perdew decided to keep the site down until all 70,000 files in NAMS' system were combed and moved to a new computer. Thousands of files and software applications were purged.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Prevention is better than cure! Take the precautions needed to prevent such an attack on your website.

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Setting a Price is a Delicate Balance for Small Businesses

Setting a Price is a Delicate Balance for Small Businesses | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

For years, Wendy Coulter resisted consultants’ cries for her to raise the price of services offered by her firm, Hummingbird Creative Group. But when she finally gave in, the experience made her a believer... “If your rate is too low, people don’t take you seriously. They think something is wrong, or they think you are going to take too much time, or they just don’t feel like you have the right level of experience or you would know what you should be charging.”

 

“The important thing is that they actually develop a pricing strategy,” Bassett said. “They will be a lot more profitable and be a lot more successful if they do that.” First, owners need to capture all their business costs and set up an accounting system that can be monitored daily, Bassett said, not once a year before they hand it over to their accountant.


“Since small companies are more nimble, a lot of times it would be easier to compete on customer service and quality” and offer a price that is competitive but not the low-cost leader... Annual price increases are healthy, Bassett said, and studies show that up to 5 percent increases will generally pass without protests from customers.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Compute your costs, monitor your competition and don't try to be the lowest cost vendor.

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Online Video Tips for Small Businesses

Online Video Tips for Small Businesses | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

If your site lacks video, you're passing up a great opportunity to hook customers... people who view a video online are 64 percent more likely to complete a purchase than other visitors. Legendary online retailer Zappos discovered that items with video outsell those without by 35 percent...Web videos are also a great search engine optimization (SEO) opportunity. Search engines consistently rank pages that contain video higher than plain websites... Now that you're convinced, here's how to enjoy the business-enhancing benefits of online videos:
1. Tell a Good Story: Products and services abound. Good stories are much harder to come by.
2. Be You: The video should really express your company's culture and personality
3. Use Upbeat Music: Upbeat music plays better with consumers while they're researching their options online
4. Don't Recreate the Wheel: If it's your first video, keep it simple.
5. Don't Make Mom Blush: Have fun, but keep it clean.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Look for opportunities to tell stories about your small business. Create a video and add it to your web site.

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dan's comment, August 29, 2013 2:46 PM
Totally Agree!
Indigo Designs Group's comment, September 5, 2013 10:46 PM
Absolutely!
Dotty Scott's curator insight, September 26, 2013 11:39 AM

Video on your website is a great optimization tool!

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6 Ways to Save with Virtualization in Your Small Business

6 Ways to Save with Virtualization in Your Small Business | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Virtualization offers many benefits for small businesses, including cost savings and IT efficiency. And options such as Oracle’s VirtualBox and VMware Workstation have put the technology within reach of small business budgets. Here are some suggestions for how you can leverage the power of virtualization in your small business:
- Replace an old or unsupported machine.
- Create a system backup: A VM backup can help your business quickly get up to speed after a catastrophic hardware failure.
- Provide internal services: Virtualization makes it easy for businesses to setup an environment without having to purchase new hardware.
- Support Mobility: Set up a VM to serve as the Remote Desktop.
- Enhance security: Limit Web browsing activities to a virtual environment that has no access to sensitive files.
- Distribute apps without having to install them: Great way to ensure that your software demo will not fail due to missing drivers and code libraries.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

When you are under pressure to buy new hardware, run through this checklist to see whether the same thing can be achieved by putting a virtual server on an existing hardware.

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Girija Tickoo's curator insight, August 12, 2013 10:04 PM

Benefits of Virtualization!

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What is Branding? And Should Small Businesses Care?

What is Branding? And Should Small Businesses Care? | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

Branding is what creates customer loyalty...it is what keeps consumers loyal and buying repeatedly.

 

It is something that triggers associations in our minds. Branding is about creating an identity. It’s what sets one company apart from another. In short, it tells us what we can expect from that company. It’s about the perception people have of the company...Your branding is all the elements that make up a brand, whether logo, packaging, colors, reputation for customer service, reputation for customizing customer orders without complaint, speed, self-serve options, low price, high quality...

 

Here are 4 low-cost actions you can start on today to help your small business create, build and reinforce brand:

1) Start with clarifying what your brand stands for.
2) Audit your marketing materials.
3) Demonstrate it with stories.
4) Use colors, symbols and other elements to create visual associations.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

As the author points out, "...branding isn't just for large corporations. When customers have seemingly endless choices, branding becomes a crucial competitive edge. That’s the value of branding for small businesses."

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Will Costello's curator insight, August 22, 2013 9:14 PM

This article details not only the importance of branding in a business, but identifies the grey areas associated when defining branding in a marketing sense. Branding is what your mind associates with various products services and organisations. With consistent branding, a company has the ability to communicate their ideas and values to the consumer more efficiently and more effectively. The article uses Starbucks as an example of effective brand association. Internationally Starbucks sustains the same consistent ideas associated with the brand, and delivers the same product wherever they are. With this strategy, Starbucks is able to build brand loyalty, as consumers will be able to identify their product and image and know exactly what to expect. With sufficient branding, a company can increase brand awareness, perception, loyalty, value.

Hsin-Ju Tsai's curator insight, October 1, 7:05 AM

"Branding is about creating an identity".  Branding is about telling people what you are. With a good branding strategy, it able to increase brand recognize, brand loyalty, brand preference..etc in customer' mind. No matter the size of the business, branding is always essential for business. @Ashleigh Ali

Mathew Weir's comment, October 1, 8:34 PM
Branding can be described as sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization — whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy. Its about creating an identity. Brands such as Nike and Adidas have created a strong identity with the tick and three stripes. It is also about creating consistency within e.g Starbucks. No matter where are in the world you know you will be getting the same product. In saying consistency is much easily created in a small company
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What can Small Businesses Do About Negative Reviews on Yelp

What can Small Businesses Do About Negative Reviews on Yelp | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

As to how much Yelp reviews matter, consider the following data points: 83% of consumers say online customer reviews influence their purchase decisions... As most consumers are aware, Yelp is based on user-generated reviews for local businesses. Getting negative reviews on Yelp can be especially bad for small businesses...

 

What can a business do about Yelp feedback gone wrong? In general, Pierre’s advice is to avoid posting direct responses to sites such as Yelp, PissedConsumer.com and RipOffReport, as the additional posts will simply drive the stickiness of the bad results even more. Better to do what’s possible to resolve the complaint in private, if possible, and to set up other locations such as your own website or your Facebook page as a location for customers to post their positive experiences (or to let you know about their genuine concerns or complaints.)

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Good advice on how to deal with negative reviews on consumer feedback sites such as Yelp.

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RubyLaureus USA's comment, July 10, 2013 2:15 AM
KPIs may be helpful to increase business performance ..............
http://www.madetomeasurekpis.com/
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Free Open Source LibreOffice 4 Review

Free Open Source LibreOffice 4 Review | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

LibreOffice is the full-featured suite of office apps that costs nothing and runs on everything. If you don't want to pay for Microsoft Office or Apple's iWork then LibreOffice is virtually your only choice...but Apache OpenOffice is far behind LibreOffice in power and elegance. If you want to leave your documents in the cloud, Google Docs gets the job done in a highly-polished but low-featured way, but LibreOffice is the only free, open-source desktop office suite that's even worth considering.
 - PROS
Free. Open-source. Cross-platform office. Almost as full-featured as Microsoft Office. Can import documents in formats no other office suite can manage. Familiar menu and toolbar interface.
 - CONS
Some inconsistent built-in defaults. Confusing, misleading option-setting dialogs.
 - BOTTOM LINE
LibreOffice 4 is the only serious choice for a no-cost open-source desktop- or laptop-based office suite. Its interface may be a bit clunky and outdated, but it's undeniably powerful and full-featured.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

If you are overwhelmed by the high price of commercial software or you are using pirated software, check out the free open source LiberOffice 4 Office Suite.

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Johnny's curator insight, July 7, 2013 3:20 AM

A good alternative to MS Office...

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Free Open Source Image Editor LazPaint Review

Free Open Source Image Editor LazPaint Review | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

LazPaint is an open source and free to download raster image editor aimed at users who are looking for an application that is more easily accessible than GIMP. While GIMP offers a broad range of powerful features that mean many see it as a genuine open source competitor to Photoshop, that power comes with a steep learning curve that is often a barrier to use for less experienced users.
This means that there is a market for less powerful, but more user friendly image editors.
LazPaint presents its users with a pretty clear and easily understood user interface...For image editor newbies who aren't looking for an overly powerful package or to enhance their photos, I believe that it is worth taking a look at.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

As described above, if you want a free open source image editor with features comparable to Adobe Photoshop, go for GIMP. However, if you want a more user friendly image editor, then you can check out LazPaint.

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Small business gets boost from mobile marketing

Small business gets boost from mobile marketing | Free Open Source Apps and Tips for SMBs | Scoop.it

In recent months, her marketing attention increasingly has turned to mobile to engage social media-savvy customers who are ready to spread the word. Her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapette (a local fashion shopping app) accounts are updated frequently with new products and promotions.

Next on her to-do list is developing a website optimized for phones, though she's also wondering whether it might be worth getting someone to build an expensive app for the store. "We need to start looking more closely at what devices people are coming from," she says.

Poitevent's quest reflects the curiosity and changing priorities of many small-business owners as mobile marketing tools broaden their potential message channels to reach nearby customers -- and open their shops to the scrutiny of nitpicking critics.

Mobile search capabilities and shopping options quickly have advanced to the point at which customers can be located -- and served targeted ads -- not only based on their demographic data but by their ZIP codes, street addresses, even the roads they're currently driving on.

Ashok Ramachandran's insight:

Mobile marketing is best suited for small businesses to deliver the message to a more focused audience in the nearby vicinity of your shop.

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