Along with the introduction of the plural generation, mobile payments and pre-election year politics, 2015 also promises more development of the “internet of things”, a concept that small business owners may or may not be already familiar with. According to a Wired.com article on the IoT, the name refers to the increasing spread of networks as well as the proliferation of “smart” devices capable of using the internet to receive and collect information, bridging the gap between the internet and the physical world. How does the internet of things relate to small business? There are many ways that businesses both large and small could be changed by the increasing connection between the web, interenet enabled devices and people in the next few years. Here are a couple that business owners should take into account. Mobile payment technologies. The news that Apple will be moving into the mobile payment space brought the possibility of widely adopted seamless payments back into focus, as the challenge of balancing retailer concerns

A large number of independent business owners employ either dedicated web developers on their staff or a team of remote developers to manage the creation and upkeep of their websites. Learning how to effectively work and negotiate with web developers is an important skill to develop in the event that you are not going to be directly managing the coding of your website. But apart from managing the creation of the site from a technical perspective, small business owners should also be aware of the need to test drive the customer experience of their sites as well in order to guarantee that they are providing the means to effectively access the core services your business provides. What pages are entry points to your website? In order to begin to appreciate what your site feels and looks like from the standpoint of your customers, identify using your analytic suite what pages are the main landing pages that customers enter the site from. Usually this will be your

Linkedin is a social network for professionals, and thus is mostly devoid of the purely social content shared on Facebook, with the predominant focus being on sharing relevant perspectives and expertise related to business. For entrepreneurs, it  can be a great tool for meeting influencers and establishing a positive reputation as a knowledgeable member of your industry. One tool for sharing expertise on Linkedin is their long form posting tool, which allows business owners to share more detailed articles than through posting a status update alone. What are the benefits of long form posting as opposed to sharing a blog post? When you post a long form article to Linkedin, there are a few unique benefits that make it a viable option as opposed to simply sharing a post that you wrote on your business blog. According to Linkedin’s page on long form posting, a long form post doesn’t expire, rather, it is displayed as a link on your profile, meaning that it has a lot

If you aren’t already familiar with what a QR code is, it is essentially a design made up of dark and light boxes that can be placed via a sticker or printed, or even painted directly onto an object or service that acts as a link when scanned. Common applications for QR codes include ticket verification at sporting events, scanning shipped packages and any other application where the physical world meets the digital. QR codes are interesting in a small business context, especially for those who are in the midst of financing their businesses with bad credit, since they have a lot of different application and are very cost effective. What can you do with a QR code? A QR code can be used to open a website in a mobile browser, create and save a contact, track an ordered item, and essentially perform any task a digital link could while existing as a two dimensional object in the real world. Places to put QR codes include

E-commerce has gone from being a somewhat convenient novelty to a major source of consumer spending, as well as revenues for businesses that are able to attract and accommodate online shoppers. The annual growth of e-commerce is expected to continue, with this year expected to be the biggest yet, so business owners should make sure that they are prepared with special offers and site support that can help them make the biggest possible profit. One idea that can help business owners turn a larger percentage of their traffic into conversions is through enhancing the on-site support for their customers. Chat support. Simple to set up and reasonable to afford, a chat client can help your sales team interact instantly and powerfully with on page shoppers. Having the ability to reach out to chat the second that your customers get stuck on something or want a recommendation is a great way to streamline their path to conversion into sales, and can help you make sure that the

Apple Pay is an app available for IOS 8.1,  representing Apple’s historic foray into mobile payment solutions. A great blog post on BizEpic.com sums up the general thought regarding Apple’s presence in the mobile payment arena, saying “this changes everything”, and so it does. While the article is correct to point out that mobile payments are not exactly new, with Apple throwing the full weight of their market share and huge popularity behind their payment app, not to mention their significant innovative and aesthetic force responsible for the ubiquity of the iphone itself, many are assuming this is the product that makes mobile payment go mainstream. Apple Pay’s launch has apparently spiked interest in the Android alternative, Google Wallet, which has already existed for years with less warm reception, as well as thrown light on a series of events that brought challenger CurrentC out of development of their payment platform and directly into the fray, with a not too warm reception by the public after their

The month of November is when small business owners scramble to make sure that they are ready to meet the rush of the holiday shopping season. With a lot to prepare for, from Small Business Saturday to your clearance sales and New Year blowouts, business owners are in the midst of preparing for a marathon of sales that can take on the same intensity as a sprint. One thing that they must do in particular to get ready is make sure that their e-commerce sites are ready to handle the influx of holiday traffic they are expecting, and there is more than one aspect of whether or not a website is read to weather heavy traffic. Here are three areas that your business should ensure are strong regarding your e-commerce site before you roll out holiday marketing and start ramping up your efforts to drive traffic and conversions. Design. The design of your page refers not only to its aesthetic optimization, but to its form meeting

The way that a business works in the modern day is pretty much the same conceptually since the first business. Ideally, you will provide a good or service to your customer, and if they are happy with what they get they will tell others about it, which, combined with your own efforts, will bring in more business. Straightforward and familiar as this concept is, the tools that are being used to effect this result have changed dramatically in the last 10 years, with the ubiquity of the internet and the rise of mobile technology and social media effecting the basic communication habits of the majority of the population. Social media is the number one activity on the internet, and mobile continues to grow in use and importance to marketers. If your small business is not taking advantage of technology and social media (which is usually free), then you are missing out on a whole lot of potential, but beyond that, you may be allowing your

The tools that your business’s employees use to do their jobs will vary greatly depending on the type of business that you are running, but where they share common ground is in their ability to cause major issues when they don’t perform the essential functions that they are supposed to. From software to cloud storage to trucks or forklifts, if a tool that your employees need to do their jobs is either broken or not up to snuff, you need to know so that you can effectively replace it as quickly as possible, however sometimes employees are reticent to speak up, misidentify issues, or may be used to a system that is in need of upgrading. Like many things involved in running a business, it will pay off for you to know how to identify symptoms of equipment based constraints for yourself so that you don’t wind up confused as to why there is a bottleneck being created in your business. Firstly, do your employees

The use of social media is now the number one internet based activity in the US, with the average American spending around 37 minutes a day on their various accounts. For small businesses, not having any social presence long ago stopped being ok, along with not having a web site it is now one of the basics of getting yourself out there and being visible to your customers. Now, in light of the increasing prevalence of mobile devices and social media, often used in conjunction, business owners should look to the future and prepare themselves to win in a world increasingly driven by social and mobile marketing. Building a presence that is valuable takes time and some strategy, but business owners can’t afford to skip out on channels that are becoming more an more an intrinsic part of how people decide what to buy. Social marketing. With the price of entry set at free for most social networks, business owners will find that they have no

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