Can Industry Awards Help Your Small Business?

industry awards

industry awards

Several years ago I entered my running product in an industry awards contest that was sponsored by NASDAQ and launched at a large, well-established fitness trade show. After a few rounds it finally ended up being one of the semi finalists.

Before the trade show we were an unknown company with a brand new product, and we were struggling to get some traction and recognition with retail buyers.

Because of the contest we had buyers visiting our booth, which was hidden in the basement floor of the trade show. And at the end of the show NASDAQ had a party for the semi finalists, along with a lot of publicity.

This happened again when we won the Toyman award for innovation and quality, as voted on by consumers, and then became a product of the year in Creative Child Magazine. We got an extra boost in traffic and sales after both of them.

So, is it a good idea for small businesses to apply for awards? Do they help? Here are a few responses from small business owners: [Read more…]

Book Smarts or Street Smarts?

A recent debate at the Eastern Correctional Facility in New York between prison inmates and the Harvard debate team had me questioning whether it’s better to have street smarts or book smarts. In the end the “book smart” Harvard debate team was defeated by the “street smart” prisoners.

book smarts or street smarts

book smarts or street smarts

But the street smart prisoners didn’t win simply by their street smarts alone. They had a lot of help…from books. Through the Bard Prison Initiative, which gives incarcerated men and women the opportunity to pursue a college degree while serving their time, the prison debate team put themselves through a grueling educational boot camp to prepare. They had no access to the Internet and had to wait for weeks sometimes for a book to be cleared by security.

And this wasn’t a one time fluke. They’ve beaten multiple college debate teams in the past.

Simply having a formal college degree isn’t the answer to everything. Yes, you need it if you want to practice law or medicine, but to succeed in life you need something else that the prison debate team had a lot of… intellectual curiosity AND street smarts.

I put out a request to hear from others about which skill was better. Here’s what I heard:

“I have a sixth grade education and I’ve owned/co-owned three successful businesses over the last 20+ years. I have college graduates wanting to come work for me at $10.00 an hour and they are struggling to pay of $60,000.00+ in student loans. I got my education at the local library for free. I’ve never had to worry about paying back a student loan. [Read more…]

The Future of Work – Freelance

A recent study commissioned by the Freelancers Union and elance-oDesk found that at least one third of the workforce in the United States are freelancers. This number is anticipated to increase in the coming years, and will change the future of work as we know it. In fact, by 2020 it’s estimated that one in three workers will be freelance.

The job market of the past was pretty straight forward. You go to college (or not), pick a career path, and stick with it for life. When someone asked you what you did for a living, you would pick one title. But these days it’s not unusual to have several titles. Publicist/marketer/writer/photographer, etc.

The idea of freelancing is nothing new. It’s been going on since the 1800’s. What is new is the number of jobs and industries that are now included in the freelancing realm. With the advent of the Internet the number of jobs and industries has increased dramatically. You can now easily hire a freelancer from anywhere in the world, and the opportunities for freelancers is only going to get bigger. [Read more…]

4 Facebook Marketing Tips Entrepreneurs Can’t Ignore

                                                                                Guest post by Ivan Serrano

Facebook marketing tips

Facebook marketing tips

As an entrepreneur, you have limited resources. Not only do you have to make sure you have enough room in your budget to produce your product or service, but you also have to determine how you’ll build awareness of your business.

 

When it comes to implementing a social media strategy for your startup or small business, utilize the platforms that will give you the most results. Believe it or not, Facebook is still an extremely powerful tool for building awareness of your business and generating leads. In fact, Hubspot’s State of Inbound Marketing report found 77 percent of B2C and 43 percent of businesses acquired customers from Facebook.

 

If you’re currently planning your social media strategy, make sure Facebook is a part of your plan. Here are four facebook marketing tips for entrepreneurs:

 

1. Set a clear goal. 

 

A huge mistake many entrepreneurs and small business owners make with their Facebook strategy is not creating a clear goal. Many businesses think they can start sharing content immediately, however, this can greatly damage your online brand.

 

Before creating and sharing Facebook content, set a realistic goal for your Facebook page. For example, do you want to build a community for your business? Is it your goal to drive traffic to your website? Regardless of the goal you choose for your Facebook page, make sure it ties into your strategy and how you’ll drive results for your business.

 

2. Document your Facebook strategy. 

 

The foundation of any social media strategy is to make sure it’s documented. Create an editorial calendar for your Facebook strategy that outlines the type of content you’ll share and how often you’ll post. This calendar will make it easier for you to plan future content and ensure you’re consistently engaging with your audience.

 

When it comes to finding the right time to post on Facebook, it’s really important to understand your target audience. Do some research on the demographics of your audience and understand what their habits are on Facebook. For example, if you offer a project management app for Millennial business owners, you’ll want to research the best times to reach them on Facebook and they types of content they engage with most.

 

3. Share posts with photos. 

 

The most important element of a Facebook strategy is visual content. Socialbakers.com performed a study where they analyzed the top 10 percent of Facebook posts created by more than 30,000 brand pages. During this study, Socialbakers.com discovered Facebook posts that included photos included the most engagement. In fact, these posts received 87 percent interactions!

 

Every post you publish on Facebook should include a visual. Whether it’s a branded image or a photo that captures behind-the-scenes footage of your business, photos can add a large amount of value to your Facebook strategy. People will be more likely to comment and share your images, which means you’ll gain more exposure for your business.

 

4. Upload video content. 

 

In addition to photos and images, video is a powerful tool for creating brand awareness. According to Hubspot, the amount of video in Facebook News Feed has increased 3.6 times over the last year. Additionally, video posts per person has grown 75 percent over the last year.

 

There are a number of ways you can use video to promote your business. Publish customer Q&A sessions or create a product tutorial. As long as your video content provides value for your audience, you’ll be able to create content that drives results for your business. Once you’re ready to share a video, make sure you upload it to Facebook. This will ensure it’s played immediately when a customer scrolls by your post.

 

Although there are a number of social networks to choose from, Facebook remains to be one of the most effective platforms. By following these tips, you’ll be able to design and implement a Facebook marketing strategy that creates awareness and boosts sales for your business.

 

How do you use Facebook to market your business? 

Shark Tank Entrepreneur

Guest post by Ivan Serrano

The Shark Tank Formula for Startup Success

If you’re reading this now, you’re probably an entrepreneur who’s thinking about launching a business. If so, you’re about to learn some valuable advice that can make or break your success as a startup founder.

Over the course of nine seasons, ABC’s Shark Tank has given hundreds of entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to investors (otherwise known as Sharks). Throughout the show, 186 deals were made and the Sharks offered to invest over $20 million in 109 companies.

While it might seem like entrepreneurs who go on Shark Tank are extremely successful, there are a number of lessons to be learned. The reality is, launching a startup is a challenging goal and not every startup is successful even if they receive the funding they need. In fact, only one in 17 startups on the show have actually earned a profit.

When it comes to launching a startup and attracting investors, there are a number of variables to keep in mind. First, it’s absolutely necessary to know your product inside and out. Investors expect entrepreneurs to be able to explain the purpose of their product and how it’ll benefit their target audience. If you’re able to come up with a great product at fills a need, you’re on your way to a successful startup.

Next, it’s important to perfect your pitch and understand your numbers. As you approach investors, they only care about the numbers regarding your business and how you’ll be successful in upcoming years. When you meet with investors, be ready to explain how much profits you plan to earn in the next five years. This will make investors more interested in your idea.

These are just a few of the valuable lessons to learn from Shark Tank. To learn more about the Shark Tank formula for startup success, check out the infographic below: [Read more…]