Small Business in the Cloud: 3 Predictions for 2019

Cloud computing continues to enable businesses large and small to do more with less. For that reason, as much as 70 percent of all software, IT, and tech spending will be cloud-based by next year, according to the International Data Corp.

Small business cloud computing

These startling numbers are among the reasons to believe that 2019 will see an arms race for companies looking to gain technological advantages on competitors — small businesses in particular.

The past year saw small businesses looking for ways to improve IT and business processes while mitigating risk and protecting data. According to market research firm Techaisle, this focus on optimization led many to invest in cloud technologies.…

The post Small Business in the Cloud: 3 Predictions for 2019 appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.



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Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank would gain little by merging

GERMANY’S ECONOMY may be slowing, but its financial capital is booming. New towers are rising to join those of Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, DZ Bank, Helaba and others on Frankfurt’s jagged skyline. More are on the drawing board. Had you read no financial news for the past decade, you might presume that Germany’s banks were thriving too.

How wrong you would be. Bankers grumble about subterranean official interest rates—they must pay the European Central Bank 0.4% a year to deposit cash—that show no sign of rising. Those compound an old problem: Germany’s extraordinarily crowded banking market. The country has 1,580 banks, grouped in three “pillars”: private, public and co-operative. Although the grand total is shrinking by 40-60 a year, the public pillar still contains 385 Sparkassen—savings banks, mainly municipally owned—and half a dozen Landesbanken—regional lenders, such as Helaba, that also act as clearers for Sparkassen. There are 875 local co-ops. Their clearer and corporate lender, DZ Bank, is Germany’s second-biggest bank by assets.

Some, to be sure, have found ways of making money. Unencumbered by the cost of running branches, DiBa, an online bank owned by ING, a Dutch lender, has clocked up double-digit returns on equity (ROE). But...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Will a worsening outlook for inflation force the ECB to act?

PATIENCE, PERSISTENCE and prudence: the latest incarnation of the European Central Bank’s policy guidance appears to take a leaf out of early Christian writings on virtue. The central bank has counselled that, because it takes time for pricing pressures to recover from crisis years, it will keep interest rates unchanged at least through the summer of this year.

Its waiting game, though, is being sorely tested. Underlying pricing pressures have been doggedly low for years. Now gloomy economic news risks further delaying their recovery. At its monetary-policy meeting on March 7th the bank will have to consider whether to ease policy.

The headline inflation rate, which stood at 1.4% in January, has been buffeted around by movements in oil prices. But core inflation, which strips out volatile components such as food and energy prices, has proved difficult to budge. It has hovered around 1% since 2015. That is subdued compared with its average level in 2000-07, and far off the bank’s target of headline inflation below, but close to, 2%.

The bank had hoped that above-trend economic growth would drive up wages and eventually force companies to put up their consumer prices. Indeed, economic growth was robust in 2017 and early 2018; annual wage growth had risen to 2.5% by the third quarter of 2018, a percentage point...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Governments use receipt lotteries to boost tax compliance

PEOPLE PAY taxes because governments say they must and society says they should. But what if tax compliance became fun? Governments around the world are encouraging consumers to ask for receipts by turning them into lottery tickets. Taiwan was an early experimenter, in 1951. The past decade has seen a flurry of such schemes: China, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia all now have them. Latvia will launch one later this year.

The aim is to make it harder for retail businesses to evade taxes. Worldwide, 20-35% of government revenue comes from value-added taxes (VAT) or similar levies on consumption. But as much as a third of what should be collected is thought to be forfeited because businesses under-report revenues. The problem is not business-to-business transactions; firms can usually reclaim any VAT they pay if they keep proper records. But when selling direct to consumers, it is tempting to accept cash without recording the sale. A tax-dodging retailer can undercut law-abiding rivals or pocket a higher margin.

The idea of a receipt-lottery scheme is to give customers an incentive to ask for receipts, thereby forcing sales to be recorded and taxed. Receipts might be printed with a code that can then be submitted into a central draw. Prizes range from decent sums of money to cars and holidays...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

The Federal Reserve reviews its monetary-policy framework

SARA GORATH was a little surprised when she was asked to speak at an event held by the Dallas Federal Reserve. What could a woman who runs a food bank have to say about monetary policy? On February 25th she found herself describing to Richard Clarida, vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve, the problems her customers face, including “how do you cut open a butternut squash if you don’t have a sharp knife?”

The event was the first of many “Fed Listens” sessions, part of an official review of the Fed’s monetary-policy framework. In addition to the likes of Ms Gorath, the Fed will hear from business and trade-union leaders, as well as academics. If the economy were a squash, monetary policymakers want advice on how to carve it.

Key questions will include whether the Fed should expand its toolkit and improve its communication. Also up for discussion is whether there might be better ways to meet its 2% inflation target (the level of the target itself will be taken as given). Perhaps, for example, rather than aiming for 2% regardless of recent history, policymakers should try to make up for past misses and aim for an average of 2% instead?

One could ask why the review is happening now; economists have argued over the Fed’s framework for years. The first official answer is that economic conditions are ripe for some chin-...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

New data sources make it harder for executives to mislead investors

“GO STRAIGHT to the source” is a useful rule for anyone seeking accurate information. It suggests that equity investors can best glean insight into a firm by quizzing its chief executive. But bosses are not always reliable narrators. Their position encourages them to be overly optimistic about their company’s outlook. Sometimes they are clueless. And occasionally they are careless about what they tweet.

On February 25th the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), America’s financial-market regulator, asked a federal judge to hold Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, a carmaker, in contempt. Mr Musk’s troubles with the SEC began in August when his tweet claiming that he had secured funding to take Tesla private caused the firm’s share price to soar. When the claim proved false, the SEC sued him for securities fraud. They settled in October, when Mr Musk stood down as Tesla’s chairman (he remains chief executive), paid a $20m fine and agreed to have his tweets approved by Tesla’s lawyers. He violated that last condition on February 20th by tweeting that Tesla would produce 500,000 vehicles this year—a claim he later had to clarify—without consulting the firm.

Regulators are not the only ones frustrated by Mr Musk’s antics. Investors have long clamoured for more insight into Tesla’s operations. Happily for investors...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Narendra Modi’s most distinctive economic policies were his worst

NARENDRA MODI, India’s prime minister, stormed to power so decisively in 2014 that it is difficult now to imagine any other outcome. But try. Imagine that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), a tired coalition led (if that is the word) by the Congress party, had limped to victory instead. What economic policies might it have pursued in a third term? This is not an entirely idle question. Any assessment of Mr Modi’s economic record in his first stint as prime minister requires a counterfactual scenario against which to measure it. A third UPA government is one such baseline.

A Congress-led government would no doubt have built on some of its existing pet initiatives, such as a job guarantee, providing employment on public works to rural households, and an identification scheme, giving every Indian a unique identity number based on a fingerprint or an iris scan. It presumably would have allowed the central bank to continue to fight against inflation, aided by a drop in oil prices.

A third UPA government would surely have shied away from reforming India’s onerous labour laws or privatising poorly run public enterprises, like Air India. It probably would also have dallied with resolving the banking system’s bad loans, fearing it might otherwise be condemned for bailing out crony companies.

As the next election...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

Why a global manufacturing slump is a recurring threat

THE GLOBAL economy had an inauspicious start to 2019. Markets went into a tailspin and America’s government was locked in a seemingly interminable shutdown. But matters have not played out as dismally as they might have. The government in Washington is open again. America and China appear close to a trade deal which, although modest in its achievements, would nonetheless reflect a welcome easing of tension between the world’s two biggest economies. Markets have smiled on these developments: the MSCI index of global shares has risen by 10% so far this year.

Good news notwithstanding, many economic indicators have undergone a remarkable downward shift since early 2018. Back then economists were celebrating the emergence of a broad-based expansion. When it assessed the world economy in January last year, the IMF hailed the “broadest synchronised global growth upsurge since 2010”. Now the progress on trade talks is occurring against a darker economic backdrop.

Global manufacturing activity has slowed (see chart). Economies that are especially reliant on trade, such as Germany and Japan, have suffered. Industrial production in the euro area has fallen over the past year. Both Japan and South Korea reported tumbling exports in January. The World Trade Organisation’s global trade outlook index has been falling for the past...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

The future of education in a world of pervasive computing

Computers have become so pervasive in today’s world that preparing students to work and assume leadership roles in this shifting landscape requires giving them a better understanding of how computers work, how to use them, and how they affect every aspect of society. That’s the reasoning behind the creation of the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, and it was the theme of many of the presentations and panel discussions in this week’s three-day celebration of the new college.

“We’re in the midst of a global transformation that’s catalyzed by the rapid acceleration of digital technologies, including unprecedented access to computation and data,” said Farnam Jahanian, president of Carnegie Mellon University, in a keynote address on Wednesday. “The scale and scope and pace of these advances are truly unprecedented in human history.”

“The impact of these technologies is ubiquitous,” he said, “with a wide range of applications from health care to transportation, finance, energy, manufacturing, and far beyond. … The pace of innovation is accelerating dramatically.”

These changes require a profound rethinking of the role of education in this rapidly changing environment, Jahanian said. “Imagine a day when by integrating emerging technologies, such as AI-enabled learning techniques and inverted classrooms, we can achieve personalized, outcome-based education,” he said.

MIT Provost Martin Schmidt, in a discussion with reporters, said that in creating the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, “one of the things that’s really critical to us is that not only should this advance computation, but it should really link to all the disciplines across the campus.” The college will “strengthen those disciplines in their use of these new tools,” he said, “but also when we learn things about how we apply those tools to the disciplines, that knowledge flows back … and informs the next generation” of computing research.

Schmidt added that in planning the new college, a key question was how MIT will deliver on its promise of making sure that the college “has in its DNA” an awareness of the societal impact of current and future advances in computing. This appreciation “should inform our educational agenda, what our undergraduates and graduates learn in the classroom, and it should inform our research agenda,” he said. “It should shape how the research is performed, and the kind of content we produce that informs policies and informs governments on how they should respond to the deployment of these technologies.”

The new college was founded partly in response to the fact that “there really was a transformation occurring across the campus,” with computation increasingly forming a key part of the work in amost all disciplines, Schmidt said. While about 40 percent of MIT students major in computer science, there was a clear need for an even greater integration of computation and data science early and deeply into every aspect of education.

Melissa Nobles, dean of MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, who also participated in the discussion, told reporters that students in that school were very excited to take part in this increased integration of their disciplines with computation. She cited examples of classes where mixed groups of computer science students and those majoring in arts, economics, or literature worked on problems that combined their different kinds of expertise. In one class, for example, the students studied in exhaustive detail the way writers of 19th century novels used male and female pronouns and how that related to the genders of the author and the main characters. The project required both computer expertise to analyze thousands of texts, and a knowledge of the literature in order to provide context for their findings.

Also during the discussion, Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College in California and another keynote speaker, pointed out that a deep understanding of computers and their impact is increasingly needed in a rapidly changing world where it is estimated that many of the jobs people perform today “are just going to disappear” within the next few decades. That makes interdisciplinary education more important than ever, she said.

Regarding the creation of the new college, she said, “I see this as an incredibly important step for MIT, and I think it’s going to influence other institutions to do similar things.”

The goals of the college reach far beyond just helping people in other disciplines to use computers more effectively, Nobles and others emphasized. It’s also important, they said, to make sure that the skills and knowledge from other fields flow back into computer science, influencing the ethical, political, and social implications of the work in that field — not just as an afterthought but as a fundamental part of thinking and planning.

For example, while it is tempting to make use of massive sets of data collected by social media, the use of such datasets can raise serious concerns about privacy and informed consent. Such issues may be relatively new territory for computer scientists, but they are longstanding issues that have been dealt with extensively by social scientists and philosophers whose expertise can help inform the data collection and analysis procedures.

The speakers at Wednesday’s symposium, representing many different fields and institutions, shared a sense of excitement about the potential for the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing to bring about significant innovations. “MIT continues to be a world-class institution that offers a distinctive education and research, of course,” Jahanian said in his keynote, “and this latest development will certainly increase its impact in this changing world.”



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Making family business our business

Did you know that more than half of publicly traded companies in the United States are family companies? This is low compared to other stock exchanges around the world, like Mexico and the Philippines, where family-controlled companies dominate the listed businesses. In fact, family-owned firms account for two-thirds of all businesses around the world, with matching influence on global GDP and job creation. The Family Capital top 750 ranking of the world’s largest family businesses illustrates just how large these companies can get and suggests how much they contribute to the world economy. The companies on this list, including household names like Walmart, BMW, Dell Technologies, and LG Electronics, have combined revenues of more than $9 trillion and directly employ around 30 million people.

Although the ownership, governance, management, and leadership of family firms is critical to the economic success of nations, they are less talked about than anonymously-owned public corporations like IBM, American Express, or ExxonMobil. They also face a unique set of challenges over the long term.

“Family companies perform significantly better in terms of sustainability, profitability, and growth of all kinds when compared to non-family businesses,” says John Davis, a globally recognized authority and pioneer in the field of family enterprise. “They are even shown to be more innovative than non-family companies. But despite their success, many family-owned businesses face serious challenges with sustaining their success over multiple generations.” Only about 30 percent of family-owned businesses survive into the second generation, according to the Family Business Institute. Twelve percent are still viable into the third generation, and only about 3 percent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond.

John Davis is one of the best-known voices in the world of family enterprise and family office. A strategic advisor and professor on the topic for decades, Davis has now joined MIT Sloan School of Management as a senior lecturer and is behind a series of new Sloan Executive Education programs designed to help family owners achieve multigenerational success and prepare for the future.

These programs can’t come soon enough, as digitalization, innovation, and technology have companies of all types on edge. For family-owned enterprises with a long tradition of doing things a certain way, the breakneck speed of technological change and industry disruptions can feel especially disorienting. Disruption and change are shortening time horizons for all businesses, but family businesses have extra layers of complexity — the future success of the business is inseparable from the well-being of the family — and all the more reason to be better educated about the future.

“I have always said that family businesses are slower but better,” says Davis. “But these days, can you still be slower and better? Where MIT really has done a lot of work and can add a lot to the thinking around family enterprise is the area of technological change and disruption and how it’s influencing industries, business models, and the way work is done. There is no faculty out there that is stronger in these ways than my colleagues at MIT.”

Davis’s new executive education programs help families manage disruption, think about where their industries are going, and get ahead of change — all while managing the evergreen issues that families need to stay on top of, such as preparing the next generation for skills they’ll need in the future, having the right governance, and keeping family relationships strong.

In all three of these courses, participants engage in interactive classroom work and exchanges among families from around the world. In the two Cambridge, Massachusetts, programs, families attend as teams and have daily private, facilitated discussions with an experienced family-enterprise coach to focus on their interests and agenda. And each family team leaves the program with a tailored action plan built together over the duration of the course.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and my work now is about the future of family enterprise,” says Davis. “Where business is going, where family offices are going, how ownership is changing, how capital is being raised, and how families are changing. All of these trends influence the nature of family enterprise, and I am mapping these changes and thinking about how this influences not just the management of a company, but the role of owners of these companies.”

The dynamic global family business ecosystem is set to grow even more important and influential in the years ahead. By virtue of this ecosystem’s impact on the economic health of countries and the well-being of their citizens, these new programs are well aligned with MIT Sloan’s mission to make a difference in the world.



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Kraft Heinz and its investors taste the food industry’s woes

THIS WAS supposed to be the quarter that Kraft Heinz showed America’s huge, struggling food companies a new model for success. A merger in 2015 had joined two of the world’s most iconic food makers. Backed by 3G Capital, a private-equity firm, the new group slashed costs at a pace that made rivals shudder and investors swoon. After a failed bid in 2017 for Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch giant, Kraft Heinz set out to prove it could not just cut fat but boost sales on its own. Bernardo Hees, the company’s boss, pointed cheerfully to new products, including Heinz Mayochup and something called Just Crack an Egg. The company was on the path to “sustainable, profitable growth”, he declared in November. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

On February 21st Kraft Heinz announced a staggering $15bn impairment, a dividend cut of more than 30% and an inquiry into its procurement by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Earnings calls are often sleepy affairs. This one was a nightmare. Some of 3G’s long-time critics are now clucking with satisfaction. Others fear 3G is tarnishing American treasures such as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Warren Buffett, who partnered with 3G to combine Heinz and Kraft and last year lost nearly $3bn on the deal. Yet dramatic as Kraft Heinz’s decline may seem, 3G’s impact and the food industry’s problems extend far beyond it...



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What four decades of correspondence from the Oracle of Omaha reveal

WHEN FUTURE generations want to study today’s capitalists, a good place to start would be Warren Buffett’s annual letters to the shareholders of his firm, Berkshire Hathaway. Unfortunately, any economic insights from the world’s most celebrated investor are woven in with lots of corny jokes about golf and fast food. Mindful that readers may not have the intestinal fortitude to stomach the Oracle of Omaha’s unique sense of humour, The Economist has performed a textual analysis of 40 years’ worth of Mr Buffett’s letters to see what his language reveals about his thinking.

Berkshire has changed a lot. Having grown considerably in size, Mr Buffett now speaks of “businesses”, rather than “business”. He has also taken to using the adjective “huge” (see chart). The letters track how the firm used to focus on buying small stakes in listed companies; it now buys large, established firms outright.

This shifting strategy has made it tough for outsiders to value Berkshire properly. On the face of it last year was a pretty dismal one for the company. Berkshire’s book value per share rose by just 0.4%, its worst showing since the financial crisis. Earnings were just $4bn, a meagre 1.2% return on equity.

...


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Video gamers v couch potatoes

IF READERS, LIKE Schumpeter, have children who barely have time to say hello as they hunch over a computer, headsets on, talking with friends while blasting their digital enemies to smithereens, here is some advice. Take them to a competitive video-gaming, or e-sports, tournament, like the Counterstrike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) “major” in Katowice, Poland, this weekend. It is an orgy of creative destruction—in the glorious, goriest sense.

Amid the razzmatazz and cosplay, it may not feel like a potent threat to mainstream entertainment. The Spodek, a Soviet-era arena shaped like a flying saucer in the heart of Katowice, only seats 11,500. But that is deceptive. The action takes place online as well as in the stadium. Fans are obsessed by the fierce strategising and skill behind teams shooting each other, throwing digital grenades and setting off bombs. As many CS:GO fanatics will watch the final as boxing fans watch a title fight. The biggest e-sports game, League of Legends, achieved more than 100m online viewers for a final last year, mostly Chinese. That is more than the number of Americans who watch the Superbowl.

Most compelling for fans, though, is the ecosystem around e-sports. CS:GO fans are also CS:GO gamers. They discuss the tournaments with their CS:GO teammates. They stream games on Amazon’s Twitch, listen...



via Business Feeds

A giant gold miner crashes its rival’s wedding

IN THE MOVIES weddings often feature a dramatic moment where the minister asks the congregation whether anyone objects to the union. On February 25th Barrick Gold performed the corporate equivalent of a spurned lover leaping to their feet mid-ceremony, offering $18bn to buy American gold firm Newmont Mining before it could consummate its $10bn takeover of Goldcorp, a Canadian one. Newmont was rushing into an “ill-conceived” merger and should stop to consider Barrick’s unsolicited “but clearly superior” bid, said Mark Bristow, Barrick’s chief executive. Newmont’s boss, Gary Goldberg, called the intervention “desperate and bizarre”.

After some grim years for the industry, the gold price is picking up and big miners want to grow bigger. The easiest and safest way to do that is to buy someone else’s mines. To which end Toronto-based Barrick bought Randgold Resources, a South African firm, for $6bn in a deal that closed in January. Newmont hopes to complete buying Goldcorp later this year.

This is not the first time Barrick has approached Newmont. Talks were well advanced in 2014 before an acrimonious falling out. Mr Bristow, Randgold’s former boss, has tried to persuade Mr Goldberg that much has changed since 2014. So far he has been unable to convince him that the two are a natural fit.

At least part of the problem...



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Troubling signs for the future of Australia’s giant coal industry

COAL HAS been king in Australia ever since British colonists first spotted the black stuff in coastal cliffs north of Sydney in the 1790s. Its grand epoch may finally be fading. China, Australia’s second-biggest coal customer, after Japan, was reported on February 21st to have imposed delays on coal imports from Australia at the northern port of Dalian, but not on those from other countries. A day earlier Glencore, a Swiss-based company and Australia’s biggest coal miner, announced it would cap coal production at current levels. And, for the first time, an Australian judge has refused to allow a new coal mine because it would have contributed to climate change.

The events have intensified a debate over coal’s future in Australia. Already, coal risked being enveloped in political battles over Australia’s climate policy and the economy’s reliance on China, the country’s biggest trading partner. Mining companies must increasingly grapple with not just green protesters but anxious banks, under pressure from investors to limit financing for new, polluting projects. Some big miners brush off any threat. “It is way too early for us to think that this is some turning point,” says Andrew Mackenzie, the chief executive of BHP, a giant miner based in Melbourne.

Coal is forecast to be Australia’s top export by value this year and...



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Conscious decoupling

THINK ABOUT the companies like Uber and Airbnb that have burst through into public consciousness in the past ten years. While many of them depend on the internet, their success is not down to any particular technological innovation of their own design. Instead, their secret lies in their business model.

Thales Teixeira of the Harvard Business School argues that the principle that underlies a lot of these models is called decoupling. In his book “Unlocking the Customer Value Chain”*, he explains how this concept applies across a wide range of industries.

Buying a product will involve at least four stages. First, customers will evaluate the items available; then they will choose one or two; then they will buy them; finally they will consume them. In the traditional model, the first three took place inside a single retail store. Customers would look at the TVs or dishwashers on offer, pick one they liked with a price they could afford, pay at the till and then take the item home or arrange for the retailer to deliver it.

These steps are all part of what Mr Teixeira calls the “customer value chain”. Disrupters have muscled in on some parts of this chain. One example is the practice of “showrooming”. Shoppers enter an electrical store like Best Buy and examine what’s on offer. But instead of purchasing the item in the...



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Global drugs firms are under pressure from American politicians

“AS A LIFELONG farmer who raised hogs, cattle and sheep…[I] know when someone’s trying to pull the wool over my eyes.” So declared Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, this week after the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs, ordered top executives from seven global drugs firms to explain why American drug prices are the world’s highest. Ron Wyden, the senior Democrat on the committee, denounced the industry’s “two-faced scheming and profiteering”.

Big Pharma has been pilloried for decades but still flourished, not least because it keeps producing life-saving innovations needed by Americans, who are in aggregate getting fatter, older and sicker by the year. Still, the hearing marks a dangerous moment for the industry. Reforms may force big changes to a lucrative business model.

Anger is growing over rising drug costs (see chart). Insulin cost less than $200 for a vial 15 years ago but sells for nearly $1,500 today, according to one estimate. Such price spikes have led to bipartisan support in an otherwise rancorous Congress for measures to tame the industry.

...


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Collaboration Software Meemim Shuts Down But Users Can Keep Accounts Until 2020

Meemim Shuts Down But Users Can Keep Accounts Until 2020

In an emailed notice, Meemim said their platform will be retired at the end of February 2019. This will give existing clients a grace period of about a month to find an alternative knowledge management solution as well as migrate their data.

Meemim said customers will have to move the data between the systems manually because of the cost involved in providing data extracts. This is an important point to remember because the back-end infrastructure will be shut down at the end of the month. It means no data will be stored or made available beyond that point.

If you have been using Meemim to share and store information by your organization, make sure you download it as soon as possible. Delaying the download to the last minute may cause problems if there is increased traffic or any other technical glitch, so plan accordingly.

The decommissioning of Meemim applies to free users. The company said paying customers will be able to use the system until 2020 or longer.

Meemim

Built in 2015, Meemim was designed as a way for teams and people in an organization to share knowledge.

The company said the closure comes even though it experienced some growth, but not enough to achieve the scale needed to make it a viable enterprise. The support of Microsoft is what kept it up and running, which has now ended.

Looking for an Alternative Provider?

With collaboration now an essential part of today’s workforce, knowledge management tools are a reliable way of bringing information together under one platform and make it accessible.

Even though Meemim will no longer be available, there are many companies in the marketplace which provide similar services.

Here are some of the other options: Atlassian ConfluenceProProfs Knowledge BaseBloomfire, and Freshdesk Freshworks.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Collaboration Software Meemim Shuts Down But Users Can Keep Accounts Until 2020" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Collaboration Software Meemim Shuts Down But Users Can Keep Accounts Until 2020

Meemim Shuts Down But Users Can Keep Accounts Until 2020

In an emailed notice, Meemim said their platform will be retired at the end of February 2019. This will give existing clients a grace period of about a month to find an alternative knowledge management solution as well as migrate their data.

Meemim said customers will have to move the data between the systems manually because of the cost involved in providing data extracts. This is an important point to remember because the back-end infrastructure will be shut down at the end of the month. It means no data will be stored or made available beyond that point.

If you have been using Meemim to share and store information by your organization, make sure you download it as soon as possible. Delaying the download to the last minute may cause problems if there is increased traffic or any other technical glitch, so plan accordingly.

The decommissioning of Meemim applies to free users. The company said paying customers will be able to use the system until 2020 or longer.

Meemim

Built in 2015, Meemim was designed as a way for teams and people in an organization to share knowledge.

The company said the closure comes even though it experienced some growth, but not enough to achieve the scale needed to make it a viable enterprise. The support of Microsoft is what kept it up and running, which has now ended.

Looking for an Alternative Provider?

With collaboration now an essential part of today’s workforce, knowledge management tools are a reliable way of bringing information together under one platform and make it accessible.

Even though Meemim will no longer be available, there are many companies in the marketplace which provide similar services.

Here are some of the other options: Atlassian ConfluenceProProfs Knowledge BaseBloomfire, and Freshdesk Freshworks.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Collaboration Software Meemim Shuts Down But Users Can Keep Accounts Until 2020" was first published on Small Business Trends



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What is a Business Continuity Plan and How Can it Benefit your Business?

What is a Business Continuity Plan and Do You Need One?

A big part of planning for small business success is a business continuity plan. This is the fallback position your business has when a natural disaster, power outage, or any one of a number of mishaps threatens your company’s ability to function.

Part of the initial planning for one of these important documents starts with understanding how vulnerable your small business might be if an emergency happened.

How to Get Started with a Business Continuity Plan

One of the first things that you will need to do is understand the natural disasters like floods and wildfires that can happen in your area. This is a good starting point so that you can tailor make a business continuity plan that reacts to any potential issues of this kind. Here’s a good starting point to better understand some of the risks.

Take Proactive Measure

Having one of these plans in place is a proactive measure. It is also motivational even if the disaster doesn’t strike because it shows your customers and shareholders as well as your employees that you are prepared.

Here’s some of the steps that you should work through with your small business to come up with a plan that will put everyone at ease.

Put an Emergency Team Together

Being ready for an emergency that can otherwise disrupt your business means having an emergency preparedness team in place. These are people that will be the foundation for how your business reacts and how operations will be able to continue.

Having this team in place means selecting some individuals or maybe a few managers who will be up to the task. They should have a thorough understanding of how your business works and these individuals all need to be reliable when it comes to decision-making.

If the whole idea was the brainchild of a committee in the first place, it’s a good idea to let them take charge although one person should lead the entire planning process.

Look at the Risks

Finding out where your company is vulnerable by looking at the risks and doing an assessment is the next step. One of the ways to approach this type of assessment is to take proactive steps for each disaster possibility.

In other words, it’s a good idea to be able to see any potential disruptions before they happen. There’s a National Weather Service that you can monitor and local services too. If you’re in a location where potential IT outages are an issue, assigning someone to monitor your network is a good idea.

If your business is near a body of water, making some flood preparations is a positive step.

Determine Essential Services

You’ll also need to be able to determine the essential services for your small business. Some of the things that your company does might need to satisfy regulatory requirements so they should be top priority. You might be in a business that makes goods or services that can impact the health and safety of your customers.

Your business may experience a disruption because of interruptions in power lines or communication. These are considered essential services because you need to keep them running so you will need to consider alternate sources like generators.

Indentify Major Customers

Even if your products and services don’t fit in those other categories, you’ll want to be able to earmark major customers that keep you afloat financially. Ticking off check marks next to your major clients so they are in the essential services category is a good idea.

Prepare an Action Plan

This is one of the foundations of your entire business continuity plan. It should start by describing the essential parts of your business that you identified in the previous step. The individuals that have been put in charge should be mentioned clearly here.

It’s a good idea to have backups as well. This is the meat and potatoes of all planning that you’ve done. Everything needs to be covered here. This includes how you’re going to reallocate staff to keep things moving and what plans you have for using other sectors to keep the essential parts of your business up and running.

Any changes that you need to make with delivery models and business reporting needs to be detailed here. An important part of any action plan lists contact information should you need to contract services including staffing and equipment.

Keep in mind you have a variety of software solutions that can help you by providing access to the cloud for disaster recovery.

Test and Train

Once you have a plan in place, you will need to test it and train the continuity team. By running through a few mock exercises, you will be able to see where the plan needs to be tweaked.  It’s a good idea that you continue to test even when you get the plan to where you think it needs to be. Reviewing your plan quarterly is a good idea to stay on top of any changes that need to be implemented.

Find a Business Continuity Plan Template

Putting together a business continuity plan is easy if you can find a template and just fill in the blank spaces to tailor make it to suit your business. There are a series of excellent resources to help you with a small business plan including The National Fire Protection Association’s Standard on Continuity, Emergency and Crisis Management. Here’s another version you can download and customize for your small business.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "What is a Business Continuity Plan and How Can it Benefit your Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends



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What is a Business Continuity Plan and How Can it Benefit your Business?

What is a Business Continuity Plan and Do You Need One?

A big part of planning for small business success is a business continuity plan. This is the fallback position your business has when a natural disaster, power outage, or any one of a number of mishaps threatens your company’s ability to function.

Part of the initial planning for one of these important documents starts with understanding how vulnerable your small business might be if an emergency happened.

How to Get Started with a Business Continuity Plan

One of the first things that you will need to do is understand the natural disasters like floods and wildfires that can happen in your area. This is a good starting point so that you can tailor make a business continuity plan that reacts to any potential issues of this kind. Here’s a good starting point to better understand some of the risks.

Take Proactive Measure

Having one of these plans in place is a proactive measure. It is also motivational even if the disaster doesn’t strike because it shows your customers and shareholders as well as your employees that you are prepared.

Here’s some of the steps that you should work through with your small business to come up with a plan that will put everyone at ease.

Put an Emergency Team Together

Being ready for an emergency that can otherwise disrupt your business means having an emergency preparedness team in place. These are people that will be the foundation for how your business reacts and how operations will be able to continue.

Having this team in place means selecting some individuals or maybe a few managers who will be up to the task. They should have a thorough understanding of how your business works and these individuals all need to be reliable when it comes to decision-making.

If the whole idea was the brainchild of a committee in the first place, it’s a good idea to let them take charge although one person should lead the entire planning process.

Look at the Risks

Finding out where your company is vulnerable by looking at the risks and doing an assessment is the next step. One of the ways to approach this type of assessment is to take proactive steps for each disaster possibility.

In other words, it’s a good idea to be able to see any potential disruptions before they happen. There’s a National Weather Service that you can monitor and local services too. If you’re in a location where potential IT outages are an issue, assigning someone to monitor your network is a good idea.

If your business is near a body of water, making some flood preparations is a positive step.

Determine Essential Services

You’ll also need to be able to determine the essential services for your small business. Some of the things that your company does might need to satisfy regulatory requirements so they should be top priority. You might be in a business that makes goods or services that can impact the health and safety of your customers.

Your business may experience a disruption because of interruptions in power lines or communication. These are considered essential services because you need to keep them running so you will need to consider alternate sources like generators.

Indentify Major Customers

Even if your products and services don’t fit in those other categories, you’ll want to be able to earmark major customers that keep you afloat financially. Ticking off check marks next to your major clients so they are in the essential services category is a good idea.

Prepare an Action Plan

This is one of the foundations of your entire business continuity plan. It should start by describing the essential parts of your business that you identified in the previous step. The individuals that have been put in charge should be mentioned clearly here.

It’s a good idea to have backups as well. This is the meat and potatoes of all planning that you’ve done. Everything needs to be covered here. This includes how you’re going to reallocate staff to keep things moving and what plans you have for using other sectors to keep the essential parts of your business up and running.

Any changes that you need to make with delivery models and business reporting needs to be detailed here. An important part of any action plan lists contact information should you need to contract services including staffing and equipment.

Keep in mind you have a variety of software solutions that can help you by providing access to the cloud for disaster recovery.

Test and Train

Once you have a plan in place, you will need to test it and train the continuity team. By running through a few mock exercises, you will be able to see where the plan needs to be tweaked.  It’s a good idea that you continue to test even when you get the plan to where you think it needs to be. Reviewing your plan quarterly is a good idea to stay on top of any changes that need to be implemented.

Find a Business Continuity Plan Template

Putting together a business continuity plan is easy if you can find a template and just fill in the blank spaces to tailor make it to suit your business. There are a series of excellent resources to help you with a small business plan including The National Fire Protection Association’s Standard on Continuity, Emergency and Crisis Management. Here’s another version you can download and customize for your small business.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "What is a Business Continuity Plan and How Can it Benefit your Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Thoughtful Elements of Distinguished Content Marketing

Content that drives real business results often looks effortless, but we all know how much creative and strategic planning it...

The post Thoughtful Elements of Distinguished Content Marketing appeared first on Copyblogger.



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How to Craft a Brand Manifesto [Guide + Examples]

In Simon Sinek’s famous Ted Talk “How great leaders inspire action”, he fleshes out a concept that some of the most inspiring leaders and organizations -- specifically Apple, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright Brothers -- leveraged to build loyal followings. It’s called Start With Why.

Start With Why suggests that if your brand truly wants to inspire an audience to follow you, your core message should focus on your organization’s purpose -- not how you make your product or what your product is. Spotlighting why people should care about your organization is how Apple, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Wright Brothers ultimately built a body of support for their causes, even though they all faced fierce competitors.

Simon Sinek’s notion that people buy the “why” behind your organization, not the “what” or “how”, isn’t some idealistic trend catching fire in the business world today. It’s actually rooted in human biology. To explain further, the most primal part of the brain is called the limbic system, and it controls all decision making. It also happens to control all of our emotions and feelings.

So, resonating with your audience will also appeal to the part of the brain that’s responsible for action. In other words, if you can evoke emotion, you can drive behavior. If you can’t do the former, though, you’ll struggle to build a loyal following, let alone sell them anything.

But how do you discover the “why” behind your organization? How do you actually connect with an audience and inspire them to follow you? One of the best places to start is by writing a brand manifesto.

5 of the Best Brand Manifesto Examples

1. Nike

Nike Brand Manifesto

Image Credit: Pinterest

Even though Nike endorses some of the biggest names in sports, like LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Serena Williams, they never boast about how the best athletes in the world use their equipment. Instead, they stick to what has skyrocketed them to the top of the sports equipment industry -- emotional resonance.

Nike wants people to understand that success doesn’t mean becoming the greatest of all time. It means you did everything you could to become the best possible version of yourself. And that’s the “why” behind their brand -- to empower every athlete, regardless of their talent or ability, to reach their potential and achieve their own greatness.

2. Fiat

Fiat Brand Manifesto

Image Credit: Pinterest

Fiat isn’t just selling a sleek, Italian car. They’re selling a lifestyle. In their brand manifesto, you get a glimpse of the life they want to offer to their customers -- a life that they can live with burning passion and thrilling excitement.

However, Fiat doesn’t want its customers to live recklessly. They actually want them to treasure the little things in life just as much as the big things. So the “why” behind Fiat’s brand isn’t really changing their customers’ lifestyle -- it’s changing their attitude toward life. And that’s a compelling mission to have.

3. The North Face

The North Face Brand Manifesto

Image Credit: Pinterest

Most travel equipment brands focus on how their products can enable you to travel and explore your surroundings, which is engaging on the surface. But, in The North Face’s brand manifesto, they go another layer deeper by diving into why we explore.

By describing how exploring helps us understand ourselves better, The North Face’s purpose is crystal clear -- they not only want to help us explore more, but they also want to help us change for the better, lead more fulfilling lives, and cherish what we have.

4. Apple

Apple Brand Manifesto

Image Credit: Pinterest

For almost his entire career, Steve Jobs was considered crazy. His bitter disdain for the status quo compelled him to shatter conventional wisdom whenever he could, driving such a large wedge between him and his colleagues that they forced him out of the company he founded.

Despite all his controversy, though, Steve Jobs’ ability to think differently was what fueled Apple’s innovation and transformed it into the most valuable brand in the world. Steve Jobs’ story is the driving force behind Apple’s purpose. If they can inspire people to think differently and challenge the status quo, then they can help propel society forward and change the world -- just like Steve Jobs did.

5. Levi’s

Levi's Brand Manifesto

Image Credit: Pinterest

No one wants to coast through life. But, a lot of times, we drift away -- and we don’t even notice it happening. To help catch yourself settling in life before it’s too late, Levi’s crafted a brand manifesto overflowing with so much purpose that it could convince Eeoyre from Winnie-the-Pooh to go make his mark on the world.

By asking their audience whether they’ve made the world any better and telling them that all they need is their gut instinct and the clothes on their back to make that impact, Levi's conveys a brand purpose almost everyone would passionately follow for the rest of their lives -- don’t ever settle.

1. Identify your organization’s "why”.

Your brand’s purpose drives your entire brand manifesto. Without presenting a clear and convincing purpose, your manifesto will seem like an inauthentic, emotionally manipulative sales pitch. Your audience wants to know why they should care about you -- and your product’s “best-in-class” features has never been a compelling enough reason to support a business.

To uncover your organization’s "why”, consider asking your founders why they started the company. What problem were they trying to solve? Why did it bug them so much? And why do they want to keep growing the company? You’ll most likely find your organization’s purpose within those answers.

2. Write in second- or third-person to place your audience into the story you’re telling.

In each of the brand manifestos above, you’ll notice that the copy pulls you in by including the words "we” or "people”. That’s because Nike, Fiat, and The North Face all know that their audience primarily cares about how the brands can help them, so using pronouns like "you”, "we", and "them” (when referring to their own customer base) can engage people on a personal level and place them in the narrative the brands are crafting.

3. Describe how your brand’s purpose will improve people’s lives.

Most people aspire to transcend their current identity and lives. Self-actualization is a universal goal that almost everyone wants to achieve. And the smartest brand marketers understand this about the human condition.

For instance, did you notice how each of the brand manifestos above is essentially a life mantra that can improve your life? Nike -- define and meet your own greatness. Fiat -- enjoy life to the fullest. The North Face -- never stop exploring. Apple -- think differently and challenge the status quo. Levi’s -- don't ever settle in life.

By describing each brand's purpose in a such genuinely selfless fashion, each company's brand manifesto can prompt their audience to imagine a future with their product or service bettering their lives.

Start With Why

Your brand’s purpose is one of the most challenging things to pinpoint and communicate. But if you want to craft a compelling brand manifesto that will engage an audience and persuade them to support your brand, you must be able to clearly convey the reason you exist and why anyone should care. Only then will you be able to build the loyal following that every brand craves.



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Apply These Secret Techniques to Become More Authentic in your Small Business Marketing

Authentic Marketing is a Trend in 2019

Marketing for small businesses is becoming increasingly difficult. Customers are growing tired of traditional paid and owned advertising. We’re living in the age of the customer experience, and the same principles apply when it comes to marketing. Consumers want a brand they can trust and build a relationship with. They want to connect with brands and that means that businesses need to consider spicing up their marketing strategy this year. Customers today want authenticity.

The ideas of authenticity and marketing may seem like polar opposites. But, in the digital age, consumers are so connected that authenticity is essential to successful marketing. Customers have the advantage. They have access to all of the information they could ever want to know about your product or service. They also have unprecedented access to a global network of reviews, both positive and negative, on which to base their opinions of not only your products and services but your brand as a whole. News spreads fast on social media, and your brand could turn from being on top of the world to a sinking ship in no time

Be Customer Conscious

Authenticity in marketing means being honest and transparent with your customers.

Make it personal- while the concept of personalization in marketing is nothing new, taking the time to let your customers know you care can really go a long way.

Own your mistakes and shortcomings- customers will be more likely to extend you some grace if you’re humble and willing to engage them if you fail to meet their expectations

Respond, don’t react- if you receive a negative comment on social media, address it quickly and with honesty. Avoid knee-jerk, emotional reactions that will perpetuate a negative image.

Face the Feedback

One way to promote authenticity this year is to ask for feedback from your customers. Traditional marketing is a one-sided conversation. It involves a business sending a message to a customer and waiting for the sales to start pouring in. However, being authentic requires participation from both sides. Call your customers on the phone, or better yet, meet with them in-person. Ask them what their perception is of your brand and company. Let them know that their opinions and stories are valued. While you might be surprised at how your brand is received in the real world, you have a tremendous opportunity to really connect with your customers in an authentic, honest way. Then, use that feedback to improve your marketing effort.

Credibility is Key to Authenticity

Get familiar with earned media. Earned media is a relatively overlooked marketing tool. According to business.com, earned media is when “a business or business leader is written about, quoted in or contributes to a publication or website.” So, basically, the more credibility you have across your industry, the more likely your customers are to trust you and your brand.

Raising the Bar

It’s no longer enough to market and sell a product or service well.

Customers want to know what you’re doing with their hard-earned cash when they hand it over to you. They want to know your brand’s purpose and place in the bigger picture.

Are you giving back to the greater good? Are you trying to find eco-conscious sourcing or manufacturing? They want to be proud that what they are purchasing and they want to know that you’re committed to making the world a better place.

Hold onto Your Values

Stay true to your brand. This may seem obvious if you’re aiming for authenticity, but don’t feel like you have to reinvent your brand to remain relevant. Brands that try to reinvent themselves end up straying from their original core values. Customers can practically sniff out when you’re trying to be something you’re not. You created your company with a vision and values in mind, be yourself and stick to them.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Apply These Secret Techniques to Become More Authentic in your Small Business Marketing" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Apply These Secret Techniques to Become More Authentic in your Small Business Marketing

Authentic Marketing is a Trend in 2019

Marketing for small businesses is becoming increasingly difficult. Customers are growing tired of traditional paid and owned advertising. We’re living in the age of the customer experience, and the same principles apply when it comes to marketing. Consumers want a brand they can trust and build a relationship with. They want to connect with brands and that means that businesses need to consider spicing up their marketing strategy this year. Customers today want authenticity.

The ideas of authenticity and marketing may seem like polar opposites. But, in the digital age, consumers are so connected that authenticity is essential to successful marketing. Customers have the advantage. They have access to all of the information they could ever want to know about your product or service. They also have unprecedented access to a global network of reviews, both positive and negative, on which to base their opinions of not only your products and services but your brand as a whole. News spreads fast on social media, and your brand could turn from being on top of the world to a sinking ship in no time

Be Customer Conscious

Authenticity in marketing means being honest and transparent with your customers.

Make it personal- while the concept of personalization in marketing is nothing new, taking the time to let your customers know you care can really go a long way.

Own your mistakes and shortcomings- customers will be more likely to extend you some grace if you’re humble and willing to engage them if you fail to meet their expectations

Respond, don’t react- if you receive a negative comment on social media, address it quickly and with honesty. Avoid knee-jerk, emotional reactions that will perpetuate a negative image.

Face the Feedback

One way to promote authenticity this year is to ask for feedback from your customers. Traditional marketing is a one-sided conversation. It involves a business sending a message to a customer and waiting for the sales to start pouring in. However, being authentic requires participation from both sides. Call your customers on the phone, or better yet, meet with them in-person. Ask them what their perception is of your brand and company. Let them know that their opinions and stories are valued. While you might be surprised at how your brand is received in the real world, you have a tremendous opportunity to really connect with your customers in an authentic, honest way. Then, use that feedback to improve your marketing effort.

Credibility is Key to Authenticity

Get familiar with earned media. Earned media is a relatively overlooked marketing tool. According to business.com, earned media is when “a business or business leader is written about, quoted in or contributes to a publication or website.” So, basically, the more credibility you have across your industry, the more likely your customers are to trust you and your brand.

Raising the Bar

It’s no longer enough to market and sell a product or service well.

Customers want to know what you’re doing with their hard-earned cash when they hand it over to you. They want to know your brand’s purpose and place in the bigger picture.

Are you giving back to the greater good? Are you trying to find eco-conscious sourcing or manufacturing? They want to be proud that what they are purchasing and they want to know that you’re committed to making the world a better place.

Hold onto Your Values

Stay true to your brand. This may seem obvious if you’re aiming for authenticity, but don’t feel like you have to reinvent your brand to remain relevant. Brands that try to reinvent themselves end up straying from their original core values. Customers can practically sniff out when you’re trying to be something you’re not. You created your company with a vision and values in mind, be yourself and stick to them.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Apply These Secret Techniques to Become More Authentic in your Small Business Marketing" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Affordable, Stat-Based Retail Strategy For Your Agency’s Clients

10 Steps to Building a Successful eCommerce Website

On average, millennials make 54% of their purchases online and that number is only going to grow even more. This digitalization of sales makes building an e Commerce website a lucrative and potentially life-changing decision.

Browsing ecommerce website

 

If you choose the right niche and advertise aggressively, your ideas might take off and bring you unfathomable success. As enticing as this idea seems, there is a lot to be done before you can celebrate.

Building an eCommerce website takes time and a significant amount of growing pains. Follow these 10 steps to turns your eCommerce ideas into reality and achieve astounding sales numbers.…

The post 10 Steps to Building a Successful eCommerce Website appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.



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Business Fleet: Are Electric Scooters Safe?

Electric scooters are becoming more and more popular on our roads today. From businesses to pre-car license aged teens, electric scooters are proving to be a popular choice. Their range of miles have increased considerably from their first appearance on the market and their looks are equivalent to, if not better than their petrol run siblings.

Electric scooter for deliveries

With any electric vehicle today however, the biggest question on everyone’s lips surrounds the issue of safety. Are electric scooters safe to be driven on the road? Or quite simply, are they safe – full stop?

Today we’re going to look at the numerous reasons why electric mopeds aren’t just a safe choice but are one of the safety choices full stop.…

The post Business Fleet: Are Electric Scooters Safe? appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.



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The History of Signage Design

According to a well known online encyclo…pedia (wink wink), signage can be defined as any type of visual graphic that has been created to display information or convey a message to a particular audience. While that’s all very well and good for giving a broad description of signage today, we want to know where signage actually came from?

Old shop signage

How it was first used in comparison to today and what were the signs originally made of? Today we’re going to look at the first emergence of signage when man supposedly first learnt to express himself artistically, to the expertly designed shop signage by 4site Implementation and others.…

The post The History of Signage Design appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.



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What is a Haul Video and How Can You Use it to Promote Your Retail Business?

What is a Haul Video and Should You Still Use Them?

If you’ve spent any time on YouTube in recent years, you’re probably familiar with haul videos. This type of content can provide potential benefits to both influencers and small retail businesses.

Though they may not be quite as prevalent as they once were, it’s still important to be aware of the potential impact of these videos. They still may be able to help you spread the word about your brand or create useful content for your target audience. To learn the ins and outs of haul videos, here’s a quick guide.

What Is a Haul Video?

Essentially, a haul video is a recording of someone going over a collection of purchases. They may go into detail about what each product is, their initial impressions, and the shopping experience as a whole. A haul usually includes products from a single retailer, a particular collection of shops, or at least a specific category where the products all relate to one another.

Haul videos originally gained relevance around 2006/2007 through the beauty vlogging community on YouTube. But then the concept has since spread through plenty of other niches. And though they’re still most common on YouTube, they’ve also spread to other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Haul videos may not be quite as prevalent as they once were. But influencers are still creating and sharing these videos daily. And since the market for them isn’t quite as saturated, it could be an interesting time for businesses to jump in.

Haul videos really only offer initial impressions of products. They’re not as thorough as full product reviews. But they do usually contain products that the influencer has chosen, so they can quickly explain why they liked each item. In certain categories like clothing or makeup, the person may even try on the items to offer a full and honest first impression. So it could be a bit more impactful than an unboxing video, which often features products from a subscription box or items gifted from a PR company.

Who Can Use a Haul Video?

Haul videos have been posted in nearly every business niche and target audience. However, they tend to be especially popular in areas like makeup, fashion, toys, and any area where it’s possible/common to buy a lot of products at once. It’s not a concept that’s especially relevant for service businesses or retailers that sell really expensive products.

As a small retail business, haul videos can help you connect to relevant consumers through influencers. Basically, viewers watch and subscribe to YouTube videos of people they trust or who share similar tastes in products. So when that influencer shares a collection of products, a viewer might see an item that strikes their fancy and decide to purchase one as well.

On the influencer side, haul videos can offer a way to share valuable content with your audience. If you have a YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram account or blog, offering insights on the products you love can help your audience shape their own buying decisions. And the video format allows people to get a feel for your personality and connect with you. It also creates a natural way for you to infuse some brand related content into your strategy. This can lead to profitable connections for your business going forward.

How Can You Use Haul Videos for Your Small Business?

If you’re interested in utilizing haul videos as an influencer, you simply need to find a product category or shop that is relevant to your audience and then go on a shopping spree. When you film your video, simply go over each purchase and then promote your content. Over time, you may even be able to work with brands that want to connect with your audience. This can help you cover the costs of your videos and bring in a profit in exchange for spreading the word.

If you’re a retailer, taking advantage of haul videos requires finding relevant influencers to work with or promoting organic content related to your brand. Haul videos can be especially helpful in spreading the word about new products. So if you’re preparing for a launch or have recently unveiled a new line, you may want to contact some relevant YouTube creators or social media personalities in your niche to arrange sponsored content.

The exact logistics are up to you. But you may be able to pay them or arrange a free shopping spree for them. However, it is usually beneficial to have them pick out their own products. If you send them items without their input, they may be less relevant or less likely to share the positive attributes that drew them to each item. In these cases, they’ll also need to disclose that the content is sponsored.

Of course, organically created content can also be incredibly valuable for your business. This is a less proactive step. But you can still keep an eye out for haul videos that mention your business or include your products. Then you can promote them to your own audience. This may also be a helpful way for you to find influencers for future sponsored content opportunities, since they’re already genuinely interested in your offerings.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "What is a Haul Video and How Can You Use it to Promote Your Retail Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends



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