Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: What Works Best to Motivate Employees?

motivate employees

When it comes to motivating, engaging and retaining employees, there’s no one-size-fits all strategy that small business owners can rely on.

That’s the finding of Ceridian’s Pulse of Talent Survey, which polled employees ranging from Generation Y to Baby Boomers to uncover how they feel about job rewards and recognition, performance reviews and overall career satisfaction.

Key Finding to Motivate Employees

One key finding that might make cash-strapped small business owners nervous: Job rewards (that is, monetary or non-monetary compensation).

It is the most important factor in employee engagement overall. Nearly half (47 percent) of respondents rank job rewards first, above job recognition (42 percent) and job motivation (11 percent).

Keep in mind, however, that “job rewards” include both monetary and non-monetary compensation. So if you can’t offer raises or bonuses, you can offer non-monetary rewards (something 60 percent of companies in the survey do). In fact, the survey found that younger employees are driving a shift toward non-monetary rewards.

Sixty-four per cent of employees surveyed say they would like to see their companies offer non-monetary rewards, but among Generation Y, the percentage jumped to 70 percent.

The most popular non-monetary rewards:

  • Comp time off
  • Free food or meals
  • Event tickets (to shows, sporting events and concerts)

While these do cost money, they cost less than offering raises since they’re given on an occasional, not ongoing, basis.

That said, tangible rewards like raises, bonuses and promotions still matter to Gen Y. In fact, possibly more than they do to other age groups. While 31 percent of respondents overall say they’d start job-hunting if an expected raise, bonus or promotion didn’t materialize, among Gen Y that figure jumps to 48 percent.

It Depends on the Life Stage of the Employee

Other key motivators for employees vary depending on their ages and life-stages, too. For example:

  • Gen Y and Boomer respondents are more motivated by interesting work.
  • Gen X was more motivated by good benefits and good pay/salary.

This may reflect on life stage:

  • Gen X: Typically married and raising a family with lots of financial obligations.
  • Gen Y: Carefree with fewer financial obligations.
  • Boomers: Working less from financial need and more because they want to stay mentally active.

In general, employees of all ages say being able to work at home, have flexible hours, receive additional training options and opportunities and take on additional responsibilities make their jobs more rewarding.

The Differences

There are some key generational differences:

  • Gen X: Values flexible hours most (reflecting their busy lives juggling work and children).
  • Boomers: Prefers flexible hours and training opportunities (reflecting their interest in being mentally active).
  • Gen Y: Want the chance to take on more responsibilities and handle bigger projects.

What’s the takeaway for your business?

Don’t treat your employees like they come out of a cookie-cutter mold when it comes to benefits, pay and rewards. In fact, don’t even treat employees in one generation like they’re cut from the same mold.

Sure, some Gen Y employees are fun-loving singles who live with their parents and pay no rent, but others are frazzled new parents raising twins and going to night school.

Make the effort to get to know each of your employees and what matters to them. Yes, it will take some time and thought to craft rewards that motivate each worker (and are fair to everyone else). But the effort will pay off not only in financial savings but also in improved employee satisfaction, productivity and loyalty.

Generations Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

How to Motivate Temporary Employees to do Their Best

motivate temporary employees

According to a report (PDF) from the National Employment Law Project, the number of U.S. workers working in temporary jobs has reached an all-time high of 2.8 million people.

As the holiday shopping season approaches, your small business might be planning on hiring some temporary workers. But while you’re relying heavily on those temps, they may not feel so passionately about your business. In fact, since temporary workers are often lower-paid than other employees, they might be quite disengaged.

So how can you motivate temporary employees to get the best results? Below are some ideas.

Offer Cash Bonuses

Because of their generally lower wages, temps are highly motivated by money.

Consider holding contests with cash prizes (it doesn’t have to be a ton of money) or setting goals for each temp with a bonus to be awarded if the goals are reached by the end of their employment term.

You could even offer a bonus for perfect attendance, since absenteeism can be a problem with temporary workers.

Make New Friends

Temps are often treated like second-class citizens, which isolates and de-motivates them even further.

Introduce temps to the rest of your staff and explain what they’ll be doing and how long they’ll be around. Try pairing a temp with a full-time or permanent worker who can not only train and guide the temp, but also help him or her assimilate into the workplace. (You might want to offer full-time employees a bonus or reward for handling this.)

Include temps in social activities such as company lunches or happy hours.

Team Up

Working in teams that include both permanent and temporary workers motivates everyone.

Consider holding departmental contests or setting departmental challenges to spur friendly competition and build camaraderie. Offer fun prizes for the winning team.

Offer Them Opportunities

Many temps take temporary jobs in hopes of getting a permanent job offer.

When hiring temps, do so with an eye to future growth in your company. Even if you don’t have a job to offer the temp, see if you can give him or her a chance to learn new skills. This will help the temp get better jobs in the future and serves as a strong motivator for coming to work each day.

Train, Observe and Correct

Even if a temp comes to you with lots of experience in a certain area, such as point-of-sale retail sales or accounting, he or she doesn’t know how your company handles things.

Making sure temps get training in your company’s systems, rules and philosophy will make them feel part of the team, as opposed to just throwing them in to figure things out for themselves on the first day.

You or a manager should also observe the temp at work and offer praise or correct mistakes so the person can get better.

Stay in Touch

Have an especially good temp?

Keep his or her contact info on file in case a job opens up. Also send the person away with a reference letter he or she can use when applying for other jobs. Knowing that this job can lead to future possibilities will motivate temporary workers to do their best and make a good impression.

Employee Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Fiber, Copper, or Wireless: Which Connection Is Best for Your Company?

15 Best Mobile Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users

15 Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users

Smartphones have changed the way we think about cell phones, because they are no longer just a communication device. A great example of this is mobile first businesses that rely on these devices to carry out almost every task in their organization. For these businesses, cell phone reception is extremely important. Whether the phone is being used on premises or outside of the office, a strong reception is critical to talk, conference, text as well as access data services, cloud applications and more.

With the right cell phone booster, any problems you might be experiencing because of a weak reception will be a thing of the past.

So why should you buy a cell phone booster?

Even though telecoms have done a good job of deploying cell phone towers to cover all of the areas in which they provide service, there are always pockets within these areas that have weak reception. Even if your business is located in area with excellent reception, you can also land in these pockets of low reception while commuting back and forth to work or taking a work-related business trip.

Weak reception also drains your battery because the phone is continually searching for the best, most reliable signal, and the longer it searches, the more power it uses. If you want to know what you should look for in a signal booster, click here. For a list of the best signal boosters for your phone, see the list below.

The Best Business Cell Phone Signal Boosters

weBoost EQO Cell Phone Signal Booster

weBoost is one of the most recognized brands in the market, and has a wide range of devices for multiple applications. The EQO is designed for quick and easy installation to enhance 4G LTE and 3G signals for homes, apartments or condos up to 1,200 sq. ft. It works on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Straight Talk and more at a cost of $349.99.

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost EQO Cell Phone Signal Booster

According to the company, it boosts cell signals up to 32 times and it comes with a 2-year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee.

Smoothtalker Mobile X1

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Smoothtalker Mobile X1

The Smoothtalker Mobile X1 has multiple configurations for buildings and vehicles of all sizes. The X1 50RV 50dB, with a list price of $395.99, is a high power RV/motorhome or large vehicle booster kit that does not require a physical connection to the cell phone or cellular data device. Once it is plugged in, it boosts the signal to all cell phones and cellular devices within range at the same time.

weBoost Drive 4G-S

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Drive 4G-S

The Drive 4G-S is another booster for vehicles at a lower price point than the Smoothtalker — just 199.99. However, the lower price doesn’t compromise on quality and functionality, the company says. This is the most affordable 4G vehicle cell phone signal booster weBoost makes. It also boosts 4G LTE and 3G signals up to 32 times for a single person.

It works on all the major carriers and provides up to 2 hours additional talk time in weak-signal areas.

Surecall Fusion5s

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Surecall Fusion5s

The Fusion5s is a 2G, 3G and 4G LTE home signal booster, which according to the company is the first five-band cellular booster compliant with new FCC Certification standards. It controls all carrier frequencies independently and it covers 5 to 10 simultaneous users in a 6,000 square foot area. But it also carries a $849.99 price tag, so this might not be a choice for smaller more budget conscious businesses.

weBoost Drive 4G-X

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Drive 4G-X

Many truck drivers are small business operators, and the Drive 4G-X is an OTR (over the road) signal booster that might suit them. The booster can work for up to four devices and costs  $499.99. It enhances 4G LTE and 3G signals up to 32 times for everyone in the vehicle works with all the major carriers.

The Drive 4G-X has an omni-directional antenna that boosts voice and data with the maximum FCC-allowance of 50 dB system gain. Because of this, the company says it gives drivers fewer dead zones or lost connections and faster downloads and uploads, as well as better audio quality.

Uniden U60

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Uniden U60

The U60 comes with a 60 Day satisfaction guarantee, 2-Year warranty and lifetime service and technical support. The support the company provides is for a device with an omnidirectional outdoor antenna to capture signals for all 3G and some 4G networks. It has a 2,000 sq. ft. capacity for your home or office and can handle up to 20 devices simultaneously. The boosters cost is $449.99.

Smoothtalker Stealth X2

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Smoothtalker Stealth X2

The Stealth X2 has an impressive 7,000 sq. ft. of coverage for less than $600 — a suggested price of $549.99 more specifically. The company says it is the highest powered 65 dB building booster on the market, providing boosts for locations that are 10 to 35 miles from the nearest cell towers.

The automatic oscillation control and network overload protection maintain maximum gain at all times using the 170 degree directional outside and inside antennas automatically.

SolidRF BuildingForce 4G-M

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SolidRF BuildingForce 4G-M

The BuildingForce 4G-M booster connects more than 25 mobile devices and works with all 2G, 3G, 4G and LTE signal networks in the US and Canada — impressive given its cost of just $349.99.  An automatic gain control feature ensures reliable coverage even with an intermittent incoming signal. If there is a strong outside signal, the booster covers up to 1,500 sq. ft, but with a medium or weak outside signal, it covers up to 800 and 200 sq. ft., respectively.

weBoost Connect 4G

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Connect 4G

The Connect 4G covers 5,000 sq. ft. and features a dynamic, self-adjusting gain control for each frequency band automatically. Like the other weBoost units, it works on all the major carriers with cellular signal improvement of up to 32 times. And the recommended price for the Connect 4G is $549.99.

SureCall EZ 4G LTE

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SureCall EZ 4G LTE

The EZ 4G LTE has an indoor panel antenna with a five band manually adjustable signal booster. The plug and play feature makes it that much easier to install and use out of the box, the manufacturer says. It has a coverage area of up to 3,000 sq. ft., with support for CDMA, WCDMA, GSM, EDGE, HSPA+, EVDO, LTE and all cellular standards. But at $740.00 you’ll have to decide if features are something your business can afford.

SureCall EZ 4G

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SureCall EZ 4G

If the indoor reception in your office is weak, this plug-and-play booster indoor unit covers an area of up to 2,000 sq. ft. It improves 4G LTE voice, data and text signals for all North American cell carriers without an external antenna. And at $298.06 it is a bit more affordable than some other options.

weBoost Connect 4G-X 7500 sq ft

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Connect 4G-X 7500 sq ft

This particular weBoost model covers up to 7,500 sq. ft. It amplifies cellular signals throughout a large workplace or home on all cellular-connected devices. The increased area capability also comes with all of the weBoost features, including 4G LTE and 3G signal improvement for all major carriers, a 2-year warranty, and 30 day money back guarantee. But at $899.97, you’ll need to decide whether you really need these heavy duty features.

weBoost Drive 3G-XR Marine Antenna Booster

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Drive 3G-XR Marine Antenna Booster

If you are a small business running a day cruise on a ship, the weBoost Drive 3G-XR marine antenna booster can extend your service range up to 50 percent further than other boosters on the market. It achieves this capability by operating with the maximum output power allowed under current Federal Communications Commission regulations and supports all US and Canadian cell carriers all for a fairly reasonable cost — $399.99.

SureCall Fusion5X

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SureCall Fusion5X

The Fusion5X has four inside antennas for maximum coverage, which can go as high as 20,000 sq. ft. The 5X provides the highest downlink allowed by the FCC, allowing it to turn strong outside signals into a wide area of coverage inside. It supports 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. But you’ll pay $1,699 for these features.

Wilson 463127 Pro

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Wilson 463127 Pro

This particular Wilson model covers an area of up to 50,000 sq. ft. inside of a building with a strong outside signal. It supports the 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks from most of the carriers in the United States and Canada.

According to the company, before it overloads it has the ability to boost an outside signal that is 10 db stronger than any other booster on the market, which can potentially increase an area of interior coverage up to 6x the size of any other booster. You’ll need to register for a Wilson Amplifiers account for pricing information on this one.

* * *
Since a good quality booster will cost you several hundred dollars, call the company and ask questions relevant to how you will be using the device. This should include support and warranty information for the device you are going to be buying. And as always, comparison shop online with different retailers and brands too get the best value.

No Signal Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

The Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

The Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016

If you’re looking for some unique gifts for the people on your holiday gift list, you might consider purchasing some new tech gadgets. There are plenty of different items available with varying price tags and functionality. Here are some gadget gifts to consider for any tech geeks on your gift list.

Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016

Pocket VR

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Pocket VR

For those who want to experience VR without the high price tag, the Pocket-VR from Speck gives you the opportunity to do just that with your own smart phone. The product comes with a phone case and VR lenses that connect to give you the VR experience from your pocket. The product comes in different models for iPhone 6/6S and Samsung S7 phones and retails for about $70.

Amazon Echo

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a product that can potentially appeal to a variety of different recipients. The device can stream music from different sources including Amazon Music, Spotify and Pandora. It also features voice controls so it can answer questions, provide sports scores, order pizza and even control other compatible devices in your home. Retail price is $179.99.

Makerbot Replicator Mini

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Makerbot Replicator Mini

If you have anyone on your list who might be interested in 3D printing, the Makerbot Replicator Mini is a small but powerful option. The device can print small options from the Makerbot mobile app or a digital file. But it’s not a cheap option, starting at around $999.

Cobra JumPack

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Cobra JumPack

For any travelers or outdoor enthusiasts on your list, the Cobra JumPack is a handy little device that can help you charge anything from your phone to your vehicle while you’re on the go. The portable power pack includes a USB port to charge mobile devices, and has enough power to jump start most cars multiple times on a single charge. It also includes a LED flashlight and easily fits in a purse or bag, retailing for $149.95.

Aerix Vidius VR HD

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Aerix Vidius VR HD

The Aerix Vidius HD is the world’s smallest live streaming HD video drone. So you can send up the tiny flying device and then stream live video directly to the VR headset. So for anyone on your list who loves exploring or just playing with fun little gadgets, this could be a decent option at just $75.

Anker Classic Bluetooth Speaker

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Anker Classic Bluetooth Speaker

For any music or audio enthusiasts on your list, a Bluetooth speaker can make for a great gift. This classic model from Anker retails for around $33.99 and has a built-in mic, 20 hour battery life and other useful features.

Fitbit Charge 2

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Fitbit Charge 2

Fitness wearables are becoming more and more popular. And the Fitbit Charge 2 is the latest in Fitbit’s line of wearables that offers heart rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking, call and text alerts and more. The wristband comes in a variety of different colors and starts at $149.95.

Misfit Flash

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Misfit Flash

At just $29.99 currently, the Misfit Flash is another health and fitness wearable device that can make for a more budget friendly gift option. The device offers features like step tracking, smartphone compatibility and even sleep tracking.

Google Chromecast 2nd Generation

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Google Chromecast 2nd Generation

Google’s Chromecast is a small device that lets you stream basically any video content, music and even games from your favorite devices onto your HDTV. The device, now in its second generation, works with many popular apps and mobile devices and is available for $35.

WeMo Switch Smart Plug

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - WeMo Switch Smart Plug

From Belkin, this smart plug device lets you turn basically any electronic device in your home into a smart device. You can turn the plug on and off from your smartphone. So if anyone on your list likes being able to control their home appliances or other electronics even when they’re on the go, the WeMo Switch can be an easy way to do so. Pricing starts at $34.99.

ecobee3 lite

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - ecobee3 lite

Or if you have anyone on your list who is more into smart home features, a smart thermostat could make for a great gift. The ecobee3 lite starts at $169 and connects to WiFi so you can control your home temperature from anywhere.

Sony MDR-1000X Headphones

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Sony MDR-1000X Headphones

For anyone who wants a really high quality pair of wireless headphones, the Sony MDR-1000X headphones can be a good option. They feature high-resolution audio, noise-canceling features and Bluetooth compatibility. Pricing starts at $399.99.

Fossil Q Wander Smartwatch

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Fossil Q Wander Smartwatch

There are more options than ever in the smartwatch market. This holiday season, if you want to buy a smartwatch with practical features that’s also stylish and comes in a variety of different colors and styles, there’s the Fossil Q Wander smartwatch. The device comes in six different colors and starts at $295.

Fujifilm Instax SP-2

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Fujifilm Instax SP-2

You no longer need an actual instant camera to print out instant photos. In fact, since many people use their smartphones as their primary way of taking photos, a smartphone printer like the Fujifilm Instax SP-2can be a great option. The device connects to smartphones via WiFi and even works with popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram to print photos. Pricing starts at $194.99.

PlayStation VR

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - PlayStation VR

For the gamers on your holiday gift list, the PlayStation VR headset can potentially take their gaming to the next level. The basic headset starts at around $400. And the recipient must also have a PlayStation console and other equipment to get started. So you should make sure they have the necessary equipment or spend more on the launch bundle.

Tile Mate

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Tile Mate

With all the tech options available today, there’s no point in constantly dealing with lost keys or other household items. The Tile Mate is a small device that can easily attach to keys, luggage, remotes or other items. Then it connects to a mobile app so you can easily find what you’re looking for.

Petcube

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Petcube

For any pet owners on your holiday gift list, the Petcube camera system offers a way to keep an eye on pets while you’re away. The device starts at $149 and comes with a wide angle lense that can stream video content to your phone through the Petcube mobile app.

Pronto Smart Remote

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - Pronto Smart Remote

Instead of needing to use different remotes for every TV in your home, the Pronto smart remote lets users turn mobile devices into remotes for various TVs or other devices. So if you have any entertainment enthusiasts on your list, this product retails for around $32.99.

iGrill Mini

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - iGrill Mini

For any chefs or grilling enthusiasts on your list, the iGrill Mini provides a high-tech way to cook food outdoors. The device has a LED indicator that shows the progression of the meat temperature from start to done. The product retails for $39.99.

360fly 4K

The Bests Gadget Gifts for Geeks in 2016 - 360fly 4K

If you have someone on your list who is more interested in creating their own VR content instead of watching it, you could opt for a 360-degree camera like the 360fly 4K. The device has a powerful image sensor and other innovative smart camera features. But at $499.99, it’s a rather expensive gift option.

VR Goggles Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks, Top Picks for 2015

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks 2

Tech gadgets can make great gifts for business partners, clients, and tech savvy team members. And with plenty of new innovations being released each year, there are lots of new gadgets to choose from for the people on your 2015 holiday gift list.

For the really tech savvy geeks on your holiday shopping list, check out the list of gadget gifts below for some unique gift ideas.

Gadget Gifts for 2015

Bluesmart Suitcase

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Business travel can be a pain. But this smart suitcase offers a number of features to make it easier, like a battery charger, digital lock, location tracking and a built-in scale.

Currently available for preorder, the Bluesmart suitcase sells for $399. So it’s likely not something you’d pick up for your entire team. But for your business partner or jetsetting top client, Bluesmart offers a unique gift option.

IZON 2.0 WiFi Video Monitor

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

The latest version of IZON’s video monitoring system comes with several useful features to help people monitor their home or business. The camera works with both iOS and Android systems to allow you to access footage from your smartphone.

Starting at $79.95 on their website, IZON offers options that work for both home and business. And they have monitors made for keeping an eye on babies and pets as well.

Wocket Smart Wallet

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Carrying around a leather wallet with multiple credit and gift cards is so 2014. The Wocket smart walletallows users to input information from multiple credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards onto one Wocket Card, with added security features like voicematch technology and password storage.

At $179 the Wocket wallet is a unique new option. And the company plans to begin offering different wallet accessories in the near future as well.

Helios Smart Solpro Charger

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

This solar powered smart charger allows you to keep all of your different mobile devices charged and ready while you’re out and about. It has a 5,000mAh battery, three high-efficiency solar panels, two USB output ports and one USB input port.

Helios Smart chargers start at $119 and come in a few different colors. With so many people carrying multiple mobile devices with them at all times, this is a safe bet for pretty much any tech savvy person on your list.

ZUtA Portable Pocket Printer

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Mobile devices make it easy to do business from anywhere. But printing out actual documents hasn’t always been so easy, until now. The ZUtA portable pocket printer is a small device that connects to your smartphone or computer and prints on any size paper.

With a pre-order price of $199, the printer’s second batch is already sold out. But the company is accepting orders for a January 2016 batch. So if you’re willing to wait until then, this could make a useful gift for the techies on your list.

Nyrius ARIES Home+ Wireless HDMI Transmitter

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

This device allows you to wirelessly stream HD video and audio from your cable box, Blu-ray player, computer or gaming console to other devices within your home.

For the tech geeks with busy families or with a strong interest in TV and movies, this could be a great solution for those times when multiple family members are fighting over one TV. Prices start at $200 for a transmitter with two HDMI inputs.

TrackR Bravo

Best Gadget Gifts for Geeks

Everyone has that friend or family member who’s always misplacing their keys or wallet. This coin-sized device can go on keychains, dog collars, or other items and connects to your smartphone to transmit a noise when you’re looking for your belongings.

One device costs just $29.99, so it’s a low-cost option for the people on your list. Or you can even order multiple devices at a discounted rate.

Gifts Image via Shutterstock

Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more tips about holiday trends.

More in: Holidays

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Is WordPress Really the Best Site Builder for Small Businesses?

wordpress hand

Usefulness
Functionality
Price

Summary


Thanks to its flexibility and low price, WordPress really is the best site builder for small businesses. That said, there are other options and in certain circumstances, they can be a better choice when building your site.

If you’ve ever wondered what market domination looked like, here it is:

  • 60.4 percent of all the current websites online built using site builders were built using WordPress.
  • 23.8 percent of all the current websites online were built using WordPress.
  • The numbers for second place – 2.8 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively.

Given these statistics, you may draw the conclusion that WordPress is the best thing since sliced bread. However, is WordPress really the best site builder for small business? Let’s find out.

In the Beginning

Built for blogging, WordPress has remained true to its roots. The functions and features of a new WordPress site all support one purpose: a well designed, search engine-friendly blogging platform complete with content categorization and tagging, link management, and comments.

WordPress has always been, and continues to be, an open source product, a fact that leads to two results: it’s mostly free and a diverse set of talented developers can contribute code to enhance the features, functionality, and design of the solution.

And contribute they have. Over time, WordPress plugins have added everything from eCommerce to communities and online support to the platform while themes created by award-winning graphic artists have catapulted the site builder to the forefront of design.

Yes, WordPress is the bomb, and we haven’t even gotten to the topic that makes it the best site builder for small business.

WordPress Gives Small Businesses Room to Grow

WordPress comes in two flavors, hosted and self-hosted. Both versions have their advantages and disadvantages. However, taken together they offer small small businesses a platform that can grow as their needs do. Let’s take a look at how this works.

Hosted WordPress — The Place for Small Business to Start

When a small business is launched, getting a website up-and-running is just one of the many, many tasks on the to-do list. Unless the business depends on site sales for its income (in which case, move on to the “Self-Hosted” section below), the website will likely serve as a marketing tool and not require much beyond the out-of-the-box WordPress blogging functionality.

That’s why the ideal site builder for a small business to start with is the hosted version of WordPress over at wordpress.com. Not only is a hosted WordPress site free, its technical side is completely managed by the WordPress team, removing all the headaches of maintaining your own website.

All you need to do is select a design and add content. That’s easy to do with the hosted version of WordPress’ useful set of features:

Best Site Builder for Small Business

When it’s time to boost the design and functionality of your site, or if you want to do it right out of the box, you can retain your hassle-free hosted website by upgrading to one of two packages:

  1. WordPress.com Premium – This package includes a bunch of goodies such as your own “WordPress branding free” domain name, more storage, no ads and more customization options. All that is for $99 per year.
  2. WordPress.com Business – This $299 per year package gives you access to every feature that the hosted version of WordPress offers from the use of all their premium themes to unlimited storage, better support, and even eCommerce functionality.

At any level, the hosted version of WordPress is a great choice for small businesses simply for the peace-of-mind provided by the fact that a trusted partner is managing the technical end of their website. Many small businesses continue to use the hosted version of WordPress forever and as long as it meets their needs, that’s just fine.

For other small businesses however, the hosted version of WordPress is too restrictive, either from the start or as the business grows. You see, while it’s handy to have the technical end of your website managed by someone else, it means that you can’t touch that side of your site:

  • You can’t use an outside theme or play directly with the look and feel of your website.
  • You can’t add functionality to your website using a plugin that’s not part of the very limited collection available to you at wordpress.com.
  • You can’t create customized functionality unique to your site by changing any of, or adding to, the code that runs your website.

If the hosted version of WordPress becomes too restrictive, or if it is from the get-go, then it’s time for the self-hosted version to come into play.

Self-Hosted WordPress — Complete Freedom (for a price)

The self-hosted version of WordPress is available for free over at wordpress.org. Most website hosting companies offer the tools that make installing a self-hosted version of WordPress just as easy as it is over at wordpress.com.

More importantly, if your website has outgrown the hosted version of WordPress, the solution itself has tools that will help you migrate to your new self-hosted version. That makes the decision to move, as well as the work itself, much easier.

When you build your site using the self-hosted version of WordPress, there are very few limits to what you can do. You can:

  • Spruce up your site using one of the thousands of premium WordPress themes available online,
  • Add oodles of features and functionality using one of the more than 36,000 plugins available over at wordpress.org, and
  • Add and modify the code any way you want as long as you follow the guidelines.

Unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility. When you build your site using the self-hosted version of WordPress, there’s no trusted partner in place to manage the technical side of your website from troubleshooting any problems that may arise to the frequent WordPress updates, individual plugin updatesand WordPress backups.

If you’re planning to hire someone, whether internally or externally, to help you manage the technical side of a self-hosted WordPress site, you may end up spending more than you’d like.

If you’re not planning to hire someone to help, the price you pay is the steep learning curve ahead of you. WordPress may be user-friendly and there may be many useful free resources online, but there’s still a lot to learn if you want to take the self-hosted version route, especially if you’re planning to manage most of the technical side of your site yourself.

The Competition

Thanks to its flexibility and low price, WordPress is really the best site builder for small business. That said, there are other options and in certain circumstances, they can be a better choice when building your site.

Other Content Management Systems

At its core, WordPress is a content management system, one of many available for building your website. Unlike it’s closest competitors Joomla, Drupal and Blogger however, WordPress developers seem to have mastered the critical balance between powerful functionality and ease-of-use.

And that applies not just to developers who maintain and upgrade the software itself. It also applies to the independent developers who create the many plug-ins and other enhancements made possible with the platform’s open source design. The robust developer community is a testament that the folks behind WordPress are committed to the open source values of contribution and inclusion, values that have paid off for the platform many times over.

Specialty Site Builders

While the flexibility of WordPress enables a small business to build any type of website, sometimes the time and effort is not worth the end result.

One example is large eCommerce websites. If you’re building a site that will serve as a storefront with many, many products and product categories, you’re probably better off going with a robust eCommerce solution such as Bigcommerce or Volusion rather than pulling a site together using WordPress and an eCommerce plugin.

Other feature-rich industry-specific site builders that may have WordPress beat for their particular niche are Big Cartel for artists, Happytables for restaurants and Hotel Genius for hotels.

Conclusion

But when it comes to selecting a feature-rich, affordable site builder for most small business, WordPress is one of the best choices you can make.

Learning to make the most of WordPress can be challenging. So make sure you know all the facts before you make your decision.

WordPress Photo via Shutterstock

More in: WordPress

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Blogging: The Best SEO Tool for Small Businesses

Blogging: The Best SEO Tool for Small BusinessesI’m a huge proponent of blogging based first on my own experience as a blogger. My blog essentially launched my career in online marketing and SEO. I learned from it and I have helped businesses large and small benefit from blogging.

But until now I didn’t have current research about a blog’s impact on SEO

Hubspot just came out with research based on their actual customers on how a blog impacts their business. It’s a decent sample size of 1,531 of their customers which are primarily small and mid-sized businesses. Roughly half (795) blog and half don’t (736).

Here’s the data. Those who blog see:

  • 55% more visitors to their website.
  • 97% more links to their website which is a primary factor in where your website shows up in search results. (Want a higher ranking, get quality links to your site).
  • 434% more indexed pages – this is the number of pages that show up in search engines. Just because you have a site doesn’t guarantee it is being indexed (findable). Just because some of your pages are in search engines doesn’t mean all of your pages are.

This is incredible data – who wouldn’t want those kind of results?

However, blogging isn’t for everyone. Think this over:

  • Do you have content to write about? If you don’t have much to say blogging isn’t a good medium for saying it. Sending out a press release every few months would probably be better.
  • Can you commit to writing regularly? Google rewards consistency and consistency builds trust with people. If you can’t maintain a blog then it’s probably better not to.
  • Do you have the technical background to install and maintain a blog (plugins, features, etc)?
  • Would you need help posting on a blog?

Here are some ways to get help posting on a blog. Consider hiring an intern from a local college to create blog posts – take pictures for the posts and get valuable online PR experience. Most of the time this is a free way to go about it, but you must manage them or find someone who can write and learn quickly with little or no supervision.

Another option is to hire a blogger who understands SEO or hire someone to coach your team. While having someone else blog for you who is not as familiar as you are with your business may initially be a drawback, it does at least ensure your blog is being updated.It can fill in some of the gaps. The better information you can supply to the blogger, the better quality your posts will be. As time goes by they will gain knowledge and understanding of your business that will make it easier and easier for them to blog.

If you want to get started, here are some blogging tips. A solution that can work for a small businesses is Yola – it’s free to set up a simple blog or website. You can add Google Maps and you can optimize it for search engines. For a nominal cost you can get your own domain name (it will redirect to your Yola blog). If you have things to write about and want to save on time or choose something less technical it’s a good choice. You can help your SEO and ultimately your business.

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Janet Meiners thaelerAbout the Author: Janet Meiners Thaeler is an Evangelist for OrangeSoda Inc. and the principal blogger for their corporate blog and Twitter account. She regularly advises clients on blogging and social media strategies. Her own blog is Newspapergrl.com (and Twitter account @newspapergrl). She is passionate about online marketing and is always looking for new insights, resources and trends to help her clients.

More in: Content Marketing

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Best Motivational Quotes for Creative Entrepreneurs

quotes

There is something special about motivational quotes. No matter how many times you read and re-read them, they never cease to help you reassess, refine and freshen up your place in the universe. They are like mini-books, authored just for you by people who have achieved some level of influence and success in their chosen fields. When read in the context of the person to whom a quote is attributed, it can take on even more meaning.

There are quotes to inspire greatness in all aspects of life, and you can find them all over the Internet and in your favorite books and magazines. The quotations in this post, displayed in no particular order, are a few of the ones that I live by, and are featured here for their ability to inspire and encourage Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs. Which one of these best motivational quotes is your favorite?

Best Motivational Quotes

“There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.”

— Jason Fried, Founder of 37signal

Personal significance: Size is less important than intention.

Makers in business are surrounded by instructions to go big or go home, but you don’t have to do either. You don’t have to lead your company into bigness, and you don’t have to curl up in a ball because you are not breaking all kinds of entrepreneurial records. You can decide that size is irrelevant.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need a big team to accomplish your specific business goals. Create a team that has the perfect number of members for where you are right now — and adjust down or up as you go.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

— Chinese Proverb

Personal significance: Unless you’re dead, it’s never to late to do things you want to do.

Maybe it would have been better if you’d launched your newsletter or upgraded your website, or (insert thing you should have done last year here), but that’s no excuse not to do it today.

“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

— Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn

Personal significance: The pursuit of perfection is dangerous.

Business moves at lightning speed, and you do not get a pass because you’re a Maker. If you know what you want to do, you must do it as quickly as you possibly can, before the opening to do so closes forever.

There are only two things you need to guarantee before launching a new product: quality and safety. It does not have to be perfect, and it probably never will be. Waiting for perfection feeds fear and disables all forward progress.

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

— Wayne Gretzky, NHL Hall of Famer

Personal significance: Effort counts.

Not making that sales call because you’re afraid the buyer will reject your offer? Avoiding using video because you don’t think people will like the way your hair looks? Refusing to spend money on your packaging because you’re afraid you’ll not be able to recover the costs quickly? You can keep thinking like that, but as Wayne said, you’ll stay stuck where you are forever. I don’t want that for you, and I’m sure you don’t want it for yourself.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

— African Proverb

Personal significance: Community is power.

I have witnessed this time and again in the Indie Business Network and in my life personally. Entrepreneurship is a lonely and relentless journey, and even more so when you go it alone. Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs in particular thrive in community. If you are not a member of a community, join one today. If you cannot find one that suits you, create it yourself.

Quote Number 6: “The person who chases two rabbits catches neither.”

— Chinese Proverb

Personal significance: Focus … or else.

Trying to make your products, take a personal call, and write a blog post at the same time? The more plates you are simultaneously spinning in the air, the more will shatter into a million pieces all around you. Multi-tasking will kill your business faster than anything else, and you won’t even notice it. Focus relentlessly on one thing at a time, get traction and get it done. Then move onto the next thing. You’ll be more successful, and your output will be far superior to what is created when you try to do everything at once.

Quote Number 7: “The reason why we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

— Steven Furtick, Founder and Lead Pastor at Elevation Church

Personal significance: Never compare yourself or your achievements to those of others.

This is harder today than ever. Social outlets like Facebook and Instagram bombard us with the happy faces of people dropping off thousands of dollars worth of product at a retail outlet, and surfing on Monday morning because they have a fabulous team of people doing all the grunt work back in the office. Don’t get sidetracked by someone else’s success. Focus on creating your own and what everyone else is doing will fade into the background.

Quote Number 8: “It is better to make lots of sales of a few products than to make a few sales of lots of products.”

— Donna Maria, Founder and CEO at Indie Business Network

Personal significance: Do not have too many products in your line.

I learned a long time ago that having a ton of products in your line quickly sucks resources, including time, energy, and money. Not only that, you end up looking at a bunch of cool products on a shelf that are not translating into cash because you spend so much time making things that you don’t have time to market them. Keep the number of products in your line to a number that allows you to market and sell them effectively. While you may have fewer offerings, you’ll be more focused and make more money.

Quote Number 9: “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.”

— Oprah Winfrey

Personal significance: Prepare for the opportunity before it’s staring down your face.

Want to get your products into a nationwide chain of stores? Study how others have done it, then rinse and repeat as you pursue the opportunity. Want to get the attention of a publisher for your book? Blog your buns off and make yourself an attractive target for a publisher.

I don’t mean to oversimplify this, and I’m sure Oprah didn’t either. The bottom line is that you cannot always predict when or what types of opportunities will come your way. You will get results, however, if you identify what opportunities you want the most and invest your resources preparing to capitalize on them when they show up.

Quote Number 10: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

— Peter Drucker

Personal significance: If you cannot find it, make it.

If you want to be prepared for the future, decide what you want it to look like and then start taking actions that create that exact future, one step at a time. This is a lifestyle approach that does not apply solely to business.

If you are not happy in your current neighborhood, either work to make it better or move to a new one. If you are not happy with your current sales statistics, learn some new sales strategies and put them to work in your business.

It’s amazing how something as simple as a quote, read and repeated over and over again, can change your life. I encourage you to select the quotes that are most meaningful to you and feed yourself with them daily.

What are your favorite quotes, and why? Please share below so we can all be inspired and motivated to achieve more of what we were created to achieve!

Gretzky Photo via Shutterstock

More in: Motivational

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

15 Best Mobile Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users

15 Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users

martphones have changed the way we think about cell phones, because they are no longer just a communication device. A great example of this is mobile first businesses that rely on these devices to carry out almost every task in their organization. For these businesses, cell phone reception is extremely important. Whether the phone is being used on premises or outside of the office, a strong reception is critical to talk, conference, text as well as access data services, cloud applications and more.

With the right cell phone booster, any problems you might be experiencing because of a weak reception will be a thing of the past.

So why should you buy a cell phone booster?

Even though telecoms have done a good job of deploying cell phone towers to cover all of the areas in which they provide service, there are always pockets within these areas that have weak reception. Even if your business is located in area with excellent reception, you can also land in these pockets of low reception while commuting back and forth to work or taking a work-related business trip.

Weak reception also drains your battery because the phone is continually searching for the best, most reliable signal, and the longer it searches, the more power it uses. If you want to know what you should look for in a signal booster, click here. For a list of the best signal boosters for your phone, see the list below.

The Best Business Cell Phone Signal Boosters

weBoost EQO Cell Phone Signal Booster

weBoost is one of the most recognized brands in the market, and has a wide range of devices for multiple applications. The EQO is designed for quick and easy installation to enhance 4G LTE and 3G signals for homes, apartments or condos up to 1,200 sq. ft. It works on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Straight Talk and more at a cost of $349.99.

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost EQO Cell Phone Signal Booster

According to the company, it boosts cell signals up to 32 times and it comes with a 2-year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee.

Smoothtalker Mobile X1

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Smoothtalker Mobile X1

The Smoothtalker Mobile X1 has multiple configurations for buildings and vehicles of all sizes. The X1 50RV 50dB, with a list price of $395.99, is a high power RV/motorhome or large vehicle booster kit that does not require a physical connection to the cell phone or cellular data device. Once it is plugged in, it boosts the signal to all cell phones and cellular devices within range at the same time.

weBoost Drive 4G-S

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Drive 4G-S

The Drive 4G-S is another booster for vehicles at a lower price point than the Smoothtalker — just 199.99. However, the lower price doesn’t compromise on quality and functionality, the company says. This is the most affordable 4G vehicle cell phone signal booster weBoost makes. It also boosts 4G LTE and 3G signals up to 32 times for a single person.

It works on all the major carriers and provides up to 2 hours additional talk time in weak-signal areas.

Surecall Fusion5s

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Surecall Fusion5s

The Fusion5s is a 2G, 3G and 4G LTE home signal booster, which according to the company is the first five-band cellular booster compliant with new FCC Certification standards. It controls all carrier frequencies independently and it covers 5 to 10 simultaneous users in a 6,000 square foot area. But it also carries a $849.99 price tag, so this might not be a choice for smaller more budget conscious businesses.

weBoost Drive 4G-X

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Drive 4G-X

Many truck drivers are small business operators, and the Drive 4G-X is an OTR (over the road) signal booster that might suit them. The booster can work for up to four devices and costs  $499.99. It enhances 4G LTE and 3G signals up to 32 times for everyone in the vehicle works with all the major carriers.

The Drive 4G-X has an omni-directional antenna that boosts voice and data with the maximum FCC-allowance of 50 dB system gain. Because of this, the company says it gives drivers fewer dead zones or lost connections and faster downloads and uploads, as well as better audio quality.

Uniden U60

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Uniden U60

The U60 comes with a 60 Day satisfaction guarantee, 2-Year warranty and lifetime service and technical support. The support the company provides is for a device with an omnidirectional outdoor antenna to capture signals for all 3G and some 4G networks. It has a 2,000 sq. ft. capacity for your home or office and can handle up to 20 devices simultaneously. The boosters cost is $449.99.

Smoothtalker Stealth X2

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Smoothtalker Stealth X2

The Stealth X2 has an impressive 7,000 sq. ft. of coverage for less than $600 — a suggested price of $549.99 more specifically. The company says it is the highest powered 65 dB building booster on the market, providing boosts for locations that are 10 to 35 miles from the nearest cell towers.

The automatic oscillation control and network overload protection maintain maximum gain at all times using the 170 degree directional outside and inside antennas automatically.

SolidRF BuildingForce 4G-M

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SolidRF BuildingForce 4G-M

The BuildingForce 4G-M booster connects more than 25 mobile devices and works with all 2G, 3G, 4G and LTE signal networks in the US and Canada — impressive given its cost of just $349.99.  An automatic gain control feature ensures reliable coverage even with an intermittent incoming signal. If there is a strong outside signal, the booster covers up to 1,500 sq. ft, but with a medium or weak outside signal, it covers up to 800 and 200 sq. ft., respectively.

weBoost Connect 4G

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Connect 4G

The Connect 4G covers 5,000 sq. ft. and features a dynamic, self-adjusting gain control for each frequency band automatically. Like the other weBoost units, it works on all the major carriers with cellular signal improvement of up to 32 times. And the recommended price for the Connect 4G is $549.99.

SureCall EZ 4G LTE

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SureCall EZ 4G LTE

The EZ 4G LTE has an indoor panel antenna with a five band manually adjustable signal booster. The plug and play feature makes it that much easier to install and use out of the box, the manufacturer says. It has a coverage area of up to 3,000 sq. ft., with support for CDMA, WCDMA, GSM, EDGE, HSPA+, EVDO, LTE and all cellular standards. But at $740.00 you’ll have to decide if features are something your business can afford.

SureCall EZ 4G

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SureCall EZ 4G

If the indoor reception in your office is weak, this plug-and-play booster indoor unit covers an area of up to 2,000 sq. ft. It improves 4G LTE voice, data and text signals for all North American cell carriers without an external antenna. And at $298.06 it is a bit more affordable than some other options.

weBoost Connect 4G-X 7500 sq ft

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Connect 4G-X 7500 sq ft

This particular weBoost model covers up to 7,500 sq. ft. It amplifies cellular signals throughout a large workplace or home on all cellular-connected devices. The increased area capability also comes with all of the weBoost features, including 4G LTE and 3G signal improvement for all major carriers, a 2-year warranty, and 30 day money back guarantee. But at $899.97, you’ll need to decide whether you really need these heavy duty features.

weBoost Drive 3G-XR Marine Antenna Booster

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - weBoost Drive 3G-XR Marine Antenna Booster

If you are a small business running a day cruise on a ship, the weBoost Drive 3G-XR marine antenna booster can extend your service range up to 50 percent further than other boosters on the market. It achieves this capability by operating with the maximum output power allowed under current Federal Communications Commission regulations and supports all US and Canadian cell carriers all for a fairly reasonable cost — $399.99.

SureCall Fusion5X

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - SureCall Fusion5X

The Fusion5X has four inside antennas for maximum coverage, which can go as high as 20,000 sq. ft. The 5X provides the highest downlink allowed by the FCC, allowing it to turn strong outside signals into a wide area of coverage inside. It supports 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. But you’ll pay $1,699 for these features.

Wilson 463127 Pro

Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters for Business Users - Wilson 463127 Pro

This particular Wilson model covers an area of up to 50,000 sq. ft. inside of a building with a strong outside signal. It supports the 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks from most of the carriers in the United States and Canada.

According to the company, before it overloads it has the ability to boost an outside signal that is 10 db stronger than any other booster on the market, which can potentially increase an area of interior coverage up to 6x the size of any other booster. You’ll need to register for a Wilson Amplifiers account for pricing information on this one.

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Since a good quality booster will cost you several hundred dollars, call the company and ask questions relevant to how you will be using the device. This should include support and warranty information for the device you are going to be buying. And as always, comparison shop online with different retailers and brands too get the best value.

No Signal Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]