Weebly 4 Brings Websites, eCommerce, Email Marketing Together to Focus on Business Growth

Weebly 4 Features Websites, Ecommerce, Email Marketing Together to Help Businesses Grow

DIY website builder Weebly today announced a new version of its platform, Weebly 4, that expands the focus beyond websites and ecommerce and adds a marketing element: email.

Weebly 4 builds on the previous version, Carbon, by pairing the ecommerce engine with email marketing that creates campaigns on the fly based on customer actions. It also segments customers into groups automatically, to improve targeting.

“When we started Weebly, the challenge was building a website,” says David Rusenko, co-founder and CEO of Weebly, in the announcement. “Now with 40 million entrepreneurs and over 300 million monthly visitors to a Weebly site or store, we’re tackling the next hurdle of growing a site into a successful online business.”

Weebly 4 Features

As to improvements from the previous version, there are many. Here are the most notable:

Web Design

The web design function now includes the use of video backgrounds, to add animation. There is increased flexibility in designing headers and in adding sections to a page.

Weebly 4 Features - Video Backgrounds

Weebly 4 also offers a completely new feature: designer-built layouts.

Weebly 4 Features - Designer-Built Layouts

According to Rusenko, who spoke with Small Business Trends by phone, with Carbon, the previous version, users had to drag-and-drop each element.

“Weebly 4 makes it easy to add layouts for people who don’t know what to do, who are getting online for the first time and not sure how site supposed to look,” Rusenko said. “All the content is on there. We pre-start you with fully custom-built sites that fit what you need, making it easier to get to the finish line.”

eCommerce

Weebly rebuilt the eCommerce storefront entirely from the ground up Rusenko said. An upgraded tax engine does the work for the customer. The platform also configures shipping rates in real-time across carriers. An abandoned cart recovery function reminds customers to complete their purchase. Gift cards and coupon codes are available as well.

Weebly 4 Features - Ecommerce

Regarding shipping rates, Rusenko said, “In the previous version, you had a shipping engine and could set different rates, but it was time-consuming. You had to to make your best guess on rates. Now, the platform configures all that for the customer at checkout. It goes out to the shipping providers and calculates rates in real-time via an API.”

Email Marketing

The new email marketing component fully integrates with the website and store. Emails are customizable. Users can insert their logo, images, posts and products quickly and easily. Also, the platform auto-creates ready to send emails, to drive conversion.

Weebly 4 Features - Email Marketing

Full-funnel Analytics and Insights

The analytics component not only reports email open and click-through rates but also track sales transactions, enabling the business owner to how each campaign impacts his bottom line.

A comprehensive dashboard renders insights across the entire business that includes appointment scheduling, customer chat, accounting and email marketing. The mobile app enables business owners to run their site and promotions from anywhere.

App Store

The app store has more than 200 app and integrations, including an appointment calendar, live chat, accounting and more.

Search Engine Optimization

According to the announcement, Weebly 4 “demystifies” search engine optimization by providing expert advice via a PDF guide as well as a real-time SEO score card, with site-specific tips for improvement.

Conclusion

Rusenko said that Weebly’s goal with the new version was to provide the same functionality to small merchants that large retailers experience, to help grow their business.

“Right now the business of running a business is a real hassle, and our ultimate goal is to make it much easier for our customers, saving them time, helping them grow and be successful, and ultimately, helping them focus more on doing what they love,” he said.

[“source-ndtv”]

10 Features of Apple’s iOS 10 Small Businesses Need to Know About

10 iOS 10 Features for Business That Small Businesses Need to Know About

The new iOS 10 by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been described by the company as its biggest release yet, and as an operating system with more personal, powerful and playful features. The good thing for small business owners is that the new features would seem to drastically enhance the way you can run your business on your iPhone or iPad.

Whether you are using the new iPhone 7 or many of the previous versions also supported by iOS 10, there are some new features that will make you more productive, the company says.

Here are 10 features small business owners can start experimenting with right away with iOS 10.

iOS 10 Features for Business

Comprehensive Privacy and Advanced Security

With smartphones and tablets now inexorably linked to the way we do business, and the threat of digital security also an inevitable part of this ecosystem, it is extremely important to have a comprehensive privacy and advance security solution in place.

The privacy features in iOS 10 now requires your permission if an app in Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Photos or others want your location information or personal data. This features extends with even more control to the way in which HealthKit and HomeKit access your data.

Your conversations in iMessages and FaceTime are encrypted, so hackers waiting in the middle of a conversation won’t be able to see, hear or read what you are communicating. And when you are on Safari surfing the web, you can browse privately, block cookies, and prevent websites from tracking you.

The security, according to Apple, is the most advanced security of any mobile operating system. The new features help secure your personal protection with hardware and firmware that have been designed to protect against malware and viruses throughout the entire system. The device is protected with Touch ID and the apps have high-grade encryption, app transport security, and more.

Maximized Graphic Performance

When you are on a smartphone or tablet the last thing you want is lackluster performance from your device. Since iOS has been engineered specifically for the iPhone and iPad with a framework the company calls Metal, it is able to maximize graphic performance whether you are videoconferencing, accessing applications from the cloud, viewing a PowerPoint presentation, moving from app to app or playing the most complex 3D video game after a hard day of work.

Enchanced Machine Intelligence

The new OS has been designed to take advantage of the progress that has taken place in software intelligence. This includes Apple-developed machine-learning technology, which has also been incorporated into Siri.

The result is a more intuitive system that makes everything you do with your device easier and faster.  Proactive suggestion, and predictive typing have been combined with Siri for a personal assistant that will answer many of your questions and take your requests by speaking naturally. Siri now works with your favorite apps, so you can request a ride, send payments using Square Cash, book a reservation through OpenTable, and more.

Continuity Across All Devices

Even if your business is mobile first, there are multiple computing devices that are part of the total technological solutions in place in your company. This generally means laptops and desktops both at the office and at home. In order to ensure continuity across all devices, iCloud and iOS automatically connect many of Apple’s products.

You can start a task on the iPad and finish it on your Mac and stream video from your iPhone or iPad to your television through Apple TV. Everything gets synced automatically, so any time you add a new document, image or video the latest version will appear on all your devices.

AirDrop for Large File Sharing

You now work outside of the office just as much as you do inside, and this means sharing large files that far exceed the limitations of email servers. AirDrop is a feature that lets you send large files wirelessly no matter where you are, so you won’t have to go back to the office when you are on location.

Handoff Email and Messaging Across Devices and Solutions

The continuity feature extends to an application called Handoff which lets you write an email and hand it off to Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Podcasts, Clock, and News.

When you are ready to text you can send messages from any of your devices, receive it on your iPhone and reply on your iPad or Mac. You can choose a number from Safari, Contacts or Calendar to quickly send a text message.

Multilingual Typing

We live in a very connected world, and even the smallest of businesses now interacts with people in many countries around the world. This means multiple languages, and the multilingual typing feature lets you type in two languages at the same time without having to switch keyboards.

The OS recognizes English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish pairs, as well as Chinese.

CarPlay

As a small business owner on  the go, you can sometimes use your car as your second office. CarPlay makes it possible to safely and easily use your iPhone to make calls, send and receive messages, get directions and more so you can focus on your driving. It puts the functions you want to use on the built-in display of the vehicle so you can control them with your voice, touch or the knobs and controls of the car. Currently CarPlay is available on more than 100 automobile models, with more on the way.

Unsecured WiFi Network Warning

Free WiFi is so tempting but if you are not 100 percent sure it is secure, you can easily fall victim to an attack. Unsecured WiFi Network Warning makes recommendations when you connect your iOS device to an unsecured network.

New Notifications with 3D Touch

The new rich Notifications feature lets you quickly view videos, photos and reply. All it takes is tapping on the notification to launch the app or force press with the new feature rich 3D Touch to popup a preview. It also lets you clear the notification and delete emails from the expanded notification.

New APIs for Developers

Although Apple is notorious for protecting its intellectual property, the company has been coming around after witnessing the great benefits of what APIs have accomplished for other companies.  The Apple iOS 10 SDK has new APIs and services that now contain its more popular applications, including Messages, Siri, and Maps. Developers will now be able to create innovative functionalities using Apple’s platform creating more business models for small developers.

Greater Compatibility with Other Apple — and Android — Devices

The new iOS 10 is compatible with: iPhone 7 and 7 Plus; iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 6, 6 Plus; iPhone SE; iPhone 5s, 5c, 5; iPad Pro 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch; iPad Air 2; iPad Air; iPad 4th generation; iPad mini 4; iPad mini 3; iPad mini 2; and iPod touch 6th generation.

Apple has also made it much easier to move to iOS on your Android device. You can download the Move to iOS app on your Android device from any Android app store, and it supports all phones and tablets running Android 4.0 and later. You can get more information from Apple here.

[“source-ndtv”]

Microsoft Making a Little Brexit of Its Own

Making a Little Brexit of Its Own - Microsoft is Closing the Skype Office in London

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has announced plans to shut down Skype’s London offices.

Up to 400 staff members could be made redundant as part of the move, which will see Skype abandon its three-floor building in Holborn in line with a wider restructuring exercise that will also impact freemium enterprise network Yammer.

Microsoft has yet to confirm whether the decision was directly impacted by the United Kingdom’s June vote to leave the European Union — although technology trade bodies had previously warned to anticipate numerous multinational pullbacks from London in response to a so-called “Brexit”.

Budget airline EasyJet, telecoms provider Vodafone and credit card giant Visa have all reportedly entered talks to leave the UK as a direct result of impending political uncertainty.

Regardless of Microsoft’s intentions surrounding the move, it will undeniably pose a symbolic blow to the UK’s tech scene. Skype was founded in London in 2003, and has rapidly grown to become one of just 18British “unicorns” — which is a tech firm valued at more than $1 billion.

Its innovative services have proven a lifeline to businesses across the globe over the course of the last decade, enabling small companies to reach new audiences by providing incredibly cheap international callsand revolutionizing remote working with the help of cutting-edge group call features. Today, Skype boasts over 300 million users, who spend an estimated three billion minutes using the service each and every day.

Plenty of investors have picked up on that potential, which is why Skype has changed hands several times since its inception. The unicorn was first picked up by eBay in 2005, then sold to a group of investors in 2009 before American multinational Microsoft swooped in and bought out the company for a whopping $8.5 billion in May 2011.

Since that acquisition, many of Skype’s top roles have been eliminated or moved overseas. Microsoft’s Skype headquarters are now based in Luxembourg, and much of its development team works out of Estonia. It is not thought those offices will be impacted by Microsoft’s decision to consolidate its London operations.

Skype won’t be the sole victim of Microsoft’s latest job cull.

Last month, the company’s annual report confirmed plans to shed approximately 2,850 jobs across in the globe in the fourth quarter of 2016. Yet a Microsoft spokesman did add the company would be working to offer redundant Skype employees new opportunities elsewhere in the company.

“We are deeply committed to doing everything we can to help those impacted through this process,” he said. “Microsoft will be entering into a consultation process and offer new opportunities, where possible.”

[“source-ndtv”]

Need High End Photography for Business? Details of Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 Emerge

Eagerly Awaiting the New Panasonic Lumix GH5 Camera? No 6K Photos Until Next Year

Image capturing technology has evolved so much, near professional grade solutions are readily available on smartphones. But no matter how good the technology is on a mobile device, standalone cameras are still the way to go if you really want full professional grade features. The announcement of Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 camera is greatly anticipated because of the success the GH4 achieved in terms of reviews and sales.

Panasonic (TYO:6752) didn’t reveal much at PhotoKina 2016, the world’s largest trade fair for the photographic and imaging industries, which will be going on until September 25, 2016 in Germany.

First of all, the GH5 will not be available until early 2017. There is no exact date or price for the camera. Second, the features Panasonic announced are just enough to tease potential customers with some impressive capabilities.

An Early Peek at the Panasonic Lumix GH5 Camera

Here is the wow feature Panasonic said will be on the GH5: the first 4K/60p capability in a consumer ILC (interchangeable lens camera), which will provide 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video. And when it comes to capturing still images, it has another impressive capability, a 6K Photo mode that will extract 18MP stills from burst footage, or 8MP stills from 60p 4K clips.

This is the extent of what Panasonic made available, but if past developments are any indication, there will be more features on the GH5.

One of the advances that made the GH4 so successful was the hybrid performance it was able to deliver. The 4K PHOTO feature it introduced let users capture still images that were much too fast for the naked eye by saving high-quality photos from super-fast 4K resolution video frames at 30 fps. The feature was acclaimed by a wide range of professional photographers and videographers around the world. With the GH5, this will be upgraded to 6K still photos, which will deliver new levels of detail, whether it is for print or the ultra-high definition display technology in the market place.

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 is an affordable professional grade camera compared to Canon and other brands. At around $1,600 on Amazon, it has the right set of features for taking stills and video for small business photographers.

If Panasonic keeps the price low while adding these innovations, the company will continue to capture market shares from other brands.

[“source-ndtv”]

I Hear My Customers Talking About Cloud, How Do I Deliver and Make Money?

I Hear My Customers Talking About Cloud Consulting, How Do I Deliver and Make Money?

Customers want the cloud. They expect it. They demand it.

The only problem is, some IT providers aren’t giving them what they’ve heard about and want.

IT companies that serve SMBs are having a tough time making the transition from providing traditional solutions to offering services in the cloud, says one industry expert.

Why is that?  According to Chaitra Vedullapalli, cloud architect and CMO of Meylah,  one reason is “they don’t know the simple steps that will get them to add cloud offerings and still be profitable.”  She adds, “It’s not because IT providers don’t want to satisfy or wow their customers — they desperately do.  It’s just they are struggling for how to get there.”

She went on to add, “Here’s the sort of thing we hear from IT providers: ‘we don’t have the ability to sell and support comprehensive cloud based solutions.’  My company did a survey of 300+ SMB IT firms, and that’s an actual quote from one who has been in business for 5+ years.  He knows it requires business change, but the owner said he didn’t know how to go to market with strong recurring cloud offerings.”

Vedullapalli went on to say that a phenomenon is occurring where IT infrastructure and architecture are moving from the traditional on-premises approach and into the cloud. She adds that IT providers, many of which are small businesses themselves, are struggling to adapt with the trend.

“IT is changing because of the cloud,” Vedullapalli said. “Not too long ago, everything was housed in the organization on-site — servers, firewalls, databases and backups. Now, IT companies have to think like managed service providers and take care of their customers by stitching hardware, software, services and support together in the cloud.”

She added that the focus has shifted from “Exchange servers and Oracle databases” to mobile, cloud, big data and social.

“The tech stack is changing to accommodate mobile users, so you can’t have the data sitting on a local server any longer,” Vedullapalli said. “You need big data for analytics and social because people are connecting.”

The Cloud Ready Business Opportunity

According to a 2016 IDC report, cloud spending will exceed $500 billion by 2020. This includes software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service and all the professional and managed services around cloud technology, as well as the supporting software and hardware to make cloud implementations happen.

“Cloud-oriented partners with more than 50 percent of their revenue in the cloud will see twice the growth and one-and-a-half times the gross profit of other partners,” Vedullapalli said, citing the report. “It’s become clear that cloud-ready businesses are more profitable and grow at a faster rate than other non-cloud providers.”

4 Ways to Make Money from the Cloud

No one doubts that the cloud affords a wealth of opportunity, but the question is how to profit from its adoption. Vedullapalli outlined four ways cloud-ready businesses can make money:

  • Proof of Concept (POC). “In the old world of IT, providers would sell licenses and someone else would implement the services,” she said. “In the new cloud world, the approach to winning the customer differs. Cloud services or managed services providers need to pitch a proof of concept. This helps both the companies to learn and tinker with the process so that they can implement on scale. Without a POC, the service provider may never get the opportunity to attract users or engage the prospective client in a business transaction.”
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue. In the past, IT companies would often focus on project-based engagements, which meant that when one project was completed, they had to chase down another. With the cloud, providers can now use a software subscription model that enables them to become a managed solution provider and offer services and maintenance year-round, reducing customer churn.
  • Monthly Recurring Margins. Vendors can make money by reselling enterprise software. “Now, everyone is a reseller,” Vedullapalli said.
  • Upsell via Custom Projects. A fourth way to accrue income is through custom projects.

These are four ways to make money providing cloud based solutions.  Are you prepared to make money?

[“source-ndtv”]

Microsoft Announces Cloud Partnership With Adobe

Microsoft Announces Partnership to Run Adobe Cloud on Microsoft Azure

At the Microsoft Ignite Conference in Atlanta today, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced a new partnership with Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE). Under the partnership, Microsoft Azure will become the preferred cloud platform for the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Creative Cloud and Document Cloud.

Customers of Adobe will have the benefit of Microsoft’s powerhouse Azure cloud infrastructure behind them.

The CEOs of both Microsoft and Adobe appeared on stage at the event’s opening keynote to make the announcement. The fact that the CEOs were there shows the significance of this strategic partnership to both companies.

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Adobe Cloud on Microsoft Azure

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen emphasized the importance of having a strong cloud infrastructure, noting that Adobe processes 23 trillion transactions each quarter, or over 90 trillion per year.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said  in a statement, “Together, Adobe and Microsoft are bringing the most advanced marketing capabilities on the most powerful and intelligent cloud to help companies digitally transform and engage customers in new ways.”

Both companies have made the cloud a central part of their strategies. Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has placed heavy bets on Azure and is investing significantly in all of Microsoft’s cloud offerings including its Office 365 software-as-a-service application.

Adobe moved its business to a cloud model a couple of years ago, and the move is paying off.  Adobe’s most recent financial results show strong performance.

Adobe also will get access to Microsoft’s AI/machine learning service Cortana Intelligence Suite — giving customers access to more intelligence.

For small businesses that use the Adobe Cloud products, in the near term as Adobe transitions to Azure it means a strong cloud infrastructure to rely on.  Some Adobe services have been running on Amazon’s AWS, but it’s not clear if under the new arrangement Microsoft will become Adobe’s exclusive cloud infrastructure provider.

Microsoft Ignite is Microsoft’s conference for technology professionals and executives. The conference sold out weeks ago with over 23,000 people registered to attend.  The conference is also being simulcast live from the event website at ignite.microsoft.com.

[“source-ndtv”]

Want to Change Your Company’s Name? Here’s How

Here's how to change your business name no matter its type.

One question that small business owners commonly ask is how to change their business name. It’s only natural for a business to grow, evolve or change direction over the course of its lifetime. The name you hatched in the early days may no longer fit your business’ market, activities or brand personality now. The question is: is there an easy way to officially change the business’ name without having to start all over again?

From a legal perspective, the process of changing a name is more involved than just notifying your customers and changing your marketing material. However, it isn’t as complicated as you might think. The specific steps depend on how you are operating your business: are you a sole proprietor or an LLC/corporation. We’ll cover both situations in this article.

How to Change Your Business Name Step-by-Step

How to Change your Business Name: Sole Proprietors and Partnerships

If you have never set up an official business structure with the state and are operating as either a sole proprietor (single owner) or general partnership (multiple owners), then the steps to change an existing business name are pretty straightforward.

First, you will need to cancel the existing fictitious business name (Doing Business As/DBA) with the state or county. You can contact your local government office where your registration was filed to get the appropriate paperwork. Once your original DBA is cancelled, you can file a DBA for your new name with this same office. You can either work directly with the local government office or have an online legal service handle these steps for you.

Once you have the new DBA, you’ll need to take care of a few remaining issues:

  • Contact your bank to find out if you will need to open a business bank account for the new DBA, or if you can just convert your existing account.
  • Check with your county, city or other local office to determine if you need to update existing business licenses/permits or get new ones for the new DBA.
  • If you have an EIN (Employer Identification Number), you can review the IRS’ bulletin “Do I need a new EIN?” to determine if you need to apply for a new EIN for the new DBA. In most cases, you will not be required to apply for a new EIN if you only changed the business name.
  • Notify the IRS of your new name. This can be done by sending a signed letter outlining the business name change to the same address where you file your tax return.

How to Change your Business Name: LLCs and Corporations

If you have registered your business as an LLC or corporation, you have two different options for changing your business name, depending on whether you want to abandon the original name entirely or just operate under a new name for marketing purposes.

Option 1: File an Amendment with the State to Officially Change your Business Name

If you have no interest in ever using your original business name ever again, then the best course of action is to file an Articles of Amendment with the state where you filed your LLC/corporation. This document is used whenever you make any changes to your business, such as changing the name, business address or officers of the company. It’s a straightforward document and you can either file it directly with the secretary of state’s office yourself or have an online legal filing service take care of the paperwork for you.

Keep in mind that if your business is registered in other states as a foreign entity, you will also need to file Articles of Amendment in each one of those states. And, in some cases you will need to have a Certificate of Good Standing from your state of incorporation/LLC formation in order to file the amendment in another state.

Once you’ve filed your Articles of Amendment and officially changed your business name with the state, you’ll need to look into the following:

  • Contact your bank to find out if you will need to open a business bank account for the new name, or if you can just convert your existing account.
  • Check with your county, city or other local office to determine if you need to update existing business licenses/permits or get new ones under the new name.
  • You can review the IRS’ bulletin “Do I need a new EIN?” to determine if you need to apply for a new EIN for the new name. In most cases, you will not be required to apply for a new EIN if you only changed the business name.
  • Notify the IRS of your new name. For LLCs, this can be done by sending a signed letter outlining the business name change to the same address where you file your tax return. For corporations, you can notify the IRS on your current year corporate income tax return, Form 1120. Or write to the IRS at your regular filing address and notify them of the name change.

Option 2: Keep your Original Name as the Official Name with the State but File a DBA for the New Name

In some cases, you may not be interested in abandoning your original name altogether, but want to operate under a new name for marketing/branding reasons. For example, you may have acquired trademark rights for the original name and don’t want to abandon this property. In this scenario, you can keep your original name as the official name that is registered with the state, but file a DBA for the new name with your local state/county office.

Once you’ve filed the DBA, you will need to:

  • Contact your bank to find out if you will need to open a business bank account for the new DBA, or if you can just add the DBA to the new account. This step is necessary if you plan on accepting checks or conducting other financial transactions under the new name.

Keep in mind that whether you are filing an Articles of Amendment or filing a DBA, you should check the availability of your new name before moving forward with any of these steps. You don’t want to accidentally infringe on another business’ name or trademark.

Searching the USPTO’s online database is a first step toward finding any similar and potentially conflicting names. But, you should also perform a thorough search that includes state trademark databases and business directories. You can have a trademark lawyer or online legal filing service help you with this important search. If your search shows that your proposed new name is available, then go full steam ahead with these legal steps to change it.

A business name is the cornerstone of your company’s brand image. If your name no longer reflects your brand, market or products, it’s more than possible to change it. Just be sure to follow the proper legal steps to avoid potential issues.

[“source-ndtv”]

7 Ways Perfection is Killing Your Business – or Is It 6?

Problems with Perfection: 7 Ways Perfection is Killing Your Business

Can we ever truly be perfect, in anything?  Possibly, but that perfection is often short-lived.  As a society, we are always seeking ‘perfection’, and as such, we are often quick to label something as perfect, even when it is not.  A perfect stranger, a perfect storm, a perfect match or a perfect crime perhaps.

But if striving for perfection is part of your business personality, it could be damaging your ability to reach the point of product or solution launch; therefore your problems with perfection could be harming your ability to innovate.

Heck, when I launched most of my blogs or businesses, they were a mess, but they got out there and generated the buzz and citations needed to succeed. SEJ, which after three years became a six figure blog, had a disastrous template design upon launch, but I needed to get it out there at the right time, and then be flexible and nimble enough to make changes. Now, it’s a leading influencer in the world of digital marketing.

If you are running your business trying to adhere to this impossible standard, then you may be in trouble.

Here are seven problems with perfection that are killing your business.

Beware these Problems with Perfection

Makes You Slow to Market

In marketing strategy, there is an advantage known as FMA or first-mover advantage, where the first to market often gains a great initial advantage over competitors. Recent literature has suggested that that first-movers may be at a disadvantage, failing around 47 percent of the time, with ‘fast-followers’ (8 percent failure rate) being the real market winners because they can improve on newly launched products or services and reduce cost and inefficiencies.

No matter if you are first to market, or join slightly after, being one of the first is crucial to business success.  Unless you do something significantly different than any major competitor, and these are few and far between, then you must launch products or services effectively and efficiently.

Perfectionists often obsess over every minute detail, often delaying products and/or launches, which ultimately cause decreases in success metrics.

Founder of Linkedin, Reid Hoffman, said “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

Obviously, your products and strategies should be well vetted and tested, but lack of speed kills.  Accept that perfection is unobtainable and set realistic launch goals.  Pick a small group of trusted associates or customers to test new products, and provide feedback.  You can always make adjustments and improvements along the way.  Remember the first cars weren’t even sold with windshield wipers because no one ever thought people would take them out in the rain.  As your customers inform you what changes or improvements need to be made, you can address them. Proving your use and delivering on your promises are more important to customers than perfection.

Robs Your Project of its Dynamism

Sometimes, trying to make something perfect can remove the energy and desire.  Think about the best presentation you have ever seen, or maybe just one with 28 million views.

You can practice a presentation 100 times, and still not be prepared for a question, or something that happens in that room, up at that table or podium.  So why stress over it?  Giving a presentation is as much about presenting yourself as it is content or facts.

People want to see someone they can relate to, and as it is often said, no one is perfect.  You should always properly prepare for a presentation, but don’t sit in the back of the room tinkering for perfection, walk around and introduce yourself.  Start a few conversations to see if you can find some interesting details to include in your presentation.

Show your audience that you are aware of them, that you can relate to them, and that you are just like them, a normal non-perfect individual that has something extremely important to convey to them.  That will go much further than an extra bullet point on a screen full of text that no one will read.

Keeps You Waiting for that Perfect Opportunity

Are you the kind of person that is always looking for the perfect opportunity?  You’ve probably noticed a running theme by now, but no opportunity is perfect.  It is generally more a matter of pros and cons.  If you gain more pros by engaging in a new opportunity, you should generally go for it.  Always be on the lookout for new opportunities for your business.  Come up with a uniform system of evaluating each one.

Select the ones that make the most sense, and tackle any hurdles as they come along.  Not every opportunity is going to work out, but some of them will, and when you look back you’ll see how imperfect the situation was at the beginning and the steps you took to improve it.

This strategy will also help you evolve as a business person as you learn what works and what doesn’t.  As Wayne Gretzky said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Sabotages Confidence and Self-Belief

One of the most encompassing deficiencies of perfection is that it can sabotage confidence and self-belief.  If you are afraid to launch a product or service, or pitch a new strategy until you think it is perfect, and then when you do, it is criticized, it can be crushing.  I’m sure you’ve probably been on social media lately, and if so, you know that someone has a comment for everything.  If you own or run a business, commenting is what you hire people to do, and if you are an employee, it is what you get paid for.  However, if you think something is perfect, and are told it is not, it can ruin your confidence, and this can stifle productivity.

Remember, innovations are built by teams, and no success has been free from criticism.  Use it to constantly improve.  Perfection can be something that is striven for, but rarely obtained.  Don’t dwell on criticism, use it to refine and enhance.

Prevets Your Getting From Start to Finish

In many phases of business, things are constantly evolving and never actually finished.  Think about a business plan, or target customers.  You should always be updating plans and trying to obtain new customers, but it is important to set milestones and plans that can actually be finished.  It will give you a sense of accomplishment and vigor and inspire your next cycle of innovation.

Perfectionists are often cited as not being able to finish anything because there is always something that can be changed to try and reach that unobtainable level of perfection.  Think about how this article started. Speed is an asset that perfection doesn’t allow.

Your milestones should be realistic times or events that allow you to move to the next step.  Be sure to evaluate and address areas for improvement in each subsequent step, as you try to achieve a more perfect outcome.

Destroys Vital Conditions for Creativity

Creativity and curiosity are born from chaos.  Always trying to be perfect eliminates your inclination to take risks and innovate.  You need to be creative to thrive in business.  There was a time when people said selling books online was crazy because users were scared to use credit cards on the web, the shipping costs would eat up any money that was saved and people would have to wait a week for a book that they could have today at any store or public library.

You probably already know where this is going, but today Amazon is rated as the tenth most profitable brand in the world.  They certainly had their growing pains, but used feedback from mistakes to grow into the behemoth they are today.

Don’t be afraid to embrace chaos.  Again, striving for perfection can certainly be a goal, but it is often created from bedlam.  Make sure you get uncomfortable from time to time; it can help you create something you can’t yet fathom, but could fundamentally improve your business.

Nothing’s Perfect

Especially this posting.  The title stated you were going to get 7 ways perfection is killing your business, but there were only 6.  I just wanted to leave some room for improvement, as you should too, because nothing is perfect, or more perfect.

Strive for consistency, not perfection and your business will thrive no matter the environment, product or competitor.

Have some more ways that perfection could be killing your business? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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Weird State Laws that Affect Your Small Business (Infographic)

Weird State Laws that Affect Your Small Business

You’ve broken the law.

Don’t let it bother you too much however, because it’s likely that almost everyone in the U.S. has broken a weird state law at one point or another and guess what! No one’s coming to get you.

You’ve heard about these laws, right? Statutes that declare things like, “One may not promote a ‘horse tripping event’” or “No animal may be hunted for on Sunday with the exception of raccoons, which may be hunted until 2:00 AM“.

While many of these laws are a throwback to different times, they’re still on the books and enforceable as they were when created.

Some, such as “Using a firearm to fish is strictly forbidden” and “It is illegal to give beer to hospital patients” may even seem titteringly relevant today. Most? Not so much.

A Sample of Weird State Laws

As a small business owner, it’s interesting to take a look at those weird state laws that affect your company. There are plenty of them including:

  • In Carmel, California, women may not wear high heels while in the city limits. So, if you sell high-heeled shoes, make sure your customers don’t wear them out.
  • In Guilford, Connecticut, only white Christmas lights are allowed for display. So don’t go crazy with the red, green and … er … every other color!
  • In Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, no person shall change clothes in his or her vehicle. Better provide employees and, potentially, customers with a changing room — to prevent the collapse of civilization.
  • In Georgia, raffles can be a crime if not registered ahead of time! If an organization not recognized as “non-profit” fails to register their raffle with the local sheriff, that group risks paying up to $10,000 in fines and spending five years in jail. Does that apply to social media raffles, too? Uh oh!
  • In Indiana, check forgery can be punished with public flogging up to 100 stripes. OK, as much as some local merchants might wish this was the case, let’s get realistic.

The list goes on and on so here’s an infographic that contains 51 of the weirdest, one from each state and from the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.).

Enjoy and remember, stay on the straight and narrow but always keep it a little weird.

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10 Small But Essential Ways to Boost Your Business

boost

Giving your business a boost doesn’t have to be difficult or incredibly time consuming. In fact, there are some essential elements of building successful businesses that can sometimes get overlooked. These suggestions from members of our small business community include some small but important things you can do to boost your business right away.

Include These Essential Features of a Small Business Website

Your small business website serves as the online face of your business. And it can also provide any number of important functions. While each small business website should be different, there are some essential elements that can make them great, like the ones outlined in this post on Techlofy by Prince Kumar.

Entice Customers to Binge Watch Your Product Videos

Videos can really enhance your product pages with additional information, views and storytelling elements. But for them to really work, you need to get customers to actually watch them. This post on the Kissmetrics blog by Shayla Price includes some tips for getting people to binge watch your product videos.

Find a Fundable Startup Market Opportunity

There’s a lot that goes into finding a great startup opportunity. But one of the essential elements of any idea is its ability to get funded. Martin Zwilling of Startup Professionals Musings explains more in this post about finding fundable startup opportunities. And BizSugar members discuss the post further here.

Use a Digital Marketing Strategy to Increase Marketing Impact

A digital marketing strategy can help you keep all of your online and mobile marketing goals organized so that you’ll be better equipped to actually reach them. For that reason, Erik Newton of the BrightEdge blogsuggests that using a digital marketing strategy can increase your marketing impact overall.

Achieve the Ideal State of Marketing

Marketing is an essential part of running any successful business. The actual activities that go into marketing can vary from business to business. But there are some elements you can include to find the ideal state of marketing for your business. Scott Rayden discusses the idea in this Marketing Land post.

Get Mind-Blowing Traffic From Pinterest

Pinterest has been steadily gaining popularity among consumers for a few years now. And that popularity means that it can be a great tool for businesses looking to attract online consumers. This Mostly Blogging post by Janice Wald includes some thoughts on the potential power of Pinterest. And the BizSugar community also weighs in here.

Learn How to Write Effective Web Content

Communicating with your customers online is becoming increasingly important. And content marketing can help you get those messages out effectively. But you need to understand how to write content that’s actually effective first. Jireh Gibson shares some tips in this Media Shower post.

Nurture Email Leads in Your Digital Marketing Funnel

Once you gather leads from your website or opt-in forms, you need to have a plan for actually converting those leads into customers. Nurturing leads is a huge part of that, as Mike Gingerich discusses in this post. He also offers tips for how to actually craft your emails.

Get Started With Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook has become such a huge part of how many businesses interact with their customers. So new or changing features like Facebook Instant Articles can have a big impact. In this post, Rebekah Radiceexplains Facebook Instant Articles and how they can help small businesses. You can also see discussionabout the post over on BizSugar.

Take a Weekend Business Break

Hard work is an essential ingredient for any small business. But working hard constantly without ever taking any breaks can be draining and ultimately hurt your business in the long run. In this CorpNet post, Nellie Akalp challenges entrepreneurs to take a break over the long weekend, and explains why that is important.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: [email protected]

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