Tag Archive: small business


Shake Off Snowpocalypse

Well, it’s that wonderful time of year again. January, when all is cold and bleak and you must somehow road map an entire year of business success. Perhaps 2013 was OK, but you need to move to the next level. Or, maybe some of your tools and strategies did not work out well. Or, maybe, like Techsnoop, you have an unquenchable desire to grow as much as possible.

Whatever the motivation, success does not happen in a vaccum, it has to be planned, adjusted and planned. Toward that goal, here are some tools and technology that can help your business reach 2014 goals.

DKemp Designs Banner for TSH

Security

Security breaches came fast and furious in the last part of 2013. Don’t be fooled, this is a trend that won’t go away. Every person needs a security plan for finances, business and personal information. Default features and systems are not reliable.

If you have a Windows 8 computer, make sure you upgrade to 8.1 and use Windows Defender or AVG. Many of the programs that come pre-installed will expire after 60 to 90 days. Windows Defender and AVG both are free and don’t expire.

Change your passwords. Techsnoop cannot stress this enough. Not only change them, make them all completely different from any previous passwords you used AND use special characters. Hackers are not only getting better, they have awesome tools to crack passwords that are simple or based on personal information. Although many state you should not write down passwords, Techsnoop recommends you keep an off-line list secured at your home. This makes it easier for you to feel OK making complex passwords. Never keep them in any on-line accessible medium.

Mobile

Make your business mobile now. The percent of buying customers only accessing the web from a tablet or smartphone is rising daily. If you are not visible on these platforms your business will drop daily.

There are many options for going mobile. Even if you currently have a site that is not mobile, you can use a mobile app, build a smaller mobile site with your top sellers or use a template builder. Of course the best option is to build your site mobile ready from the beginning. DKemp Designs creates sites that will work on all devices, including iPads and iPhones. Whatever you do, now is the time to be mobile ready.

Technology

Many studies say that using headphones while working increases productivity. Find a comfortable set, choose your tunes and get ready to warp out piles of work. CNET has a roundup from CES2014 to look over. Techsnoop uses the ARCTIC P311 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones with Integrated Microphone because they;

Have an awesome 20-Hr Playback and several days standby time.
Are comfortable with over the ear and behind the neck style and padded ear cover
Come in pink
Switch from music to phone with no problem
Fold down to carry easily (see Techsnoop review on Amazon.com)

Upgrade your drivers on phones, laptops and tablets. If you connect your tech to printers, headphones and each other make sure they continue to work well together by keeping the software updated.

Drop Windows XP. Yes, Techsnoop knows it is easy to use and you like it. BUT, it is not ready for today’s tech and security. Support for the platform is non-existent and it’s just time to move on. Find a qualified tech to update you today.

Social Media

Sign up for Buffer App, Hootsuite or Commun.it today. You need social media management. Branding requires nuturing which requires keeping your name positively in the public. Offer your followers great content and occasional freebies and become a social rock star. But you need a management tool. Get on board today. And use one of many analysis tools to determine your best posting times.

Happy Thanksgiving to all from Techsnoop

funny-cartoon-turkey-picturesMay your day be merry and blessed.

In the spirit of being thankful, don’t forget to skip shopping on Thanksgiving so retailers will begin letting their workers stay home with their families. For every big sale that is successful on Thanksgiving, a family is robbed of their mother, father, sister, brother or grandparent.

Black Friday gives plenty of opportunity to shop sales and save money and some retailers are offering the discounts on-line which lets you shop in your stretchy pajamas. While buying gifts, don’t forget to shop your local small business owners. Supporting small business provides neighborhood jobs, local tax income and keeps communities healthy.

 

If you are in the Detroit, Michigan Metro area on Saturday, October 26, you’re in luck. Make time in your schedule to meet up with some fantastic small business owners at the Pi Banquet Hall in Southfield from 11 am to 3 pm. The first Women’s Lifestyle Enrichment Expo hosted by Beyond 40 and Fabulous is being held. This is a great opportunity to support local Small Business by starting your Christmas shopping early!

There will be entertainment, fun, food and best of all, admission is FREE. Yes, you can have all this fun for free. Better yet, if you have been thinking of starting your own business, this is a great time to get some support and gather resources to make your own dream real.

Techsnoop will be there with DKemp Designs covering the event and chatting with some entrepreneurs and feeling the positive energy of taking your destiny in your own hands.

Join us and say hello, you may make the Techsnoop news!

expo flyer

Samsung Galaxy Note 3Techsnoop has been a long-time fan of the HTC EVO series phones.  With large screens, beautiful displays and great cameras, these phones re-shaped the future of the smartphone landscape.  And while there is still mad love for the brand, at long last, a phone has come that disrupts this love affair.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Overlooking for the moment, the add-on gear, the Note 3 has a 13 megapixel camera, 60 frame per second HD video, 3GB RAM, and … wait for it, it comes in PINK!  Techsnoop followers will know of the fondness for pink tech.

The Note 3 has been upgraded with a 3200 mAh battery for up to 4 hours extra use, a 2.3 GHz processor (for comparison my laptop has a 2.20 GHz processor) and a 5.7 inch screen.  With these upgrades, Samsung has also addressed customer concerns about speed, battery life and the plastic casing.  The new back is a leather-like material giving a soft and gripable surface, there is a metallic trim on the edge and the bezel has been reduced slightly.  Overall the effect is of a premium phone worthy of its heavy-duty specs.  The S Pen has been upgraded to make using the Note 3 more intuitive with a short learning curve.

Introducing…

The Galaxy Note 3 was introduced on September 4 with much fanfare from Samsung.  But it was a venue for more than just a new smartphone.  The Note 3 has partner tech that makes it work seamlessly for productivity and fun.

First up, Samsung Gear.  The age of the smart watch has arrived with bells and whistles.  The Gear watch allows you to check messages, answer calls and take pictures without ever taking your phone out.  It also includes S Voice to allow for complete hands free usage of your note when fiddling with a large touch screen is not convenient (like driving).  And it is backwards compatible with the Note 2.  Specs for the Gear are;

1.63-inch Super AMOLED screen  320×320 resolution
Dual core processor 800MHz
1.9 MegaPixel wrist camera 720p
Speakers in the device’s strap
Accelerometer
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Android Jelly Bean
512MB of RAM
4GB of storage
Available in six colors:
Jet Black, Mocha Gray, Wild Orange, Oatmeal Beige, Rose Gold, and Lime Green with initial pricing of $300.

 Galaxy Gear Watch

The Galaxy Note 3 10.1 tablet is also made to integrate with the Note 3 phone.  You can share apps and notes seamlessly.  The S Pen makes apps like Photoshop Touch extra useful for small businesses like DKemp Designs.  While the total sticker for the three devices may be a bit pricey, the specs, security and flexibility make this a worthy trio to own for the multi-tasking business owner.  All in all, Techsnoop gives this tech trio a 5 star rating.

Check out the Samsung Unpacked video and let us know if you will be switching to the Note 3 when you upgrade.

 

Social MediaTechsnoop was at Social Media Day Detroit 2013 with DKemp Designs yesterday and there was something for everyone.  Food, fun, games, and free swag were all part of the experience.

Looking for a job? U-Haul is hiring at several of their branches.  At the U-Haul booth on the main floor you could create a Vine video for the chance to win a great bike.  The Opportunity Detroit booth had great reusable shopping bags and a fun staff.

Have a business that needs recognition? Contact Core Detroit where they feature one business everyday.

Looking to volunteer your teens for the summer?  Contact Gleaners Food Bank, they help hungry families all over Michigan.

Media group MLive had a Tony Hawk game to play for prizes and lots of fun was had at the Yelp booth where checking in was rewarded with a spin of the wheel for prizes.  Keep your eye out for MLive, they are expanding in the Detroit area.

The diversity and number of businesses who sponsored or held booths shows that, in Detroit, social media is taken seriously.  But fun and social is still the name of the game.  Social media has made marketing an activity that draws crowds instead of boring customers.

What You Missed

A big thank you to all the booth staff who were kind enough to pose for Techsnoop’s photo gallery.

Little Caesar

Little Caesar

Opportunity Detroit

Opportunity Detroit

Yelp

Yelp

Core Detroit

Core Detroit

 

Press Swag

Press Swag

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotted in the Crowd

Andrew HumphreyOne of my favorite tweeps, meteorologist Andrew Humphrey was in attendance, as well as Little Caesar and, fellow designer and another great tweep, Monsieur Robert who apparently enjoyed the Starbucks table.

Techsnoop did not see Coca-Cola and missed them.  Maybe they’ll be there next year.  What with all the can holders that were given out, they would be a natural partner.

Live Music

SWAG You Missed

great swag

Great Swag

But most of all, SMDay Detroit was a chance to meet with social media experts nationwide, network, meet social media contacts in real time and make friends.  Twitter, Google and Mashable were all represented and brought fun to the event.  And most important, score great swag.  The freebies were beyond fab and all participants were creative in providing everything from sunglasses to frisbees.

Social Media events like this one allow the industry to continue to grow and add value to the companies they represent.  If you missed it, #SMDay #Det on Twitter to get the updates and make plans now to attend next year if you are serious about creating and executing a social media plan in your business.

Let us know in the comments if you made it and Techsnoop will plan to meet you there next year!

 

socialbar_buttonsSocial media is changing.

From Facebook’s new feed to LinkedIn’s revamped interface, the look and function of social media sites is changing.  In addition, engagement trends and fan behavior are changing.  What does this mean and how does the small business or freelancer keep up with these changes?

Strategy

Everything in social media boils down to strategy.  No matter the changes on the platforms, small business owners have to keep their focus on the end game.  Your strategy determines what media and platform you use to engage with your target market.  Keep up to date with information specifically relating to your market, not the multiple social media networks.  Find out when and where your market chooses to engage and what content they prefer.  Focus your efforts on meeting the audience needs.

Engagement

Yes, you need to sell stuff.  There is no other way to make money, period.  Social media is not a sales venue, rather an opportunity venue to introduce your business, the business values and the benefits to your audience.  Compare it to a demonstration or free sample.  Serve content your audience will care about and share with others.  That’s engagement.

ROI

Ditch the ROI of social media.  There are many tools and methods that claim to measure the ROI of social media.  None are completely accurate.  Rather, understand that social media is a reputation tool.  Reputation cannot be measured, but proves invaluable when customers make a purchase.  And is priceless when gone.  Social media used effectively, establishes you as an expert in your field and builds confidence in your audience when interacting with you.

Marketing vs. Social Media

Marketing is showcasing your product or service.  Shining it up and parading it to the masses and begging for approval and purchase.  Or, creating a desire so strong the public feels they cannot live without your offering.

Social media is personal.  Who are you.  Why should I trust what you are offering?  Social media answers these questions in subtle ways.  How fast and satisfactorily do you answer customer concerns?  How durable and reliable are your products and services?  Social media allows you to operate transparently and build confidence in you.  It speaks to morals and values.

Gimmickless Marketing

Fans of brands on social media like to be entertained, but will quickly turn on gimmicks.  There’s a fine line between cute and gimmick, but brands must master this.  Until a small business has enough capital to hire professionals, it is best to stay away from anything that could be a gimmick.  Be honest, open and you will build a following.

SmuttysocialmediaA Picture…

In social media, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a meme or video is priceless.  Serve up bright and compelling visual content that can be shared and re-shared.  Keep copy snappy, short and relevant.  Use metrics to post at the appropriate times of day for your audience.

Get Help

Finally, if all else fails, hire help.  Social media is part of business branding and cannot be left to wither.  If there is no one in your business who can successfully take on the social media duties, hire an intern or new business.  This is a win-win.  They get experience and a portfolio, you get affordable expertise.

socialmediaIf you are a small business owner, reaching the maximum audience is critical to success.  Without the budget for splashy TV ads and mass mailings, social media is the great equalizer.  Developing a laser targeted social media strategy is the key to leveraging this powerful tool.

First decide what audience you want to reach, then research the metrics for the various platforms.  Google has a wealth of website tools to track traffic and research SEO.  Create a message that can be communicated quickly and easily but encourages interaction and follow up.  Choose a tool that can manage your messages and your interactions without taking all your time.  After all, you have a business to run.

Equally important to your marketing efforts is your digital footprint.  How easy is it for customers to find your business and are the search results accurate?

  • Track your digital reputation by making frequent internet searches for your business name.
  • Note how many links come up and what rank they are.
  • Make sure all links are yours and are positive.

If your customers can’t find you, you lose sales.    Contact the search engine to remove any that are not you.  Yes, spammers will hi-jack your business name to re-direct traffic to their sites.

One great tool is Brand Yourself a web app that allows you to control what links appear in search listings for your business.  By following a number of steps, Brand Yourself walks you through getting useless links away from your search results.  This allows your positive links to rise higher on search rankings.

With both free and paid versions, this is the must-have app for small business and freelancers.

Next, choose one or more management tools to keep up with your social media news, followers and postings.

communit2Commun.it is a good product if you are unfamiliar with Twitter and trying to get the hang of who to follow, who to engage, who to list.  The dashboard gives views of your followers, engaged Tweeps and groups.  Recommendations are made for follows, unfollows, thank yous and engagement.  There are free and paid versions so you can try it out to see if it meets your needs.

Crowdbooster is a good tool for managing both Twitter and Facebook pages and multiple accounts.  It tracks growth, engagement, allows you to schedule tweets and posts and stats can be exported.  There is a free trial period, but no free version.

Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite tool so we can check it out.

HackerToday’s post deviates a bit from the norm, but Techsnoop believes that small business owners should learn from the mistakes of large business.  Small business owners have thin margins for error so it pays to keep an eye on and learn from, Big Biz.

During the late 80s and early 90s, many employees explored flexible work options with employers to assist in balancing their work and family responsibilities.  One option was job sharing where 2 employees would share one full-time job.  Another was the ability to complete work tasks from home.  The work from home option required a solid plan on the part of employees where they could demonstrate responsibility and capability to actually be productive outside the office.

Once it was proven that employees working from home were actually more productive than those in the office, employers embraced this option on a larger scale.  Not only was it good for productivity, it allowed businesses to increase staff while keeping square footage overhead low.  A true win-win policy, work from home allows employees to accept smaller monetary compensation due to lower commute, lunch and wardrobe costs.  In a flat financial economy, both business and staff are able to reduce costs and exist on lower margins.

Fast forward to 2013

As more start-ups and small businesses use work from home policies to recruit top staff and keep overhead low, Yahoo bucks the trend and decides to eliminate this valuable policy.  The official word is that the productivity of some work from homers is low.  However, this “toss the baby with the bathwater” management approach has been proven to be unsuccessful.

When a business has under performing employees, managers need to directly meet with offenders armed with an objective list of actions that are not meeting standards.  A discussion then needs to outline the expected corrections, acceptable outcomes and results of meeting or not meeting the targets.  The manager then sets the target date for the improvements to be reached.

Should the targets not be met, the employee is let go.  Period.

When a company tries to correct individual behavior by imposing changes on an entire group, the employees who are not abusing the policy become upset and their productivity drops.

Those employees who in good faith, took a work from home position and are meeting and exceeding productivity levels, are being punished.  Even the most faithful will suffer from a morale drop and a feeling that they are being cheated or unfairly punished.  When employees feel they are not being equitably compensated, they will try to level the playing field by reducing productivity or other behavior.

No one likes to be group punished for the errors of others.  Yahoo, take note; this is a dangerous path.  Your superstar workers will be disgruntled and start looking to move to the competition.  Additionally, this move does not address the actual problem; low productivity of some workers.  Just being in the office does not raise productivity.  What actually will happen (Techsnoop predicts) is that the slackers will find ways to make their problems seem to be someone else’s fault.  Dissention will grow in the ranks and a toxic environment will ensue.

Lessons Learned

One way small businesses can keep their costs low is to use independent contractors whenever possible.  These freelancers require no benefits, pay their own taxes and are highly motivated to complete projects timely and professionally.  But if you are successful, at some point you will need an actual employee.  An employee is one whose schedule and duties are directed by the company and/or manager.

The ability to work from home, at least some of the time, can be a big selling point for a job with a company that has fewer benefits and lower payroll capability.  This nets you higher quality workers for lower wages.  Technology has made work from home jobs a great option for workers and employers.  Employers who choose to go backwards with options reveal a culture that will drive away the talented and creative workers needed to be successful.

socialmedia

(copyright DKemp Designs)

Social Media is the great business buzzword.  What is your social media strategy, do you have social media apps, how do you handle social media. these are the questions of the new consumer landscape.

If you are a small business chances are you don’t have the budget to hire a specialized social media master.  So you make do with whoever in the office seems to know the most.  But it is not enough to set up a Facebook, Twitter and Google+ page and hope masses of customers will show up.  In fact, Techsnoop has seen hundreds of business pages that have virtual dust on them.

Looks Count

First, is your page appealing?  You need to have a great logo and cover photo that attract interest and showcase your business.  The photos should be crisp and in-focus, not blurred or stretched out.  Here is where a little money goes a long way.  A professional graphic designer can create 2 or 3 cover photos in the sizes needed and you can rotate them through the year.  Next you need to post some interesting information on the page.  Blog or news items relating to your business are great posts if you don’t have any sales or promotions going.

Mix It Up

Next, do you like or comment on posts of others on your page?  If not, why not?  You should have at least a few regulars with content you can look for and like each week.  Mention others and interact so they will do the same.  This is what gets your “talking about” stats up on Facebook.

You wouldn’t go to a party and stand in the corner looking but not speaking to anyone.  The social part of social media is interaction.  Make honest connections with others who have something in common and keep conversations going.  Thank others and when asking for likes and follows use the word “please”.  Manners count.

To keep your time manageable on the platforms, search for specific content that relates to your business or interests you like technology or football.  This will help you choose your top engagers and keep the time spent to about 3 total hours per week.  Ideally, time should be spent one hour a day for 3 days each week.  This keeps you looking active.

Let us know in the comments if this helps you focus your social media efforts for 2013.

twitterwinnerSocial Media is by nature a quick, off the cuff means of communicating. But in business, especially small business,  it is important to know that cyberwords are never forgotten and never go away.  Even so-called private texts and e-mails can become public.  One upset critic can decide to upload every embarrassing message you ever sent.

For 2013 commit to not making assumptions or disparaging others in writing and to not re-posting unchecked information as “fact”.  Being certain of your information gives you credibility and increases your personal presence.

The best way to screen your online communication is to create a social media strategy that reflects the image you want to project.  Use technology tools such as BufferApp to help you choose and schedule posts.  Pre-type your tweets and posts in Word or another text program and hold for 15 to 30 minutes, then read again and make sure it conveys your message accurately.

Techsnoop and DKemp Designs wish you a great and prosperous New Year!