America’s SBDC Blog

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Evaluating the new virtual tools for start-ups and small business management, financing and communications

February 28, 2012

Launching a new business in a 21st century digital world requires using a lot of new and innovative financial tools, not only to plan, but to be able to keep track of the growth and financial success of your business. Almost every day we are introduced yet another great tool that streamlines complicated processes and procedures that just a few years ago would have taken weeks or months to complete or achieve. Millions of U.S. small-business owners are spending a lot of time reviewing and screening the digital bazaar of these new tools.

As technology gets cheaper and easier to use, small firms and Startups take advantage of financial tools more than ever before to run and track their small businesses. And today’s proliferating selection of smartphone and Tablet app’s are providing advantages and conveniences that wouldn’t’ have been imagined only a few years ago.

This year, we’ll introduce you to some of the exciting and innovative new cloud-based financial, project management and communications tools, and offer advice on how to determine which ones would best help you get your business either up and running, or set for further growth and efficiency.  (more…)

3 Easy Fixes to Triple Your Website Leads

February 23, 2012
By Eric Spellmann –

If you’ve heard me speak before, you know that I feel strongly that a website should never be just a virtual pamphlet or online billboard. It must DO something. In more than 90% of the cases, that “do” can be defined as “generating leads.”

But how do you get a website to drive leads, or more importantly, qualified leads to your business? The key is to understand online user behavior and build your site to not only accommodate your site visitors, but prompt them to action!

I’ve noticed three big mistakes most websites make when trying to meet the goal of lead generation:

Hiding Phone Numbers

When needing a phone number, very few people pull out their phonebooks. In fact, today, the number one use of the yellow pages is to prop up computer monitors! Most people simply “google” a business to find a number.  (more…)

5 Simple Ways Your Nonprofit Can Use LinkedIn to Find More Donors

February 20, 2012
By Gina Watkins –

With all the social networking sites available today, you may wonder which is best for your nonprofit organization. More importantly, you may be wondering which site is best for your organization in terms of finding more donors. The answer may surprise you: It’s LinkedIn.

Why LinkedIn? Well, according to the site’s own statistics, LinkedIn boasts more than 120 million affluent, influential professionals from over 200 countries and territories.

In 2010, HubSpot and LinkedIn teamed up to create an infographic that showed members are highly educated (more than 70% have a bachelor’s or graduate degree), affluent (close to 50% of users have an income of more than $100,000 per year), and they hold influential positions — more than 30% are senior-level executives and managers, while 50% are decision makers in the companies/organizations.

LinkedIn’s power comes from getting connected with the right people. How do you get your nonprofit connected with these potential donors? Here are 5 simple tips to build these connections fast:   (more…)

Three Opportunities for Veterans Eager To Start, Run or Grow a Small Business

February 16, 2012

For those actively serving, returning home from duty or looking to leverage skills gained as veterans from different service eras, we’d like to thank you for your service—and help you on your tour of duty in the private sector.

You’re likely already familiar with the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a military-private sector initiative to place veterans and military personnel into full-time employment. In addition, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act offers tax credits for employers that hire unemployed and service-disabled veterans. So finding a job in corporate America is, hopefully, becoming less difficult for former military personnel.

But what if you have that insatiable itch to strike out on your own? If you’re a burgeoning entrepreneur, check out these three opportunities unique to veterans, all designed to help you start your new business or grow its operations.  (more…)

Why Social Media Engagement and Customer Intelligence Go Hand In Hand

February 13, 2012
By Ramon Ray –

I know you get social media (or at least you’re trying). You try to post on a regular basis to Twitter. You try your best to create a great Facebook page. On the other hand, you know that you’ve got to be very focused on your customers. What you might not know is why it’s important to blend your customer service tools with social media intelligence.

Maybe you sell carpet. Before your sales teams calls upon your dental client, Dr. Marvin Drillman, wouldn’t it be great to know that he just Tweeted something about his wife’s upcoming birth day and you could suggest he re-carpet their den for her birthday. This is “social crm”.

As your business grows it’s critical that you not only invest the time and resources to build a database of your customers and know about their past sales trends and purchase preference, but that you and your team also know what your customers are saying in social media.  (more…)