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Archive for September, 2011

Five $5 Dollar Marketing Strategies with Fiverr

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Efficient marketing has been and will always be a key function of business, especially when dealing with small businesses. Most small businesses do not have the financial capital to support a full-fledged ad campaign and have to find other, relatively cheaper marketing tools and techniques to find their target market and attract customers. In this day and age, the internet provides many cheap and free marketing tools, such as blogging, e-mailing, and operating social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These are great tools to exploit when marketing, but another trending site to utilize is www.fiverr.com.

Fiverr is a social marketplace website that allows for the purchasing and selling of a magnitude of services for only $5. Yes, you read it right: only $5! This website is an excellent source for inexpensive outsourcing of a wide variety of different services. The services provided on the site, called “gigs”, range from video marketing to advice to SEO building. While you may find some offbeat and bizarre services offered, such as “I will cry and put any text on a paper” or “I will be your girlfriend/wife or anything else on facebook for one week”, this website is actually does offer many great opportunities for small businesses. Here are five marketing tactics that you can implement through fiverr:

1. Video Marketing

Making videos is extremely time consuming and requires a lot of technical work for your company; instead, for only $5, you can outsource this work to a freelancer on fiverr and with your vision and guidance, he/she will make you a commercial within 2 weeks! In fact, it was too great of a deal to pass up so we at KikScore capitalized on a fiverr “gig” and had a professional video made. All we needed to do was provide the freelancer with the text and photos we wanted to use, and they put the entire video together. Check it out below!

embedded by Embedded Video

2. Writing

In addition to have a video made of virtually anything, whether it is a professional commercial or an animated cartoon, there are also a bunch of talented writers on fiverr, both business and song writers. There are many people offering to write jingles or raps on your company and what it provides and those funny and creative tunes can definitely bring in new customers! In addition to song writing though, there are also many “gigs” offering to write press releases or just articles on any topic.

3. Market Research

While I wouldn’t solely rely on fiverr freelancers for an extensive market research report, I would use their service for some basic research. For only $5, you can pay someone to conduct brief research for your business while you focus on more productive business tasks.

4. Graphics, Banners, and Logos

Similar to making videos, oftentimes designing new banners or graphics for your business’ website requires expensive graphic design work. Instead, you can outsource that work to the fiverr community, where there are a good amount of awesome, professional graphic designers.

5. Search Engine Optimization

SEO optimization is extremely crucial for all small online businesses. All businesses strive to be on the first pages of search engines like Google and Yahoo!, and employing effective SEO optimization techniques is necessary. On fiverr, many sellers offer “gigs” that will improve your business’ SEO, whether it is by social bookmarking, promoting your links on social media outlets or different directories, or helping you build a LinkedIn following.

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Archive for September, 2011

Blurring lines: Facebook’s new additions and changes

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Thanks to ahans for the pic!

Have you seen Facebook’s new features? They have features similar to Google and Twitter now. Recently Facebook has introduced lists that are supposed to sort close friends, family members and coworkers into lists.

Exactly how do they do that? I have absolutely no idea, but wouldn’t that be confusing? I mean if you’re like me and hardly use Facebook(I keep forgetting about it, like Twitter) then how does Facebook know who you consider to be close friends?

That’s not the only thing that’s confusing. Facebook  is allowing users to do Twitter status updates from Facebook. Now, in theory this might sound great but,…isn’t practically everyone on Facebook on Twitter too? Not only that, but people who follow you on Twitter and are your friend on Facebook will get the exact same status update. I don’t know about other people, but I’d find that annoying.

The other thing that Facebook is going to do is make its pages feature obsolete. This means that there won’t be a need for two separate Facebook identities.  Yeah, that’s great, but what if you’re a company? I’m pretty sure that you and your employers want to keep your personal profiles separate from your company one. Plus, if they become one big profile some people might get tired of all of the business-related updates and just not read your updates. (I personally know people who’ve done this because someone hasn’t made a separate page for their public profile.)

Yes, these all sound practical, but Facebook isn’t even giving users enough time to get used to the new features before they add the next one in. Facebook is rumored to be moving towards further integrating music and videos. This does not look like it’s going to stop anytime soon and my feeling is that soon these three will either merge or will become so indistinguishable from each other that soon you won’t know(or care) which one you’re logging into.

So what does this mean for small businesses? Well, if you want to be on Facebook, you have to do it without a specific page. Or you might have to find another platform all together.

Thoughts?

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Archive for September, 2011

Followup – RE: Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail, part eight: Cash Flow

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers.[1] Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners (emphasis mine). Businesses may also be not-for-profit or state-owned. A business owned by multiple individuals may be referred to as a company, although that term also has a more precise meaning.

The definition in the preceding paragraph, from Wikipedia, is a clear and precise explanation of what is meant when one discusses the term business in the context of American economics.  My previous post, “Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail, part eight: Cash Flow“, provoked more response than any other post I have presented for the KikScore blog site.  Several comments implied a lack of understanding of what “business is about” on my part.

I presents the Wikipedia definition not so much to defend myself as to clarify what I mean when I use the term “business”.  It’s seems to me that my several critics, with the best of intentions, are confusing “business” with “vocation“, at least in the context of this discussion. This is easily done, and the confusion is most likely at the root of why many consider it distasteful (of me) to imply that they must pursue their vocation solely for the purpose of making money.

According to Dictionary.com, “vocation” is defined as “a particular occupation, business, or profession; a calling; or a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.”  These are all valid definitions; I consider what I do for a living, providing computer support for solo entrepreneurs and small businesses indeed to be my “calling”, something I do for reasons well beyond simply making money.

But make no mistake: having said that, if I don’t make money, I will very quickly have to find something else to do, or I will be broke, bereft and bankrupt.  No amount of altruism, good intentions, or heartfelt desire to save the world makes any difference to my landlord, my cell phone provider, Uncle Sam or any of my other debtorsMy best wishes for the world are not providing for my impending retirement – only the money I make does that.  This is a distinction that appears to have been lost to my detractors, who clearly misunderstood my opening statement in my previous post as meaning that nothing is more important than making money.

If that is the case, let me state publicly that this is not what I meant.  I was merely stating a simple fact – businesses exist to make money.  This is not why we WHAT we do for business; in fact, if we are wise, we choose to do something we’re both good at and that we enjoyed doing.  But the third, and most often overlooked, criteria in this consideration is that we must choose something that we will be paid to do.  And, hopefully, paid well.  The annals of American business are rife with the husks and carcasses of enterprises founded by those who fail to understand that businesses are about making money.

Wall Street forgot this; thus came the crash of 2008.  Sound business principles were abandoned in a blind pursuit to keep up with the Joneses and chase the hottest fads and trends rather than do what they knew they should have been doing, which was to invest wisely with an eye on long range profitability and stabilityLehman Brothers, the company were I began my IT career, no longer exists because, despite their place as not only a major Wall Street firm but a source of guidance and leadership via the Lehman Brothers index, they took their eyes off the prize and bankrupted a star in the Wall Street firmament that was over 100 years old.

Let the serve as a cautionary tale to those new businesses, or even existing ones, who imagine that they are in business for purposes other than reaping a profitWHY you are in business is not the same as WHAT you are in business for.  I hope that you enjoy what you do; I highly stressed that you do what you do with the utmost integrity and respect for your customers and clientsNothing less will yield profitable results.

At the end of the day, however, profit is what you are in business for.  And that is why I posted an article about managing your cash flow, and the importance of getting beyond the emotional inhibitors which may cause you to ignore or avoid the importance of managing your money.  The warm fuzzy feeling you get at the end of the day, having done a job well done, provides many things.  But if it doesn’t add up to an increase in your bank balance, when that feeling fades, you’ll have nothing left to show for it.  And sooner or later, you either will have to focus on profit, or you will go out of business.

And that’s not my opinion – that is a simple equation, and a statement of fact.


Cornell Green is Your Open Source CIO, guest blogger for KikScore. Visit him at http://opensourcecio.blogspot.com

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Archive for September, 2011

Helping Small Online Businesses Demonstrate Trust & Credibility: KikScore and Shopify Partner Up

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

As you all probably know, we at KikScore are dedicated to helping small businesses alleviate consumer trust concerns. What you may not have known is that, for the second time, KikScore is going to attempt to take over Canada! That’s right; we are once again arming ourselves for the coming partnership between KikScore and Canadian company Shopify. Together, we’ll help to revolutionize the ecommerce industry and continue to fulfill our mission at KikScore of doing everything we can to help small business and entrepreneurs!

Shopify, an online retail platform that hosts over 1,600 stores, has decided to partner up with KikScore. This new alliance will give Shopify ecommerce stores access to KikScore’s Confidence Badge app. This app contains KikScore’s 4 unique tools that are packaged together into a one-of-a-kind trust seal: (1) a business-specific trust score to help small businesses, (2) a Confidence Badge to display at the bottom right of the business’ website, (3) a dynamic and informative merchant report card, and (4) an interactive feedback platform.

There are a number of reasons for our partnership with Shopify. Here are a few key data points:

1) More than 50% of internet users don’t shop online because of security concerns.

2) 85% of consumers worry that online retailers don’t do enough to combat online fraud.

3) Over 75% of all potential online purchases are abandoned.

There is even more data on this issue of the challenges of small business and demonstrating trust here in this recent post we did on the topic.

Our partnership with Shopify will allow small businesses to empower themselves like never before. “We are really excited about being able to offer our KikScore Trust Seal through our new Shopify application. Now all Shopify customers can easily add a KikScore seal to their site through this streamlined application” says KikScore VP, Product, Mike Collins. With our app, small businesses can easily and efficiently display their track records of reliability. It’s time to cut down on shopping cart abandonment and increase sales!

For more information on our awesome new partnership with Shopify, take a look here.  Also please make sure to check out the KikScore Confidence Badge and Trust Seal App in the Shopify App Store.

Thanks to everyone at KikScore and Shopify for helping to make this possible.  If any Shopify merchants would like more information about the App, please feel free to email us at support@kikscore.com. We would love to hear from you.

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Archive for September, 2011

Guest Post: Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail, part eight: Cash Flow

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Cash flow

It’s odd: the purpose of starting, running or working for a Small Business is making money. Yet managing money is almost universally the one thing most neglected, ignored or feared by Small Business owners, operators or employees .

Quite often, you’ll hear some variation of the phrase “I’m not really in it for the money” – as if a focus on the financials is dishonorable or morally objectionable. But if you consider it for just a moment, that’s like a doctor sayingI’m not really in it to help people“. Whether you’re a Scrooge-like materialist or a post-modern hippy at heart, the purpose of starting, running or working for a business is profit.

Many people, regardless of their financial status, avoid dealing with their finances. Debt consolidation commercials fill the air, and stories of multi-million dollar celebrity bankruptcies have almost become cliche. But managing Small Business financials doesn’t require advanced calculus skills — just an understanding of basic accounting skills, and a strategic use of technology.

You have to manage your money — Small Business financial management is more than having a positive bank balance. Cash flow becomes critical when there is a delay between the money you’re owed (accounts receivable) and the money you owe (accounts payable). This is where many Small Businesses experience cash flow problems — they know they’ve got the money coming in, but they miscalculate and end up overdrawn.

That is, after all, why it’s called cash flow — it’s dynamic, and fluid. The informal running total many of us depend on to manage our personal finances doesn’t scale effectively, and bouncing a check to a distributor or supplier can affect your credit rating, or worse, the survival of Your Small Business.

Below is a short list of software & websites to help you manage Your Small Business financials:


Of course, technology is not a magic bullet. The best accounting program is useless if you don’tuse it. This is why I recommend starting by creating a Mint.com account.

Mint.com allows you to reverse-engineer your budget: you provide read-only access to your bank accounts and credit cards, and it automatically categorizes your deposits and expenses. After a few months, you have a graphical breakdown of your cash flow: once you see where your money goes, and what your spending patterns are, you can then properly manage Your Small Business budget going forward.

Mint.com is run by Intuit – the company behind QuickBooks, the de facto standard in bookkeeping software. If you have fewer than twenty active clients (so far), QuickBooks Simple Start Free Edition 2010 allows you to manage your billing and invoicing in the same format used by most accountants.

Using QuickBooks requires an understanding of basic accounting principles, which is why I’ve included one of the best introduction to accounting tutorials as the final link in the short list, Dave Marshall’s Bean Counter website.

The Bean Counter site has been online for eight years, and is the simplest introduction to basic accounting principles you’ll find without taking a course or buying a book. As with the software, it’s only useful if you actually use it.

Which is a choice only you can make. But your cash will flow, either way. The question is… in which direction?


Series inspired by “Top Ten Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail” by: Connie Holt, E.A. cholt@henssler.com
The Henssler Financial Group Position Paper
© 2004 The Henssler Financial Group | www.henssler.com


Cornell Green is Your Open Source CIO, guest blogger for KikScore. Visit him at http://opensourcecio.blogspot.com

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Archive for September, 2011

“Putting Your Money baQ Where it Belongs”: A SmallBiz Interview with the CEO and CTO of paybaQ

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Today’s small business interview is with the founder and CEO of paybaQ, Brian J. Esposito, and the CTO, Peter Hermsen. You may remember Brian from his last interview with us when we talked about his Inc. 5000 company, AVEYOU Beauty Boutique . However, his enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to launch a new business, paybaQ, which focuses on helping people deal with their microloans online. Brian and Peter proudly gave us their business story and shared many tips that contribute towards the success and prosperity of small businesses.

Tell us about paybaQ and who you focus on serving?

BRIAN J. ESPOSITO: paybaQ was established in 2010 to fulfill a need: to address and solve the age old problem of personal undocumented microloans. The paybaQ platform allows users to document, arrange payment between two or more parties, and establish a positive personal Generosity Rating (Giver) & Responsibility Rating (Receiver). paybaQ’s purpose is to eliminate the awkwardness of borrowing or collecting personal microloans. Through our secure and simple system you will not only become more responsible, but possibly save a relationship from becoming spoiled.

“Money doesn’t have to be the root of all evil, it could grow into something good”.

Your paybaQ hub has everything you need to organize and monitor any transactions you perform with paybaQ.com.  Here, you can easily review account details and history, as well as view detailed reports on your transactions. You also have access to any reminders for transactions that have not yet been completed, and you can integrate your account with social network profiles to easily add contacts you may be lending or borrowing money from. No more wondering when you are going to be paid back; with paybaQ, you can set the terms of the microloan and easily remind the borrower(s) through email, text message, and/or through private messaging that monies are due. Lending and borrowing money has never been so hassle free. Although our top priority is creating more responsible individuals, privacy and security of our site and system is of the utmost importance.

Now you can do that all on the go with our iTunes app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paybaq-mobile/id454232420?mt=8.

How did you get started dealing with microloans online?

BE: This was an idea that I have had for a few years.  Especially when the financial crisis hit in 2008, I realized the timing was perfect to launch.  Money, family, friendship, and responsibilities are at rocky paths when it comes to lending or borrowing money for any reason.  Even when times are good these transactions could always have the tendency of going bad.  paybaQ’s system has all the necessary pieces in place to try and avoid those situations from happening.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and overcame in launching paybaQ?

BE: The biggest challenge was where to begin.  The paybaQ model has so many different pieces that it can branch off to.  During our initial meetings, brainstorming’s lead to hours of great ideas, but no real progress.  We finally figured out that we had to scale back all those additional concepts and get paybaQ off the ground and running on its core principles.

What tools would you recommend for small businesses in the online world?

BE: Small business should be required a specific set of tools to protect themselves, their families, and more importantly their employees and customers.  In the online world these tools should include SSL Security, Privacy Policies, Hacker Proof Services Monitors, PCI Compliance, Review/Feedback Services, and additional items that can be added to your site to increase trust and credibility.  There are only a handful of companies that have earned instant trust in the consumer world; for the rest of us, it will be a constant uphill battle to convert potential customers into actual customers.  That all begins with how you treat your current customer base and how your image and brand are perceived in the consumers eyes.

Security is of growing importance to all small businesses for a number of reasons. What are the most challenging issues at your company with respect to security?

PETER HERMSEN: Providing timely access to data by members while deterring unauthorized access.  We recognize the challenges faced by the commerce community with respect to security and privacy.  No matter what you do to secure your data, someone will try to figure out a way to crack it.  That’s why we partner with Authorize.net.  With them as a partner, we don’t have to worry about keeping any credit card information on our site.  We only maintain a balance of loan tokens, which have no value to anyone with the exception that they allow users to register loans.  In fact, we give the first 5 credits for free.

Based on your expertise, what two or three things do you think small businesses should be doing concerning online marketing?

BE: It’s very important to stay fresh and relevant.  I always say the minute you stop doing something, your competitor hasn’t.  Keeping this in your mind at all times will fuel you to keep striving for greatness.  Being the biggest is not important, but being the best is.  It is also important to understand marketing and its results.  Very few things are an instant success.  You have to keep with it.  Of course this is within reason.  You can’t keep pouring good money after bad.  Every business has different expectations and needs.  With ours, due to our position we are happy gaining a customer a day, but of course that does not apply to everyone.

If you had to pick two lessons that you’ve learned from launching and maintaining your business, what would they be?

PH: Launching a business and developing the software are definitely different things.  From the development side, the business waits (patiently) while development carries on.  Now that we’ve launched, we’re just learning about maintaining.  There are hurdles which must be crossed as you transition to a production site.  We made it past them, but have definitely learned that no matter what, you always have to plan on software taking longer than anticipated.  Also, when working in a new financial venture, you find that potential financial partners enter with good intentions; then, when they don’t fully understand your premise, withdraw gracefully.  Unfortunately, the development team engages with creating software to support partners, and have to start over when a new partner is introduced.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any standards. Google Checkout, PayPal, Yahoo, private payment gateways; all of them are different.

BE: I’ve learned to not give up on a vision or dream.  I’ve learned even your closest friends and even sometimes family members will try to deflate you. I haven’t figured out if these are malice words or if they are just trying to protect you from failure.  Failure is great, failure is better than anything you can learn in school or from a book.  Some of the greatest lessons and creations were born from failure at some point.

How do the folks at paybaQ let loose after a busy day working?

Due to our partnership with The Hearst Corporation for the rights to use Wimpy from Popeye, we like to let loose on Tuesdays for Hamburger night.  We will travel around our area in search for the greatest hamburger.  When paybaQ really takes off we may increase our distance a bit.  “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger Today:” © King Features Syndicate, Inc.  Hearst Holdings Inc.

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

The small business community is an elite group.  We are made up of people who took a risk and went after our passions.  Everything in life has ups and downs.  It is important to find a balance so you can save on the ups to get you through the downs.  Unless you are a 1-person operation your actions and decisions can have great affects.  Remember you have employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers that may depend on you.  This is a great amount of responsibility you have taken on, and you should be proud.  Our group will continue to be the backbone of our economy and we must prove to the world that we deserve that role.

Thanks to both Brian Esposito and Peter Hermsen from paybaQ for a great interview! If you have any questions or comments for them, feel free to write them below.

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Archive for September, 2011

Better Business Bureau – An Accreditation Process Based On How Much Money Your SmallBiz Pays?

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Remember the Better Business Bureau?  Do you use it? Do you like it? If you found it helpful…well it might not be as helpful as you thought it would be. According to MSNBC, the BBB’s accreditation process might be based purely on money. Criticism is being directed at the BBB’s aggressive membership sales process.  The BBB has admitted to making mistakes and said that they have reviewed the 16 factors that they consider when deciding whether or not give a business accreditation.  MSNBC’s post goes on to say that it’s better for consumers to solicit opinions on Social Media platforms on the business that you are interested in as opposed to specifically relying on the Better Business Bureau.  This is not the first time that there has been some criticism of BBB as we previously covered news reports by ABC News of BBB allegedly selling grades for small businesses.

Some people are really not happy with the BBB right now. But, some people go pretty far in venting their anger toward the BBB’s practices. Fee Fighters, a comparison shopping website for credit card processing, came out with a post that called the BBB is a “[@#$% ]Scam“. They then went on to say that the BBB may be exhorting people by describing some interactions that a business had with BBB when that business contacted the BBB in regards to some complaints that were apparently filed against the business.  The business, according to the Fee Fighter’s blog post, was told by the BBB that if the business would pay over $700 for a BBB membership than those complaints would be potentially cleaned.  In fact, according to the Fee Fighter’s account once the business paid for the BBB membership the rating for the business jumped from an “F” to an “A-“.  Oh by the way apparently according to this story on Gawker, the terrorist organization, Hamas, that has claimed responsibility for lots of bad things somehow gets an A- from the BBB.

Fee Fighters followed up on their post with a post recording the BBB’s reactions. At the time that they had published the post, they themselves at Fee Fighters had received BBB accreditation and had paid a lot of money for it. However, when the BBB saw their post, the BBB sent them a letter revoking Fee Fighter’s accreditation because the post did not conform to one of their guidelines.  Fee Fighters sent the BBB a letter back that stated that they were just telling the truth” which resulted in the BBB changing their status on the BBB’s website to Fee Fighters now having no rating.

How does all of this look for the BBB?  What do you all think?

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